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Posts posted by Stefan


    Stefan, your example of "tremolo" reminded me of this great song: American Wheeze by 16 Horsepower - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THlgU-8dMYg . I was able to replicate this effect on an anglo, but never came anywhere close on a duet. Thank you for showing me, that this can be done to such extent. Very inspiring!


    [side note: I've been quiet this month, just lurking and listening only, as I'm still working on my version - not much time on my hands this month. And counter melody playing proved to be a bit of a challenge for me, but hopefully I'll post my version before the end of the month :)]

    Great performance! Yes, that´s what I meant. I wonder why accordion players (or similar instruments) don´t use it more often. It adds nicely to the rythm and turns the instrument into a kind of comping keyboard.


    Here is an amazing accordian player using the "bellows reverse" technique:


  2. Stefan, your example of "tremolo" reminded me of this great song: American Wheeze by 16 Horsepower - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THlgU-8dMYg . I was able to replicate this effect on an anglo, but never came anywhere close on a duet. Thank you for showing me, that this can be done to such extent. Very inspiring!


    [side note: I've been quiet this month, just lurking and listening only, as I'm still working on my version - not much time on my hands this month. And counter melody playing proved to be a bit of a challenge for me, but hopefully I'll post my version before the end of the month :)]

    Great performance! Yes, that´s what I meant. I wonder why accordion players (or similar instruments) don´t use it more often. It adds nicely to the rythm and turns the instrument into a kind of comping keyboard.

  3. Thank you all for the very nice comments, I´m astonished. Especially such comments from a master concertinist whose playing I admire, thank you Jody, you made my day.


    I´m surprised because my version is quite simple. It´s kind of easy to play on a duet, melody on one side, 1st and 5th and an occasional 3rd on the other side. The hardest thing though was to get the feeling right. The best version I played so far was in my backyard, sitting on the stairs at sundown. The sound echoed from the walls and everything just fell in place. Of course, I didn´t record it... Reproducing that kind of feeling when the recorder is running is not that easy. Here again, TOTM is a good practice.


    The bellows technique I use is a kind of vibrato with chords and melody keys pressed down. When I emphasise it, it becomes a tremolo, like the effect that old guitar amplifiers have build in. There, you would also adjust the tempo of the effect to the tempo of the song, triplets work quite well.


    I like that effect very much, and I practiced it by playing whole songs in a tremolo style, pushing the bellows in and out. That creates a constant tremolo. It works well with songs that have a shuffle or triple rythm. It´s hard to describe, so I recorded a short example: https://soundcloud.com/squeezer-stefan/dust-my-broom-intro

  4. Here's this month's attempt and my continued work on adding accompaniment:



    A question for EC players -- how do you keep the accompaniment notes (esp low sustained ones) from overwhelming the tune? I seem to have trouble keeping some notes from blasting out with a great HONK! How much is the nature of hte beast and how much my overzealous fingers?


    Before uploading I listened again to all the versions so far and it seemed to me that the duets manage the tune/accompaniment balance in a very nice way. Are the reeds more 'equal' on a duet or do you you train your left hand to lighten up? Or, indeed, do you keep the accompaniment side of the concertina away from the recording speakers?


    thanks in advance for any ideas/ suggestions


    Very nice version, Sarah and Canon too.

    Concerning soundbalance, I find - the more confident I get with a tune, the easier it is to emphasize the melody. It happens kind of automatically when I concentrate on the melody. But, as a Duett-player, this is probably easily said.

    About recording: a mistake I made in earlier recordings was, that I didn´t take care about walls being close to only one side of my concertina. The reflection of a wall adds up quite a bit to the volume of the recording.

  5. Electret mic's don't need phantom power is a common 'learned' comment. But they need some power clearly from what everyone else says. I think there's a capacitor that needs charging but after that they draw no current if I've understood aright but it took a while. Then there are definitions of 'phantom power' and explanations of why some things that are called phantom power aren't....

    That´s right. There is a difference between electred and kondenser mics. Electred only need a little power (typically 1,5 V), a small battery is enough. The cable of an electred only has 2 wires. Kondenser mics need more power (between 9 V and 48 V), this is called phantom power. Kondenser mics have 3 wires, +, -, and ground. This connection is called "symmetrical", it´s a "professionel" standard and has the advantage of cancelling out unwanted noises (humnoises for example). The end of a symmetric cable has an XLR or a "stereo" jack.



    The only immediately obvious problem I can see, on bigger duets at any rate, is the way the LH end has fewer frets to help balance the sound; an internal mic' won't see that. But I don't want to take a big duet on stage so that's perhaps a bit of a red herring. But 2 mic's allow you to choose. Tricky.

    To avoid dissappointment, you should be aware, that a miked sound is always a different thing than the accoustic sound. I would say that no mic sound can equal the natural sound of a concertina. I agree with Alan Day and others, that the best would be 2 mics on stands, because that gets close to what you would hear if you stand besides the player. Fitted mics give a different sound that is not so natural. When you get so close to the reeds, it´s like hearing with a magnifying glass, if you know what I mean. It´s also a different feeling of playing. I think of it, just as a different sound, like you would get when you plug in electric guitars into different amplifyers.


    1) (basic stuff again) So your normal musician wanting to mic' up an accoustic instrument just supplies himself with pickups or mic's and a battery power supply if he's using electrets; makes sure they have a long enough cable and leaves the sound man to work it out from there? No other considerations; everyone will be able to work with that? Mic', cable, plug, end?

    You should make sure that there is a normal jack (no mini jack) at the end. Or an XLR connection.


    2) If the power supply is to take 2 inputs, balance them and combine them what is that actually called so I can try and find something to do the job? How is it described to Mr Google? Or can I make it? A fixed resister on one side and a variable one whose range brackets the fixed one on the other feed? Could it be that simple. (All right that's probably 3 questions)

    I would say that´s a mixer. Every device that has two (or more) inputs, where you can adjust volume etc. . Some look different and have knobs instead of faders. For example acoustic guitars with pickups or mics have a build in mixer that is combined with the amplifyer.

    For electred mics that is very hard to find. Maybe, like it was suggested before, you should get someone who knows how to make things like that.

    Because of all these things, I chose to get (ok - more expensive) kondenser mics with an XLR connection that can use phantom power. If you had these, you wouldn´t need a mixer, even though it is convenient. The sound guy could provide you with phantom power.


    Here's a thought, entirely untried:


    Attach a little cloth (or metal) ring to each of two small microphones and slip them onto the middle finger of each hand, on the palm side, as far from the finger tip as possible. It shouldn't get in the way of your playing, does not require modification of the concertina, and can be moved to another finger if experimentation suggests the sound would be better there.

    Davids idea seems good, but you should be careful about "touch noises". When you touch small mics like these, it´very loud. If you hit the frettboard or anything like that, it would be louder than your playing.

  6. The more I think about it, the more I get the idea that "phase cancellation" could be a real problem with two mics inside a concertina. Here is a slightly better explanation (in the first part under "Mechanism"): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase_cancellation.


    The effect is quite common on stage and it is annoying, especially for me as a bassplayer: sometimes when I play bass, some notes come out really loud and others are very soft. That happens often in small venues, where the walls are not far away from my amp. The walls reflect the sound and bring it back to where I stand. I get the sound from my amp AND from the walls with a slight difference in time. This means that some frequencies are adding to one another (getting louder) and some are cancelling each other out (getting softer). If I move one meter to the side, the picture can be very different. That´s why I sometimes get complaints from my bandmates, saying their trousers are shaking while I can hardly hear myself ;-)


    Phase cancellation is a problem when two sounds are both loud. Because the two mics on my concertina are on the ouside, they hardly pick up the sound of the other side.

  7. Using only one mic in the middle of the bellows seems to be a very good idea to me. The evenness and the volume would be ideal, also avoiding frettnoises.


    Another technical term is, if a sound is "out of phase" (here is technical background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_of_phase#Phase_difference). Phasing can happen (it doesn´t have to) if two soundsources (e.g. mics) pic up the same sound but in slightly different locations (e.g. two different ends of a concertina). The overlay of the two signals can have the effect of cancelling out the sound. That means that the sound gets thinner. Probably some tones would be louder and round others would be soft and thin. If that happens with inside mics of a concertina, there is nothing you could do about it. With only one mic that could not happen.


    I was also wondering how a concertina sounds INSIDE the bellows. Maybe it´s great, but there is the possibility of a strange sound just like in a tube.


    So Dirge, if you are not afraid of the mechanical issues, there is pioneer work to be done. Maybe the cheap mics are just fine.


    In any case (one or two mics) I would recommend a small mixer at the end of the mics. It has a few advantages: A decent mixer has phantom power, better mic preamps (to bring the mic level up to a usable output), you can mix a mono or stereo signal (with the left-right panning knobs, same as "balance" on stereo system), you can adjust your level and you have the possibility of making a "monitor-mix" for yourself.


    Another advantage of two mics and a mixer is the possibility of adjusting the level of the right and left side independently (like Geoff pointed out).

  8. I used internal (cheap) mics like written in Howards article but was not happy with the sound at all. It was better than nothing but getting them to sound right was always a problem.


    I used mics like these which have a power supply (battery): http://www.conrad.de/ce/de/product/302591/Kondensator-Ansteckmikrofon


    Mics like these (kondenser or electred mics) always need power to work, which is kind of a problem. These battery-packs are cheaply made and there are cables running to and from it. Bad connections are always a problem on stage. Also one of the micros was broken after about one year.


    Another main problem with internal mics is the distance to the soundsource. The ideal place would be right in the middle of the reedpan, but the keys are in the way. If you imagine a microphone placed about 2 centimetres from one pad and about 10 centimetres from another, that is sonically a big difference. That means the close one would be much louder than the other.


    Also the mics must be able to take a certain sound pressure level. That means how loud a sound can be before the mic starts to distort. Cheap mics often have a problem with that.


    I guess (because I don´t have experience with that), if you want a natural and even sound, the best would be a system like this, where the mics are mounted outside the concertina and raised about 10 cm from the fretboard. http://www.accusound.com/product-list/concertina/product/23-concertina-omni-microphone-system


    But you asked for an internal solution. My suggestion would be: Buy some moderately priced mics (not the very cheap ones), I would recommend mics with an omni-directional pattern. That means they pick up sound not from a certain direction (e.g cardoid pattern), but from everywhere. At the very end there sould be an XLR connection. Get a small mixer for power-supply, here is an example: http://www.thomann.de/de/alesis_multimix_4usb.htm. You could also use the mixer for monitoring, e.g. with small earphones.


    Here is what I did. Because I play at high loudness-levels (I run the microphones through guitar-effects) I wanted the mics to be as close as possible, to avoid feedback. I use these mics: http://www.thomann.de/de/akg_c_417_ph.htm?sid=2da5a20bb96d94491347ffd722d141e9. They have an XLR connection which I plug into a mixer for phantom-power.


    I stiched the mics into small pieces of felt and attached these with velcro to the handles right under my hands. This works well for me and there is the advantage, that you can use the mics for different concertinas. Switching is very fast.


    Here are some pictures:



  9. Yes, I think playing without thirds on one hand is a good idea. Adding other notes on the right hand also spreads the chord, because sometimes it doesn´t sound too good, if the notes are very close. I learned from chord charts in the beginning, so that I have  "standard chords" that I can play imediately without having to think about them. Now I find, that if I want different voicings, I have to re-learn the chords. But that improves with practice. 


    My first concertina also was a 46key and I still like the size very much. Since a few weeks, I have a 55key that goes down to C on the right side (Lachenal, New Model). That one is a little smaller and lighter than a 58key, and has some nice extra notes. I like the low D especially.  Still I find it difficult to play standing for a long time, so I am thinking about adding wriststraps and a thumbstrap. That means that I would have to replace the handles, but it could be good, also because I could fit in small microphones that I need for playing on stage.  Here is a video that shows what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmEPTosZ44g






  10. Wow, I read your biography on the Einlanuzman website, that is really impressive.


    There are many questions I´d like to ask, for example about the Matusewitch Brothers and what you played on concertina through the years. But what would interest me most is - what did you play on Double Fantasy with John Lennon and Yoko Ono? 



  11. Wow, after so much professionell advice, I surely stick to the 7 folds my 55key has. Thank you everybody.





    Still it would be interesting how a duet would feel with a 4 or 5 fold bellows. I really like the control and the tone of rather closed bellows. I play mostly chords, often in a rythmic way by changing the bellows direction.  Could you say that less folds would mean less air to compress and less material to move, so the concertina would react more direct?









  12. I am thinking about getting new bellows for my 55key Maccann.


    On the concertinaconnection.com website, there is this statement:  "During the 19th century concertinas usually had only 4 fold bellows. Because of the high standard of the playing technique they did not need more folds." ( http://www.concertin...20technique.htm  at the bottom of the page)



    What could be the advantage of having less folds? More stability? Faster response? Were there also Duets with 4 folds?


    Does anyone have experience with that?

  13. Geoff,


    of course, you are right. The little finger for  the C#. Sorry, I´m not a native speaker and got it wrong.





    Two buttons with one finger: I guess it always depends what you play. I first learned these chords with one finger for two buttons, but when I want to play staccato chords for example or other rythmic stuff, I find it hard to press three keys down at the exact same time.  Maybe my finger tips are too small, because I have to bend the fingertip and after a while it hurts. 





    Reiteration of notes by changing fingers: I did not do that first, but now I find it quite useful. I practiced it at very slow speed, to make sure that I can press the buttons with the same intensity as the first finger. It felt hard to do, but now it´s better and I can play some tunes faster with more control. I think the logic behind it is, to get the hand into the right position for the following notes. Of course one finger can do a lot amd in your case is even better. I believe anglo-players don´t change fingers at all, or? 



  14. Hello  everybody,


    first I want to thank all the concertina players who posted on this forum and elsewhere, also Robert Gaskins for concertina.com which is such a helpful source of knowledge. Without you all, my fascinating and addictive journey witht he concertina wouldn´t have been possible. After getting so much from you, I feel that it´s time to give something back. 


    This thread is inspired by Geoff Wooff who shared so much of his valuable knowledge and had the idea of swapping playing tips.


    Maybe I should introduce myself: Since April 2009 I play the Maccann, currently a 46key Wheatstone made in 1925 (by the way – I´m still looking for a good 57key – anyone has one?). I´m a part-time professional musician, my main instrument is (or was?) electric bass. I also play saxophone, guitar and a little bit of everything. Also, I did a lot of recording work and mixing. 


    I try to play contemporary music with the concertina, in the direction of Pop Rock and Blues, mainly to accompany my singing, therefore my approach might be different to yours. I will give  some playing-tips about what was helpful to me, but be aware that I´m a mere beginner and if you more experienced players disagree with me, please post your comments. 


    Here are some random tips:




    When I started, I first wanted to be able to play chords. For the Maccann, these chordcharts where helpful: http://www.concertin...oncertina-3.pdf


    The fingering is good because it leaves free fingers for extra notes, mainly the7ths of the chords. I disagree though with the fingering of the A-chord (or similar), because there, one finger is used for two keys. I still find it difficult to control the sound or play um-pah chords like that. Also I find it strenuous for the hands. Even though it´s kind of difficult, I finger (A-chord,left hand): A-ring finger, C#-index, E-middle finger. 


    Scale playing:


    Even though I´m no fan of too much scale playing, this little exercise was helpful (scale of C): CDEC-DEFD-EFGE … and so on. Then the same downwards, then the otherside, then both sides simultaneously, legato, staccato ……


    Instead of practicing the scale of C, I often play this tune (Tune2, Family Jig) or my version of it: http://www.concertin...mples/index.htm  . It is also very helpful for practicing fingering of consecutive notes on the same button, I mean not using the same finger twice on one note. I´m sure you have your own favorite tunes.


    Finger bodybuilding:


    Sometimes,I still find it hard to get an even and smooth sound. The concertina feels wobbly and I hit wrong notes. That´s mainly because the fingers don´t exactly know where to move and some are too weak (or I had a beer too much). Two exercises helped me lately:


    Practicing without a sound: When I cannot play loud or sometimes when I watch TV, I have a little exercise. I play a tune or a scale, only by placing my fingers, not even pushing the keys down. I place the fingers slightly above the key and pull the key towards me (not too hard though), that gives me a feeling of control. It helps me for my “micro-fingering”.


    Strength:  Another exercise is, to play, by pushing down the keys real hard and holding them down. You should do that very slow though because it can harm your hands. 


    I like to play standing, mainly because I want to be able to move on stage but also because I have the feeling that I get a “livelier” sound. The above exercise helps me here: try to play standing, while holding down one key on each side. If you hold down the keys firmly, you can also hold part of the weight of the concertina with the keys. To avoid an ambulance you probably should not try this with an 81 key. 


    For playing standing up, I use my handstraps like this:





    My thumb goes under the strap. It´s a little strange first and the airbutton can only be reached with the index finger, but I got used to it. Like this, the thumb helps for stability and to carry the weight.


    Reuben Shaw video:


    For the Maccann players (and of course everybody else) there is a video of Reuben Shaw available here: http://www.garlandfi...reubenshaw.html.  It costs 11,50 pounds and is absolutely worth it. 


    Mr. Shaw talks about his beginnings of concertina playing and how he thought it was “impossible to master” this instrument (he even sent his first Maccann back to Wheatstone). He demonstrates his concertinas and some recordings. Then he plays tunes, mostly from Henry Stanley. The music sheets he is playing from are available here: http://www.concertin...anley/index.htm (also Stanleys tutor). So you can watch and hear Mr. Shaw playing, while reading the very music he is reading. Thank you Mr. Gaskins, sometimes the internet is great.




    Maybe you have some playing tips too?





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