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Jody Kruskal

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  1. Hi Jeff Evan Marshall is truly amazing. You can hear him play the William Tell Overture here: http://www.3oh5.com/Evan_Marshall/ Thanks for telling me about all of this. I guess you could make a case for duet style on the mandolin being analogous to harmonic technique on the Anglo concertina. If nothing else, apples and oranges both taste sweet. Concertinas in general, are known for playing single line with occasional harmony notes, just like the mandolin. To hear all those bass notes and interior lines and upper harmonies being played surely stretches the general concept of what the instrument can do for both concertina and mandolin. So there is a similarity there. Harmonic playing has been around for a long time on all the various concertina systems and is even the norm, I think for many, so I don’t think that it is used as a slight of hand sort of trick in any way. I think of harmonic playing as just a full use of the instrument and very effective particularly for solo playing. Boy Howdy, that picker is fast! Jody
  2. Why not put 'em on the bar-b-q and roast the little buggers. No really, I think the stiff paper alone is so simple and works the best if you want something quick and effective. Jody
  3. Hi Jeff, Yeah, G/Ds sound rich. I like the sound of C/Gs too, and I like how quick their response is, but with my technique of harmonic playing, I would not be able to play much of my repitoire in the proper keys on a C/G. What I gain in fullness of sound and texture, I loose in versitility. Too bad that one got away, those Jefferies 38 G/Ds are rare all right, and nothing is like them. If I were to order a new 30 button instrument, I would ask the maker to add one button (that is really 32 counting the air button). The left hand thumb button is easy. Most endplates already have the hole, so it's not an entire reworking of the scrolling. On a G/D the button would play C push and G pull giving you the all important lowest pull G on the instrument. I use it all the time and really miss it if it's not there. The push low C is useful on occasion but not essential. I'm not sure if Morse would customize for you, but I think Edgley would. On the Grand Picnic cd I use the very same G/D Jefferies 38 on all but Smart Young Man, which I played on a C/G Jefferies 32, like what I just described. Good luck Jeff. Jody
  4. "Having listened to Jody many times now I think he has developed the American Style of Anglo playing .I mentioned this to Jody and either modesty,or you do not know what you are talking about, prevented a reply. Probably the latter, but I think I am right. A new discussion if you agree or disagree with this comment." Alan Day All right Alan, here’s your new topic. First off, I am deeply honored and gratified that you noticed. I didn’t respond before because, aside from being very busy right now, this is a topic that I feel strongly about. Yes, I have developed a style of playing that I think sounds American. Whether that constitutes a global way of Anglo playing that deserves the title “American Style” remains to be seen. For there to be an “American Style” requires that a number of people play that way. I think that there are only a few. So... for me to agree with you seems presumptuous, yet continuing to develop an American sound on the Anglo has been a goal of mine for years. Not only American though. I play lots of kinds of music on the Anglo (and many other instruments as well). Whatever I play, I strive for verisimilitude. I’m trying to make it sound right, to make it sound like it fits in the tradition. Swedish fiddle tunes sound particularly right. Irish works well (not the way you Irish players do it though). English Ceili of course, and the very different English Country (Playford). Old pop tunes, Beetles, Victorian parlor songs, old school country ie Jimmy Rogers, etc. Contra dance music works so well on the Anglo, but this genre embraces Quebecois, New England, English, Irish, Old Time, Cajun; all are up for grabs at a dance. Each regional or cultural origin has it’s own requirements and style subtleties and it’s fun to emulate all of that on the Anglo. That’s my approach. Listen to the essence of the music and try to do what it does... and yes, the old time stuff really works well. I must say that I do feel uncomfortable with the equation of harmonic playing with English style. Someone pointed out (can’t remember who or the thread) that style is a cultural thing, not the technique (harmonic playing with chords, bass runs, high harmony and all) that gets you there. What makes Irish style is not the lack of constant chords, but the phrasing of the line and the use of melodic embellishments applied to a specific repertoire. I’ll have to send Henk some of my Irish tunes. I play them like Jody, chords and all, but to my ear they are still clearly Irish. Jody
  5. My approach exactly. The trick is to balance all of those musical needs to get the best you can out of this very limited instrument. There are two aspects to doing this. One is the ability to decide what you want, to choose what sounds best. The other skill is to make the instrument and your body work together to accomplish the task. The way to improve the first skill is to listen, both to the players you admire and to yourself. Recording your playing and listening to yourself critically is the quickest way for growth. The other skill is in the fingers, arms, shoulders and back. Isolating each musical function and practicing just that one only, that's my way. The more you can cut out the other stuff and just practice one thing at a time, the more you can figure out all that that one thing can do. Then when you put all the elements back together, the whole has more richness because you have more control. Jody
  6. Someone just wrote to me “I'm just learning chords and harmonies after 2 years of melody-line playing, and your music is inspiring!” I wrote back - “That's brave of you. You may find that to play the richest chords requires you to play your melody notes in the other direction than you are used to. That's the problem with adding harmony to melodies you have previously learned. One gets very committed to the fingerings and bellows directions that took so long to learn. If you want to play more harmony with your melody, try learning a tune with the full deal from the ground up. Try a simple one, because it is a frustrating exercise in patience and persistence.” Would any one else like to offer their advice on how to figure this musical puzzle out? Jody Kruskal
  7. Sure Jeff. I’m playing a Jefferies G/D 38 button Anglo for some of the cuts and a Dipper G/D 40 button Anglo on the others. The two instruments have a slightly different sound and response. The Jefferies is buttery and smooth in feel and can leap forth from ppp to fff in an instant, with a sound that is strident. The Dipper requires a more robust playing style to sound at it’s best and feels like more work to play though in the recording there is not a huge difference in how the two sound, except that the Dipper’s bass notes really pop with a sharper attack. The extra two buttons on the Dipper give me a low A above the lowest note, which on a G/D is G, the button plays C/A, push/pull. I love that low A and use it all the time. The right hand extra button gives me a high A# which is missing in the standard Jefferies 38 layout. That button is A#/G#. The Dipper sounds smoother and richer to me. There... is that more than you wanted to know? Jody
  8. Mrs. McCloud's Reel, Scottish I presume, has a classic American counterpart in Hop High Ladies the Cakes all Dough. The only real difference, is that the American version resolves to the 1 chord and on the other side of the Atlantic it it pushes you on by ending on the 5. I heard another one. The English dance band Florida plays a tune called Dark Girl dressed in Blue. Sounds very much like the ubiquitous Over the Waterfall made popular these days by US fiddler Henry Reed. Jody
  9. So now I’m really curious, Mark. What is your opera connection? Do you sing, accompany, conduct, produce, direct, or simply enjoy it. (by the way, I just saw An American Tragedy at the Met and loved it. My wife is a childhood friend of the composer, Tobias Picker) ... and by the way, how come no opera on your up and coming CD. Shucks! Jody
  10. So Mark... You said elsewhere that the two tunes of yours on Henks link page were recorded 20 years ago!?!?!?!? When are you going to let us hear some new down and dirty EC OT tunes? Eh? Jody
  11. For dancing, I've managed to dirty it up a bit more recently. "Defying the stereotype" in music, sounds like a prescription for growth. I like that phrase "dirty it up". Pretty is nice and hard to do, but it can get old. A little dirt, a little grit or smudging, or extra notes that don't belong, or overdriving the reeds, or pushing the tempo, or dragging on a solo, or... whatever. All of these things and more, could be bad habits and they are things that we have practiced long and hard to avoid, but having control of them, consciously or unconsciously, and using them for effect, gives us a palette of colors that keeps things interesting and... musical. OTM has a sort of dirty or messy or scratchy or wild quality to it. That's why I play it. English Country Playford tunes are fun too, but in a very different way. Jody
  12. Dear Animaterra, I live next to a Pakistani musician. They use syllables to talk about and demonstrate articulated rhythms. Very handy, right? Think Ravi Shanker. They sit on the floor too. My voice teacher in college, Frank Baker, was famous for teaching all comers, cello, trumpet, guitar students, poets... he had a way of listening to you and holding up a metaphorical mirror, so you could get at what you were doing. In my workshops, I use some of his teaching techniques. This kind of learning can be applied to any instrument, it’s basic musicianship and deep listening really. But I digress... Jody
  13. That is a sad loss. As for the EC, Mike... go for it! I think it’s great that you play OTM on the EC. I’m not trying to say the Anglo is the only concertina that can do that stuff, not at all. What I am saying is if you want to play OTM or any other style, the very best way to do it, in my opinion, is to sit down with someone whos playing you admire, and get them to show you how to do it. Preferably a fiddle player who’s your friend, not your teacher. They don’t tell you about what they are doing, they just do it, and you listen very carefully and try your best to emulate their sound. At least, that’s how I learned how to play. Aside from the notes and rep, OTM has a certain groove, dynamics + rhythm, a way that the accents go, the way the bow draws out the notes. The bow, the wrist, the arm, shoulder, back and all, right down to the ground is dancing the fiddlers music into the ears of the dancers. That groove stuff is something the concertina can really do well. I think it comes more naturally to the Anglo because you have to work the bellows back and forth to play the Anglo and your whole body is pushing those notes in and out of the instrument. It’s very much like the way a fiddle bow works. EC can play that way too (ever heard Tim Jennings from VT?) it’s just not required, so often it’s not done. The pinky support and thumb strap lend themselves to a more delicate connection to the rest of the body. This may have something to do with it, I don’t know. The EC is naturally able to spin out a line on one long draw that floats above the music, it’s very nice and smooth and goes: dee-dle, dee-dle, dee-dle, dee-dle, dee-dle, dee-dl-y, dee-dle, dah so that is what most EC players do. The AC is naturally able to be a motor with the bellows working in and out that drives the groove like this: dum, cha-ka, duk-ah, cha-ka, duk-ah, cha-ka, doo-dl-y, dah so that is what most AC players do. The accordion is big and heavy and most accordion players play long lines on the draw or push. That’s the easiest thing to do, what the instrument does naturally. So the music has a nice smoothness to it. But check out the great dance musician Laurie Andres. Look at his bellows. He’s got his motor going the whole time. He may be basically pushing, but he is going: push, push-pull, push, push-pull, push, push-pull, push, push-pull, His bellows are shaking and wiggling nonstop. Very controlled and persistent. Whatever instrument you play and however you get your instrument to do it, I think that an essential quality of OTM is it’s particular kind of groove and drive, and that's makes the dancers howl. Jody
  14. Hi Dave, Thanks for the warnings. I opened up my box to tuck the little reeds in for bed, they seem to be fine. I used a home model U/S just big enough for a pair of eyeglasses, brand name Cleenette made by Tatung. The fluid was water with a capful of the supplied cleaner, seemed like detergent with ammonia. As for the toothbrush and toothpaste, I figured that an abrasive mild enough for teeth would be fine on steel. The alternative would have been to take a file to them after all. If I removed a bit of metal that would raise the pitch too, and that was the point after all. I did dry the metal thoroughly, which I should have mentioned in my first post. The hot water evaporating trick seems good, but in my case, after I cleaned ‘em, I played ‘em and I bet any moisture left, evaporated through use. Vulnerable to what, oxidation? Should I have applied a light coat of oil and then rubbed it off, like seasoning a frying pan? By the way, those little reeds are pretty tough. When Collin Dipper voiced my box he grabbed them between thumb and finger and twisted and bent the poor little things until they cried for mercy. Never sounded so good. Of course, he knew what he was doing, and knew how to fix what he broke. Jody Dave
  15. Now you’ve got me blushing, Mark. You’re no slouch either. I listened to your two cuts on Henk’s links page http://www.anglo-concertina.net/links.htm and what you are up to is pretty cool too. As for homophony vs heterophony, that’s an interesting way to look at it. I’ll admit that I had to go to the dictionary for that one, I know you are not referring to my bed partners or the gender of my music buddies. There is a nice description of these terms for anyone interested at: http://cnx.rice.edu/content/m11645/latest/ There is a connection in my playing with the so called “English Anglo style” by which I suppose you mean Morris dance Anglo accompaniment or harmonic playing. I played Fieldtown+ for years with The Greenwich Morris Men and continue to play for rapper and longsword with Half Moon (big Sword Ale coming up in Feb. here in NYC). I have played for years with fiddlers Michael Gorin, Paul Friedman and Sam Zygmuntowicz. Paul and Michael both play for Morris and also play old time and contra dances. All three play English Country dances and American contras, as do I. Sam is a Galax old time champion from way back. Playing with these guys has rubbed off, and it’s all grist for the mill. But aside from who you play with, it’s who you play for. We really pay attention to the dancers and try to show them a good time, that has had a big effect on my playing. We always mix genres at the dances because it’s fun for us and the dancers. We are not purists, but we know where we’re coming from. Even in the playing of one tune we’ll get old time, mozart/baroque, cajun, northern influences, big band jazz, any thing is up for grabs. Grand Picnic’s piano player Bill Peek is a great old time banjo player (among other things) and he’ll sometimes start playing the piano just like a banjo. I mean it sounds like what the banjo would be doing with that high off beat 5th string going on. Some times he imitates me, imitating the fiddle. He gets his hands together on top of each other and does this eighth note bellows shake thing that I like to do when the fiddle is really going at the bow. It’s crazy, and it all comes back to old time music. That’s the core. American music, that’s what we’re playing. Jody
  16. I hope you didn’t lose too much sleep over this, Pete. I’ve wondered about the same thing. I learned Anglo concertina while dancing and playing with the Greenwich Morris in New York City and about ten? years ago went to the Sidmouth Festival in England accompanying the Half Moon Sword women who were surprising everyone with their energetic rapper and longsword dances. A great tour. It seems that, then at least, all the pubs in Sidmouth had live music, Irish music! Only the Radway was exclusively populated by players of English tunes at their all day and night sessions. What a great marathon session it was at the Radway. I spent most of my free time playing and drinking there. At one point a lovely young lady took out her fiddle and started to play an Irish tune. All thirty of us put down our instruments and listened politely. When she was done, there was a smattering of light applause and then we all started playing Leather away the Wattle, Oh or was it Elsie Marley? She got the message and left soon after. I remember being shocked that there was something sort of subversive about feeling the need to insist on playing English tunes at an English pub during an English festival in England. Jody
  17. Larry, That's exactly how I think of it. In harmonic Anglo playing my left hand plays the chords in positions, just like on the guitar (which I do play). There is what I think of as the "default" fingering for an A push chord. That is where my fingers automatically go if an A push is required. I don't think notes most of the time, just position, that leaves my attention free for other concerns. Even when I play single line, my fingers ghost the chord patterns without pushing down on the buttons. That connection between my right and left hands is always there, just as I tend to hear the chords implied in a tune even if they are not being played. As for Bluegrass, I’ve tried it many times and never been convinced by my efforts. Old Time Anglo on the other hand, sounds very natural. I’m not sure why I feel so strongly about this. Perhaps Bluegrass is more technical and to my ear more instrument specific. Concertina sounds out of place. In Bluegrass, everything is in it’s place, the banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar and bass all have their specific functions and there is no room for a concertina. Yet Old Time works so well for me because... I don’t know... slower tempos, less rigid in some way, more of a party kind of thing... my ear says “yes” to Old Time Anglo, I have a place here. Perhaps the reason is that in Bluegrass, the fiddle either plays a break, does chunks, or sits out. Where as in Old Time the fiddle plays continuously. I know that I pretty much emulate the fiddle in my playing. Jody
  18. Dan and Jim, What a fine bunch of tunes. About half are on my list for an old time concertina recording, as well as these Anglo friendly tunes: Spotted Pony Little Billy Wilson Breaking Up Christmas Cowboy’s Dream Newcastle/Texas Winder Side I don’t know these too well: Ida Red Tom and Jerry Maggots on a Sheep's Hide Got links to recorded examples or dots? Hopefully, in about a month I’ll get my basement studio in shape and then get going. I’m thinking that this old time rep. will sound better with small group ensembles rather than the naked treatment with just me. It’s a whole lot more work to record with my buddies, but so much more fun to play and listen to.
  19. Jody, how about one now with traditional tunes, too? OK Dan, which tunes would you request? Jody
  20. That's pretty scary Henk, reminds me of the NE Squeeze-in last year. You claim that resemblance's are coincidental, but I swear that's Jim Lucas on the left. Jody
  21. Hi Cliff, I play old time on my G/D Anglo all the time, and any time. I don’t play those other kinds of concertina but in my style of playing, G/D is best for all fiddle traditions as far as I can tell. You could probably play the melody on a c/g for most tunes, but what makes the Anglo concertina so cool for old time and other dance traditions is all the double stops and chords and rhythmic stuff that it can do along with the melody. Listen to my Naked Concertina and Grand Picnic cds at http://cdbaby.com/cd/jodykruskal https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/grandpicnic and you can hear what I'm talking about. The reason that C/G is more common is that the Irish players drive the market these days and for them, that range is the best. They play single line with ornaments and only a rare harmony note. My playing has the melody mostly in the right hand and the harmony mostly in the left, harmonic playing, more like the English Anglo concertina tradition, John Kirkpatrick, William Kimber et al. On a G/D the right hand goes up to a high D, well above first position, what most fiddle players stay in. Here is a great old time tune on the Anglo, Big Sciote, played on my Dipper G/D with the honking bass notes. Jody
  22. I play my Jefferies G/D a lot, sometimes in dusty dance halls. I’ve had it tuned twice over the last 8 years, but the last time was awhile back. Tomorrow I have a recording session and I checked the tuning with my electronic tuner, and just as I suspected, many notes were off by as much as 5 cents. The off ones all seemed to be flat, and I thought, perhaps there is some gunk slowing the reeds down a bit. I made note of the flattest 8 reeds, removed the shoes and got to work. First, I slid a stiff piece of paper under a reed and pushed it back to where it attaches to the shoe. I did this several times (each time left two little marks of rust and dirt on the paper) until the operation left no mark on the paper. Then I got a vibrating toothbrush and brushed the reeds and shoes with toothpaste, being careful not to drop the reed down the bunghole. After rinsing, I put them in an ultrasonic cleaner. This is a gadget that came with the house we bought, used for cleaning jewelry and dentures and stuff like that. I zapped them for three minutes per instructions. When I dried the reeds and put them back in, the situation was much improved. Only one reed was still flat, and that one, not as much. The whole thing only took about half an hour. I don’t know which of these three operations was the most helpful, probably the paper alone would have done the job, but I am relieved to be able to go into the studio with a better sounding instrument. Jody
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