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About Mikefule

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    Author of Bridge of Otherwhere, 2018, available on Kindle/Amazon. Dancer and occasional musician with Dolphin Morris Men of Nottingham, UK. I play Anglo concertina and harmonica and occasionally a bit of 1 row melodeon. My concertinas are a B flat/F Jeffries, a G/D Dipper and a G/D Marcus. I write a few simple tunes and also write songs for occasional performance at Morris events. Other hobbies include cross country unicycling, motorcycling (BMW F800S)and other outdoorsy stuff.
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    Lincolnshire, UK

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  1. Mikefule

    Desert island concertinas

    Strictly speaking, in order to be deserted, it must once have been inhabited, though.
  2. Now sold
  3. Mikefule

    Which is suitable for me?

    To clarify that for a newby: the Anglo is a popular instrument in Irish traditional music, the EC less so. However, the Anglo is also popular and versatile in many other styles.
  4. When I used to live in a small mid terraced house, I used to drive to a quiet layby overlooking the river and practise in (or near, depending on the weather) the car.
  5. I started on a Rochelle, which is the Anglo equivalent of a Jackie. A good vintage concertina in good condition will have reeds that respond more quickly and therefore need less air. Therefore, you cannot simply compare the number of bellows folds. A vintage Wheatstone was a high quality instrument. They would not have spoiled the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar by fitting bellows that were impractically small. That said, no one ever said, "I wish I had fewer folds on my bellows." Better to have a little in reserve than to feel that you are working within tight constraints. Playing with small bellows is good for developing your technique. Playing with bigger bellows is easier. As always, try before you buy, because short bellows on an airtight box with responsive reeds is better than long bellows on a leaky box with unresponsive reeds.
  6. Mikefule

    Which is suitable for me?

    I started on harmonica many years ago, although I seldom play it now. The Hohner Marine Band comes in 12 hole and 14 hole options. The 12 hole gives you enough headroom to play in the top octave (comparable to the right hand of an Anglo) without running out of high notes on most tunes. It comes in C or G, so is pretty spot on for general folk tunes. I always found the single-reeded harmonicas far more versatile than the tremolo or octave-tuned ones.
  7. Mikefule

    Which is suitable for me?

    They are two very different instruments with different strengths and weaknesses. It is perfectly possible to play chords and other accompaniments on an EC. It is perfectly possible to play smooth fast melody lines on an Anglo. On the basis of careful analysis of what each could do, I chose the EC, borrowed one, couldn't make head nor tail of it in real life, and bought an Anglo — and I've never looked back. Others really struggle with the push pull (bisonoric) nature of the Anglo and find the EC easy. A few can play both with equal facility: they can often be found at the crossroads at midnight, negotiating with the devil. Whichever you choose will be a personal matter, but each will present different challenges and both will require hard work and practice until you've started to make sense of it.
  8. Mikefule

    Anglo playing guidance needed

    There are so many possibilities to the Anglo. You can play single notes along the row or across the row, play in parallel octaves, play block chords and "oompah", or more complex harmonic accompaniments. Assuming you buy CG, you will find the chordal options more varied in those 2 major keys. If you decided to explore further, try one key at a time working around the circle of 5ths in one direction or the other. So that's F then Bb in one direction, and D A E in the other. Most Irish tunes are optimised for fiddle and tend to be in the sharp keys rather than the flat keys. Of course, for every major key, there are related minors and modes. For example, C major is closely related to A minor, and to D Dorian. Remember that there are many routes around the maze. On a CG, 20 button, every note of the scales of C and G major appears twice, except F and F# which appear once each. On a 30 button, some notes appear 3 times. You can do the maths, but it means there's well over 100 ways of playing the C major scale over 1 octave. Some of these will be more useful than others, but the important thing is not to stick to a "one size fits all" approach to fingering. Get used to playing across the rows from the very beginning. Experiment, listen, watch, talk to other players, and remember that any book or "method" is only one way of achieving the desired result— probably a good one, but still only one approach. Playing the Anglo is like using a Rubik's Cube in the dark: there are almost infinite possible solution!
  9. If the "diameter" of the bellows (this measurement across the flats) is the same, and the folds are the same depth (from peak to trough) then a bellows with more folds will open wider and therefore can contain more air. If you open the bellows to a certain volume, then squeeze them, you will decrease the volume and increase the pressure of the air within. Higher pressure air will generally make the reeds sound louder. It follows that if you have long thin bellows at full stretch and then squeeze them by an inch, you will get less pressure, and less loudness, than if you had short fat bellows of the same total capacity at full stretch, then squeezed them by an inch. However, that is not how most of us play. Most players try to avoid running out of air in either direction and play with shortish movements somewhere around the middle of the bellows' range. When you do this, the number of folds makes little difference if any. Where the number of folds comes in is when you need to move the bellows a long way in or out and the tune does not give you chance to refill or empty) them. Examples might include a long phrase, or a phrase played slowly, or when you are playing several notes simultaneously or when you are deliberately trying to play loudly. There are different considerations on English and Anglo because of the unisonoric/bisonoric thing, and the fact that an experienced Anglo player learns to adjust the bellows with subtle use of the air button. However, I suspect that long bellows make it easier for learners who may play slowly and clumsily, using more air than a faster and more delicate player. Back to the original post — and please remember that "volume" has two relevant meanings: Volume (loudness) is affected by pressure. Pressure is caused by change of volume (air contained). It is easier to double or halve the pressure of a small volume of air. Therefore, playing with any set of bellows, you should have them no further open than you need for the phrase if loudness is your main objective. Longer bellows (more folds) will allow you to play louder for longer in one bellows direction, simply because you have more movement available. Effect on capacity: if all other dimensions are identical, then more folds equals more capacity. Every extra fold is several extra pieces of bellows card, bellows paper, hinges and gussets, and extra labour to produce, so of course it affects price. The main benefit of longer bellows is versatility. It's like if your car is theoretically capable of 130mph, then 90mph is less of strain than it would be in a car capable of 95 mph max. The perfect concertinist would usually manage with smaller bellows, but how many of us are perfect?
  10. Mikefule

    Heroes gone missing?...

    In all of my leisure activities, forums seem to be ceding ground to Facebook. The structure of a forum is ideal for detailed discussion, but you have to visit it to take part. If someone is checking Facebook anyway, chances are they will read and respond to a couple of hobby related posts and feel satisfied with that. It's a pity, because I prefer the more detailed and reasoned posts you get in forums. Your post reminded me of: Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky? He got an ice pick That made his ears burn Whatever happened to Dear old Lenin? The great Elmyra And Sancho Panza? Whatever happened to the heroes? Whatever happened to the heroes? Whatever happened to All of the heroes? All the Shakespearoes? They watched their Rome burn Whatever happened to the heroes? Whatever happened to the heroes? No more heroes any more No more heroes any more
  11. Mikefule


    There is no problem with someone buying cheaply, if he does so honestly, and there is no problem with someone selling for the best price he can get. That is not capitalism, but simply the free market in operation. What would be morally questionable would be: 1) Buying cheaply by convincing an elderly and vulnerable widow that a beautiful classic instrument was worth only a tiny amount. On the other hand, if a person is not vulnerable and they have access to the internet, and they don't do their research, they can't blame the buyer if they don't get a fair price. 2) Selling at an inflated price to a gullible customer — although, in the main, the customer is primarily to blame for not doing their research. Dishonestly misrepresenting the facts about an instrument or its provenance in order to manipulate the price would be fraud (UK: Fraud Act 2006, section 2) and may in certain cases be theft (Theft Act 1968). If someone stockpiles large numbers of items so that they personally have an influence on the market, and then they abuse that influence to manipulate prices, that is one of the less desirable aspects of capitalism. I see no obvious problem with the example that started the thread. Who among us would not buy cheaply from auction if the opportunity arose? Who among us would not sell for the best price we could get? We are all passionate about concertinas here, and perhaps feel differently about it because it is concertinas, but car dealers do it all the time and that is part of life. No doubt classic car fans feel the same as we do when they see a classic car bought and sold for a quick profit.
  12. Mikefule

    What type of music do you play?

    I started off almost exclusively playing English Morris tunes in the harmonic style. I now have a selection of non-Morris folk tunes that are mainly from the British Isles with the occasional American tune thrown in. I play mainly solo for my own private enjoyment. I have never really enjoyed session playing, perhaps because after Morris sessions are often the melodeon wall of sound: fast and loud, and the concertina is almost inaudible.
  13. 1 afternoon meeting of Midland Concertina Group in the spring, and 1 in the autumn. Nottingham. More details will follow nearer the times.
  14. Feels right in the hands and sounds good to the ear. That's all a musician or listener needs. If it also looks good to the eye, that's a bonus. All of these have some degree of subjectivity to them, of course, but we'd all recognise a "bad" one and we'd all recognise a "very nice" one. If modern developments fundamentally changed the sound quality, that would in effect change the nature of the instrument. You can't "improve" something by simply making it into something else. On the other hand, if you simply prefer the timbre of modern or vintage reeds, that is subjective. Therefore, in my view, the only areas where modern developments could objectively improve on vintage would be durability and reliability. However, good quality vintage instruments were durable and reliable already.