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Charles Hunt

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    I am a mandolin player who has taken up playing a Crane Duet Concertina. As a mandolin player I have a very eclectic taste in music. I play in a contradance band called Polar Drive in Fairbanks and have been playing contradance music for almost 20 years. I also occasionally play in a new acoustic band that covers original and bluegrass music as well as fiddle tunes.
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    Fairbanks, Alaska

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  1. David: Nice playing. I liked the Crested Hens tune and Farewell to Chernobyl. I especially liked your arrangement of Chernobyl which I have been playing for years on mandolin at Contradances. I thought it breathed new life into the tune. As far as the controversy over the title, whenever I hear the tune I think about the Chernobyl disaster. If everybody thought about the disaster for only a short time who hears this tune, then it is politically as well as musically valuable. When Prokofiev premiered a new sonata, he was booed off the stage. In response he came out and played the whole thing over again. Squeeze on. All the best Charlie
  2. On this topic of tradition versus innovation, I believe there is no "one" version of any tune. This was pointed out to me at a fiddle workshop when jazz violinist Micheal Gray asked individual participants in the workshop to play St. Anne's Reel. While all the versions were definitely related, each person had a slightly different take on the tune with a slight difference in phrase here and a triplet there. In my experience, in a band setting everyone needs to play the same version of a tune when they are playing in unison. However when someone takes a solo, they have the option of playing the agreed on version, or taking off in an innovative solo that stays within the chordal structure of the tune. This inevitably makes the music more interesting in my opinion. I describe fiddle tunes to my mandolin students as similar to Leitmotif in classical music. The tunes are frameworks or themes for regional and personal settings and musicians need to be open minded when they run into these differences. That is my take on this discussion.
  3. Dear Crane Driver: Thanks for your comments and directing me to your website to hear your playing and singing. I am always glad to listen to someone who plays Crane Duet. I find it fascinating how players use the instrument to its potential. I think my biggest problem is that the straps had stretched and I was using my thumbs to over-compensate. I guess this is a continuing story as the straps at first are a bit too tight, then later need tightening. Thanks again. Charlie
  4. Dear hjcjones: Thanks for replying. You stated the obvious and I tried tightening the straps. I think you were correct in that the straps had become too loose and I was using my thumbs to over-compensate. I am on the last, tightest, available adjustment and it is just a hair too tight, but I am sure it will loosen up with time. If I have to tighten again, I will have to go to a leatherworker to punch another hole and carve the sides of the strap down to make another adjustment. Thanks for the suggestion. Charlie
  5. I am a Crane Duet player and have noticed that I have to grip the wrist straps fairly tightly with my thumbs or I start to lose control of the accuracy of playing notes with my fingers. I also know that any kind of tightness might not be good overall for playing. I was wondering if anyone else has any thoughts on using a somewhat vice grip with the thumbs on the wrist straps. I imagine that anglo players may have the same grip. I have also wondered if it would be useful to put thumb straps on a duet like those on an English concertina. My thumbs do get sore when I practice a lot. But if I don't keep a pretty good grip I find my hand starts slipping backwards away from the buttons and I lose accuracy. I would appreciate any thoughts on this subject. Thanks Charlie MySpaceMusic Website: http://www.myspace.com/charleshunt CD Baby Website: http://cdbaby.com/cd/charliehunt
  6. I am a mandolin player mostly and learned it originally when I was 25 years old. I did not read music when I started, but my mandolin teacher, Hibbard Perry, was a classical fretted instrument player and taught me to read music along with the mandolin lessons. At the same time I was playing folk music and learned to play tunes by ear. If I can hum the whole tune, every note, without doubt about any phrase, I can figure it out on the mandolin. When I decided to take up Crane Duet I was 60 years old and so far, I have only played by ear on it. I sometimes look at note system chart to figure out what note to start off on, but once I get rolling I can usually figure out the melody by ear. I have quite a repetoire of mandolin tunes and I have been applying them to the Crane Duet. Of course the left hand is another matter, although I instantly know by ear if I am playing the wrong chord. I would say the Crane Duet has taught me a lot about forming and playing chords and accompaniement, although I still have a long way to go in that respect. Charlie
  7. I am mostly a lurker on CNet and I do play Crane Duet Concertina which I enjoy very much. But this post is shameless self promotion of a new CD I have made of mandolin music called The Cabin Hunter's Mandolin. There is no concertina content on the CD. My wife does play some piano accordion on a couple of cuts. I know many CNetters play other instruments as well. It is a CD of instrumental music played by me with help from some of the finest acoustic musicians in Fairbanks Alaska. Check out my CD websites at: CD Baby: http://cdbaby.com/cd/charliehunt MySpaceMusic: http://www.myspace.com/charleshunt Hopefully in the future if I make another CD there will be Crane Duet Concertina on it. All the Best Charlie Hunt
  8. I'd like to hear your observations, Boney. I've been wondering if I/we SHOULD be studying air button technique. So far I use the button pretty much like everyone else -- twice a session -- coming out of the case and going back in I had typed a much longer reply, but the spell checker ate the whole thing --Mike K.
  9. I have been playing Crane Duet for a couple of years now with no previous concertina experience. So I don't really have anything to compare it to. I have a friend who took up English about the same time. I would say she has made more progress playing melodies. That is all she plays so far, single note melodies. I have been concentrating on trying to play the chords and melodies at the same time. I find this a daunting task, but I am definitely starting to make progress. I have also been concentrating on playing waltzes. If I play just right hand, I can keep up with my English playing friend on most melodies. Add the left hand and I get flummoxed. I have been bringing the crane to sessions and trying to fit in where I can. I would say I have trouble playing with others on the Crane concertina. I am working a lot with a metronome because I think rhythm is a good part of the problem. I am very good at fitting in with almost anybody on the mandolin so this is a mystery to me. All that said, it has been a humbling, interesting and rewarding experience to take up another instrument. I intend to record myself playing a waltz then ask other Crane players what they would do differently to make the left hand accompaniement more interesting. Charlie
  10. Boney: Great playing on those waltzes. I am a beginning Crane Duet player and it was very instructive to me to see someone playing a waltz on a duet. I have been working on waltzes on the Crane, accompanying myself in an oompah pah style with the root note of the chord on the one beat and the third note on the second and third beats. I now see the and hear the advantage of playing fuller chords on the second and third beat. I liked seeing the keyboard on both sides of the concertina. I also admired your bass runs to connect the chords together. That instrument sounds great by the way. I would find it very helpful if you would post a video of you playing a reel and a jig on the Hayden. I have worked on a similar oompah accompanyment on reels but find it tiresome. Jigs so far have eluded me on any kind of system to play chords. Thanks for posting your video, All the best Charlie
  11. The other day I ran across a picture of a vibrandoneon. It looks a lot like a melodica in that it is powered by blowing it through a long curved stem. The one I saw was made by the Victoria accordion company which appears to make high end accordions of all types (though no concertinas). There are piano keyed versions of it and also button keyed versions. The Victoria brand body is made out of wood and they look like quality instruments. My question is how the button system ones are set up. They look like they might be set up like a chromatic accordion, or possibly a Hayden type of chromatic arrangement. I also wonder if the reeds sound anything like a bandoneon. I have scoured the Victoria site but there are only pictures of the instruments and a price list. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Charlie
  12. My concertina is a Lachenal Crane Duet, 48K with a replacement riveted action by the Concertina Connection. It was a Salvation Army Instrument. All the best Charlie
  13. After reading a number of accounts of Wakker replacement actions, I decided to take the plunge and have the action replaced on my 48K Lachenal Salvation Army Crane Duet. (Pictured in my avatar). This concertina had problems with air leakage, and was no where near air tight. Also, the action was continuously malfunctioning. I was having to periodically take it apart and fiddle with it. I am not particularly handy or mechanical and I hated messing with it. I sent it off to Wim hoping that he could do something with it. Two months later the concertina came back totally changed. It was about as air tight as an old Lachenal can get. The instrument was much louder, probably because it no longer leaked air. Also, the action was more consistent feeling. I did have problems almost immediately with one note sounding with no button depressed. I figured out that the offending Key needed to be bent slightly up on the button end. Since then I have not had a problem with that key or any other key. I think this is just what the concertina needed to make it really playable. I now have a functional instrument with a new crisp action. I thought the price for this work was entirely reasonable considering the action, pads, sampers etc were replaced and the instrument retuned. I don't know if this is the right choice for every instrument, but for me it was the correct answer. As a mandolin player, i have always chosen playability over any other concerns. I like my instruments as playable as I can get them. So this is my two cents on this subject. All the best Charlie
  14. After watching some of the videos of the group Buille (I believe pronounced similar to Beulah) on Youtube, I ordered their CD. It arrived yesterday, and I gave it a listen where I do most of my music listening these days, in my truck. I think it is a great CD. The central instrument is Naill Vallely's anglo concertina with great support on piano, guitar and percussion. Like Simon Thoumire's recording "Big Day In", the CD is very musical, interesting, and never becomes tiresome from the beginning to end. I highly recommend this CD not just because it is a concertina CD, but because in my opinion, it is an exciting new sound in celtic music. All the best, Charlie
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