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Rex

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About Rex

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    St. Louis, MO. USA
  1. Where can I buy an illiterate concertina? Is there a good web site for instruction on playing the illiterate concertina? Are they more like an English or an Anglo?
  2. I have printed from scorch files with no problem. There are lots of them here: www.g7music.net
  3. Airport screener: "Would you play us a tune?" Me: "Sure." Airport screener: "That won't be neccessary. If you are willing to play it then it must be an instrument." True story.
  4. Alan, a couple of years ago you kindly sent me a tape of you playing and it had a few examples of your "bellows shake". It sounded nice and added to the tunes in a constructive way, I believe. It was not over used. Of course any ornament can be overused. They are like seasonings. The right amount can make a meal...too much will ruin it. That tape, by the way, has been passed on to another concertina player over here in the States.
  5. With a harmonica there are actually three types of vibrato....diaphram, throat, and tongue. Diaphram vibrato is accomplished by making your diaphram tremble while drawing or blowing. Throat vibrato is accomplished by opening and closing your throat (but not all the way), like when we were kids and made the sound of a machine gun by going "eh eh eh eh eh", but to a lesser degree. This can be done on blow or draw also. Tongue vibrato is done by saying "yoy yoy yoy yoy yoy" while breathing through the instrument. These all sound nice as long as you don't overdo it. A little goes a long way. All of these methods will result in a variation of pitch and/or volume. The pitch of a harmonica reed can be varied quite a bit. There is also what is sometimes called a hand vibrato, the typical harmonica wah wah, but it is really a tremolo or variation of loudness, not pitch. The term tremolo is often used with mandolins and other plucked string instruments such as classical guitar when a note is rapidly played so it will sound like a steady note. Such instruments have no sustain, like a concertina, so this is a way around that problem. There are also tremolo harmonicas, which have a pair of reeds for each note, tuned just a little bit apart, and the note pulses as the waves go in and out of sync with each other. I'm told these are popular with some Irish players. They sound a bit more like an accordian. Here in the states most play a single reed per note and that is what I do. I've been playing all my old concertina tunes on harmonicas the last year and a half, but I like dropping by here just to read what everyone has to say about the music. Some Irish players retune one or two of the lower reeds, which come tuned to chords, in order to allow more melody notes. At the speeds of many fiddle tunes you are not going to be able to do much chording and still play the melody, but the extra range for melody really helps on some tunes. I retune my three blow note to get a "missing" note, but I give up a low chord. Peace, Rex
  6. Ok, just for fun I had to share this. Check out the picture at the bottom of this web page: http://www.dataflo.net/~mpurintun/blues_notes.htm Music, the universal language.
  7. Forgive me if this is a silly question, but has anyone ever made an anglo with a B and a C row like many button accordions?
  8. Bluegrass jams are usually a mix of instrumentals and songs. Pickers show up to pick between the verses of the songs, this is called "taking a break". If you will learn the words to some old bluegrass standards and also some old time Gospel tunes you will be welcome in most bluegrass jams. There seems to be an abundance of pickers but a shortage of folks who actually know the words to the songs. You don't have to sing well, some of the legends of bluegrass sound horrible to me! The Irish sessions I've been to are mostly instrumental music. When you sing a bluegrass song you have to go slow enough to say all the words, which has the added advantage of slowing down the super pickers who tend to want to go at warp speed and ruin a pretty melody (and also manage to loose everybody else). I have noticed this same thing at some Irish sessions. Tunes that actually do have words to them are sometimes played so fast that it would be impossible to sing them. I understand the speed requirments for certain types of dancing, but much of the speed trip seems to be ego based to me. When I was making the jam and session circuits with my mando I could play up to speed, but it wasn't as much fun when it turned into a competition and other players were left in the dust. I never got up to dance speed on the 'tina.
  9. The Angel Band County Meath: an O'Carolan Sojourn
  10. I played mandolin in a bluegrass band for 6 years and also attended many jam sessions. There are standard tunes just like you would find in an Irish session. Some jams are friendly, some are not. When I started playing concertina we worked it into our band. It was always well recieved at our gigs. There were some cajun bands here that used a single row accordian and the bluegrass folks always said I was adding a cajun sound to the tunes. LOL Appallacian music has some Irish roots. I am currently looking for a concertina again. My hands have completed mended since getting rid of my mandolins. I have been playing classical guitar and it has been theraputic. I have also changed some things in my diet and that helped a lot also. It is amazing now that I can play guitar for hours with no pain. I tried some mandolin last month and in a week could feel the old pains coming back. But I think I can do the concertina now that I'm not playing mandolin anymore. I really miss it. My left pinky was the only problem on concertina, and it is all healed up. One thing you might want to try with the bluegrassers is hitting chords on the up beat. The guitars will hit bass note, strum, bass note, strum and you can chord on the strum part. If it is in 3/4 then it goes bass note, strum, strum, bass note, strum, strum. I had enough 2 and 3 button chords figured out to play along. Listen to some cajun accordian players for some other ideas. Learn the basic melodies first, sometimes what you here at a jam is really dressed up. You can find the basic melodies on the web. Don't be afraid to leave out notes and hold other notes. Pickers have to keep moving because their instruments can't hold a note. You can. Good luck. Oh, and next time I ride through Columbia I have some Shakespere's pizza and think of you!
  11. Here is a beautiful piece that I enjoy listening to on CD: http://www.eythorsson.com/music/2002.pdf The version I have on CD is done by strings. The music on the link is for guitar duo, but the melody is single line so you can play it on a 30. Have a friend play the second part for a great duo. It is played slow in every recording I've heard of it. I actually heard this recorded with a free reed instrument accompanied by piano and it sounded great. A midi file for this tune can be found here: http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~hasegawa/Midi/list2.html Just scroll down till you find BWV 156.
  12. Hi all. Good luck with your squeeze in. While you work out all the details you might want to consider this midwest gathering that is already up and running: http://www.farmfolk.org/ Just click on "gathering". From the home page photo they seem to be concertina friendly. Of course this wouldn't be a "squeeze in" , but I doubt if less than half a dozen concertina players showed up they would mind. But you could contact them if there is a question. I haven't been here at concertina.net for awhile. Some of you might remember I had some finger problems and gave up concertina. My fingers are better now, thanks mainly to also giving up the mandolin. I have been playing nylon strung guitar and my hands feel fine. But I do admit I keep missing my concertina (but not the mando). I know I can play well with the three large fingers of each hand, it's the darn pinkys that give me trouble. I keep thinking there must be some sort of layout possible that would allow me to play without the pinkys. Especially the left one. That low F# was always a problem! Too many years of stretching for mando chords has ruined my left little finger. I have been toying with the idea of a G/C anglo using three short rows instead of two long ones. (I tried shifting, it didn't work out.) I'll keep an eye on this spot. I'm near St. Louis. Even if I don't bring a concertina it would be fun to come hear you all play. Maybe even strum a few chords in the background. We have a camper and try to hit a few festivals each year. Great fun even if you just listen.
  13. I've been playing with folks who lean much more to songs than tunes. I am learning backup chords and rhythms on the 'tina on my own to go along with popular folk songs. I am playing nylon strung guitar mostly but would like to learn to fit in some concertina backup. I am not really interested in playing chords and melody at the same time so I would be interested in chords that use both hands and not need the pinky. In other words easy chords. These have been pretty easy to figure out when I need them, but the rhythms are kind of hard to figure out. Trying to play guitar type rhythm doesn't seem to be the answer. So far I've had the best results by letting the guitars do the bass notes and the concertina chording on the "strum" part but I feel there must be something better that the concertina could do.
  14. I like Jeff's thinking. I have a nice Rodriguez student grade guitar, how about a nice concert grade nylon string guitar? Next up would be a C/G anglo custom made with a low F# button that I could operate with my third finger instead of my pinky. Third would be a ukulele for my wife. No kidding. She really wants one. They're cheap so I'll get one soon for her.
  15. The ability to read "dots", or standard notation as it is known to me, is a very handy skill for any musician and I have never regretted the time I have invested into learning to read music many years ago. I can play by ear or by reading. I am ok with people who use dots all the time and also with folks who cannot read dots at all. Here is my big complaint about sessions of all sorts of music: Learn some words! Musicians seem to be content to play the melodies over and over, and they are beautiful melodies, but some the tunes actually have words to go with them and we are fast forgetting those words. If everyone would learn just a few songs then we could take turns singing and also playing the melodies. I have found after many years of playing different styles of music that the people who listen to us like to hear songs as well as tunes, and they like to sing along. Songs are inclusive. I am fairly new to Irish music, which this forum seems to focus on, so maybe I am off base with this complaint. But in other styles of traditional music that I enjoy we are forgetting to sing the songs.
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