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About njurkowski

  • Rank
    Chatty concertinist
  • Birthday 02/05/1983

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Interests
    Music - music theory, trombone, piano, and now, the mighty English Concertina!
    Homebrewing, Judo, Aikido
  • Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
  1. njurkowski

    Polyphonic Playing

    When I played a lot of jazz (on trombone, not concertina), I generally used The Real Book. I didn't realize there was a fake book called The Fake Book - what type of tunes does it have? Both of the tunes you've posted are of the older popular variety (though Gershwin can be hard to pigeonhole), is that mainly what you play, or do you play other styles as well?
  2. njurkowski

    Polyphonic Playing

    That's a nifty arrangement! So you generally play from lead sheets, then? What fake book do you use?
  3. njurkowski

    Valve sizes in a lachenal tutor

    I do. It actually just arrived yesterday. Seems quite handy, and I'm making my way through it. Today was the first day I did anything (just cracking the box open to measure the valves).
  4. njurkowski

    Valve sizes in a lachenal tutor

    The cracks really aren't that extensive. I actually think that glue mixed with sawdust would be just right, given the amount the wood has pulled apart. There is a bit of displacement in a few places, though it isn't by that much. If you think that careful sanding might work, I'll try that. I like the idea of the wax paper to keep things contained. Luckily, the damage really isn't that extensive, so I don't think I'll have to be drilling anything out. I appreciate the tips - I definitely want to do this right!
  5. njurkowski

    Polyphonic Playing

    When I compose or arrange, I generally do it in a polyphonic style. I'm a grad student, and have performed one piece in public (it was a showing of the silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and a group of use wrote music for it). My interest is in the classical music of the 20th century, and I tried to write it in an expressionist/2nd Viennese school style to match the expressionist film. I've done a bit of arranging as well, but not too many public performances. 10 dozen tunes is pretty impressive! Do you play from sheet music?
  6. njurkowski

    Valve sizes in a lachenal tutor

    The pad board seems to have shrunk over the years and pulled apart, across the holes for the pads. The gaps aren't especially wide, but I need to fill it with something to make it airtight. It seems like the cracks might be a little too wide to just fill it with wood glue, but I could be wrong. Thanks for the advice!
  7. njurkowski

    Rules and Tradition

    About academic training: It riles me up a bit when I hear people brush off academic and technical training in this way. I will agree that this type of training is not for every type of musician. However, it in itself represents a different tradition, rather than (as some claim, not necessarily ceemonster) a sort of hyper-intellectualized factory that robs musicians of their individuality. Generally, any player in a major symphony orchestra has at least a master's degree in their instrument of choice, at least in the US, and it would show utter ignorance of the classical tradition to make the claim that they would be better off without that training. At the time of Thelonius Monk, jazz wasn't particularly established in the academy, and he probably had good reason to be skeptical. That is simply not the case now, with schools like Berklee and Oberlin (and yes, even Julliard) producing some fantastic jazz musicians. One must be wary of the time that statements were made (as well as the conditions surrounding them) before trotting them out as though they have the same significance for all time. Do all traditions benefit from academic training? Probably not, though I can't really make any claim one way or another. I'm not familiar with other musical traditions, but opinions seem to vary. However, just as I am largely unfamiliar with these traditions, and so don't comment on them, I caution others unfamiliar with the academic/classical tradition to not simply discount or misunderstand it.
  8. Well, I went and did something that I'm sure will end up consuming all of my free time: I acquired an old, beaten-up 48-key Lachenal English (tutor model with colored buttons and brass reeds, serial number 36981), since I don't think I'll have the money for a fully restored vintage model any time soon. I bought the thing sight unseen (the price was right, and who doesn't like a good gamble now and again?), I ended up with a model that needs new springs, valves, and pads, as well as some wood filler on the padboard, but with (most importantly) great looking reeds and no damage to the finish. The bellows are in quite a state, and I'm not sure yet if I want to try patching them or just replace them (probably from David Leese's site if I go that route), but one step at a time; I'm turning my attention to the valves and pads. I'm putting together a list of measurements of valves and pads so I can order them from the concertina connection, but I notice that some of the valve sizes don't match the standard sizes available on Wim's site. For instance, there are a number of valves that are 24mm - the corresponding valves on the other side are 25mm, and one (which was cut to fit) seems to have originally been 27. Now, it seems to me that some of the original valves maybe were just not cut as carefully, or the craftsman didn't have any more 25mm on hand and used other sizes, but I wanted to make sure this wasn't done with some inscrutable yet crucial reason before I decided to "correct" the original handiwork. Thanks!
  9. Boy, Danny...that's great! And very interesting. The effect is so different from a harpsichord or piano - very cool. I think there is definitely some promise there. This has been a fantastic thread!
  10. Personally, I have never been that attracted to music with sweeping, conventionally beautiful gesture. That's certainly an individual taste, and I know a rather odd one. I'm sure it explains why I like 20th and 21st century music. But part of the spirit of new music (that I really respect and enjoy) is to find expressivity in sounds and music that is not conventionally thought of as expressive...in the mechanical, atonal, or monotonous, for example. Anyway...a percussionist won the concerto contest at my undergrad institution with one of Zivkovic's marimba concertos (number 2, I believe). It speaks more to the quality of the wind/percussion program in relation to our string program there than anything else, but there was some pretty stiff competition. Novel it may have been, but novelty doesn't always correlate directly with a lack of depth. Obviously, it isn't doesn't have the same expressive character as a Tchaikovsky violin concerto, for example, but it is still expressive - just in a different way. I certainly think you are on to something...one of the reasons the concertina wasn't established is because on some level, it was marketed as a violin substitute. Since it is completely different, this was bound for failure.
  11. It's not the idiots, it's majority of Duet players' performance. Enough to check youtube videos to hear those bellowing left hand notes. I think Danny put it down very well. Marimba analogy doesn't work. One can have all kinds of instruments in "serious" music settings, but without those "established" instruments it will be just a lame novelty show. The question is not whether concertina can't be used at will, but whether violin music is suited for it. I guess it is not, but if one can't play violin and simply wants to experience "conversation" with a genius behind the musical piece, it is very convenient device. I'm not sure why the marimba example doesn't work? Are you saying that without violins, marimba is also just a lame novelty? Our discussion has transcended the simple question of whether Bach violin music works on the concertina, I think. Just as a marimba won't pull off violin music, neither will a concertina. That doesn't intrinsically make either one a less serious instrument.
  12. I would completely agree with you Danny, if all that "serious" music was was imitating a flute or violin or trumpet. A concertina certainly cannot compete in these roles with these established instruments. But there are many other roles in serious music, particularly in modern classical music. A marimba doesn't have the same advantages as the piano or a violin in terms of expressivity or sustain, but there are plenty of serious compositions for it. Harry Partch created a huge number of microtonally tuned instruments which I doubt had even the expressive capacity of a concertina, but the music he created still has an assured place in the "serious" pantheon. I think it's true, if you want to play romantic violin sonatas on your concertina and have them be as moving as on the original instrument, you'll probably be disappointed. But there is plenty of other music. Stravinsky's neoclassical period might be especially appropriate, since he was trying to write music that was intentionally not traditionally expressive. By the way, I'm curious - did you ever try playing a continuo role using the concertina (maybe a baritone...) in you early music ensemble? I think that'd be more interesting than using it as a melody instrument.
  13. I wasn't saying that every piece of music is some sort of edifice that can only be played on the instrument was written for; I simply said that certain techniques and styles don't work the same on every instrument. By the Baroque period, most pieces were conceived with a rather set instrumentation in mind, I believe. There are plenty examples of pieces written for a strict ensemble, and what is this kind of orchestration if not an attempt to take advantage of each instrument's unique capabilities? Renaissance music was much different - that was often entirely flexible. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "tunes." The subjects and themes of pieces by Baroque masters were quite carefully composed and worked out to foster maximum contrapuntal and developmental possibilities...not something that comes to mind when I think of a "tune," but I suppose that's a matter of opinion. And I agree...Baroque music can work quite well for concertina, in part because of the organ-like qualities of the instrument that I mentioned. However, just as you wouldn't hear a monophonic Baroque organ piece, I agree with Dirge that a monophonic Baroque concertina interpretation is not well suited to the capacities of the instrument. Polyphony is required in this type of music, as it is for the organ, to add interest to an instrument which is perhaps not as sensitively expressive as a string or wind instrument. As long as the interpretation takes advantage of the instrument's capacities, I wouldn't call it inferior either.
  14. The opposite is very common - the ability to decrescendo and let a final note die away is really important - and the pitch change there disturbs my ears. I heard a nice phrase on the radio a while back - describing the decaying sound of a plucked lute string as "the perfect death". Very important for a string instrument, maybe. But there are other instruments that have other problems with a niente ending (it can be pretty tricky on a brass instrument, but not for tuning reasons). Such an ending might be very idiomatic on a string instrument or clarinet, but not on, say, a pipe organ (which I strikes me closer to a concertina anyway). The organ isn't inferior because it can't do what you described. It plays different music - some might view it as somehow less expressive, but that's a matter of opinion. Certainly that's important to note, but again...it's part of writing and playing to the instruments strengths, which is what started this whole thread. I don't think a concertina should be trying to imitate strings to begin with.
  15. Unfortunately I am able to hear those deviations without any ensemble. I was thinking it's my technique or instrument in need of setting up. Danny confirmed my worse suspicions. No wonder. I guess that's why accordions have double reeds. Another design feature is small size. Is it possible that small size of bellows contributes to instrument having less dynamic possibilities? I haven't noticed much of pitch changing when I listen to accordion. Bach is staple music for Russian classical Bayan repertoire, and I heard very good rendition of Bach on Bandonion. Even Danny's rendition of classical pieces (he's sitting there blushing. Don't want to blush? - Don't publish your playing!), yes, even Danny's renditions are kind of..., mm..., cute, you know? It's like someone who can sing sea chanties really well, in comparison to professional Operatic Baritone (regardless of whether we like it or not. Just from a professional point of view: control of the voice, pitch, breathing, presence etc.). So perhaps if I could put my hands on nice square English, the size of a Bandoneon, with double reeds: - + 2cents each, I'd be happy? Or perhaps such an instrument will be sought by soloists, arrangers and composers? Which means re-design of a handle, and we are back to earlier discussions. You have a penchant for the dramatic, Michael. And either you have a better ear than me or my Stagi changes less than your box - I just checked my concertina against a tuner, and there is about an 8 cent range between the instrument's version of pp and ff. Unless you are playing a long crescendo from pp to ff, this might be noticeable, but this isn't particularly common. A more moderate variation (that I would consider typical of phrasing) changes my tuning maybe 4 cents, and this really doesn't jump out at my ears. I really don't notice that kind of change unless I am playing with an ensemble and can hear the beats against the other instruments. In a group, sure, it would be an issue that others would have to adjust to, but alone, 4 cents isn't very much. Keep in mind a quarter tone is 50 cents...The equal tempered system of a piano means that the third of a major chord is more out of tune than that (the third should be 14 cents lower than in equal temperament). While this change can be noticeable when listening to chords on a piano, I don't think it is particularly distracting, especially not in the context of a piece. Certainly, the equal tempered system is pretty well established, and the liberties taken with tuning have not prevented the piano from being a preeminent concert instrument.