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Everything posted by wayman

  1. The Button Box Scharfix sees heavy use, and I think the best blades we've ever had were Israeli. Probably the same type as Greg's favourites? Other blades we've tried don't measure up. Even among the Israeli blades, some new ones were absolutely amazing, most were very very good, and a few were ... what's wrong with this one? Sometimes when I thought I was having a really bad day even with a new Israeli blade, I'd change to another new blade and everything would suddenly go well. (Of course, other times it turned out I really was just having a bad day.) It's only just occurred to me that after some reading reviews and trying different things years ago, I settled on Merkur blades for my double-edged razor for shaving. But I never tried putting one in the Sharfix to see how it compares, and I never tried putting one of the Israeli blades in my razor, either. Has anyone tried Merkur blades in their Sharfix?
  2. This may be apples and oranges being that I'm in America, but I have a 'valuable personal property' insurance policy for my musical instruments. For instruments in the few-thousand-dollar range like my Morse concertinas and my Martin guitar, the insurance agency just accepts my personal appraisal. For the Jeffries, I got it appraised professionally and faxed the appraisal letter to my insurance company. I think I pay $100-200/year total for all the instruments (about $20,000 total appraised value for eight or ten itemized instruments?), and they're covered whether I'm home or traveling. I don't know whether the policy would have to change if I were using them professionally. Lower-value possessions have just been included in my home-owners (or previously renters) insurance policies, whether I and the possessions are at my dwelling or elsewhere. I don't know where the line officially is between 'a normal possession' and 'valuable personal property'. My laptop costs more than my Pokerworks, but the laptop is just 'a normal possession' while the Pokerworks are also in my VPP policy. (But I added them as sort of an afterthought and maybe I didn't really need to.) Things may work entirely differently in the UK. I'm curious.
  3. 6-8 November 2015 Hosted by the University of Aberdeen's Elphinstone Institute for Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology: "A unique celebration of small free-reed instruments, including mouth organs, concertinas, melodeons, diatonic button accordions, and Jew’s harps, the convention will be just the place to enjoy the appealing music of these delightful instruments from some of the very best talents around, both local to Scotland and from further afield. It will be a great opportunity to find out more about the instruments and their music. You can visit a beginners’ session, join an elementary workshop, or, if suitably experienced, learn about style and repertoire at a workshop. There are also several opportunities for informal sessions in local music-friendly pubs." Button Boxes & Moothies (official university website) Button Boxes & Moothies Facebook event (might be updated more frequently, plus you can rsvp and write comments etc) Check the sites for information about workshop leaders, performers, and schedule (no information yet, as of April 2015). I'll post updates as I learn about them!
  4. And I hear John Roberts and Bob Walser are no slouches at the anglo, either!
  5. Jim Lucas wrote "I believe it's also been said -- somewhere, sometime in the past -- that the reed will not speak quickly if the hole is over the reed's tip. If this is true, I have no basis for speculating whether or not that would be caused by what I've described above, but it might be relevant to the discussion elsewhere of how a reed begins to vibrate." Yes, that's certainly true for the extremely low reeds, in my experience. I *think* the "air pad directly over reed tip" badness is true for both inside and outside reeds. At least, that's my recollection, but I can't swear to it, as it's been some while since I've messed around with this; and I can't do a test on this for some weeks yet as I'm several thousand miles from the workshop at the moment (In England; attending the upcoming Kilve weekend.)
  6. I can testify to the horribleness of the sound if a reed is on the wrong-way-round in a hybrid. I'm not sure how to characterize it in words. It's just ... really bad. For extremely low notes (beyond, say, an octave-and-a-half below middle C), a chamber longer than the reed (with the reed tip near the end of the chamber) is beneficial. That is, you're further increasing the distance between air pad and reed tip. But don't ask me about the physics (fluid mechanics, etc); what I've learnt has been through lots of geometry, statistics, and experimentation.
  7. Hey, that's almost exactly the Beaumont layout (Full disclosure, I work at the Button Box, contributed to the Beaumont R&D, and have built nearly all the Beaumont actions to date.) Łukasz wrote "This is why I think that teaching to play on a Hayden in a manner "this is C note, this is A note" is wrong - instead it should be learnt like "this is root note, this is major second, this is the scale shape, this is a major chord shape" - especially on a transposable MIDI instrument." That's how I've always thought about music ... but I come at it from the diatonic instrument experience (harmonica, melodeon, and now anglo; though I've also been playing Hayden for fifteen years and totally love and appreciate the system). I'm actually slowly working on a teaching method -- for anglo, for playing intuitively and improvising in many different keys on an anglo (way beyond C, G, and D) without thinking about note and chord names -- that builds on these same ideas of scale tones, intervals, and shapes. If I ever get it into a shareable format, all y'all will be the first to know On the topic of ragtime, I play Dallas Rag on the anglo, and find that (unsurprisingly) it's easiest to play that on a C/G in the key of C, and that when I do so I use D# a lot (and think of it functionally as D#, rather than Eb, though I'm not sure whether I'm actually correct about that...). I've never tried ragtime on a Hayden, so I can't say for sure whether I'd find playing an Eb or a D# more "natural" feeling. Next opportunity I get to play around on a Beaumont, I'll try both -- there are a few Eb/D# duplications on the Beaumont. Not that my experience will in any way reflect anyone else's!
  8. "Concertina Valentine", "How do I date my Wheatstone", concertina "pickups" ... what kind of a forum is this, anyway?
  9. I'm a concertina maker; my housemate is a violin maker. When I think about the differences in how his and my instruments produce sound, the violin seems so simple to me, and at times I wish I were building an instrument whose physics I actually have (... or think I have) a decent grasp of! And, as I read this fascinating c-net thread and reflect on concertinas and violins, it calls to mind a passage in The Joy of Cooking (1953 edition) on baking powder: I find this passage -- and others from this oft-times surprisingly rambly and philosophical cookbook -- particularly delightful and surprisingly applicable to other realms of my life outside the kitchen.
  10. Likewise, I know a lot of trad fiddlers who switch between GDAE, AEAE, and other tunings during sessions or dances, prefering different tunings for different tunes or sets because of the keys and potential for drones or double-stops. Banjo players, too, for their own inscrutable banjo reasons
  11. Most 38-button Jeffries have one or two reeds held on with screws instead of slotted into the reedpan (because of space constraints). It's hard to characterize how they don't sound as nice as the others, but they don't sound as nice as the others.
  12. The sound of a concertina reed doesn't come from the reed itself vibrating. It comes from the airflow through the vent being totally cut off at so-many times per second (440 times for the "central A", etc). If you make the reed smaller than the vent, either by filing the tip or the sides, then it will never totally cut off the airflow through the vent, and you won't get a note.
  13. My recollection is that this is the thread where the blue-tack came into play... but I don't remember the details. Adrian and Robin were major contributors to that discussion. David, I'd like very much to see the fingering chart you mention in the eBay listing. Any chance of posting it here?
  14. A longer answer: really not worth it, unless it's your fifth anglo or so. Get a C/G, a G/D, and a Bb/F and I think you're able to handle just about everything in the ECD/Playford repertoire. The G/D ably covers the tunes in A (though you could play them on a 30-button C/G, too). The C/G ably covers the tunes in F. And the Bb/F is really good for all those two-flat tunes (Bb and Gm) and three-flat tunes (Eb and Cm). Much harder to play these on a C/G. In America, "The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes" (1986) is *the* book which covers the ECD/Playford repertoire of America for the past thirty years, with 436 dances/tunes ranging from the very well-known to the still-pretty-obscure, and from 1651 to the 1980s. A second volume was recently published, with another 400-odd tunes of recent composition and popularity plus more recent reconstructions from old sources. Skimming through the first volume ... Tunes in five #s ( B ): zero Tunes in four #s (E or C#m): zero (And I can only think of two tunes in E which are commonly played for contras or squares, "Calliope House" and "Cowboy Jig". And there's a new-ish hot tune by Keith Murphy whose name I forget.) English dances whose tunes are written in three #s (A or F#m) are more plentiful -- I count 35 -- but ... it's not really that high. Of the 35 tunes written in A, several are commonly played in G (eg, Speed the Plough, Gathering Peascods). (And you *could* play any of them in G, or C, or any key ... it's just a question of whether you can convince your bandmates.) There are some chestnuts (at least, they're old favorites in the Philadelphia ECD community, but community repertoires vary widely!) written in A (eg, Prince WIlliam, The Bishop, Geud Man of Ballangigh, Sun Assembly, Long Odds, and others) which are always played in A in my experience, but again, a G/D will hold you in very good stead for these. And a number that are less common but still well-known. Maybe about 25 of the 35 are somewhere between fondly familiar and rather popular, in my experience? But there are a lot of these 35 which I've never heard played or danced in nineteen years of English Country Dancing in Philadelphia, Boston, and Amherst! Perhaps, somewhere in the world, Crosbey Square, Sybil's Au Revoir, and Rural Sports are familiar favorites, or perhaps they're great cracking tunes just waiting for their moment to shine. Technically they up the percentage of dances written in three #s ... but they shouldn't really be taken into account here! (But if you know and love any of those tunes, I'd like to hear about it )
  15. I've just written them to ask whether they'll hold me a spot while I send a registration in from America. If all goes well, I'll be there!
  16. It really depends on whether it matters (to you or to others) what key you're playing in. If you play with other musicians (in a band, in a session) and each tune is played in a particular key, then you'll have to learn all the tunes you know again with completely different fingerings in order to continue to play them in the same key. If you play as song accompaniment for yourself, you'll either have to learn the tunes again (new fingerings for your old key, so you can continue to sing them in the same old key, which is probably the key your voice is most happy with) or sing the songs in another key (so you don't have to learn new fingerings, but that may not be easy or possible for your voice). But if you're a solo performer or are just playing for yourself, then it may not matter at all that you'll be playing all your tunes in a different key on your new instrument.
  17. I've heard Tom (Jody's brother, also a great anglo player who plays a lot of morris tunes) gives the following extremely succinct advice for keeping the melody clear above the left-hand stuff: 1, "right hand long, left hand short" 2, "play fewer notes, [John!]" It's not always quite as simple as that -- but these two basic ideas will get you well on your way to balanced sound, whether on an anglo or a duet. I humorously add "John!" in #2 because Tom is always saying that to our friend John Dexter, a masterful classical violist (Manhattan String Quartet) whose very precise anglo concertina arrangements (John's an avid anglo player as well) are constructed as if they were Julliard theory exercises along the lines of "how would Beethoven arrange Trunkles" ... and the "first violin" melody part is often hard to hear, or just completely lost in the mix, as a result. The arrangements are technically perfect, the viola and second violin parts are moving exactly as the rules of counterpoint say they should, and would be perfect for a string quartet ... or for a concertina on stage with a mic on the right-hand side ... but not for a honkin' Jeffries concertina played acoustically outdoors!
  18. Not just concertinas. There are few things I find as annoying as a battalion of guitars playing chords so loud that I can't identify the melody line, even when several instruments are playing melody. So if your concertina isn't the only instrument playing chords, please be gentle. Or a battalion of melodeons. (Various threads at The Session and Mudcat suggest "a mass of melodeons", "a misery of melodeons", "a wheeze of melodeons" ... compare with the much nicer "a consort of concertinas". See, we're appreciated more than the melodeons, at least in some circles! )
  19. Seems an apt opportunity to mention "Is the concertina a noisy instrument?", an amusing poem included by Dan Worrall in his Anglo-German Concertina: A Social History which has been set to music, and performed to great reception at Youth Traditional Song Weekend a few days ago, in Beckett, Massachusetts (yes, the very same venue as the NE Squeeze-In) The poem was written circa 1889 as witty commentary on a court case in England in which someone was accused of annoying others with his concertina playing -- the case hinged on the precise legal definition of "noisy instrument" and whether the concertina was one!
  20. Dancing about on stage! You are going to tell us the performance schedule and where we can buy tickets, right?
  21. Jody, I realized after posting that the instrument I was thinking of wouldn't work anyway -- regardless of whether there might ever have been any chance of making any sort of arrangement for a lend. It's in an old tuning that would be dreadfully incompatible with the orchestra.
  22. More knitting examples, and working from them to figure out whether I personally consider tools including CNCs count as hand-made for concertinas: I know *a lot* of knitters, and they all get many of (if not all of) their patterns from ravelry.com (or else use the website for research, guidance, and feedback if not directly for patterns), and even when all the actual knitting is done on hand-held needles (whether or not their wool was hand-sheared, hand-washed, hand-carded, hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-skeined) they would all consider their products "hand-made" and so would any consumer. So it doesn't matter -- in knitting -- whether key parts of the creation process rely on computers and the internet, or on industrial yarn-making and tool-making technology. (I don't know anyone who uses hand-made needles, though I'm sure there are some. I don't know anyone who used hand-tools to make their own spinning machine or skein-winder, either -- the simple wooden machines I've seen used were all store-bought and probably made using power tools.) By contrast, I don't (think I) know any knitter who would consider a sweater made on a knitting-machine to be "hand-made". That one thing seems to be the crucial difference between "hand-made" and "not hand-made" when it comes to knitting. And that difference seems to be very universally accepted among people I know. (I haven't surveyed people specifically for this; I'm just going by my impressions. But now I'm inclined to do a survey, and see what a few dozen knitting friends and knitting consumers think! I'll share the results.) So what is it about the knitting machine? Is it that you can program it and then walk away and come back and find a finished significant component? (Concertina analogy: You can't walk away from a table saw ... but you could walk away from a CNC machine under some circumstances.) I think that's it -- "hand-made" is more a factor of "constant person attention to the work, regardless of process or tool or jig" than anything else; maybe that's the only factor. And furthermore, this applies only to the creation of the finished item and its discreet components, and not to the harvesting or production of its raw materials. (Concertina analogy: it doesn't matter how the brass or steel or aluminium was made; what matters is how you cut the parts out and shape them and assemble them. And it's accepted that some universally-used non-product-specific parts can be pre-made, such as screws.) Introducing automatic part-feeding or some sort of automated machining you're so confident in that you can walk away from it and return later when its task is done is what makes the difference for me between "hand-made" and "not hand-made". And I think a CNC machine with automated machining but where you monitor it like a hawk, because you need to regularly manually change bits or change parts, counts as hand-made by this criterion. It certainly does count as hand-made in my book; whether it counts as hand-made universally-enough to be used in marketing, that's the question.
  23. I've seen one or maybe two Ab/Eb Jeffries come through the workshop over the past five years. We retune them to G/D because that's what people want to buy. My understanding is that a century ago they weren't nearly so obscure as they are today; my suspicion is that many Ab/Ebs have been retuned to G/Ds over the past fifty years. I do know of one marvelous-sounding Ab/Eb 38-key Jeffries, in original tuning, but it's on the other side of the Atlantic from Jody and unlikely to be of help here.
  24. I may have posted this in 2013, but here it is again (and maybe I'll sit down in the music room and do something new, if I get myself a new camera as a pre-Christmas present...). John Kirkpatrick's Chariots recorded on a 31-key modified-Jeffries-layout Morse C/G. (For those keeping score at home, on this instrument I've replaced the G/A reeds in the "G row" with F/E reeds; the left thumb has F#/C reeds.)
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