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David Barnert

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  • Interests
    46-button Hayden Duet Concertina
    Morris, English Country, Contra Dance Music
    Classical and Early Music
    Retired Anesthesiologist

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    Albany, NY, USA

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  1. Yes, what I neglected to mention earlier that you, Łukasz, and I know instinctively, is that lower notes means bigger reeds and bigger reeds means louder sound. So if you don’t want your lower accompaniment to drown out your higher melody, you’d best be sparse with what you play down there. Space between the notes, and not too many at once.
  2. No. They can both be played in any key. My guess is that Do a deer is originally in C and Dueling Banjos is in G, but it doesn’t matter. A tune is a tune in any key, and the important thing is the relationship between the notes. But yes, D-a-D starts on 1 (Do) and D-B starts on 3 (Mi). In any key. No guesswork involved. The scale is your friend. Get to know its components intimately and be able to recognize them when you encounter them. In any key, the 1 note (Do) has a satisfying “we’re home” sense to it. the 5 note (Sol) has a little tension. It wants to go home. The 7 note (Ti, or Si) has more tension. It not only wants to go home, but it wants to do so by inching up to the octave. Six (La) has a plaintive feel to it. Regret, awareness of mortality, call it what you will. Once you familiarize yourself with the role each note plays in a major scale, you won’t have to guess which one to start a tune with. People who have “Perfect Pitch” (most of us don’t, I don’t) can hear a difference and may say the mood is different, but that kind of thinking was more reasonable historically, in the days before universal equal temperament, where all the semitones have the same width, a 12th of an octave, and all intervals except the octave are slightly out of tune. In the old days (Bach’s time, for instance), keyboard instruments were tuned to any of various systems where certain intervals were perfectly in tune (frequency ratios expressed as ratios of small whole numbers), while other intervals were uncomfortably out-of tune. On such a keyboard, a tune played in one key might have a very different feel if played in another key. It’s a kind of duet concertina. Unlike the other, historical, systems, Brian Hayden developed this in the 1960s. It also turns out that Kaspar Wicki came up with the same thing a hundred years earlier, but since his patent was in German, Hayden never found it. I hope not. Except on rare occasions, play as few notes simultaneously as you can get away with. If the melody has the 3rd, leave it out of the chord. Play chord notes sequentially instead of simultaneously. See any of my YouTube videos for examples (I’m playing a Hayden). Pages with reminders of the beginnings of tunes. One or two measures each, a dozen or two on a page.
  3. Oh, yes! The good old days. Simon in one channel, Garfunkel in the other. Peter in one channel, Gordon in the other. Don in one channel, Phil in the other. And who remembers Quadraphonic Sound? When I was in college in the 1970s, the two Boston classical music stations (WGBH and WCRB) cooperated to broadcast a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert using their combined four stereo channels (two each). I had a stereo radio and my roommate had a mono, so we tuned them to the two different stations and I guess we listened in tribuphonic sound.
  4. I can only speak about the Hayden Duet, although some of these points undoubtedly apply to all concertinas or all duet concertinas. Advantages: More buttons means greater range, fewer gaps in chromatic scale available, less need for enharmonic equivalents (playing, for instance, a D# way over on the right side of the layout when you really want an Eb on the left). By the same token, more keys that you can play in without running off the edge of the layout. Disadvantages: More buttons means more expensive. Heavier. More bellows pressure required to play. Easy to get lost in the larger field of buttons. More moving parts and longer levers means more frequent need for repairs or adjustments. That’s all I can think of at the moment. Does that answer your question?
  5. I understand that it doesn’t work nearly as well if the dummy head doesn’t have a nose (but the nose doesn’t have to have a sense of smell 😉).
  6. It has changed management and name, but is still vegan. https://subculturevegandeli.com
  7. Let me know when. Canajoharie is just 5 exits down the thruway from Albany.
  8. Listening to the examples with ear buds, what I hear sounds like exaggerated separation of the right and left sides, much more than what one would hear if listening directly.
  9. Since I posted the above, it occurred to me that “Do Re Mi” (which I called “Doe a Deer”) is deliberately and obviously full of the useful patterns I mentioned, because the song is meant to teach children how music is put together. For instance, the notes on the words “Mi, a name” are the same 345 that I pointed out in Dueling Banjos. Learn to play and internalize that song (in as many different keys as you can) and you will have learned many patterns that you can apply when you recognize them in other tunes.
  10. Each of the rows of a two row (20-button) anglo is like a single key harmonica, broken in half with the lower notes on the left and the higher notes on the right. So it’s like 2 broken harmonicas in different keys (usually C and G or G and D). A third row on a 30-button anglo fills in some accidentals and convenient notes missing in one direction or the other.
  11. These tunes that you have trouble playing... Can you sing them (not the words, the melodies)? If you can sing the tune but have difficulty playing them on the concertina, you need to learn a little music theory. Tunes are built of patterns that you will learn to recognize and to play when you hear them. The first three noted of Doe a Deer, for instance is notes 1, 2 and 3 of a scale. The first three notes of Dueling Banjos is notes 3, 4 and 5 of a scale. There are many more examples, but not so many that it is unrealistic to expect to become familiar with it. If you can’t sing the tunes (i.e., can’t remember how they go when it’s time to sing or play them), then you need to consciously look for those patterns when hearing them, or when the tune is fresh in your mind, and remember them so you can piece the tune together later. It also helps to write the tune down in music notation (either on paper or a computer) so that the process helps etch the tune in your mind (and you have a reference you can refer to in the future). Don’t know music notation? Learn it. Yes, some people can play concertina very nicely without knowing music theory or how to read/write music notation. But if you’re having trouble, that would be a good direction to focus your efforts.
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