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Jim Besser

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Hmm. But would preclude having mics at either end of the instrument, wouldn't it? Or am I missing something?
  5. Makes sense. Educate me: what do you mean by a 'crossed pair?'
  6. The Zoom H4n is a pretty amazing device, but now that I have a permanent computer workstation in my music room, I use it much less. It does add extra steps - ie getting the recordings into the computer for editing. Generally, I just remove the SD card and plug it into the Mac. Mics - we've been discussing/arguing about this on c.net ever since there was a c.net, and in the end there's no one-size-fits-all solution. For my particular needs - playing in noisy dance environments and recording in a less-than-ideal home studio-- two directional mics, placed close to the ends, have produced the best results. For live sound, 2 Shure KSM137 condenser mics, for recording 2 SM57s. I have a friend who's a highly respected recording engineer; he has recorded concertinas using a single studio quality condenser mic, correctly positioned, and prefers that setup, but he conceded that this might not be true outside of his acoustically perfect recording studio. And that's generally a poor option in band situations; to get enough gain from a concertina miked this way, you have to crank gain way up, and end up with a cacophany. The weird stereo issue may be peculiar to Anglos, and the way I play. It wouldn't be a problem if I played Anglo strictly along the rows, with chords/basses on the left and melody on the right, but I usually play cross row, with chords/basses on the left and melody bouncing back and forth. This produces a jarring effect, or so I've been told by people who have listened to my tracks, so I've been mixing recordings to mono. I'm guessing this wouldn't be as much of an issue with duet or English concertinas, and certainly not with an accordion.
  7. For quick and easy recordings, a portable MP3 recorder will do the job nicely. I've recorded a lot with a Zoom H4n, on a mic stand, about 18 inches from the center of the instrument. When I do this, I record in MP3 format, import the file into Audacity and clean it up. For recording solo with higher quality sound, I use 2 SM57 mics on short stands, on either side of the instrument, feeding a Scarlett 2i2 USB interface to my Mac. I've used both Garageband, a Mac-only app, and Audacity, a multi platform program. Good results with both, but I prefer Garageband, especially for overdubbing. I record in stereo, but generally mix down to mono; the sound of the music flipping from side to side seems to annoy people. For quick and dirty recordings - like when I'm trying something new and want to see how it sounds - I sometimes use a single SM57 pointed at the center, but you lose a lot of signal. I have a pair of excellent condenser mics that I use for live sound, but they seem like overkill for this application, and I don't like leaving them out where they can knocked over by the dogs or the grandkid. At band rehearsals, I've used my iphone when I've forgotten the Zoom, but the sound is pretty muddled (but i play in a very loud band, so others may have different experiences).
  8. I've had one for 4 or 5 years and love it. Here's a sample of how I use it - mulitracked with a standard anglo.
  9. Ha ....the last thing I need is a concertina amplifier. No doubt one factor in my hearing loss is playing a very loud concertina without ear protection for many years. The audiologist was not impressed with my behavior.
  10. Actually, I do that...the 'concertina setting' is off.
  11. After a lot of experimentation, I have concluded that taking them out when playing is the only reasonable solution. For me, that's not a problem when I'm practicing, or at band practice; it's a much bigger problem when the Morris boys are at the pub and I'm called on to play....without hearing aids, I'm in big trouble in crowded, noisy pubs. The best solution in those cases: I use the bluetooth app on my phone to turn them off.
  12. Still messing around with overdubbing - and with playing familiar Morris dance tunes out of context. Here's one of my favorites: Idbury hill. Played on a GD Jeffries Anglo and CG Morse baritone. https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/idbury-hill-overdubbed
  13. I assume it's because most good concertinas reside in blocked cases that keep the bellows firmly closed.
  14. An old English tune of unclear provenance, played on a 30 key Lachenal CG Anglo
  15. YEah, that's what we use. And I think there's a short segment of a third tune somewhere in there. But we haven't done it in a few years, and memory is fading. Ah, here's a video of us doing it. We only dance 1 sword dance each year, and basically practice it on the day of the dance out
  16. Great stuff, as always, Robin. I always enjoy playing for Ampleforth, but we use a slightly different set of tunes.
  17. I don't remember, but I think we talked about it when we met at the Squeeze In in 97 or 98. The year we did a NESI gathering of rec.music.makers.squeezebox participants.
  18. Ha; I stole this back in the. rec.music.makers.squeezebox days and forgot about it. But I think I need to use it again, although not here, since it's clearly your trademark.
  19. Unfortunately, can't do 3 PM - we have grandparent duty. GEnerally free noon-3 PM EST on weekdays.
  20. Me too. I do JK regularly with David, and play mostly the same stuff.
  21. Yes, JamKazam is improving rapidly, and we're learning to navigate its non intuitive settings. I am wondering about the maximum number of players on a JK session; my experience has been that each additional participant adds a degree of instability. Zoom sessions are nice as social gatherings but unfulfilling musically.
  22. I've been using it for a week or so, with mostly positive results. But I am finding some odd behaviors, the strangest being this: laying down a click track and playing along, I'm getting periodic latency, generally in the middle of a tune. To test this, I created a slow click track - something like 50 BPM - and recorded just a simple scale, being very careful to be spot on with the track. Playing it back, I was on at the beginning and end, but in the middle, there was a noticeable latency. But when I record 2 tracks of music, things seem pretty much in sync. Here's something I did this week using Soundtrap. Mostly it seems together; whatever latency there is could be because of the DAW, or because the baritone concertina is slightly slower to respond than my Jeffries. I'm just beginning to play around with this, but it seems very promising. I'm sure all this is stuff I could do with a non-Web DAW, but I'm interested in making music, not climbing steep tech learning curves.
  23. Another quarantine project: learning overdubbing. Currently playing with the web-based Soundtrap, which seems to work OK, except that there is no adjustment to compensate for latency. It's not a major problem, but it's noticeable. Has anybody on c.net worked with Soundtrap and figured out how to reduce latency? Tune: Y Gelynnen, a catchy little Welsh tune. Instruments: Jeffries GD Anglo, Morse CG baritone Anglo.
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