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Ivan Viehoff

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Everything posted by Ivan Viehoff

  1. My perception is that a Duet concertina is more difficult to play to an acceptable standard than either than an Anglo or an English. Because of the shortage of available learning material, etc, they tend to be favoured by people who can read music and adapt materials intended for other instruments to them. For your £500-£600 budget, well you find quite a lot of of 46-key Maccanns for sale at that price and coming up on ebay. Maccanns sold by dealers in that price range can usually be relied on to be in tatty condition, probably with some fixes needed. Though on ebay you can be lucky to get one in good condition in that range. Recently a couple went for not far shy of £500 which were obviously tatty and in need of a bit of fixing. I think the sellers were lucky. But ones in good condition often don't sell for much more (on ebay), and on a bad day (for the seller) go for less. Because 46-key Maccanns have certain infuriating shortcomings, most people who play 46-key Maccanns, if they take to it, end up wanting to play a 57-key+ Maccann, which are will cost twice that as a minimum. You might also come across a 42-key Crane at that price. They don't come up too often, and condition is often questionable on them. They verge onto the "not valuable enough to be worth spending the money to fix up nicely" category. But I suspect they are, in some ways, less infuriating than a 46-key Maccann in their shortcomings. The Stagi 46-key Hayden I think can be had in your price range. You quoted my paper, so you know my views on the different size instruments, so I won't explain any more here. You can also get duets with fewer keys than those mentioned above, but I think they are likely to be too infuriatingly limited in their potential.
  2. Ivan Viehoff


    To be precise, Marien, Hobgoblin are selling one like this for £750. The ones sold at different prices are different concertinas. Going from 46 key to 57 key can double the price. And the £1400 price of the 39-key is certainly a misprint, or wrong picture. We know that the likes of Hobgoblin and the Music Room sell things at a premium to private transactions and home-based dealers, because they are conveniently available over-the-counter in showroom music shops around the country, and you benefit from consumer protection legislation. I bought my original 46-key Lachenal for a little under £500 over the counter from The Music Room. I could at least hold it in my hand, try it out, and was shown inside it, before I bought it. It was demonstrated to be in concert pitch. I still ended up paying £240 for restoration and improvements. As I said before, you can fairly easily get a basic Lachenal 46-key in restored, playable condition for around £700. How easy? I've got one I'll sell you for £700 on the spot. It is recently restored, and as extras has had the buttons bushed and the ends repolished. With this one, we can see from the pictures and description, it needs pads and valves as a minimum. There is some slight reassurance, but not definitive reassurance, that it is in concert pitch. So the question is, can the purchaser get this one into good restored condition for less than £200? If all it needs is pads and valves, then OK, but it doesn't leave much margin for the risks of buying on ebay and other condition risks.
  3. Ivan Viehoff


    Once you have repadded, revalved and resprung them, as is very commonly required, put them in concert pitch (if necessary), or at least put them in tune, then I think Mr Algar tries to sell them in the vicinity of £600-£700. I think this one is a basic model, superior models can fetch a bit more. It seems that casual buyers on ebay often fail to realise the necessity/cost of the above-mentioned works, and so can be prone to pay Too Much.
  4. I find that people who are rude on forums often hide behind pseudonyms (though the reverse does not necessarily apply). One forum I used closed down because the owner got fed up moderating the nastiness. When another forum was set up by the former members of the previous forum, they asked people to use their real name, please, or at least make it available. Wikipedia also asks people to register their real name. Though of course these are requests, not enforceable. I use my real name because it is an indication that I stand by what I post and am not ashamed of it. It is an indication of the level of trust other users may wish to have in me.
  5. I had always assumed that either one read music or played by ear. Evidently you have found a third "alternative" that I am not aware of. My problem is that I have great difficulty remembering pieces of music, especially more than just a tune. So I have to be able to read the music just as a memory aid. I think reading music is a lot easier than reading writing. You have to recognise 26 symbols in writing, as well as variant forms like capitals and handwriting, and then you have to work out how the letters put together to make words, and deal with multitudinous irregular spellings. Even today, I have to have recourse to the dictionary fairly regularly. But music is all very regular, and uses (for the most part) a much smaller "alphabet". But of course one starts learning to read words when one is young and receptive, and reading music may come later. I started reading music at about 6 (the recorder) so it became instinctive. But actually I discovered some important things about reading music rather later in life. Today I can fairly reliably sing a tune unaccompanied at sight off a written score(provided it isn't too chromatic). I couldn't do this when I was younger, and would now say that I wasn't actually really reading the music fluently then. To read music fluently, it is important to be able to know the intervals, equivalently, the position of notes in the scale relative to the key note. If you can instinctively, immediately produce the sound of the 6th of the scale (etc), because you have the key note in your head and know what a sixth sounds like in relation to it, then when you see a note a sixth about the key note, you know what to produce. The vertical distance between notes is easily recognisable at a glance, well up to about a 10th. You don't even have to be over aware of them. People who can play by ear clearly have a very well developed interval recognition ear. They only have to develop an awareness of what they are doing in order to become a much more fluent reader of written music than the rest of us. In my mid-teens, I tried to play the bassoon. For historical reasons, bassoon (and cello) parts are written on the tenor clef when they go higher up (why upon earth they don't use an octave treble clef and put us all out of our misery, I really don't know). I never got the hang of this at the time. Later in life I had to read plainsong, which uses c-clefs, and you can specify any line is a c. Plainsong is mostly sung unaccompanied. So I just had to develop the technique I mentioned above in order to be able to sing it. I gave up the bassoon very quickly, but I don't think the tenor clef would hold such terrors for me any more.
  6. Since Morris predates the invention of concertinas and button accordions by some centuries, their introduction was, in its day, an updating of tradition, and I suspect much deprecated by conservatives at the time. Even the violin was probably an innovation at some point. So we concertinists are hardly in a position to criticise those who are introducing still more modern instruments and allowing the music to move forward with the times. Those who have done this and been successful attracting in young people, and providing a more exciting display with more accomplished dancing, seem to me to be the future. In fact, when, as at say Upton-on-Severn folk festival, one sees the huge variety that is today present in Morris, that is far more interesting than seeing a narrow repertoire performed to uniform standards. Moreover the great variety suggests a very lively tradition, not something dying out.
  7. Keeping choirs sounding in tune is also curious. Sometimes a choir sounds collectively out of tune, but no fault can be located in any of the individual parts. Conductors refer to this as the problem of balance. It is often solved by changing the relative volume of the different voice parts - most commonly the fault of the tenors who are always too loud or too quiet it seems. Choirs can also sound out of balance if there is too much diversity in the vowel sound being given to a note by the individual singers. Balance problems seem to increase if there are only few singers, one or two to a part say. In terms of temperament of choirs, I can't really account for why conductors need to tell us to keep the third nice and sharp. We usually take our chord from a piano or other equal temperament instrument, where the third is apparently substantially over-sharp. Surely we can let it fall a bit. I suppose if we continue to be accompanied by an equal temperament instruments, we need to keep in line with them and keep our thirds nice and sharp. But in fact it is when we are unaccompanied that the conductor is even more insistent on keeping that third nice and sharp.
  8. I've had a few experiences like that. But we need to realise that if the seller has a willing buyer in his front room, it is very easy for him to be tempted by the crisp pound notes that are on offer on the spot, especially if the item for sale is the kind where people will want to come and take a look, and/or the carriage is risky/difficult/expensive. So when you see that thing that could be just what you are looking for that you have been waiting for months for, and you can't be the one first into the front room, it is important to get some action going on the auction as soon as possible. Of course at this stage you shouldn't bid more than you think you could get on a resale if it doesn't turn out as exactly you hoped, and the buyer must have set the start price low enough to allow you to bid. But you need to communicate to the seller as best you can that he could do a lot better by waiting for the auction to go through. Most sellers realise that most of the action in an auction happens at the end, so some early activity is often a good sign.
  9. What is certainly against ebay's rules is seeking to avoid ebay's commission payment by negotiating a private sale with someone who discovered your offer through the site. Ebay tend to assert that an auction once started should go to conclusion (unless there are compelling reasons) and you should not attempt to negotiate a sale elsewhere while it is in progress. When I put my first ever item on ebay, I used a wording similar to that commonly seen on a reputable concertina dealer's auctions saying that I reserved the right to stop the auction if it was sold elsewhere. Ebay told me that was against their rules and stopped my auction. Not a good start to my selling career. To give me a reason was some kindness by ebay standards, since sometimes they close auctions or deny bids while not telling people what they did wrong; I think they have even been known to state that some of their rules are confidential. What was even kinder was that they refunded the listing fee in this situation. Someone who had asked some questions about the item then contacted me about why the auction closed, and so I was able to arranged a private sale, which would not have happened had ebay not closed the auction. Ebay now had no claim on the commission, so they had in practice shot themselves in the foot. Of course if they thought you were persisent in trying to avoid their commission, they could ban you from trading. But probably if they make plenty of money out of you, they might think twice before chucking you out. That might be why what was apparently against the rules for me, the reputable dealer is able to carry on with.
  10. The Lachenal 46-key looks like it has had a tough life: many bellows corners crudely patched with some non-matching leather scraps, and other badly worn corners unpatched. But the raised metal ends indicate that is better quality than most 46-keys. So it is likely to need a full restoration, and even a better quality Lachenal 46-key won't be worth very much more than £700 in fully restored condition. The 67-key Wheatstone is of a size and type to be highly desirable to many serious Maccann players. Again we cannot tell whether it needs basic maintenance/retuning, etc. But the main issue is, as Peter says, the exchange rate, and today this is expensive in pounds and dollars. Are there many buyer for top quality Maccanns who paying in Euros? I think rather more of them are paying in pounds and dollars.
  11. A run is a fast ascending or descending sequence of notes, separated mostly by intervals of semitones and tones, usually comprising a portion of a scale. When someone says that it is a chromatic run, they would usually mean that the run is made from an extract from the chromatic scale, ie, all the intervals are all semitones.
  12. Unlike Jeffries Duets, you can't convert a Maccann to an Anglo, though you might piratise the reeds. So we have a high quality concertina, but a pretty useless one. A 39-key Maccann is considered a pretty useless instrument by practically every Maccann player. Most of us are frustrated with the deficiencies of the 46-key, let alone 39 keys. The problem with the 39-key and 46-key Maccanns is not so much the number of keys, as what they are. As a recent discussion over a potential Rochelle/Jack style 34-key Hayden indicated, it is in principle possible to make a duet of some value with small numbers of keys. But sadly the standard layout Maccanns with small numbers of keys are not those instruments. I have a suspicion they chose those particular key selections for the small Maccanns because the manufacture of modest anglos and englishes meant they had those reeds easily to hand. If they had chosen a more useful selection, they would have either had to use more costly reed-sets intended for better quality instruments, or manufacture them specifically.
  13. You might need something like that to reach the high notes on that 81-key Maccann people were looking at recently.
  14. I was wrong. Which is surprising because even quite nice 46-keys often fail to fetch as much as £475 on ebay.
  15. If I remember correctly, it was a special one-off made by Wheatstone to a purchaser's specification. If I remember further correctly, there had been a misunderstanding, and it was not what the purchaser expected, and so it ended up getting sold off. Anyway, whatever the story was, the present owner says that in practice (like the Jedcertina) it is much harder to play that well-known duet designs, and hence a curiosity rather than a useful muscial instrument. I suspect the same is true of this German one.
  16. I predict he won't get any bidders at £475.
  17. Well...THIS one I can't accept . I would prefer silence. When Daniel Barenboim went on Desert Island Discs (explanation if required: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Island_Discs), he said he would prefer to have scores to recordings.
  18. Owing to 2-yr-old child, the character themes from The Night Garden are stuck in my head. Especially "Yes my name is Iggle Piggle", mournful dirge that it is, there is something about it that makes it an unusually contagious earworm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earworm my wife caught it too. Fortunately it's a lot more tolerable than Teletubbies.
  19. I've often looked at that "born in the wrong century" attached to your posts and wondered which (if any) would have been the right century?
  20. This could be an identity that has been hijacked by a scammer. He says he is going to cancel any bid not made by prior arrangement. He says there is a buy-it-now price, but there is not a buy-it-now option. If you click his "other items" button, there's an awful lot of very valuable stuff: rare musical instruments, electronics, cameras, telescopes, even a bicycle and gym equipment. Several of them have a bid of precisely £63,339,244.36 on them, perhaps that's $100,000,000. Looks like anti-scam activity, and he is fire-fighting to keep his scams going, whoever he is.
  21. If I had only 17 buttons a side, I'd go, as a starting bid, for C to G with F# G# Bb C# F# each side. Then you could play in a couple of minor keys (D min A min) as well as gaining F maj and A maj. I realise that Brian's suggestion gives you rows of 4, 5, 4, 4 which looks pretty, whereas mine is 5, 5, 5, 2, which is messier. But I think I would say a lot of the pieces I play on my 57-Maccann use only the buttons I mention, whereas I rarely use the two higher buttons I have sacrified. If I was allowed (or indeed forced) to have the buttons 16 and 18 across the sides, I might give up the upper F# and G on the left, and put an (upper) Eb or D# on each side.
  22. Even in good times, a lot of Chris Algar's ebay postings fail to get a single bid. He sometimes uses ebay to sell things that he picks up that he doesn't want to keep in stock, and those are priced to sell. But I think he also uses it sometimes, as here, as a kind of shop window and to say "look what I've got" when he has something unusual. I think a lot of latter end up being sold by private negotiation.
  23. It is a source of endless mystery to me that keys "sound different". I honestly believe they do. Sharp keys are active or bright, flat keys are solid or mellow, the ones in the middle are plain or honest. That's the major keys, the minors have their own characters: C# minor is my favourite key on the piano, even if all those pesky double sharps drive me wild. When I try to discuss this with people, they often start mentioning how orchestral string players can easily adjust the tuning of notes to context, and probably do so subconsciously. But surely they would do so identically in every key, rather than trying to reproduce the irregularities of a non-welltempered tuning. So I don't see that as a realistic source. To me the different keys sound just according to their stereotypes played on an even-tempered piano. The bizarrest thing is that one of the very brightest pieces I know is Bach's Prelude in C# Major (No 3 from the first set of 24 Preludes and Fugues). But pieces in Db major are very mellow, and it is just the same key. If Bach had "written" the Prelude instead in Db major, would it somehow sound different? How could that be possible? Is it more to do with our attitude at seeing how it is written and thus the way we play it, rather than the sounds themselves? The other weird issue about tunings I can't really resolve is major thirds. The choir-master keeps telling us how we, as singers, have the advantage, like string players, that we can adjust tuning to context rather than be stuck in well-tempering. But a well-tempered major third is a lot wider than a geometric 5:4 major third, it is just about the largest discrepancyin the well-tempered scale. So why does my choir-master keep telling us to keep the major third nice and sharp? I think it is likewise with string players. Is it that we have a tendency to revert to geometry, but he is demanding a well-tempered interval from us, even though he thinks he is trying to do the opposite? He also tells us to keep it especially nice and sharp in very sharp keys like E major, bringing us back to where this started.
  24. There's a good reason why Wakker, Tedrow, and Marcus have designed and produced Haydens (with accordion reeds in the latter two cases), and Morse has an ambition to make Haydens, rather than Maccanns and Cranes. It is because: - people want them - and there isn't a heavy overhang of vintage instruments available at modest price for high quality - Dippers and Wheatstones are as rare as rocking-horse dung. Of course some of the above also make English concertinas, where vintage prices are rather lower than for Anglos. But for a given quality of vintage instrument, Maccanns are the cheapest of all. Cranes are harder to come by, but with good 48-key Cranes fetching around UKP 1000, these are not super expensive instruments. I can understand your desire not to compete with all these makers putting their Haydens on the market, but I expect you will find that their output is tiny and they have waiting lists. Marcus does not advertise that he makes Haydens and has closed the waiting list. Making Cranes would, on the face of it, seem to be more rentable than Maccanns. On the other hand, there is a gap in the Maccann market. The 46-key instrument has annoying short-comings. But currently the only way to avoid them is to get a 57-key, which is probably rather larger/heavier than they would like to play, and also costs about twice the price of a 46-key. (Although 57-key Maccanns are generally Wheatstones, and therefore arguably a bargain at the price.) So what quite a lot of Maccann players would like would be an instrument: - of probably around about 48 to 50 keys - which goes down to middle C on the RH side (like a Crane) - doesn't have the annoying gaps in the LH keyboard (especially the low D) and - is either rather smaller and lighter than a standard 57-key (which is otherwise their only method of getting the above), or else rather cheaper, and preferably both. If you can make such an instrument, make it either lighter and smaller, or cheaper (and certainly no more expensive than) a vintage 57-key, preferably both, you might just have some willing takers.
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