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Jim Besser

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Everything posted by Jim Besser

  1. There are several options. A good handheld recorder like the Zoom H4n is incredibly convenient, and makes very good quality recordings; that's what I used to prefer, and still use to record band rehearsals and the like. A potential step up in quality but down in convenience: using your computer, good mics and an audio interface. Like David, I use a Scarlett 2i2, which enables me to use decent mics (Shure sm57s) with my Mac. The crossed mic arrangement pictured above helps with the problem of sound bouncing from side to side in stereo recordings, but in my experience you get better sound quality by having one mic on each side of the instrument, pointed to the end and placed close. Software - there are many digital audio apps, many fairly expensive, but the free ones (Garageband comes with the Mac OS, Audacity works on all platforms) are fine for most purposes. The handheld is a great all in one solution; if you don't already have good mics, it's certainly the most cost effective one. If you are recording in an environment with some background noise - a furnace fan, for example, or a noisy computer fan - the handheld is more prone to picking it up.
  2. I once was told that "7th chords don't belong in English music, and especially not Morris music." Advice I have cheerfully avoided over the years. I learned much of my current morris repertoire from Nick Robertshaw, who was prolific in his use of 7th, 9th, and for all I know 85th chords.
  3. Fascinating information. It's very cool how these tunes migrate and change. Yes, a Morris / English ceilidh touch; it clings to me like dog hair. I do hear the tune as inherently chunky, and I admit to being influenced by the amazing melodeon playing of Will Allen, whose recent recording reminded me of this great tune:
  4. Interesting research, for sure! Fascinating how tunes migrate and change until the origins become murky. And yes, I have a strong penchant for adding Bm chords with reckless abandon.
  5. What Ken said. A quick try suggested something more than a typical 30 button layout is critical. Plus talent, of course.
  6. Splendid! Thanks. I can't tell you how much I miss playing tunes with you.
  7. The last two parts are cool; I'll give them a try. Turns out it's also a favorite tune for pipe bands, as in this:
  8. Hi Robin - no, I never saw this - is it in the Toronto book? Mostly, I don't look at notation, and had no idea there were 2 more parts. I've heard the tune on and off for years, and think I played it at a London session or two, but only decided to play it this week after hearing the high energy version by melodeon player Will Allen. So is it english or french canadian? One Web source says it "first appears in manuscripts on both sides of the Atlantic in the mid-18th century." It doesn't sound quebecois to me. I love stories like this.
  9. Just hacking around on a dreary winters day. This: the Sussex Cotillion. A great tune for playing around with different left hand stuff. Played on a Jeffries 30 button GD Anglo
  10. That's really interesting. I love these stories of convoluted musical provenance.
  11. Berendanse. Just messing around today. I played this one years ago and quickly forgot it. I always heard that it's Flemish in origin, which may or may not be true; you know how these things go. The A part is almost identical to the 'Bear Dance' used for some border dances. Played on a 30 button Jeffries GD Anglo concertina.
  12. Very nice - great playing, great tune and the sound quality is very good.
  13. And one more: it could have been Alistair Brown; at the time, he lived in Canada and the Bluemont people brought him down several times for school programs. He now lives in the UK.
  14. Agree, but Anderson is the only concertinist she believes did school programs in the Bluemont area, so chances are it was him.
  15. According to one of the Bluemont oldtimers, it was almost certainly Alastair Anderson, who did a bunch of school programs in the area for them in this time frame. So your initial exposure was probably an English concertina!
  16. The chords aren't mine; oddly enough, I'm playing what he wrote. That was part of the challenge of the tune - getting the C and Am on the draw in the A part. It's a fun tune to play.
  17. The Bluemont concert series was pretty amazing in its day, bringing top rank performers to small towns and cities in the region. I can easily find out if Howard ever played concertina; i'm bandmate with one of his bandmates. It was a roller rink, on the west side of town. By the time we were there, it had been repurposed as a dance studio. It was a great place for Morris dance practice - but a real shelp for most of us.
  18. Another wonderful melodeon tune I wanted to try on Anglo concertina: Moskow Sun, by Marcello Alajmo. Like so many others, I was really taken by the duet with Alajmo and Sophie Petkevich . Played on a 30 button Jeffries GD.
  19. It was the beginning of the end, actually, for another Morris side.
  20. Update: from one of the original Bluemonters. There were a lot of possibilities; the Bluemont Concert Series brought a number of performers into the schools who may have triggered your interest in concertina. At the top of the list: Tony Barrand and John Roberts did Berryville and vicinity school programs back then. Also Bill Wellington, currently of the Albermarle Morris Men; apparently he played concertina -I only know him as a terrific oldtime banjo and fiddle player. And maybe Howard Bass, the noted lutenist. They also brought Noel Sing We Clear into the schools back then. Pretty cool stuff for a tiny Virginia town.
  21. Cool story. I was the last musician for Bluemont Morris, but your experience was before my time. I'm wondering if your concertina godfather was Curt Harpold, who's always been something of a concertina evangelist. Curt, the longtime musician for the Rock Creek Morris Women, plays Anglo. And I was wondering if it could have been Big Nick Robertshaw, the Jeffries duet player, but I'm not sure he had left the UK in the early 80s. Nick lived on a farm west of Frederick, MD, so might have been a logical choice to do a program in Berryville. BTW, the last practice venue for Bluemont Morris was the old skating rink in Berryville. I just emailed one of the Bluemont oldtimers to see if she had any suggestions.
  22. Yeah, Jim B will comment. I've long admired the TOTM on melodeon.net, and hoped it would work on c.net; Paul and Ken graciously made it happen. But ultimately, we just didn't have the critical mass of participants to make it work. The joy of a forum like TOTM is seeing/hearing different players approach the same tune in their own unique ways, and that wasn't happening most months. Over on Facebook, the Tunesday Tuesdays group is doing that - dozens of folks recording and posting the same tune EVERY WEEK. One of the enjoyable aspects of that forum is hearing people play tunes in unfamiliar genres, trying something they would never otherwise have tried. But TT is is drawing from a worldwide audience of people playing every conceivable instrument. Our little concertina world is just too small. Not enough people posted recordings, or offered comments on posted recordings. And I suspect concertina players are pretty rigid about genres; ITM players don't want to play non-ITM music, oldtime players shun non-OT tunes, and so on. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just the way it is, but it further narrowed the pool of participants every month. Ultimately, it just wasn't worth the effort of trying to present interesting choices every month reflecting the wide range of music that can be played on concertina.
  23. I actually missed that call. For Jamulus / JamKazam, I'm now using a single mic pointed at the center of the instrument; this allows me to have the second mic positioned for talking. Sound quality is worse than having two mics pointed at the concertina, but it means I don't have to keep moving one mic back and forth so I can talk, and quality is good enough for online jamming.
  24. Hmm. But would preclude having mics at either end of the instrument, wouldn't it? Or am I missing something?
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