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stuart estell

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About stuart estell

  • Birthday 08/06/1975

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    I play Anglo, Maccann, and Jeffries Duet systems. I have also been known to stray into playing Piano Accordion and melodeon (one-row and D/G).<br /><br />My arsenal of other instruments includes piano, mandolin, guitars, bass, and the electric fence-post - a home-made stand-up bass that sports a handy carrying handle.<br /><br />Also a member of, webmaster and parliamentary candidate for the Monster Raving Loony Party (http://www.omrlp.com)
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  1. My Norman C/G took a real battering while I was playing for the morris. One of the handrails had a habit of working loose and needing a screw tightening once in a while, but other than that, there have never been any real structural issues with it at all.
  2. So do I Jeff, but for no other reason than that was how I taught myself! Technically, my "main" instruments are the piano and the tuba - those are certainly the only two instruments I've ever had tuition on. Before I had to have a bit of a hiatus on tuba for dental reasons (which, indirectly, led me to learning concertina) I probably reached a technically higher standard, relatively, than I ever did on piano, but I've done more "serious" performing on piano. Having just gone back to the tuba with the determination to develop a non-damaging technique I must say I'd forgotten what a physically and mentally absorbing instrument it is to play. My lungs are in shocking shape though! I rarely if ever play concertina for anything other song accompaniment (apart from interrupting sessions with morris tunes at the Swaledale Squeeze ), so I'd say that it's my first choice for that... at least for songs that don't need guitar or dulcimer accompaniment. Or autoharp. I'm finding myself playing the Jeffries Duet pretty much exclusively now as well. Much as I love the Maccann and the anglo there's something mysterious and wonderful about the Jeffries - and not just the noise it makes.
  3. I'm originally a pianist, so I'm comfortable with bass clef; having done a reasonable amount of orchestration and choral stuff I don't mind alto/tenor/octavo treble clefs either. It strikes me, though, for more advanced concertina music, that the most flexible approach might be one that a lot of Romantic and 20th century composers have used for the piano (and one that will probably fill a lot of people with absolute horror): three staves - two treble, one bass. There's potentially a lot more information to process, of course, but it does work...
  4. Sean, I have two of Andrew Norman's anglos - the bellows should loosen up nicely with regular playing. I'd just play the instrument and let nature take its course.
  5. I remember reading somewhere that theoretically the Jeffries Duet system could go up to 81 keys but I can't remember where I saw that. I also can't begin to imagine how an 81-key JD keyboard would be laid out!
  6. Hi Stuart, "Go for it!". As I understand it, image quality is related to the number of pixels. I made these recordings on a Panasonic (Lumix) DMC-FZ8. In video mode, this gives a maximum quality image of 640 x 480 pixels. Righto - I have a Lumix camera although the model number escapes me at the moment. I think it has a higher video res. than 640x480 though. Now all I need to do is get the fiddly arpeggio patterns in the Glass into my fingers reliably - not helped by the fact that the most difficult section is in A flat!
  7. Not something I've ever thought of doing, but I might have a go. The only thing I have available to shoot video with is my ordinary digital camera, so I'm not sure what the quality would be like. I'm working on some pieces by Philip Glass on the Jeffries at the moment, so I might do an excerpt from one of those if I get chance...
  8. Likewise, Jim. I voted for the "yes, but not in the next six months" option; it's a great idea, and it'd be nice to have a cheap-but-playable box that I could almost not care about in hostile conditions... but I probably wouldn't think about it till next summer.
  9. Just to add more confusion, I drive the bellows with my left hand, resting the right bellows frame on my leg, when playing either anglo or duet...
  10. People seem to forget we play concertina and other boxes because they are acoustic. The charm of an acoustic instrument will never be replaced. Electronic instruments are great, but for the performer the charm in my opinion is lost. The listener may not be able to tell if it was a synth or sample or whatever, but the performer knows. Have you ever seen a MIDI synth concert? I have. Boring! In this age of power failures, the humble acoustic instrument plays on while the rioters run amuck. Although I'd put in a good word at this point for ageing and temperamental analogue synths, which I always think of as honorary acoustic instruments, as they've undeniably got personality!
  11. And of course, the Shruti box produces real live harmonics, being made of wood and metal and stuff...
  12. I'm glad I wasn't drinking my cup of tea while reading that! Someone ought to do a novelty record under the name "The Hohner Wall of Sound"
  13. Lars, if you're interested, the low-pitch shruti box Steve uses is the G box featured on this page: http://www.soundtravels.co.uk/erol.html#34...K%257CcountryGB Mine is the "deluxe" shruti box sold by Jas Musicals, the bottom item on this page: http://www.jas-musicals.com/sectrad/Harmonium-cases.asp
  14. What Steve does is rest the Shruti box vertically on the floor, but sideways-on, with a foot resting on the top of it to apply downward pressure to stop it from moving. He then uses his other foot to work the filling bellows from towards the bottom of the front panel, near a corner. You don't get any noticeable muffling. There's a recording of him doing this on my website if you're interested: http://stuartestell.co.uk/2007/05/21/pink-...-steve-bradley/ I've tried doing the same with my Shruti box and it's not too hard to do - trouble is that mine is quite a loud one, so adding it to concertina or guitar means using a lot of air when singing to try and be heard! You've probably already thought this, but however you design it, I'd definitely say make it sound quieter than you think you need to. I'd prefer my Shruti box if it had the volume of my harmonium's drones, as it does tend to dominate proceedings a bit!! Edited to add one last thought: I find that pumping the bellows in time with the music without overfilling them _is_ possible, but just takes a bit of practise to get used to regulating the pressure yourself. So you can probably get away without building a pressure regulator into it, I would have thought.
  15. Both Steve Bradley (English concertina player) and I use Shruti boxes for drones. Mine's a fairly standard one, with a chromatic octave upwards from middle C. The bottom note on Steve's is baritone G, I think, so his is lower-pitched and richer in tone, and therefore probably more use when combined with a concertina; Steve plays his with his feet while playing English concertina, while I tend to use mine on its own, just for singing to. I'm curious as to what custom features you think you might need or want, though. Edited to say - drone instruments are tremendously compelling and addictive things... I have tremendous affection for both my Shruti box and my Indian Harmonium, to the extent that my Shruti box even has a name: "Estragon", after the character in Waiting For Godot... if I ever get a lower-pitched one like Steve's it'll be called Vladimir
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