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caj

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Everything posted by caj

  1. I know that the second half of the Ebb Tide is a pain to play on the fiddle, owing to a G arpeggio with lots of jumps in it. These session matters are more of a pain in the USA, I think, because in wide stretches of the country trad musicians are rare. Hence you never want to get on the bad side of a single one of them. Question: are there creative ways to deal with such domineering people? For example, another problem at sessions is the bad player who isn't aware he/she is making non-musical sounds and tripping up everyone else. These include the over-loud, the off-rhythm, the out-of-tune (not us!), and people who don't know any tunes but play random counterpoint. There are some creative solutions to that type of problem: you can record the session for educational purposes, then burn a CD for everyone for next week. Sometimes this helps to increase the player's awareness. Caj
  2. Heh heh, the Morse that roars. So, right now I'm in the process of sawing a bunch of old accordion reed blocks in half, lengthwise of course, so that I can make a pair of experimental reedpans for an experimental concertina layout. There is no other way, because each button must have push- and pull-notes that are a 4th or 5th apart. I first remove one reed tongue, then saw away the metal around the empty reed cavity. The metal is so soft that even with great care the surviving reed can be rendered unplayable, as its own reed cavity gets bent out of shape. Thankfully there is a simple remedy, because the cavity always deforms the same way; clamping one end in a vice and pushing the other end with a thumb will bring it back to normal. Just thought I'd share. Caj
  3. Hi Az, First things first, never blow into a reed to sound it. It's okay to suck air through it, but the air you blow out is moist. These reeds are not designed for that. As for the buzzing: this could be a lot of things, and can often be cured quickly (or in your case, automatically). Dust stuck in the reed can cause problems, and is best removed by sliding a thin piece of stiff paper under the reed tongue. Avoid paper that leaves bits of detritus behind to cause you more problems. Other problems can cause buzzing, but in a brand new Edgley, I bet it was just dust. Mechanical problems like a loose reed block are far less likely. In fact, you should have a lot fewer mechanical problems with that box, versus those of us with older instruments. BTW, if you ever try to tune a reed with a file, you shouldn't suck air through it either, not when testing the pitch. Not that you should be tuning reeds with a file! Your concertina is going to be bang in tune for years and years. Caj
  4. Frank Edgely's book is great for 20-button concertinas. I believe most of the tunes work for 20-button boxes. It's a great book all-around. There is also a videotape by John M. Williams, sold by homespun tapes online. This teaches you 5 tunes, all of which are playable on a 20-button concertina. One of the tunes is a reel in the key of D, but if I recall correctly it has no c#. Caj
  5. It sounds like someone is a fan of Michael O'Raghallaigh. I'd say that the lower notes sound like a concertina, clear as a bell. Some of the higher notes have an accordiony twinge to them, and even bring to mind a harmonica. Caj
  6. I recently sold my accordion-reeded box to a friend, who says he's got a popping noise happens on 2 right-hand buttons, on the push. I can't diagnose myself, and as this just arrived on my friend's doorstep I can't expect him to start doing surgery on the thing; I suspect from his description that the problem is a valve flapping shut audibly. As this is happening on the push, I guess it can't be anything flapping against a chamber wall. My question is, if this is the problem what should I recommend as a remedy? Again, I don't think someone new to the concertina should have to start mucking about with adhesives. These are accordion reed blocks, screwed in place, so perhaps the best remedy is to simply ask the manufacturer for 2 new ones? Caj
  7. The concertina is now sold. Thanks to concertina.net for helping me find a buyer; I will donate some $$$ as soon as the check arrives. Caj
  8. Sound clips and pictures!!!! Click here for pics and sound clips The sound clips are hastily assembled, I wish I had time to practice. Another note: I'm in New Jersey right now. If you're nearby, I'll be happy to show you the box, and we probably need not worry about shipping. Now if you don't mind, I have to sneeze about 137 times. Caj
  9. Sorry, I forgot to say: it's a C/G layout. Caj
  10. SOLD The concertina in question is now sold. ----------------------- It's now listed on the Buy/Sell classifieds. This was my practice box for several years (I bought it new, from Bob Tedrow, in 2000). I've since bought a lovely Crabb, and now I'm moving, switching jobs, and it's time to sell the practice box. Great way to keep money tied up for a rainy day, I guess. I'm going to make some recordings to put online, and to keep for myself. It's a great learner box, well-engineered, responsive, with a light touch. I hope the next owner gets as much out of it as I did. Caj
  11. Answering your original question: If you're going to take lessons from Noel Hill, don't use the alternate G/A to smooth out phrases. Mr. Hill will tell you not to do that. I won't divulge his system, but I will divulge that he makes you stick to the one system, even if a phrase initially feels awkward, even though it would feel easier and smoother if alternate buttons put it all in one direction. Bad habits: using alternate fingerings to find the most comfortable way to play each phrase is not necessarily a "bad habit," but it does carry some disadvantages. One, you might have trouble memorizing a large number of tunes, if each tune is somewhat customized in fingering. Two, choosing the most comfortable fingering for each phrase means that you are avoiding awkward passages that you could be confronting with practice. If you feel that a phrase is hard to play, do you think "I better work on this," or "I better find a different way to do it?" Oh, and three, if you're playing Irish trad music, smoothness is not necessarily your goal. The anglo is used because it imparts bouncy lift to the music, because of all that back-and-forth that an alternate fingering can "cure." As for copying the style of other players, it's a different matter when that other player is your instructor. If you have the opportunity to take lessons (and from Noel Hill, that's quite an opportunity,) you're going to use the system your teacher wants you to use. Caj
  12. True story: Last year I designed a concertina layout and ran simulations to test it, looking for tunes containing "awkward fingering requirements," which would require someone to dive for an alternate button. The fewer of those the better, and I ran a test against ~1500 session tunes in an ABC archive. After a while, I discovered that just one tune was responsible for a large number of annoying conflicts: The Mason's Apron. It's also apparently a pain on a standard anglo, because of these jumps between a c# and f# in the second half. You have a c#-f#-c# occurring 3 times in the B part, per repeat---a colossal pain when using a Wheatstone layout, and with no alternate fingerings to help you! I'm going to guess that whoever this mason was, he really hated concertinas of all kinds. Caj
  13. Hiya all, If you're going to play Irish music, people may point out that a 20-button box lacks a C#, whereas Irish music is often in the key of D. However, last year I ran a computer program to simulate a concertina playing about 1500 common Irish session tunes, taken from a popular online tune archive. The result: about half of the tunes are playable on a 20-button. I posted the results here, tho I can't remember where. 50% is a pretty decent percentage, especially considering how much cheaper a 20-button is. I suggest that you can learn quite a bit about playing the concertina long before you really need to upgrade -- especially if you play another trad instrument, like the whistle, to keep you busy when someone starts playing in A at a session. Caj BTW, speaking of simulations, I think I finally finalized my magic new concertina layout, whose design is the reason I did all those computer simulations. I have a 20-button version, a 30-button version, and a 36-button version. I'll post the final layout soon, tho this be a busy week.
  14. Posted a while back on the squeezebox group: A melodeon player named Shaw Fought a duel with a vicious outlaw; Twas a big violent mess that looked bad in the press, Though he was pretty good on the draw. Caj
  15. I am building a MIDI box, although I presently have little time to finish it. I have already made endplates, installed 36 pushbuttons, prototyped the circuit, written the microcontroller program and so forth. I'll be putting in my own layout as soon as I get it working. But what I am trying to find out here is how problematic it will be to have a real one made. Would makers have trouble getting appropriate accordion reeds? What options are there for getting ahold of concertina reeds? Those kind of questions. Caj
  16. My last question turned into a discussion about chamber size, but what I really want to know is this: what's the best route for getting this practice box built in the first place? The problem, again, is that most buttons on my new layout have a push- and pull- note that are 5 or 7 half steps apart. Forget about chamber size---suppose this isn't a problem. But, how about the basic problem of aquiring accordion reeds with that kind of interval? Is that possible, or really problematic? So I guess that's my real question: is it going to be impossible or prohibitively expensive to get accordion reeds with push- and pull- notes so far apart? If it can't be done with accordion reeds, I could maybe do something with concertina reeds (or pay someone to do it---I've tuned reeds before, but I'd rather pay a pro than accidentally ruin something or file off one of my hands.) Of course, I could put myself on a waiting list for four years, but right now I'm trying to get a just practice box made. So I can practice the new layout, some time sooner than 4 years from now. Just a pair of custom reedpans would be sufficient, if it fit my existing practice box. Regards Caj
  17. I mean that on my own custom layout, the push- and pull- notes are usually a perfect fourth or a perfect fifth apart. For example, 18 of the buttons are either D/G, A/E, Bb/Eb, C/F, B/F# or C#/G#, in different octaves. The wavelengths of the push- and pull- notes are either in the ratio 4:3, or 3:2. Caj
  18. I just saw the old episode of the Muppet Show, guest starring Peter Sellers. In the first musical number one of the muppets was holding a concertina, which to my surprise was a real one, and not a cheapo prop. Indeed, it looked either like a Jeffries or a Jeffries copy, in shiny new condition and with extra bellows folds. The muppet was holding it upside down. Also, when viewing the number again (it was on DVD,) we discovered that watching muppets talking in super-slow motion is immensely entertaining. Caj
  19. Oh, wait, I forgot to add something very important. You know when I said that the average push- and pull-notes on my layout are 6 half steps apart? That really means that about half of the buttons are 5 half-steps apart, and the other half are about 7 half-steps apart. 5 half-steps is a perfect fourth, 7 a perfect fifth. That means the wavelengths of the push and pull notes are in a low whole-number ratio, i.e. 4:3 or 3:2. So, if the chamber is supposed to be sized depending on the note frequency, this might be good. Caj
  20. A little more data about chamber size: My practice box is a Norman, and the Norman's reed-pan is actually one single thick hunk of particle board or fiber-board, rather than a wooden pan with dividers glued on. The chambers are routed into it, with the reed carriers screwed on one end. There's a picture of this on Bob Tedrow's Norman page. Now, this means that each reed chamber is just the same size as (well, just a bit smaller than) the aluminum reed block screwed down to it. There is no tweaking of chamber size, at least not as far as I can tell. Caj
  21. Hi, I've finally settled on my new concertina layout, a 30-button anglo layout with a pretty crazy assignment of notes. I want to have a practice box made (e.g., something playable that I'd see this year, not 4 years from now.) It's a standard 30-button form factor, except for the note assignment. Alternatively, I could buy a set of reeds and make a pair of spare reedpans to fit my existing practice box, which presently goes unused. But here's a problem: in this new layout the notes are very far apart. For an average button, the push note and pull note are about SIX HALF-STEPS apart! So this won't be a simple matter of retuning the reeds of an accordion-reeded anglo, for which push- and pull-notes are often only 1 or 2 half steps apart. Any recommendations? Caj
  22. The problem is that the board in question (as far as I can tell) scans buttons as SPST switches. Interfacing TTL sensors (or even open-drain sensors) to a circuit assuming SPST can be a pain. Caj
  23. You can play some open fifths on this layout, mostly the low ones I like to play; a low G, low A, and a D and E are available in both directions. Keep in mind that this is just the twenty-button bisonoric concertina layout. The extra 10 buttons can be arranged for harmony: I just tentatively set them for ornaments instead. This layout would actually be good for someone who likes playing fifths etc, because the "main" buttons are in 3 columns rather than 2 rows. This means that the spaces for extra buttons are off to the side, and the pinkies are completely unused, letting you place buttons under the pinkies for harmony that won't interfere with your melody playing. Caj
  24. I certainly don't mean to declare my way of doing things right; indeed, if I set out to design a new concertina layout a year ago, it would be completely different, designed to solve utterly different design goals. Solving for given goals is pretty easy; the hard problem is figuring out what the goals are. This 20-button monstrosity is ideal for the way I play, for I belong to the school of thought what says I should pick one simple fingering system and stick to it, simple meaning an A is played the same way every time, same button and same finger. It's fine to diverge from the system, but if I have to I consider that a bad thing. Naturally I began to wonder if there was a note layout that minimized the had-tos. This is why each button has two notes a fifth apart: I reasoned that if two buttons in the same column should be unlikely to be hit in sequence, they should be far apart in pitch and/or unlikely to occur in the same key. To accomplish the latter, I assign two buttons to be antipodes on the circle of fifths---for example, A/E versus Ab/Eb on the button below. I think I will call this a "solo" layout, as opposed to a "duet." This is because the layout is intended for melody playing and even chords are impossible without pinky buttons; and because the design parameters are opposite that of a duet. Namely, the chromatic scale ping-pongs between left and right sides, and the layout is bisonoric, both of which were "fixed" by the duet layout. Caj
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