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Moll Peatly

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Posts posted by Moll Peatly

  1. That's a great lesson. When I am faced with an unfamiliar tune as dots on a page, and start off just playing it mechanically like your computer, it sounds terrible, until I can figure out where the phrases sit, after which it suddenly begins to sound like a tune (even with all the wrong notes and shonky rhythms I introduce).

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  2. What David Barnert said. If you sing a song, or read a poem out loud, you will naturally take a breath at the end of each line. That's a phrase. That's where the bellows change will naturally go too.*


    Most stereotypical concertina tunes, especially for beginners, will be in two or four-bar phrases, so "periodical movement" and "phrase movement" are the same thing. The main thing you will need to check is whether the phrases begin and end on the bar line, or if there is a pick-up note (anacrusis) so the bellows change comes between beats 3 and 4.


    A difficulty you may have as a beginner is that fumbling for notes and correcting errors takes up time, so you run out of air and have to change direction in the middle of the phrase. That's just part of learning, don't worry about it.


    I believe the duet and English are naturally played in a more legato style than the anglo, and bellows control is a big part of that. That's what "you should never hear the change in direction" is about. But of course different music demands to be played in different ways, and as an anglo player you are doubtless familiar with the effects you can get. And as you get into more interesting music, the phrasing and bellows work will be less rules-based and more a matter of style.


    * It is not a coincidence that the length of the line in a typical poem is very similar to how much you can speak before taking a breath, or that the length of phrase you can play on a violin before changing bow direction is very similar to the length of phrase a person can speak or sing before taking a breath, or that the length of phrase you can play on a concertina before changing bellows direction is very similar to both. Each ultimately derives from your lung capacity.

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  3. Obvious answer: contact the people you bought it from.


    You've probably figured out that concertinas are mechanically complex beasts, and it's not uncommon for new (or old) instruments to need a bit of fettling. A reputable seller should do that for you, within reason. You will still want/need to do a bit of basic servicing yourself, though, and the best resources for that are (a) this forum* and (b) Dave Elliott's Concertina Maintenance Manual.


    *Except for me. I haven't a clue how to fix one note sounding louder than the others.

  4. No instrument can do everything. That's why there are lots of different instruments. Major categories of instruments include tuned/untuned, staccato/legato, melodic (monophonic)/harmonic (polyphonic). Any instrument will be unable to play some specific types of music, or only poorly. You can't play a piano piece (polyphonic) on a violin (monophonic), and if you play a violin piece (legato) on a piano (staccato) it will typically sound rubbish.


    It also makes a difference if you are playing solo or as part of an ensemble. Some instruments are great solo instruments, others (especially rhythm) work best in an ensemble.


    With that basis, a concertina can broadly play any Western music. Some individual pieces will be impossible, of course. Some styles will suit it better than others, but depending how rigidly that style is defined and guarded, it should usually be possible for a concertina to make an effective contribution. For example, you can't bend notes on a concertina, which is a major feature of blues; but that doesn't stop pianists playing the blues.


    If you want to play a concertina in a particular musical style or genre, and it's physically possible, then go ahead and do it. If it's a genre which doesn't have many concertina players, it may take some effort to make the music work, but if you do, the genre will be richer for it.


    And of course, if you're just playing for yourself and friends, anything goes.

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  5. So we have an answer, but not the question?


    Let's see...

    Is this it?

    The linked page says "Concertina in case, with label Scottish Concertina, W. Mitchell, Wishaw", and picture is "© GREAT WESTERN AUCTIONS, Ltd., Glasgow, Scotland, UK" as per the third post in this thread, so appears to be copied from the same auction listing.


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  6. Chant was written without sharps or flats, only natural (white) notes, apart from the occasional B flat. This means that any instrument that can play in C major (preferably with access to a B flat as well) will work. I'm not familiar with anglos but presumably that means a C/G anglo will work, other configurations may or may not. Any English or duet concertina will cope fine in this regard.


    This doesn't mean that it was all in C major; in fact hardly any was. You apparently know about modes and stuff. The upshot is that the keynote or tonic, around which the tune is centred, could in principal be any of the white notes. Different keynotes will have a different feel because they are different modes. I mention this because even if you only want to drone on the tonic and the dominant, you will still need most or all of the white notes available. A keyboard that doesn't have an F natural will be a big problem.


    (I was going to add something about relative versus absolute pitch, A=440, and all that, but I think that's a purely theoretical distraction, so I'll leave it. I assume you would expect to play as if written at modern concert pitch.)


  7. Ask yourself four questions, in approximate order of importance:


    1. Does the idea of getting a different note from the same button when you push and when you pull seem (a) perfectly natural and sensible or (b) utterly bizarre and brain-mangling?

    2. What sort of music do you mainly want to play? (a) Folk and similar, in a few common keys or (b) a diverse range of music in all keys.

    3. Should you use your two hands (a) right hand high notes, left hand bass like on a piano keyboard or (b) both hands playing an equal role like on a typewriter keyboard?

    4. Do you expect to play (a) largely by ear or (b) largely from printed music/dots?


    If you answered 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, get an anglo.

    If you answered 1b, 2b, 3b, 4b, get an English.

    If you answered 1b, 2b, 3a, 4b, get a duet.

    If you answered anything else, get a banjo. 😈

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  8. If you're travelling by train, you don't want to let your concertina bag out of your sight for a moment*. That means something you're prepared to have under your feet or on your lap for several hours. That leads me to Adrian Brown's solution: close-fitting rigid jug boxes in a rucksack padded with clothes and stuff.


    Or a large rigid case that you can use as a seat. But I would go with the rucksack myself.


    *Yes, I have had someone try to wander off with my rucksack. Luckily I was sitting close enough to see them and retrieve it.

  9. Tell you what David. I can only play from dots, I am terrible at playing by ear. One of my ambitions for this year is to improve my ear-playing. I'll work on that if you work on your reading. Deal? 😉


    (Bet you play an anglo, don't you? An EC has a pretty good mapping between the dots on the stave and the buttons on the instrument. Dunno how it works on an anglo but it seems to be a lot more complicated.)

  10. Yeah, copyright law is a mess, but I think everything that's been posted above is correct. It's particularly difficult in the folk/trad world, where the culture is that music belongs to everyone and is for sharing, even as there's a recognition that artists deserve a reward for their work.


    One thing that would help enormously would be if artists were explicit in how they want their works to be controlled. Slap a big copyright statement on it if you want to retain complete control. Say it's in the public domain if you want to give it to the world. Or use one of the Creative Commons licences if you want an intermediate degree of control. For example, Paul Hardy's tunebooks have a nice clear statement at the beginning:


    Copyright Paul Hardy (paul@paulhardy.net) 2004-2018.

    Work is licenced under a Creative Commons "Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike" by-nc-sa licence.

    See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ - Contact Paul Hardy for commercial licensing.

    If only people would keep the notices when they share stuff...

  11. I have used Sharpeye for converting scans of printed music to MusicXML, which I then loaded into a music processor (I use Mozart but Musescore is probably more popular and free). Sharpeye works pretty well if you've got a nice clean scan of fairly simple music, but it can take a fair bit of work to correct if the scan is poor-quality or the music is complex (e.g. many piano scores). Sometimes it's easier just to retype it directly into your music program.


    Sharpeye is pretty old and newer software may be better, but my guess is the same will apply. What does your source material look like? My hunch is that if you're talking about early C20 tunebooks, the printing is quite close and speckled, so it might be easier to retype.

  12. I don't know why no-one replied to your original post -- sometimes it seems everyone is waiting for someone else to reply, and it drops down the page out of sight. You could always try invoking Cunningham's law: threaten to superglue a couple of random parts together and see what response you get.


    Anyway, the usual answer would be to get a copy of Dave Elliott's Concertina Maintenance Manual. A quick skim doesn't find this particular problem, but it would give you the confidence to rummage around the works, which is often enough to fix common problems.

  13. Chester Folk Festival is a smallish do that takes place over the late May bank holiday weekend. This year, rather than cancelling, it's going online, with (as best I can tell) a mix of prerecorded videos and live Zoom events. Less ambience perhaps but more accessible to non-locals. Free but donations welcome.


    Sonopneumaticists may be interested in two events with Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne, but concertinas will doubtless be in evidence elsewhere.


    Personally I'm looking forward to the online ceilidhs...

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  14. You say bulk is a concern, but it's not clear if you mean in regard to travelling or to playing. If the latter, you should be aware that an EC is held by the thumb and (a bit) the little finger, which can be a bit of a weight until you get used to it. It certainly requires decent posture; I haven't tried playing the EC while lying down, and I'm not sure I want to. I believe anglos tend to be a little lighter than Englishes, and duets a little heavier. The wrist straps may make them feel lighter, I don't know. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

  15. On 3/19/2020 at 11:32 AM, alex_holden said:

    What you could possibly do is record a track, send it to a collaborator, have them record themselves playing along with it (in headphones), then mix the two together afterwards.

    Harps North West are running a project (which they started before this latest little trouble sprang up, but has become more timely) in which people are invited to record themselves playing a few bars of Pachelbel's Canon, which will then be mixed together into a whole. That sounds like fun, but also quite a lot of work for someone, so I'm afraid I'm not going to volunteer tp do a concertina version.

  16. As the WP page says, there are two distinct meanings of "swing": groove or feel, and playing unequal notes. I say distinct, but of course the latter feeds into the former.


    A common example of unequal notes is the hornpipe. These tunes are customarily written down with pairs of equal quavers, but that is not how they are played. You can think about the swing in different ways, depending how your brain works:

    - The first quaver is lengthened and the second quaver is shortened;

    - The second quaver is played late;

    - It is played as a crochet + quaver triplet, or as a dotted quaver plus semiquaver, or somewhere in between.


    Another common example is the Viennese waltz, where the second beat of the bar comes fractionally early, and the third beat slightly late (though I don't think this is usually described as swing).


    Lilt is similar, but (to me at least) lilt refers to triple-time tunes and swing to simple time. But I may have just made that up.


    As for playing with swing: the ideal is to "just know" how it feels, and have sufficient command of your instrument that you can make it happen. For the rest of us... I dunno. If you want to analyse it, you could try getting a computer to play the tune, which it will do absolutely soullessly and straight, and compare that to the concertina in your head (which, if you're anything like me, sounds much better than the concertina in your hands) and see what you would emphasise differently. Emphasis can be playing a note a bit louder (or suddenly softer), or a bit more (or less) staccato, or for a longer duration, or with an appoggiatura, or whatever other musical effect you can think of. Different styles of music will prefer different effects, of course.

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