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Jim Besser

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Everything posted by Jim Besser

  1. Ah, Kemp's; I thought it sounded familiar. I have the Folger Consort recording. I asked a friend who's deeply into French dance music. Her answer: it's an English renaissance piece by the 16th Century composer John Dowland. As you say, the dance was written in the 1990s and passed into the balfolk world, except that branles are not popular with balfolk dancers, so it quickly faded. Another interesting fact: branles, circle dances which preceded square and line dances in the French tradition, were often danced to sung music.
  2. Friends played this yesterday during an (online) session, and it seemed like good raw material for another excursion into the bizarre world of overdubbing. Branle du Parlement - I know absolutely nothing about the tune - played on Anglo CG concertina (2 tracks) and baritone Anglo concertina. Still experimenting with procedures for reducing latency; getting better, but not there yet. https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/branle-du-parlement-may-15-jb1
  3. Exactly. There is no one-size-all-fits solution to getting good sound out of concertinas. What works best for someone in a big, noisy ceilidh band with loud dancers and a huge sound system may be a poor solution for an ITM player playing solo in a studio or someone playing in a small trio at a folk club, or for a player trying to do high quality home recordings. Good sound depends on finding the solution that's right for your particular use. If you play in a variety of situations, like I do, you will probably need multiple setups in your tool kit. And I repeat myself: it's hard to get good sound on the cheap. And it's a really good idea to find opportunities to work with professional sound engineers experienced in dealing with the myriad variables that make for high quality sound.
  4. I supposed it makes sense. The built in mics on a Zoom H4N are crisscrossed; I'm going to try using that as my audio interface for recording and see if it makes a difference.
  5. That's interesting. Are you suggesting 2 mics in a crossed pattern, center of bellows? In a live sound situation - ie a noisy dance hall - I'm wondering if you get enough gain with that placement. I've heard it suggested as a good solution for home recording, but never tried it. Comb filtering: what is the characteristic sound of that kind of interference? How do I determine if it's affect my recordings?
  6. The AKGs are excellent mics. Good condenser mics make all the difference in terms of pure sound with concertinas. Stands vs clip ons - a matter of personal preference and personal stage logistics. I prefer stands because I'm a klutz and always get tangled up in the cables, and I switch back and forth between CG and GD instruments, and sometimes the baritone - often in the middle of dance medleys. So clip on condensers don't work for me. But they're a fine solution for many, and there's no comparison between the excellent sound they produce and the sound of Microvoxes. I'm not familiar with the DPAs, but looking at the specs on Sweetwater, they look great. Expensive, but good sound doesn't come cheap. My Shure KSM137s were 300 dollars each, but well worth the investment.
  7. 'm not morally opposed to cheerful tunes; in fact, I like them, more than ever as the evening news finds new and creative ways to be more of a bummer. So as soon as I heard Andy Turner's recording of "Oh Joe, the Boat is Going Over" on his Squeezed Out blog, I had to try it. Sure enough, it's a happy-making tune and great fun on 30 button Anglo concertina. Andy says the tune "might almost be considered the East Anglian national anthem," and that it derives from a popular song in the late 19th Century.
  8. Revisiting this topic for about the hundredth time... I used to play with Microvoxes. I found them unreliable - I think I had 3, and they all went bad - and I found the sound somewhat harsh. The turning point for me: we were playing on a big professional stage with serious sound guys. They hooked up the Microvoxes, at my request, took a listen and immediately unplugged me. The Shure KSM137s they used instead - on low stands, one pointed at each end - produced much truer sound and more gain, and I wasn't tied down by cables and a belt pack. I bought two and have used them happily ever since. For home recording, two Shure 57s do a good job (I don't use the condenser mics because I have a toddler in the house, and they're too expensive to risk). The Microvoxes win points for convenience and price, but I've never encountered a sound engineer who didn't try to talk me into using standard condenser mics. Oh, and I just hated getting tangled up in the cables. I realize there are some applications where having clip ons might make sense - busking with a portable amp, maybe - but not for me. Simple solutions are sometimes the best. As an aside, I have a friend who's a well known recording engineer. He has recorded may concertinists - and argues that a single really good condenser mic, pointed at the center, is the preferred solution. Of course, he is recording in an acoustically optimized studio, not a stage with noisy dancers, but it's one more data point in this ongoing discussion.
  9. Well I remember my first experience at the Northeast Squeeze In in Massachusetts. I walked into the parlor and saw a bunch of really old guys cranking out polkas on honking big piano accordions. A couple of decades later, I realize that they were probably younger than I am now.
  10. Like Jody, I also use the FLipside camera backpack for carrying two concertinas, mostly on Morris tours, when carrying several hard cases for extended periods would pretty much wreck my arms. I know a hard case provides superior protection, but honestly, in 10 years of carrying the instruments in crowded pubs, NY subway trains, airplanes and on two UK Morris tours, I've never had a problem. It's super light weight, with very dense foam and fairly rigid sides. It's a different story at home, where the instruments always reside in individual Pelican cases. I have a superb Jowaisas case for my Jeffries - I love it, but after a major plumbing disaster that almost produced a tsunami in my music room, I want something completely waterproof. I've considered a Pelican case big enough for two instruments, but can't see myself lugging one around on all-day Morris walking tours.
  11. I heard this first - Reign of Love, by Keith Murphy - from my friends Bill and Sarah, but just got around to trying it. What a cool tune! Sorry for the clunking noise - getting used to the awkward thumb brace I'm wearing these days. Played on a 30 button Jeffries G/D Anglo.
  12. I have a few Morse anglos and really like them. I've played a couple of Clovers, and think they're pretty equivalent in terms of sound and playability. What sets the Ceilis apart, IMO, is their light weight and their extreme durability. I use mine mostly for Morris dance playing, which means they get jostled, banged and rained on. In 15 years, only one has required service, and that was minor.
  13. Where (in the US) can I buy leather to make new hand straps for an Anglo? And what should I look for? (type of leather, thickness, etc.)? I need to design new straps to accommodate the brace I'm wearing for my arthritic thumb!
  14. Just messing around the other day with tunes from old John Kirkpatrick CDs. Old Towler is apparently an English or Scottish song first published in the 1790s. Played on a 30 button Morse hybrid Anglo.
  15. A sweet tune, Jody, and I really like the way you and CIndy play together. The stately pace is perfect.
  16. JK uses a variety of techniques to get this unique punch on Anglo; the best way to plumb the depths of his playing is to take one on one lessons (he's doing them on Zoom) or one of his workshops. It's useful to note that in his recorded Anglo playing, he plays almost exclusively along the rows, not cross row; this greatly facilitates the assorted techniques (like the aforementioned 'zip") he uses. It's much harder to get some of the punchy effects he gets playing in D, for example, on a CG.
  17. You know how some tunes are just so much fun to play you can't seem to stop? This week I was messing around with 'Vasen,' by Kjell-Erik Eriksson of the band Hoven Droven, and it's definitely one of them. It was last month's tune of the month on melodeon.net. Played on a 30 button GD Morse Anglo concertina. https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/vasen-jb-march-5
  18. Yes, he's a terrific musician and has picked up the Harpejji very quickly. He got it after our bass player died; his plan was to take up some of the functions of the electric bass, while also doing some chording and melody. It's an incredibly adaptable instrument. And i have heard the comparison to the Hayden before. I've actually thought about buying one, mostly to have something to play when the arthritis in my thumbs makes concertina playing impossible. From my observation of our guy playing, it involves very little stress on the hands and wrists. I think you have to buy direct from the manufacturer in Glen Arm, Md; I'm not sure they've found their way into stores.
  19. In this band, my main job is to play the basic tune; the sax and accordion players are wonderful improvisors, and they do the creative stuff. And the accordionist (and these days the Harpejji player) draw from a palette of chords not available to a lowly Anglo player.
  20. Well, in my band Frog Hammer I play alongside a fantastic piano accordionist, but with the general mayhem of the band, you don't really hear us together.
  21. Exactly. JK plays concertina almost entirely along the rows, not cross row. And on a CG, almost always in C. So most the tunes he plays on concertina - and that's a minority of his tunes, since mostly he plays accordion - are very accessible to 20 button players.
  22. Continuing my recent John Kirkpatrick kick: "Fair Play," from his great Duck Race CD. Written, I believe, by his late ex-wife. Played on a 30 button Lachenal / Dipper Anglo
  23. That complicates things a bit. A decent handheld should do fine for you.
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