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Brian Humphrey

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Everything posted by Brian Humphrey

  1. A few months ago there was a CNET discussion about digital recorders, and I'm pleased to see that several others have come to appreciate Edirol. For the Edirols and perhaps other small digital recorders, better-than-CD sound quality can be assured by using good external microphones.
  2. Geoff, Thanks for the diagram, and thanks for being so helpful. Brian On February 6, 2007 Brian Humphrey wrote: Geoff, The buttons on my C. Jeffries 55 button Crane are 1 cm. apart vertically, and 1.5 cm. apart diagonally... How do the button dimensions and spacing on my Jeffries compare with the spacing on the Cranes made by Lachenal and Crabb? Geoffry Crabb replied: Hi Brian, the attached may be of help. Regards Geoff.
  3. Quoting Geoffrey Crabb: It will be noticed that generally the key spacing and position on Crabb versions depart from the 'Crane' (properly Butterworth) original design as used by Lachenal, the Crabb being based on that of the English spacing. Geoff, The buttons on my C. Jeffries 55 button Crane are 1 cm. apart vertically, and 1.5 cm. apart diagonally. This is about the same spacing as on my Lachenal and Wheatstone English concertinas. However, the buttons on the Crane seem to be about 0.5 cm wide, while the buttons on the English concertinas are about 0.3 cm wide. How do the button dimensions and spacing on my Jeffries compare with the spacing on the Cranes made by Lachenal and Crabb?
  4. Hmm... I play button accordion as well as concertina, and I'm a chromatic button accordion novice. I owned a piano accordion for a while. I suggest that we not blame the accordions themselves. Perhaps certain accordion players would benefit either from tasteful instruction or an introduction to the cow.
  5. Wegates, If you are interested in a brief vacation that allows an immersion in chemnitzer culture", New Ulm, Minnesota has several festivals where chemnitzers may be heard. Check out: http://www.newulm.com/travel/travel_index.html Brian
  6. Discussions about Chemnitzer concertinas have come up on this web site before. In the U.S., Chemnitzers are most predictably found in the upper midwest, from Minnesota and Wisconsin to the Chicago area. I lived in Minnesota for quite a while, I learned to "speak Minnesotan", and I almost bought a chemnitzer once, so maybe I can offer some information. Here are some excerpts from notes I posted to concertina.net in 2004: Jerry Minar, 213 1st St., New Prague, Minnesota 56071; 612-758-4797, has taken over the manufacture of Hengel concertinas, a highly regarded brand of chemnitzer... Ken Mahler, of Mahler Music, in St. Paul, MN, 651-224-6493, also sells and repairs chemnitzers. His web site is at: http://www.accordionheaven.com. Dr. Helmi Harrington, 1401 Belknap St, Superior, Wisconsin, 218-393-0245 would also be a good choice for chemnitzer repair. She works on all kinds of concertinas and accordions, and teaches accordion and concertina repair. Brown's Music, in New Ulm, Minnesota, is another possibility: http://www.brownsmusic.com In the Search feature at the bottom of this page, you could try a few searches on "Chemnitzer", or some of the other terms and names I used above. The search engine for this web site sometimes acts in ways that I don't predict, so look over the whole list of results to sort out what may be relevant to you. Brian
  7. Peter, If you would like a portable digital recorder about the size of your hand, consider the Edirol R-09 by Roland: http://www.rolandus.com/products/productde...px?ObjectId=757 I have the R-09's predecessor, the Edirol R-1, and I like it. It records in wave or MP3 format. It can make 24 bit digital files, and CD quality is only 16 bit. I think the built-in stereo microphones are adequate for many purposes, but external microphones can be added for better quality and microphone placement.
  8. I'll just add that some of what I know about how the brain processes music is from my own ancient resarch. Back in 1973, when I was still a kid in college, I was lucky to co-author what may have been the first EEG (brain wave) study to show that there is more brain activity in the left side of the brain during language tasks, and more brain activity in the right side of the brain during musical tasks (for musically inexperienced people). Nowadays, I'm a speech-language pathologist, and I still have an interest in how the brain processes language and music. Brian Humphrey
  9. One might wonder if there is not some definite connection between the pathways of the brain and the structure of the concertina. Hmm... In Wheatstone's day, the study of neurology was not very advanced. That was around the time when we were just beginning to associate brain damage with certain kinds of language disorders. I think that Wheatstone's development of the concertina was guided more by his own experiences. I'm not sure what can be said about pathways of the brain and the structure of the (English) concertina, because people with differing amounts of musical proficiency appear to process music differently in the brain. What I remember about the neural organization for music is that for musically inexperienced right-handed people, the right hemisphere of the brain processes music and the left hemishpere processes language. However, for musically adept people, music becomes more like a language and so the left hemisphere takes over. If I remember correctly, the early work on correlation of brain function and music was done by Dr. Doreen Kimura, only thirty or so years ago. Many musical instruments require the use of both hands. The right hemishphere of the brain controls the left hand, and the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right hand. The English concertina appears to be more "balanced" than many instruments in the manner that it requires both hands to be used to produce music. Using both brain hemispheres to direct motor movements of playing melody notes may slow the playing process a tiny bit, but dividing the work of playing fast melody lines between the two hands can be a great advantage. Brian Humphrey
  10. To make my life just a little easier, I was lucky to find very sturdy camera packs by Targus, with shoulder straps, for both of my English concertinas. The concertinas fit perfectly. and the bags make traveling and "carry-on" very convenient. I took my concertinas to the store and got permission to test the "fit" in several camera bags. Be very picky, though ... not all camera bags are of a proper size and sturdiness to be trusted with the task of protecting a concertina. The wrong camera bag could lead to disaster. If you already have a good hard concertina case, that should work on airplanes just fine. CNet has posted comments, pro and con, about camera bags for concertinas prevously.
  11. For the moment, I have removed my "musician hat" and put on my "speech-language pathologist hat". First, I'll offer a couple of thoughts for Alan and Jim; then I'll follow with some thoughts about hearing loss, noise exposure, understanding women's voices, and a couple of other topics. Alan, your thinking that noise exposure may be a factor in your hearing loss could be on-target. My understanding is that up to half of the hearing loss customarily attributed to presbycusis (hearing loss due to aging) is actually caused by noise exposure. Jim, you are correct in suspecting that problems with understanding speech may involve more than hearing acuity (sensitivity). Such problems, including your reported problem with understanding speech in background noise may sometimes be due to an auditory processing disorder. Auditory processing refers to how sound is perceived, discriminated, and understood along the path from the inner ear to the cerbral cortex. Children with auditory processing disorders are sometimes mistakenly thought to have hearing problems or attention disorders. In the U.S., evaluation of auditory processing is considered to be within the scope of practice for audiology, and the number of audiologists familiar with these specialized procedures is continually increasing Jim, from the perpsecive of a telephone company, the range of effective frequencies for speech intelligibility may indeed be 1000-3000 Hz. However, telephone companies historically have been interested in using inexpensive components in order to increase their profits. They found that most people can follow a phone conversation when a fairly narrow range of frequencies is transmitted. However, for some speech sounds, for example /s/ or /f/ or /th/, significant acoustic information is conveyed by frequencies up to at least 6.000 Hz. Finding Professional Help: In the U.S., audiologists are the professionals who specialize in hearing measurement; they can also prescribe hearing aids. A master's degree was formerly the entry level degree for clinical practice; the Au.D. (doctorate in audiology) or a Ph.D. is now required. Although some hearing aid dealers do hearing testing, they have far less training than an audiologist does. If you want to have your hearing evaluated in the U.S., or if you are interested in specialized ear protection from noise exposure, it is highly preferable to find an audiologist who is certified by either the American Speeh-Language-Hearing Association (my professional organization): http://www.asha.org; or the American Academy of Audiology: http://www.audiology.org. Both web sites are excellent sources of information about hearing and hearing disorders. Some Background on Hearing Loss: There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. It is possible to have both, i.e. a mixed hearing loss. Conductive Hearing Loss Conductive hearing loss, which is typically involves damage or limitation of movement to the tympanum (eardrum) or to the three bones in the middle ear (malleus, incus, and stapes) that transmit sound to the cochlea. The cochlea is a sort of snail shaped structure in the inner ear where acoustic energy is converted to nerve impulses. With a conductive hearing loss, one can expect to hear clearly when the affected frequencies are amplified. Sensorineural Hearing Loss Sensorineural hearing loss can result from damage to the hair cells inside the cochlea, or damage to the eighth cranial nerve. Each hair cell responds to a narrow range of frequencies (pitches). The causes of sensorineural hearing loss that concern most of us are aging and noise exposure. As we age, hair cells gradually die and cannot be replaced. At age 17 so, our hearing is at its best -- and from there it's a downward slide. Hair cells are also damaged and lost as a result of noise exposure. With a sensorineural hearing loss, intelligibility of speech can be affected, and simply amplifying the affected frequencies may not be enough to restore the ability to understand speech clearly. Another common characteristic of a sensorineural hearing loss is called recruitment. Recruitment is when louder sounds become uncomfortable, or even painful. So, a sensorineural hearing loss cam be a triple whammy: we lose the ability to hear softer sounds, intelligibility can be affected, and we can experience reduced tolerance of louder sounds. More About Noise Exposure: Risk of noise exposure depends on the intensity of sound, the duration of sound, and accumulation of damage over repeated exposure. Exposure to a brief burst of sound at high intensity is a hazard to hearing; however, sustained exposure at a somewhat lower intensity can cause just as much damage. If we are exposed to a burst of noise or to sustained noise and afterward we notice that our hearing is temporarily worse, we need to consider it a danger sign and protect our hearing in that environment. Damage from noise exposure is quite possible even before the noise intensity reaches levels sufficient to cause temporary hearing loss. I have a mild hearing loss above about 4000 Hz (4000 cycles per second) and my left ear is more affected than my right. I think my hearing loss is largely noise induced, but partly conductive due to childhood ear infections. For years I have carried earplugs with me and I do not hesitate to use them in loud environments. If I forget them I may get an unpleasnt reminder: very loud sounds now cause pain in my left ear. It is quite reasonable that even the clatter of dishes could be painful, as mentioned in a previous posting. Unfortunately I cannot yet use ear pain as an excuse to avoid washing dishes! There are ear plugs for musicians that are designed to attenuate sound evenly across the audible range of frequencies. For extremely noisy situations (operating loud machinery, driving an ambulance) over the counter ear plugs may not be effective, although they will help to some extent. Understanding Women's Voices: The pattern of one's hearing loss may differentially affect the ability to understand women's and children's voices. Men and women with a sensorineural hearing loss affecting higher frequencies may report more difficulty understanding women's voices than men's voices. Acoustically, speech sounds have a fundamental frequency (the frequency at which the vocal folds vibrate) and several harmonic bands (formants) that extend into higher frequencies. The fundamental frequency of the female voice is typically about an octave higher than the fundamental frequency of the male voice. The harmonic bands(formants) that carry the acoustic information to distinguish speech sounds (phonemes) are also typically higher for the female voice, at least in part due to a smaller vocal tract. Wierd Hearing Science: Diplycusis Diplycusis is another hearing condition of interest to musicians. I have a small amount of it. Diplucusis means that one ear perceives a particular sound source to be at a higher pitch than the other ear does. Usually, the brain reconciles the difference and we are not likely to notice. However, it is something I have to compensate for when tuning instruments. My right ear hears a given tone at a slightly higher pitch than my left ear does. At the same time, I have very good pitch discrimination. I have learned that if I am tuning a stringed instrument by ear, I must listen to the reference pitches (e.g. tuner, pitchfork, keyboard) and the instrument with the same ear throughout the tuning process. Otherwise, the result will sound a little "off" to me.
  12. Some would say that Ft. Lauderdale is too far south to be in the south. There are two or three others in these parts not on CNet. Also, Paul Groff is down the road in the Miami area, and there's a fellow in Key West.
  13. Crankygal, I carried out that procedure about 20 years ago, after I had graduated from my own "Italian-fixing stage" but before some of my friends had. I don't remember the specifics now. Your ideas for fashioning a new pad, if needed, sound quite reasonable. However, I would think about using something other than chamois; it may not make as tight a seal as a smoother leather. A change to one part of the mechanism may have effects on the whole mechanism. For example, depending on how your air button links to the valve, the thickness of the pad that you make may affect the height of the air button or some aspect of its function. If, as you proceed, you are careful to check how the parts are working together, you will probably get good results. Don't be hesitant to try your skill. As Rich said, go for it!
  14. How about a photo of another New Model for comparison? This photo was taken by Paul Read, before he sold the instrument to me. Although the pattern is not the same, the "y" seems to be present, so is not unique to Nils' concertina.
  15. Enlarging the air valve can be done. I did it once for a friend who had a cheap anglo. It made quite a bit of difference.
  16. Alan, How have I developed my style? John Hartford said that all style is based on limitation. Limitation certainly has been a factor for me. Not by nature a lightning-fast player, I previously gained some facility with chords, harmony, and rhythm on other instruments; so on EC I've built on those to drive a tune and compliment what other band members are doing. After a few times through a tune, in my head I hear lines or rhythms that others are not playing, so that's what I try to add, if others are holding down the melody. I've also learned that what I don't play is just as important as what I do play, so I try to leave artful "gaps" for others to fill.
  17. I recently examined a wooden-ended Wheatstone from the early 1950's - a treble English - to help the owner decide what materials would be needed for repairs. The owner bought it used about 25 years ago, and used to perform baroque, ragtime, and traditional music with it. The construction of the bellows looked traditional. The instrument had plastic buttons, and some of the wood looked like perhaps it could have been plywood, but the general construction seemed solid. The instrument had steel reeds in aluminum frames; the reeds appeared to fit in the frames closely. It was fairly well in tune with itself, very slightly flat of concert pitch. It had a hook action that looked like it could work at least as well as the hook action I have seen on mid-range Lachenals. There were too many deteriorated gaskets, bushings, valves, and pads to know how it might play when restored. The owner said that when he was playing it regularly, he liked the tone of the instrument but the notes didn't seem to have a very crisp "attack".
  18. I would have learned my first concertina tune in 1978. Its identity is lost in the mists of time -- or is it only a mental fog? It could have been something off a Michael Cooney album (his baritone EC was the first concertina I ever got to try); or from the Richard Carlin book; or maybe it was something that I knew already on guitar.
  19. In recent discussions on midi concertinas, some interest has been expressed in having midi concertina files. For example, these quotes from Jim Lucas, May 7, 2005, in "Anglo Midi Photos Added": " ...what if you sometimes want to sound like a concertina, and sometimes like a trumpet, marimba, percussion ensemble, string orchestra, or "Thai bath house" ...?" "Or what if you wanted to be able to select between different concertina voices? Even though you would have to record your own samples, you would presumably only need to do that once, and then you wouldn't have to carry around an amboyna Edeophone, a pinhole ├ćola, a metal-ended New Model, a brass-reeded baritone, a contrabass, and a Stagi miniature. Or, if you're an anglo player, C/G, G/D, Bb/F, and baritone in both metal- and wooden-ended models, both Jeffries- and Wheatstone-reeded. Or just think about taking sound samples from that Jones with the lovely tone, but sluggish action, so you get the same tone from a new instrument with Geuns-Wakker rivetted action." You wrote what I was thinking, Jim. As an interested "midi neophyte" at the very beginning of the learning curve, I'm wondering if we could collaborate to build a library of concertina sound samples to share. Collectively, we have a wonderful variety of concertinas that could be sampled. What do you all think?
  20. Pete, I very much enjoyed listening (and occasionally playing along) to the latest archive. The mix of old and new recordings evoked some pleasant memories of people and places and sparked my interest in a new release or two. Thanks for the tip.
  21. I see that I've been outed! As Stephen says, Ballad of America Volume 1 is available for sampling and purchase from CD Baby. I provided backup harmonies on three tracks of Matthew's album: Shenandoah, Once More a Lumbering Go, and Streets of Laredo. The antiquated instrument in question is my 1917 Wheatstone extended treble. The recording process was fairly far along by the time Matthew pulled me into the project, so he provided me with some rough mixes on CD a couple of weeks before my time in the studio. My task was find harmonies that worked with the rough mixes that he provided. For the most part, I wrote out my harmonies in advance and then tweaked them in the studio to give Matthew what he wanted for each track. However, on Streets of Laredo, I also borrowed from the "A" part of Svensk Anna's Waltz to create a countermelody. Brian
  22. Wes, Thanks for an interesting article! Where did it appear? Do you have additional reference information or information about the author that you could post on your site or share with us here?
  23. I got blank pages too, when I tried to open the file with Preview (the .pdf program pre-installed on my Mac). Preview has given no problems until now. My fix was to install the latest free Adobe Reader (v 7) for Macintosh. I still can't open the file directly because all my browsers are still defaulting to Preview. However, I was able to save the article to my desktop and then open, view, and print the saved file using Adobe Reader.
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