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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. Perhaps you're thinking of the classsical-music joke: How do you protect a valuable violin from theft? Carry it in a viola case! 😉 Cheers, John
  2. Indeed, to each his/her own! The "fella with the funny moustache", whom Rüdiger mentioned, is guilty of a lot of things apart from persecuting gypsies, homosexuals, evangelicals and Jews. He also put an end to a fascinating youth movement of the 1920s and early '30s called the "Wandervogel" (Bird of Passage). This was somewhat equivalent to the "Great Folk Scare" of the 1960s in the English-speaking world. Young people bought Waldzithern (a variety of cittern, which for me is the best accompaniment for German folk songs) and guitars, and hiked through the German forests, plunking and singing the old folk songs. The middle-aged populace was annoyed by the "noise", but glad that they soon vanished into the woods and left their parents' generation in peace. We (Germans) would have had a certain degree of continuity in our song tradition, had "The Party" not banned the Wandervogel by integrating it into the Hitler Youth Organisation after 1933. Even today, in the ranks of the Waldzither players, there are people who try to keep the song tradition of the Wandervogel alive. They are, however, a minority. In short, "folk music" is not a trivial concept in present-day Germany! Cheers, John
  3. A very good point, Rüdiger! After 20 years as the frontman of an Irish Folk Group in Germany, I know what you mean. Cheers, John
  4. I believe you!🙄 The songs that I included in my collection of "Songs for the Thüringer Waldzither" when I was playing regularly for the inmates of a German old folks' home, are all in there! (Except for my favourite: Im schönsten Wiesengrunde.) My reaction is not as drastic as yours, because I'm an Irishman by birth and upbringing and a German only by naturalisation, and the Irish have a much more relaxed relationship to folk songs (their own and those of others) than Germans do. In the discussed collection, I do miss the political songs from the 1840s (a collection of Irish songs wouldn't be complete without a rebel song or two). Speaking of politics: to be totally politically correct, the word "Zigeuner" (as in No. 34 of the German songs) is frowned upon nowadays. Just yesterday, we had a memorial gathering in the marketplace of our village to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the deportation of 26 gypsies from here to Auschwitz in 1943. The descendents of the handful of survivors, who still live here, call themselves Sinti - and when you hear citations from the official Nazi regulations on the "solution of the Zigeuner problem", you wouldn't lke to be called a Zigeuner either! PC or not PC - at the memorial event, we had wonderful music, played by a local Sinti trio, which I have no compunction about calling "gypsy jazz"! Cheers, John
  5. Just as an aside: this reminds me of the banjo player who maintained that is banjo was tuned correctly when all the tuner knobs faced in the same direction ... Not a good idea, either! I think a certain randomness can be quite aesthetic when it results from necessities other than the aesthetic. Cheers, John
  6. Okay ... but the quality of "easy to play" is in itself subjective. Classic example with the Anglo concertina: depending on the size of your hands, you may have difficulty reaching the accidentals row, or you may feel cramped when playing the inner row - of one and the same concertina! Another subjective assessment is the stiffness/stoutness of the bellows. Some prefer more, some less. And I believe most players will get accustomed to any shortcomings their instrument may have, and may even find a "superior" instrument difficult to play at first. Cheers, John
  7. As a concertinist, I'm very glad to have my Dallas/Crabb anglo, to which I upgraded from my old but good Stagi anglo. The latter wasn't much fun at the start - it had teething problems, especially with the buttons - but when the bellows had collapsed, and I'd had a new bellows made by Concertina Connection (then still in NL) it was twice the instrument it had been! Which just goes to show what varied parameters make for subjective quality in a concertina. The Stagi reeds are still in tune after 25 years; the Wakker bellows is really optimal for an Anglo; and my fingers have learnt to press the buttons in such a way as to keep them upright! Where the Crabb scores is in the sound of the reeds. But sometimes I wish it had the bellows that Wakker made for my Stagi. The Crabb bellows are also a replacement, apparently fitted in South Africa, and are just a shade too supple for my liking. As a banjoist, I enjoy my high-grade, pre World War One, Windsor zither-banjo. It has a loud but pleasant timbre, and it is easy to play, in that little strength is required to fret the strings cleanly. It's my obvious choice for a gig. On the other hand, I have a cheap, Japanese aluminium-potted resonator banjo with a plastic head. I used it in my Irish folk band, usually via the PA system with a pick-up. I never soloed with it. Until recently! I adjusted the neck angle, fitted a new plastic head, replaced the resonator with a simple back panel, fitted new strings - and WOW! I do play it solo now! It's as loud as my Windsor, and almost as good-sounding and as easy to fret. I take it on gigs where I'll have to play outdoors, because its plastic head is less temperamental in changing humidity than the vellum head of my Windsor. In short, a very important word in the banjoist's vocabulary, which is unknown to most other instrumentalists, is "set-up". No banjo is all good or all bad - it's the set-up that counts! When a banjo changes hands, the new owner will probably alter the set-up to suit him or herself. That's one option that concertinists don't have!😉 Cheers, John
  8. The German designation would be "Handharmonika," not "Konzertina." Cheers, John
  9. As the others have said, not a major job - if you're in your own workshop! But you were at a session, and had to do the repair under field conditions, so to speak. So yes, we're proud of you!😉👍 I always carr a small screwdriver in my concertina case (sheathed in a piece of PVC tubing to prevent damage to the instrument) so that I can at least open the action box, if anything untoward occurs. Fortunately, I haven't had to use it yet! BTW I witnessed the most impressive piece of field repair at a concert by an Irish lady folk-singer. She was just into the first verse of a song, when a string on her guitar broke. She kept on singing, and her band kept up an adequate accompaniment, while she removed the broken string, produced a new string (from where, I can't remember, but perhps she took advantaage of an instrumental break to fetch it from her handbag), fitted the new string, cranked it up and fine-tuned it - and was strumming again in the last verse! Professionalism is not just playing the right notes in the right sequence!😁 Cheers, John
  10. If a comparison with stringed instruments is permissable, then a "one-wood" instrument would not be optimal. Bowed and plucked instruments (at least, those in the European tradition) use a straight-grained softwood (mostly spruce) for the belly - the component that takes up and amplifies the vibration of the strings - and a hardwood of some kind for the load-bearing elements and the enclosure of the resonance chamber. Yes, panels of the same wood do differ. However, I've heard that a good luthier can tell the quality of a piece of wood by just tapping it, so the quality of the finished instrument is not just hit-or-miss. As to laminated vs. solid woods: as an Autoharpist, I have experience with both. In general, higher-quality Autoharps have solid spruce (or someties maple) sounding-boards; the less high-class ones are laminated. I personally had a favourite Autoharp that was 50 years old and had a solid spruce top. It sounded wonderful, although the sound-board was slightly wavy. Then, one day, it gave way under the tension of the strings! My replacement gigging harp has a laminated top, which (after 30 years) is still straight as a die, but just lacks that sweetness of the solid top. As I said, I don't know to what extent this applies to free-reed instruments. Cheers, John
  11. Very true! The true usefulness of the Anglo lies, not in fast, purely melodic dance music, but rather in the easy harmonisation of song tunes at singable tempo. Also, the Anglo is an obvious candidate for someone like you, who has expertise on the harmonica - the same Richter scale lies behond the button arrangement. So you don't have to learn scales or chords. The basic, 20-button Anglo has all the notes of two harmonicas, with the added freedom to play notes from both "harmonicas" at once. And the 30-button Anglo allows you to play chromatic passages as well. The only limitation is that full harmonisation is easy only in the Anglos two "home" keys, e.g. C and G or G and D major. Further keys get more difficult to impossible, and there comes a point when even a 30-button Anglo can only manage plain melody with a few double-stops. For free choice of key, the duet is, in fact, the way to go. But they're like the piano - to move on to the next key, you have to learn where the sharps or flats are. In this way, the Crane is like the English system: the sharps and flats are all in the outer rows. The Hayden' claim to fame is the fact that transposing is relatively easy - once you've learnt the fingering for a tune in, say, C, you just move your fingers to a different starting-point, and carry out the same finger movements. The difference between the Hayden and the other duet systems (Maccann and Crane) lies in the limitations imposed by smaller instruments with fewer notes. The Maccan has been described; the Crane also remains fully chromatic as far as it goes, and the smaller instruments simply lack a few of the very top notes. The limitations of the small Haydens, on the other hand, mean that some sharps and flats are missing, i.e. certain keys cannot be played. In any case, you should compare the limitations of a particular instrument with your requirements. If you don't need the missing keys on a small Hayden or the missing high notes on a small Crane, that's fine! Hope this helps, Cheers, John
  12. Well, feedback was asked for! And if the OP was intending to showcase a particular recording technique for traditional music and musicians, it was my opinion that he could have found more attractive examples. That's all. No offence meant; apologies if any was taken! Cheers, John
  13. Caitlin, It's a well-known fact that beginners on the Anglo make their handstraps too tight, so as to give themselves the impression that the instrument isn't "flopping about", and that they have it under control. With time, they reach the point you're at just now - the straps feel too tight, because you're fixing the concertina betwen the pressure of your palms on the end-plate and the opposing pressure of your knuckles on the straps. If you ease the straps off just a little, you should find that you can get the stability you need without strapping your hands down tight. Picking up and setting down the instrument will then be easier. You're on the right road - keep going, and have fun! Cheers, John
  14. Depends on what you mean by "this road." If you mean the binaural recording technique: no, I play acoustic music. If you mean taditional music on the concertina: yes, definitely. As a native Irishman who spent his childhood in the Highlands of Scotland, I'm a great one for slow airs. Mostly, I sing them, but I have a couple worked up on the concertina as well. Only my concertina is an Anglo. The EC recordings you link to strike me as, well, not all that great, really. There seems to be something about the EC that dampens expression, and although grace-notes should be just as feasible on it as on the Anglo, the linked recordings make little use of them. The lack of expression (and I'm going to duck and run after I've written this!) seems to stem from the tenuous connexion between the EC and the player, which seems to limit the dynamic range that an Anglo player, with his "stout" bellows and firm handstraps, has. The linked fiddling doesn't really impress me either - but that's not my speciality, I haven't played the fiddle for decades! I'll just say that the fiddling I heard in a Derry pub last summer - and in a pub in Fort Wiliam a few years ago - was preferable! Well, you did ask for feedback! Cheers, John
  15. Well done, Fanie! Have fun! By the way, have you checked the tuning with an electronic tuner? When I did that with my old Bandonion - which is wonderfully in tune with itself, even after over 100 years - I discovered that it was at the old German concert pitch of A=435Hz. In a way, it's nice to have a "voice from the past" on your lap - but on the other hand the possibilities of playing with others are limited. The only time I played my Bandoneon with my group, it was a duet with the fiddle. Violinists can retune quickly and reliably between numbers! But the Bandoneon can really make music on its own, and any singers you may want to accompany won't notice those 5Hz differnce😉 Cheers, John
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