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Everything posted by harpomatic

  1. Wolf, i am one of those "multi-instrumentalists, and understanding your remark, simply want to tell you that time after time your understanding and vision of EC and the way you express your observations are just spot-on. I particularly enjoyed your "piano" comparison in this post, as well as guitar parallels that you expressed in the past.
  2. Tom, exactly what Pat says - you didn't pull enough air to activate the opposing reed. What you did is a single reeded bend, in both cases, with and without the finger blocking off the opposite reed. In this case, indeed, valves are even helpful, as that single reed will bend even easier. Double reeded bends are a technique that once conquered, seems to be hard to avoid using, it's such a staple of blues playing that one tends to overdo it. However it is not easy to develop this technique at first, and you're simply not doing it right (yet). Its not just the force of the airflow, but a change of direction. I have seen many beginners struggle with it, though to someone who can do it it seems like there's nothing to it. Try it on a 10 hole harp on inhale, hole 3 is the bendiest, due to exactly this phenomenon - the reed opposite to B there is G, so you can bend down potentially to G, but in practice you can easily get A, and even Ab. Thats how those humble diatonics can play all those missing notes. So, unless you are hitting that A, you are not getting the double reeded bend, but once you do - you will hear and feel the difference. It does take the force of breath that's scary to a beginner, for the fear of damaging the reeds... no worries - these are much more resilient than we think. Ps. About the ability to reproduce the experiment: Pat and I, along with any intermediate level harp player can do it a thousand times out of a thousand tries, it works every time without fail. Pps. listen to the first 2 notes of this track, the first is the bend taken from the extreme bottom (without releasing it back up), just straight start and finish "at the bent bottom". The second is the transition from the initialy bent note up to its normal pitch. I know that Carlos retuned his harp according to the principle in question, just for that note alone, to be able to bend it further than normal... (if I am not mistaken, the title refers to that fact, retuning of the C note to B for the bend)... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E7VWbALgbZA
  3. Alex knew I wasn't kidding.. I have chord harmonica with plastic reeds, works great. Last night I made a reed out of a plastic cup - it gives a bass note so loud and low, that it rattles my teeth if I blow it.
  4. Wolf, this confirms my thinking of EC, in this case (nonET-tuned), as an instrument in C, piano- like. Don, yes, and pedal steel guitar is tuned to A442 -443, and going into various tempered tunings from there(mainly elders are still at it), or tuning Et. But that's the origin of the pitch creep, that took us up to 454 once before... Greg, very informative, thank you for further clarification of this curious topic, you are among the very few who have hands on experience with so many instruments - that's a unique vantage point you got there, much appreciated! On your points about tuning reeds - confirms all my observations about the subject. I want to share a tip, perhaps not so much for your benefit - first you may know this, second - this is not a permanent "trick", can't be used in a professional situation of your kind, but perhaps for easy experimentation, and for friends here that are servicing their own concertinas. Ok, so, in tuning harmonicas (for my own use), I always prefer to go down. This allows for adding weight as a means of tuning down, as Greg mentioned. It's a common technique, has its pros and cons, but it works fine when done right. You can often see some extreme examples of this in accordions. Now, here's my tip, that I discovered while looking for a temporary/reversible way to accomplish this: any sticky matter, in its tiniest of amounts will accomplish the task. I first experimented with adhesive putty. Very effective. The amount, equal to a grain of sand, landed on a reed can take you very far. At first, I thought that surely the putty will "swing off" the reed within a minute of use (harmonica, moisture, extreme bending - conditions that never occur in bellows-driven free reeds). To my surprise, the harmonica that I retuned this way is still good after 14 years of use... At the same time, the action is perfectly reversible, one swipe with a blade. Easy to fine tune by removing or adding tiny amounts. My current favorite is "white out", the office product... Especially in pen form. You can put a tiny dot on a reed, nice and neat. It will stay on forever. Will take you down by a quarter tone, depending on size. Add another dot, on top of the first - go down some more. Much like solder, except it is totally reversible with one scrape of a blade. It stays on forever, but as a commercial/professional operator, like Greg, I would rather do the traditional, permanent and dependable use of solder and other techniques. However, for my own use, where I am my own customer, shipping and handling is much cheaper - my "forever" have been tested for well over 14 years, under most extreme conditions, without a single fail. One nice thing about whiteout - it scrapes off in tiny increments so easily, like chalk. I prefer to land a slightly larger dot, and then finetune by removing tiny amounts.
  5. Thank you, excellent material! So, as I understand, in case of EC (and not necessarily other systems), it is rather tuned to middle C of whatever frequency it happens to be. Will check tomorrow to see how close it really is to modern pitch..
  6. What I don't completely understand yet, is the "zero" note vs the "home" note, to which the whole thing is tuned. Based on what I read thus far, the "zero" note may be, say, A (440 or whatever else), while the "home" note to which the entire instrument is tuned may be some other note, G or C, or D for example. As if an instrument is in a particular key, which with ET, it isn't (talking about EC here)... So, I get the concept, but how to determine my "home" key - a bit confused there. Ps. My guess it's C, red buttons and all, but is it, really?
  7. Steve, based on my understanding of a current situation, 1/5 is preferable, its a bit closer to Et, sweetened chords, but still not too clashing with ET tuned playing partners (given that you're tuned to the same concert pitch.) The genius of EC is that you get both enharmonics, this way the layout makes so much more sence... (correct me if I am wrong, I just started my excursion into this meantone territory)
  8. Thank you fellas, seems like Greg zeroed in on the answer here - upon closer inspection and after reading up on the 1/5 mean tone here on Cnet, it does sound like the correct identification. I was checking with a "better" tuner, but not the best, cents read in increments of 5, so (very) few cents here and there probably can account for "not exact", as Greg put it, but still very convincing temperament identification. Fascinating stuff!
  9. John, thanks for pointing out lack of relevant info (though I know that concert pitch isn't any temperament:), I was hoping that perhaps a given "modern" pitch + just a mere fact of different enharmonics may lead to a quick guess. Wrong assumption on my part, but your advice lead to a good session of more precise measuring on a better tuner (though, who knows, really), and I get a pretty consistent read out for the first time: First, my A is 443 (not 442). All my Ab, Eb, Bb are +15 cents sharp, throughout the instrument. All F#, C#, G# and D# are -15 cents flat. All B's are -5, F's and C's are +5. I never really play anything other than ET, so never got into particularities of other temperaments, though I have a good basic understanding of what's at play. On a retunable instrument, like pedal steel, there's much discussion about temperaments, but I am an ET believer, so just tune to that and "meantone" me not, so to say... However, this tuning sounds very nice, and seems to be consistent and deliberate, which rules out just being out of tune. Got me curious as to what it actually is.
  10. Just curious, how did they stamp those "letter" names on bone buttons? Nice feature, btw, even though I know them by heart..
  11. Friends, what's the tuning temperament in this EC: A442 and doubling as it should throughout the range on those "A"s, while my doubled enharmonics are clearly differently tuned? It's clearly not ET, but not one of those antiquated A 452 or 436, or such, either. Produces nice chords, as expected, seems to work with modern stuff, too - A442 is close to modern concert pitch, currently in use by about half of all tunable instruments, as the modern concert pitch. ?.
  12. I'd surely try a Wheatstone hybrid before any other, they surely knew a thing or two about making these things....
  13. Now, the single reeded bends do exist, as well - you do get them on a chromatic harp, where reeds are isolated from each other via a different construction method, including valves, like in concertinas and accordions. Yes, the single reed can bend down, almost a whole tone, but not much more than that. It sounds very similar, but not entirely the same (not as deep and raunchy), and it doesn't feel the same (in the player's mouth). You can, however, remove valves on an airtight harp (most of them, though not all, you have to know what you're doing there), and those deep, raunchy, dirty bluesy bends become available on a chromatic. Another form of proof of double reeded bending...
  14. Tom, greetings! Well, there are two sources of proof, one is my personal one that I will describe shortly, another is out there in the world in form of a harmonica, built around this principle. The first one, the original designed by Rick Epping for Hohner(also a concertina player, if I am not mistaken), called XB40, no longer being produced, and currently the only other that's in production is Suzuki S30 or something like that. The XB stands for "extra bending", and it does that, indeed. That includes bends in holes (reeds) that normally do not bend, all 40 of them. The ones that do not bend normally, do not do so due to the double reeded bending phenomenon that we are discussing here: if an opposing reed is higher in frequency, the note will not bend (down), as you would expect on reeds that do bend.This has long been known to harmonica playes, and was an easy explanation of why harmonica abruptly refuses to bend beyound hole 4, on the draw, as the tuning arrangement changes on the Richter diatonic and blow reeds are no longer lower in pitch than the draw, like on the first 4 holes.Thus no familiar bends on the draw. This also explained why you get the deepest bend on hole 3 -its opposite blow reed is 2 whole tones lower, as opposed to the rest being only 1 whole tone appart. Now, that in itself is a form of proof, that for the past 30 years at least, has been a common knowledge among harp players. Back to XB40 - the harp exploits that phenomenon, by building in an additional "enabler" reed in every hole. Such reed doesn't sound on its own, but only reacts to your bending action, now on every note, every hole, exhale or inhale. That, in itself is another form of proof. Now, the 3rd is my own claim to fame in this department - the deepest bend of the reed, ever recorded. I will look up a link to it, as it was posted on harp-l (harmonica forum) by Zombor Kovich (I think I got his name spelled correctly). Now, I share that claim to the "deepest bend ever recorded" with Zombor, as he actually conducted and recorded an experiment, based on my hypothesis. I am not the inventor of this double-reeded principle, nor am I the first one to discover it. However, surprisingly, when I hypothesised that due to the known principle, we can bend a reed well beyound 3 semitones, possibly down a whole octave (the limiting factor being the opposing reed's pitch) no expert would confirm this. Harp-l is a forum where the biggest and brightet of names in harp playing, construction, history, etc frequent, among all other harp enthusiasts, much like Cnet here, only much bigger). Now, surprisingly noone has ever done just what I hypothesised, and many leading experts said that, although seemingly correct in theory, in practice such a bend would likely be too deep, and likely impossible to achieve. I was surprized that none of the experts, set up with the technical means of experimenting, have tried it yet. I was away from home at a time, unable to conduct the experiment myself. Zombor volunteered to physically conduct the experiment, and produced that wildest of bends, the entire octave down, recorded it and posted on harp-l for all the posterity. Its somewhere out there, done few years ago, I will try to fish it out for you.
  15. Rod, I do believe you got my up to date impression of two instruments, and reed behavior in its entirety, including the bit of replacement steel reeds, which is both fascinating and illuminating. I want to point out that, outside of the box, while I was testing all the reeds, the difference between the steel ones and its neighbors was loud and clear, pun intended. I was sure that I would be able to spot it, once the box was assembled... Not so. In general, having these two provides tons of insights onto reccurent topics here. I recently re-read all the pages of this forum (I can get obsessive like that, plus it reads like a book, not such a monumental task, and I avoid asking questions to which answers were already provided). Well, comparing my Chinese anglo, or german konzertina to one of these englishes would be immensely fruitful and insightful, but comparing 1860 Lachenal to its grandchild generation Wheatston Aeola is simply fascinating. Debates about reed shoe material, reeds, woods, baffles, number of bellows folds, button material, range, weight, shape, bushings, action, tuning temperaments, role of doubled enharmonics - all are instantly settled for me, given these, somewhat typical representatives of the same species, given all the differences + one commonality of equal air tightness. It really is like comparing apples to apples, for a change. (Comparing oranges to oranges, meaning anglo to simply "german", one seems to make any sense only if you really cannot temporarily lift an extra few pounds of weight, maybe due to some muscular fatigue, often associated with excessive exercising at the local gym) Ps. To me the quality of a given instrument was always about how quite it can be played with full range of expression, as the louder end can be taken care of with both, mutual understanding between playing partners and magic of modern amplification. Meaning to say here, that I do see my brass Lach as a viable performance monster, with plenty of honk to it. As Theo apptly pointed out....Though I am entirely with you, Rod - first and foremost I do it for my own pleasure, if it isn't happening, there's no point in taking it out on other people. Not even animals.... P.p.s I am watching Tonny Bennett, and clearly, there are times (the entire concert, for instance), that "you", as a band of 100 players, and 50 more backing singers, collectively bunched together under a "role" of an accompaniment - you really do not want to overpower one Tony Bennett. Hey, he's an elderly gentlemen, after all. And thank God, due to the same mutual understanding and magic of modern amplification, Tony rides on top, the way it should be.
  16. Glad to be helpful, and Don is providing a link to a seductive instrument, but you have a tough choice. I also entered the world of concertinas via anglo, facing the same set of dilemmas. To put it simply, I just knew that 20b wouldn't do it for me. Not a complete instrument, sorry but it's the truth....I went with a cheap Chinese one, 30b and never regretted it. On e separate note, Artie was right, you get more notes per $, if you go with English, and its a better system, anyway! (Oops;)
  17. Rod, I (Mike,"harpomatic"), can surely compare and contrast both, steel and brass. Let me first describe two instruments:extended (custom)range amboyna aeola in perfect condition (it doesn't get any better), and 1860 or so Lachenal "tutor" model with original wood baffles, the most basic of "vintages"(can surely be called "antique" by all definitions of the terms). If you can make the instrument air-tight, and I did in about 40 minutes, by making a one piece gasket to go over the reed pan "web" of chamber dividers and bellows frame, simply laid between the reedpan and its corresponding end (action/palette board), the true sound and response can be compared, indeed. It is all about the sufficient air delivery to the reed, without that factor there is nothing to talk about. Now, when both of my concertinas are equally airtight, here's what I get: 1) no rust or corrosion on brass reeds - reeds look brand new with just a swipe of a brass cleaner 2)reed responsiveness is the same on both instruments 3) dynamic range is the same (will elaborate a bit further on that) 4) sound is indeed, very different. 5) volume is not as different as it seems, and as common opinion would have it, and here comes my "elaboration": While, indeed my steel reeded aeola is a bit louder than brass Lachenal, at its extreme upper limit, the brass one can be played much more quietly at the extreme low volume limit (whisper level, you can play next to someone sleeping, without waking them up). Thus, the dynamic range is virtually the same, if we're talking about the "range", as such. To put it simply, where Aeola extends up, Lachenal extends down... Most playing resides somewhere in the middle, and there - both instruments are the same. However, it really doesn't seem so. The reason for a seemingly louder steel reded Aeola is a completely different sound. It is brighter, the difference being similar to the difference between a steel string guitar and a nylon string. In both cases, (concertina and guitar), steel will seem to be much louder than it actually is. Now, if I describe the sound of brass, it is just as "traditional concertina" as steel, but "warmer, woodier, darker, a bit more mellow - same set of descriptions could be used on nylon vs steel guitar. Beyound that, words fall short of an adecvate descriptions. As a harmonica player, I simply love the sound of a brass reed, it's as authentic as it gets. The ability to play extra quietly is more useful to an apartment dweller late at night than wining volume wars that cannot be won anyway. My final observation:the Lachenal has a couple of replacement steel reeds(it had a long life), from the start I made an effort to NOT remember which ones, so that I could objectively compare the sound difference. Now, I still have no idea which ones those are, as there is no difference whatsoever. Makes me think that its more about the rest of the instrument's construction that ultimately shapes the sound that one hears.... Ps. I have nothing to gain by convincing you and the greater concertina community that brass is good - rather, I'd have you all convinced that they are garbage, so you all start selling them off at rock bottom prices, thus providing me with a greater choice of great antiques. Vintage vs "cheap hybrid" there is no contest, if we're talking about Chinese or those "italian"(also Chinese) cheapies that range from $700 to 1,500.I hope one day such sums of cash will seem small to me, so I can also think of those as "cheap".
  18. -someone posted " Brass reeds are usually a bad idea." I soooo disagree.... (have both, steel reed aeola and brass Lachenal)
  19. Well, the sound itself is really the same: two reeds tuned octave appart, but Wolf is right - it is a different instrument, in obvious ways.
  20. Mustafa, they already make those harmonicas, they are called "octave harmonicas"l no matter how much they cost, it will be cheaper to get a ready made one, let me know if you need more advice.
  21. Tell you what: I will stick with my EC until I master it, but you guys - Wolf and Little John, you did this to me! I finally looked at that Crane layout, and I want to try it now! I shouldn't have looked...
  22. Thank you for these supperb examples! Wow, the first one is such virtuosic performance, from every point of view. The second is further proof of it (accordion sound) being a vital part of contemporary tradition. Bunch of young guys partying to their own contemporary folk sound, driven by free reeds, without any sentimental revivalist vibe to it. Beautiful culture and people. (I personally like to party with girls in attendance, but totally get this man-bonding thing as a cool element of culture). The Russian example is somewhat similar to the situation in the West, where one form of accordion or another is at times included in the band, can even get a solo, but it's not a main driver of a band or pop style, just like a violin isn't (Dave Matthews Band comes to mind as an exeption to the rule).However, through your link I found tons of examples of Free reed-driven Russian contemporary folk. Indeed, accordion is alive and well in Russian contemporary folk scene.
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