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Mikefule

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About Mikefule

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    Author of Bridge of Otherwhere, 2018, available on Kindle/Amazon. Dancer, Fool, and occasional musician with Dolphin Morris Men of Nottingham, UK. I play Anglo concertina and harmonica. My concertinas are a Dipper 30b G/D, Lachenal 30b C/G baritone, and Lachenal 20b standard and piccolo. I have composed a few tunes and also written songs for occasional performance at Morris events. Other hobbies include sailing my Cornish Cormorant (12 ft balanced lug), cross country unicycling, motorcycling (Moto Guzzi V7) and other outdoorsy stuff.
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  1. No, according to the write up on YouTube, it's carved from a solid piece of walnut.
  2. Not a concertina, but with obvious family links. I stumbled across this short video on You Tube. What a beautiful instrument.
  3. Stick with this because it's simpler than the number of words makes it look! If you twang a string and get the note C, and then you exactly halve the length of the string and twang it again, it vibrates twice as fast and you get the note C an octave higher. There is a fixed physical relationship: One octave is a halving (or doubling) of the frequency of the sound waves. There is a similar fixed physical relationship between a note and the note that is a 5th above it: you a get a note 5th higher if you shorten the string by 1/3. After the octave, the 5th is the most important physical relationship between wavelengths of musical notes, and therefore the 5th note of the scale (or the chord based on it) is called the "dominant". Take C, and the note a 5th above it is G. C D E F G. We say that G is the dominant of C. The note a 4th above C is F — but looked at the other way, counting up from F, you get F G A B C We say that C is the dominant of F. In the bigger picture, therefore, you get F G A B C D E F G So C is the dominant of F, and G is the dominant of C. Looked at in the other direction, C is the "subdominant" of G, and F is the "subdominant" of C. So in the key of C, the 3 chord trick is C (the tonic) plus G (the dominant) plus F (the subdominant). The major chord is made up of the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes counting up a major scale starting with the "root" note. So C major is C D E F G giving you a chord of C E G. F major is F G A B C giving you a chord of F A C G major is G A B C D giving you a chord of G B D Now look at the 8 notes of the C major scale: C is in the chords of both C and F (Notice how the tonic note C appears in two chords: the one based on the tonic and the one based on the subdominant.) D is in the chord of G E is in the chord of C F is in the chord of F G is in the chords of C and G (Notice how the dominant note G appears in two chords: the one based on the tonic and the one based on the dominant.) A is the in the chord of F B is in the chord of G Therefore: With just those 3 chords, all 8 notes of the major scale are accounted for. There will always be 1 of those 3 chords that fits the note being played. This is why the 3 chord trick is so important when you are playing in the major key.
  4. The 3 chord trick for G major: G major chord, push, combination of any or all of notes G B D. C major chord, pull, combination of any or all of notes C E G D major chord, available on push or pull, combination of any or all of the notes D F# A Make it into a 5 chord trick by adding: E minor chord, mainly on the push, using one or both E notes from the accidental row, plus G and or B. A minor chord: the easy one: the notes A C E are adjacent on the pull, top 3 buttons G row. Later, playing in D, the equivalents are D major: D F# A G major: G B D A major: A C# E B minor: B D F# E minor, mainly on the pull, 3 adjacent notes on the D row. The trick is not finding the chords, but finding which combination of notes works best for that place in the music. A chord can be played as: Oom pah: a bass note followed by 2 higher notes A block: 3 or even 4 notes of the chord played simultaneously Arpeggio: the notes of the chord played individually one after the other Bare fifths (for example, G and D played simultaneously as a bare 5th from G major) Bare octave. Not really a chord, but useful: two notes an octave apart, such as G and g. 5ths and fill in: play the bare 5th then keep those notes sounding but fill in the middle note. For example, play G and D, then add B n a later beat to make a full G major Just basses: typically but not always the root of the chord (G in G major) or the 5th (D in G major) Pairs of notes (typically adjacent buttons) a 3rd apart, such as G and D, or E and G. Remember that there is also a note that is part of the melody, so that gives you 3 notes. And many other ways. There are other tricks for minor or "modal" tunes. The more you work at it, the more you'll find. I'm still discovering new ways of accompanying tunes I've played for years.
  5. I'd start by searching the instrument for tunes you can already whistle. Go for simple tunes with a narrow range. Don't try to run before you can walk. (No, I don't mean play Duane Eddy's "Walk Don't Run"!) Tunes like When the Saints, Oh Susannah, Donkey Riding, Red River Valley, and simple nursery rhyme tunes. These will help you to develop an intuition for how the keyboard layout works. If it's easy to sing, it generally has a narrow range and is fairly easy to play. Practise for 10 minutes at a time. 10 minutes twice a day, 7 days a week is better than one long practice every few days. Try to play smoothly and fairly quietly. You should be as relaxed as possible.. Any tension in your shoulders, arms or hands will work against you. If you keep making the same mistake in a tune, take a break from it and try something else. Repeating the same mistake will teach your muscle memory to make that mistake consistently. When you have 2 minutes free and you're not able to practise, try visualising how the tune goes: which bellows direction, which buttons?
  6. Playing in octaves is a useful technique. If you want a simple harmony, an octave will never be wrong. It won't always be the best or most imaginative, but it will not be wrong. Sometimes for an isolated note part way through a tune the octave is the only reasonable option if you want the accompaniment to keep going. A short run of notes "in octaves" can be powerful — say 1 or possibly 2 bars where the tune runs up or down the scale. A long section of parallel octaves can be boring and sound plodding. If you literally play every note the same on both hands, it will sound dry and tedious. However, if you play the tune on the right hand, and use octave accompaniment on selected notes (mainly on beats 1 and 3 of a 4/4 tune, for example) it can add drive to the tune. How to learn? In small steps. For a CG Anglo, in parallel, so both hands working: Try playing on the push CEGECEGEC etc. That's buttons 3, 4, 5 on the left hand and 1, 2, 3 on the right hand on the same row. All push. Now try C D E D C. That's buttons 3 and 4 on the left hand, buttons 1 and 2 on the right. Notice that the two hands are out of synch. The bellows direction is always the same (obviously!) but either the left hand changes button or the right hand does. The change of button alternates from hand to hand. This takes some getting used to. Now try C D E F G. Buttons 3, 4, 5 on the left, 1, 2, 3 on the right. Now try C D E F G F E D C. Same buttons but going up and back down. Now try this: C D E F G A G F E D C B C That B is button 2 on the left hand (pull) and button 1 on the right hand. After this you hit a snag. If you just carry on up the row, the left hand runs out of notes. You would be playing two Bs an octave apart on the right hand, and that is clumsy. There are two alternatives: 1) Drop the left hand an octave. So if you play the full scale, C D E F G A B C, the left hand drops down to buttons 2 then 3 for the final B C of the scale. This is a perfectly valid technique when playing a tune, and may sound more interesting than parallel octaves. 2) Cross rows. So you play C D E F G on the C row, then find A B C on the G row. There are other routes to cross the rows, but this version makes the scale a nice simple push pull push pull all the way up. Using this cross row approach, you can get all of the following in octaves with one button on each hand: B, C D E F G A B C, D E, so that's a full octave scale of C, with one extra note below, and 2 extra notes above. Here is a brilliant tutorial for playing in octaves: https://www.concertinajournal.org/House_Dance_Text/ch_12.htm
  7. A good place to start that particular discipline is playing the scale along the row. Playing C on the C row right hand, you'd play C push, 1st finger, button 1 D pull, 2nd finger, button 2 E push, 2nd finger, button 2 F pull, 3rd finger, button 3 then change finger to: G push, 2nd finger button 3 A pull , 3rd finger, button 4 B pull, little finger, button 5 C push, 3rd finger, button 4 This gives you a specific reason to change fingers on consecutive notes on button 3. It makes playing the scale easier and more fluid. Coming back down the scale the fingering is the opposite, but still changing on button 3. A useful technique for pushing one button repeated with the SAME finger is to keep the finger still in relation to the hand, and move the whole hand to tap the rhythm.
  8. First of all, if a musician is able to do either of two techniques, they can choose, whereas if they only know the "leave your finger on and use the bellows" technique, they can't choose. It may sound disconcertingly staccato to you now because it isn't what you're used to. However, a wise man once told me that "the music is in the gaps between the notes." What the "finger off and back on" technique gives you is a clear start to the note. If you hold a button down and pump the bellows in and out, you'll hear each note tail off as the bellows slow down to stop, and each note start slowly and change in volume and pitch as the bellows start and speed up in the new direction. If you lift your finger off the button and put it back on, you are using the bellows to provide the pressure, and the valve to define the start and end of the note. The finger only needs to leave the button by a few millimetres. The perfect technique would keep your finger in contact with the button, even though the button was being released and pressed again. (For a deliberate staccato, of course, you can chose to stab down onto the buttons from some distance. Keith Kendrick once told me it may help to think of the accompaniment as "tuned percussion" by which he meant mainly a series of short crisp notes that don't overwhelm the melody. Ways to improve your technique: Practise it. Look for places where you can use duplicates. I sometimes play the same note consecutively on different buttons, sometimes in opposite bellow directions, depending on context. Some people alternate between two (or more?) fingers on the same button. I do this only rarely. Play quietly, practise slowly, keep the tension out of your fingers and arms as much as possible. Only expend the energy that you need to expend, and don't fight yourself or the instrument. I am not a guru, merely a keen player who is constantly striving to play as well as possible. Others may have better ideas than mine.
  9. Interesting idea. My former partner sang in a cathedral choir when she was young girl, and did reasonably high grades on violin and piano and as an adult she could play piano quite well. She said she'd never heard of "modes" and it must be some sort of "weird folky stuff" (or words to that effect). I now have a (step)son who took lessons (not leading to grades) in bass with a view to playing jazz, jazz funk, and the like. His lessons were very detailed but not following the formal syllabus, and he covered modes extensively. I had no musical education at all — we didn't even have a record player in the house until I was 17 — and came across modes only by looking it up after someone described a tune to me as "modal". As an adult, I have learned theory piecemeal, reading a bit, trying a bit, and concentrating on the parts that seemed most relevant to what I was trying to achieve. The idea of modes interests me largely because of the maths/physics involved, but as a musician I have only found 2 modes to be relevant to my repertoire on a regular basis.
  10. I absolutely agree. However, I was responding to a thread started by a complete beginner, and was trying not to distract with terminology. But I said that you can play [tunes] in "a sort of D of the C row" and this was not false or incorrect, merely lacking in detail. The "sort of D" is the Dorian sort! As a harmonica and Anglo player, owning various instruments in different keys, I simply think of Dorian as "on the pull". In folk music, we know and understand the concept of the modes, even if we can't remember all the Greek names. For comparison, I have known people who studied music more formally and claim never to have come across the concept of modes. I am aware that the formally defined melodic and harmonic minor scales exist, although I have never learned them rigorously. I am also aware of the existence of the 8 modes although, as I hinted, I'd have to look up which one's called after which ancient Greek cultural stereotype. Only 2 of them seem crop up regularly in my mainly Morris repertoire: Ionian and Dorian — on the push and on the pull.
  11. Being able to read music helps, but you need to compensate for the fact that the dots may be written in any key, but your instrument will only play in a limited range of keys. You need to adapt and overcome. Put simply, you have C major, G major, and the associated "modes". By "modes" I mean you can play tunes such as "Drunken Sailor" or "Rakes of Kildare" in a sort of D on the C row, even though you do not have all of the notes of a proper D minor key. A full D minor scale has a B flat in it. However, the real trick is to learn how to borrow notes from the "other row". As someone referred to above there is a magic in the keyboard layout that works to help you, but sometimes seems to be an obstacle. The more you play the 20b, the more you will understand the instrument, and how music works. It's amazing, rewarding, and frustrating. Mathsy bit: If you take the 8 notes of the C major scale, starting with the note that sounds the same as the C push on 1st button on the C row, right hand, there are theoretically 128 ways of playing the C major scale over 1 octave. That is, every note except F natural appears twice, so there are 2 x 2 x 2 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 128 combinations. In real life, you will only tend to use snatches of 4 or so consecutive notes from a handful of these options.
  12. It is possible to learn without a book. Using a book is only one of many options. The 20b is less versatile than a 30 (obviously) and a bit harder to play, but it's very rewarding. I own two 30s and two 20s, and they all get played. Find the main cross row scale options. Experiment. Always try to release the button and press it again when playing two notes on the same button, whether in the same bellows direction or not. Pick out tunes by ear: simple ones like When the Saints, Oh Susanna, Red River Valley, Donkey Riding, Lord of the Dance, English Country Gardens. Practise for a few minutes every day. 10 minutes a day is better than 70 minutes once a week. Most of all, have fun.
  13. The tune is also "The Walk of the Twopenny Postman": a Morris dance tune for a dance from Fieldtown (Leafield) in Oxfordshire. https://themorrisring.org/sites/default/files/sheetmusic/fieldtownWalkoftheTwopennyPostman.pdf
  14. I would have thought so. However, I am only speculating.
  15. If it were to make room for for the mechanical action, then the chamfering would all point towards the middle of the hexagon. In one example it points away. Pitch is defined by how fast the reed oscillates. Tone is affected by a number of factors, but I cannot see how this chamfering would affect it. My guess is that it is to smooth and the air flow into the hole, possibly to aid with starting the reed to move when the button is pressed. Some reeds are harder to start than others.
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