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About Anglo-Irishman

  • Birthday 06/15/1946

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Acoustic music of all kinds. Collecting playable instruments.
  • Location
    Near Stuttgart, Germany

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  1. I've heard it said, and my own experience bears it out, that beginners on the Anglo feel "safer" with tight straps, whereas experienced players opt for the "freedom" offered by looser straps, and that as you become more proficient you'll tend to loosen the straps bit by bit. With playing experience, the arching of the hand takes up the slack, so to speak, and has the advantage that it can be varied according to the playing situation, which a strap cannot. I have also found it equally important - on both Anglo and Duet - to have straps of thick, stiff leather. With pliable straps, the instrument tends to flop about, even when you arch your hand, and thin straps tend to cut into your skin. I have occasionally thought of installing straps made of two layers of thin, comfortably soft leather with a layer of tinplate in between. This way, the the weight of the concertina would be supported directly on the knuckles of the index fingers, rather than "hanging down" between them. Cheers, John
  2. FWIW, I gave my youngest grandson, aged 6, a harmonica for Christmas, and he's taken quite a liking to it. He even reads the tablature for it. Now, I'd say a harmonica is to an anglo concertina what a practice chanter is to a full set of bagpipes. So when my grandson's hands are big enough for a normal Anglo, his musical instinct will help him to get off to a flying start. At least, that's what happened to me, two generations ago! Cheers, John
  3. Alan, I also find that I can enjoy music - of any genre - much more deeply when I can not only hear, but also see the performers. I suppose it's analogous to a face-to-face conversation giving you more insight into the person you're talking to than a telephone call would. Cheers, John
  4. @Parker135, as I see it, the Clover is a modern instrument that's still commercially available. Thus I wouldn't regard it as "irreplaceable," however good it may be. Should anything untoward happen to it, surely that would be a case for your insurance. The worst that could happen to you would be that you'd be concertinaless until the replacement was delivered. A top-class antique Wheatstone in perfect condition is a different kettle of fish. If it got lost or destroyed, you might never find anything as good again, no matter how much money the insurance paid out. Having said that, I must agree with Alex West: when I'm playing with or for others, I want to sound my best, so I'll take the instrument with the best tone and the easiest playability. At home, my main goal is to get my fingers round the pieces I'm working up, so I can practise on an instrument that may not sound as impressive, as long as it's playable. (My experience is with 5-string banjos, which can be set up so that even a cheap one with inferior tone has a comfortable action.) My two Anglos, a Crabb and a Stagi with Wakker bellows, both play easily; the only difference is between the traditional and accordion reeds. On boat trips I admittedly take my Stagi, but this didn't prevent me from supplying the incidental music to a promotion video that was being made about a little steamer that I took a cruise on! Cheers, John
  5. Some are born musical; some achieve musicality; and some have music thrust upon them. Just a thought .. John
  6. However, the harmomium has a circumvention: the Couplers. The bass coupler links each key on the LH side with the key an octave lower, and the treble coupler links each key on the RH side with the key an octave higher. (Where exactly the transition between LH and Rh takes place is part of the specification of the individual instrument.) These couplers have separate knobs, so you can play a louder melody over a softer bass, or vice versa. A very nice example is this YouTube recording. Both the couplers are seen in action, as is the knee-operated swell lever. If you want to listen to a bit of "sacred free-reed," try Rodney Jantzi's channel. There is a reason why the harmonium is called "orgue expressif" in French - it certainly is more expressive (in the sense of dynamics) than a piped organ blown by a soul-less machine! Cheers, John
  7. Top marks for Sustainability! My workshop is full of small, re-used packages like that. But then, I'm not only a concertinist, but also a banjoist, railway modeller and ship modeller, and have to repair and maintain furniture in the house. Cheers, John
  8. Careful! There are reed organs and harmoniums, and few non-experts are aware of the difference. Some of them are pressure-driven, some are suction-driven. The harmonium that I had access to as a child was obviously the pressure type, because pedalling harder definitely made it louder - though not much. But what both types of reed organ/harmonium have is the knee-operated swell levers. These definitely give you adequate dynamics. And remember also that reed organs and harmoniums have stops that produce different timbres, which can be used singly or combined as required. That's something no English-made concertina - and very few German Konzertinas - have. The Anglo, EC or duet can be used expressively, but in a different way from the harmonium. Cheers, John
  9. Oh dear! It was a long time ago, and I've no head for figures. Suffice to say that the new bellows cost almost as much as the whole concertina had cost some 10 years earlier. Wim Wakker was still located in The Netherlands at that time, so there were no customs duties involved. I don't know whether Wakker makes custom bellows any more, now that he has his manufacturing lines for Rochelle, Elise and Jackie in the USA. The bellows I got was perfect for an Anglo - stout leather, but with supple hinges. There's no time-lag between pressing at full pressure and drawing at full pressure; i.e there's no "slop" in the bellows. This really does, in my opinion, make 50% of the quality of an Anglo. As I said, the bellows was expensive - but it left me with a concertina that compared favourably with a new hybrid that would definitely have cost more. Cheers, John
  10. .. which is what I'd have advised, if I'd seen our thread sooner! The photos look very like my Stagi model, which I played for 20 years with my folk group, and which is still going strong 10 years thereafter. I must admit that, somwhere along the road, I had the bellows replaced by the Wakker company, but the reeds were worth it. They're still in tune after 30 years' playing, and sound twice as nice after the bellows transplant. A really value-for-money investment. A good hybrid with a sound close to the traditional concertina. Have fun! Cheers, John
  11. Mmmm! Delicious! Where are you? I'll bring my own plate and fork ... Cheers, John
  12. I've thought about this quite a bit. The composer Leonard Bernstein once said he didn't differentiate so much between "serious" and "popular" music - it was more important to distinguish "good" music and "bad" music. For me, another way of categorising music is to call it "composers' music" or "performers' music." @seanc mentions Irish trad. and Bach, and these are two examples that are wide apart on the composer/performer spectrum. Bach's works are typically for ensemles of players and singers, and they are musically pretty complex. The only way to perform them is for each musician and singer to do what the composer lays down in his score (the conductor helps them to do this). Improvisation and innovation are not advisable - any deviation from the meticulously balanced mix of notes would most likely sound "off." It's the composer's music, so the performers don't mess with it! With Irish trad., improvisation and innovation are of the essence. A traditional song exists merely as a melody and a lyric - everything else, be it key, tempo, style of ornamentation orchestration, harmonic structure, expression ..., is up to the performer. You'll often find that one singer can deliver a folk song so that it thrills you, but another singer, singing the same song, leaves you cold. That's performers' music! As I say, there's a spectrum here. A romantic composer may write a beautiful version of a folk song for baritone and piano - that would be the composer's music. Or I, as a banjoist, may play my impromptu variations on a theme from a Haydn string quartet - that's the performer's music. Each performance could be slightly different, but it would still be "authentic." If the pianist or the baritone took liberties with the composer's score, it would be regarded as improper. There is a grey zone: some composers' music is so demanding that not every soloist can manage it - so a truly virtuoso violinist or pianist can make a classical concerto his or her "own." And , of course, there must have been somebody who first performed the songs that we call folk songs - so the performer can't take 100% if the credit there, either! Cheers, John
  13. Stephen, Thanks for the link! I can see that the banjo is definitely a Windsor zither-banjo like mine - not the top model, but one of the better ones. A well-made and serviceable instrument! However, I very much doubt whether it's Hussey's playing that you can hear. The notes don't match the hand positions. And anyway, they didn't have films with sound-track back then, did they? I assume the film clip was dubbed over, but at least the music seems about right for the period - the kind of "old plantation-y" number that the black-face minstrels would have played back then. Could be from an old, remastered shellack record, or played by a modern banjoist from sheet music of back then. Cheers, John
  14. Here you go - Olly Oakley was very popular in the 1910s and '20s, and he played the zither-banjo. (On the linked page, select a tune title, then click on the mp3 link on the right of the resulting page.) Enjoy! John
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