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Everything posted by MatthewVanitas

  1. I believe the large one is actually a "Karlsfelder concertina", which is like a Chemnitzer but a different fingering layout. Note that on his each side has a similar three rows, whereas on a Chemnitzer the left hand is notably different.
  2. Right, "bakelite" is a much broader term when I suppose I'm referring to a particular aesthetic often executed in Bakelite. What I had in mind is the kind of mottled "artificial amber" sort of look, or the tortoiseshell-like patterns. I wouldn't propose using actual bakelite since it can be brittle and also apparently doesn't do well in perpetually humid conditions, but I do like the look used in some of the appliances and jewelry from bakelite's heyday: Just trying to find a plastic veneer that doesn't too much resemble a cheap accordion or a countertop; I'm confident we'll come across a solution with a little brainstorming. So far as mold prevention, I'll ask some locals what they do, though I suspect the answer is probably "we wipe off the mold with a rag every time it pops up". One fellow who I speak to sometimes who might have some insight is Carey Parks, a fellow in Florida who makes PVC tinwhistles for tough environments. My three-part takedown whistle from him is holding up just great here, which it should since he made it for kayaking and hiking in Florida's coasts and swamps. He's big into backpacker stuff, so I'll drop him a line and see if he has any suggestions either for leather substitutes for bellows, and/or for treatments that would help keep the mold off leather. And/or at some point I can just ask around and find out what it is they put in bagpipe leather that's keeping my Swedish bagpipes mold-free! I played the Swedish bagpipes for an audience at a pub here in Monrovia, mix of expats and local elites, and it went over really well. In the next few weeks I should be heading way up into the bush to supervise a bioenergy project, and looking forward to taking my sackpipa with me, and once it arrives in the mail in a month or so I'll bring my plastic-bodied Stagi Anglo. It'll give me something to muck with on slow days, and I imagine the local farmers will find the instruments pretty interesting. Though in fairness, probably most things I regularly do will seem unusual; this might also create an impression that playing Swedish bagpipe and concertina are very typical American pastimes....
  3. Puzzling out coatings for a plexiglass frame so it'll be more aesthetic on the outside. Alex suggested adhesive vinyl sheeting since itd be easy to apply, easy to replace if cosmetically damaged, and comes in a lot of patterns. He also considered "pick guard material" such as used in guitar faces, but apparently it's hard to nail down quite which kind of plastic each maker uses to figure out what's conducive. I'd also thought about hydrodip, which is a really popular costing these days for vehicle parts, etc and seems to hold up to even regular outdoor use, but hydrodip really shines for complicated surfaces, follows curves, etc so it's almost too versatile for just veneering a frame (or is it?). Hydrodip does come in some cool retro Bakelite-style patterns I like so that's what made me think of it. So far as bellows, while I do think it'd be cool to find a good synthetic, and I agree that if concertinas had been invented in 1990 then leather wouldn't have become the go-to choice. That said if there just isn't a good alternative, properly treated leather might be viable, though with the acceptance that I might need to replace it every ten years vice every fifty. I've noticed that though my leather shoes and belts keep growing mold here in Liberia in monsoon season, the leather bag for my Swedish bagpipe (the only natural material on the instrument since all the rest is polymer) is mold-free; something about whatever treatment is applied to bagpipe leather? It's a slightly fuzzy external surface too, and even synthetic things with fuzzy surfaces (like headbands for LED lights) grow mold here, so there must be some treatment keeping it clean. I need to find out what that chemical is and apply it to my boots...
  4. Bouncing around some material ideas with Alex: maybe Perspex for all the "wood" components, aluminum ends, carbon fibre soundboard, and for the handrails linen micarta (fabric frozen in thermoplastic). Then the outside of the Perspex body could be veneered with a more attractive and scratch proof plastic, like a Bakelite or tortoiseshell pattern. That way we'd have an instrument with a nearly weather-impervious body, and the parts relatively easily made on a CNC mill. CAD layout stage coming up later to check on reed geometry, but I keep messing with the 24b array on my Duettina app and it's limited but certainly usable, so I'm good with 24 at the minimum. That also gives enough buttons to be able to re-use most of the design again if someone were to want a small travel Anglo, whether a 20b array with the added chromatics for Irish, or the Edgley-Herrington 24b array if that would be kosher to replicate. Re the fretwork: Alex wants to avoid anything too geometric and inorganic, so I've been googling "modern ironwork" and similarly for other schools of architecture, and found a cool few ideas: And here's some work from a house in Barcelona designed by Gaudi:
  5. Wow, Jim, that's looking really cool! I'd seen your faceplate in the other thread, but not realized that it's actually a square instrument with tapered corners to get the hexagonal look. And really digging your overall industrial aesthetic! Once you get done with your prototyping, it'd be interesting to do some poking at the specs and see if this could be a design you could license out to a tech to produce a run of bodies, and take orders for a few dozen complete or kit instrument. Depending how things have stabilized in my new career by then, I might be able to help out there. Not to put the cart before the horse or anything, for now I'm just excited that you have a cool prototype to show us, and looking forward to hearing about how it develops further. I still definitely want a traditional-based Campaign Duet since I've wanted such a critter since Afghanistan. But I do have long term aspirations to own a good MIDI Hayden, and think that having a quality/affordable MIDI concertina on the market would be a valuable addition to concertina culture, and also lure in a chunk of non-concertina MIDI enthusiasts who would appreciate the concertina's dynamics control and portable package.
  6. So far as the key array, the original Duett had 12 buttons per side in a proto-Maccann arrangement, with each side having a full chromatic single octave. It'd be possible to do the same on this Campaign Hayden: D# F G A B C D E F# G# A# C# That said, I value range more than chromaticity, so I was envisioning something like this for playing in they keys of C and G: C D E F# F G A B C D E F# Also that's a little more symmetrical and might lay out better. Since the left-hand of a Duet has larger reeds than the right, would that mean that in theory an end which holds 12 low reeds might hold more than 12 reeds an octave higher? Or is the difference in reed size not significant? I see that in the original Duett the chambers are all the same size, but if Alex is CNC-machining the reedblock of plexiglass, would having differing-size chambers be much harder? If doable, would that allow us to add more buttons to the right side (at a little added cost for more reeds and keywork)? I've been playing around with the Duettina app, playing tunes I know, song accompaniment, etc and I can certainly make do with 12 a side, three rows of four, as shown. If I could add notes, my top choices would be to add a fourth row of "F G A" to the top of the right-hand side, but again in the simplest case I can work with 12. I've played *much* more limited instruments in my time, so I'm not unduly worried about the limitations of this one, particularly if it's mostly for playing alone, or even easier if I'm using it for chord/drone stuff to accompany my voice. Speaking of drones, one idea I mentioned to Alex was that if he wanted to try messing with the pre-made McMaster-Carr synthetic 5" square machine bellows, without designing a whole big spiel around it, perhaps those bellows could be used to make a keyless small square concertina, with basic/inexpensive materials, with just four reeds in DAda to serve as a drone box for voice accompaniment? But even with the best of labor/material saving that's probably not the most cost-effective way to replicate an Indian shruti-box for a Anglo-Celtic environment, unless someone was really keen for such a thing. Alternately, one useful way to try out the McMaster might be just using it to build a tuning rig? That way you'd have a rig that didn't tie up any time in making, doesn't wear out over time, etc. Just tossing out some brainstorms (practical or no). @JimMacArthur: Jim, do you have any photos of your MIDI prototype to share, or are those still close-hold at this stage? Very curious to hear how it's working out, if you feel like updating the MIDI concertina thread in General at some point. Neat stuff happening in the concertina world these days! Are we in perhaps the most innovative period of concertina history since the Interwar Years?
  7. Jake, that's a really cool build! Neat to see someone pushing forward the bounds of concertina technology! And also as much as I enjoy then concertina and appreciate vintage models, I always enjoy seeing people break away from the anachronistic Victorian aesthetic that's become the default. Those bellows papers are gorgeous! So far as carbon fiber: so your assessment is that the carbon fiber ends may be reducing resonance, though the small soundholes add another variable that muddies the issue. That said, do you think that carbon fiber would have the same deadening effect when used as a soundboard such as in Holden's concept? We're planning aluminum ends with relatively standard size cutouts (though in a more Art Deco or Modernist grille pattern) so might the results be different entirely? What did you use for reedblock and soundboard on yours? For bellows, an initial glance seems to show that viable options for finished bellows off-the-shelf are limited and would require modifying the whole design around the bellows. While that's feasible with something like a MIDI instrument where a lot of the physical dimensions matter less, for the purposes of a build like ours it appears we'd be best off making bellows in a relatively standard way, just either using a substitute for leather or by specially treating leather for climate resistance.
  8. Glad to see my video still helpful. Dang that was a kickin' beard, I kind of miss it except for the fact that it prevented me from eating soup or sandwiches. I'm overall quite pleased with the Elise, with the caveat that unlike most Duets it's a "folk" box in that it only plays in C, G, and D (and their relative modes, and can fudge A or F). For a Duettist with more classical or "handheld piano" aspirations it's too limited, but for folk music or accompanying vocals in those limited keys it's an excellent buy. If you need full chromatics, contact Chris Algar and find a vintage Lachenal Maccan Duet for maybe £700 or so and be happy. But otherwise it's a great option and the Morse Beaumont (which I have being babysat back in the U.S.) or the CC Peacock are solid Hayden system upgrades down the road. I've enjoyed my vintage Lachenal Crane-system Duet, but once I started gigging more with other musicians for indie rock stuff I really appreciated the easy transposition of the Hayden layout. The Maccann is arguably a better system for a pro musician who has the time and focus to burn its more complex array into the brain, and great quality vintage Maccanns are cheaper and easier than a new top-end Hayden, but I'm still fond of that system and overall expect that in the half-century I might still live on it will become the dominant Duet system.
  9. A few years back, after spending most of a year with an Elise duet concertina in Afghanistan, I posted a thread here pondering about a durable concertina for travel in tough climates. In some other threads here we've discussed the "campaign concertinas" made for India service and the like, which in some cases had metal-reinforced corners, special (or treated?) woods, and special reed finishes to resist corrosion. At the time the general consensus of the board was that concertinas are pretty reasonably hardy as-is, but the idea of a travel-inclined concertina stuck with me. For a number of years after Afghanistan it didn't matter since I was working desk jobs in Washington DC, but within months of buying a nice Morse Beaumont duet concertina, I joined a buddy's startup consulting firm, moved to Colombia, bounced around Europe, and now working in West Africa. The climate here in Monrovia has very little temperature change (between 70-85F throughout the year) but has a torrential rainy season and baking dry season, plus most of the population lives near the sea; my house is only 200 yards from the ocean. So this climate is tough on a lot of gear: we're constantly dealing with corrosion and gunk on our car, and our leather belts and shoes will literally grow an even coat of fuzzy grey mold if left alone on the shelf a few weeks. And in another few months it'll be dry season, precipitation will drop to near-nil and everything that's been soggy and swollen for months will desiccate and contract, and indoor climate control is largely absent here. I'm having a used $75 plastic-body Stagi Anglo off eBay sent out here to tide me over for the moment, but we're about to start coming into decent cash as this startup finally gains ground, so I'm in conversations with Cnet member Alex Holden, proprietor of the nascent Holden Concertinas, to build me a concertina with all feasible features and tweaks to survive climate extremes and rough handling. Alex has a strong grounding in traditional handicrafts but is also open to working with innovative materials, so we thought we'd put our heads together, and also see if the Cnet community has any input. Here are some of our initial ideas: The base inspiration is the Wheatstone "Duett", an early duet concertina made in rectangular form with 12 buttons per side, about 6" long by 4.5" wide. The square shape should simplify most stages of production and perhaps make it a little more durable. The Duett was in a proto-Maccann system (one chromatic octave per side) but since I do folk music and am used to very limited chromaticity, I'm inclined to use my 12 buttons per side for an octave and three notes, plus one chromatic per side, something like that. I've been simulating this by playing on the Duettina smartphone app and using only C-scale notes and the F#, and I'm getting by fine with that. The ends are a fragile point due to being a large single piece of wood, and of course the fretting. We looked at a few different options and the one we're leaning to right now is anodized aluminum ends as being corrosion resistant, slim, light, and breakage resistant. For fretwork we've considered some Deco-influenced rays kind of like the old Bastari metal-ended, since those leave few weak points of thin metal, and also provide an interesting contrast to the more common/anachronistic Victorian motifs still used. Alternately, we could go fretless or do side-fretting, as Bob Tedrow has done on some instruments, in which case we could have some pattern or line image etched into the aluminum ends prior to anodizing. For the frame, I could use some advice about materials. To one degree plywood is more resistant to climate, but still subject to rot and in some cases perhaps delamination? I know some hardwoods are brittle or risk swelling, but if we choose a hardwood with good climate resistance would that cancel out disadvantages? I have a particular fondness for mesquite since I've lived in Texas, and it's a sustainable wood (practically a weed) and very stable, to the point that smallpipe makers in the US use it for instruments. But since Alex is in the UK we're also open to any UK woods that resist climate well, and/or any composites like bamboo ply, etc. For reedblocks, Van Wyck has already set a precedent with making perspex/plexiglass reedblocks for his concertinas in South Africa, so that's one option; other ideas? You can see in the above pic that a Duett reedpan (all equal-size chambers?) is very simply constructed, so we could just epoxy together some cuts of sheet, or since Alex has access to a CNC mill could mill it out of a solid block easily. Soundboard: I understand some North American makers use plywood due to the US having a harsher climate, but would it be too crazy to take it a step further and use carbon fiber? It's already got some popularity for the soundboards of guitars and the like, though I realize "soundboard" has somewhat different meanings in these cases. But it is appealing to diminish risks of cracking by replacing that large piece of wood. Bellows: this is a sticky one, is there anything at all practical to use that's more durable than leather and card? I'm not a rigid stickler so if using different materials would necessitate a more accordion-influenced bellow I'm fine with that, so long as it functions and is durable, or is leather simply unavoidable here? Reeds: anything to be done to make them more corrosion-resistant, or would modern reeds be of sturdier metals than traditional reeds were anyway? These are some of our initial thoughts. Anyone have any red flags to raise, points of note, or clever ideas we should consider? Is anyone else in the market for a "near-bulletproof" travel concertina (in any fingering system) so that we can make the design versatile enough to be applied to several different builds? Right now I'm getting by with a PVC tinwhistle, synthetic Irish flute, polymer Swedish bagpipes, and a micro-MIDI keyboard, and those have all been outstanding packable and durable travel instruments, so I'm looking forward to adding a concertina to that vagabond collection so I can keep up my concertina skills wherever I go.
  10. N-thing the "Greg is good people" comments, and getting your hands on a variety of instruments will provide a lot of valuable insight. Plus there might be a Skyline fast-food joint nearby and their chili is most tasty. Also if you visit Greg you can try out other systems of concertina to make sure that English is indeed the system you want (vice Duet or Anglo). There's a good chance your initial instinct is right, but never hurts to try out some other systems. If you have a compatible smartphone, there are also English, Anglo, and Duet apps so you can at least sort of experiment with the different fingering setups on your device.
  11. Was just browsing and ran across this, a "Woodstock" brand cheapie with three buttons on one side and seven on the other. Probably a melodeon in a concertina body (the three buttons being bass-chord-air)? It's only $50, thought someone here might enjoy a novelty: http://m.ebay.com/itm/Concertina-woodstock-/141771946011?nav=SEARCH If anyone's seeking a fixer-upper for a student/beater, there's also a metal-ended Bastari 30b Anglo up with no bids, $125, closing in a day. http://m.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Bastari-Anglo-Concertina-15-button-/221885775350?nav=SEARCH
  12. I was thinking Haydens initially because I was largely thinking of the export market, and figured Hayden enthusiasts are under-served enough, and unconventional enough, that they might be a few dozen interested in buying even a diatonic Hayden with crude-but-workable craftsmanship (in the old-school cottage sense, not Chinese factory sense) if at moderate price. But thinking on it, Anglo is just so much more common that Angloists open to buying an unusual instrument to play around with still outnumber Haydenists by a large margin. If we made such boxes, I’d imagine they’d be maybe of Stagi playability but with more traditional/durable construction and with more careful attention, though still limited by their production environment. I owned a Herrington in the past; do you think those would be a good model to emulate, if Mr. Herrington’s inheritors weren’t opposed? Or at least a model with similar construction? I’d certainly like to capitalize on existing concertina knowledge since there’s none here, but also don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or come across like we’re making shoddy ripoffs of their product. Though clearly these wouldn’t be in direct competition with the finer instruments, would it help even more to avoid stepping on toes if the project agreed to make only 21b (20b plus a C# chromatic) or 24b Herrington-Edgely system (if the Herrington family and Mr Edgely weren’t opposed) so that they’re even more clearly not trying to horn in on the typical 30b market but are clearly a niche product? I hesitate to say “novelty” since the goal would be acceptable playability, but the target audience would be people that would enjoy something out of the ordinary with an interesting backstory. This is all still extremely theoretical since it depends on me finding someone in Monrovia willing and able to give it a shot. To one degree I’m uncertain because this is a very underdeveloped country just coming out of several (and extremely nasty) civil wars and plagues. But then again, concertinas were made by the thousands by likely illiterate Victorian cottageworkers doing piece-work, so with cheap enough labor and careful attention many things are possible. I’ve seen all kinds of shoddy work in this country, but then again they’re somehow managing to keep the city standing, and thousands of carks, motorbikes, and generators running smoothly, so clearly there’s an underlying layer of resourcefulness to be drawn on. If this project were to move forward, again drawing on the existing concertina community would be key. Not to impose and not to ask for any binding commitment since this is all still very notional, but are there a few folks here with concertina making/playing skills that might be interested in helping figure out a pattern that could be executed locally, and perhaps willing to have the occasional Skype conversation with a local craftsman to discuss the ins-and-outs with him? Along those lines too, I recall that the craftsman who created the modern revived Swedish bagpipe was not at all a musician, but a local furniture-maker with good lathe skills, to whom a ethnomusicologist came with some old museum pieces and asked him to emulate them, and that ended up working out. Along those lines, what sort of craftsman should I seek out to do concertinas? Or, would it maybe be smarter to do it by pieces, find one guy who’s clever at building small detailed woodwork and have him make the bodies and reed beds, a leatherworker who can make bellows, and one last clever guy (a jewelry maker) who can bend wires, install springs, and wax in and file the reeds? Rather than a one-man shop? Re the electric bit: while overall I agree there’s no need to retread guitar/keyboard since those have enough traction in the world, there are a few exceptions I would make. The Bassa or “belly harp” looks to be totally moribund, and I don’t know that current musical stylings would have much place for it. However, my bosses are friends with the country’s most famous hip-hop artists, and he owns a local club that does shows, so I thought I could have a craftsman make a simple wooden frame emuating the Y-shaped Bassa harp with the belly-rest, put fishline strings on it and a transducer pickup (that amplifies vibration, not magnetic), and gift it to the club. Maybe meet with an intrigued local rapper and see if he’d want to work up a set with one person playing some backing lines on the electric harp, maybe some other guy on drums, while he raps over it. Again it wouldn’t gain any traction if it’s just something I enjoy that nobody else does, but decent chance some ethnic Bassa rapper would enjoy having an authentic flair to complement his style, and it would certainly be distinctive from the usual rapping over pre-recorded backing tracks. So that’s just one example where I think an electrified instrument could revive a defunct Liberian instrument and also make it compatible with current locally popular music, in the same way that you hear the talking-drum used to back up R&B songs on local albums.
  13. Thanks for the detailed answer, Gary! I've always found really interesting the 2003 thread thread here on Cnet, where a member ran an analysis of 1425 Irish tunes from Henrik Norbeck's tune archive, a conclude that 40% of them could be played completely as-written on a 2-row C/G: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=490 I don't want to haul my Beaumont around West Africa, since here in Monrovia my leather shoes mildew just sitting on the shelf, so a cheap 20b Italian is going to be my beater for the time being, so I'll be making use of your several 20b-friendly books in the near future.
  14. Perhaps you could write it down, seal it, and give it to a young solicitor with a "do not open until 2050" on the envelope. That'd give the rest of us 35 years to take a shot at second-guessing it, but still have the idea preserved in case nobody comes up with the same idea sooner. Barring motorcycle accidents or malaria, I'll likely be around in 2050 and looking forward to the unveiling!
  15. I really like Cleartune for tuners, largely because it has all the fiddly little setting for different temperaments and intonations, plus transposing, setting any given note at any given hz and building the scales from there, etc. I got SunrizerXS as a DAW to use with my little KMI Midi keyboard, but I'm totally new to DAWs so haven't done much to wring it out yet.
  16. So far as "better instruments", I thought about that, but to one degree would "better" instruments ever have been much present in these parts of Africa? For example, there are two separate concertina traditions in South Africa: a Boer tradition of European-style playing and Zulu-based tradition. As I understand it, at least some of the Boer bought decent quality British instruments, but what kind of quality concertina would be the ones sold at small-town general stores and bought by Zulu mine workers to take home to their villages? Would that quality have been notably better than modern Chinese instruments? Honest question. Kind of like those Hero "toy" melodeons which can be tweaked to be sort of playable: were the cheap German export boxes that dirt-poor rural Cajuns played in Louisiana more like those than a modern artisan-built Cajun accordion? Those Hero toy accordions, by the way, are another instrument I considered trying to get a crate of and see if a local guy could figure out how to QC them. You raise a number of good points, Don, but I think the impact I could make is pretty benign. Aside from the fact that I personally don't have the numbers or presence to really damage anything, I also don't have the kind of position to impose a colonial impact. Now, if I were for example running a school and forcing kids to learn piano and punishing them for singing in Kru language, that would be a big problem and the sort of thing that's been harmful in the past. But me exposing people to different music, or gifting some impoverished people some unusual instruments and saying "play something you'd enjoy on this" is more providing a personal catalyst than imposing anything external. Particularly since I can't really *make* anyone do anything they're not inclined to, or even really skew incentives on any large level, as opposed to say if I were funding a recording studio and only giving recording time to guitarists and not to drummers. A lot of the traditional instruments here appear to have died out due to general globalization pressures; there were some really interesting harps here in the past. Though that is also one of my ponderings, whether I could find an inexpensive way to have someone make a batch of electrical Liberian harps and give those to a few studios or music clubs, see if anyone is inspired to make some music with those. I've seen basically no melodic instrumental music in the month I've been here, other than one or two churches that have electronic keyboards, and I saw one guy on the street with an Ovation bass guitar, restrung to an open tuning with regular guitar strings. I've seen a scattering of drummers in the street, some of them tied to ritual performances, and the aforementioned blind beggars who play the shekere while singing. Interestingly, you see the old harps, flutes, and horns in Liberian artwork, and perhaps they survive way out in the bush, but not in an urban area. So far as learning, I definitely do have ambitions to that end as well. The really fascinating local instrument is the "talking drum", a kind of pitched percussion where the note of the drum can be changed by squeezing the tensioning ropes with the arms. I understand there are some folks that teach lessons in town, so that's on my to-do list once I settle in: Video clip showing the tone changing: www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4oQJZ2TEVI There is an NGO called "Talking Drum" here, a project of the larger Search for Common Ground NGO, and I do intend to get more acquainted with those folks since they do a lot of media projects. I'm not sure what mix of traditional vs modern media they do, which of course brings up the flip-side question of colonialism and music: when is it actually colonialist to try to get people to maintain local traditions when they're interested in newer music? Even without any direct attempt to, say, supplant or denigrate the Liberian harp, if local Liberians are way more interested in playing Casio keyboards or rapping over pre-recorded tracks, is it just a colonial imposition to undercut those popular local musicians by subsidizing someone willing to play harp, if that's largely for foreigners who want to see something exotic and not something Liberians have much interest in? There's no easy answer there, just pointing out how tricky the issue of cultural support vs. imposition vs. appropriation, etc. Not to digress too much, but it is really interesting seeing the tension between the different musical desires here. Modern hip-hop and reggae music have a strong influence here, but then also the desire to make the music their own. Particularly with the Jamaican influence it's an interesting tangle, because a big aspect of traditional reggae was this mythic idealization of Africa as a response to oppression and poverty in Jamaica. But when you're living in a poor neighborhood in Monrovia, it's aspirational to idolize and imitate reggae singers because they're African-descended people who are making music that's internationally respected and admired. So it's like an odd feedback loop of Liberians admiring Jamaicans who pine for Ethiopia...
  17. I'm going to be living in Liberia, West Africa, for maybe around a year or so. After this maybe going back to Latin America, South Asia, or maybe the company will expand business regionally and I'll be spending some time in Sierra Leone, Ghana, or Nigeria. One of my broad life goals is to be a "patron of the arts" in my own small way, and to that end I've given away interesting folk instruments to performing musicians in various countries to try and get those instruments more exposure, like I've gifted Appalachian dulcimers to several Canadian gigging musicians, and just shipped a Portuguese guitarra (like a big mandolin) to an American professional folksinger who likes strange instruments and alternate tunings. On a wider scale, the one time I really got going, when I was living in Newfoundland I ended up teaching workshops on Appalachian dulcimer for several months, exposing probably 50-100 people to the instrument, plus a few hundred people saw me play gigs on the dulcimer at local pubs. While doing the workshops, I bought the cheapest dulcimers I could find on eBay and shipped them up to that Canadian island way out in the Atlantic, and as I went along sold them to students who took to the instrument, increasing Newfoundland's dulcimer count by about 30 instruments (and I'd bet money there were no more than a dozen dulcimers, largely unused, in the whole province prior to my arrival). So I've had some small successes in spreading my joy for interesting instruments around the world, and I've long intended to try some more ambitious projects when I'm somewhere where people have time on their hands and I have spare cash on hand to try to spur creativity. Since I've been playing concertina more these days, I have some vague intent of doing some concertina-type projects. In Colombia the button accordion is quite popular, so I'd had hopes there of finding an accordion repairman open to unusual commissions, and see if it'd be economical to have him build a run of small square Hayden concertinas, thinking that there are at least a few other Hayden fans in the world who'd spring at the opportunity to have an unusual Duet for a low price. Unfortunately we weren't in Colombia long enough on this hitch for me to try that, though we may get back there. Here in Liberia the average daily wage for a laborer is $5, someone like a plumber or construction foreman might make $15/day. Given that a large part of what makes concertinas pricey is the labor involved, that had be pondering whether I could make use of the labor market here. Either to find a skilled craftsman, provide him a couple sacrificial Stagis to study, detailed photos of various designs of vintage instrument, and see if he could start building some interesting concertinas of better quality than the Chinese, of types not economical to have mass-produced in China, that he could then ship to North America and Europe (plus several for me). In particular, I have a possibly impractical vision of getting a guy set up to make a few dozen tributes to the old Wheatstone Duett square concertina, but in modern Hayden format, and with hybrid reeds (figuring I could buy a crate with enough reeds to make a score of them and carry the box down with me next time I come down from Europe). I'd venture to guess there's got to be at least a couple dozen people in the world who would want such an instrument if they could be made for $500ish to a reasonable quality standard, and with ready-made reeds this seems the kind of thing that was just made by skilled cottage labor 150 years ago. I don't know if this is a completely unrealistic idea, or plausible if I find a craftsman who's good with detailed woodwork, pays close attention to measurements, and can follow instructions. On the musician end, I had the thought of buying a crate of cheap 20b Anglos from China, having a local craftsman QC and tweak them, and then using them to train a number of local people on concertina to try and get the instrument a toe-hold. Likely by finding folks with time on their hands who could use a music hobby, like kids in an orphanage or the blind. You frequently see blind folks here with a shekere (gourd shell with a loose net of cowrie shells), beating a rhythm and singing for alms, so I'd imagine some of them would enjoy having a different instrument to make them stand out and accompany their singing. At the absolute minimum, I plan to at least get my own concertina out here. I have a 20b plastic-bodied Stagi at my house in Texas and waiting to get US Postal Service access to have it shipped out here via the embassy. And once I get that there are occasional expat jam sessions held at local pubs, so I can do some playing locally, and maybe see about partnering up with a local Liberian guitarist to do some pub gigs. Concertina actually has some history in this region, as Liberia is a former US colony and neighboring Sierra Leone and Ghana were British colonies, so local folks in port towns traditionally played instruments they got from the foreign ships, like banjo, harmonica, and concertina. According to books/articles I've found online, the concertina was among the instruments used to develop the famous Highlife genre of music in West Africa, so getting some going out here would not be unprecedented. So I bring my situation and ideas to the group here to see if anyone has any suggestions, or whether folks think concertina is just not the way to go here due to the difficulty of sustaining any concertina tradition in the future without my direct intervention. Would I be smarter just to have some cigar box ukuleles built (or simple box Appalachian dulcimers) and teach kids in an orphanage to play those, and/or get a crate of a hundred tinwhistles and distribute those around to try to spur some musical experimentation in the area? There are some good NGOs here already working with local traditional music, and/or helping local hip hop musicians develop their careers, so I'm looking less to make any big movements, and just find some small ways to cross-fertilize some musical variety into the region.
  18. gcoove, a question about the 20b-capable tunes in your Irish book: broadly speaking, do you find that the 20b-capable tunes are ones that even if you have a 30b you would've only used just those two rows anyway, or is it more that one would typically use all three rows (to get some alternate direction notes or whatnot) but for the purposes of this book you've done a 20b-capable version? Put a different way, are the 20b-capable tunes arranged in the same way as they would be for a 30b player anyway, or does that deliberate imitation of the arrangement evoke a specifically 20b style that's outside of the normal modern Noel Hill school?
  19. It really depends what you want it for, and how great a steal the price is. If you want something really compact and "fun" but not necessarily a really versatile instrument, and the price is something like £200, then sure it's not a bad choice. In my case, I just stumbled across one, having never played concertina before, and was mostly a strings player so it was a fun way to casually dip my toe into concertina for US$200. If you're looking for a way to start getting seriously into English, which appears to be your intent, then you're probably much better off getting a Jackie, or spending a little more and getting a basic Lachenal.
  20. I'm living outside the US now, but I heartily support the call to move the event to a subway-accessible location! I enjoyed past SIs, but for us city-dwellers it's tricky getting out to the suburbs. I'm having a 20b plastic-bodied Stagi Anglo sent out to me here in Monrovia, and I have a vague, vague hope of finding someone who is clever enough to do basic servicing on it, and then ship in a crate of cheap Chinese Anglos to get tuned up and worked over by that someone, and see if I can get a orphanage or church group or whatnot to assemble some young folks to learn to play concertina. I managed to (slightly) popularize the Appalachian dulcimer in Newfoundland, so concertina in Liberia is my next goal. Kudos again Jim for creating a venue for DC-area folks to cultivate squeezebox culture. I look to be back in DC sometime late next spring for some business stuff, so I'll be keeping an eye on the calendar for your future events.
  21. Sorry for the delay, but I keep meaning to get around to borrowing someone else's phone so I can take a photo of my own phone plugged into a MIDI keyboard, but I'll just describe it briefly instead: I have a QuNexus small 2-octave MIDI piano keyboard, extremely slim and durable little critter I can just throw into a full backpack with no fear. It takes a mini-to-regular USB cable, and to plug it into my iPhone 6 I use the "iPad Camera Connection Kit" as the makers recommend online, and have had no trouble using that to play through Eskin's ThumbJam app. I tried playing it through a normal Bluetooth wireless speaker but there's just too much latency, so I got a little plum-sized $10 plug-in speaker off Amazon and that works well enough to make it at least as loud as a ukulele or so. If it'd help if I post a photo, let me know.
  22. Between your Wheatstone and the Crabb 48b metal-ended that another member posted, this month has been a tough month for me to be practical in! I really can't make any big purchases this year since I'm helping a friend start a new business and paychecks are still months and months away, but I may be tracking one of these Cranes down in the future... Meanwhile I'm still on Wim's waitlist for a Hayden, and my Beaumont is being babysit by a classical cellist in the US, while I'm trying to get a Stagi 20b sent over to West Africa since I'd hate to ruin anything nicer in this tough climate. This is a hard year to be a concertinist... That aside, any chance you can share some of your notes or observations from the class here with us? I've really enjoyed your work on YouTube, so any general advice you have as an experience Duettist would be most welcome.
  23. Bumping my old thread from years ago to reply, since this is still the first Google hit for "stagi plastic concertina". I recently moved to West Africa, and I figured out pretty quickly that I don't want to bring a nice concertina here to Monrovia. The rainy season here (which is is right now) is very wet and cool, so all the paperback books in our house are soggy, all the furniture smells of mildew, and a plywood ukulele has developed major soundboard cracks. In a few months it'll be dry season, and then it'll be baking hot, so that'll have its own troubles for gear. My team is moving to a new house since our current apartment has intermittent/occasional electricity, indifferent plumbing, and very large rats; the house we're moving to is much nicer and tidier, but it's literally 200 yards from the ocean, and the waves here are huge, so the salt spray is going to be corroding everything. So you can imagine, I'm not inclined to bring even my $500 Lachenal Duet here for fear of it getting ruined. However, on eBay this week I found a used plastic-body Stagi/Brunner concertina, in cheery yellow and blue, for US$75, so I'll have a friend ship that over to me. I imagine that the soundboard is still plywood, so at some risk of cracks, and the reeds are presumably still steel and subject to corrosion, but at least a plastic body would remove one large area of climate-vulnerable material, and at this price I can risk it falling apart entirely (and could even rebuild it with spare parts if needed). Once it arrives and I get it felt out, I'll post a new thread about playing the concertina in Liberia!
  24. For a good anti-war song, check out the very gallows-humor song "Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire". The British anarchist/musical collective Chumbawumba has it on one of their albums, and that's on YouTube. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_K1BdDVvV9Q
  25. Not mine, but this seems a fun unusual item for not too much (condition unknown): http://m.ebay.es/itm/CONCERTINA-Antigua-/181821687418?nav=SEARCH
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