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concertina voicing matter


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I would like to firstly introduce some background on my concertina and then write about some recurring practice environment and concertina voicing problems.

 

I own a standard c.1912 Wheatstone Aeola, which was fully restored approx. 20 yrs ago by C&R Dipper with 8 bellows. It may have been already tuned to concert pitch prior to restoration. It was passed on to me from my late granddad around 6 yrs ago and I believe it is still in excellent condition.

I have done some minor repair on it and a little maintenance from time to time, although it does not often need this. I am regularly practicing and learning on it.

 

Later, I will be looking for an instrument with ideally one more octave, or more precisely 9 additional lower notes, in the baritone bass range, to embark on reading bass clef on piano sheet music. I can play bass clef on the Aeola depending on how high the bass notes are written, so I am looking forward to learning to sight read the bass clef. I believe that I will find bass easier than treble once I get started, but I will likely find reading both together a challenge.

 

I have noticed that in my self-learned repertoire it has not been too detrimental to ignore the bass clef, therefore ignoring merely the deep 'vamping' layer of the songs. I have been forced in a certain song to necessarily incorporate the bass clef in order to achieve beguine without sounding incorrect. Lately, I have also begun to give cognisance to the entirety of the sheet music including phrasing etc. I am currently finding that playing simultaneous ‘staccato Vs legato’ principle is a challenge, as is prevalent in so many song standards. The un-slurred singing of syllables is also difficult to accomplish when singing along to passages of joined-up legato on the concertina. I am hoping to overcome these mind difficulties by practice and exercise.

 

The uncontrollable problems are as follows.

 

Regular frustration is caused during learning and practice when the instrument’s excellent voicing capability is denied for long periods like a chronic illness that switches ‘on or off’. I am extremely puzzled that momentarily the voicing of the instrument is extremely beautiful on occasions, i.e. allowing me to fade all ranges of chords into a gradual silence, and to hear very vibrant raspy low notes, as well as hearing rapid and continuous response times during bellow direction changes, etc.

 

Typically, under chronic failure of the voicing, certain notes can struggle to air immediately or not at all (on the very weakest keys) or be lost during the attempted fading of notes, with abrupt silence during bellow direction change, even on the low raspy notes, with some bad delays on the weaker keys. Forcing extra bellow pressure makes the instrument sound harsh and is no solution. I would cherish having an entirely reliable concertina voicing, rather than a sporadically reliable voicing. Voicing failures deny the ability to hear how the sheet music is supposed to sound and it shouldn’t have to be forced out of any capably voiced concertina. In my experience, it is excruciatingly difficult to grasp or progress the parts of the music that are exposed to failed voicing, which makes practice and learning uneasy.

 

It may be premature to consider a further overhaul as I am not convinced that the problem is maintenance related. I would greatly benefit from hearing a brand new Aeola within my practice environment (during a time when my own Aeola’s voicing is not responding). This will allow me to deduce whether I should be looking at a maintenance solution. I believe that any Aeola, whether new or reconditioned, would suffer the same voicing problem within the same practice environment because of the following situations, although I would hope to be wrong.

 

The problem is most noticeable or acute when the room ambience appears to have gone completely, which is characterised by ‘loud source noises Vs no reverberations or softness’. Frustratingly, all of the notes will sound very loud and harsh despite a struggle to be aired. During this condition, the concertina’s normal ability to play a quiet note is denied, even when applying as little bellow pressure as possible. Even singing along with the instrument is difficult due to the competing source noises between each other. Interestingly, the concertina voicing has never functioned properly during this environmental condition, but has only functioned properly when the room ambience has not been altered. When the concertina has worked properly, there has also been very rare times when I have felt that there has been too much reverberation (almost like hearing yourself through a p.a. system) though I may have imagined this.

 

After practicing one day recently (mid Dec) for a long period, as I tend to do, suddenly the instrument began to behave correctly in its entirety, lasting a further 3 days before once again returning to its chronic state, although much less chronic during the holiday period. I will be re-checking that my concertina plays well at others’ homes during regular family music nights. Further proof that it may be environmental is that the instrument’s restored pads are intact and lifting high; its air-tightness is good; the reeds and chambers are immaculately fitted; all the ‘actions’ are highly responsive; the ends are raised for extra resonance; etc.

 

A repairer recently intimated that the commonly known factors affecting voicing were reed height setting and leather condition of valves and pads etc. or the effects of humidity and temperature. He would not rule out my suggestion about the instrument being under a negative pressure condition, as he explained that turning his fans off seemed to improve the sound of his concertinas during testing.

 

As I am in a city centre, nestled among tower blocks, light-wells, basements, etc., I wondered if it was possible for strong ‘building air-pressures’ to deny the reeds the necessary pressure to make a cycle, rather than the humidity/temperature argument, as the probable cause?

On a tangent to this unresolved problem, my practice environment has the following other frustrating oddities. Even if the voicing problem was to be cured, there would still be these other distractions to contend with.

 

The traffic noise is sometimes over-amplified despite the fact that it is normally quiet, even at its busiest. Funnily, I have sometimes went to open my curtain to see how many lorries or drag-cars there are revving up, only to find 1 or 2 small cars waiting at the lights (a few yards further down the street) or very light traffic. Sometimes the traffic has been so light on these occasions that I would wait a few moments before seeing the offending vehicles passing, quite obviously without supercharged engines. Identical mainstream buses of the same type are either unbearably noisy or unnoticeably quiet depending on when the phenomenon occurs.

 

Akin to this, I presume, and even more distracting for practicing, was the fact that when the downstairs shop used to play their music, it was also over-amplified into my flat despite the fact that it was quiet from within the shop (funnily during a phone call to ask them to stop putting the volume too high, the booming of the sound went off and on during the call, but did not pick-up over phone – the same music in the background of the call was continuously quiet and the shop attendant had further answered that she had not altered the volume at that same moment). I realised I was not imagining this ‘on and off’ exacerbated nature of music noise after noticing its effect upon a mixer sound meter that I had set up with mikes in the room, which I will explain below.

One day during practice, when I began to have more time available, I was being constantly thrown off my sense of BPM, which I presumed was caused by the intermittent low frequency booming from the shop’s music. So I decided desperately to mike up to my tapping feet noise and listen through earphones to try and restore my sense of beat, but as I was finally succeeding, I began to hear additional background music and other noises go on and off, going faster and slower, etc. underneath the noise of my tapping foot and concertina playing. I was able to retain my sense of BPM in this way, likewise without the earphones as I became better acclimatised to the impeding distraction, although it could sometimes be like a battle of wills depending on how intense the booming got. I decided to put my technology to use again for the aforementioned mike-up of the room noise and thus monitor the offending noise field when it came on – via the activated LED sound meter. The police got the shop to agree to me phoning down to them when the noise became unacceptable. This annoyed the shop attendants as I had to make a series of calls, despite their belief that the music was quiet. However, I had the added confidence that my room mikes and sound meter were registering their noise. I waited for a higher level of intensity on the meter before making my complaints as I was acclimatised to the less intense but nonetheless air-borne booming that I had come to live with. How barely audible shop music could suddenly compromise an excellently sound proofed floor in this way (from booming to silence) is beyond me or perhaps even an acoustician?

 

It is a relief that the shop simply no longer play the music, even although it was normally silent from within the flat (heard only by resting the ear on the floor) when not over-amplified. The problem was that it was over-amplified too much. It is merely the traffic that is now over-amplified at times.

 

I had suffered the booming music noise amplifications for many weekends through the years. It was over a year ago when I got more time at home (during redundancy from recession) that I decided to confront it. I would not have managed this without my sound meter and mikes. The booming would sometimes be heard from within my bedroom too. Many times when I entered my living room (where I practice for better ambience) a quiet level of booming would seem to start, which I thought I must be imagining. It was an incessant enough experience to lead me, for the first time, to check it out and make use of my room mikes and mixer, which I wired up to a tape machine in order to try an experiment to find out really if my passage into the living room was generating the booming. So I made a few initial tapings over the next two days to confirm several instances, upon playback, firstly hearing the door open followed immediately by an amplification of faint music into a low level booming as I had suspected without the tape’s help.

 

The use of the mikes and a mixer with a sound meter has helped me understand that the unexplained acoustic manipulations were not part of my imagination or some kind of hypersensitivity to noise. I was also sent for a brain scan, which came back clear, but, if I had not set up the mikes etc. I would have become suspect on my mind. Whatever has caused the shop music to penetrate from being generally unnoticeable, is probably what continues to cause the traffic noise exacerbations, although they may be unrelated phenomena.

 

In summary of discussion on concertina and the practice environment:

 

- Concertina type and musical training desires

- Concertina voicing breakdown and sporadic voicing capability (possible causes)

- Practice environment noises (i.e. internal/external noise over-amplifications)

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Gosh, that sounds like a nightmare.

 

Can you move to a new flat?

 

Colin Dipper has a spectacular reputation for good reed work; even if it was 20 years ago I doubt that's the problem.

 

It's not got fluff in it, has it? It seems strange that the problem comes and goes. A warp on the reedpan can let a little air travel between chambers without passing the reed and upsets quiet playing, but it sounds as if you'd have noticed that. Are the reedpans slack enough to move with humidity, perhaps?

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Kevin, your posting reminds me of some of the old exam papers I used to do where the questions were quite easy once you sorted out all the additional information which was totally irrelevant to the actual question being asked.

Do your reeds play when you play softly? Do they play when you play loudly ? If no is the answer to one of these questions then the reed setting is the most probable problem. A decent repairer may easily sort this out for you.

You had noise problems when recording, but now the noise has stopped so no problem now ? If you are hearing music that does not exist within the location of where you are recording, you may have an earthing problem. Our band experienced this at a gig where we could clearly hear a radio programme coming over the speakers.

I now have a headache and I am going to bed

Al :blink:

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Kevin,

I'm with Alan and the repair person you consulted: If individual reeds are not responding to bellows pressure uniformly then the problem probably lies in the reed set and valving.

 

Aeolas have long scale reeds which usually gives them a wide dynamic range of soft to loud. But a reed set too high in relation to its mates will take more air to get started. This may be perceived as "slower to speak" than surrounding reeds. The same effect can happen with a stiff valve on the same or opposite side of the reed pan. If it is slow to close or open the reed will seem slow and sometimes even sound weak.

 

Thickness and stiffness of valves can influence performance and volume. A valve that has been placed off center or crooked is generally less effecient than a properly placed one.

 

There are other factors that might exhibit similar symptoms as well. I've had concertinas come to me for repair where nearly half of the reeds were loose in their slots (central heating; severe winters) A reed loose in its slot can sound flat or weak or not respond properly. Once the reed shoes were shimmed and secure most of the needed repairs "disappeared".

 

Best of luck,

 

Greg

Edited by Greg Jowaisas
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I'm with Alan and the repair person you consulted: If individual reeds are not responding to bellows pressure uniformly then the problem probably lies in the reed set and valving.

After practicing one day recently (mid Dec) for a long period, as I tend to do, suddenly the instrument began to behave correctly in its entirety, lasting a further 3 days before once again returning to its chronic state, although much less chronic during the holiday period.

If it was reed set or valves, would it correct itself periodically? Sometimes very problematic and sometimes perfect, certainly sounds temperature or humidity.

 

I don't know how much variation there is in daily atmospheric pressure but I would imagine that the variation in bellows pressure is so much greater that it would erase any atmospheric differences.

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One oddity to watch for in environments are ceiling fans.

My concertina went from playing normally to having a very fluttery sound. It was a mystery until I realized that there were ceiling fans in the room causing the problem.

 

Yvonne

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Thank you all for your kind responses and for providing some good technical questions.

 

Like I said, I will learn more when I get to hear my instrument around different locations and particularly, in the future, once I acquire a brand new partner concertina to practice alongside my Aeola - preferably one with the same sound, but with notes going down to the ‘2nd F below middle C’.

 

My 56 key Aeola was designed to go down to ‘1st C below middle C’. I have found that the ‘1st E-flat below middle C’ is the lowest note I have ever needed for reading treble clef.

 

As I occasionally play bass clef notes, I have been gratefully gifted with a sneaky ‘2nd B-flat below middle C’ key instead of a duplicate ‘1st E-flat below middle C’. This must have been a deliberate replacement at some point in my Aeola’s history. I have not yet missed having the duplicate key as the note is so infrequently written on the treble clef (again, this is the lowest note that I’ve ever noticed on any treble clef). However, for chords phrased in legatissimo, I may find myself wanting the original duplicate key to increase my fingering options, as these get further narrowed under such phrasing stipulations.

 

You may be asking why this extra note on my instrument skips over B-natural in favour for a B-flat. This has a couple of advantages: you can get more involved with the bass clef because the B-flat note suits the more popular key signatures; and incidentally a B-flat bagpipe drone can be simulated. So it may just be a clever change acceptably so low down on the instrument. Time will tell, the more music I try to learn. I think that I will send for a spare E-flat reed nonetheless so that I have the choice between the conventional E-flat and the beneficial B-flat depending on what is to be played in the future.

 

Back again to the Aeola’s voicing problem and something that I hadn’t mentioned before. I have had the advantage of having another English Concertina at my disposal. It is a c. 1898 60 key Lachenal with a range going down to ‘1st G below middle C’ with 5 folded bellows. I have not been playing this because it does not reach down to the ‘1st E-flat below middle C’ of my repertoire. My Lachenal naturally has a slightly inferior air-tightness and 3 less folds in its bellows compared to the Wheatstone.

 

The Lachenal had helped me out on a recent struggle to learn a run of simultaneous legato-staccato phrasing, which was susceptible to a note delay on the Wheatstone Aeola. The Lachenal had no delays on the desired notes, but struggled in a different way as follows.

 

The bellows ‘opened or closed’ themselves too quickly upon chords and a quietness resulted from keys presumably trying to share or compete for the available lack of bellows pressure. Forcing the sound out would deny minim and semibreve durations therefore giving a very quiet solution at best. The Wheatstone has never suffered from its bellows ‘opening or closing’ too quickly and has neither suffered any quietness as a result of playing chords. It is basically better at not losing air during the operation of the keys, but I did seem to remember that the Wheatstone during a period of duress in its voicing, like the Lachenal, had seemed to under-utilise the through-air given by the bellows and hence had required a greater degree of bellowing than normal.

 

As I speak - or write, my Wheatstone is playing well (it was performing excellently at another’s house tonight) and the Lachenal is no longer struggling for air. The Lachenal is also, at this time, boasting excellent softness and loudness with practically zero exertion on the bellows. It is also playing full chords for long duration on a single push or pull.

 

I must also mention that the Lachenal was restored by the same reputed firm of CR Dipper 20 years ago. There are indeed no warps in the reeds at all and the instruments are clean inside. This is a stronger indication that there is more going on in the practice environment that is crucial to the performance of both instruments, but with different effects on each of them. Watch this space - perhaps moving flat will be the best option!

Edited by kevin toner
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I have a Wheatstone of about the same period as yours (linota), and have also noticed there are moments where it does not behave as usual in terms of dynamical range. I sometimes think of it as some kind of old and capricious aristocratic lady. Is she sulking because I did something wrong ? :D

Also, I've noticed that the way she sounds depends much upon the room I'm in. Her favorite one is my kitchen; and the worse is the room I've designed specifically for music :(

 

More seriously, I think the main factors are temperature or humidity, which can affect the valves and make them softer of stiffer. My other hypothesis is that the level of airproofness of the chamois leathers around the reed chambers may also vary with the weather, thus affecting the general behaviour of the instrument. These days I'm regularly testing the airproofness and it seems to effectively vary. On the other hand I guess the reed themselves are nearly unaffected by weather.

 

About the changes of pressure with weather vs playing : I've tried to estimate the pressure level during playing. Let's consider that the maximum pressure is that corresponding to the "bellows test" when you let one end fall (when I do that and play a note it sounds very loud). The corresponding pressure can be computed as the weight of one end (approx 1 pound) divided by the surface (approx 200 cm^2) ; the result is 2.5 mBars.

The atmospheric pressure varies between 1000 and 1025 mBars, so the variation is ten times larger. However it changes very smoothly, over hours or days, and because airproofness is never perfect the pressure inside the bellows has plenty of time to adapt to the outer one. (if it was not the case, on storm days you would find it inflated !)

 

David

Edited by david fabre
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David thanks for your reply,

 

I concur that the varied acoustics of rooms have a tremendous effect on the sound of the concertina.

 

My bedroom makes the concertinas sound dull in comparison to the living room and also makes them sound a little bit trapped. The bathroom shares a light-well volume to the back alongside my living room, a restaurant kitchen window, church halls and offices. There is incredible church-like reverberation in the bathroom. However, the full benefit of its acoustics is granted only if playing extremely quietly otherwise the loudness sounds trapped (i.e. the source noise outweighs the ambient quality of the room). I dont try the hall because it is near the communal stair and is also too small. Lastly, the kitchen is part of the living room.

 

I attempted, once during the recurrent voicing problem of the Aeola, to utilise the bathrooms remarkable ability to brighten and amplify sound. However, this merely served too over-emphasise the problem louder. I was incredibly frustrated with the living room at this time, but when I tried the bathroom, I was overwhelmed by the inability of the instrument and room, to reverberate or hold notes when approaching a bellow direction change (with a noticeable silence prior to the full depression of the bellows) and equally importantly the delayed keys were still delayed. The source noise from the concertina was still loud, but in fact was diluted by the over-amplified noise of the bathroom fan and particularly the fan units that were operating within the light-well for the restaurant.

 

However, the fan noise dissipates within the adjacent un-tiled living room to serve as the best case scenario from within the flat during the recurrent voicing problem.

 

On a lighter note, playing with the family last night was fantastic (normally 1 banjo, 2 guitars, 2 fiddles and myself the concertina). There was an additional guest fiddler of remarkable ability who was filling in excellent sounds in the background, which will be missed along with his excellent soloing. They all loved the sound of the concertina generally, but especially during airs or laments, e.g. The Dark Isle. I am usually drowned out most times, perhaps rightly, by the string section!

Edited by kevin toner
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for all of your helpful tips once again.

 

Based on your comments, I have fixed three weak main keys that were not responding instantaneously as below. This has now taken the headache out of practice.

 

As mentioned throughout this thread, there were sporadic periods when these keys had responded instantaneously. On these occasions the resonance of the instrument did seem markedly better perhaps due to atmospheric conditions.

 

On closer inspection, thank you Alan & Greg, I had to replace a few dead valves. I had also found that turning a dead valve around on its back had given the desired rigidity. I had found that the reed setting was too high for these particular keys (one was cranked-up too much). So thank you again.

 

One of my reed pans has a slight bevel as suggested by Dirge, although all the chambers are flat and fit well with the board on top. The top board also has a warp that I think almost matches the slightly bevelled reed pan. You can see a slight slither of light through the space between them when they are stacked unscrewed. I am certain that any air paths are eliminated when these are screwed tightly together. Or at least I hope so.

 

The repaired C, D & E keys (1st above middle C) are now outperforming some of the other keys, especially on long duration fades and in their responsiveness. So my next step is to reset any prone push or pull key reed heights to allow for better overall ppp soft playing. Fortunately there are not many requiring adjustments.

 

Kevin

Edited by kevin toner
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Hi Kevin,

In reviewing your posts I would advise checking the bellows pan blocks that support your reed pans. Pull each pan and make sure that all blocks are firmly glued and secure. Sometimes a block can be up against bellows card and seem secure but only be hanging on by a thin thread of glue. With the concertina put back together once the bellows are extended a block like this can slip slightly and lead to a slight decompression of air to those notes in that area of the pan.

 

One more thing to check along with reed set and valve condition. I'm glad to hear you are making some progress in moving your concertina towards its full potential.

 

Greg

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My Wheatstone lives in Montana where it is relatively high and dry. Usually it plays well but there are places it does not like. When the weather is hot I can not play with the ceiling fan running as I hear a wobble. The other place I do not like to play is in the downstairs of my home. The concertina always sounds a bit stuffy and slow down there. Eventually I plan to purchase a tenor range hybrid for road trips. Once I took the Wheatstone to Florida and it felt like it was sucking up the humidity and it sounded like a sinus cold. Part of the problem with my old instrument (mid 20s) is the small cracks in the reed pan. Eventually I will have her fixed up as good as new. Good luck finding a solution to your voicing concerns.

 

Eric in Montana.

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  • 5 months later...

Hi, me again!

 

I may be getting closer to a conclusion on what is a probable local atmospheric condition that seems to impair my sound at times. Generally my instrument is sounding good, considering that it has not been tuned, re-valved or padded by a specialist in 23 years. All the tuning is slightly sharp with one or two going slightly flat. I admit that a specialist maker/repairer would get the instrument to sound its best, once I can afford the costs.

 

I have directed the following enquiry to a pressure sensor company and I will update this thread with any feedback that is forthcoming.

 

ENQUIRY SENT:

I am wondering if I require a particular product to monitor room air pressure. I am sceptical that a simple weather barometer is not precise enough.

 

I want to monitor air pressure during my concertina playing for the following reasons. Concertinas have long been known to be susceptible to humidity because of the impedance of air flow (or creation of air leakages) caused by the contraction/expansion of hard materials and the impairment of soft materials, but I suspect that room air pressure can also affect the noise level and operation of the instrument - there is a play of intricate air passages within the concertina that I think may be sensitive to air pressure - I do not know. Please read through the following paragraphs to get why I am thinking along the lines that there is a recurring atmospheric condition of some kind that is affecting not only possibly the concertina, but any sound generated within the room for that matter, be it a voice or amplified sound.

 

On suspect occasions, the instrument can have trouble airing a note to its full capacity, and the sound that is created from the instrument can on these occasions be dull sounding in the room, characterised by a lack of resonance and reverberation. The instrument and the room should normally instead combine to provide a slight and reasonable resonance to the sound during normal conditions (as it is a good resonant concertina, which is played in a consistently stable room environment the room normally produces a slight reverberation to the instrument's sound). Humidity as I said is normally the key suspect for concertina performance issues and I plan to buy a hygrometer to monitor this and stay below the advised 50% humidity!

 

However, I am puzzled by the joint lack of resonance lost by the room on these certain occasions for instance even a very loudly played note will not reverberate in the slightest. Singing is also denied reverberation in the room at these times. Do air pressures therefore influence loudness and reverberation times? I suppose that pressure is controlled for recording studios.

 

I had recently bought an amp with mikes to amplify my concertina and to gain more control over loudness and, as a remedy, to avoid forcefully playing against recurring traffic noise distractions. The amp even helps enhance/mimic the resonance by the use of a reverb control I have heard accordions being amplified in this way for the outdoors!

 

However, a couple of days ago at my home (it was windy outside at the time) the concertina was struggling as above, whether due to humidity or not, and this was also during an evident period of absent reverberation in the room, whereby I actually had to raise the amplifier volume greatly above its normal level. Therefore I have learned that electrically amplified sound is neither immune to this condition! Later, for the rest of that day, my hearing in one ear had become unbearably loud - like when your ears have popped after you've changed altitude! Thank goodness it happens very rarely the same thing had occurred last year more regularly, sometimes also with affected hearing, i.e. hearing things louder than they should be! I think my hearing is sensitive to the condition.

 

I am presuming that a significant room air pressure had occurred that day to cause these effects again I ask, is that possible bearing in mind the following possible recipe for such?. it was during high winds, and note that the surrounding buildings are a 'back to back' mix of very low and extremely high blocks - set on a grid-iron pattern of streets serving as a wind tunnel; the room is heavily glazed to both the front street and to a shared light-well at the rear (bearing commercial-use fans and flues etc.); and there are also basement connections/passages within the building that are interlinked in different ways to the outside. Can it also be possible that a neighbouring property could have been air-pressure testing that day to cause a deliberate or more significant pressurisation or depressurisation than would normally be the case? I had checked the weather data over the course of these last few days and there was an insignificant change of 5mb although the consistently strong winds had moved into a SE direction that day before reverting back to prevailing west over the next 2 days apparently. Again, I dont know if a barometer would reveal any such forces in action (i.e. air pressures within buildings) if and when they were to occur.

 

Can you therefore please advise if room air or atmospheric pressure is a factor or if there is a particular device/sensor that can help determine this?

 

I believe that I may have to consult an acoustician over this and I apologise for posing many or any difficult questions and for the length of my enquiry.

 

Thank you.

 

I am going to keep an eye out on strong easterly winds if and when the condition reoccurs and I will update this thread if a connection is found, including an update on any feedback from the sensor company.

Edited by kevin toner
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Just a quick thought Kevin. Since you mentioned that your ears became more sensitive than normal on one occasion, have you considered that short term changes in your hearing could be behind some of the changes that you are observing? Specifically you may have some accumulation of wax in your ears. I suffer from this from time to time and it does lead to subtle differences in sensitivity of the ears which can change over periods of time ranging from a few minutes to a few days.

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Guest HallelujahAl!
I may have to consult an acoustician over this

I'm sorry, but I find this all a bit OTT! Thank goodness we don't all need to go engaging the services of an acoustician every time our 'tinas play up. I for one certainly could not afford to do so. Reed height setting - is the first thing I would check. Reedpan warp can also do some funny things. Next, get it serviced/overhauled. 20 years or more between services is ok for some, but if you're playing it very regularly as seems obvious from your initial post, it may well be that litle things need tightening up or sorting out. Also, I would consider whether one or more reed shoes have become loose within the reedpan frame - this may be related to a humidity issue. But basically, unless the reed shoes are a good tight fit all sorts of funny sounds are possible under certain prevailing conditions. Finally, if you still have a problem when it comes back from the a proper concertina repairer ( and no one of any repute would send back a concertina until it was sorted and properly playable) then take Theo's advice and get your ears checked out. But an acoustician? Nah!

Edited by HallelujahAl!
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Theo,

My ears are usually clear of wax when I get them checked. However, I had a history of left ear trouble when I was a child and this is the ear that plays up on these occasions. So I think you have a good point - On reflection, however, I am convinced that it was not my hearing that had registered the sound losses that morning. This is because on that night, I had to plug the loud left ear and listen to my playing with the right ear only and I could hear the reverberation OK (even although I was cutting out half my hearing). Even now, when I close either ear, I can still hear any reverberation in the room! I find it highly unlikely that both of my ears had failed to pick up any reverberation that morning, but I will not rule out your comment – it could be possible.

 

HallelujahA,

You are spot on with your comments – a servicing is desired. I am curious to find out how much better my instrument can sound because I remember how pleased my granddad was after he had it serviced last, although the current sound is fantastic. I know it will do better if it is serviced though. I will treat myself soon!

 

Thanks for both your comments

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HallelujahAl,

Thanks for mentioning my original post - I had forgotten all about it, yes I do play regularly. I am surprised though, having re-read my post, by how much I have came on since then. I am actually starting to find things quite easy now. I think that I can attribute my improvements to having the amp at my disposal as it has helped me to overcome the dreadfully distracting city-centre noise. I wish I had thought of this sooner – thankfully, my learning will now proceed at a better pace. I remember recently wanting a service before getting the amp – in case any imperfections were amplified, but it has not been a problem - it has been a total success. I believe it is actually helping me train. For example, I am discovering how important and intrinsic the bellows are to playing. I am now working the bellows much more in order to produce and control volume and effects - this is due to the audibility given by the amp, as you can actually hear the concertina without any interferences as it is amplified (which is good for soft passages) and you are actually also encouraged to emphasise the playing of accented notes as you get a nice recreation of the instrument's resonance. This in turn is making me feel and play more comfortably through time.

Kevin

Edited by kevin toner
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