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Everything posted by RAc

  1. RAc

    445 Hz?

    +1. In my opinion, one of the cardinal sins in making music is making music all by oneself (I must know because I did that for ~30 years until I realized it wouldn't get me anywhere). The sooner a beginner starts to become engaged in session groups, workshops, playalongs, ceilidhs etc the better and the faster the musical progress. Playing an Instrument that does not allow you to play along with many other instruments really is a turn off, so a compatible pitch should be a killer criterion for picking an Instrument.
  2. RAc

    445 Hz?

    Actually, the "right" choice of systems is probably the #1 question asked by novices. It's the kind of question that yields 5 different answers from 4 different people, which is a strong indication that there is no answer that suits more than one musical biography. I started out about the same time as Wolf. Upon advice from Anglo-Irishman, I chose the Crane duet and have stuck with it ever since, so by now you have three Germans going down three and a half different rows (if John pitches in, that makes it four Germans and probably six roads). What you may want to do to help you choose "your" system is print out the different layouts in approximately 1:1 size and do some dry playing on paper to get a feel for the different playing philosophies.
  3. RAc

    MIDI concertina project

    I don't think anybody's pawning off one against the other, or am I wrong?
  4. RAc

    MIDI concertina project

    well, maybe this helps to understand some of the resistance against MIDI concertinas played in a folk environment: I'm digital by profession but analogue by passion. My job is to develop Embedded firmware, specializing on Machine to Machine communication. This is farily technical; I do my share of debugging with an oscillscope, and I'm familiar with most current digital technologies (I can crank out something like the purely digital concertina I recently programmed without a lot of effort). I truly love my job. If there was any value for me in such a project, I could help with the Software side of such a project and come up with a fairly decent solution quite fast. Yet I don't want the rest of my life to be dominated by something that requires electrical power, to a high degree *because* I am very familiar with and aware of its potential for abuse, misuse and overuse. I refuse to participate in so-called social networks, my access control system is a good old metal key, I'll never invite anything called Alexa or her facefriends in my life, and any gadget named something with "Smart" in it doesn't have any business in a house I'll ever live in. I could write my own book about the naïveté with which people sacrifice very delicate and intimate personal freedoms to modern technology and its luring conveniences (and as a side effect help destroy our planet through useless waste of electric energy, but that's a different story). Thus I don't have much use for digital music. I have a few electric powered music tools (metronome, digital tuner, a virtual concertina on a tablet and a few pieces of software that help with printed music), but those are but aids to help me become better in playing good old analogous instruments of good old natural materials (wood,leather,paper and metal). I use the ETools exclusively at home so that I can interact better with other musicians as soon as there is more than one instrumentalist involved. There is something in the experience of playing real hand made music (even better: for real human dancers) that refuses to become sucked into the digital borg. It's still genuinely human in very many respects, highly interactive and leaves space for things that are automatized away by the algorithmic world we choose to live in. Things like space to make errors, doing irrational activities for the pure fun of it, be part of a choreography that has a lot of beauty without being judged on a scale from 1 to x, provide a play ground to experiment with wild ideas and so on. I like the musical experience being that way. Mainstream music (99% of what is publicly successful and played in public) is streamlined, pre-and postprocessed, industrialized, tailored to marketing manipulated "market demands," predominantly a vehicle to increase company profits and more and more generated without the participation of humans or acoustic instruments. To my ears it's no fun to listen to. Why play a concertina you can by the flip of a switch make sound like a trombone? If I wanted something to sound like a trombone, I'd play a trombone. If I wanted something to sound like another instrument without being another instrument, I'd play a MDI keyboard. Although there is a reasonable space for digitally supported musical instruments in predominantly acoustic environments (a case that springs to mind is electronic bag pipes which allow the player to practice without affecting neighbors and family members), I prefer the "public" folk world to be the oasis it is and thus feel very uncomfortable with electronic instruments of any kind (even electric basses for which there are very valid arguments) in it. Concertinas belong to the niche instruments whose domain *is* the folk world. There are some instances of concertinas being used in other contexts (for example, Stefan's Rock'n'Roll concertina is a very interesting and intriguing crossover which I don't object to because its target realm already is fairly electronic to begin with, so it's taking the concertina into the electronic world instead of vice versa), but most people, I believe, take up concertina playing to be part of the folk (and thus old fashioned analogue) world. I believe (hope?) to be in agreement with a good percentage of other members of the folk community in this respect. Therefore I do not believe there is much reward for an individual putting a lot of work into such a project (unless of course the work is predominantly done for oneself and afterwards shared to other interested people as in my case). I personally prefer to spend my spare time practicing on real concertinas than working on artificial ones, even though the sounds I could generate on the latter ones may sound much "better" (which wouldn't be due to my mastering them, though, but thanks to the algorithms preprogrammed into them). This is not to criticize you or your work, just an attempt to explain why it isn't very likely to catch on (even less as electronics capture more and more of our daily lives).
  5. RAc


    I play both. Don't worry about the callous on the fingertips, it's not going to affect your concertina playing. The only incompatibility I found is that you do not want to play a concertina with guitarist's picking hand finger nails (a costly french polishing job will be the price).
  6. My beloved gave me a Windows 10 tablet for Christmas, which I took as reason to refresh my UI programming skills (I'm a systems level developer, and I HATE developing UIs). What I have so far is an App similar to Eskin's concertina app, but it runs on WIndows 10 (theoretically scalabe from mobiles to everything else that supports touch screens), displays both hands of a 45 button Crane and plays the sound(s) when the corresponding button(s) is/are touched. The "final" version will offer the opportunity to design your own keyboard layout as XML files (unfortunately this will be limited to unisonoric instruments). The idea is to have a simulator that lets you try out unfamiliar layouts or do some practice on your familiar layout. And no, there won't be fancy graphics, just grey-on-black button shapes (if anyone is willing to make something bigger out of it, I might be willing to share the source at some point). Before rolling out the thing, I'd like to have a few of you look over what I have so far in terms of compatibility, usability, general feedback and so on. Aside from owning a Windows 10 device, you should have some at least some rudimentary knowledge of computing (you'll probably need to install a certificate in order to install the package and stuff like that). This is intended to be a non profit crowd development thing (I'd request users to share their custom keyboard layouts). I also don't want to spend an infinite amount of time on it (I'd rather practice on a real concertina than a virtual one), so once the feature set I envision is implemented, that would be the end of at least my work on it. Please drop me a PM if you're interested. Thanks!
  7. Actually, I was somewhat surprised that the response to this post was zero (except for one individual who probably misunderstood what I was trying to do). Coming to think of it, it's probably because a) Windows doesn't have a huge share in the touch device market and b) most people would rather play real concertinas than virtual ones (I can certainly relate to that). Nevertheless, I passed the time waiting for Holden #3 with finishing the app. It's fully functional now and I use it on a daily basis (for me, it's very useful to remember finger positions of tunes when playing a real concertina is not an option due to volume reasons). I implemented (surprise, surprise) a 45 button Crane, but everybody can write his/or her own (unisonoric; I wouldn't have any idea how to simulate bellows direction change) keyboard layout via an xml file. So EC, Piano, Piano Accordeon, Hayden, McCann and any experimental layout can be rendered by anyone who doesn't mind playing with xml files in a text editor. Since the only devices I had a chance to test my app on were my own two Windows tablets, I don't have any field experience on how the app installs and runs on other devices. I can basically provide it "as is." All I know for sure is that Windows offers a bazillon ways for things to go wrong. It seems as if even on the same device, the same image may at times install no problem and at other times fail (even on the same day with no system updates in between). However, once it is installed, it generally runs very stable and reliable. I have prepared a little video that demonstrates by means of screen shots what the app does and how it does it (you may need to set your youtube to high resolution. Windows is not the only piece of software to do funny unpredictable things). If you have a Windows touch device and are interested in using the app, please drop me a note. Thanks!
  8. RAc

    Stuck reed pan

    Here is a post that is somehow related...
  9. RAc

    Christoph Pelgen

    For those of you who aren't familiar with the name - Christoph is one of the corner stones of Balfolk music in Central Europe. He's a well read, versatile, humorous, warm and emphatic human being, plays pretty much every instrument known in the balfolk scene and is also an enormously productive tune writer. There are huge collections of his tunes available. He writes about them: "So my tunes can all be used free of charge and I would be pleased if they got played. You can do whatever you like with them, change them, find your own variations and harmonies. If you want to record one of my melodies, I simply request that you attribute it tom me and send me a copy of the CD." I have recorded one of his tunes on my soundcloud collection: soundcloud link (of course including all the imperfections and shortcomings implied by my limited abilities as a musician). It's a very witty tune, and pure fun to play! And yes, there is a chord change I keep missing in the D part (in the repetiotin short before the rhythm change, there should be a Bb instead of a Gm). I know, but my fingers refuse to learn that... I keep working on it.
  10. well, the slow air is still in the pipeline, but I have recorded the first full tune with #3: This qualifies somewhat as a knuckle buster, even at the comparatively moderate speed I play it at. What already helps greatly here is the huge air volume in Alex's bellows (one less thing to worry about when attempting a tune like that). I deliberately did not normalize this track as I normally do to add as little distortion to the dynamic range as possible (although Soundcloud probably did it instead). Thanks for listening as usual! The comparative slow air is scheduled next.
  11. Hi, I returned from a trip to the UK today which was filled with music, the main item being... picking up my brand new 46 button Crane made to order by Alex: (scroll down his instagram presence for a comprehensive history of the project). the hiccups in the recording are to some degree owed to the slightly different keyboard layout compared to my other Cranes. But that doesn't matter, since this is not about my playing (An instrument like that in my hands may be considered pearls before swine anyways) but the instrument. Alex's appearance and subsequent work imho is something very very significant in the concertina world, and we can't appreciate it highly enough that young people like him help bridge the gap between traditional concertina making and modern technology. I hope all of this doesn't sound too corny, but obviously I'm very appreciative and wish him all the best to continue building high quality concertinas. I'll refresh this thread informally because so much happened within the last three months from when he began the full time work to the finishing touch, so it'll take a while for me to sort all of that out. In particular, I hope to soon publish a few videos which directly compare the sound and look and feel of my three Cranes so it becomes evident how his concertinas compare to vintage instruments. Part 1: The Prelude I had inquired with pretty much every living concertina builder whether they'd be interested in making a new Crane for me (don't ask why I wanted this in the first place. I don't know.). Some didn't even respond, most declied briefly, and the only one who took the time to (kindly) explain why was Frank Edgley who argued (understandably) that the time needed for design work wouldn't pay off for possibly not more than one prospected Crane sale. I can perfectly relate to that. So when I inquired with Alex, it was mostly to get a full book of rejection letters, but he showed interest (which is also owing to the fact that he had another pending commission for a Crane - in my understanding, that'll be his #4). A number of things fell into place afterwards, and suddenly I was on the top of his order book! His approach is somewhat different from the other ones in that Alex is enthusiastic about everything related to concertinas, and he considers himself still in the learning phase, so making a design for a possibly dead-end layout to him was more than anything else a step in his learning curve. Also, he simply loves tools and materials, and one of his characteristics is that he masters digital tools as well as traditional ones (even though he likes the latter ones much better) which means the CAD designs for the action and reed pans were just another step in the chain of things to do for him. His concertinas are made of exactly the same all natural ingredients of the vintage instruments we have come to appreciate (wood, metal,leather, paper), but he makes every single part (including the reed frames as well as the reeds) himself. I feel extremly fortunate to have had a chance to work with Alex. Our interaction was very intense and contructive; at times we exchanged as many a four emails a day, discussing details of the instrument. He was always open to any suggestion and was polite enough when letting me know that one of my ideas was suboptimal. In my layman opinion, he is a marvelously talented craftsman who (metaphorically speaking) explodes with ideas how things can be done. I was also very fortunate to win Nina Dietrich (http://www.illustration.at/) to help with the project. Nina is a very gifted, accomplished and respected Vienna based visual artist and also a Crane player. She designed the end plates to my specs and she, Alex and I worked together closely to make the visual side of Holden#3 to what it is now. I designed the bellows papers with the help of a relative who is a professional photo finisher. Whatever, a musical instrument is not made for the looks but the sound it produces. Even though a number of Alex's innovations will need to face the test of time (for example, he mills his reed frames out of aluminum for weight reasons which is something no one else has gained experience with), it's already safe to say that the instrument is very idiosyncratic in the best sense of the word. The buttons are very responsive and have a light touch (but if anybody wanted a harder action, Alex could change that at the wink of an eye via spring adjustment I'm sure), the sound of the reeds is very balanced over the two sides and not as bright as my Wheatstone, neither as sweet as my Lachenal - at this point I'm more inclined to dub it creamy or velvety. The reeds are set for favoring a broader dynamic range over volume, but the tone is still amazingly voluminous. The bellows are very efficient and flexible; the 7 folds we agreed on can easily extend the instrument more than the 8 folds of my 55 button Wheatstone can. Even though he hasn't been in the concertina making world for long, Alex has a very prfound knowledge of free reed physics and knows exactly what it takes to make an instrument sound the way the player wants to make it sound. Combined with his talents as a craftsman, this is bound to produce outstanding concertinas in the best tradition of the concertina makers we now consider vintage. Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Alex, and I wish him all the best for his future as a concertina maker (as well as personally of course). to be continued
  12. valid point and good idea, Wolf, I'm working on it. Will be a few days though.
  13. Everyone interested will find a comparative video between my 55 button Wheatstone and Alex's #3 here: Youtube link Since Youtube compresses videos during upload, the audio quality may not be too useful. I have a raw .wav file of the recording. Please contact me via PM if you are interested in the file. It is already evident that Alex's bellows are amazingly efficient. I attach a picture of my 8 fold 55 button Wheatstone and Alex's #3 (7 folds) fully extended and left to relax. As you can see in the video, I rarely need to work Alex's concertina nearly as much as the Wheatstone's.
  14. I't a standard 6,25" casing which makes it very small for a Crane. If you scroll down Alex's instagram presence, you'll see the inside (it's very tightly packed). The layout is standard Crane with the low B added on the right and the lowermost c# removed on the left for space constraint reasons.
  15. https://www.instagram.com/p/BoyXbsmARiN/
  16. this is more or less a variation of the Müllerized EC: https://www.holdenconcertinas.com/?p=1480 I'm sure Alex would tackle it. Apparently it's a fully reversible conversion.
  17. RAc

    Wanted! Wheatstone metal badge

    Alex Holden makes these (among many, many other things) to your specifications.
  18. RAc

    Summer Scottish

    This is a very lively, care free and cheerful Scottish written for a summer wedding. I guess winters are dreary and drab enough, so why not record a fun piece in January. Enjoy! The second piece thrown in for good measure.
  19. RAc

    Video: Making a Set of Bellows

    Thanks for sharing, Mike! It's great to be able to see and compare different maker's approaches to the same task! The question that comes to mind is why you use butterflied double bellows papers instead of individual ones. Doesn't it compromise the flexibility of the bellows when you double the hinge, and isn't a paper hinge rather subject to wear than a sole leather hinge? Finally, isn't there a greater chance of the lower leather valleys being contaminated with glue which deteriorates its hinging properties? Thanks!
  20. RAc

    Parsons Farwell ( to timing! )

    well, congratulations to your instrument. It does have an unusally rich, full and warm sound. Proves the point that with musical instruments, it's not the looks that count! How many folds does the bellows have? Just keep on practicing, well worth it!
  21. The fair Portsmouth Stowaway
  22. uhm, no idea. I never played EC. Wolf will probably pitch in and tell you something about the transition from EC to Crane, but I don't know anybody who plays EC as well as more than one duet system. My guess would be that Crane and Hayden are closer to the EC than the McCann because of the keyboard logic, but the philosophies of duet (all layouts) and EC are very different to begin with.
  23. In what respect?
  24. As far as I can tell, there is no "market value" for a niche market such as duet concertinas. It always depends on how many (few) people are looking at any given time. Your best bet is to ask Chris Algar how much he would sell the instrument for. In any case you'll need to be prepared to wait for a long time until somebody comes along who is looking for just that instrument. May well be several years.
  25. yes. I find that I rarely ever exploit the additional range that my 55 button Wheatstone (my work horse) offers. I use my 48 button Lachenal as a travel instrument, and practically everything in my active repertoire fits the small one. My next one will be 46 buttons, and that was deliberate. As discussed before, the major drawback of the larger instruments is that they do not extend the range to the bottom (can't really for space reasons) but instead widen the overlapping area which doesn't make a whole lot of sense nor adds technical opportunities. On the down side of things, they are clumsier to play and leave more opportunities for the fingers to get lost on the keyboard and end on an offset row. The ideal instrument would have practically zero overlap and thus cover a wide chromatic range, but of course that won't work due to the space demands of larger low reeds. Sorry for taking the thread a little bit OT, I can't offer any "exotic" layouts. The only thing worth mentioning is that on my 55 button, the lowest note is a Bb instead of a C#. Kind of useful.