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Fiddlehead Fern

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Posts posted by Fiddlehead Fern

  1. I never got to see him perform, but I will never forget the reactions of people all throughout the Hudson valley when I was working on Clearwater a few years ago; everyone I met had nothing but praise for Pete and the sloop, and most shared stories of how their lives had been positively influenced by his life and the Clearwater's presence, it was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life to this point.

    What a loss to the entire world.

  2. All the points I was going to make in response to the original poster have been thoroughly and eloquently answered.

     

    One thing, however, that I continually have a pick about is the assumption that just because you're on a boat your instruments will instantly corrode and rot into a puddle of goo, which in my experience has simply not been the case. Granted, I also have a bad habit of taking my instruments (a Morse Geordie in the concertina dept. and a fiddle in the "other" category) camping, but never mind that. I can't speak for ocean sailing, because I've not done it yet, but during my time on the Great Lakes I never had a problem with my instruments being damaged due to excessive humidity, because even though you're on the water the ship acts pretty much like a decently protective building. Common sense applies too, clearly if the whole watch has just come below in their dipping wet foulies and the berth deck is a dank mess, it's an inopportune moment to grab your box and play a few tunes. But for the majority of the time a good case and storage in your bunk (or if you're in hammocks, the sail crib) is a perfectly acceptable environment for an instrument.

     

    Anyway, it's always good to see another sailor on here.

  3. Nobody cares if you spill beer on a fiddle. ;)

     

    I identify as both a fiddler and a violinist, and I use the same instrument all the time and use the terms interchangeably to refer to it. I feel like this is the sort of issue that can be debated forever, without ever coming to a suitable conclusion, so my two cents is that it's a highly subjective opinion that changes from person to person.

  4. Old-timey fiddle tunes are delightful on the English concertina. If you can't find other old-time squeezers you can always follow the fiddle line, which is probably a good thing to do anyway, since that'll open you up to a huge amount of tunes. Once you get used to that you can start doing accompaniment or embellishments that sound more concertina-y rather than "I'm pretending to be a fiddler".

    The hardest thing for me when switching old-time tunes from fiddle to concertina is dealing with the fact that I can't slide into notes, and figuring out how to invoke a drone-y double-stop sound that's so common in the style. Really punching the rhythm is something to learn too, since Irish players tend to be a bit smoother.

     

     

    Think Like A Banjo

     

    I might suggest that you think like a banjo. Just as the melody often plays against the 5th string, you can do the same on the concertina albeit an octave lower. In fact the fiddle does this as well, playing against the A (second string) as in for example “Granny” or “Cluck Old Hen” or against D as in “Old Molly Hare”. Similarly in the lower strings the fiddle plays a bar A, E, (AE), E (or the open GD) as well as in for example “the 28th or January” or “Growling Old Man and Woman”. Also like the banjo, you can do all the double thumbing techniques. And then there are all the offbeat double stops. Lots of things to work with without needing the slides.

     

    You can hear many of these techniques in the CD “the Bellow and the Bow” with Kirk Sutphin and myself or actually study the notes in my tutor “American Fiddle Styles for the Anglo Concertina”. True the tunes in the book are really a vehicle for expanding the knowledge of the instrument but the techniques for playing the style, as described above, are all there. While the tunes are written with fingerings and bellow movements for the anglo, there is no reason they can’t be done just as well with the English system.

     

    Bertram

     

    Oh, I'm aware. As I said, there are plenty of things that are easier to do on the concertina than fiddle that sound great, and slides aren't at all necessary. I was just noting that when switching an old-time tune from fiddle to concertina that's the first stylistic difference I notice.

  5. Old-timey fiddle tunes are delightful on the English concertina. If you can't find other old-time squeezers you can always follow the fiddle line, which is probably a good thing to do anyway, since that'll open you up to a huge amount of tunes. Once you get used to that you can start doing accompaniment or embellishments that sound more concertina-y rather than "I'm pretending to be a fiddler".

    The hardest thing for me when switching old-time tunes from fiddle to concertina is dealing with the fact that I can't slide into notes, and figuring out how to invoke a drone-y double-stop sound that's so common in the style. Really punching the rhythm is something to learn too, since Irish players tend to be a bit smoother.

  6. I learnt on a Stagi (tenor) and this summer upgraded to a Geordie (also tenor), and it's the Most Wonderful Thing. I find the dynamics a billion times easier to control on the Geordie, as opposed to always loud.

    I don't know about the baritones, but I would assume it would be a similar situation.

     

    On a side note, those little 18-button stagis are precious, a friend of mine has one. We'd swap instruments and both get ridiculously confused, me for lack of buttons and he because the sudden addition of 30 more buttons. It was great.

  7. You guys, I was sitting on the deck playing Rights of Man on a lovely sail with a bunch of people listening and some people filming with swanky cameras and suddenly, my G key was stuck.

    So I finished the tune (I was almost done anyway) and then inspected it. Not unstickable. Put the concertina back in my lap, and suddenly the errant key was ROLLING ACROSS THE DECK. Fortunately it was scooped up before it vanished into the scuppers.

     

    However, the fact remains that I am without a key that I use in pretty much every song ever. Also I am on a boat. So, while I have tools at my disposal, I don't really have the concertina know-how (or anyone nearby with it, or time to work on personal projects like this one that might take longer than a few hours) and so don't feel confident doing an on-the-fly fix. Also I think one time my dad and I tried to open up my concertina to see its guts and encountered difficulties. I don't remember what they were, though...

     

    For background info, since I know I never come on here anymore, we're talking my 48 key Stagi English that I've been abusing for roughly four years now by playing a lot and dragging onto boats and using for impromptu concertina lessons.

    I love that beast.

     

    So yeah.

     

    What do? It appears that the metal is actually broken, as the key has a jagged metal bit sticking out of the plastic piece. Like I said though, I've not really looked into it too closely, as this all happened while on a sail with passengers from the public (and a fresh breeze that kept us on our toes) and since that day I've been working and then too tired/timid to do anything with it.

     

    I could send it away to the Button Box (where I got it), or even maybe even somehow find a way of getting there in person since I'm currently in the Northeast, but ugh. Also I've been eying the tenor Morse 45 key English for some time now...time to upgrade at last? But starving college student funds.....LIFE IS HARD.

     

    Any ideas? Have you had this happen to you? Is it easily fixable? Should I not even bother? Is the instrument even worth trying to fix, since it's got other issues, like being a relatively crappy instrument to begin with?

  8. Three of my favorites are Classic Maritime Music, Sea Chanties and Forecastle Songs from Mystic Seaport, and Irish Pirate Ballads--all from Smithsonian Folkways.

    Pyrates Royale is a pretty good group, and Ships' Company's CD Donkey Riding is good. I found one called A Night Out on the Shore by the HMS Falcon Press Gang one time that's really good too.

  9. I liked it too. It was a rainy day, which isn't so bad in and of itself, but it was a final straw in an already stressful week. Seeing another concertina made it a good day instead of a crappy one.

     

    And while we're on the subject of concertinas making the world a better place, one of my friends was writing a paper on the Wheatstone bridge the other day, so I brought my computer in and played the English International CD collection at him while we studied. Then another friend came in and told me that concertina playing is a Big Deal in her family, as a lot of them play concertinas. What. What even. Another would-be stressful and terrible evening transformed into a reasonably enjoyable time by our favorite free reed instrument. Huzzah!

  10. ... along with the free opera books at the library. :D

     

    What are you doing with them then?

     

    Well, I got one that was Gilbert and Sullivan plays (including Pirates of Penzance), and another that is entitled "Music in America" or something ambiguous like that. I intend to maybe learn a few tunes from the latter, and the former I have plans of perusing and quite possibly using to pressgang some friends into joining me for impromptu musical theatre involving pirates. What else?

  11. Hello all! In case any of you remember me, I've not fallen off the face of the Earth for real--yet!

    I'm just popping in to say that I had an unexpected concertina sighting last Monday at my college here in Western North Carolina! A gentleman from the Button Box was visiting, as his daughter is a prospective student, and joined in the weekly lunchtime session. I had every intention of eating lunch as quickly as possible, saw an English concertina and ended up running up hill in the rain to fetch mine and join in. That pretty much made my entire day, along with the free opera books at the library. :D

  12. First off, I've gone to the dark side.

    I'm now playing concertina in a band that plays pirate festivals.

    Go ahead and hate me, I do too.

    Nonetheless the fact remains, and I need help from the infinite font of wisdom that is this forum.

     

    So, how to mic an English concertina? And if it can be as unobtrusive as possible that would be great, since I'm also playing fiddle (though not at the same time), which will need a mic, as I don't have a pick-up on it, and singing, which will also need a mic. I'd rather have my little mic-grove be as small as possible, to reduce the risk of claustrophobia. Oh the woes of being a multi-instrumentalist.

     

    Anyway, any input on this would be most appreciated.

  13. The only time I've done anything resembling proper busking was last summer in Toronto when I was playing music on the docks, mostly for the enjoyment of a handful of shipmates. One lady came by, listened and talked to us for a bit, and then, despite my protest, put a $5 bill in. I thought it was far too much, which is why I'll never be a good busker. The only other thing I brought it was a coin (it was some sort of euro, I can't remember what the denomination was) that someone threw from across the (wide) sidewalk, then cheered when he hit the case. I was somewhat less amused.

     

    This past weekend I was hired to play music (fiddle only, alas) outside of an art gallery for an event, which was fun. One guy tried to give me money for it, which I turned down because I was getting paid already. (Exhibit B on why Fern is not good at this whole making money thing.)

     

    As for your question though, definitely professional. :P

  14. At least one concertina has gone sailing on all five of the Great Lakes on a square-rigger in recent years, and lived to tell the tale.

    I hear objections to the salty sea air, now, I've not done any ocean sailing, but from my experiences on large vessels belowdecks is quite dry, and, for the most part, comparable to living in a house on land. (If you lived in very close quarters with your housemates and didn't bathe often, that is.)

     

    Sailors seem to be a rather misrepresented lot in general though. Most anyone who sees a sailing vessel of any description immediately thinks "PIRATE SHIP!!!" and resists any attempts made by the crew of such a vessel to educate them on the actual history of it. (Which, for the overwhelming majority, is not a storied history of mermaids and cutlass-swinging rogues.) I figure that "every Jack Tar played a funny little round accordion" is one of the last notions I'll try to wipe out of their brains, since assuring them that the ship isn't actually on an underwater track, and yes, we actually use the sails takes priority. :rolleyes:

     

    P.S.

    Solas plays a tune called "Vital Mental Medicine" on their CD For Love and Laughter. Hmmm.

     

    P.P.S.

    I play concertina no matter what mood I'm in, usually if I'm going to channel emotions by making noise I reach for the 'tina before the fiddle, because it's easier to just fool around with and experiment with different sounds on.

  15. There are some good ideas here, but I think the most important thing is to find a song-learning method that works for you. Some people find listening to lyrics over and over again easier, and others find reading them to be more effective. If you don't know what works best, try them both, and then try combination of them.

    My personal way of learning songs usually goes something like

    -hear song once, hum it a few times

    -listen to it again to fill in gaps in my memory and procure recording if I can and listen to it over and over, singing along as I go

    -once I'm fairly sure of the words, listen to and sing along with a verse, pause recording, sing it alone, repeat through through the end

    -once I've got to the point that I can sing most of the way through without having to stop and relisten, just practice it.

    -if it's still difficult, then write out the lyrics longhand, singing a verse and then writing it, sometimes line by line if I must.

    By the end of that process it's generally pretty firmly lodged in my skull.

    This is by no means the only way, if, for some reason, I can't find a recording I like, or the words are undecipherable or I like the way a performer sang a song, but not en's lyric choices, I find alternative lyrics to the ones I dislike and go with them, looking at them only to remind myself of how to start when I get stuck.

    If I'm going to perform something I generally make sure that I can sing it on autopilot, while reading something else or concentrating on a different task. Recording devices are good if you want to be super-careful about this, do a quick recording of yourself singing the song in question while you do something else that takes at least some of your attention, then listen to it over to make sure you got all the words and in the right order.

    When you've got something that automatic trying to play while you sing will be way easier. I'd still recommend just humming the first coupe times you try to put it all together though, as it generally makes my brain explode when I try to do it all at once.

     

    As I said though, instead of squabbling over the best way to learn a song or lyrics for everyone, focus on the best way to learn a song or lyrics for you.

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