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hjcjones

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Everything posted by hjcjones

  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.
  16. Perhaps it's a feature of the folk music scene, where even top-flight pro musicians are usually more accessible than in many other genres, but I've always found most to be very approachable and friendly, and usually happy to chat about their music and their instruments. When I look at my record collection I have met probably about 2/3s of the musicians there, and I'm on first name terms with a good number of them. Thinking of concertina players, my 'idol' would be John Kirkpatrick, who I've met on many occasions and is as friendly and cheery as his stage persona would suggest. I once had the pleasure of spending a long afternoon in conversation with Peter Bellamy, who was a fascinating character. He had a reputation for being argumentative, but my impression was that he just liked a good discussion and would take a contrary position for the sake of that. His premature death was a sad loss. I saw Father Ken Loveless on a number of occasions, but met him only once. He lived up to his reputation for eccentricity (but said some nice things about my playing when he judged the only ICA competition I have taken part in, so I think of him favourably). I was once performing at the All Folk Around the Wrekin festival with my band the Electropathics. All the performers were invited to a "meet the sponsors" buffet, but the sponsors never turned up so there was plenty of free food and wine. I'm afraid I partook a little too freely, and then dozed off on one of the benches at the back of the room. When I awoke I found myself looking at a sea of faces and the back of Alistair Anderson, who was giving a concertina workshop. He was very kind, considering.
  17. I was going to phone Mark today to chase up some new straps I ordered some weeks ago, when they arrived in this morning's post.
  18. In my opinion Rob Harbron is one of the finest exponents of the English concertina. You should also listen to: Alistair Anderson Steve Turner Dave Townsend Dick Miles Simon Thoumire These are just a few, there are many more fine players. No doubt others will have their own suggestions. This discussion on Mudcat lists many more players on all systems. https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=130152#2926845
  19. I I'm not sure I understand it myself, but I had to make a quick decision and I went with the maker's recommendation. With hindsight I should perhaps have gone with a G/G drone (this is a G/D instrument), but then I wouldn't have the push C, which is useful. I don't find the pull G# at all useful, but I haven't yet identified another note whose lack on the pull is a consistent problem. I already have D in both directions. Maybe I should take it down to G natural, as I only have this on the push. I play English music in the harmonic style, so when I use a drone it is either as an alternative to LH chords or to give them a different flavour. Either way it mustn't be overdone or it becomes boring, but it's nice to have the option there on the C/G.
  20. My 40 button C/G has a C/C drone, which I enjoy using but it needs to done sparingly, a little goes a long way. However it can be very effective. When I got my 31 button G/D I was concerned that I would miss the additional notes the 40-button offers so I didn't have the "drone button" set up as a drone. Instead I took Colin Dipper's advice and it is C (push)/G# (pull). With hindsight that may have been a mistake, as I seldom use the G# and I miss having the drone option. However the C is sometimes useful to provide a C chord on the push. Maybe I should swap the G#, but I can't decide what I would put there instead.
  21. ABC mirrors standard music notation. Sharps and flats which are part of the key signature are specified in the K: header field and there is no need to mark individual notes, any more than you would when writing notation. Only true accidentals which are not in the specified key need to be identified. As well as major and minor, ABC allows you to specify modal key signatures and even to customise them.
  22. That's entirely understandable. Nevertheless I would suggest getting at least a passing familiarity with ABC, so that you can take advantage of the huge resource of tunes which have already been transcribed and are available online. Even if you don't write or edit it yourself, it might be useful to know how to convert ABC into notation using either a webpage or programme.
  23. I have seen something similar, but I think it's used for musical analysis and comparison, rather than as notation for musicians to play from. For example, it enables a database of tunes to be searched for a sequence of intervals independent of the actual key.
  24. I entirely disagree. Text is a means of communicating intellectual ideas, which can be read aloud or silently. Music notation is a means of communicating musical ideas - it can be played or sung, but a skilled musician can read a score and "hear" the music in their head - eyes, not ears. Besides, we are talking about how the script itself (text or music) is created. You can use pen and paper, or a computer. Both have their place, both have advantages and disadvantages. I also disagree that music notation will become redundant because music can be stored digitally. Listening is a poor way to learn a complex piece of music. It is fine for folk tunes, which are short and usually simple melodies, but not for a symphony. No doubt that notation will increasingly come to be stored in an electronic format, as is already happening, and perhaps displayed on a screen rather than printed on paper, but for a musician it will always be the most efficient way of communicating music for them to play.
  25. The choice is really between writing music out by hand or using a score writer. It's no different from writing text - most people use longhand for some things and a word processor for others. Of course if you are only writing music for your own use then by hand may be sufficient, but using a computer has some advantages. ABC is just a simple score writer which uses ordinary text, so has the added advantage of being easy to read even without a computer. When you use a score writer you get a properly engraved score, which you can play back to check for errors and easily edit or transpose. It is easy to organise your files of music and sort them in different ways. You can print tune sets or incipits. You can also easily share a tune with others (even on forums which don't allow attachments), and they can then use it how they please. I can't read music well enough to play from, so if someone sends me notation the first thing I have to do is copy it into a score writer so I can play it back. Like anything there is a learning curve, but it's not that difficult to grasp the basics and there are online references to help with the more advanced features.
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