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Bill N

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About Bill N

  • Birthday 01/10/1959

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    Hamilton, Canada

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  1. I regularly play a 30 button Anglo and a 10 hole harmonica in a rack at the same time. It looks a lot harder than it really is. I play in a duo with a singing cittern player, and it fills out our sound nicely on a few of our numbers. I can't imagine the kind of brain it would require to play English and harmonica together though. Edited to add: I played harmonica for about 40 years before I picked up an Anglo, and remember when I was starting out on concertina that I had a tendency to hyperventilate, as I would breathe in and out along with the push/pull of the bellows!
  2. So many interesting questions! I will begin by saying that I only play 20 and 30 button Anglo concertinas. My musical interests are not dissimilar to yours, minus Gregorian Chants and plus a few fast jigs and reels. I do use my concertinas for song accompaniment. Although I don't play English or Duet concertina, I have seen/heard them used successfully to do the things you mention, and suspect (as much as I love playing Anglo) that a non-diatonic systems might suit you better. Others with actual experience may chime in. In theory a 30 button concertina can be played chromatically, but in practice most players don't/can't stray too far from the two home keys and their relative minors and modes, and one or two "cross-row keys" (e.g. D Major on a C/G instrument) by reaching into the accidentals in the third row. There are too many missing notes and ergonomic challenges to make fully chromatic playing on a single 30 button instrument practical. Also, as you drift further from the home keys you defeat the instrument's designed ability to harmonize with itself. If you play a tune in C Major on the C row of a C/G concertina you can play the melody and know that anything you also do in the C row in terms of chords, oompah, etc. will probably sound right, just because of the way the notes and push/pull are organized on the keyboard. Anglo players have 3 (2 typical, and 1 less typical) ways of addressing the diatonic limitations: 1) Lots of concertinas in many different tunings (my approach- I have C/G, G/D, D/A and Bb/F, all of which I have used for singing, depending on the song). Given your budget this would be a problem, unless you went for cheap 20 button instruments. The advantage is that you don't need to learn additional finger patterns to play different scales. i.e. the fingering you use to play a tune in C Major on a C/G instrument will play the same tune on a D/A instrument, only in D Major. 2) Lots of buttons- Find or have made an instrument with 38, 40, or more buttons, with a greater selection of accidentals, duplicates and reversals to allow for a wider range of keys, and more options for left hand accompaniment. These tend to be much more expensive than your budget, and require a level of commitment to learning additional finger patterns on a fairly arbitrary and illogical keyboard. 3) Be born a musical genius who is somehow able to transcend what appear to be limitations to mere mortals. There are 2 or 3 of these people alive right now. I listen to them, then go lay down in a dark room until I regain my composure. I am loath to dissuade anyone from the One True Path of concertina playing that is the Anglo, but I don't think it would be versatile enough for what you are contemplating.
  3. Given your budget and preference for a US purchase I would suggest the Rochelle from the the list of options in your post, with a caveat. I had one early in my learning and it worked very well to acquaint me with the 30 button concertina, and convince me that I wanted to stick with it. Although it was a little big and clunky, it was easy enough to play that I didn't get discouraged, and when I did move up to a higher quality instrument the transition was easy. It was also very well built for what it is. I never had a problem with it, and I passed it, and a few others that I found, to some young students of Irish traditional music in Argentina, where they are still being played after 4 years of pretty hard use. My experience with other Italian and Chinese made instruments that I have fixed up for beginners is that they are not as well built or durable, and in many cases the inferior design of the buttons and levers renders them almost unplayable. Now the caveat: if you take to the concertina and want to continue you will most certainly want to trade up at some point- in my case it was after about 8 months with the Rochelle. If your budget could stretch a little I would suggest looking at the Rochelle II- I think the refinements in its design and construction might extend the period before you felt the need to move up.
  4. Thanks everyone for the responses. I will pass them on. In my own researches I have discovered that the University of Toronto offers graduate level studies in PA. Most excitingly, the University of Victoria, BC has developed a whole undergraduate programme, with scholarships available, under the tutelage of internationally renowned composer and performer Jelena Milojević.
  5. I apologize for the lack of concertina content, but the members of this forum are a font of knowledge! A young friend would like to study music composition at the university level. Her instrument of choice is the piano accordion, which she has played since she was a little girl, and is very accomplished on. Is anyone aware of any North American (preferably Canadian) universities that will allow non-traditional instruments?
  6. "Tell me how pitch can be lowered by simply removing material from a reed?" You can lower the pitch by removing a bit of material from the base (clamped end) of the reed.
  7. Maybe not useful advice for your beginner phase, but a few of the modern top-end makers do offer adjustable hand rests. Carroll concertinas uses a system that lets you move the rest forward and back, and vary the angle relative to the button rows. Kensington offers different sizes of ergonomically shaped (and very beautiful) hand rests that can be easily swapped. There may be some others that I haven't encountered.
  8. Maybe a weak spring is letting the pad lift on the push?
  9. Good advice from Rod and David. I would add one tip. My secret weapon is to use a damp, 100% woolen sock, rather than the cloth Rod mentions. It does a great job of smoothing, pressing, and removing excess glue without "catching" the leather and shifting it the way a regular cloth sometimes does.
  10. "This was my first non-hybrid concertina..." I don't want to stomp on your thread, but your Herrington is indeed a hybrid (although a very high-quality one). It uses superior accordion style reeds rather than individual, traditional concertina reeds. Still, a very nice instrument and a very fair price.
  11. Sorry for the thread drift, but what is that tune? (lovely playing, and Bb/F is my favourite tuning)
  12. Those are typical issues for that style of action. The other typical failure (which might be related to the grinding and metal shavings): The brown rubber sleeves in your 3rd photo dry out and lose their "spring" and no longer do a good job keeping the buttons tightly in place. The buttons can wobble around, and the slotted shaft can move too much on the lever arm, thereby causing undo wear. An easy upgrade is to replace them with short lengths of silicone tubing (I've used model aircraft fuel line). There are some good threads on that topic here.
  13. If there are any screws (usually only 2) you''d be able to feel them through the fabric. They're usually just driven into the frame at an angle, so they will definitely be easy to feel. I've had luck using the perpendicular reed block as a "handle" to gently but firmly rock/wiggle and pull at the same time.
  14. Sometimes there are a couple of little wood screws right at the edge of the reed board. Maybe hiding under the fabric of the seal? If not, it's probably just a friction fit, and some firm wiggling and tugging should pull it out.
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