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About hjcjones

  • Birthday 07/15/1954

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  • Interests
    Traditional music and song, especially English.

    I play Anglo: a C/G Crabb 40 key, a Dipper D/G 31 key, and Lachenal F/C baritone. Besides concertina, I play melodeon, guitar, hammered dulcimer and recorder, and sing.

    I used to be in the ceilidh band "The Electropathics" and now play with Albireo
  • Location
    Cheshire, UK

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  1. The late Dave Brady, who sang with Swan Arcade in the 1970s, had lost his left arm in a motorcycle accident. He played a duet concertina by holding down one end between his stump and his leg.
  2. I don't think it is simply convention, because that would suggest it is cultural, and so far as I know the same convention is found in all cultures with similar stringed instruments. Although to a beginner fingering the notes seems the most difficult part, the real musicality comes from the plucking or bowing of the strings, and this is where the dominant hand (right, for most people) has the finest motor control and can achieve the greatest nuance. For instruments where both hands are doing much the same thing, such as piano, then there isn't much difference, and certainly both hands can be trained especially if you work with both from the very beginning. However for instruments where the hands are doing different things it makes sense for the most complex work to be done by the dominant hand, and they are designed accordingly. Left-handed orchestral players are required to learn to play right-handed. I don't think this is only for visual effect but to avoid bows clashing in a restricted space. Presumably those lefties who can't cope with this don't make it into orchestras. Other players are less constrained, and you often see left-handed guitarists and even fiddlers. Sometimes they restring it (like Jimi Hendrix), sometimes they just play a standard guitar upside down (like Elizabeth Cotton) There seems to be sufficient demand for left-handed guitars to be made, although apparently not for accordions - perhaps these are easier for lefties to adapt to. I don't believe concertinas are very "handed", especially the EC and perhaps Irish-style anglo. Although Anglos played harmonically and Duets usually play melody with the right hand and accompaniment with the left, it doesn't feel as if what the left hand is doing is much easier, although the twiddly-bits* tend to be played with the right hand. * this is a technical term
  3. I imagine it would be fairly straightforward (although not necessarily cheap) to convert an anglo to a true left-handed version by making new reed pans and relocating all the reeds to their mirror positions. This would be reversible, assuming the original reed pans were retained.
  4. When I started to play guitar I wondered why the complicated fingering was left to the weaker and less co-ordinated left hand. Later I understood that stringed instruments are built the way they are because the musicality comes from the right hand, which for most is the dominant hand. Holding down the notes is the easy bit, musical expression comes far more from how the strings are plucked or bowed. This is actually where most dexterity (quite literally) is needed. With melodeons and accordions, again it is the dominant right hand which does the most complex work handling the melody. Playing the basses is relatively straightforward by comparison, and even if the left arm is weaker it is more than capable of pumping the bellows. Concertinas and pianos are more balanced, there is greater similarity between what the hands do, although even here they are designed so that the more complex melody parts usually fall under the right hand. Like most things, musical instruments are made for a right-handed world and lefties must work out their own ways of dealing with this.
  5. Usage changes. A century or more ago it may have been useful to distinguish between Anglo/Anglo-German and German concertinas. These days, when nearly all surviving vintage and modern concertinas are Anglos, and hardly any German concertinas have survived, the term is usually understood to refer to the keyboard layout and push-pull action, rather than the internal mechanism. I accept that some might want to make the distinction when referring to an actual German concertina or a modern reproduction, but most observers would probably regard it as an anglo until the difference was explained to them.
  6. I'm not clear on the science, but I think this is to do with the physics of music, and it affects other instruments besides concertina. Of course, on a piano it's easier to play the left hand more quietly than the right. When I'm micing up my anglo I'm often asked to boost the treble side for a better balance, but the difference is only small. Don't forget that the player has a distorted perception of what their instrument sounds like. Try setting up a recorder where an audience would be, you may find that your perception of the sound is different from what they would hear. if the problem is real rather than perceived, the suggestions for lightening the accompaniment certainly reflect my experience with anglo.
  7. I don't think there is a simple answer to this, since it depends on each individual's approach to learning. It also depends on what you mean by 'learning' a tune, especially when playing from dots. Is your ultimate aim to put the music aside, or is it to be able to play fluently and with expression while reading from music? For me, I don't feel I've learned a tune until I am able to focus on bringing some life to the tune, rather than on what notes to play and how to play them. Learning from the music has the advantage that it tells you what notes should be played, but it doesn't tell you everything. An anglo is not like a piano, a note may appear in several places on the keyboard and there may be multiple ways to play a phrase, and you will still have to work out for yourself which is best. It may be hard to break away from reliance on having the music in front of you. Learning by ear may take longer to work out what the notes are, but the process of trial and error together with the need for focussed listening may help to consolidate your mental map of the tune - if it doesn't leave you totally confused. If your aim is to play without music in front of you, learning by ear puts you ahead. However it can be hard to shake off the influence of the original source and make the tune your own. Both have their place, but which works best for me many not be what works for you.
  8. According to that ever-reliable source Wikipedia, the originator of the anglo system, Carl Uhlig, apparently took the existing melodeon keyboard and split it between two hands. It had the additional advantage of being cheaper to make, since each button plays two notes - the other systems require double the number of reeds in order to play in both directions, and also more buttons, pads, levers and other parts of the action.
  9. Concertina Spares appears to have them https://concertina-spares.com/
  10. There was a discussion on this a few years ago: https://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?/topic/19119-microphone-recommendations-please/
  11. Gear4Music are a UK music retailer but they have websites for a number of countries, including the USA. They sell a wide range of kit, not just musical instruments, under their 'own brand' (I have their in-ear wireless monitor) but I suspect they don't manufacture any of them themselves. Instead they will have arrangements with manufacturers. This is nothing new, it is common to see vintage concertinas branded by the retailer rather than the maker. I very much doubt they have anyone who knows anything about concertinas. It is just part of their range of stock. I can't comment on their concertina, but the low price rings warning bells with me - with concertinas I'm afraid you get what you pay for. I have no concerns about Gear4Music and buy from them regularly, but for something of this nature I would prefer to buy from a retailer who specialises in folk instruments, who might at least have some knowledge of what they are selling. No doubt there are US members who can recommend somewhere to you.
  12. Absolutely. My instrument changes are between melodeon and concertina, and each have their own onboard mics, so that works for me. I don't usually change concertinas mid-set, but it's easy and fairly quick to transfer the mics between dances (in fact, I probably could do it mid-set should the need arise, as my band also has others who can carry the tune while I mess about, and I usually delay coming in until a suitable point in the music). However if your own needs are different then I can understand that a different set-up might be better. When I play a solo gig then it's less important for the mics to be close to the instrument, and in that case I would be happy to use mics on stands, if that was what the sound engineer advised. They would probably have better-quality mics than my clip-ons. although these are entirely adequate for band work. The important point is that stand or clip-on mics are not straight substitutes, they each have their pros and cons and which is most suitable will depend on the circumstances.
  13. One of the problems with Microvox is that they are omni-directional, which means they pick up sound from all directions which makes them vulnerable to feedback, as well as sound from other instruments. Most of the alternatives are cardioid, which only pick up sound from a zone immediately in front of the mic. Microvox still has a live website, maybe the OP should give them a call. http://www.mrmicrophone.com/microvoxsite/products.htm Personally I'd take the opportunity to look at alternatives, which aren't necessarily much more expensive.
  14. Interesting. For me it's the opposite. For playing in a ceilidh band, often on a fairly small stage, I find mic stands add to the clutter, are more likely to get knocked when I change instruments, and more likely to pick up sound from the other instruments in the band. For that purpose it's clip-ons for both my concertinas and melodeons, and I only have a mic for recorder and vocals. I also have more freedom to move around. If you look at a band like Leveret, they use instrument mics in concert, although usually with a few widely-placed mics on stands for ambience. Good-quality instrument mics can be as good as stand mics for live performance. However I've never been a fan of Microvox, not least for their method of attachment using velcro. Instrument mics can be more fragile, sometimes due to poor design. I used to use AKG C416s on my melodeons, which were notorious for breaking due to poor design of the attachment clip - they've now replaced it with the C516 which is far more robust and I've had no problems with them. They're not easy to attach to concertinas though, and for that I use Thomann T-bone CC75s which clip to the hand straps of my anglo.
  15. I echo Simon's thoughts. His website says "All parts are made by myself and can take time when I am busy." Rightly or wrongly, services of this nature don't always operate as efficiently as one might wish, especially now we have become accustomed to instant online service. I recently ordered some hand straps and I was able to speak to him without difficulty to discuss what I wanted. Perhaps i was lucky. I was very happy with them when they arrived, although they took a bit longer than I'd expected. I suggest you keep trying to contact him. His website says it was last updated only today, so unless this automatic it appears he should be around.
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