Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by RAc

  1. I put together a q&d video about my setup 3 years ago: The stabilization comes from the straps running parallel to the handrails away from the body. The hands secure the straps from slipping away.
  2. I believe the above subclause is more or less the key - "the right tool for the right job." With my "bread and butter repertoire," there are considerable advantages to reducing the number of buttons, for both logistic (weight and size) and playability (reduction of getting lost potential) reasons, acknowledging that your mechanical immobilization device may or may not relieve my "getting lost problem," but I need the mobility for sound effect generation reasons. So to summarize, may I quote you from your earlier contrib in this thread: "It all boils down to desired repertoire really. If you want to play rich accordion-like arrangements or classical music, larger box is better. If you want to play mostly trad music, smaller box will likely be enough and come in a lightweight and small package."
  3. Also valid. Yet In dance accompaniment, you frequently have to work around written scores anyways; also, sight reading dance accompaniment music is generally considered a bad habit, so I would argue that your point does address different use cases than mine (which does not make it any inferior or less valid).
  4. Another disadvantage of more buttons is that more buttons make it easier to get lost on the keyboard, eg accidentally play a row above or below your intended row on a Crane. Iow, a smaller keyboard maps out the position of each key more clearly. To me that is a real life saver, in particular when it comes to stress situations such as playing full combat speed on a Scottish ceilidh. I only play my large 55 box when working on solo pieces that require the full range.
  5. Traditional Scottish dance tunes are frequently set in A or D major and their respective modal variations (as opposed to English tunes which are predominantly in D and G). As has been mentioned before, current digital technology allows for transposition of any tune to any key practically without effort, but for an instrument like the concertina, a "mechanical" transposition is not always helpful (a transposed tune may "fall out of the range" of the melody side or yield awkward fingering).
  6. That is where crib sheets come in handy (that is the first two bars of each part of all tunes in the repertoire compressed). Your plight appears to be very common...
  7. well, what both David and Howard wrote is spot on, but I feel like adding something frequently underrated: Translating music from visual representation to a given fingerboard is one skill. Translating the same visual to a new fingerboard is another skill (we had discussed this before). Translating music from the ear to your instrument is yet another skill, and so is memorizing tunes*. Each skill needs to be developed and practised individually and independently, and very few skills required by musicians come for free when developing another skill. Many classically trained musicians are fantastic in translating sheet music in real time but fail poorly at "easy" tasks such as accompanying Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with chord fragments if it is not written out for them. In other words, do not expect the skill to read and translate written music (which you obviously have developed) to help you recall and translate tunes from memory or ear to the instrument. You need ro develop your own individual tool set for each skill you want to master. I, like a number of other concertina players I know, memorize tunes via the keyboard, and so one of the tools I came up with to do so is to fumble for the next note on a "virtual keyboard," eg an imagined keyboard on the pillow before I doze off to sleep. If you memorize tunes differently, you will need different tools but in any case, you will always need time. *there are many other skills needed in music contexts, eg the skill to play with distractions (for example audiences or band members) which are outside the scope of this discussion, but the same rule applies for every of those: You will not develop that skill unless you practice it. For example, if you never play in front of other people but are the best player in the world, all of your playing skills are lost the second you step in front of an audience
  8. I believe that is fairly normal and to be expected... your hands and fingers will need to memorize the geometry of the keyboard and establish themselves "anchor points" for reference. That takes time. I found that of my three Cranes (45,48 and 55 buttons), I feel most comfortable on the smallest one for that very reason; the highest notes used for all practical purposes are also on the top most buttons, so there isn't a chance of accidentally playing on a too high row; on the lower rows I believe my fingers have eventually orientated themselves. I found it amazing that adding a B below the lowest C on the RH confused my right hand considerably.
  9. No reason to be sorry - on the opposite, thanks, this is still a good read! Also, in your last sentence, you raise a point that only Steve has taken up so far but that for me is a strong argument in favor of CMN (as well as any other notation systems that are key oriented): It helps my brain and fingers "lock into" the tonal sphere of the underlying scale. Iow, as soon as I see two sharps in the beginning of a piece written in CMN, I (more or less subconsciously) pre-sort the chord material I will most probably use into D-A-G-Bm-Em-F#m and the note material into the diatonic D major scale (or one its modal variants). Of course, this advantage disappears as the music heards towards atonality or heavily modulated, but at least for me, it applies to 99+x% of what I play. That gives me a head start right there, being a harmony oriented person (ie a guitar player turned concertina). I do not see how a notation system that does not hint you towards the underlying tonal sphere can provide so much support for sight reading. Unless, of course, one plays a fully transposing instrument in which the difference between key signatures is just a lateral shift of equal chord positions such as a Hayden - but I would expect such a "consistent" pairing (eg Parnassus and Hayden) to pose other problems such as the danger to end up in the wrong key in the middle of a session... 😉 But again, that does not imply that alternative notation systems would be inferior, they certainly have their justifications and advantages, and I am happy for everybody whose road to music becomes easier with one of them.
  10. "someone?" 😁 The tune reminds me of Naragonia's Hellebore, which you, Jim, may also want to tackle...
  11. I bought Vol. 1 based on your recommendation, and for completeness' sake I'd like to add that the issue that has become the focus of this thread's attention - notation systems - is not addressed in Loy's book at all; the book introduces the "standard traditional" 5 line staff system (CMN) in chapter 2 and bases of all of its subsequent elaborations on CMN without any further discussion on CMN itself, nor its history, pros, cons or alternatives. There is nothing wrong with that by itself; notation is simply not in its focus. I just thought I'd like to make it clear that the debates in this thread do not find any echo or clarification in the book. Other than that, the book is ok, but anybody who has come as far as the Pythagorean comma already can safely skip the first three out of 9 chapters. The remaining chapters become fairly technical and abstract elaborations on sound physics and the math behind it. I would classify the book as a "competitor" to "How music really works," whereas the latter would be more attractive to the practising musician whereas Loy does a pretty good job with respect to comprehensiveness. Thanks again!
  12. Interesting, thanks for the pointer! Would that chapter be part of Volume 1 or Volume 2?
  13. I agree with you! 😁 The "crutch" term solely referred to the relationship between the primary (hearing) and secondary (eyesight) sense - ranking with respect to music - within a single human music maker. In that sense notation is by definition a detour. As a musical communication language between humans (any) notation doubtlessly has its second level value and justification, as you rightly point out. I was focussing on the subdiscussion that focussed on how "hard" or "easy" a given notation system would be to read/render for the player of an instrument (a question that solely addresses the crutch/detour aspect of a notation, not its communication/preservation function).
  14. I agree with Mike, and I would also like to add the 0,02 that "ease of reading" does not necessarily correlate with "faster road to musicianship." Teaser: Given two hypothetical individuals, one of which learns reading music the traditional way and the other one an "easier to render" notation system. Will the second achieve the same musical level faster just because of an "easier road to music"? Simply pondering that question (which of course is not answerable in the first place) makes it obvious that the approach is wrong. As an analogy, let us look at open guitar tunings: Tune a guitar, say, DGDGBD. Any beginner who starts out with that tuning (let us call him Joe) will have a much less steep learning curve to ascend compared to someone who begins with the "standard" tuning EADGBE (let us call her Sally), because in order to accompany your standard three-chord songs, all you need to finger is open/bar 5/bar 7. So while Sally still has to fumble her way through changing fingers between a G and a D chord shape, Joe already accompanies himself singing "Island in the Sun" with little trouble. Needless to say, "real music" is equally complex and hard to accomplish with either tuning, so both Joe and Sally will need to go through many many hours of disciplined drill, labor, repetitions and (possibly) frustration until either can play "The girl of Ipanema" satisfactorily. Then again, neither may get there - an estimated 70% of guitar players never make it beyond three chords accompaniments. And there is nothing wrong with that. Making music is all about having fun at whatever level one is satisfied. Yet: A faster lane to fast food dishes does not make the way to gourmet food any faster. I look at the notation discussion in a similar way. I do not think that any notation is inherently better or worse than any other, and by all means, everyone should ideally have equal unbiased access to all notation systems to find the one that best suits him or her (though there is always the danger of getting lost in picking one instead of simply using one if the choices are too many). Yet, in the puzzle that makes a person a good musician (by whatever standards that is measured), the notation is only one piece - and, imho, a possibly overrated one as music happens in the ear, so any attempt to render it through the eye must by definition be a crutch and a detour. Some of the best musicians I know do not read music at all, no tabs, no abc, no staff system.
  15. Now it is clear why the player is using padded wrist straps. He forgot the thigh pads, though...
  16. I have been using that very technique for several years now using Cubase LE (a recording/sound processing software - sometimes called DAW 😉 - that happened to come bundled with my USB sound card). The OS/PD counterpart Audacity doubtlessly has the same functionality built in. All you need is pitch neutral speed change and looping between markers which every DAW supports. BTW, it also works the other way around: Speed neutral pitch change (transposition). It is the counterpart of the magnetic tape reel cassette we had in the 70s/80s. I remember winding back the tape so many times that the tape reel ended up sticking jammed shut (I believe the constant stretching would eventually thin out the tape). Yes, in spite of all the justified criticism, the digital world HAS improved our lives in many ways! 👍
  17. May I suggest to open a dedicated (possibly sticky) thread for those intro videos and take administrative precautions to prevent that thread from being contaminated with chit-chat?? This one is already cluttered up with meta discussions (which is good and useful but...) Alan's idea is good, yet I foresee the initiative to go down side issues road as happens all too frequently, and for that thread it would be a pity if that happened. Just my 0.02 (pick your currency 😉).
  18. Also true, David, but I do not think that it makes Chris' elaborations irrelevant. There is also the practical consideration that the end face of a concertina should (for ergonomics purposes) have the smallest size that accomodates the reeds needed, so the "reduction" argument imho outweights your purely mathematical observation. In other words: If you start out with, say, a square concertina and add sides, keeping the corner-to-corner size constant, then you add more unused space (at least as long as you do not add any reeds) which is ergonomically undesireable. So your blown-up octagon circumfering the square may be (relatively speaking) more bellow efficient, but it is less playable. The surface covered by the finger board will trivially not change, but the unused space around it will. If, on the other hand, you measure side-to-side and keep reducing the number of sides until you have exhausted the maximum density allowed for by the reed dimensions, you make the instrument more bellows efficient as well as better playable. I ran across a similar issue when Alex had built my Crane #3. He used a number of elaborate tricks to squeeze all the reeds needed into an octagonal shape (standard concertina measurements across the flats required by his toolset). As a result, I now play a wonderful small sized, leight weight AND bellow efficient instrument. Btw, all the best wishes for 2023 for you and everybody else here on the forum!
  19. When playing chords on the concertina, the third is frequently left out, so concertinists tend to do a good deal of accompaniment with power chords. That has the additional benefit that you do not need to distinguish between minor and major chords! 😉
  20. Sorry John, but you can not be serious here. Do you imply that I, being German, are not allowed to be interested in the music of other cultures? Do you, as an Irishman living in Germany, feel unwelcome in German folk circles? Do you feel you should? I know this is not what you feel because you have always been open and interested in German folk music. Do you not grant that attachment and interest to other people? Ken, can we close this thread? It is getting really way off musical issues and into very murky waters.
  21. Your suspicion can not apply in my case because, I, as a German, am "foreign" to both ITM AND English folk dance music - when I decided to pick up the Concertina, I knew that I would not get into German ("native" for me) folk music but I really wanted to play the English build concertina in one of its home territories. I actually tried Irish first, but as I explained, it simply could not attract me, but English (which was even more "foreign" to me than Irish) could afterwards.
  22. In Germany, I perceive it the same way. On one of the Irish concertina meetings I attended, the musical leader dropped the remark that "the first thousand tunes are the hardest, it gets easier after that," then set out to start some set at breathtaking speed. My impression of the way ITM is looked at here is olympic - rather competitive with musicians trying to outperform each other in number of tunes in repertoire, speed, ornamentation skills and so on. I also attended a few Irish sessions. I found them unwelcoming to newcomers; you were expected to either play along with every tune note for note at full speed or not play along at all. I remember a number of venomonous looks I received for trying to at least accompany the tunes with the root notes of the chords. I was determined to make up for my lack of repertoire and got a copy of "110 Irish concertina tunes" with the intention of learning as many of the tunes as possible (I had done compatible things before) but gave up after by listening to the CD, I realized that even at low speed, many of the tunes were interchangeable, almost impossible to distinguish from one another, apparently made for the "first 1000 tune marathon." I could not find a whole lot of heart and soul in those tunes (even though I perfectly understand from listening to artists like the Corrs and Socks in the Frying Pan that there is a lot of it in Irish music). In contrast, I found the English folk dance scene to be welcoming and encouraging. In sessions and meetings, the attitude for the most part is "when there are enough attendants, the tune will be carried by the majority, so play along at any level, and don't be afraid of making mistakes. How else are you supposed to learn ensemble playing?" As an additional bonus, I find English dance music to be much more accessible; many tunes are simple but very idiosyncratic with clear and distinguishable melodies. This is not derogatory to ITM in general, obviously I am in no position to judge a genre (which would also be fairly stupid to do as generalizations are never accurate nor fair); also, there are a number of lovely Irish tunes that have slipped into the repertoire of English and Balfolk playing circles. Yet the "Irish idiom" (at least as practiced in Germany which is the only ruler I have to base experiences on) has not managed to attract me musically or in the way people interact with each other.
  23. Alex has made a glass-buttoned instrument and documented the process in depth here: No. 7: A 47 Button Hayden Duet and Leather Case – Holden Concertinas
  24. well, yes, cross-country inavailabiliy of certain contents is a fact of life (in Germany, for example, there are even programs originating public stations in in Switzerland or Austria we can not watch without nerd knowledge or semi-legal tricks). No reason discussing that; there are pros and cons to that approach. One possibility to work around that would be for someone to download the movie and make it available via a file sharing service, but that's shady legal territory. But thanks, Peter, for the pointer. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the docu. It is heartwarming and utmostly authentic. Exactly the kind we need desperately in times like these where the differences between people appear to outweigh their similarities.
  25. Even so, this is not the same haptic feeling, and, what is worse, the keyboard-like position of your hands is totally different. I have a crane emulation software on my tablet, and I use it frequently, but to get a feeling remotely related to concertina playing, I need my hands to be parallel to my body center line, not perpendicular. The only way to accomplish that with a tablet would be to use two tablets and arrange them like the end plates of a real tina.
  • Create New...