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Shas Cho

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Everything posted by Shas Cho

  1. I guess these will do for my contribution: My photoshttp://tinyurl.com/ShasView
  2. Oh, dang, dang, DANG! I can't believe I did that. It was sidesqueeze Ken who dragged me over here. Man, I miss my brain. Sorry, Ken. That picture, which I cannot find, is no doubt a pre-Rochelle photo of my first concertina, a leaky Stagi my in-laws brought home from Ireland. Either that or you caught me plinking on my ukulele...
  3. Good afternoon, y'all. It's been a while. Ken (tall ship) dragged me over here and I thought I might use the opportunity to say a general 'howdy' and to ask for the thoughtful advice of the group. With the encouragement and assistance of you good folk I adopted a Rochelle last autumn and have never regretted it for a minute. In fact, I'm very grateful to you and for her. I don't know that my playing has reached any stellar heights but my enthusiasm for the instrument has never flagged. Very few days have passed without my playing it, at least for a few minutes and I often spend a good bit of the evening playing Irish tunes and pr-1980 favourites. I just play the melody line in a one-note-at-a-time style, like a wood wind or a hand-operated harmonica. I haven't heard many decent players use that technique, but it's all I can manage and I get a lot of pleasure from it. Actually, it just occurs to me that you might be able to advise me... I pretty much live in bed, and most days I lack the strength to hold the tina up for more than a few moments. Typically I rest it on the bed clothes while playing. As you can probably imagine, the 'bottom' creases of the bellows are becoming quite worn. I'm sure that prevention is easier than repair but I don't know what sort of prevention to apply. I look at these increasingly threadbare folds and think about gluing on chafe patches of cloth or soft leather, but my courage fails me when I consider that my modifications could spoil the action or create excessive resistance. I would be very sad to damage her. Suggestions, please? After looking at Pete's shoulder harness I'm thinking the ultimate solution might be to hang a pair of long straps from my ceiling to suspend the instrument just a centimetre above my bed!
  4. You've nailed it, John. Took the words right out of my finger tips. I play my Rochelle every day and love it, but stiffer straps and a larger gasper would be a substantial improvement. I'm rather amazed that I haven't yet done both. The other improvement is to re-sew the strap attachments on the carrying case. Or more accurately the storage bag. Higher-quality concertinas are produced, of course, but only by building them from the ground upwards. I don't think the Rochelle could be improved significantly beyond these simple changes. Nor does it need to be. I still smile every time I pick mine up!
  5. Prague!

    What an excellent place to begin 2012.

    All the best to you,

    and thank you for the smile.


  6. Merry Christmas, brother Wolf!

    I wish you all the best.


  7. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Solstice, and a Prosperous New Year! This has been a year of really good things and really difficult things. The difficulties have prevented me from being as interactive as I would have liked, but discovering the concertina and this community of friendly, generous, enthusiastic squeezers has been about the best of the year for me. I feel privileged to have met several of you (in a virtual sense) and I hope your holidays are filled with family and warmth, music and affection and peace. Shas
  8. Thanks, Nancy. For simple, incremental, and fun exercises I am still very enthused about Alan Day's tutorial. True, it's for a 20-button anglo, but that's no doubt where we all start, eh> http://www.concertinaman.com/concertina-tutorial/ I have several 'big name' tutorials now, and Alan's is still my favourite. Speaking of tutorials, I don't have the tutorial that comes free with new Rochelles. Does anyone have a not-being-used copy they'd like to sell cheap? Shas
  9. Here is "Bile Them Cabbage Down" using both hands an octave apart, to demonstrate the relative volume of the two sides of the Rochelle. Nothing fancy, just using Audacity with my MacBook's built-in mic. As you can hear, the upper register is almost entirely hidden by the lower. I'm using the bellows to break between notes because in my first take the mic picked up the buttons, making it sound like a musical type writer! Bile Them Cabbage Down, 2 hands.mp3
  10. Thanks, Malcomb, to you and to the Dippers. I'm listening.
  11. Ah-hah! Evidently tiff images are not supported. And I thought I had this image-posting thing figured out. Sorry about the chaos.
  12. Camera case.tiff This looks like the right kind of thing for a "soft" case. It seems to have every virtue. £20.90 with free shipping in the UK. Not bad! http://www.ebay.co.u...545196558331534
  13. Dang. It's not often I wish I lived in England, but that's a classy case! Now I know what I'm going to look for. Thanks for the inspiration!
  14. Thanks, Ann I can reach the burp button okay, though a half inch further outboard would be ideal. What bothers me is that when I press it nothing much happens! I am definitely going to double the size of the gasper. I'm afraid I'll damage the bellows (or my pectorals!) trying to gulp a bit of air during a speedy tune. I'm not knocking the Rochelle, at all, at all. I am loving the precision, the air-tightness, and even the voice is growing on me. But the more I like her the more frustrated I am to be wrestling with such an obvious and easily-addressed (at the factory) handicap. This is an instrument with a helluva lot of potential.
  15. Assuming you're the 'right' Paul Hardy,

    I wish to thank you for the tunebooks and cheat sheets

    you have so cleverly and generously made available

    for we less-clever folk to enjoy.

    Muchas gracias, Señor.

  16. Another teaching opportunity: Haven't I read somewhere that vertical storage is a no-no, because the hell-facing valves learn to hang away from their respective slots, resulting in chronic leakage and unwanted reed activity? Or does that apply only to 'tinas with leather valves? "...TWO Rochelles on the table" How rude.
  17. Here are a few small photos of the Rochelle with my Stagi. Alrighty, then. Looks like I'll have to make myself a case, and use it. The supplied 'gig bag' is far too slippery to leave on a table top, and far too roomy to train the bellows to stay closed at rest; the sides of the bag are solidly two inches longer than the Rochelle itself. All advice and information is eagerly and gratefully received!
  18. Thanks for the input and advice, guys. So, is there a method or an etiquette for resting a strapless evening box? Surely the instrument doesn't go back into its case every time a player leaves for a moment to acquire or dispose of a beer, yet I can't imagine leaving a concertina to gradually crawl across the table... I may have to travel to the northern isles (or at least to Nova Scotia) to observe these creatures in their native habitat! Regarding the 'light left hand' and the 'medially positioned bellows', Jody and Daniel told Bill and Bill told me and I have already passed it on to my son in law. The folk process is still alive and well! I am honoured to be a part of it. Anyone else? Keep 'em coming! ps (this is the 'edit'): I have taken a couple of snapshots of the Stagi and Rochelle side by side. If anyone is interested I will post them as soon as I figure out how.
  19. Wow. Rejuvenation indeed! I share your admiration for true craftsmen. There's a line in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (a book which single-handedly justifies the printing press) that sadly resonates with me. The author is talking about welding as sculpture and says something like "If you know what you are doing, steel can take any shape you want. If you don't know what you are doing it can take any shape but the one you want." You're going to have a beautiful instrument there. Congratulations!
  20. Hey, Thaosyr jeffn has a Rochelle to sell. In case you're curious I have posted the beginnings of a review of this model on a thread called Rochelle 1.0, a novice's review under General Discussions. Just sayin. Shas
  21. Hey, Jeff. My Rochelle finally arrived! I posted my first impressions in General Discussions in a Topic called Rochelle 1.0, a novice's review. Maybe it will answer some of the questions your 226 viewers have. Come see what you think- add, confirm, disagree, whatever. Shas
  22. *scratching my head* I coulda sworn I posted this here a coupla hours ago, but I don't see it now. Meds, I suppose. Well, hey! My Rochelle showed up two days ago! After paying ransom to our benevolent government I finally got my hands on it and haven't set it down yet I posted my initial impressions in the General Discussion thread Rochelle 1.0, a novice's review. Thanks for asking!
  23. It's here! My Rochelle has travelled halfway across the continent in a leisurely enough manner, but appears to have arrived intact even from the baggage handlers at Customs. Credit where credit is due. My relief is substantial. Opening the box, I found the black nylon carrying case. It seems to be substantial, made of dense cloth and double stitched. The plastic two-way zipper is pleasingly heavy. The only fault I see in the construction is the sewing of the handles to the case. The straps are heavy enough for casual use but they are attached with widely spaced and loosely sewn stitches. The shoulder strap is conveniently removable via adequate shackles, but the strap itself is made by simply doubling the light webbing back onto itself and running a very few of the same loose and large stitches across it. I'll be reinforcing these before carrying it outside. The shoulder strap is attached fore and aft at an intelligent height and is easily adjustable via somewhat fine-finish-hostile hardware. But only if you want to make it shorter, which I find rather unlikely. My vote would be for another thirty cent's worth of webbing. The length is certainly usable and I'm not really complaining, but the adjustable feature is academic. The handle lies fore and aft on the lid. I've seen some heated discussions regarding 'top' versus 'side' handle placement. I have yet to see an opinion presented on fore-and-aft versus transverse attachment. Both the top and bottom of the bag appear to be of single-layer construction. The red velvety lining (what's this material called?) is nice and soft and slippery and seems to resist lint and dust entrapment. It's not silk, but it's appropriately non-scratchy stuff. A nice enough bag, but it's really a dust jacket rather than a busking bag. With no padding, single-layer ends, and minimally sewn handles this is definitely not something to protect the box from the rough and tumble of late-night pub sessions. Unzipping the bag, I saw a broken concertina. Sadly, I gently lifted out some shards of plastic. The first bits proved to be remnants of the jewel case holding the enclosed CD ROM tutor. Digging deeper I found the bulk of the CD case, and many smaller pieces in the bottom of the bag. But the Rochelle appears to be... well, not exactly unscathed, but I see only a few tiny, thin scratches in two plastic sides of the ends. They may even be pre-existing scratches, though I think not. In any event, I've been unconcerned with larger scratches than these in the lenses my eye glasses. Not a problem. In the contest of the Rochelle against the CD case the Rochelle is the clear winner. I apologize to the packager for mentioning this in public, but I think it's both significant and impressive that the force required to shatter the CD case (it's in many pieces, more than twenty) appears to have left the Rochelle unharmed, and that the exterior resisted the gouging potential of the very sharp shards, possibly for many miles and bounces. The edges of two bellows folds may have abraded a bit, but less than the wear on several others. This is a tough instrument! For future reference, a hands breadth of bubble wrap and a rubber band can often bring a CD case through the roughest shipping. Now, I'm definitely predisposed towards the Rochelle. I admit it. I am impressed by the credentials and accomplishments of the designer. Whether as an act of generosity or of entrepreneurial brilliance, or perhaps both together, I think it's wonderful that someone is making a reliably playable concertina at a price lower than many tourist souvenir boxes. And I expect that to be a long-term benefit to everyone concerned, from the impecunious or hesitant beginner to the makers of higher-ticket instruments to those working to preserve a musical heritage to the collectors and performers and the starving music-store retailers. Besides all of which, this is MY concertina. I have sold something I valued to buy it, and I want to be happy about my purchase. As such, I am not an objective reviewer. You have been warned. The Rochelle is black. Unashamedly, shinily, unrelentingly black. Which, aside from the shiny-ness matches my wardrobe perfectly. An aesthetic choice by the designer, and one both shared and vindicated by the other great watershed designers, Henry Ford and Nate Herreshoff. My daughter's first response was, "Nice. That should be played in an orchestra. Or a rock band." I only report, I do not interpret. The straps are of the more traditional design (I think) than the sandal straps on the Stagi. They are wide across the metacarpals, which should enhance control, and adjust via screws on the 'top' of the instrument. Speaking of screws, I am puzzled by the choice of the screws and washers protruding from the ends of the Rochelle and securing the bitter end of the hand strap. They would be quite suitable for bathroom plumbing fixtures, but are hardly what one expects on a serious musical instrument. I'll be shopping around for something a bit more elegant, possibly in bronze. The Rochelle has no straps to hold the bellows closed. That seems odd to me, but then the bellows and valves are tight enough to make them perhaps unnecessary. If I set my Stagi on the desk top without first snapping down the straps, it sprawls contentedly open like grandma's housecoat. Do the better instruments dispense with these straps? I'm concerned that some interested but ignorant person might give it a big tug without pressing a button and do some damage. (I'm not just being paranoid here- before I ever played the first note on my Stagi, when I had just been given it and was still thanking the givers, my sister did just that. She pulled so hard it swallowed the air valve pad and was unplayable until repaired. But then the Stagi has straps, and they didn't stop her. Which rather knocks my argument on the head...) I've read so many comments about the large size of the Rochelle that I was expecting something pretty cumbersome. That turns out to be a non-issue. In fact, when I'm playing the Rochelle I don't notice any difference at all. It's no mini, but it seems quite normal to me. Each flat side is a bit over four inches. The diameter is seven and a half inches from flat to flat, and from end to end just under seven inches. Substantial, yes, but hardly a Buick. I squeezed my hands into the too-tight straps (I know, but I was eager to try it out) and took a breath of air. Man, that really IS a slow air valve! The rumours are definitely true, and I am definitely going to enlarge it. I'd love to know if that has been changed in the new and improved edition. I tried to whip off a couple of Polly Wolly Doodle type tunes, but things began to go badly wrong. Nothing felt familiar, and the notes were all over the map. What the...? Oh, right. That outside bank of buttons is not the C scale. Blushing, I tried again. Much better, but hardly fluent. I felt off balance. The voice of the instrument was unfamiliar, too. At my wife's brilliant suggestion (she's a grade 10 pianist and the only real musician around here), I played one of my favourite airs, Ar Eirinn Ni Neofainn Ce Hi, as the initial test with a slow tune. The first thing I noticed was the abruptness with which each tone sprayed from the Rochelle. Just as I intended to coax out a zen-like tone of grief and resolve with neither beginning nor end, an impudent, pugnacious honk would startle my usurped finger's opposite-side analog into also stabbing its button, resulting in a brash bark as I jerked my shocked fingers away from the playing area. The sound, whilst not inharmonious, struck me as distinctively mocking. After my third bark in the same bar she announced that she needed to go start dinner and I was becoming significantly paranoid about pressing the buttons at all. You're probably either grinning or rolling your eyes and moving on, but this is a strictly factual account of the proceedings. I see that this is going to be to some extent a comparison of the Rochelle with my paper-bellowsed, twenty-buttoned Stagi. I suppose it's inevitable, as these are the only 'tinas I have ever played. I emphathize with your regret that a more knowledgeable concertinist is not conducting this review, but in spite of repeated hints no one else has stepped forward to do it. Onward, then. I gave up on that tune for the nonce and spent some time just experimenting with the air pressure required to produce sound from the various keys, how easily volume can be modified, and so on. And all this time my doubts were increasing about the quality of sounds I was hearing. Clear, yes, as clear as a bell. But I wasn't trying to play a bell. I wanted this thing to sound like a concertina, and in my mind that means sounding like my ill-tempered and blowzy Stazi. For all of the bad habits (and words) the Stagi has been teaching me, for all of the times I have despaired at ever getting through a couple of tunes without having a stuck button or needing replacement fluids, I have been confident that the noises it makes are at least concertina noises. In the higher register particularly, the tone of the Rochelle seemed so clear as to be lacking in character. True, the lower tones did seem a bit 'quack'-ey, but not in a masterful way. I didn't say it out loud in front of her, of course, but I was feeling a bit let-down. I turned to Ar Eirinn et al. again. I found that I still had to be both conscious and careful to avoid a premature, abrupt beginning to each note and especially to each phrase. No doubt practice will inform my cortex. The next peculiarity that struck me was the white, waxy- (I can't spell "plastic-ey") feeling buttons which are only half the diameter of the ivory-feeling buttons of my Stazi. They also protrude with admirable uniformity about twice as far from the instrument ends as I am used to. Wow. These seem really long, and poke-ey. That's not the odd bit, though. What was odd is that, while I admit to anthropomorphizing boats and to a certain extent instruments of trades, technology and music, I do not really believe that they are capable of independent action. Yet this Rochelle seemed to be somehow resisting my efforts to depress the keys. The buttons inevitably rub against the unbushed sides of their holes with whatever side pressure is applied by the player's fingers, but that doesn't appear to hinder them. Each button moves in and out freely enough. Yet as I played, or rather tried to play (the whole experience was proving so unexpected that I was having to 'think' about where my fingers were and what they were supposed to be doing, with the result that I regressed discouragingly) the machine seemed determined to oppose my every intent. While my elders, so to speak, and betters, to speak precisely, may know what was happening, it was a revelation to me when I figured out what was going on; These buttons, regarding which I am with-holding judgement, move almost exclusively in a single plane. They move towards the lever perpendicularly, then they move away perpendicularly. The button tips on the Stagi move in every direction, with the movement of each very liberally defined. Consequently, many buttons require specific and idiosyncratic input from the relevant fingertip in order to prevent sticking. A comfortable, welcoming, 'you can do whatever you like so long as you keep doing that' kind of feeling. By contrast, the Rochelle keyboard is about as inviting as one of those tough-love reform educators we used to read about in the late 70s: "Every button on that shirt is going to be in a hole in two minutes, boy. Which and how are entirely up to you." The bellows is air tight. The reeds speak easily and readily range from rather loud to very loud Logic tells me that this instrument will respond to whatever actions I invest in it. It's going to be up to me to make the music. There is no doubt whatsoever that I am going to become a much better player with this new concertina, but the rather distasteful discipline is going to take some getting used to. The sound is still not concertina-like to my ear, but as I learn to drive with a lighter foot it's starting to be a pleasing sound. There are four buttons that have a reedy, duck-calling sound; G2 and C3 in the C row and their sharps in the third row. I could wish they were more consistent, but again I am with holding judgement because of my lack of experience with this and will all concertinas. The G row is very sweet and pure in the upper register. Lovely sounds, really. I fear they will never be heard if I attempt to accompany them with my left hand. In fact, all of the right-hand notes are overwhelmed by the left hand when they are played together. The volume differential between bass and treble is substantially greater than the Stagi. If this can be ameliorated by playing techniques I hope someone will advise me. This is a loud instrument. The decibel output is readily manipilated, but it ranges only from loud to very loud. I am often awake in the middle of the night, and for years have quietly played an instrument in the bedroom as my wife soundly slept on. Ukulele, pennywhistle, Native flute, the Stagi, all have been unobtrusive companions to me in the restless wee hours, but that won't be happening with the Rochelle. Maybe I can wrap a quilt around it or something. It's not an instrument for lullabies. It would be great for serenading, though! I'll just mention the idiosyncrasies of a few of the valves and/or reeds: When playing the two lowest buttons in the C row on both the squeeze and the draw, the notes are preceded by a tiny papery "whoomph!", similar to the sound a baggy kazoo diaphragm makes as it reverses orientation when you alternately inhale and exhale through the kazoo. I'll have a look soon to see if the previous owner has inadvertently left a sandwich bag inside. Also, the high notes of the Stagi spoke immediately while the bass notes took a bit of time to accelerate into action. The Rochelle is much the opposite. True, the very lowest button in the C row requires a bit of forethought, but all of the other left hand notes speak promptly and easily. It is near the top of the range that the Rochelle hesitates. My impression is that so much air pressure is required to operate the reeds that it takes a small yet noticeable amount of time to achieve it, and to get the air moving through the tiny orifices. And a lot of pressure IS required; an evening of playing at the upper end would leave my arms as limp as a boned fish. Also, both G4 and E4 in the G row demand noticeably greater pressure than their neighbours, Speaking of arm work, the amazing tightness of the new box cuts both ways. The Stagi is so loose and leaky that any attempt to play chords is a bit like operating the bilge pumps on a rapidly sinking ship. It ss nearly impossible to keep ahead of the losses. However almost no effort is required to squeeze sound out of it. The Rochelle demands very little pumping, but the flight muscles still get a real work-out. If my harmonica required that sort of pressure to play I would have burst my ear drums long ago. On the other side of this hermetic tightness, every variation in bellows input produces prompt, sharply defined results. That unexpected precision should be very gratifying when my skill level increases enough to appreciate the advantages of it. Also, the miniscule air valve is less of a problem than I anticipated. Unless a tune has an unusual series of either 'draw' or 'push' notes I hardly need to use the air button. A quick gasp or sigh now and then is sufficient. Maybe I'll hold off on that air hole-ectomy for a bit. To my surprise, my ability to play a tune by ear has increased by, well, by a bunch. Playing concertina by ear has always been a bit of a guessing game for me, and by no means have I always guessed correctly. I theorize that the lush overtones of the Stagi come at the price of a lack of precision, so that I am uncertain where the 'bulls eye' is. A bit like walking into a warm, steamy pub and attempting to shoot darts through fogged spectacles. With the clear voice of the Rochelle I seem to confidently know what must come next. A welcome surprise, indeed. I've had the Rochelle for two days now, and am rapidly becoming comfortable with the unforgiving keyboard as well as the instrument generally. I'm very glad I bought her, and am certain she will make me a better musician. I have no real complaints. I do wish she could be played quietly, and I am ambivalent about the keyboard-like sound, but I may learn to attenuate the one and appreciate the other. I'm eager to engage the mysteries of the third row of buttons. And, just so you're forewarned, I'll try to keep you updated.
  24. That sounds like an awesome vacation experience, John. Add a musical crew and nightly pubs anticipating your arrival and it would be darned hard to beat. Maybe someone on the Northwest coast (jeffn, are you listening?) could collect a gang of musical mariners to cruise through the beautiful islands hereabouts! In fact, I may make a couple of emails about that today... I haven't seen Tom for over a year but as always, JimLucas has the practical answer If this sort of thing sparks interest amongst C-netters we could create a thread for Wandering Minstrels... edited moments after posting because I rarely get it right the first time
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