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Posts posted by StuartEstell

  1. Any suggestions for songs that are easy to accompany on a concertina?


    Maybe with a few hints on how to work out an accompaniment for that song...


    Something like Barbara Allen in one of its myriad forms - great words, uncomplicated tunes, not too quick. I regularly use two different tunes for it which respond very well to a simple, circular, drone-based accompaniment. Of course you can vary it more and more as you become comfortable with the enterprise.


    I can try to remember to record a bit of what I do with it, if you're interested.

  2. It all seems suspiciously late to me. Are we right to disregard the renaissance regal as a predecessor? It has beating reeds rather than free reeds, but that's not a big step in the great scheme of things. It even has bellows.




    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0_WtelZ8X0 (which illustrates that not everything goes right all the time)


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M87JII5UN8U (which illustrates the need for a separate bellows operator!)


    Thank you, I was trying to remember the name of the regal the other day. I got as far as "vile-sounding early reed organ thing" (meant with affection - but it's a harsh sound and no mistake!)


    My C/G is Wheatstone layout and my G/D is Jeffries - the adjustment is small but challenging.


    I'm the other way round - my C/G (30b) is in Jeffries layout and my G/D (36b) is in Wheatstone. I prefer the Jeffries layout with a smaller number of buttons - I need the top D on the pull in the top corner of the right hand on the C/G.


    If I was specifying my G/D again I think I'd stick with its core Wheatstone layout (with the additional button with high G/A on the pull) but go with fewer additional accidentals and more of an overlap between the sides.

  4. I am of the opinion that singing and pushing and pulling hands at the same time is virtually impossible [...] I hope my experiment with the Hayden will open that up somewhat for me, since my problem singing with the anglo is more difficult whenever I switch directions, and unwittingly switch singing notes...a mess, as you might imagine.



    My experience in years past with teaching song accompaniment at the Swaledale concertina weekend and elsewhere is that most, if not all, relatively inexperienced players can build up a level of independence between box and voice relatively quickly. It can help to start very, very simply - singing against a drone note or an open fifth and just concentrating on the balance between the two initially.


    Don't lose heart with the anglo - it's a funny machine, but as accompanying yourself on the Hayden begins to feel more natural, you may well find that the mechanics of doing it on the anglo also become less challenging.

  5. I agree - it's worth learning all available techniques and then decide what works best for you in any given situation!


    A great piece of advice I was given early on was not to rely solely on the bellows for achieving bounce, and it's certainly true that with work on articulation you can get plenty of lift into a tune when playing across the rows.

  6. This is a question that pops up fairly regularly, and I have no more of an answer this time round ;)


    I'm always amazed and delighted when I encounter another player of the Jeffries duet system "in the wild" as it were, and even with such a niche (i.e. ludicrous) keyboard layout, there seem to be more people out there playing them than one would necessarily expect. This is particularly true given the probable low number of surviving instruments when anglo conversions are factored in.

  7. Hello all,


    I have contributed a track under my "Lachenalia" moniker to the compilation below:



    My friends Sam and David run a monthly sound art workshop called "If Wet" in Callow End in Worcester, and this compilation is part of a fundraising exercise to help ensure that there is a second year.


    My piece is a drone-based improvisation recorded on Jeffries Duet using an Electro-Harmonix "HOG" (which stands for Harmonic Octave Generator) and a tape delay unit. It's in E flat, because I never like making life too easy for myself...


    Incidentally - the project name "Lachenalia" came about during a period in which I wasn't playing concertina at all, and in which I discovered that there was a genus of South African bulb plants called Lachenalia. They're very pretty, and I found the idea that these plants had a name that also sounded like a Bacchanalian orgy of concertinas very appealing. Ironically, I no longer own any Lachenal instruments, either :rolleyes:

  8. Interesting to read your thoughts of duets as two Englishes glued together, Lukasz - coming to duets originally from anglo, the way I think of them is as unisonoric anglos with an overlap!


    The Hayden/Wicki layout is certainly very logical indeed, and being the only cheaply-available production duet is a good option. But the keyboard layout in itself doesn't offer a massive amount that extra practice won't solve on any other system. From personal experience I know that while the Jeffries duet layout looks absolutely horrific on paper, with work it's very playable, and not just in its core key. And you'll rarely hear a pianist or brass player complain about each key having its own fingerings ;)


    If you're really interested in duets, then it's worth bearing in mind what's been said about the availability of small Lachenal Maccann duets for around the £400 mark - that would offer the same "unlikely to lose value" confidence if you bought one and didn't get on with it.

  9. If you want to see whether you get on with the Maccann layout, there's no harm in spending £400-ish on a 39. You shouldn't lose money on it if you come to sell it on.


    However, I'd agree with Dirge regarding their usefulness. Plus it's worth bearing in mind that a box that small only gives you a tiny subset of the layout, which doesn't really give a true reflection of how the system really "works".


    One of the most interesting and useful features of duet concertinas is in the overlap between the hands. My Maccann is a 67-key which goes down to G below middle C in the right, and up to the C above middle C in the left, giving me an overlap of an octave and a half to play with. This allows for tremendous flexibility when devising arrangements, and for effects that you can't easily achieve on any other instrument.


    My Jeffries duet (57-key) by contrast only has an overlap of a fifth but still fulfils my main requirement of a duet that the right hand should go down to middle C. Smaller Maccanns start off at the G above middle C which restricts you to working in a slightly more shrill register...


    If at all possible my advice would be to try and get your hands on a larger Maccann. I personally would go for something with as many keys as humanly possible - if you can borrow one or at the very least visit an accommodating owner of one for a day that should give you plenty enough of an idea whether you can get on with it. Larger duets are really remarkable instruments and worth saving up for!

  10. What makes a drone a drone rather than one of the lower pitched buttons that you jam a finger on for a few bars? I'd assumed it was just a matter of useage of the existing buttons but it sounds like something special?


    Is it an extra button or do you have to give up other notes to fit it in?


    No, it's an additional button to a standard 30-button layout; the unusual thing about it for an Anglo is that it plays the same note in each direction.

  11. I'm sure that's true in the Irish tradition Stephen; I don't know enough about it to comment.


    If you want to hear a really good example of use of a drone key on an Anglo, Pgidley, listen to John Kirkpatrick's medley of The Queen's Delight and Room For The Cuckoo on the "Boxing Clever" compilation. I find I use the drone key on my G/D a lot, but then I like drones generally, not just on concertina :)


    (Hello again to those that know me, by the way - I've had to create a new account as I somehow managed to break my old one! :rolleyes: )

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