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jggunn

S-Wave midi

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I was wondering if anyone has bought, tried, or heard the high tech midi version of the English concertina produced and sold by S-wave? It seems very interesting on paper. I corresponded with the maker last year, and he came to the US for a visit but I was unable to meet with him. I have inquired several times about Wakker's midi, but again I cannot find anyone who actually owns one or has tried it out, and they do not seem to have a model available to test at their new location. I also followed the work of Accordian Magic but again without going to the UK, it seems difficult to explore, and there does not seem to be any discussion recently. There is also a company in Michigan that will either sell or convert a Stagi type to midi. So any knowledge or thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.

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Dean Onyon of S wave has built a midi Maccan. Almost what you are asking about!

 

I had a really good go at it a couple of months ago and was most impressed. As others have said you don't buy a midi for its concertina sound. You buy it because your expertise on the concertina keyboard translates straight to sounding like an electric guitar, or a harpsichord or whatever and you can have notes that decay or, almost anything you can think of, I think. That was great fun; enormously seductive. I also liked the idea of playing over headphones without anyone else hearing for 'antisocial hours' practice. You can also plug it into a set of speakers that go up to 11.

 

What I didn't expect is that I was almost immediately playing things crisper and faster than I do normally, it was really noticeable. I wasn't aware of the mechanics of my concertinas holding me back (they are both Aeolas) but they clearly are. Dean tells me others have found it tightened up their play, because it is so precise you can't blame the concertina for broken chords or poor timing so you sort it out. I wasn't convinced the volume was as variable as it is with a trad instrument (you control it via a strain guage between the ends) but I suspect that's down to how it's set up. The strain bar unscrews easily allowing the ends to come flat, so it sits in a briefcase, in effect.

 

It looked smart and solidly built, and was very light. Not that you'd be interested but this one had an 81 key Maccan layout fitted into ends perhaps 8" across; much smaller than the original, another gain. The buttons were rubberised and very non slip; my style involves a fair amount of sliding one finger from note to note so I missed my polished metal buttons.

 

At the time I was in the market for another 'box as I was rolling one that I didn't play over, as it were, and I was extremely tempted. In the end I resisted the midi because I was offered an 81 key aeola (pricier) and went for that instead. Two things influenced that decision; firstly that I know I can buy an antique instrument and be sure that the money is just tied up, not lost; I was concerned about the longterm value of the midi; I suspect this is unfair but that's the way my mind works. Secondly I remembered that one major thing I love about concertinas is the sound they make. I do have two others to do that though, so perhaps the real answer in my case was the traditional marketing man's bete noir, terror of something new. I also wondered whether sounding like Jimi Hendrix was more of a toy than a real musical tool and would lose its charm with time, and once I started to think like that, again, I began to worry about the cost.

 

Dean came across as a really nice bloke, doing it as much as an interesting hobby as because he hopes to make his fortune. Very genuine chap I thought. I feel sure there would be an interested element of after-sales help with him.

 

For me, it's one of those decisions where I'm not sure if playing safe (as I see it) has missed an opportunity. If I had the loot spare without agonising about it too much I'd have bought it for sure.

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Hi

Bill Whaley (of Bill Whaley & Dave Fletcher -folk singing duo) plays an 'english' model to very good effect.

chris

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Thanks for that Dirge.

 

It was a pleasure meeting you and very interesting to discuss and hear you play the midi Maccann. Maybe we can do business next time you are over in the UK.

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I had a really good go at it a couple of months ago and was most impressed. As others have said you don't buy a midi for its concertina sound. You buy it because your expertise on the concertina keyboard translates straight to sounding like an electric guitar, or a harpsichord or whatever and you can have notes that decay or, almost anything you can think of, I think. That was great fun; enormously seductive. I also liked the idea of playing over headphones without anyone else hearing for 'antisocial hours' practice. You can also plug it into a set of speakers that go up to 11.

These are all well agreed-on advantages to a MIDI 'tina. Well, at least they're the ones I tell people too.

WHat I want to know is, when will there be a MIDI Hayden/Wicki Duet? Maybe I'll have to build my own ...

What I didn't expect is that I was almost immediately playing things crisper and faster than I do normally, it was really noticeable. I wasn't aware of the mechanics of my concertinas holding me back (they are both Aeolas) but they clearly are. Dean tells me others have found it tightened up their play, because it is so precise you can't blame the concertina for broken chords or poor timing so you sort it out.

Yes, the crisp attach of a harpsichord or piano will certainly show up any unevenness in your playing. Free reeds do have a sort of mushy atttack that can tolerate a bit of slop. Some free reeds are of course mushier than others, but none can match a harpsichord or banjo on MIDI.

 

Anyway, thanks for the good report on MIDI concertina from a good player.

--Mike K.

Edited by ragtimer

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WHat I want to know is, when will there be a MIDI Hayden/Wicki Duet? Maybe I'll have to build my own ...

 

--Mike K.

 

 

Well you should probably talk to Dean now if you are serious. The pound's low at the moment and I imagine all he'd need would be a precise, dimensioned, diagram of your desired keyboards.

 

thanks for the compliments!

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I wish they did an Anglo one. I wrote to them some time ago and asked, and they said that it'd been part of the original Grand Design but was on the back burner.

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WHat I want to know is, when will there be a MIDI Hayden/Wicki Duet? Maybe I'll have to build my own ...

 

--Mike K.

 

 

Well you should probably talk to Dean now if you are serious. The pound's low at the moment and I imagine all he'd need would be a precise, dimensioned, diagram of your desired keyboards.

Good suggestion! That brings up yet another advantage of MIDI -- easy to do a custom layout, since no need to spend months figuring out how to rearrange the reeds and action and cram them into a decent sized end.

 

I agree that rubberized, non-slip button caps limit your ability to slide from one note to the next. I already have made one Hayden arrangement that requires this in one spot.

--Mike K.

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Dean replied to a message that I had sent to S-Wave, and I am trying to work out a meeting in the UK sometime in the Spring, but if I do not make it over, I am increasingly likely to buy without trying it. As far as Ragtimer, if you are who I think you are, is there a score of City of Ships that one can access? I am not so good at picking up tunes by ear.

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Dean replied to a message that I had sent to S-Wave, and I am trying to work out a meeting in the UK sometime in the Spring, but if I do not make it over, I am increasingly likely to buy without trying it. As far as Ragtimer, if you are who I think you are, is there a score of City of Ships that one can access? I am not so good at picking up tunes by ear.

Yes, I'm that Ragtimer ;)

The only score I have of "City of Ships" is a big arrangement for concertina orchestra, which I sell for $25 ppd.

The tune itself is so simple you can probably work it out, and it takes only 3 chords, tho you can use more.

 

If you'd like a simple lead sheet of it (melody plus chords) I could work one out quickly and post it. Then you can work out your own variations and other stuff. Glad you like the tune.

--Mike k.

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I've used the S-wave English for quite a while, and I like it a lot. Extensive customising is possible via a PC, and the instrument is very responsive. The pressure-sensor doesn't give the subtleties of bellowsing that you get with a good acoustic instrument, but you get used to that and adapt your playing accordingly.

 

It's great to have the different voices and features available at the press of a button, and it's very handy to have headphone use for late-night practising, as well as feedback-free output for live gigging in loud PA settings. I use it for barndances and similar gigs when a strong accordion sound is appropriate plus the occasional use of other voices like organ, piano, etc.

 

Extremely useful and good fun - not a substitute for the acoustic 'real thing' but a very useful addition bringing some new dimensions to concertina playing.

 

Ray

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Thanks, Ray. You and Dirge have both provided helpful assessments.

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Good to see S-Wave joining the forum. One of the glories of this place is the number of makers who participate. I'd be interested to know when an S-Wave anglo might be ready. Don't know that much about the system but the ends are fixed, aren't they? How does it handle dynamics? I see from the web site there is a force sensor. How does that feel? How would that translate to an anglo, I wonder.

 

These questions are academic for me since I already have a Whiteley conversion of a Lachenal anglo, but I am interested. I have built a small recording studio for myself, and in that context a Midi controller is almost essential. A Midi concertina takes up far less space than a conventional keyboard controller, I can tell you.

 

Interested to see that an s-wave is defined as "An S wave, or shear wave, is a seismic body wave that shakes the ground back and forth perpendicular to the direction the wave is moving", i.e. it's one of the really destructive components of an earthquake!

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Timson

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Interested to see that an s-wave is defined as "An S wave, or shear wave, is a seismic body wave that shakes the ground back and forth perpendicular to the direction the wave is moving", i.e. it's one of the really destructive components of an earthquake!

 

Chris

 

That's the first time anyone has actually got where the name came from. Others have guessed Sound-, Sine- or Synth- but as far as I know no one got the seismology connection.

 

When I was trying to come up with a name I thought that an electronic concertina without bellows might cause a few ructions. It has certainly provoked some strong 'anti' reactions in a few places but most people have been very interested and open minded about it's possibilities. Thanks for that.

 

Dean

Edited by S-Wave

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WHat I want to know is, when will there be a MIDI Hayden/Wicki Duet? Maybe I'll have to build my own ...

Here's the one Paul Everett built. That's me playing it at NESI in 2001.

 

post-65-12600206892575_thumb.jpg

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Dean replied to a message that I had sent to S-Wave, and I am trying to work out a meeting in the UK sometime in the Spring, but if I do not make it over, I am increasingly likely to buy without trying it. As far as Ragtimer, if you are who I think you are, is there a score of City of Ships that one can access? I am not so good at picking up tunes by ear.

Yes, I'm that Ragtimer ;)

The only score I have of "City of Ships" is a big arrangement for concertina orchestra, which I sell for $25 ppd.

The tune itself is so simple you can probably work it out, and it takes only 3 chords, tho you can use more.

 

If you'd like a simple lead sheet of it (melody plus chords) I could work one out quickly and post it. Then you can work out your own variations and other stuff. Glad you like the tune.

--Mike k.

Sorry to add to the off-topic thread (especially something as exciting as a MIDI controller concertina), but yes, I posted a simple lead sheet of "City of SHips" a few days ago under Tunes. It should be what you wanted. THanks again, Mike K.

PS: TO David Barnert:

Yes, I'd seen the pix of you playing that little Hayden MIDI. How did you liek the experience? Looks like you enjoyed it. Now to build one with lots (not too many) of buttons. At least the Morse "Link" is easily done with a wire or two!

Edited by ragtimer

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