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Everything posted by wayman

  1. NEFFA is next weekend, and I'm wondering which of you I might see there; and for those of you I don't already know in real life, how I might know when I see you. I'll have with me the latest prototype for an upcoming R. Morse & Co. model. Anglo players especially, seek me out and ask to give it a squeeze!... And a plug: Sunday at 2pm, step outside the festival's main entrance to watch my group And Sometimes Y perform some awesome dances from the Isle of Man. This is a rare opportunity to hear a concertina and nyckelharpa duet -- a really rich and fun sound.
  2. And "pad" is a term commonly used for similar parts of other instruments (flutes, saxaphones). I can easily imagine that someone completely unfamiliar with concertinas might instinctively use that term. I'm surprised the bidding has gone as high as it has, given that we have no idea whether the thing has all, or even most of, its reeds. But I suppose, from an odds calculation, the EV is probably still quite favorable (assuming you're able to sustain a potential loss).
  3. I started with several button accordions in D/G and C/F, which I played for ten years before starting (and in very short order switching entirely to) anglo concertina. But I actually got my first concertina only a year after I started playing button accordions -- I met Rich Morse at Pinewoods and he lent me his Wheatstone Hayden for a week, and I was absolutely hooked, and bought a Stagi Hayden. At the time, I was playing for a lot of English Country Dances, and I would play my Pokerworks for tunes in friendly keys and switch to guitar for others; I saw the Hayden as another option for all those tunes in flat keys. But it didn't work out that way, as I couldn't stand playing a Stagi, so that instrument languished in its case for a decade before I finally sold it on consignment. My first anglo was a Morse G/D, which became my primary instrument in very short order, used largely for morris dancing. But I found myself often borrowing a friend's Morse C/G for concertina workshops, and when he passed away I inherited his instrument. That's now my primary instrument, and it's now a 32-button. I hardly play my G/D, though I might if I played for dances in a ceilidh band or something. My third anglo will be a 38-button Jeffries layout instrument. I recently acquired a set of good Wheatstone reeds mostly salvaged from a 1925 Aeola and supplemented with other low reeds to fill out the anglo layout, and I'll build a new instrument around them in time to give the Aeola (or at least its reeds, buttons, and endbolts) a rebirth by its 90th birthday (which will be in February). My plan is that this instrument will be tuned in 1/4 Comma Meantone while the Morse will stay in Equal Temperment.
  4. Adrian, do you use A for your tuning regardless of the pitch of the instrument (C/G, G/D, Bb/F, etc), and does your choice of wolf vary with the instrument (eg, having Eb on the Bb/F would seem essential, while having D# on the G/D seems much more useful)? Say one only has one 38-key anglo, in C/G, instead of multiple instruments ... in theory you could have the wolf both ways, choosing Eb in one bellows direction and D# in the other ... though you'd have to train yourself well that they are different notes so you never play the wolf by mistake! Will
  5. Most of the 26-button instruments I've seen have had reedpans that were only 2/3 size. So there's no space on the existing reedpans for more reeds -- you'd have to construct the remaining 1/3 of each reedpan from scratch, or just build new reedpans entirely (probably the better option). The existing action would probably have to be changed a fair bit to accommodate the levers; the action board extended; new pad holes drilled; etc etc. Plus the fretwork would need holes added. I don't think you'd likely get an instrument that was the equal of a 30-button Lachenal in the end, and even if you could do the work perfectly, as Greg points out, is it worth the time? (If it's not clear what I mean by 2/3 size, picture a hexagon, the size of the concertina, oriented with corners at the top and bottom. Now divide it in thirds (like the French flag), and remove the left-most third. What remains is the reedpan -- Lachenal didn't waste the wood and other materials for building a full-size reedpan for these instruments.)
  6. I've seen a few with two left-thumb drones, and I've seen one Dipper with three! (The center one was a button as normal; the other two were ingenious levers which pushed to the side rather than down, so the thumb didn't really have to move very far to play any of them. Clever, that Colin.) Of course, I've also seen many instruments (including my own) where the left-thumb button makes two different notes (on a C/G concertina, normally F/C, but on mine and on one Jeff Thomas I've played, F#/C). I avoid calling mine a "drone" button because it plays two different notes, but yes, many people have asked "what notes are on your drone?" upon seeing my instrument, suggesting that the word is now somewhat commonly in use to mean "any left-thumb button". The most peculiar drone I've ever heard of, though, is a right-thumb drone -- so the concertina has no air button -- to play a low D (the note one tone up from the very lowest left-hand C on a C/G). I believe this was custom-made by Wally Carroll for Noel Hill, who just really, really wanted that low D (but apparently didn't want to give up the low Bb on the left side, which is where others have sometimes put that note). I see C#/C# on the right-side accidental row often, but I've never heard this particular button called a "drone" when this is done. I believe this is advocated by Noel Hill, and many who attend his school or wish to play like him request this. Most often it's on a Wheatstone layout accidental row, so the accidental row winds up being C#/C# A/G G#/Bb C#/D# A/F (jettisoning the lower D# altogether). But I have seen it on a few Jeffries layout accidental rows, resulting in three identical C#s. (Insert confused-face emoticon here.) I would love to know more about Peter Bellamy's note layout -- I've heard about his extra drone buttons and levers to hold them down, but I've never seen a photograph nor known what notes these buttons played (and what notes they replaced).
  7. I flew out of Liverpool last month twice (John Lennon deserves a much better airport named in his memory than that one!), and on the first day I experienced the most unusual security screening. Normal protocol, there and at other airports, is for a suspicious bag to be opened together by a security agent and the owner. (And on a subsequent day, flying out of the same airport, this is what happened.) But that one day, they diverted my bag (a large rucksack, containing my concertina case along with clothes, shaving kit, and, well, everything, since I was traveling only with a rucksack) from the normal conveyor belt after it had gone through the x-ray belt, and then several security agents opened the bag in an area where I was not permitted to be present -- all without even consulting me! After five minutes, they handed the bag to me without a word. This is highly unusual for security -- I wouldn't worry that this will happen to you, and I suspect I could have filed a complaint about it but I didn't have the time to bother. More interestingly, they were apparently so interested in the concertina that they didn't even notice the prohibited double-edged razor blades for my razor! (I had totally forgotten they were in my rucksack.) (To be more precise, I only *flew* out of Liverpool once; the first day, after I got all the way to the departure gate, my flight was cancelled by the mid-February gale. The second day, I actually flew out.)
  8. I'm sure this varies by region and musical community within the US. Within the morris dance community in the mid-Atlantic/Northeast, I most frequently hear 2- and 2.5-row D/G instruments called "melodeons". I sometimes hear them called "button accordions", but never just "accordions".
  9. In Montague, Massachusetts, Tuesday 11 March: 6pm, anglo concertina workshop with Caitlín Nic Gabhann 8pm, concert with Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertina) and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh (fiddle) Award-winning musicians in their own right, Caitlín Nic Gabhann & Ciarán Ó Maonaigh are quickly becoming one of the foremost duets in Ireland today. Their music & dance is rooted in the tradition; full of spirit, soul and life. Together on fiddle, concertina and dance, they breath fire into traditional tunes, combining the two arts with enough chemistry and energy to fire a small steam engine. This tour will be their first as a performing duo in the United States. 6:00 pm * musicians workshops --- separate simultaneous workshops: concertina and fiddle 7:30 pm * potluck --- if you're not in a workshop but want to potluck, please think about arriving 7-ish, so you can help set things up while workshops are wrapping up! 8:00pm * concert suggested donations $15 workshop $10-20 sliding scale concert $25 workshop & concert RSVP INFO Please email will.quale@gmail.com if you'd like space reserved, and I'll send you the address and directions. For the workshops, please do sign up in advance so Caitlín and Ciarán have a bit of advance idea about workshop size and so I can set up the spaces appropriately. Thanks! CONCERT INFO This will be a rare opportunity to hear two of the best young performers of Irish traditional music. Expect a lively and energetic performance on fiddle and concertina from musicians from Ireland, Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh. The concert will also feature traditional step dancing from Caitlín, who has toured with Riverdance. Both were raised in musical households - Ciarán comes from the well-known Ó Maonaigh family in Donegal's Gaeltacht, Gaoth Dobhair, and both of Caitlín's parents are enthusiasts - her father, a fiddler and her mother, a dancer. This concert will get your foot tapping and your heart racing! Not to be Missed! WORKSHOPS INFO We will teach Irish traditional tunes at a pace that suits the class. Best if the learners have been playing for a couple of years. We will help with any technical issues, bad habits, how to hold the instrument properly, correct fingering etc and answer any questions they may have. If the learners are able, we will touch on more advanced features of traditional music such as ornamentation, chords, position work, and double stopping. Fiddle workshop will be taught by ear (no notation). Please bring along a recording device and pen & paper if you wish. (Workshops will be at the same time, in different spaces.)
  10. For what it's worth, the screeners are suspicious of hybrid concertinas (parallel-arrangement of accordion reeds) as well. I think it's in part that the whole levers and pads thing looks weird and that it's just a strange mechanical totally unusual object. But, as everyone here has said, it's very much not a big deal -- you're delayed by an extra three minutes, five maybe. Occasionally you might get to play a tune.
  11. I've found that no matter what I tell the TSA (or other security agencies in Europe) person who takes my bag to put it on the conveyor belt -- ie, "there's a musical instrument that looks odd in this bag" -- it doesn't matter because that person does not talk to the people looking at the x-ray pictures. The people looking at the x-ray pictures will not ever hear this information. They will divert your bag from the "you can pick it up and walk away once you've put your shoes on" belt to the "hand-inspection by a security person" belt, and that person will also have no idea that you once told someone there's a musical instrument in your bag. That person will ask you to open your bag. When you show them the concertina, just say "it's a musical instrument"; if they look at you quizzically, you could then say "... it's similar to an accordion". They'll typically shrug and let you go, but sometimes they will pick up the concertina (still in its case) and walk it over to the x-ray operator to confirm with them that this seems like the object they questioned. I've never had them actually ask to take it out of the case, though I've heard reports that they sometimes do ask this (or even ask you to play it). I was once asked to play a harmonica that was in my pocket, but that was in 1998.
  12. Jody, just keep on doing what you're doing: finding all sorts of ways to make the "normal anglo stuff" fresh and joyful; exploring new genres many of us would never think of as "anglo stuff"; having obvious fun while you do both of these; and sharing it all with us in ways that please the public, inspire other concertina players, and enable you to live a decent life since for you music is a full-time job. Nothing wrong with promoting your ideas *and* your work here.
  13. Oh, and there's also a special temporary exhibit on Eric Sahlström at the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm, which is of course mostly about how he re-invented the nyckelharpa to make it a fully-chromatic instrument, and about his playing and teaching career. But ... they also have on display his two-row button accordion. (Who knew?! Not me, nor my friend at ESI.) The caption next to his accordion (an unassuming black 21 treble, 8 bass, Koch-Harmonica made in Germany) reads: Eric spelade på ett tvåradigt dragspel liksom den stora dragspelmåstaren och idolen, men dragspelet gick sönder och ersattes sedan med fiol och nyckelharpa. ... which translates roughly to "Eric played the two-row accordion (and a larger accordion too), but the accordion broke and he replaced it with fiddle and nyckelharpa." Yes, if he hadn't been so passionate about accordion that he wore out his instrument, he might never have switched to nyckelharpa!
  14. How timely! A few weeks ago I had the delightful opportunity to play (anglo) concertina in classes at the Eric Sahlström Institute. (Was I the first to play concertina in classes there, I wonder?...) I was visiting my friend Hope Leary; she and I play often together, she on nyckelharpa and I on anglo, and she's at ESI for the year in the same program that lydia and Andrea were in the previous year. (And lydia and Andrea are friends of mine as well, and practically neighbors! So nice to see them mentioned here. Do buy their book and album -- great stuff!) It was great fun learning and playing polskas on my concertina in class with about ten nyckelharpas and two fiddles and guest-teacher Kjell-Erik Eriksson, and later playing those tunes for the Swedish dance class at ESI and getting excellent feedback about our playing from the dancing masters. The day is structured roughly: breakfast; warmups; class; fika; class; lunch; class; fika; class; dinner. Never more than an hour-and-a-half between food. So civilized!
  15. Well, *that* never happens ... this was the very first take. One wrong word which somehow led to a wave of relaxation as I just kept barreling on. Think of it like a Navajo rug: the slight imperfection tells you it's genuine Or something! You may be surprised to know that this carol is actually known in its entirety and sung by quite a few carolers in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont (those of us who go to Nowell Sing We Clear year after year after year). Saturday night I led a room of about thirty people, most of whom were belting out the verses as well as the choruses. Such joy! http://youtu.be/Do05ZABqkPM Enjoy, Will
  16. A further data point: my cat runs away whenever he sees the concertina come out, or (even if he hasn't seen it) whenever he hears the first note. But he is completely unfazed by recordings of me playing that very same concertina. There's something about the live sound which isn't captured by a recording (or isn't reproduced on my laptop speakers). That's what made me initially guess that it's very high overtones, to which my cat may be more sensitive than others. Oh, and he doesn't like the french horn, either, I discovered last week. And that too has lots of overtones, for what that's worth. But he didn't object so much when an old-time string band played a house concert this weekend. Are there high-frequency earplugs for cats?
  17. Thanks, all! Gary, I've just added another carol (Remember, O Thou Man, also cribbed from the playing of Jon Boden), and it's almost entirely on the left hand as well. Even when I play the melody with the chords for this one, it's *still* almost entirely on the left hand. That seems really odd when I think about it, but it feels completely natural to me and it seems to sound good, so, to heck with convention
  18. Here's a right somber carol, by Thomas Ravenscroft (1611), the version published in 1913's "The English Carol Book" and recorded by Jon Boden for A Folk Song A Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DYt0YGVEMI This is (as with Stannington) pretty much what Boden plays on his MacCann, but instead of Stannington's rich harmonies and lots of movement, here it's mostly extremely raw open droney chords that really suit the song. If only I were an honest tenor! As ever, this is Morse 094, my 32-key anglo. They don't write carols like this anymore, do they?
  19. Perhaps my niche is "stuff you don't expect to hear played on an anglo"? Here's some J.S. Bach, by way of Jethro Tull: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKTLycrb33w I'm really not sure which way I'm going to take this piece -- learning the second half of what Bach wrote, or going beyond Ian Anderson and Martin Barre's flute/bass syncopation and into the crazy jazz/blues riffing on the Bach themes of the first part! For now, this is all I've got
  20. Well, motivated by Gary, I thought I'd try recording a few additional carols in the weeks before Christmas. I could listen to Jon Boden's recording of Stannington (A Folk Song A Day, 21 Dec 2010) on endless repeat. It's one of my very favorite carols, and his arrangement for MacCann duet is, well, to my ears, just perfect. Short and sweet and rich and all those suspensions ... it makes me weak at the knees. "Why not try it on the anglo?" I thought. Here's how Jon plays it on his MacCann, just about note-for-note, played on my 32-key Morse C/G Ceili. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Dy50qu9UyQ Perhaps I'll manage to get the words with the concertina by the 21st this year (three years to the day after I first heard it), for the Shutesbury village caroling! If so, I'll put up another video.
  21. I only seriously play anglo, but I'm gaining competency on the Hayden and I can squeeze a few tunes out of an English. While I've rarely messed up on the buttons and fingers when switching between Hayden and anglo, at first I found it really difficult to *not* use the bellows as if for anglo when playing a Hayden. That is, I would squeeze on the notes and chords which one would squeeze on anglo, and pull on the notes and chords which one would pull on an anglo, while playing a Hayden. Yet I had no problem at all with the buttons and fingers, just the bellows. I've *mostly* gotten over that, but it still happens whenever I try to play anything "jaunty" on Hayden with the hands both doing a lot of movement. (Usually on the Hayden, my left hand is playing a contrapuntal bass line or open-fifth chords, completely separate from my right hand playing the melody, while on the anglo, I have the melody and harmony moving back and forth between my hands -- for some tunes, the whole thing, melody and harmony, winds up mostly on my left hand!) My thoughts are different, too: on the Hayden, I think of melody notes and instinctively play them with my right hand while my brain is trying to think one step ahead of the melody to direct the left hand ("ok, IV chord coming up, but scale tone four is in the melody so I want the bass to be either six or one, so let's try six"...); and on the anglo, I just think of shapes and patterns of sound I want to make and my fingers just somehow know where to go. And on the English, there's still a lot of "oh wait, F#, not F ... oh, that note is on *that* hand ... oh, hey, I actually got through that phrase, that sounded good!" :-)
  22. As far as the other comment from another poster that beginners shouldn't have to pay for a private journal to get their reviews....sure, but you get what you pay for. You have already paid handsomely for an instrument, and seem ready to pay for (sight unseen) tutors. There is simply no comparison between a properly researched review in a journal, written by an experienced player with some sort of recognized background in music or traditional music, and an anonymous two sentence long post by someone who a newbie, seeking information, won't know....the erstwhile reviewer could be yet another complete newbie, writing in his/her pajamas. It is fun to read these, and the best of them are indeed very useful at times, but they rarely are anywhere near as fully informative as those in PICA. While I agree that you get what you pay for, and that reviews in a journal carry greater authority than reviews posted in a forum like ours, I don't think we're talking about anonymous two-sentence reviews. I certainly wasn't, and I thought I was clear about the need for reviews to be well-reasoned and not anonymous. I also don't think it's necessarily the case that a newcomer has paid handsomely for an instrument. I've encountered many a beginner who comes to me with something along the lines of a beat-up Stagi or a Hohner D40 which they came by on the cheap; they've invested almost nothing and just wonder how to get started. And many more buy or rent a Rochelle or its ilk (it's great that the CC instruments come with starter books!), putting very little money on the line until figuring out whether the concertina makes sense and is rewarding to play. Most such people are likely willing to spend ~$20 on a tutor book, but no such person is going to first pay membership dues to an international organization dedicated to an instrument they've not yet laid their hands on! These newcomers don't need extensively researched scholarly reviews; they just need something like "Title-One is a solid book for a newcomer, starting at the very beginning and building up to playing melodies from Ireland and America. There's a lesson on how to read music, but all the tunes are presented with both conventional music notation and with button-number and bellows-direction. It assumes you have a C/G instrument, and it only contains tunes in C and G and how to play them 'along-the-row', so if you played the harmonica when you were younger, this book may not actually teach you anything you don't already know! If that's the case for you, you might consider Title-Three instead." or "Title-Two has lots of band and show tunes with full harmonic arrangements, but it presents them in conventional music notation with extremely minimal concertina-specific information: no indication of buttons or fingers, and only occasional mention of the bellows direction. If you're really keen on playing Sousa's Liberty Bell March, it's here and the arrangement is quite rich once you master it, but it may take you half an hour just to wade through the just first eight measures even if you're moderately competent at the instrument! Better notation would have made this a far more useful book. This is not for beginners!" or "Title-Thirteen is just awful. No, really. It purports to be for beginners, but after an introduction explaining a new and rather confusing system of notation, it just dives into tunes without even showing you how to play a C scale. To make matters worse, there are errors in the notation (lots of bellows in the wrong direction or left-hand swapped for right-hand)! A true beginner with little musical knowledge but even the stoutest of hearts would be lost and frustrated by page five; meanwhile, anyone who is even modestly competent at the anglo has already learned or figured out everything in this book. Title-Thirteen is that unfortunate book which seems to have no real audience." Clear, simple reviews along those lines, or perhaps a bit longer, signed by the author along with a very brief concertina-biography: that's the service I'd like to see us offer to newcomers.
  23. I'll add my voice to the chorus: well done, Gary, and thank you for the book and the videos. Carols offer such great easy access to learning the "English-style Anglo" harmonies. My student and I had a great evening last night as I helped her with Good King and While Shepherds (and then, as a bonus exercise, we transposed Good King into G on the C/G just by ear, complete with chords and similar voicings). I love the camera set-up you've developed, where somehow we can see the fingers and buttons for both sides of the instrument clearly in a single view. It's like magic! I've heard probably half-a-dozen (maybe a dozen!) different settings for While Shepherds, but neither I nor my student had encountered the one in your book. What was your source for that, Gary? It's simple and elegant.
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