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Everything posted by hjcjones

  1. I have those, but I'm not a good enough reader to make sense of them. Sometimes the 'shape' of the notes is a prompt, but often I can't recognise even tunes I know well. I use Mobilesheets on my phone which allows me to store not only sheet music but also actual recordings. However it's not always possible to listen to a recording in a session. I should make more effort to read music and find out where the notes are on my instruments.
  2. For me, the way to get a tune into my head is by repeated listening. Often this will be a recording or YouTube video (although it can then be difficult not to mimic that arrangement). If I have to learn from written music, I will copy that into ABC (other score writers are available) and play it back - this can be a bit wooden, but it gives me the idea of the tune. Once I have the tune in my head I can then work out how to play it, using the trial and error method I outlined above. This now isn't usually too difficult for me as I have built up a mental library of fingering patterns I can call on for most phrases. I may need to work harder on some sections and possibly adapt my default fingering - here the ABC or a slowdowner may help me to work out how it goes. (This also allows me to pick up an unfamiliar tune in a session, where I can simply gloss over any phrases I can't work out on the fly) Once I have figured out the best way to play it, this is then embedded in memory through repeated playing (which might reveal some better ways to do things). I might make a note of how I play some tricky sections, possibly using tab although I don't usually write out the whole thing. Then my biggest problem is remembering how a tune starts. I'm not good at linking tune names with melodies, and even when I have the music in front of me I'm not a good enough reader to make sense of it. However once I have a cue, I can then usually remember how to play a tune.
  3. You may not be able to remember how to play "Hark the Herald.." but I would guess that you haven't forgotten the tune. In that case the problem is connecting the tune in your head with the instrument. If you are reliant on playing from music you probably haven't had to build this connection - your connection will be between the note on the stave and the button on your instrument. You haven't said what mental process you are using to try to recall how to play the tune. Are you trying to remember the sequence of notes, or sequence of fingerings, or visualise the sheet music, or something else? There are at least two possible approaches to this. One is the approach used by classical musicians when they have to play from memory - and these are usually longer and more complex pieces. I can't offer any advice on this, but there is plenty available on the internet and elsewhere. The other is to learn the tune in a completely different way, the way those who play by ear do. For me, this involves first getting the tune in my head by repeated listening, and then finding the right sound on the instrument by trial and error. Initially this will mostly be error, but with more experience you will find the right button more easily (this was probably your experience when you first began to play from music). As David has pointed out, most music is made up of patterns, and those patterns tend to occur in many different tunes, so once you have become familiar with those patterns you will have a mental library of fingering patterns and will be able to call on these to play not just an individual note but an entire phrase. With time and practice it should become possible to play almost any straightforward tune once you have it in your head, with only occasional stumbles at particularly tricky sections, just as a fluent sight-reader can play almost anything put in front of them. This all takes time, just as learning to play from music takes time, but it becomes easier. Take a tune you know well in your head. If it is one you already play from music then forget about whatever method you are currently trying to use to recall how to play it (it might be better to start with one you don't already play). Instead, start from the beginning by searching out the buttons by trial and error.
  4. Don't get too confused by the diatonic/chromatic distinction. What is far more important is that there are three main types of concertina, and although they look similar they have very different keyboard layouts and are very different to play. The English concertina is fully chromatic, and the buttons play the same note whether you are pulling or squeezing the bellows. The scale alternates between left and right hands. It can play both melody and chords, although it seems to be a bit more difficult to do both (at least, comparatively few players seem to do so). This may be a good choice if you already read music, since each button represents a single note on the stave. The Anglo is based on the diatonic scale, but those with more buttons have the additional notes which make them chromatic. The buttons play a different note on push and pull, like a harmonica. The low notes are on the left and higher notes on the right. Again it can play both melody and chords, and playing melody on the right hand and chords on the left is fairly straightforward. There is also the Irish style which is largely melody with only occasional chords. Many find the anglo is more intuitive and easier to play than other systems for someone with no previous musical experience. The Duet is fully chromatic and plays the same note in both directions, but with low notes on the left and high notes on the right. This allows full accompaniment without the bellows changes of the Anglo. If you have previously played piano you might find this system relatable. However there are several different duet keyboard layouts. Your choice may also depend on the style of music you want to play. For example, for Irish music the Anglo is the usual choice. To play classical, English or Duet would probably be better. The question which system to choose often comes up, and you should find plenty of answers on here. Of course, the overriding factor may be what is available to you - I became an Anglo player simply because that was what was in the shop.
  5. And in England at least (I can't comment on elsewhere) it is often played too fast, which I think is what Clive was alluding to. That's certainly been my experience, which is that it's fairly unusual to come across an Irish session played at the tempos illustrated in Peter's video links, which is one of the reasons why I don't often play Irish music these days. Perhaps I've been unlucky, but very often breakneck speed is the norm. English music by its nature tends to be slower, but there is nevertheless a tendency among some to play that too fast. Fast is exciting, and can be fine where the player has the technical ability to still retain the musicality. The problem is often that musicians are playing faster than their ability allows. Even if they are able to get all the notes out the musicality is lost. I think its a phase that many players go through once they've achieved a certain standard of playing, and fall into the trap of thinking that fast = good (I know I did, when I was young and even more foolish than I am now). It takes a degree of musical maturity to understand that playing more slowly can be actually more difficult, as you then have to bring out the music rather than simply play the notes.
  6. That includes VAT, their premium net of VAT is 25% which is not untypical. For example, Gardiner & Houlgate who often auction concertinas charge 22% + VAT. Then they also charge a fee to the seller. Nice work if you can get it.
  7. It's not as simple as deciding which notes you'd like. If they're from the buttons you'll lose you also to think about where else on the keyboard you're going to put them and which other notes you're willing to sacrifice in order to make room for them. If you what you really want is a Wheatstone 40-button, I wonder whether it's really sensible to spend a lot of money on a 38-button which, no matter how good an instrument it is, will always fall slightly short. Perhaps you should restrict yourself to those makers who do offer a 40-button layout, even if you have to wait longer or pay more. Or perhaps look around for a vintage 40-button.
  8. ABC is a way of writing conventional music notation on a computer. For simple folk tunes many (myself included) find it quicker and easier to use than more sophisticated score writers such as Musescore, although for more complex music they are usually better. It uses very little memory, and because files are stored as text they are easily shared on forums when other file types may not be allowed. It has become the default system for folk tunes, and there are large libraries of tunes in this format on the internet. Unlike most other programs it has the added advantage that a human can read it, but although some people can play direct from the ABC most use a computer program to render it as notation, and the program can also play it back as audio. Because it is text I can write out a piece of music in ABC on my phone or other device without needing to have specialist software installed. It is also takes up a fraction of the space on a page that a conventional music stave would - it is much easier to jot down a tune on the back of a beer mat using ABC than to try to fit it onto a tiny, shaky hand-ruled stave. Just like handwritten music, it is not immune from human error. Whoever transcribed the tune the OP was asking about would almost certainly have made the same mistake if they had written out with pen and music paper.
  9. I agree the barring suggests 4/4 or 2/2. ABC transcriptions have to be treated with caution. I'm speculating, but I would expect its ease of use and focus on folk music probably means many of its users are not very knowledgeable about written music (I include myself here). I often see errors, not only in time signatures but especially key signatures - some transcribers don't seem to understand that the same key signature may represent either a major or minor key, and are even more ignorant of modal key sigs although ABC can expressly handle these. I've lost count of the number of A Mixolydian tunes (2 sharps) I've seen transcribed as K: D. Don't worry about it. If you think it's wrong, it's easy enough to edit.
  10. Possibly, but the cover they offer is usually more limited. You need to check the small print very carefully. The range of insured risks may be more restricted than a specialist policy, they often have a maximum value per item, and the amount they pay out may be reduced for depreciation (even though an instrument might actually appreciate in value). You can extend the cover to "all risks" but this usually increases the premium and will probably still not provide as much cover as a specialist policy. They usually exclude paid performances. If you are satisfied that the cover is adequate for your purposes then a home policy may indeed be suitable, but for many, especially with relatively high-value instruments like concertinas, a specialist policy is worth the additional cost.
  11. Whereas I would suppose that anyone able to read and play from staff notation would be able to go directly to the original scores and would not need a book aimed specifically at concertina players. I would also suppose that these are only a fairly small proportion of the total number of anglo players. I am not a serious student of Renaissance polyphony, but having heard what Adrian Brown and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne can achieve I was curious, so I bought A Garden of Dainty Delights. I am an experienced and, I like to think, a fairly competent player, but I play by ear. I can just about make sense of a single-line melody in treble clef, although I can't sight read. All the other options you suggest, and especially those with bass clef or lots of ledger lines, leave me totally baffled. I would not for a moment consider buying a book like that. I bought Adrian's book because it is aimed at players like me.
  12. There's plenty of discussion about the different semitone melodeon systems, although I'm not sure there's much agreement. All the systems have their advocates, for different reasons. However I think the OP is asking which is the easiest for a C/G anglo player to adapt to. I'm not sure whether my insight helps, as I play a different style of music - I play English music on C/G and G/D anglos, and I also play D/G melodeon - but here it is anyway. I don't have any difficulty switching between anglo and melodeon (but I don't play from music and I don't think in terms of named notes). I find there is less similarity between anglo and melodeon than you might imagine, except when playing strictly up and down the rows. Otherwise the relationship between the rows is quite different (whether it's a semitone or fourth-apart box) and you have to learn different fingering patterns. It's far better to think of melodeon as an entirely different instrument with its own keyboard (which it is) rather than trying to find false equivalences based on superficial similarities. My suggestion would be to decide between melodeon systems based on their own merits, and just get on with it. If you find that your "concertina brain" is getting in the way too much, then it shouldn't be difficult to sell that box and try a different system.
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Concertina Spares appears to have them https://concertina-spares.com/
  22. There was a discussion on this a few years ago: https://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?/topic/19119-microphone-recommendations-please/
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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