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Bill N

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About Bill N

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    Heavyweight Boxer
  • Birthday 01/10/1959

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    Hamilton, Canada

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  1. Bill N

    Tips & Tricks for Contra

    Thanks everyone. You've given me some good ideas to work with.
  2. Since the demise of my Long-Sword Side I have been sitting in with a band that plays for New England style contra dancing. They play a lot of stuff from the Portland collection, a little bit of Old Time stuff, and quite a bit from contemporary dance tune composers. It's a fiddle driven band, and they don't like to be confined to G and D Major. They like the concertina in the mix, and have been pushing me up to the front. I've been getting the new tunes and fast tempo under my fingers, but have been mostly playing melody or really basic harmonies. On nights when we don't have a piano, or it's just me and the fiddles, I would like to function more as a rhythm instrument, and am looking for ideas on how to tackle it. I don't read music. I have 30 button C/G & G/D boxes, a 20 button Bb/F, and a big baritone double reeded 20 button D/A. I've been making up chord charts, listening hard to the piano player, and wearing out my Jody Kruskal CDs and making some progress, but would welcome any advice.
  3. Bill N

    Anglo playing guidance needed

    The mechanics of it are very anglo-centric- a big part of it is using the reversals and duplicates to create push and pull phrases. But I would think that the approach of phrasing and blocking hand positions for each phrase could work with the duet. I don't think it would be very useful for English players, but I could be wrong.
  4. Bill N

    Anglo playing guidance needed

    For the type of music you are playing, I can't recommend Bertram Levy's "American Fiddle Styles for the Anglo Concertina: 30 Studies in the Art of Phrasing" highly enough. Challenging stuff, but almost easier to do before you develop a lot of self-tutored habits. The studies teach you how to construct a tune as a series of phrases, taking advantage of duplicate and reversal note buttons, and preparing hand position for each phrase. As a fellow self-taught player, I wish I had come across his ideas a long time ago. I wasn't able to play a fast reel convincingly until I started doing this.
  5. Bill N

    Buttrey manuscript

    The current line-up of FoFG has Ians Robb & Bell. Both are also involved in numerous other projects as well.
  6. Bill N

    Buttrey manuscript

    Don, the curator of this site, Ian Bell, has recently and quickly become a very competent concertina player (he's an incredible multi-instrumentalist), and there are some very tasty concertina recordings there. His versions of Sir Roger de Coverley, and an Ontario tune called Jim Fisher the Caller are worth learning.
  7. I started on Anglo by learning and playing for a Long Sword/Rapper side as they were learning the dances, and shortly thereafter began attending an English trad session with the encouragement of fellow C.netter Robin H. Once I could play reasonably well I was asked to be part of a duo with a more experienced musician- we play mainly traditional Canadian and Newfoundland tunes and songs, and Canadian variants of British Isles music (we did a mini-tour of SW England this past summer). Our duo is also part of a quintet that mostly plays English trad. Both bands play a fair number of festivals, museum special events, pubs etc. I am also now attending a more advanced English trad session which comprises about 50% of the concertina players in Southern Ontario. Most of what has been described so far I play on a G/D Morse in a version of the Harmonic Style. More recently I have begun spending part of the year in Newfoundland where I sit in on 3 or 4 trad sessions. The trad music there is unique-largely influenced by early immigration from the west of Ireland and England, with a hint of Scottish and French settlement. Also there is a weekly Irish session 100 yards from my house in Hamilton. I've been learning the repertoire for these sessions on a C/G Kensington. My Long Sword side has hung up their shoes, so I am now playing with some experienced musicians for a weekly Contra Dance. We play a mix of traditional and contemporary dance tunes mostly in the New England style. Playing this repertoire at dance tempo has been my biggest challenge so far, but I have had some great assistance from correspondence with Bertram Levy, and his recent book "American Fiddle Styles for Anglo Concertina".
  8. Bill N

    Really a Crabb?

    I've seen a few Crabb anglos from this period which were, to paraphrase Geoff from a previous thread, made to a price point. Not junk though. The finish and furnishings are basic, but excellent reeds and playability.
  9. Bill N

    Getting “off the rows” on a G/D Anglo

    I know a few people that play both Melodeon and Anglo, and they all say the same thing- one would think that there would be cross row common ground, but there really isn't. I found that myself in my brief stab at playing melodeon. However, adapting the cross row style from C/G instructional material can be very useful. The C/G fingering for key of D major gives you A major on a G/D- useful & easy! Other than that, I would suggest looking at a button-note diagram for your instrument, and noting where the duplicates and reversals are, as well as the notes that you only have in one place and in one direction. Then when you are learning a tune, try out different patterns to see which is easiest/suits the tune, etc. For instance, you have the middle D & E in 3 places, and both directions under your left hand, and a push and pull G on the right and left ends. I use those duplicates all the time to smooth out and maintain tempo when playing fast jigs and reels. And I often use the pull D in the 3rd row on the right end instead of the push versions in the middle and inside rows to help get my fingers around a phrase more fluidly.
  10. Bill N

    What would make a reed sound soft

    Is that reed located under the heel of your hand/the handset bar? I find that reeds can have a slightly different character based on where the pad & reed are located. Looks like Alex and I had the same thought at the time time!
  11. Bill N


    If you ever go to Buenos Aires there are a number of young people there teaching themselves to play and I'm sure they would be happy to meet you. They can be reached through the La Plata Comhaltas Facebook page.
  12. By "original English-style makers" I meant Lachenal, Jeffries, etc. I referred to the Dippers as modern makers of traditionally constructed instruments. I've met the Dippers, and if they were part of the 1st wave of builders, they are remarkably well preserved 😎
  13. I'll leave aside the question of the differences between the 2 types of reeds except to say that there are many significant differences in construction, layout, attachment and behaviour. You should be able to search the archives for some in-depth discussion. The German style concertina has always used accordion style reeds. The Italian and East German instruments that you can find on eBay (Scholer, Silvetta, Stagi, Hohner, etc) are constructed more like an accordion than a traditional English-style concertina, and use accordion reeds. I have a German-style concertina made for the English retailer Henry Harley (my avatar pic) which was made in the 1870s using both individual and gang-mounted accordion style reeds. Traditional English-style concertinas (Anglo, English & Duet systems) have a more sophisticated button mechanism, and with very few exceptions used the traditional concertina reed for most of their history. There were some experiments in the 1950s and 60s with different reed construction to lower the price, and Wheatstone produced the Mayfair line, which used a hybrid of the English style construction and action, and accordion reeds, but these weren't popular and weren't in production for very long. Modern hybrids, which combine very high quality instrument construction and top grade accordion style reeds mounted parallel to the reed plates (Morse, Edgley, Herrington, Tedrow, etc.) are a pretty recent development, maybe making their appearance around 20 years ago? None of the original English-style makers are still in business (Wheatstone nominally continues as a one man operation with very low production) but there are a number of modern makers building instruments with traditional reeds ( Kensington, Dipper, Carroll, Edgley etc) And even more recent is the beginner hybrid like the Rochelle, which combines English-style design, accordion reeds and economical materials and labour to provide a budget, playable instrument. I'm sure others will chime in.
  14. If the bellows are intact and all the buttons sound on the push and pull and are relatively in tune then it shouldn't be too big a project. The buttons will either be glued to wooden levers and just require a re-gluing, or may be attached (or not) to metal levers- there is good info on this forum for repairing those as well. It looks like the ends are held on with friction fit pins. Carefully pull those pins straight out with pliers or a tack puller to see what you are dealing with. Be careful when disassembling- these are made from cheap materials, and it is easy to strip screws, split wood etc.