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Everything posted by bill_mchale

  1. Hi, Use to be rather active on here, but young kids make free time scarce :). Anyway, I have a Suttner Concertina that I really enjoy playing, unfortunately the pad for the middle row g/a managed to detach itself from the lever it was mounted to. Examining the pad, it is almost like it was never glued on in the first place... though I can see the glue (rubber cement?) still on the lever. So, my question is, what is the best way to fix this? Thanks for any help. -- Bill
  2. Jumping on this thread late, but I am with Dana on this one. D tunes, as a rule, are not tricky on a C/G anglo. And in my experience if an Irish Concertina player has a second 'tina, it will be in C#/G# to play with players who play a half step up. -- Bill
  3. Which helps prove that he deserves the awards and it is good to see him receive the recognition while he is around to enjoy it. -- Bill
  4. Great to see that you are now formally back in business. Hope your health remains strong! -- Bill
  5. Ummm... well.. 1. Was a hot-rodded stagi. It can mostly be considered a gateway drug. It let me try concertina out, but made me want a better instrument. 2. Was a Marcus. It was quite nice and I made quite a bit of progress on that little box, but I was wondering if some of the other hybrid instruments might be better which lead to. 3. An Edgley. This was, for quite a few years, my goto instrument. Very responsive and a nice tone (if not quite a traditional instrument). 4. After I ordered the Edgley but before I received it, I found out about Kensington Concertinas. Dana lives about 5 miles from my house, so I had to order one from him... its just being neighborly . It is also quite responsive, and a more authentic tone than than the Edgley. 5. A couple of years later, a friend convinced me to go in with him on two Suttners. I figured it would be my 40th birthday present to myself. Sure enough it arrived that year. It is a magnificent instrument and my goto instrument 90% of the time now. The Edgley is my choice if I think my 2 and 4 year old will want to press buttons while I am trying to play. The Stagi was given to another musician who wanted to try concerntinas. I told them when they were done with it to pass it on to someone else. The Marcus is currently on loan to an Irish Box player. I expect I will get it back this year some time. Ideally I would like to get down to two instruments. The second instrument will serve as a backup instrument and will also cover the need if one of my kids becomes interested in concertina one day (Though right now they seem more interested in the button accordion... perhaps because they like to see the action which you can't really do on a concertina). BTW, in case you are wondering... why did he stop at 5? Simple, I got married. Its a lot harder to justify such purchases to a wife who likes your playing but can barely tell the difference between the instruments. . -- Bill
  6. Actually, wait tiimes for Concertinas can be pretty long for established makers. I waited 4 years for my Suttner. Remember these are mostly hand made instruments, and even if they use accordion reeds, and there is no waiting list, it can take several months or more to get your instrument. I think (though I am not sure because it has been a while) I waited close to a year for my Kensington, and I got in on the ground floor relatively speaking (#12). That was also before Dana got sick. If you don't want to wait too long for an instrument, you can always look on the used market. Sometimes you can find real bargains. My own personal assesment of the instrument is that it is a lovely instrument. Definitely a little heavy, but part of that is based on Dana's choice of materials; he designs his instruments to last for generations. That being said, they are quite responsive and in my personal opinion the weight might only be an issue if you play standing up. I never quite clicked with mine, but that should not be taken as a reflection of the instrument, bur rather my own personal preferences. -- Bill
  7. True, although for a "beginner's" class I'm not too sure how much style would enter into the equation. I'm at the stage where I'm delighted at getting successfully through "Hot Cross Buns". Maybe some fingering choices, even at the basic level, are more idiomatic of one style than the other? Well I am not sure it would be fair to say that there is even one ITM style... that being said, if you want to sound like Noel Hill (or any other particular player) its probably important to start learning his system early. Once you learn to play a tune one way it can be very difficult to train yourself to play them a different way. Further more, playing a tune one way will result in different phrasing and different possible ornaments and variations. If you want to sound like a modern Irish concertina player, you want to start playing across the rows as soon as possible. If you want to sound like a more old school player (like Chris Droney), you will want to play along the rows. Obviously there is no clear right and wrong in our musical journey. All any of us can do is show what worked for us, as none of us can say what will work for you . Good luck. -- Bill
  8. In my experiences, if you can find a good tutor (possibly taking lessons over skype?), then that probably will benefit you more at first because you are right, a workshop will give you an awful lot to process in a single week. That being said, workshops do have certain advantages that might be hard to match. 1. At the better ones, you often have some of the most highly regarded musicians in the world to learn from. Noel Hill is just one example; I have taken lessons from Mícheál O’Raghallaigh, Edel Fox, Tim Collins, and Gearoid O'hAllmhurain at the Catskills Irish Arts Week (okay, technically I didn't take Tim Collins class, but the last class of the week was joined up between him and Gearoid O'hAllmhurain. Unless you happen to live in Clare, it is hard to imagine access to players of such quality where you are are. 2. They can give you insight in how different styles of the music are played. 3. The workshops are fun. I can't speak about Noel Hill's class since I have never been there, but if you like a good party, Irish Arts Week certainly applies. Informal sessions start up all over the place, and often there is at least one session that goes far too late for people who have a 10:00 AM class to stay at... but you do anyway because the music is just that good. About the only thing I regret about being married and having kids is that I have not been able to make it for the last 5 years. Ultimately, I generally have lots of pointers away from these workshops and between that and my earlier knowledge of the Button Accordion, it has enabled me to learn to play without a regular teacher. That being said, I think I would have learned faster from a regular teacher . Of course I am in no rush, I am doing this for fun, not profit. -- Bill
  9. I come from a piano accordion background as well, and tried Anglo first, but ended up happier with English concertina. Not to start a concertina war or anything. Patrick I have never tried and english concertina or a piano (or Chromatic Button) accordion, so I can't comment on them, but in my own experience, I did find the transition from Button Accordion to be somewhat straight forward... except for one minor thing. With a B/C accordion and a C/G anglo, playing along the C row, I would reach for the B row on the concertina and the G row on the Button accordion, The easiest solution was to play tunes as differently as possible on both instruments (which is good for playing the concertina properly ). I suspect that the C/G anglo will be so different from your experience on the Piano accordion as to prevent this from being a problem. -- Bill
  10. I would point out that that there are other opportunities as well. I have never been to Noel Hill's camp, but those who have highly recommend them. That being said, they are very concertina focused. That can be a good or a bad thing depending on your individual needs and situation. The Catskills Irish Arts Week and other multi-instrument weeks can afford nice opportunities in practicing with other instruments (and if you know a fair number of tunes on your Piano Accordion to play that as well). -- Bill
  11. The "someone" in this clip is Chris Stevens, an excellent player and teacher from Maine. Thanks for filling in that detail. Always good to give credit where credit is due. -- Bill
  12. Sorry I forgot to include a few details, in large part because Kensington only makes one model of instrument, but I forgot that not everyone is familiar with the brand. The instrument is in c/g tuning, 30 buttons, 6 fold bellows, and fingering that is a hybrid between Wheatstone and Jefferies systems (Generally, at least for Irish Music, players of either system should be quickly at home with it) . It also has concertina reeds, not accordion reeds. -- Bill
  13. I hate to do this, but I have too many concertinas. The Kensington is a lovely instrument, but me and it never clicked quite the way that I have with my Suttner or Edgley. So as much as I hate to do it, I am putting it up for sale. Here is a video of someone (not me) playing a Kensington (not mine, but it sounds the same). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P36WA3yI99w Anyway, I am looking to get $2500 off of it. I would prefer a local sale (Since that way the person can try before they buy) but could be persuaded otherwise. I am located in Silver Spring, Maryland. -- Bill
  14. Hi Jeff, Welcome to the world of diatonic free reed instruments . This site got me hooked on concertinas (originally a B/C player) You didn't mention what specific sort of music you are interested in playing. From your suggestion that the alternative was a B/C accordion, I am willing to bet it was Irish music, but I could be wrong. The lucky thing about today is that there are so many resources available for beginning concertina players now (especially for those interested in playing in the Irish Style) than there were even 10 years ago. Heck, its getting to the point where I think concertinas are going to over take Button accordions in popularity in Irish Music! That being said, it might pay to look into getting a tutor. The Bramich book is okay (far better than the nearest equivalent for B/C accordion), but it will only take you so far. A teacher can also help you figure out the best fingerings for tunes. I started teaching myself based off of what I knew about B/C accordion, and thus initially tried to play everything on the C row and just used the G row for accidentals and my playing suffered for it. I later had to relearn a number of tunes to improve how I played them on the concertina. Final thought. As you start working on the G scale, I would suggest trying very hard to play it with just your index fingers. That will start getting you to think about playing across the rows and working on trying to keep as much of the tune as possible under your strongest fingers. -- Bill
  15. Though oddly enough, the musical instrument I got the most concerned reactions to was my set of delrin Scottish smallpipes... They were probably afraid you would play them . Sorry.. it was obvious you were waiting for someone to say it. -- Bill
  16. I think there might be an error in the flickr stream. The concertina in those pictures is a suttner, not a Kensington. -- Bill
  17. My general thoughts on this follow closely to what some of the others have expressed. But I don't think it is only a matter that there are far fewer concertina players than accordion players (of virtually any stripe, except perhaps the 1 row box). I think it is also a matter that our instrument almost died out in the post war years. Even in areas like Ireland where there was a strong tradition of concertina in the music, it definitely appeared to see a dip in popularity (perhaps because they became more rare or perhaps because of the rise of the B/C accordion, I don't know). In any case, now concertina players are in some sense still reestablishing themselves in the wider traditions. As a result, might they also be experimenting inside the bounds of their particular tradition seeing how they best fit into it? Just a thought. -- Bill
  18. Been a while since I have been on here (having two young kids will kind of keep you from keeping up with your hobbies), but, that said, I think in general you will find that as you practice more you will get more air efficient. That being said, different concertina players have different fingerings for the same tune, so I don't think it is too much of a big deal to play with your button choices to make it a bit easier to play the tune. I know Father Charlie Coen will double some notes and then add an octave to help with some air (Though that tends to be on slow airs). -- Bill
  19. Why the musicians of course. Thats one of the reasons you get so many complaints about how unfriendly sessions often are. In my personal experience, most sessions are quite friendly as long as you are willing to go along with what they are doing. -- Bill A group of musicians are playing in a public place (such as a pub) according to their own rules. A newcomer sits in, assuming that it is an open session, and unknowingly breaks the rules. Result: irritation and visible resentment, which become mutual, and another brick in the wall between some Irish TDM players and the wider music community. If you and your companions choose to restrict your playing to "The Tradition" as you define it, all well and good. But please make sure that the rules are clear to everyone at the outset - especially if you're playing in a public place - to prevent misunderstandings. That way, no one need worry about "how unfriendly sessions often are." So let me see if I understand this; a group of friends is sitting around a table enjoying some tunes. A person who has never set foot in the place before comes in, sits down and starts playing a tune without any sort of invitation? With respect, if instead of tunes, this was a conversation, it would be the newcomer who was considered rude, not the existing group. I doubt there are many public sessions where a newcomer would not be welcome if they did the following. 1. Before pulling out the instrument to jump in, they spent some time listening to the music. If you have been at a session for 30 minutes, and everything played was ITM (or Bluegrass, or Morris, etc.) then you probably should expect that it is an ITM session. 2. Wait until there is a break in the music and then ask some of the players if you might sit in. 3. Don't try to start a tune until you are invited. Some sessions have one or two leaders that start the tunes, and others rotate the tunes... but if the tunes rotate, I expect you will be invited to play eventually. I am sure most sessions have their own set of rules, but the rules are often unspoken... in part because they are only really recognized by the people in the session themselves when someone comes in and starts breaking all of them. Just to give a little anecdote. A few years ago, I was sitting in on the Beginner's session on a Monday night at J. Patrick's in Baltimore. This session is run by Donna Long, and from personal experience, she goes out of her way to make sure that new comers are welcome. Well, this guy comes in, listens to the set we are currently playing (maybe two sets, I am not sure now). When we finish, he speaks up and accuses us of being a session that only plays dance music (which I guess is true... but he said it with real disdain as if there was something wrong with us enjoying that) and asked us if we ever played any songs. Donna admitted that we generally only played dance music but said we were open to some Irish songs. Well, he didn't respond to that and after a couple of minutes a new set was started and then he got up and left. Now, I am almost sure that he will tell anyone, who asks him about the sessions at J. Patrick's, that the sessions at J. Patrick's are elitist and unfriendly. But I know for a fact that they are anything but. -- Bill
  20. Why the musicians of course. Thats one of the reasons you get so many complaints about how unfriendly sessions often are. In my personal experience, most sessions are quite friendly as long as you are willing to go along with what they are doing. -- Bill
  21. You know, I think it might be important here to keep in mind that there is a difference between innovation from within and the introduction of foreign elements into a tradition. I think what many of us who are more conservative about our chosen musical traditions object to is the insistence that some make that the tradition should be open to innovation. Often what they mean by that (in my experience) is that they want to introduce to the music some instrument, or method of playing that they learned outside of the tradition. Now, I am not saying that such things can't be done, but I do believe that the mere introduction of something is not innovation. For example, if the bazouki played at the local session was still identical to the same instrument played by Greek Musicians, then it doubtless would not be accepted in ITM today. And here is the thing about evolution; people often think about evolution as being change.. and to some extent it is. However, equally important to evolution as the change is selection. For every change that succeeds that are hundreds, maybe thousands that don't. Its that gradual evolution that allows us to recognize a tradition as being valid. And that of course is what some of us don't want. We like our traditions the way they are.. sure they are going to change slowly over time.. but we want them to be preserved so that if my son takes up the music, what he plays will still be recognizable to me. If we change the nature of the music, we haven't preserved the tradition, have we? -- Bill
  22. I can agree tentatively... but I think we need to also recognize that 1. the less experienced you are in a Tradition, the more rigid the rules need to be and 2. what might appear to be an unthinking application of a "rule" by an outsider might in fact be anything but from the perspective of someone inside the tradition. Sometimes, it seems to me, claims about traditions being rigid come from people whose "innovations" have not been accepted by the tradition. Or because people at a particular session were not particularly welcome when someone pulled out tunes and/or instruments that were not considered part of the tradition. -- Bill
  23. Of course it is. Everything creative has certain rules, though these rules may be implicit in the process. These rules are what allows the sharing of creative ideas between individuals and collaboration. So certainly some rules are necessary. Indeed most musical instruments are built around some of these basic rules. Further more we are not talking "music" as a whole, but traditional musics of various cultures. Every musical tradition and genre has its own rules, spoken and unspoken, that makes it distinct from other genres and tradition. Get rid of those rules, and you loose that distinctiveness. Sure a musician is free to break the rules of a tradition, but they should recognize that they are going beyond the tradition. To give a clear example... lets say we threw out all the rules for Irish Traditional Music... then how are we to know whether U2 (certainly an Irish Group) fits in the Tradition or not? Finally, I personally don't consider rules to be a nasty word when it comes to art. Rule are a framework or foundation for creativity. Maybe great artists can move beyond that framework, but lets be honest, the vast majority of us (even some who are fantastic musicians in their own right) are not great artists. Further when a few of us sit down to create music together, we need to know what the other people in the group are going to do. I know that if I play a tune this way it will fit in with whatever other people in the group do. Why? Because I am following rules and they are too. -- Bill
  24. I think it very well depends on what context the vistor played the music in. If you are visiting the Mongolian's home, and they invite you to share your music with them, You may well be right. On the other hand, if you decide to play along with them as they play traditional Mongolian folk tunes and you pull out your 5 string banjo, clarinet and/or concertina and proceed to play along and expect them to appreciate what you are "introducing" to their music.. then the reaction you receive may not be so warm. This is not a question here of people in one tradition not respecting the music within a different tradition. Very likely most players in pretty any tradition like music from other traditions. The basic problem, as I see it, is the person who comes in from outside a tradition who approaches the problem with an attitude that the tradition should be willing to accept whatever they bring to it. -- Bill
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