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Daria

Playing Too Loudly

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...the post-modern, or "post-noel-hill" style that features lots of bass chord use can be heard as overpowering by some listeners.

Not just concertinas. There are few things I find as annoying as a battalion of guitars playing chords so loud that I can't identify the melody line, even when several instruments are playing melody. So if your concertina isn't the only instrument playing chords, please be gentle. :)

 

 

Or a battalion of melodeons. (Various threads at The Session and Mudcat suggest "a mass of melodeons", "a misery of melodeons", "a wheeze of melodeons" ... compare with the much nicer "a consort of concertinas". See, we're appreciated more than the melodeons, at least in some circles! :) )

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By coincidence I was talking to my Morris side (who sing a bit) about how we often use our outside voices when we are indoors and then came across an English soprano from the 1940's who wrote a book called "Never Sing Louder Than Lovely"


Rather appropriate for this thread, I thought.


Robin


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There is probably an optimum volume at which all individual musical instruments sound at their best. In ensemble playing some sort of pre-agreed overall balance between the volumes to be exerted by the different musicians is surely vital. Any sort of free-for-all sounds like a recipe for disaster.

This is a very good point, and probably the reason why I'm less than enthusiastic about sessions.

 

Our senses nowadays are dulled by the omnipresence of electronic amplification - even in the smallest concert venues. But if you think about it, the traditional ensembles each comprise instruments of a comparable "noise level": brass bands, concertina bands, pipe bands, choirs, military bands, jazz bands, Spanish la tuna ensembles, American old-time string bands, the various whole and broken consorts of the renaissance, and above all the string quartet. Where you do get a mix of loud and quiet instruments is in the symphony orchestra - but there you'll find 16 or more quiet violins matched off against 2 loud oboes. In these ensembles, if everyone plays mezzo forte, the sound is balanced.

 

The problem is, the modern session is not a traditional ensemble. There are loud instruments and quiet instruments in it, but no rules about how many of each. I suppose this is because session players are accustomed to hearing their music played on stage by a mix of loud and quiet instruments that are artificially balanced by the sound man. And there's no sound man at a session!

 

I know, I'm a Luddite, and PA systems do have their uses (in football stadiums, at least). But I enjoy playing with a group of naturally blending instruments, and singing to a single instrument that matches my voice.

 

End of rant.

 

Cheers,

John

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Yes John. I thoroughly agree. Electronic amplification is all too often a curse and applied in far too crude a manner. In many instances it appears to me to be entirely surplus to requirement. It wrecked the last live concert I attended, but then I'm an old fogey !

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Yes John. I thoroughly agree. Electronic amplification is all too often a curse and applied in far too crude a manner. In many instances it appears to me to be entirely surplus to requirement. It wrecked the last live concert I attended, but then I'm an old fogey !

 

As a fellow fogey, I've had the same experience at amplified concerts, including some at a church with the most wonderful acoustic, where PA is really redundant!

 

In a noisy session in a noisy pub in Bristol (UK) there's a concertina player who regularly plays through a small practice amp, concealed under the bench. He's subtle about it so it doesn't dominate, just makes a quiet little box audible. First time I heard him, I was intrigued by the tone of the instrument - until I spotted the amp and realised he must be using a touch of reverb!

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My Jeffries shrieks - so I only play melody in it and the occasional chord.
I think you have to be able to play air-concertina to play in sessions - you need to instinctively know which note will come out - no noodling, trying to work it out mid-tune.
We had 12 anglos playing in the Royal, Dungworth one night - that was a sight for sore-ears.

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My Jeffries shrieks - so I only play melody in it and the occasional chord.

I think you have to be able to play air-concertina to play in sessions - you need to instinctively know which note will come out - no noodling, trying to work it out mid-tune.

We had 12 anglos playing in the Royal, Dungworth one night - that was a sight for sore-ears.

Have you tried baffles Geoff ? I was sitting next to a metal ended Lachenal Anglo at a session last night and I wished it was fitted with a 'shriek' filter. I can imagine a Jeffries might have really given me ear ache.

 

Some sort of quickly removable baffles would be usefull accessories ... along with 'Dungworth strength ear plugs' perhaps?

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Thanks for raising this topic Daria .I am often told I play to loudly .When my dipper C/G Anglo was made for me I asked for plenty of volume as I play for a Morris side .All of our dancers say they can hear the Concertina even when they can't hear other instruments .I like many other players practice and practice to play harmoney so try to play with harmoney in sessions .Sounding as many as four reeds instead of one and my two speakers/grills facing either side of me It does not help I also have tiitus so my hearing is reduced .One other thing occured to me was that I should play my G/D more at sessions but I would still like to play with harmoney.Bob

Edited by KelTekgolow

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I have a brass reeded instrument that I find is more harmonious in a band setting than my steel reeded one. Granted, buying another instrument is an expensive solution, however, brass-reeded instruments tend to be cheaper than their steel-reeded counterparts.

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I have a brass reeded instrument that I find is more harmonious in a band setting than my steel reeded one. Granted, buying another instrument is an expensive solution, however, brass-reeded instruments tend to be cheaper than their steel-reeded counterparts.

 

I have taken to carrying two concertinas, in one 'fitted' box; the metal ended noisy one for Dance band use, or in extremis, and the wooden ended one for quieter situations. Not that the wooden ender is much quieter,it just does not have that 'causes the dog to howl' effect.

 

The double case is just long enough to make a usefull seat for playing as well.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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