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Simon H

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  1. That's me at left pale blue shirt, EC at my feet. Simon H(arbord)
  2. I note now that the list has become "Scottish players of the English concertina" whereas the thread Title is "English Concertina Players Who Play Scottish Music, In Scotland?, " There is some creeping potential confusion here. I am English, live in Scotland this last 20 years, play english concertina, play Scottish music. Seems now I and a few others shouldn't be on the list as now titled ! Perhaps "People who play english concertina in Scotland might work..."
  3. I've been delighted with the Tascam DR1. http://www.tascam.com/products/dr-1.html It is a complete musician's friend. Record at CD quality mp3/wav, overdub, tuner, metronome, slow downer, looper, the list is pretty long. To me it is like the ideal answer to "If you could have the perfect electronic recording and playing aid device to go in your concertina bag, what features would you want?" Everything is saved onto SD card for easy transfer to PC or directly via USB.
  4. I wish I had made that much progress in so short a time, my first 6 months were painful for all concerned. Everything about your playing has improved enormously since your first post. Well done. Simon
  5. I guess what I have to say may not match in well in these hard times, but there are certain decisions which we sometimes make or need to make without reference to value and payback. In the field I work, environmental, decisions around sustainable energy at the home level seldom make sense on a time-to-payback basis and I always counsel people to consider such investment as a sunk cost. A big wind / solar system can cost tens of thousands, but if you have that money in the bank, it could be better capitalised in an off-grid power system, it will make you feel better, take away your power bills and give you worthy feelings, perhaps one day it may pay back more than you can imagine now..... Musical instruments are bought for enjoyment, learning, challenge, sharing, as objects of desire, as companions on dark nights, as stimulants, as icebreakers at social gatherings etc etc. None of these uses should relate back to economic value. Spending more on a beatiful distressed object, to breathe life back into it, than its value is money often well spent. We are most of us in this relationship with conccertinas for the love of the things than to make money. If the instrument has a chance of renewed life with future generations, perhaps its almost our duty if we have the means to facilitate that? Nonetheless if choices exist, then economic considerations must surely play their part. Simon
  6. I'm currently in final stages of fixing up an old salvaged "scrapper" from Chris Algar as a midi concertina. A set of labels like this would make a nice finishing touch. I suspect though my capacity for Guinness would make this a long term project, but you've given me some food for thought.....
  7. David, thanks for posting that, and Danny for permission. I use ABC explorer http://abc.stalikez.info/abcex.php/ for ABC files and it deals with this really well. It is now at release 1.3.2 and is a superb ABC organiser, player and converter for ABC files. thanks again Simon
  8. Danny, love those, particularly Rosline Castle. It was that video on YT that got me into EC. David or Danny while you are posting excerpts of the tune in ABC, would you post the whole tune in the version you play, with chords? That would be wonderful . While I don't expect to be able to match your playing it would give me great satidfaction to work on it.
  9. Next thing I know, I am walking down a street full of shops selling nothing but accordions. "So, this is hell !", I thought .....
  10. I've found the learning stages of concertina fascinating in all sorts of ways. Feeling parts of your brain actually straining to draw together sound memory, knowledge of the buttons, tempo, and tactile memory is something amazing. You can almost feel the plough in your brain making new mental furrows for the seeds of knowledge to be planted in. Another thing that is strange for me is the feeling of "trust" that you have to put in yourself that the next note in the tune is going to be the right one. It is a kind of unfounded trust because for me this type of knowledge is so abstract, unlike learnt knowledge of any other type, I can't seem to identify the part of the brain it comes from so have little confidence or feeling of control when running through a tune. The moment I try to think too hard, it slips away from me. So tenuous. I still find it hard to play in front of others and my worst moments are when I tell my wife I've learnt a new tune and try to play it ! I applaud you for playing through a tune on video, I've tried that a few times and always end up making mistakes. I use a variety of teaching aids to make the process enjoyable, software (ABC, MIDI, slow downers etc.) Tutor books, scales, metronome, playing along to YouTube videos. I get weekly lessons too, and would really recommend that. Whatever you do make sure you enjoy starting out on concertina. I suspect you do. It is easy to be discouraged.
  11. Traditional music, in my opinion, harks back to a time when communities were a horse ride away from each other and styles were localised. Tunes would be played at celebrations and would be known tunes within a particular community or group of communities. At weddings and other celebrations, dances would be a form of community bonding. Knowing the steps would be a form of cohesion, of belonging. New dances and styles would be slowly absorbed from the periphery, variations from the next village etc. Occasionally a newcomer would bring something new – a new instrument, a new dance a, new tempo, a new variation. This would be absorbed into the culture and molded into the repertoire. The industrial revolution started to distort traditional music, through mass migration, and the opening up of even the most isolated communities to the world. At the same time collectors with wonderful foresight started to gather tunes from areas, preserving in aspic many of the old traditional tunes, before they were lost. Mass communications, firstly radio, then TV, allowed music traditions to be both preserved, and diluted and distorted and marketed. New tunes in the tradition, so to speak, were composed in their thousands. Lastly, the Internet has allowed musicians to communicate directly with each other, and express their own views on the traditional music, they can hear tunes from around the world. On the one hand all these modern innovations (from transport, through mass communications to the internet) have diluted traditional music and spread it to the four winds to be played by any musician with a whim to play it. Here in Scotland I can happily collect Appalachian music, Northumbrian music or Japanese music and add them to my repertoire of local tunes. Some I meet will only play local tunes, others have their specialities, cajun, bluegrass, shanties etc etc etc. The important thing to me is that these tools have also allowed people who care about the traditional music of a locality to study and preserve it too. There will always be people who believe that the music should be preserved at all costs while others are open to any and all influences. One day, with the passing of oil, and mankind being thrown back onto the resources of the local community, the time may come again when a style of music and dance will identify us with a particular locality. Meantime we live in a time of unbounded richness of music, and I for one will play anything if it is a good tune and stirs some emotion in me and those who will listen to me.
  12. I used to go along to the Cleethorpes folk club in the early 70's - only to listen though - always liked the shanties particularly. My college flatmate used to have a ghastly little anglo that always sounded out of tune, I played some tin whistle. The years flew by, the playing of music got left behind. About 8 years ago I decided making music was important to balance my life as a scientist. Bought a lovely piano cheap on Ebay. One holiday about 6 years ago we were sitting at the periphery of a session in a country pub where a guy was playing a Bina harmonium. That was the next step for me, a delightful year with the harmonium, falling in love with the free reed sound.Still love to play it and the piano. The next step was restoring an old flutina, reacquanting myself with the whistle, this time a D low whistle. Then a decision was made to settle down with one instrument, I knew by then, having discovered this forum through the flutina, where it was all heading. A lovely restored Lachenal EC from Chris Algar was the next step. Then as luck would have it, a beautiful metal ended Wheatstone came my way, in need of restoration. That work took 6 weeks, and it has made a fine instrument. Now I feel bereft if I can't play at least half an hour a day, preferably longer. To cap it all - I get weekly lessons from one of the UK's most gifted EC players. I'm happy indeed. For my journey, the English Concertina has felt like coming home. I'm researching some of the local tunes and shanties they used to play at Cleethorpes, I occasionally play one or two at a local session here in Scotland where I've settled. My current project is building a low cost midi EC, hopefully more on that soon. Simon
  13. I can wholeheartedly recommend a portable solution away from your PC, The Tascam MPGT1 portable mp3 player - they call it a "guitar trainer". It holds about 240 MP3's and has the usual player functions, albeit in a very sturdily constructed case made for taking hard knocks. But it also has the ability to slow down in the same way the software does without changing key, or it will change key without changing tempo. Plus a load of effects available, a guitar input socket tuner/metronome etc etc. But its simple to use stand alone with either headphones or portable speakers. It is a piece of cake to put in loop points to repeat phrases. Price around £100 on Ebay The other Tascam option is their CDGT2 which does for CD's what the MPGT1 does for MP3's it comes in a little cheaper than the mp3 player too at about £85 on ebay. Just because these are called guitar trainers doesn't mean they aren't ideal for learning tunes on any instrument ie concertina.
  14. [My emphasis in red.] I don't doubt the truth of what you say Stephen, you have way more experience than me in these matters, but I'd make a couple of comments based on my limited experience and use of the Centon case. As to support of the concertina. I would infinitely prefer the support provided by the camera case which gently supports on all sides and holds the concertina closed, than a hard case such as my original wheatstone or Lachenal cases, whilst they provide corner blocks, as far as I can see all those do is directly transmit knocks and bumps directly to the body of the instrument. If I were to drop my instruments, I know which case I'd prefer them to be in. A hard clamshell case would be fine but for me that has few advantages over the camera type case. I'm not sure I understand the camera case = valuable argument. I read up as much as I could on concertina theft both in this forum and elsewhere and as far as I can tell he vast majority of thefts were at sessions and festivals, where the thieves knew exactly what they were stealing. The type of case in most cases was immaterial. Likewise in the street, a clamshell, a camera, a concertina case, all look suitably alluring to a mugger. The answer here has to be disguise or not carrying in areas of risk. Like all here, I'd be very trepidatious of walking certain areas with any sort of case and would probably use a less valuable looking case where necessary. As for sessions, festivals etc, frankly I watch my instrument like a hawk. I've not been playing long, and the love affair with the instrument is still strong enough that I could not imagine myself leaving it unattended. All the time I see players leave their instruments - a concertina is portable enough not to leave it. anyway, just my thoughts. Each to their own.
  15. Snowed under in August? British expression for too busy to take on any more work !
  16. A prudent persons foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. - Proverbs 27:12 Are you seriously implying I am a simpleton for making the suggestion I make and not seeing risk of crime in rural Scotland ? I'll not bother next time. The negativity here sometimes for a simple suggestion is very off-putting.
  17. That's exaclty why I carry my concertina in it's case in a very ordinary looking inexpensive backpack. I tend not to find myself in situations of perceived risk, usually I drive over to a pub or village hall for a session, get out the car, go in, enjoy myself etc, get back in car drive home. The camera case works a treat for my sort of use. I'm sad that you live under such fear of crime. Whatever, my point remains - the bag is made as though its designed specifically for this use. Simon
  18. I've been using a Centon DSLR camera case for my Wheatstone now for a few months and am delighted with it. RRP is 50 quid but I've seen the same bag on Ebay new for 20. It is well padded, fits the concertina perfectly. Side pockets will take notebooks, recording devices, tools, everthing you might need. Even space to take sheet music etc. I'm sure many other camera cases would work just as well, but for the price this one is very good. Just a thought if you were looking for a good protective case for your precious instrument. Simon
  19. You could do a lot worse than go along to the tunes page : http://www.anglo-concertina.net/links.htm and listen to as many examples as you can of all the types of instruments to see the scope and range and styles achievable with the different types of concertina. Youtube is a good resource too. This way you can discover for yourself whether you have any misapprehensions as to what can and can't be played, and what sounds good or otherwise on different instruments. This should allow you to do an objective assessment and also be able to hear the multitude of styles and approaches to the instrument. Simon
  20. As a beginning (improving) player myself could I just add something too. The love of a new instrument is very strong, but easily damaged. Human nature being what it is, it is very easy to give up when the going gets tough. This happened with me on other instruments, and could very easily have happened to me with concertina too. You will almost certainly fall out of love with it after some difficult practice when nothing goes right and you cannot even play a phrase or a scale right, let alone a tune. At this point it is easy to leave it in the cupboard, with lots of self justification and promises to "do more tomorrow". This is a critical time where the only answer is to redouble efforts and discipline. If you can get over that period you will be back in love with the instrument again, only the bond will be stronger after what you have come through. I cannot go through a day without practice and playing through some of my expanding list of tunes. I feel something big is missing from my day if I can't play. I know this sounds very emotional, but it truly is, the ability to make music is a wonderful, wonderful skill, but tht is what it is, a skill, and skills have to be learnt, they are not innate. At first its hard - then it becomes pure pleasure, struggling to get the best out of each tune.
  21. That's a good tip, that size fits nicely in the case and they do read well in good light. make good practice cards. Also sit on your knee when playing without need for a music stand. I printed out keyboard layouts and chord charts for my EC on the same size - very useful.
  22. I enquired into this specific issue and was informed by the platers that this would be no problem as the plating is only a few microns thick, unlike paint, and the detail would definitely not be lost. However, my enquiries revealed, as other more experienced members know already, there are platers, and platers, and getting the right finish - probably what is known I believe as dull nickel, is not something all platers can do. Also getting them to understand the value of the piece and treating it with respect may be difficult with some platers. I'm sure some of the experienced members here will have recommendations. After weighing up the issue for some time, I decided not to have the work done on my Wheatstone, the finish, after some simple cleaning and gentle polishing ended up looking very good indeed and much more in keeping with the age of the instrument. I guess the debate goes on regarding the patina of age, and whether such restoration adds or detracts from appearance / value.
  23. I had expected a bit more response to this too David, given the threads I've read to date, regarding practicing. Nonetheless Mark 2 is not far from finished, another hour or two work over the next few days, and it should be done. Perhaps the seeming complexity and spaghetti of wires looked daunting, conceptually it is very simple and once the wiring is all tidied up and wrapped it will be fine. I've got a little scissor mechanism to attach to give a semblance of "bellows" movement between the keypads - only an inch or two travel but enough to make the ends feel separate. More soon.
  24. One of the most frustrating things about being a learning concertina player is not being able always to practice. Causing disturbance to others, not being able to take the concertina on journeys. Or simply not having it when the mood strikes. These are common problems. I've read threads here that express that frustration and decided to try to do something about it. My problem is my electronics knowledge starts and ends wiith simle switches, electromechanical stuff, so anything I made would have to be simple and not be based around midi or microcontrollers or the like. What I wanted was to have a small simulated English Concertina keyboard which would connect to a small kids type keyboard instrument. This turned out not to be as easy as I thought. The keyboard contacts of even very cheap kids keyboards are not easily hackable to allow the soldering in of wired contacts out to the simulated concertina keyboard. Then I realised the ideal instrument is out there, if you can stand the sound it makes - the Stylophone. Simple electronics and a keyboard of metal made to solder onto. The stylus wire would act as a common ground for all the pushbuttons. also headphone and rudimentary mp3 mixing facilities all for £15 quid on ebay. Believe it or not, they've rereleased the stylophone so there is no shortage. I emptied Maplins of suitable pushbutton switches (7mm dia push-to-make) then found a source on E-bay. So no shortage of pushbuttons I have about 90 ! Next I constructed the keyboards with button spacings measured directly off my Wheatstone. Clear platic and a felt tipped pen does the trick to create the correct spacings to transfer to the wood to drill the holes. I've bought a couple of thumbstraps to fit too when all is complete.Then I got to grips with the soldering iron. And that's where it all went a bit pear-shaped After I got the first side just about finished I started testing and found that some of the switches simply weren't working. Instead of using thin wire to wire it up, I'd used a plug and socket wire from PC world that would allow me to separate the Stylophone end from the keyboard end. Problem was it was heavy wire and the soldering damaged a few of the switches. They are so wired in that i'll have to take the whole thing to bits to fix it. So before I commence Mark 2 I thought, has anyone tried this or similar? I'm talking cheap keyboard trainer here, not midi, not something costing hundreds, simply something with buttons that activates a separate small instrument. Have you any learnings to share, anything out there better than a Stylophone to solder wires onto? (that's the easy bit) To do this for Anglo layouts would require a bit of jiggery pockery around microswitches to detect push/pull but it is possible. Anyway, I thought I'd share this at this stage before I plunge into mark 2. I've a feeling a few people would like something to sit in front of the TV with, earphone in place, picking out the melody of that new tune you heard. I hope this is inspiration enough to get started. Attached also a picture of where things got to with Mark 1. I shall strip it down and rebuild for Mark 2 with proper thin connecting wires. If I achieve anything like success I will report back, either that or we could get a few like-minded people to work the designs into something manufacturable, as long as its inexpensive. I've no wish to profit from the concept. My original concept, it has to be said was not much bigger than a cigarette packet with the exact layout of buttons and a headphone socket and little speaker ! Simon
  25. Seems like it got withdrawn - shame. anyone know what happened, I had a juicy bid in for it.
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