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Everything posted by mdarnton

  1. I don't want to head you off, because I think playing duet is cool, and if I'd known when I started, that's what I'd have done, but the peculiarity of the English system is absolutely no excuse. There aren't any of us anywhere who found it immediately intuitive under our fingers, but we all worked it out, and so could you. If you ever played guitar, it's a lot like alternate bass thumb picking--you can't do it, you can't do it, you can't do it, no one could do that. . . .and then suddenly, you are, and you never even think about it, ever again. That's why we practice. :-)
  2. Don't get discouraged! I am a slow learner, but eventually things do come together.
  3. Something I found when learning my English was that as I became more familiar with it, felt more comfortable and loosened up on my deathgrip on the thing. As that happened, I became able to reach farther around to places I couldn't get to before. In retrospect, part of the problem was that I had the thumb straps too tight and the hand straps that I felt were adding to my security were impeding my movement. Now the thing just sort of hangs there on loose thumb straps and I'm not so worried about dropping it, nor about the buttons floating around a bit relative to my hand. That is, my map of the keys is more secure and doesn't depend on just one locked in placement. Hard as it may be to believe, eventually you will reach the point where your map of the keys moves with the keys, not attached securely only to your fingers, and your fingers will know and follow where the keys are as they rotate around to slightly different positions as you move your position around. Not right away, though, which leads to tension from wanting to keep everything under your hand in exactly the same spot all the time.. With that combination of familiarity and looseness, I can play much better, but still find the keys and control the bellows. But it took a while to get to that point of confidence. I imagine the Anglo has similar problems at the start. Initially, I also had a lot of thumb cramping. . . . same problem--too tense. So with familiarity comes freedom, with freedom comes flexibility, basically.
  4. My treasurer said a quick "What? Are you serious? No!", which is a reasonable response given my current level of playing, but that doesn't mean that this still isn't my dream instrument, exactly. It's gorgeous.
  5. Not a concertina repairman, but in the violin world I use Elmer's school glue for things like this. It's not particularly strong, but it's completely water soluble/removable. For something that is under a little pressure all of the time and doesn't have to be strong, it's good enough and faster than hide glue to remove. Also whereas hide glue might soak in a bit and harden the leather somewhat, I don't think the school glue will do that. I wouldn't use a PVA glue--too hard to get off, too strong for the job.
  6. My model for this is Simon Thoumire. As closely as I can tell, he does his incredible triplets with the same finger. Articulation using bellows is, however, a completely different sound.
  7. I had never liked the tone quality of my metal-end Lachenal. I like to play chords, and complex harmonies, and they always had a nasty clash of harmonics. About three months ago I discovered that many old concertinas originally came with baffles. So I opened mine, and cut thin (maybe 1mm, from the craft store in the kids' department) black foam to fit. I left about 1.5mm space around the outside edge, and cut a bit casually around the buttons, to allow for air passage, then stuck it to the inside of the metal with three or four tiny bits of double-stick foam (again, about 1.5mm thick)--easy enough to remove. The result is a quieter, sweeter sound, and chords sound unbelievably better! I love the sound now, and it's loud enough, not irritating. Many people since have commented on how nice it sounds. The change was remarkable.I had been sizing up various wood-end choices, thinking of getting one, but that interest is gone now. I teach a summer violin making workshop. People there were so impressed by the sound that one bought an EC from Craigslist on the spot (found one near his home and sent his brother, an accordion player, out to test it and buy it), and three others started looking, themselves. Next year maybe we will have our own concertina orchestra. ? I notice that Barleycorn has an Aeola for sale identified as a "pinhole" model that might relate to Mark's suggestion above, but it's a 48-button.
  8. Thanks. When I started this thread, I was two weeks into my revival, and hadn't started spinning yet. Now I've spent the last ten days of so practicing every chance I get, and everything has loosened up considerably. I believe you (and the others) were right to suggest checking the valves first, and response is MUCH better now. Part of it I associate with flexing the valves, but some of it seems to be that all of the reeds are acting differently now, and so I have put off doing anything to see how many problems continue to fix themselves. I really wouldn't have believed how much better she has become with a little exercise, so for the moment I will just keep grinding away at it, expecting things to get better.
  9. What in impolite bunch of responses to a newcomer, with no justification but that he doesn't speak the language well!
  10. That could do it. It would work on me!
  11. Thanks for the continuing advice. And I am starting to think that it's likely that a lot of the problem is valves, and of course I will check that first. One thing I have noticed since the advice started rolling in is that some of the offending notes have a very audible valve slap sound, which can't be a good thing? If none of this works, I will try playing while standing on my head, to see if the problem is simply hemispheric.
  12. I will just comment that a friend wanted to try my concertina the other day and after messing with it for a half hour or so had just the pain you describe. I credited it to the stress of having not settled into a comfort level with the instrument, that he was tightening something he shouldn't have, to hold the instrument in an death grip that wasn't necessary. Anyway, so one thing to ask is whether there was anything different about your seating position that might have thrown you off? An unusually higher stool or something like that?
  13. Just to be clear, I have absolutely NO problem with the Dipper job--it was almost 25 years ago, and a lot of miles back--as you can see, it's a bit ratty now, after a lot of playing. The concertina when I got it was like brand new, and I love it. I'm just trying to spruce it up for my current playing style. Thanks, RWL. As you can imagine, I just want to feel like I've done the job 100 times before I actually dig in, so as much data and understanding it as I can get, first, is good.
  14. Thanks! When I get back to town I will check all of this out....
  15. Thanks! You may be exactly right about the lever links. In particular the central C and C# on the right hand are slow, and without looking, I bet those are short levers. When one bends the set of the reed, is the bending from the base, or is the concept to reduce the upward bowing over the whole length, or does it depend? It looks like the lift is a slight bowing from one end to the other, to me, which would imply pushing more towards the tip of the reed to bend it?
  16. I have a nice mid-range metal-end Lachenel that I bought completely rebuilt from Colin Dipper about 20+ years ago. Recently I've gotten back into playing and am noticing some quirks. My question is whether I could or should go after these, or am I asking too much. The problem with reeds is that some five or so, randomly located, are a bit slow to start. I do like to play quietly, and so these pop out when I'm playing. I gather that this is fixable by adjusting the how the reeds stand and that I MIGHT be able to accomplish this myself (I am a violin maker and restorer, not all thumbs). The second problem is a few buttons that aren't as lively as the others. They don't stick--they just give the impression of sluggishness, which means that their notes don't pop. On this one I don't have a strong feeling for what might be wrong. I don't think the bushings are tight. I get a bit of a feel that the springs may not be pressing straight upwards to the levers and this might be part of it, but I don't really know. The action is not riveted--the levers pass through vertical slots in uprights, if I am remembering right. Any suggestions of things to check are welcome. I'm not scared to try to fix these things, but I would rather be direct about it rather than wandering in the woods, making mistakes. Any advice is welcome. I have read what I can find here about the reed response issue, but am still a bit reluctant to dive in, having seen all the ways that people who don't know what they are doing can mess up violins.
  17. I have a suggestion for something that is common on most or all of the forums I participate in. In "bargaining" cultures (which many of us don't belong to, especially on a concertina forum) it is proper and necessary for the person offering an item for sale to name his price first and any deliberation starts from that point. Many for sale forums require that and will delete listings that don't include at least a price for discussion. Aside from the tradition (which probably was developed with a functional purpose and should be respected by those of us who don't live that way), it gets things moving faster than having everyone guess what a seller things something is worth. I think there are a lot of reasons to do that, and just want to suggest that we consider that here.
  18. Something several people have alluded to that might be good to emphasize: because of the way concertinas are tuned, as opposed to pianos, close notes often sound terrible because the harmonics of the notes are out of tune with each other. That's why the several recommendations to spread the notes apart in some way rather than playing a tight triad. When I started playing multiple notes, I was happy to discover at the same time about metal ends vs wood, and the advantages of baffles. Adding baffles to my metal end EC subdued the nasty harmonics and made harmonies much more tolerable! I don't know if that would be overkill on wood ends or not.
  19. It may be more than you want, but I got some good ideas about this from a basic jazz piano technique book. Summarized, it's not necessary to play a whole chord--just the notes that indicate what's going on, musically. And initially, anyway, the correct note is determined by experimentation, choosing from the several notes that are in the chord to find the note that sounds the best, and then maybe another one or two to add in. In jazz the fifth (G in a C chord) is often considered unnecessary because it's in virtually every chord, anyway, so you only need to play it when it is sharpened or flattened, The next general rule is to not double the note that is the melody. Then you're not left with too much to choose from ? I'm using these general ideas to find harmonies, and it's working well. Obviously, rules are made to be broken, but the jazz idea does provide a basic structure. I'm not sure you want to be playing a full chord under a melody--it can get pretty heavy, and bury the tune if you're not careful. If you want to accompany something else, that's different. Which are you aiming at doing? If you are just starting, I'd concentrate on just learning tune melody lines for a while.
  20. I bet your new student doesn't need advice on this, based on what's happened so far. ? Somewhere recently--maybe here--I read a practice schedule that I'm trying to follow in a rough way which is sort of like five minutes of fun playing what you like, then 15 minutes of mixed work, then five more of fun. Fortunately I like exercises and such, so I dig in first by running through a few more familiar scales (I'm playing EC), and I'm also trying to learn parallel octave scales, with no particular objective in mind except to learn to reach distant buttons out of the air better, so I do that. Then practicing sight-reading from an Irish tunes book, then some more intensive work on the parts of that day's piece/s that twisted my fingers in the sight reading. But I am not doing this to learn the tune--it's for sight reading combined with looking for new interesting music. Then I do some metronome work with a couple of tunes I am trying to re-learn after 20 years of not playing. Then finally I work on working out some additional of the more obscure scales that I don't know yet. I also throw in a minute or two of trills, because I understand that they won't happen on their own. I suppose that as I find more little things I can't do I will bring them in to work on as well. I guess my point is that very little of what I'm doing is playing for fun, but it's doing work that is enjoyable for me but still work, and jumping around a lot in one session among the various things I need to learn, rather than grinding away for hours on one thing, and I try to do this twice a day. Most surprising to me was how well some of the things I don't spend much time on stuck for next time, like the parallel octaves, and how much I'm improving in sight reading speed. Actually, if anyone has recommendations of changes for me to make to this routine, I'm all ears.
  21. Looking at results, only, I think we need more examples like this:
  22. I have noticed that many EC players just push in one direction until they run out of air and then change. The result of this is that the music has no pulse at all---just a constant arrhythmic flow of notes that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I've been trying to think more like a drummer, changing when I want accents, not just at the beginning of the measure, but where the rhythmic flow demands. It's not always on one (and three), or giving an extra accenting push in those spots
  23. What a lovely little thing! And the can/case! ?
  24. On most instruments, notes tend to get less complex as they go up in pitch, which tends to strip out a lot of the personality, and about all you have control of is the number of harmonics (harsh v mellow, basically), not their relative volume, and the identity of a particular instrument becomes more a matter of the type of attack of the note, rather than the overall tone. My understanding of the clarinet is that it's lacking every other harmonic--I can't remember, but it's either the even or odd numbered ones.I wonder if this fishtail strategy might not work as well on a treble instrument, and that's why you've only seen basses. Now I want a clarionet tenor-treble!!
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