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Everything posted by MatthewVanitas

  1. I've glanced around, but not seen much on this topic: how many folks here play (relatively) modern popular songs on concertina? It's a topic of interest to me, not so much for "novelty" covers ("LOL, I'm using a concertina! How inappropriate to the genre!"), but in terms of modern songs that genuinely sound good on the 'box. Given the history of the concertina, you could argue this is more "correct" than playing modern "folk" music on it, as the concertina was basically the pop-playing machine of its day. I've been working on a few tunes thus far, and once I get a few down I'll hike up to Tajbeg Palace to do some YouTube recording in an awesome environment. I've overall leaned to playing some of the darker minor popular tunes, as I think to modern ears the concertina sounds less off-putting when used in those modes. Here are a few tunes I've been messing with; there aren't any concertina covers of them yet, so I've picked some random YouTube acoustic covers on other instruments to demo them: - "Mad World" by Tears for Fears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfYTgrKiRe4 - "Heart Shaped Box" by Nirvana: - "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3sfyW_SSHc&feature=related Any others that jump to mind? Are there actually any good concertina pop covers on YouTube; I haven't really run across many.
  2. If you're open to other Hayden bandoneon options, the 2006 thread about Harry Geuns (in Belgium) Hayden bandoneons appears to have been revived. Not sure what the current status of the proposed project is, but there are at least a couple folks pushing for an inexpensive bandoneon with some outsourced components and hybrid reeds: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=4380 I, for one, would definitely be down, and help scrounge up more orders, if an import version in the $1500-ish range pops up. He's moving his basic student bandoneon with outsourceds/hybrids for $980, so theoretically if he could get enough orders I don't think <$2K would be unattainable. Just not sure if there are enough folks wanting unisonoric bandoneons to make that demand. I'm not totally clear if his proposed Haydens would be trad bandoneons, or with the "corner keyboard" layout like some of his more modern boxes:
  3. Put me down in the category of folks interested in a accordion-reeded version if the price is right, as the price premium of zinc reeds puts it a bit out of my range. Having a nice booming Hayden box with tons of range is indeed an appealing thought, but 3000 Euro is a bit more than I can spend on an instrument I'm still dabbling with. But I'd definitely spend $1000-1500 on a decent-quality (even if the frame and bellows are Red Chinese) accordion-reeded box. Harry's site appears to be down; everything okay, just tech problems?
  4. I do indeed do a fair bit of DADGAD and open-tuning in general; you get a feel for my overall musical inclinations. Update Just wanted to update folks on how things are going thus far, and run a few questions by you. I'm finding the Hayden Duet system extremely intuitive, and doing a lot of mucking about with transposing just for kicks. It's also interesting because it "abstractifies" note relationships; a good portion of the time I have to check to see whether I'm playing in C or D (or A or G) because everything is just so relative. This is also great for puzzling out chord progressions: it feels less like "an Em, than a G, than a D" and more like "vi, I, V" relative to the base mode. I've always been stronger melodically than chordally, so this has been most educational. Couple questions: I'm finding myself really inclined to using 2-finger open-chords on the left hand, even when doing normal I-IV-V progressions. Partially as it's easier, partially because a lot of music I like is drony/modal anyway, and partially to keep the chord from overpowering the melody. Is that a workable method, or is that just a n00b shortcut? I don't come from any sort of jazzy background, so root/fifth chords aren't as limiting to me as to, say, someone who is used to using "D9 dim 7" chords and whatnot. Along those lines, I'm still not finding the limited chromaticity of the Elise to be problematic. In the music I do, I rarely play out of the relative modes of C, D, G, and A anyway, so it's rare that I find myself "missing a button", and only on a few songs do I find the top end limited. Overall quite pleased. I'm about to buy a 35-key Crabb Crane Duet from Barleycorn (he's checking to make sure it's in good enough shape), so it'll be fun to mess with the same number of buttons, but full chromaticity over a smaller range. Still very intrigued as to the possibility of an affordable hybrid duet from Wimm, and need to get in touch with Harry Geuns as to whether that Hayden Bandoneon project is going anywhere, but Harry's site appears down at the moment. Will update more as I get more puzzled out, and hope to go up to Tajbeg Palace and do some recording for YouTube after a few weeks' practice. Torn between doing some nice drony bagpipe tune, or doing some modern pop song; not as a "novelty cover", but to pick a pop song that would sound good on concertina. At the moment inclined to Tears for Fears' "Mad World"...
  5. For the purposes of better centralising SAfrica 'box info, quoting Ben's post from another thread. The below has a different phone# for Koots than the 2007 thread (and I haven't been able to reach him at that number), as well as mentioning two other makers.
  6. If there isn't already a name for it, I think it should be called a Northumbrian concertina! (Because Northumbrian smallpipes are bagpipes where the chanter has a closed end and you just raise the fingers needed to make the note and no others, which means you can play staccato etc, unlike most bagpipes where the chanter sounds all the time.) So nobody is aware of any proto-concertina which happened to have bellows, free reeds, and fingerholes instead of keywork? It's totally possible that the novelty I saw was just that, purely a novelty, and that no real such instrument existed. In either case, it might be kind of a neat project to give a shot at with some reeds stripped from a $15 Hero accordion, some plywood ends, and come to think of it probably the scrapped bellows from a hero. I do like the "meld two Heroes together" idea, basically a melodeon with melody on both sides, but I'd still be interested to mess with a fingerhole version, for the sake of trying out the idea. Though I'm not sure how it'd be on volume, since the only place for sound to escape would be the open fingerholes. Since there's no extra layer for the key system, there's no room to have that chamber below the fretwork like regular concertinas have, right?
  7. Yeah, I've seen Geun's bandoneon site before. Though on a concertina I'd give up some buttons for compactness, on a bandoneon it'd be great to go hog-wild and have 72 buttons or whatever. However, given that Geun's "Student Model" (single-voiced bisonoric) runs €1800, and his unisonoric "French" model runs €4700, I would venture to guess that his Hayden won't be cheap...
  8. I'm away from my tools these days, but someday I'd love to build something like this: I like the old primitive boxes, and the "cabinetry" looks to be simpler on this kind of box. I do note that the staggered rows format would be conducive to using the Hayden pattern, which would be a neat old/new twist. Am I correct in thinking that this kind of box might be easier than later versions, or am I overlooking the aspects which would make this tricky? (Concertina.com has full photos here: http://www.concertina.com/duett/wheatstone-duett-no-64/index.htm )
  9. Minor update I called Mr van Wyk today, and chatted with him for a moment. Very pleasant gentleman with a fascinating accent. Though it turns out that a young American with a strong regional accent calling on an Iranian cellphone from Afghanistan to an elderly Afrikaner is pretty much a recipe for confusion. So I ended up speaking very slowly and over-enunciating on a fuzzy phone connection, and we managed to establish that he is booked up for two solid years, and specializes in the "30 and 40 button chromatic" (presumably Anglo-German) boxes. He did recommend that I call Mr Koots Brits, but the phone number I have for Mr Brits from the 2007 thread doesn't appear to be working. I've PM'ed Ben (who provided the 2007 info) for an update, and will also try pinging the old email addy for Mr Brits' neighbor, as well as PM a few of the Boer concertinists on YouTube who might be familiar with current makers. Will report back here on whatever I find. EDIT: Messaged springbok07, the main poster of Boer concertina on YouTube, to see if he has any input.
  10. When I was a kid, I recall a party favour I had once, where it was a little "concertina" with cardboard ends, and two or three holes (reinforced with a grommet) on each side. The idea was that you placed a finger on each grommet, then lifted a finger on one or more and worked the plastic bellows. Didn't play in tune or anything, but it made cheap-harmonica sounds with whatever little plastic reeds in it. Another poster's write-up of a mini concertina built for his daughter got me thinking: would it be a relatively easy project to build two small ends with no keywork at all, just four finger-holes per side, and a bisonoric reed set linked to the hole? I'm not quite sure what kind of bellows are easiest to make, or whether cheap but workable synthetic ones can be made for a playable toy, but that bears some thought. Is there a name for a member of the concertina family with open holes instead of keys? I know the mouthblown Southeast Asian free reeds tended to have pipes with fingerholes to direct air through the reedsets, so there's certainly precedent for it. Any thoughts on the feasibility? Eight notes per hand (bisonoric), so only a bit worse than a harmonica for range. Might be a fun little project.
  11. Hmmm, this bears investigating. I have the phone numbers for Brits and van Wyk from the 2007 thread, so might give them a call today or this weekend to see what they think. I imagine they're pretty booked, but maybe they know some smaller or younger maker who's flexible and not too heavily obligated already. If they can fit more than 34 keys into a standard-size box, that's great. I could use a little more range if it's available, though I'm getting by fine thus far. I don't desparately need more accidentals, but adding a bit wouldn't hurt, though I'd hate to tie up too many keys adding G# or Eb in all the octaves. Also don't need a ton of overlap, so would mostly want a couple extra high notes if more buttons are doable. So I'll go follow this "rabbit hole" and see where it goes. Maybe they'll all be booked, or too expensive, or not willing to muck with Haydens. But maybe they or someone they know will be interested in giving it a shot. Not to put the cart before the horse, but if I do manage to find a SA concertina-maker, I'd be interested to see what could be done aesthetically to bring out the "South African-ness" of the instrument. Whether they have any local woods they use, or can use some Boer, Zulu, or Xhosa artistic motifs on the cutouts or brackets or whatnot. I'm not tied down to doing pure ITM or anything, so I'm fine having a unique-looking box. I think I've seen it argued both ways here on CF: at least a few folks argue that transposability is only a happy coincidence, and the real benefit in the system is the consistent relationship between notes (jump up and right for a fifth, up two and rightish for an octave). That's certainly the appealing part for me, and being able to transpose (within the Elise's limited keys, which meet my folk needs fine) is icing on the cake. EDIT: pondering the full 58-key Hayden diagram, I'm thinking that starting from the basic 34 key such as on the Elise, I could add three Bb keys and a high B and be up to only 42 keys total. If that would fit in a standard-size box (with concertina reeds), that might suit quite well. All I'm losing is a couple top-notes of range on the right (and some overlap on the left), and then a variety of notes I'm pretty unlikely to use (the Eb/D# and the G#/Ab). If I that's a wee bit too big, I could lose the highest B and Bb and be down to a 38-key box or so. I know 39-key MacCanns were pretty common and rather small across the flats (6.25"?), so maybe a Hayden could do the same. On that note, I hadn't realized that even refurbished 39-key MacCanns were rather affordable, due to the "limiting" number of keys. I might need to track myself down one of those (for back in the US, not deployment) to play for comparison.
  12. To start off, I am quite new to Hayden Duet, having just received my CC Elise here in Afghanistan this week. I am, however, pretty familiar with a wide variety of folks instruments over my life, so I'm new to Hayden Duets, semi-new to concertinas (used to play a Stagi mini-18 English), semi-familiar with free reeds in general (played 10-button melodeon on and off), and overall pretty experienced with Western (and some Persian) folk music. I have the Elise, and have found it extremely intuitive. I've been able to pick up most tunes I know in minutes, and though moving chords are still a work in progress I can do basic bass or drone backup. I let a buddy (very skilled guitarist with no non-string background) try the Elise, and it took him barely a minute to be able to play basic tunes with 2-finger chords on the bass. Now, I know from the previous thread that there really isn't much out there for Haydens, except the Elise, the $1K Stagi, and lovely US$4-5K customs. I had enquired as to whether the (relative) popularity of the Elise might create a market for a mid-range upgrade, but as I understand it now it's really hard to fit a sufficient number of hybrid reeds into a standard-size box, and not easy even with concertina reeds. At the same time, I've been reading up a little about the South African box makers, and understand that even beyond the "Big Four" there might be a few makers interested in doing more with the US/UK/Canada/Oz/NZ market, with good quality at a competitive price. Idly pondering here, but what if I got into contact with a maker or two down there to explore having someone make a Hayden with 34 keys or so? US$5K is a bit rich for a beginner, but given a 6-12mo waitlist I'm willing to risk, say, US$2-2.5K ordering a "small" Hayden on the assumption I'll either be dying to upgrade by then, or else willing to sell to someone who doesn't want to wait. Someone mentioned before that the late Mr Morse had been looking into making Haydens, but the difficulty was that "a Hayden under 46 keys won't sell", yet 46 keys would be extremely hard to fit in a standard box, and a new box size would greatly add to the cost due to lack of existing parts compatibility. Thing is, if I'm fine playing mainly in C, G, D, and A, and their relative minors, and a couple octaves total coverage, with minimal overlap, is okay with me, would getting a 34-key Hayden Duet from some South African maker be ridiculously ill-advised, or possibly an interesting way to get an intuitive fingering system in a good-quality box, with slightly limited capabilities which, as a folk musician, I'm pretty much used to anyway? I play Appalachian dulcimer, I've messed around with smallpipes; I have a general policy "give me one major diatonic octave plus the ninth, and a way to flat the seventh, and I got you covered." Lack of an Eb is rarely a dealbreaker for me...
  13. Is this list to include bandoneones, Chemnitzers, etc? Or mainly just the concertina types played in the Anglophone world? (Though I guess Wisconsin/Minnesota counts as Anglophone). I'd definitely be interested in hearing about whatever Argentine and Uruguayan makers might be turning out bandoneons (particularly unisonoric).
  14. I saw the Brits Anglo, but was unclear as to whether it was a newly-built instrument, or an old imported Wheatstone refurbished by Koots. Might need to PM the seller and ask. I'm not personally in the market for an Anglo, but curious as to whether many boxes are coming out of SA, and if the price-quality ratio is good given the value of the rand. Being on various trad music instrument sites, I'm struck by what appears to be a tendency from folks to buy (relatively) locally, even though there are great options on the other side of the planet. I'm currently about to order a set of open-fingered Scottish Smallpipes from a maker in New Zealand. His prices are very competitive, and he used some interesting local woods native to NZ. There are certainly some great makers in the US and UK, but this NZ fellow has satisfied customers online, YouTube reviews, and extremely competitive prices, so I'm giving him a shot. Just curious as to whether South Africa might be a somewhat-overlooked source for decent squeezeboxes, and was really interested by the 2005 article linked above, where the author suggested gearing up more South Africans to make and export concertinas.
  15. UPDATE: the Elise Hayden arrived in Afghanistan today! CC was kind enough to double-box it, and it arrived in perfect shape. I had a few initial confusions: due to having played melodeon I had to fight the instinct to change bellows direction to change the note. Also had some intial "brain pain" realising that the left and right fingerings are mirrored. So as I'm fingering upwards on the right, the parallel scale on the lower is fingering downwards. Despite some initial weirdness, within a minute or two I had no problem figuring out scales, some basic tunes, and then adding some I-V drones in the background. Being a drones fan anyway (and they're certainly an easy way to start accompaniment), I first figured out how to do some droney tunes, mainly Flowers of the Forest and Sgt. MacKenzie. The latter being the song made popular by the Vietnam War film We Were Soldiers, with the lyrics "lay me down/ in the cauld, cauld ground/ where before/ many more have gone." So far, so good. Fit and finish seem quite acceptable for an off-shore concertina, and no sour reeds thus far. Even on the tightest hole the straps are a bit too big for my hands, so I'll probably go to the Afghan leatherworkers on base and have them make a nice, clean extra hole with an awl so I can cinch them further. Will update folks as I get a chance, and hope to get some YouTube clips up once I sound tolerable.
  16. I saw an article from March 2005 on Concertina.net, which asked if there was much possibility that the US market may be interested in concertinas made in South Africa. It seemed to indicate that there might be enough expertise and tradition, and at an advantageous currency rate, to make such appealing. Article here: http://www.concertina.net/la_koot.html So did anything ever come of this? Have many folks here acquired Koots Brits or other concertinas? I've seen a few clips on YouTube of "12 sided" concertinas player by Boer musicians, that were pretty catchy. Are there just not any makers in 2010 in the RSA, or do they just not have much internet presence? Is the situation with the rand still favorable enough to make Afrikaner-made Boer concertinas a viable mid-step between outsourced East Asian boxes, and the US$4,000 UK pieces? (If any South African concertina-makers are reading, and leads on a competitively-priced SA Hayden Duet box? )
  17. If the Hayden is an intuitive system for a lot of people, why should they have to settle for a different system? If an affordable Hayden introduces enough people to that system, is it that unlikely the market would even produce to meet the demand? I'm one of those people, from a non-concertina background who found the idea of the Hayden Duet system appealing, and a CC 30-key box wasn't more than $20 pricier than a CC English 30-key. If I decide to upgrade to a $1500-2000 box at some point, that's a bridge to cross then. Out of curiosity, is it that extremely difficult for a builder of English concertinas to make a batch of Haydens? I realize the key placement is a bit different, and the reeds are distributed differently, but is it not a relatively similar construction process? I could imagine a maker might need to set up a different template to drill his holes and whatnot, but if CC sells 500 Elises in the next two years, and 15 of those people end up wanting a $2300 hybrid-reed Hayden, would that demand not attract a maker?
  18. Makes you want to consider other systems, doesn't it? Alternate point of view: if enough people buy $360 Elise boxes, over time a market for a good mid-level $1500-2000 hybrid Hayden Duet box will develop. I'd imagine it's far easier to sell folks on experimenting with the Hayden now that an affordable one is available. I'm also under the impression that CC has actually been moving this new product surprisingly well, in lots of 50 at a time. They were actually out of stock and waiting on more to arrive when I ordered mine. Who knows, maybe we're on the verge of a Hayden revolution in squeezeboxing...
  19. I've thought about that; just need to figure out the local price so I can calculate it against the price of buying in the US. I'm familiar with LITM, though some of their prices are less than reasonable; can anyone recommend a reputable US dealer of harmoniums whose website I should use as a benchmark? I've seen "we just chuck random stuff in a crate and import it" dealers with some really low prices, but no idea on quality. The main problem with buying in Afghanistan is that, due to lack of ability to move about safely, one usually has to buy things through an Afghan intermediary. So if they cost $150 in the shop on Istiklala Street in Kabul, I'll probably have to tack on another $100 for an Afghan to run down and pick it up for me. The Afghan middlemen are well-aware of their (profitable) position, so I can't just slip a guy a case of Mountain Dew for running an hour's errand for me. But I'll see what they run, and bounce that (plus shipping and insurance) against the price of comparable models already in the US. I dimly recall there was some music school or institute in California that sells a lot of good student-quality Indian/Pakistani instruments, will have to try and track their site down.
  20. Minor update: CC's shipment of Elise's was at Customs in Seattle late last week, so might make it to them and get mailed out to me later this week. Still most stoked about getting my hands onto this concertina, and trying out the Hayden system. On a minor sidenote, if I happen to fall in love with the Hayden system, what would be the next step up if I outgrow the 30-key Elise? My impression is that Hayden Duets are pretty uncommon, so would I have to seek out a custom maker of hybrid concertinas to build me a Hayden? Is that a $1500 issue, or a $3000 issue? Will report back once the Elise arrives, and hope to get some pics and YouTube footage of me playing in Afghanistan.
  21. This is slightly off-topic, but this is the only free-reed forum I'm slightly involved in, so hope this isn't too off-base. While I'm mucking around with my tinwhistle and uke here in Afghanistan, and waiting for my Elise (Hayden Duet) concertina to arrive, I'm thinking to pick up a harmonium, since those are quite popular here. One of the local shopkeepers on the military base, who I'm on good terms with, said he can take a few pics in some Kabul shops while he's on supply runs, and bring back photos, details and prices. I don't yet know if they're affordable enough to make it worth buying one here and shipping one back to the US (via the American Post Office system), factoring in the risks of breakage, but it's worth looking into. For those unfamiliar with music of the subcontinent, this is the tytpe I'm referring to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Traditional_harmonium_played_in_manhattan_apartment.JPG Is it utter folly to try and mail a tabletop (Indian style) harmonium from Afghanistan to the US via the APO, or is it totally doable with proper packaging?
  22. Quite right, but I was using "drone" loosely, as one applies it to such critters as fiddle and guitar: a backing root or fifth note frequently and repeatedly struck, as opposed to truly constant. Though I play more uke than guitar, I do like classical guitar for those low bass strings. I don't actually strum chords on guitar at all (saving strumming for uke), but just pluck a drone on the bass and noodle around on the higher strings, repeatedly striking a low string every measure or few to keep the background hum. It ends up sounding pretty neat, and works well for slow airs, Persian-esque ramblings taken from dutar music, pipe tunes, etc. Not quite as crowdpleasing as breaking out with "Hotel California", but I like my niche. Looking forward to applying those techniques to duet concertina once CC gets them back in stock and ships one back over to Asia for me.
  23. As mainly a folk player, and often a modal dulcimer player, I can't imagine the lack of a G# is going to be a dealbreaker.... CC gave me a very quick email reply, and now I'm on the backorder list for the shipment of Elises coming in in March, and they can double-box to get it safely to Afghanistan. I figure I learned a lot on fingerpicking guitar by backing up melody with I-V chords, so I imagine I'll start with the same on the concertina. On a minor sidenote, I believe I recall your sigline from Usenet back in the 1990s. Small squeezebox world.
  24. That does sound pretty good! I was initially somewhat concerned about the 34-key range (not quite 3 octaves?) of the Elise, but honestly I almost never go beyond a 2-2.5 octave range on any other instrument I play. Uke, fretless banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, pennywhistle. Not quite an 88-key piano... I contact CC about getting an Elise mailed out to an APO address, maybe with a little extra padding for the long trip. If they can send it, and have one in stock, I believe I shall order. I already figured out one of the first songs I want to arrange: Flowers of the Forest. I think it would go well with some drones and bass accompaniment on the left hand and the lead on the right. Also very interested in learning to do fiddle tunes in parallel octaves. In another Duet thread someone mentioned that there's a certain fiddle style based on playing similar tunes an octave apart, and that Duets were particularly adapatable to that style. Any idea what style that would be?
  25. I'm doing some civilian work in Afghanistan, and along with my tinwhistle thought I should pick up another compact instrument to occupy my downtime. I'm looking into getting a starter concertina from Concertina Connection, and had been going to just get their standard "Jackie" English box. Intent was to do some basic Irish fiddle tunes and Old Time banjo tunes, some vocal accompaniment, and also to do some avant-gardey stuff with vamping melodies over drones, etc. I always liked the work of Peter Bellamy (who I believe used the Anglo), but despite that and also playing the 1-row squeezebox I just never warmed to the Anglo, so was inclined to try English. However, then I noticed that CC now offers a Hayden system concertina (the ''Elise'') for around the same price ($360). The Hayden seems really appealing as "the good idea that never caught on", and I am a sucker for obscure good ideas. However, when I dug up basic info on Hayden concertinas, it seems they're good for accompaniment, kinda of organ-like stuff, but not as quick on melodic work. It doesn't help that the main YouTube clips of Hayden appear to be oompah-band sort of tracks, which isn't so much my thing. I've messed with English (one of those cute Stagi minis) back when I was a teenager, and it seemed a decent setup, with bouncing from side to side to go up the scale. However, Hayden also sounds logical, being able to do bass or chords on the left, and also maybe play a lower counterpoint or even duplicated low octave. I'm not dead-set on being able to do specifically fast fiddle playing with proper ITM ornamentation or anything, and I'm not looking to closely cleave to any particular school of playing. So that does incline me a bit to the Hayden, and also because since I have a strong melodic background (fiddle, lead mandolin, tinwhistle) I'm inclined to challenge myself to focus more on harmony and chordal work). So, should I take a harder look at the Hayden, or just write it off and stick with the more common English system?
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