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Jody Kruskal

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About Jody Kruskal

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    Heavyweight Boxer

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    New York City

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  1. I’m in the G/D camp, though I love to play my C/G too! My preference for the G/D has driven me to produce a G/D Anglo instructional book which will be out soon! For harmonic play, in my Anglo world, the G/D wins out against the C/G 10 to 1. When I go out to play, I often bring both just in case, and end up playing only the G/D because it sounds better and works better when I’m playing out with my fellow US and UK musicians. We’re playing mostly in the keys of G, D and A modal. Though I love and also do play many Irish tunes, I rarely attempt strict ITM, but rather - play contra and square dances, Old-Time, festivals, sessions and parties, rapper, sword, morris and lots of great old songs from all over. This is what works for me... right hand melody and left hand harmony (whenever possible). That means that the melody plays along the rows for the most part. It seems to me that this style of mine (call it English style, K?) is what the Anglo was built for. Think John Kirkpatrick, Brian Peters, Keith Kendrick, Dave Prebbles, etc. The two rows work together so nicely and there is plenty of room for left hand bass notes and chordal rhythms on the G/D. I love to play with fiddlers and the G/D range matches them well. Just like the fiddle, my highest note on the G/D is a D. Fiddle tunes generally top out just before that at B, but “high D” fiddle tunes are thing too, so I've got that covered. Doubling the fiddlers melody works well in the upper range, and with the G/D, I can also play down low like a guitar with chords and rhythm, Um Chuck and syncopated bits that make the rhythm as important as the melody. For me, G/D is clearly superior in that regard. So why is C/G more prevalent? My belief is that the C/G won the key war a century ago, based solely on economic terms and the strong Irish market for Anglo concertinas, That coupled with a vigorous promotion of Irish traditional music in general cinched it. Only C/G Anglos were available inexpensively back when Irish Anglo music was developing and so, clever Irish musicians figured out a very cool way to make it work that included melody speed and “across the hands” melody playing. This Irish style of Anglo play leaves room for the embellishments that are so critical to Irish playing. As for me, I rarely play those fancy Irish embellishments. Also, I rarely require blazing speed and prefer to play at moderate tempos. Instead of the twiddly bits that Irish players love, I add interest by playing with a rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment that is mostly in the left hand. Melody right... accompaniment left is my style, and that style works best on G/D in the keys that the folks I know are playing in. I’ve tried my tunes on the C/G and as I said before... only 1 in 10 work well in my style of harmonic play. I cherish my C/G and use it regularly, but as for the majority of fiddle tunes I know... G/D is way better.
  2. If so... go to this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLTfwNCRw2w slow it down to 75% for easy learning with the new youtube tool. C/G as well as G/D Anglos (and everyone else) can play along with Rhys, John and Sam for a taste of how it's done at Clifftop, WV, USA. What a great tune! Both deeply satisfying and easy.
  3. Last Sunday, I had the chance to try this tune again with banjo player Lisa Alcott at her legendary old-time pot-luck party up-state New York. This time I was prepared and knew the tune. It's so much fun to learn a tune on the fly, but knowing it ahead of time ends up making much better music. We had fiddlers Sam Zygmuntowicz (luthier) and Lisa Gutkin (Klezmatics) and a few other local players. Good times! Then we played Coon Dog....
  4. When I was a small child in Chicago, I remember being amazed to see elephants walking in a parade down my city block, in front of my own house, on their way to perform in a circus at the park nearby. This would have been around the summer of 1959. No wait... it's that other really early performing animal memory I meant to tell you about. The old Italian organ grinder man on 53rd street had a captivating little monkey, wearing a smart military jacket with tiny silver buttons ...and a brimmed cap too! The monkey would beg for money and make the most amusing faces and try to get us to put coins in his little tin cup. His adorable clever fingers were black and shiny and deeply wrinkled. He had such perfectly formed fingernails and quick precise movements that were so delightfully unpredictable. The organ grinder man let him climb all about, on top of his head and then onto the organ and down to the ground, then springing back up to perch on the man's shoulder and beg with his little cup. The ape was always glancing about, this way and that, in an abject and deferential manner that was expressed most completely by the mobile movement of his extravagant eyebrows. His ridiculous antics made us all laugh. "The poor thing. The poor dear little adorable thing"! He pooped right in front of us! What a fine fellow! Indeed, there was also that clumsy and heavy music machine, supported on a hefty stick, and I remember that it did actually play, with its gears and crank and oily smell and it certainly made the dirty old organ man sweat to grind it... but I only had eyes for that crazy monkey. When I put a penny in his cup, he doffed his cap and looked me right in the eye, with a wink! Thank you for reminding me... It's been a long time.
  5. I would like to see/hear your organ grinder friend. Any links to a video?
  6. I play Anglo. When practicing or recording, I prefer to sit in a straight backed chair with the left side on my left knee and the right side floating. In thinking about it, I guess that is because my left fingers are jumping all over the keyboard and appreciate the extra stability. However, I have learned to perform while standing, marching, dancing etc. Here are four distinct positions that I use for standing. Forearms vertical with the concertina in front of my face... or higher. Forearms horizontal with the concertina perched on my substantial belly. Forearms downward at an angle with the concertina perched on the top of my left hip/ thigh and my left leg slightly raised. Forearms all the way down, concertina hanging with a slight push against my body. These four positions all provide a bit more stability than having the concertina floating around (I do that too). Often I’ll switch around between these positions as muscles get tired and need a break. For floating concertina, one very helpful trick is to hook a little finger around the lowest button (physically) and use it for added support. That means the little fingers are not available for play, but I’ve learned how to work around that. Six working fingers are enough to keep the music going. If I need a pinkie, it does its job then goes back to work as a stabilizer.
  7. Hi Fane, yeah, great song. If you email me, I'll send you the dots etc.
  8. Hi Mathhag, I do remember you, and our several conversations well. So glad to hear that now you are blessed with both a Morse and a Dipper!
  9. Hey Gary, I'm in! To get us started here is your tab for a very simple Haughton House.
  10. Does it look like this? https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=images+Percy+Honri&fr=yhs-iba-1&hspart=iba&hsimp=yhs-1&imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fmedia.vam.ac.uk%2Fmedia%2Fthira%2Fcollection_images%2F2006AK%2F2006AK9378_jpg_ds.jpg#id=9&iurl=https%3A%2F%2Fmedia.vam.ac.uk%2Fmedia%2Fthira%2Fcollection_images%2F2006AK%2F2006AK9378_jpg_ds.jpg&action=click
  11. I’ll throw my two cents into this conversation. I have Jefferies made vintage Anglos and a Morse hybrid and I like them both and play them both. As for OPs question... “how important is it really is to pay the piper for concertina/handmade reeds”? The short answer IMO is, for a beginner, get a hybrid because it matters not. At a third of the cost, a good hybrid gives you everything you need. I learned on an Italian Stagi and that was sufficient until it fell apart. Modern hybrids by all these fine makers mentioned are all much much better than that old Stagi of mine. Until you know which buttons to press, how long to keep ‘em down and the required bellows direction and pressure (3 to 10 years of daily practice I recon) it hardly matters which instrument you play. There is no doubt in my mind that true concertina reeds are superior in the hands of an experienced player but the advantages are subtle. Practically nothing compared to player ability and musicality which is easily heard. A beginner will still sound like a beginner regardless of concertina vs accordion reeds in the box. Like Jim, in listening back to my own C/G recordings, I'm hard pressed to hear any difference.
  12. I have a new skype student who wants Christian hymns and Carols. Try this "Away in a Manger" Christmas carol arrangement I made for him in Gary Cover's tab… not so fancy and good for a beginner in the harmonic style… Good luck. Remember… how you practice is key. We all have busy lives. Here’s what I do for learning with maximum improvement vs. minimum time investment. 30 minutes of dedicated and focused practice every day works wonders. If you have time for a full hour every day, well, that’s even better. Learning this concertina stuff is not easy and it takes time. It’s like a body building regimen for that special connection between your fingers, arm and brain muscles. You are slowly building the connections between muscle groups that are not used to working together. You have to learn to pat your stomach and rub your head at a steady tempo. You must be persistent and consistent in you practice schedule to make progress as you work out in the concertina gym. Chip away at it, learning tiny chunks and repeating and looping the bits you know in time. Only then can you connect the pieces into actual music. Practice makes perfect… and if it’s not perfect, you’re probably playing it too fast. Slow it way, way down until you can play just one phrase or measure or even two notes right. Your first goal is to learn to play in time, giving each note its full rhythmic value. The slower the better. In practice, you are free to turn your little bit of a loop into a whole song and own it. Explore the groove. Get into the rhythm. Get up and dance around! Keep a background beat by tapping your foot. Better yet, learn to use a metronome. Be sure to have one handy at our first lesson because it’s a great tool for practice and I can show you how to use it effectively. Free metronome downloads are available on all devices. When you are confident that you have your selected bit correct… repeat the measure or phrase over and over to teach your fingers and indeed your whole body how to play it. The only way to learn this stuff is by repetition at a strict tempo. Next, move on to another bit and then do the same. Bit by bit, you can teach your body to do this seemingly impossible concertina task. I’ve been there myself, and it’s really so hard and also such fun to observe myself dramatically improving day by day! Once the bellows direction and fingers have learned what to to do… only then can we start to make real music… Music which lies in the mysterious and detailed nuance of the bellows action. I'm so excited that you are taking lessons with me on your C/G concertina.
  13. Thanks Simon, very instructive. I use a wee bit of an artful bellows shake too, when needed esp. on slow airs. Thanks for drawing my attention to this musical effect... but what you are doing would be more like what I would call tremolo,... correct? I've always understood true vibrato to mean a slow oscillation in pitch that centers in on a frequency ( not really possible on a concertina, but often employed on the fiddle). On the other hand, the concertina bellows delicately controls amplitude. Not pitch (so much). As such, it can mimic a violin's vibrato with your effect. What I'm hearing you do is loud/soft variations in your sweet way with this tune... it's not vibrato at all, but rather a subltle tremolo (volume) that you are employing. Still, I love your playing and thanks for sharing your cool vid. I certainly enjoyed listening.
  14. A few weeks ago I was at a small Manhattan Irish session with two flutes, me on Anglo and Bob on English. At the end of a jig set, Bob launched into Popeye the Sailor Man... just for laughs. Yes, it does have a B part. A drunk suit came over to us gushing. Finally, a tune he recognized! “Can you sing the song? I’ll buy you a beer if you can”. We tried and failed to get very far, except for the part about how he lives in a garbage can. The punter was not satisfied. He pulled out his phone and dialed it up on the web and I gave it my best shot. Stupid song. Good beer.
  15. Or you could take lessons with me and I'll show you how to learn new songs. http://jodykruskal.com/concertina_lessons.html
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