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Paul Groff

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  1. To anyone interested in bidding on a Mayfair anglo currently on ebay, I am very sorry to have to inform you that this instrument has never been paid for for by the seller, who bought it from me several years ago and promised to pay over time. As I often did in those days, I also spent hours giving him free lessons. I have emails from him, both old and new, as proof and will forward them to any party that may need this. Since he lived in another state from my shop and the money involved was less than legal fees, I never took him to court. But this shameful behavior is evidence that current bidders should also be very wary of the seller's ethics. He has just offered to "settle with me when he sells the instrument." So (if I were to trust him) I guess it would be in my interest not to make this public warning. But I would feel pretty bad if another person suffers a loss by dealing with this person. Paul Groff
  2. Hi Jim, Malcolm's suggestion is well worth investigating especially since your problem is a draw reed. I have actually seen your symptom on draw reeds due to such pad delamination a few times. The thin leather layer of the pad can sputter as air flow pulls it away from the pad, toward the hole in the soundboard. But there are also other possible causes too, many that you could repair yourself. If the problem persists email me and I may be able to help over the phone -- sounds like the instrument you got from me (a few years and, I bet, many hours of playing ago). groff (at) bio (dot) miami (dot) edu
  3. Hi Bob, It is more or less true by definition..... Although there are some fairly obscure variant uses of the term "equal temperament," (*) when most of us use the term these days we are referring to a system where the octaves are tuned "just" (each successive octave is a pitch twice the frequency of the one below), and each octave is subdivided into twelve pitches that are "equidistant on a logarithmic scale." Every note has the frequency of the next lower note, multiplied by a constant which is the 12th root of 2. (Here the "2" reflects the doubling of frequency with each octave and the "12" reflects the division of the octave into twelve parts). In other words, if the frequency of any note is "n" (Hz or cycles per second) then the frequency of the next highest note in this ET system is "(n) times the 12th root of 2." [Don't know how to bring up the correct math notation here]. By definition in this system, C# in any given octave has the identical frequency to Db; D# to Eb, and so on. There are only 12 different pitches per octave, if we count only (either) the upper *or* lower limiting pitch. In this system, enharmonics are merely different spellings to which the same pitch is assigned. When an english concertina is truly tuned to equal temperament, the duplicate buttons for Eb vs D# and Ab vs G# in each octave where they occur are only useful for alternate fingerings, as OCD noted, not to provide different pitches. That is why some english-system players have been known to substitute a low F natural for the low Ab or G# of a 48 key treble (or other substitutions). Sometimes the reeds for one of these duplicated pitches are pulled out of one of the high chambers to provide an air button when the instrument lacks one, showing their redundancy. Though others on this forum have disputed me in the past, I have always felt that these duplicated notes in each octave were originally designed to be tuned differently from each other (as enharmonics in meantone should be) and I have seen several old original englishes in 1/4 comma meantone (or close to it) that bear this out. I was not the first person to write about this of course, and have never claimed this observation was original to me, but when I first alluded to this point on this forum about 8 years ago there were some longtime english-system players here who thought the original *intent/designed purpose* of those duplicates in the english layout was to provide duplicate fingerings! In my view their persistence in the button layout once equal temperament became dominant for the english system is like the appendix or other vestigial organs in our body that have hung around once their former use is no longer being served. *Leaving aside the "stretching" of octaves in some tuning schemes for pianos etc., there are some exceptions we can note. Other scales for which the term equal temperament has been used include: 1. Some have described 1/4 meantone temperament as a sort of "equal tempered just intonation;" to me this statement is likely to confuse. In 1/4 comma meantone the major thirds are just and all of them are equal in size, also every key has the same internal relationships among the notes of its scale, but the octave itself is not divided into equal units. 2. Then, it is possible to equally-divide the octave (on a log scale) into more or fewer than 12 units. A division of the octave into 31 or more equal units gives many options for intervals that are very harmonious ....see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/31_equal_temperament ..... and I believe I have seen some Gamelan scales described as "equal tempered with 10 notes" -- i.e. the octave divided into 10 equal units (on a log scale).
  4. Hi all, I think there is a lot of confusion in the discussion above, which is not surprising as you will see. Since there now seems to be wide interest in the subject of unequal-temperament for concertinas, some here may appreciate a little more discussion of these issues (in more depth than I took to provide above). It is a complicated subject and it doesn't help that some major music dictionaries and other references that people might logically consult have made gross errors that have propagated in the literature (and in music education generally) for decades. For example, Grove's dictionary and the Harvard dictionary of music both are misleading on different aspects of equal vs unequal temperament, enharmonics, etc. First, if we are going to be very precise in this discussion I should briefly correct a couple of omissions of detail from my own post above. I don't like to edit posts once there has been a reply because this can take all intelligibility out of the discussion as recorded in the thread. See points under * below for these corrections and additions. These points are all for the sticklers; they are important but in an attempt at brevity I didn't want to bog down in them when making a couple points to Bob yesterday. Now, in response to Dirge, Chris, et al: I. Different keys do sound different even in true equal temperament (if the pitch of "A" is kept constant), because they will be placed in a different part of the instrument's range and will require response from different parts of your auditory apparatus. Neither musical instruments nor ears respond linearly (in timbre and other variables) to changing frequency, and sometimes they are spectacularly nonlinear (for that matter, so may be the acoustics of the room). Even if a piano is truly in perfect ET every different key will differ somewhat in timbre (tone quality) as well as frequency. Not to be forgotten is that piano technique involves very different motions in the different keys. For a piano player to truly be playing "the same piece in different keys" with *exactly* the same timing, attack, etc. for each note can be very, very difficult. That also might possibly account for a different mood heard by a listener. II. But there is a different question when the temperament is unequal: whether the relative intervals among the notes of the scale are the same or different when changing key. Actually, in regular meantone temperaments there are no differences in the internal intervals between the key of C (for example) and any other key, *as long as the correct notes are present on the instrument.* If you are playing music that stays in one major key with no accidentals you will be using 7 different named notes, maybe present in multiple octaves. A 1/4 comma meantone temperament with 12 notes to the octave might include the notes: C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, Bb, B. With these notes you can play in the major scales of Bb, F, C, G, D, and A. Within each of these keys, the pitch relationships among the notes of the major scale will be identical (again, as long as the music requires no accidentals). The average pitch of each of these keys will be different but the internal pitch relationships are the same. So, (except for the real and important issue identified in my paragraph labeled "I" above), every one of these keys should "sound" the same in such a musical test, though the music will be transposed up or down in frequency. In comparing a meantone-tuned piano to an equal tempered piano there will be differences in how individual notes and how individual intervals sound (in general, major thirds much sweeter in meantone, perfect fifths a little more active in meantone since narrower), and also, as I mentioned yesterday, the average pitch of the keys in meantone will be a little different than the average pitch of the keys in equal (the entire scale of Bb on the meantone piano may be on average a little sharp to the same key played on the ET piano, and the entire scale of A may be flat on average relative to the same scale played in ET -- depending on where the "center pitch" of the meantone piano is set). III. Where there are real differences in "the tonal colors of the different keys" that depend on actual *differences in relative sizes of comparable intervals from one key to the next* is in the well-temperaments, modified meantone temperaments, and related tunings. This is a hard concept to grasp. But consider the fifth interval from "doh" to "sol." This has a certain "size" in ET and it is the same in all keys within ET. It has a certain "size" in 1/4 comma meantone (a little less than in ET) and again it is the same in all keys within 1/4 comma meantone (if the "correctly spelled" enharmonic notes are available). But there are other tunings where the fifths are different in "size" from key to key within the same tuning; for example, C to G might be "just," D to A a little narrower (as in ET), E to B narrower still (as in 1/4 comma), etc. In these latter temperaments (including "well-temperaments," which are neither equal-tempered nor regular meantone temperaments), which seem to have been very important in European music from Bach's day or before through the early 20th century (or later :-), there really are "different colors of the different keys" that are due to very different proportions of the intervals of the scale. A lot that has been written about the different "sounds" of different keys dates from the period in which such temperaments were dominant in European art music. Hope this very short discussion might help those who raised questions find their way into the literature on this subject. There is a lot on the web and I like the big book "Tuning" by Jorgenson which your library might have or be able to order for you to study. Here are just a couple interesting links from one google search I ran: http://www.kylegann.com/histune.html http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/meantone.html http://scilib.univ.kiev.ua/doc.php?6604172 Paul * Fine points that should be added to my previous post to make it more precise: 1. Actually there is no circle of fifths in meantone, and I should have re-worded my sentence to prevent that misinterpretation. When I mentioned "circle of fifths," I was getting at how the meantone-tuned concertina will compare with ET instruments as *the latter* move through *their* circle of fifths. In meantone, when you progress along the *chain or spiral* of fifths from Eb, Bb, F, C, G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#, G#, D# you just keep going -- because the D# you just played is well flat of the Eb with which you began. 2. Actually Jeffries and (John, et al.) Crabb may not literally have offered their customers alternate enharmonic A#/Bb that "often" -- these would be the commonest duplicates on their anglo layout if keyed for G and D, but in fact original G/Ds are probably not that common. More precise would be to have written that Jeffries and John Crabb often offered the alternate "re #/mi b" when the anglo was made in the keys of "doh/sol." But I'm not sure this would have gotten across without the concrete example.
  5. Hi Bob, It is really interesting to see some experimentation with alternatives to equal temperament among modern builders. Since you seem to have introduced this topic to get feedback, I have a couple of responses FWTW. But as always, my general suggestion to everyone is that the more players (and those who make and set-up instruments for them) explore a wide range of alternative tunings, the wider and more expressive a musical palette we can have available. Not every experiment will work, but far better to try them and (if necessary) abandon them than to remain within the very narrow world of 12-tone equal temperament that so many 20th century musicians were taught as the "rule" for "in tune." First, I understand the values you give in "cents deviation from the values for equal temperament" are approximations. But to make more clear to everyone reading, it looks as though you are going for "1/4 comma meantone" or something close to it. To actually achieve this, all "correctly spelled" major thirds would be acoustically pure. 1/4 comma meantone is only one of a large family of meantone temperaments. In the 1990s I tuned a C/G 31 key Crabb from the 1880s in 1/4 comma meantone and used it very widely in many keys for many kinds of music. True, as Dave says, in keys such as F and Bb the instrument will be progressively a little sharp relative to ET instruments at A 440 and going around the circle of fifths to the "sharp keys" of D, A, and E the instrument becomes a little flat on average relative to ET instruments. But if you set your center pitch appropriately, the keys of A, D, G, and C and their modes are not too bad. Many flute and fiddle players routinely hit notes that are more than 10 cents flat or sharp of the ones they are targeting :-). Then, many fine flute and fiddle players are actually targeting notes that far (or more) from the ET equivalent to achieve the intonation effects they prefer. So a 1/4 comma concertina is not so useless in public performance as some might suppose. Second, as a suggestion, many players of a G/D might prefer a Bb to the A# you used. In meantone temperaments of course the two are not equivalent. Using your convention for notating deviations from ET, at about the same precision you are suggesting, the Bb would be set around +17 Again Dave makes a good point that meantone temperaments gain a lot more subtlety and flexibility when you increase the number of pitches per octave. He is right about the early English concertinas having a 14-tone scale with duplicate enharmonics (Ab vs G#, Eb vs D#). On some vintage anglos (*not* tuned in 1/4 comma meantone BTW) there were duplicate enharmonics tuned to different pitches, such as D# vs Eb for a C/G anglo or Bb vs A# for a G/D anglo. Very large anglos such as the interesting 50 key Jeffries I recently sold may have additional pairs of duplicate enharmonics. If you could find a place for it in your button layout, you could offer the player *both* the A# you chose and the Bb I suggest..... as Crabb and Jeffries often did. Keep up the good work and best wishes, Paul
  6. Paul, I have enough trouble learning to play the concertina practically that I haven't got deep into the theory yet. My suggestion that one might try just intonation on a 20-b Anglo was just off the top of my head, and prompted by my autoharping contacts. I didn't know - though it doesn't surprise me - that Anglos have been tuned in unequal temperaments. I did mention that my 1900 "time-capsule" Bandoneon is in tune with itself. That is, when I play harmonies on it, they sound pleasant and, well, harmonious. However, on checking its pitch prior to posting to this thread, I did notice that, although most of the notes are uniformly below A=440, SOME of the notes are a few cents lower still. I haven't yet compared the Bandoneon's scales with the just scale (or some kind of partial-comma scale), but it might be interesting. The autoharp connection comes via the chromatic/diatonic dichotomy that both instruments share. Diatonic autoharpists don't just eschew the chromatic scale for their instruments - they go diatonic so as to be able to use just intonation, which does have a sweetness about it with all those strings resonating at the same time. Up to 2 keys a 5th apart (e.g. C/G, G/D, D/A ...) is considered "diatonic". With more keys, you have to start compromising the just intonation. The Anglo, like the Bandoneon and the large German Konzertinas, is also a diatonic instrument. I can quite believe that just intonation or some other non-equal temperament would sound great in "English" style along the rows with full chords (which is how I play). As to the Salvation Army tuning - I haven't got an Army song-book, but I would have the suspicion that the vast majority of tunes would be in Ab or Eb, and relatively few in other keys. Could well be that an Army Eb/Ab in non-equal temperament would sound great accompanying a solo cornet or a corps of Songsters. It might not sound as good played with a full band - but then, you normally wouldn't augment a full band with a concertina . Cheers, John There is a great history of beautiful, unequal-tempered intonation used in fine free-reed instruments going back to their Asian ancestors. You might enjoy reading the writings of Bazin, an early 19th century inventor (of the "rocking melodeon" among other free-reed instruments) on how free-reed instruments must be tuned for beautiful (unequal-tempered) harmonies. I know hardly anything about Bandoneons but I would not be surprised to learn the best early ones had carefully crafted, unequal-tempered scales. That is true of the simpler European concertina-family instruments I have had a chance to study. Many German instruments (meant to be played on the continent or exported to the US, perhaps not those for export to the UK) made before 1939 were pitched around A = 435. PG Edited to add: I used to have a copy of a thesis by Dunkel on the evolution of the Bandoneon and related German concertinas. She may have other publications and may discuss the temperaments used.
  7. Now you write "it is hard to generalize." My point is that you *did* make a very general statement about "pitch in the 1800s" being "half a step lower" than ours; this was misleading and, in the context of Salvation Army concertinas, in fact just wrong. I have *never* seen a Salvation Army concertina with workshop-original reedwork that was made to a pitch standard lower than A 440. All were higher, usually around A = 452.5 I'm not sure what to make of the rest of your post quoted just above but the general issue of pitch standards is not very mysterious. There's plenty of musicological and acoustic literature from England during the period in which concertinas were made documenting the pitches used, plus some surviving instruments in original tuning (harmoniums, wind instruments, etc as well as concertinas), even tuning forks with known provenance have been discussed. My comments on temperament were addressed to John. PG
  8. And Anglo-Irishman wrote: European music has used more or less tempered scales since the baroque period, because the just-intonation scales, while sounding very sweet in one key, sound awfully wrong in others. With instruments as modern as the concertina and the valved brass, used in a chromatic environment, equal temperament is more or less given. You might want to try just temperament in a 20-button Anglo, though. Could sound very sweet - just don't try to play together with modern chromatic instruments! (I'm familiar with this temperament thing from the autoharp community. They can experiment without using a file ...) Just a couple of responses for wntrmute and Anglo-Irishman, First, it is not true generally that "concert pitch in the 1800s" was flat compared to ours. In the very early 1800s (prior to invention of the concertina) low pitches were common in England and elsewhere. However, as has often been mentioned in these forums, there were several pitch standards used in England from the 1830s to 1930s, and some of these were above our nominal modern western-music standard of A = 440 (that was agreed by convention in 1939 but has certainly not been followed universally even since). Most of the original-tuning London-made concertinas I have studied were made from the 1840s to 1930s and most were tuned around A = 446 to A = 452.5. These pitch standards can also be found in other English-made instruments from the late 19th to early 20th century, and are documented in literature of the day (such as Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute). It is true that many (not all) instruments in the US and continental Europe were pitched below A 440 during this time (one of my ca 1900 piano tuning books -- maybe Fisher - draws attention to the possibility a piano may be "high or low" pitched, and Steinway in the US in the late 1800s evidently used a very high pitch). Second, I have had the opportunity to study quite a few anglo concertinas with reedwork in "time-capsule" condition that were evidently made for the Salvation Army (with SA incorporated in the fretwork, and in some cases [literally] with Salvation Army labels in the cases...). All were in typical, very unequal-tempered anglo concertina tunings. So the inference that instruments as "modern" as concertinas must be equal-tempered may be valid as a personal judgment by Anglo-Irishman, but does not conform to the evidence available to me about how the SA anglos were actually made. Our assumptions based on what we "know" about music and about other instruments should be lightly held so that we can learn something new from the evidence contained in actual instruments and period literature. (edited to add quotes)
  9. eskin, That's what I'm talking about. Now, my new copy is loaned away already and my copy of an earlier edition has still not been returned by a well-known concertina professional who promised to mail it to me .... over a year ago.... so I am working from memory here, but as I remember, Alan took some of the chromaticism out of the Joplin rags. I used to play some of them on the piano too, and missed a couple of the chromatic passages and the right hand harmonies. But his arrangements could easily be tweaked to add that if the player can handle it (and if your instrument has the notes, in the right directions). Anglo arrangements will always have to be adapted from piano music, and there is a lot of room for the taste and style of the performer. I wonder if there will be a new increase in the demand for 45 - 50 key anglos! I know I had been considering selling a 45 key and I think now I had better hold on to it. The 50 key (project) has already been offered at a price so that one will have to go if the potential buyer likes it. Can't wait to get my copies of Alan's book back so I can go to work on these arrangements too. Paul
  10. Hi Rob, It's great to hear that the beautiful sonority of a top-quality anglo in Bb/F is still appreciated by some. Too bad that from the 1970s to th 1990s, so many of these were retuned to C/Gs by tuning up each reed, which has often severely compromised the tone of an entire set of once-brilliant reeds. Unfortunately, I don't have any 36 key Bb/Fs for you. But I do have a number of unrestored Bb/F Jeffries with reeds that have never been retuned, and I will be selling off these and many other parts and projects as I work through the leftover inventory from Groff's Music, the small teaching studio and concertina shop I ran for a few years in Massachusetts. If you are interested, watch ebay or email me at groff(at)bio(dot)miami(dot)edu. Or I may find time to update my long-obsolete website, groffs.music.com (the phone number listed there is no longer mine). Good luck and do persist in looking for an original pro-quality Bb/F, and keeping it original. Unrestored ones still surface on ebay etc., and these are some of the greatest playing and sounding concertinas ever made. Paul
  11. Dear wntrmute, Patience and faith! I don't know if you mean to equate "knack" or "gift" with an innate, unlearned ability, but in almost every musician I know these skills must be learned and developed by many hours of practice. Like learning a language, learning some of these musical skills does come very, very easily to a few rare individuals, especially if they start very young. Most of the rest of us can learn them, even if not so easily.... but again, the older we are, the slower and more frustrating it becomes to learn them. Still I have students who have made amazing progress through hard work and persistence, even if starting in their 60s or later, with the right guidance....and a few days beyond my 50th birthday I do hold out hope for myself learning a few more things in whatever time I have left. J. S. Bach is supposed to have said "Anyone could write music as fine as mine, if he would work as hard as I do." What may seem like a "talent" "gift" or "knack" in many cases --- the apparent ease with which another musician does something -- is often the "tip of the iceberg"......the bigger part of the thing, that is unseen, is the thousands of hours of patient, disciplined effort.....including millions of mistakes made, then corrected, then the correct thing reinforced..... I am sure you will gain all the skill you have the patience to develop! And of course many skills, including reading music or playing arrangements like Alan's, are just not a priority for many players. There are other styles, other ways to make great music. You will work, work to master those also....and when you do, someone will say "I wish I had that knack." :-) PG
  12. Hello again to everyone. Forgive me for repeating, this book is not a tutor and is not addressed to beginners. It will pose *many* challenges for anyone who wants to work with it. There are many, many variants of (what we call) traditional staff notation. In all of these, not every parameter of music making is exactly specified. That's why you really CANNOT just plug staff notation into a computer program and get anything like an authentic musical performance. Traditional staff notation always has to be interpreted by the performer, informed by the performer's training in particular musical idioms. Anyone who is not very skilled at such performance from written music will need to work with a good teacher to learn how to translate the written notation into a living, breathing musical voice from their instrument. Almost all serious musicians who use written music (and no, I don't believe all "serious concertina players" must be able to do so!) become conversant with MANY ALTERNATIVE VERSIONS of notation including various clefs and other conventions. Some musicians also learn various early-music tablatures and other forms of notation, not to mention the 19th century "shape note" etc. This is just a matter that the musician "goes to the mountain, since he cannot always expect it to come to him." It is not that big a deal to develop the mental flexibility needed. Maybe harder for those of us over 50 ... but if every book were geared to my diminished abilities at my advanced age, the whole world would have to be dumbed down. Many musically literate concertinists may already play piano and be very familiar with two-handed parts written on conjoined staffs with bass and treble clefs. Others in this thread have reminded us that octave transposition (for a whole piece, or even for only part of it) is a very common convention. Congratulations to Alan for choosing, and carefully, clearly specifying, a convention of notation that expresses his ideas in a very clear and readable format. If it is not the format to which you are accustomed, of course you will have to learn it to work with his book .... but the job of learning his notation conventons will be nothing compared to the challenges ahead in working out good interpretations of the arrangements. As I said in an earlier post, most good players could expect to spend months working with this book, should they choose to take on the challenge. So -- don't buy this book expecting to be spoon-fed. Let me say more generally though, even being spoon-fed will not necessarily solve the real problem of learning music from a book. Other tutors or simpler tab-based notations that may seem more immediately approachable will still not guarantee that the music played from them is listenable. Even simple music is hard to make good, if we are really honest with ourselves. How often have we heard on this site about the spouses who don't enjoy the music played by a middle-aged hobbyist, no matter how many hours of practice....It is not always the non-concertinist spouse who is wrong about the quality: sometimes the concertina hobbyist, no matter the effort invested, is not learning to create the quality that makes music sound good. Bless all the spouses who actually *do* very kindly tolerate the nonmusical noisemaking by their partner..... and sometimes (especially if they find a teacher) the nonmusical players really do cross over and get some quality in their playing. Having been a music teacher, and a sort of midwife to some of these transitions from awful to listenable playing, I can tell you that the confidence generated by "spoon feeding" in tab-oriented tutors can be part of the *problem* when adult beginners play poorly.....if they think music making can be made easy, they may be off-track. A related general issue also distresses me.... the cry for "standardization" in everything. Again, this can be defended in the early stage of musical education. Say up to a year or so, or for the kind of "club" music making that has sometimes been popular among amateur hobbyist musicians. But the work and art of mature, craftsmen musicians is almost always a personal journey away from the limitations of mass-market instruments, cliches of musical expression, and even entire defined musical "styles." I remember as a beginning student on the french horn, I had a double F/Bb like every other student I knew, but reading the liner notes of Dennis Brain's recordings took me into a strange universe of different horns in different keys, of fixing a weak note with a broken matchstick..... and whatever uniqueness, even idiosyncrasy, was expressed in the instruments was nothing compared to the personal exploration that shone through the performances. To cite only one concertina example, Alan Day of this website (like many advanced players) has his own preferred modification of an anglo layout.... Music is not a competitive sport where such personal choices are "breaking the rules." When we play (or write a score) we get to make the rules, we create a universe. There may be a community of listeners who enjoy it, or not. Sometimes the appreciation may be very long delayed but eventually arrive. So -- if you want a different book, write a different book. If you are interested in spending a good deal of time and effort to share in the work and discoveries of a very unique and advanced anglo concertinist, Alan Lochhead has given you an opportunity to do so. It is a great advantage to me that he has notated his arrangements himself, in the way that most directly reflects how his mind works. It should be repeated that these arrangements are simplified versions of the ones he actually plays; these are revised for 30 key anglos. I think that was a very kind concession on Alan's part, but if you are given an inch there, don't try to take a mile in demanding that he customize his notation to YOUR exact preferences. Of course, you could hire a skilled transcriber to rewrite the arrangements if you want to invest in that. Which raises the point, you might easily spend 2 to 5 times the cost of this book taking a single lesson from a professional music teacher. I can't even begin to estimate the time and effort (and more important, the quality and judgment) that have gone into creating and notating the arrangements. In our world of xeroxes and downloaded free pdfs a lot of this kind of work has become devalued by the consumer.... Dan, with all respect, if you do not value this book please mail me your copy and I will buy it for your costs (price, postage cost to you, and postage cost to me). I know of a very talented concertina student here who will make very good use of it. Such students and players who *will* find a welcome challenge, rather than frustration, in this book are probably few. But that is not Alan's fault. He is who he is, he plays what he plays, it is amazing and beautiful to me (you don't have to like it, and if you don't I don't care), and I am very grateful he took the time to produce this document exactly in the form he wished. PG
  13. What a coincidence! I just got a copy of the new (Mel Bay) edition of Alan Lochhead's book and came here to announce it.... but I am late. Dan has done a good job of describing the book, so I will just answer some of his questions about it. This book has gone through a number of editions. The earlier versions included some other pieces which Alan couldn't get permission to arrange and re-publish. I am not sure when the first edition came out (I loaned my copy to another concertina professional who promised to mail it back to me.....), but I know Alan had already done it when I met him in the mid 1980s. Alan has a background as a double-bass player in symphony orchestras. He is a brilliant musician and arranger. He got interested in the concertina quite a few years before I did (1985 in my case) and by the time I met him he had learned a lot of Irish music, been to Ireland and met John Kelly and others of my heros, and there is a story that he was broadcast on Irish television PLAYING AN INTRICATE PIECE WITH THE ANGLO HELD UPSIDE DOWN (HANDS REVERSED), one of his many unusual accomplishments. It was always a show stopper at any musical gathering in the San Francisco area to hear Alan play his remarkable arrangements of the Looney Tunes theme, the Radetsky March, Sousa marches, etc, on his 1960s Mateusewich Wheatstone 40 key C/G Aeola. Later on, he commissioned a nice G/D from Steve Dickenson and generously loaned it to me for a recording session -- a session that he also gave me. When Noel Hill first visited San Francisco, Noel met many fine players, also friends of mine whose music I still admire very much. But Noel was particularly impressed with Alan's playing in a "Paddy Murphy" style ("There is great tradition in Alan's music, great tradition," he told me) .... as well as Alan's more virtuousic arrangements. Dan, I have to agree with you that the book may seem at cross-purposes relative to most of today's anglo players. What Alan chose to publish was not created to fill any "ready made demand." It is not a tutor in any way (at the time I am replying to this thread, the subtitle indicates that this book is a tutor). It documents a series of very well crafted arrangements for 30 key anglo, of pieces not usually associated with that instrument in our present time. Though Alan has a 40 key instrument and uses every button, he made the arrangements for 30 keys so that more players could potentially play them. I often suggested to Alan that he would find a wide (well, wider) market for a cd of his beautiful performances of these arrangements. Then thousands of concertina enthusiasts could enjoy them..... whereas, very very few anglo players today would have the chops or the patience to learn these from the book. But Alan, like many individualists, has done what he wanted, not what he thought others want... and he has done it to a very high level. Perhaps he is communicating with players of some future time who may discover and appreciate this book. As much as I love orally transmitted, musically nonliterate, traditional music on the anglo, that is not this instrument's only possible use. I am very glad Alan's approach to the concertina is more original, more disciplined, and more musically informed, than just another amateur's attempt to imitate the currently popular player of the year. Who might use this book, today? I think someone interested in arranging complex music for the anglo could learn a lot by working (probably for weeks at a time) with any one of Alan's arrangements. That is the context in which I discussed the earlier edition of Alan's book when teaching "american music on the anglo" a couple of years back, and when mentioning the book in a thread on this website that was begun by Craig Wagner, about a book Craig wanted to write. Possibly Craig, like Alan, discovered he was writing the book that documented his own personal journey in creating an anglo style. I actually think it is just as well that the arrangements are not cluttered with tab notation. There is a fingering chart at the beginning of the book (though since concertina systems differ, I would prefer that any serious student create her/his own chart with the exact layout). Before tackling this book, you had better know where all the notes live on your concertina, and you had better learn to read music. That does eliminate many concertina hobbyists today (including many fine players), but the book is just not addressed to them. It would be an insult to concertinists though to suggest that (unlike so many other musicians) they can't learn the note layout of their instrument and to read standard notation. The anglo concertinists who can and will do so (and yes, there are some), or who want to learn these skills, may be few but they will appreciate Alan's accomplishment. Finally, my only contribution to this book was to encourage Alan, a humble man who has profited far less from his work and achievements as a musician than many with a fraction of his talent, to keep his book in print *just in case* his musical ideas might someday find "fertile soil in which to germinate." I mentioned above that I often asked him to make a cd of these (and other) arrangements. If he can ever do this I hope every anglo player will give it a listen. Peace, PG
  14. Hi Eric, Depending on the actual condition of your concertina (as David notes), a really good concertina tuner can usually tune an Ab/Eb concertina down to G/D. I have done it myself (though I wouldn't do it to yours if I were the owner) and I actually got great results in those cases when I determined that the reeds could take it and when I did it with all the skill I could muster. The tone of the instrument (though it can still be great) has always been different, and sometimes the response (though it can still be great) is different too. Sometimes reversible re-reeding is a better option, though usually more expensive, and excellent new G/Ds are easily available today if you can be patient. Of course, as the legal owner of the instrument it is your option if and how you alter it. There are no "concertina protection" laws such as we have for pets, etc., that codify standards of ethical behavior. But as you might find out if you take Ken Coles' advice, I am one (former) concertina repairman who has sometimes used this forum to try to suggest that there are some ethical issues to consider in retuning fine, original concertinas. First, an aside: I love home-made instruments and home-made reworkings of instruments. That's totally traditional in all the musical styles I love, and I do love musical traditions and passing them on much more than I worship the instruments themselves. Most of the instruments I own and play myself (not only concertinas) are hot-rodded or modified from their original condition when made and first sold. I have a 1950s Kay Thin-Twin ("Jimmy Reed guitar") that most collectors would have wanted to keep dead stock, but mine has had a neck reset, new (non-brass) frets, altered wiring, etc. The great raw sound that made Jimmy Reed and Johnny Young love to play blues on these and the visual vibe are still there, but now mine plays comfortably for hours and has a decent string angle over the bridge. Similarly I have hot-rodded many Lachenal and Jones anglo concertinas, to try to get a great traditional-reed sound and playability into less-expensive package for serious students. I still like those hot-rod Lachenals although the desperate need for them has abated a little with all the new makers of accordion-reeded concertinas. But on the other hand here I am again on this forum (at the urging of one of my email correspondents) urging patience to the discoverer of a fine vintage concertina that is not in today's most popular keys and pitches. One problem with the fine vintage concertinas and their original tunings is that so little is known about them. I am confident that there are dead-stock Jimmy Reed guitars out there and that the "Kay guys" who collect and study them know all their specs, what makes them tick, how to clone them almost exactly (if someone would pay for that) and how to make something new that looks and sounds very similar but is upgraded in any way the maker or player wants. As far as I have been able to learn, this depth of knowledge is not yet there for the pre- 1939 anglo concertinas. I have been able to find and document the original tunings of some of these concertinas, but in most cases when they have been restored in the past 40 years the first act of the tuner has been to wipe the slate clean of all the historically important information (and brilliant craftsmanship) that went into the original voicing of reeds, determining of keys, pitch, and temperament, and the final tuning of these instruments. In most cases old anglos were *not* tuned to any common modern scale, but to very cleverly compromised tunings that optimized the sound of the intervals, chords, and keys most used by the players (and related to the note layout of the instruments). As a way to communicate vividly my feelings about this subject, I suggest that -- to me -- retuning some of these fine anglos is like knocking down a medieval cathedral with its brilliant architecture, design, workmanship, and history -- all of which speak to us about the people of a time that is gone -- and replacing it with a stripmall storefront church. Does the job, might even be preferable for many reasons (I am *not* advocating or denigrating any religious tradition here), but what a loss as well that would be. To me. And in most cases the tuners, dealers, and/or owners of the retuned anglos had no idea what they were throwing away in the process, so none of the original tunings (and also some other information that allows the original specs of the reeds to be determined) were documented. I could add many other points to the argument.... if you want you can look up my old posts for those. Here I will just repeat and develop one particular idea I have always argued, and then make an observation about what happens to many "discovery" concertinas (those that are found in largely original condition by those with no previous interest in the concertina). 1. Tired old point: The value of a concertina (like anything else) is multidimensional. Its value in the big sense cannot be captured by the amount of money it will realize this week in a sale on ebay. Its value is not *only* what someone will pay for it, either before or after it is "restored." It may be valued by me for one feature, by you for a different feature, by someone else not at all. It may be worth the most money today to someone who wants to "do X to/with it." But tomorrow it may be worth vastly more to someone who wants to "learn Y from it." Etc, etc. To me this all seems obvious yet often other members of this forum have disagreed. The last five letters of the previous sentence, coupled with impatience (Kafka's "only sin") have often blinded concertina owners and dealers to the many dimensions of a concertina's value. As I once reminded the readers of this forum, there is a story that when the dead sea scrolls were first discovered, the discoverer knew he had something very valuable to him and proceeded to benefit from that value: burning some as fuel for a fire. 2. Observation about discovery concertinas: I don't know how you would search for the relevant threads on concertina.net, but I think there are several over the past few years whose progress illustrates something I have often seen in the non-cyber-world. Guy finds a fine vintage unrestored concertina, finds out it is worth some money to those who know and play them, thinks about maybe playing it (or not), maybe cashing it in (or not). Often he is soon online here (or on the phone to me) seeking information and advice, decides to restore it (and restoration can involve much alteration, sometimes irreversible, and if done by a DIY-er or on the cheap can really hurt the instruments). Then in short order the guy is back here or on ebay trying to flip the thing, having lost interest. All this means that again and again, instruments that slept peacefully for fifty or a hundred years, carrying priceless historical information from their brilliant craftsman makers, were hastily, permanently altered to suit the decisions of someone with very little knowledge or longterm interest in the concertina. Now I know many of the longterm members of this forum are exceptions to this story -- mostly, you are the ones who stuck with the concertina :-) But I see the above scenario so often that it becomes discouraging, reminding me of the developer who buys a pristine wilderness, permanently alters it, sells it and moves on with no personal committment in the place to weigh against the damage he did to its previous history. To me this "find, modify, and flip" attitude is very different from the natural, creative, and essential compromises and alterations that a serious committed player will always make to his instruments. Remember there are now great playing, good sounding 3 row anglos made in any key or pitch you want for $2000 or less. No longer does anyone *have* to retune a found, original Jeffries or Crabb to get a decent concert-pitch instrument for learning. The decisions you make in restoring this instrument may well be the most important events in its life since it was made, and may irreversibly determine what course its future takes. Learn and wait, and you keep the option to change it later. Best of luck no matter what. I do hope this concertina stimulates you to learn to play. If you become a lifetime player, shucks that would excuse almost anything that happens to any instrument since (to me) serious players are actually much more rare and valuable than even pro quality concertinas. Paul
  15. Hi, Sorry I didn't see your first post. This is not a concertina. Sending inquiries to the melodeon and accordion forums might get more responses. But I can tell you a bit about it since I also have at least the body of one among parts in storage after closing my shop. Hannah was a virtuoso and influential in 20th century Scottish accordion styles. You can hear some of his early recordings (and see a picture of an accordion like yours) on the cd version of the Topic re-issue recording, "Melodeon Greats." Doubtless Stuart Eydmann could tell us much more about Hannah himself. If yours is like mine, it is an early version of a B/C with a 24-key "piano accordion style bass" (but with only bass notes and major triads, the same in both bellows directions), so probably ancestral to large 3 row "british chromatic" style boxes with even more stradella basses, such as those made by Hohner, Paolo Soprani, etc. I think John Kirkpatrick plays a B/C/C# version made in Italy. I have also seen a 1960s (?) red celludloid B/C/C# Gallotta with only 8 basses (same in both directions) and also labeled "Wilkinson's" (maybe also Excelsior, I forget). My "Wilkinson's Excelsior...as played by William Hannah...." that looks like yours is in A 452, so just about halfway between modern concert pitch and the next half step higher. I reversibly borrowed the reeds from it without re-pitching them, to assemble a high pitch B/C Hohner hotrod to match the tuning of my (former) favorite high pitch Wheatstone Linota. So you have a neat and historical instrument. Not to say valuable as there is little market for these whether playing or not. A little heavy in the left hand, but from the sound of Hannah's early 78s it didn't slow him down! Restoration of its right-side action would follow the techniques used for any top-quality, open-action, pre-war, German-made melodeon (compare the Monarchs and Sterlings, Globes, Internationals, etc.). The bass machine will be another story! Not too complicated but if you are not experienced, maybe best to pay a pro piano accordion repairer to do a good job. Paul
  16. Stefan, If you have accurately transcribed the notes that are on your concertina, several of your buttons have unusual notes or directions for those notes. There is some variation among a few "standard" or common layouts that have been used for the anglo concertina, but the following buttons on your layout are not found on any of the most common layouts: LH outside row: your "B/A" is usually "Bb/A" or sometimes, on original tuning Jeffries or Crabbs, "D#/A" [unless you are using the German notation, where "B" is equivalent to what we anglophones ;-) call "Bb"] LH outside row: your "A#/D#" is usually "(A# or Bb)/G#" RH middle row: your "C/B" is usually "B/C" All assuming that the buttons are notated "draw/press" (Out/in) as you stated. Paul
  17. Jim, If you re-read my post I think you will find that I did not mention weight. As Frank Edgely mentions in a post threaded below, a lot of great-playing and great-sounding concertinas are heavier than your Lachenal. The point I was making was more general: if you are fighting your concertina (and now I will make it explicit, that this could be due to its reed response, volume, action, etc.) to try to get a different sound out of it, you risk injury. Now in addition to heavy concertinas such as Jeffries 4 rows (to which I am a very recent convert) I am also a fan of cheap German concertinas. If the concertina is heavy or the action/reeds are slow, even those factors don't mean you will hurt yourself. The problem is the fighting - the problem is you - if you are impatiently pushing with brute force to try to get the sound you want. It takes time, patience, development of precise control at a slow speed, and defining and strengthening thousands of very tiny muscles (as well as some big ones) so they can be fired, or relaxed, very accurately with split-second timing. After years (or even decades for adults who progress more slowly than kids) of serious, disciplined work (that may often require coaching from a teacher) good players can handle very heavy or "slow" instruments and even get fast music out of them. At that point (only after much strength and fine control are developed) the player's subjective impression may be that playing the concertina is about BALANCE and TIMING, not muscular effort. I imagine that a skilled tightrope walker, golfer, archer may feel the same. So no particular concertina will cause repetitive motion problems, rather it is how some players (especially, in my experience, MANY self-taught adult beginners such as many who frequent this site) try to rush the process of getting fast or loud music out of them. Sometimes, as you may remember, I can even tell by long-distance: a concertina that was sold with new bellows, then comes back to me with them floppy in every dimension, implies that a player has not been controlling them in a disciplined way and that his wrists may be flopping around, stressing the tendons.... Still, I repeat the point I made (not the one you inferred) that, given the reality of how many adult beginners actually behave, they would be better off spending thousands to get a concertina with the action, response, and sound they want rather than fight with a cheaper one, only to spend thousands on medical care later, and maybe give up the instrument. Paul
  18. Jim, This is one of the most balanced reviews I've read on this site. Not surprising from a professional writer! Too few concertina players are as willing as you have been to admit their personal biases and the limits of their experience, and especially to consult with listeners to evaluate the sound they are making. When you are playing, your subjective experience can be worlds away from what the listener hears. And as a player spends more years (then decades) listening, that also causes perceptions to change. Just one more idea to add, from *my* limited personal experience: accounting of costs should include the player's time/effort, rate of progress (a slow rate of progress can cause years or decades of wasted time in learning), and maybe most expensive of all the costs of medical treatments (and sometimes long-term or even permanent disabilities of various types). I heard this week from another player who took up the concertina as an adult (but who was never a student) and who has had to undergo surgeries. This is, unfortunately, very common among adult concertina beginners. The personal as well as economic costs of medical care completely dwarf the costs of investing in lessons from an experienced teacher (who should be able to coach you to avoid such problems, or at least give you the feedback that your playing posture may look awkward or inefficient for the tendons). For the same reason, a really well-playing concertina that you don't have to "fight" in the attempt to get the sound you want might be very cheap in the long term. Jim may be one of the few employed Americans his age who finds cars worth less than $5000 good value for money -- but I can tell you for sure it would be hard to get much surgery for that price. As someone who is very sad to be selling my own fine concertina for economic reasons I am keenly aware that not everyone can afford a Jeffries (or afford to keep the one they have for more than a few years). However, if you are actively involved in spending your time and effort practicing hard to improve, don't be penny wise, pound foolish. Your time (maybe thousands of hours in the course of learning) is worth something, and the medical costs you may someday incur can be steep also. Paul
  19. (of course, the chord selection on the harmonica is a bit limited, to say the least!). Dan This is the heart of the issue with the traditional german concertina and anglo tunings and why the harmonica comparison is not relevant to Chris' initial question at the top of this thread -- even though he himself made the comparison! Most systems of diatonic harmonicas (mouth organs) have at most one note that is available both on the blow and draw directions. Even a typically-tuned 2 row 20-key german concertina, though it adds only one new named note that would not be present on a 1-row concertina (or harmonica) has many notes duplicated in both directions. THis provides the option for many more harmonized intervals (thirds, etc.) as well as multiple major triads, minor triads, diminished triads, suspended fourth triads, and even some 4-note "seventh" and "sixth" chords. It is really a wonder how many of these can be played on a 2-row (especially if the bottom left key of the LH inside row is tuned efficiently), and adding even a 3-key third row (as in 26 key anglos) increases their number more dramatically still. To optimize the harmony within the set of draw notes, and again within the set of press notes, and taking into account that you never will be able to play at the same instant a note in one direction together with a note in the other direction, the german concertinas (and many early multiple- row button accordions) employed various tunings in which the pitch value for the "same named note" on the press direction was allowed to deviate from the pitch value for that "same named note" on the draw direction. Those are the tunings I call "decoupled." The original tunings of most vintage anglos were different from the traditional tunings of 2 row german concertinas, but again were "press/draw decoupled." This option is scarcely available on a diatonic mouth organ. Paul
  20. Geoff wrote: "All Crabb numbers should be regarded as an identity (ID) number rather than a serial number and must not be considered as a guide to the actual quantity of instruments produced by the Crabb family." Hi Geoff, Sorry if you feel I have confused this matter. When I used the term "serial number" I really did mean an ID number. In the US, the term "serial number" is often used that way and for example, the "serial numbers" as we call them of Gibson guitars etc., taken all together, are well-known not to reflect the total numbers, or the exact chronological order, of manufacture. The same is true for the "serial numbers" as we call them of many other manufactured products even today. However, with regard to Crabb concertinas, my main goal in writing to wakasaobama was to distinguish the "4- digit numbers" (usually starting with an 8, in the period of wakasaobama's instrument) from the usually 1 or 2 digit "batch numbers." Batch numbers would presumably not be unique for concertinas made by the same shop -- i. e., we would expect to find many Wheatstones (and perhaps multiple Jeffries ?) with a batch number of, for example, "5." The lowest Crabb "serial number" or "ID number" I have personally seen is 8075, evidently well into the shop's history. However, I would never claim that this concertina that is stamped "Ball Beavon" externally and "J. Crabb Maker" inside the metal fretwork is the 8075th concertina made by Crabb! The subsequent very slow annual increase of the 4-digit numbers makes this not credible. In previous posts I and others have discussed the non-chronological sequence of Lachenal and some Wheatstone "serial numbers" and I personally have questioned that all the numbers of Jones instruments are in chronological order. Almost all the writings on Jones numbers seem to assume a chronological order, though I (and I believe Dave Prebble) have found evidence suggesting the contrary in at least some cases. Your point is very important however due to the etymology of "serial number" and the confusion that could be caused by the misunderstanding of this term. You have gotten me wondering whether we should avoid using it for Gibson guitars etc. Paul
  21. [ though i suppose something will have been lost once the mystery surrounding your research has been removed. {whispers} psssst, Chris..... Yes, you have uncovered my secret scheme. Did you know the story of how the tomato became popular in Europe? This may be apocryphal, but they say the peasants were suspicious of this New World plant that so closely resembled the poisonous, European, members of the nightshade family....until it was decided to closely guard the tomato garden. That gave evidence that the tomato must be valuable, so it was promptly stolen and popularized. Hope no one overheard that.... Actually I am now being paid for my work in another area of research, so that work will be published promptly as is my obligation. If anyone had ever paid me for the time I put into concertina research, I would feel the same obligation there. Meanwhile you all are coming along nicely with only modest prodding from me. Grow, my little temperament researchers, grow.....
  22. The Jeffries has only one digit number! She has No.4 (left reed pan and bilateral fretted end backs) So, She born in 1861!!! I wonder I have No.4 Crabb tuned by Jeffries!!! Dear (and fortunate) wakasaobama, Well, that is probably a "batch' number, not a Crabb (or Jeffries) "serial number." Many Jeffries have them, usually from single digits to in the 100s, and it is generally inferred that they refer to groups of instruments made more or less together, rather than a sequence of numbers carried throughout the life of the firm. Wheatstones for example often have a batch number as well as the more-or-less-sequential serial number. I bet Steve Chambers will have more to add, and with luck he will correct me if I have gotten something wrong here. Paul
  23. Dana wrote: "This is an interesting point. I've heard a number of good fiddlers be less distinct about the C / C# note and a few others as well. It isn't as though they can't play the "right" note, rather that the music allows and even incourages some ambiguity here. " Dana, I think your language may lead some readers to a conclusion you probably don't share: that is, that the equal-tempered values of "C" or "C#" are somehow right, and that when a great fiddler, whistle-player, fluter or piper uses a different value (or a whole series of different values) for these notes he or she is somehow in an "ambiguous" zone between these "normal" or "correct" values. That point of view (which as I noted, you probably don't share but which your language suggests) is exactly backward. In many kinds of traditional music, but for example in Irish music as played by the greatest players I have heard, musicians are very deliberately and skillfully going for the RIGHT pitches that they want to hear, but very often those correct notes cannot be found on an equal tempered instrument, or by playing a fiddle (etc.) in perfect equal temperament. Dana wrote: "I think in the wrong hands the tuning would be a disaster, but in the right hands it could open up a whole new world." Rather, this is getting closer to the older, original, and traditional sound of the early german concertinas and anglo concertinas. Chris, I'm not going to publish much more of my unpublished work on tunings here, but your own experiments will doubtless lead you to tunings you will find very useful in your goal to make harmonies on the anglo sound more like those of the Irish pipes. I will tell you that I have coined a new term (never yet published), "decoupled tunings" to refer to the class of tunings for bisonoric instruments in which the "same named note" (e.g. D#) has a different pitch value on the press vs. the draw of the bellows. Thus there is a large family of "just-decoupled tunings" and another of "meantone-decoupled" tunings in each of which the press and draw values for the same note are decoupled in pitch, allowing the harmony among the family of notes in each bellows direction to be optimized. Now are you starting to understand my objection in a previous thread when you listed a set of 12 pitch values and called it "the chromatic scale in just intonation." Again, there is NO set of 12 pitches/octave that will guarantee the music stays in just intonation. Paul
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