Peculiarities of concertina sound production

We have some evidence, however, that you may have to pay for the reeds.
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StevieJ
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Peculiarities of concertina sound production

Post by StevieJ »

Despite our constantly slagging each other off for our choice of squeezebox (his: pillbox, mine: proper) Azalin and I like to have a few tunes together on them (he: Mary, me: Andrew (I wish)).

In the pub last night we went into the turn of a tune and I suddenly sat up, thinking, who the hell else in here is playing the concertina? Then I realized that nobody else was: in the higher range the sound of the tina was coming out of the end farthest away from me and bouncing off the wall somewhere, giving the distinct impression it was coming from the other side of the room.

Now is this weird or what? What other instrument in the world can do this trick? And isn't in, um, disconcertinaing for the player? Or is it merely more proof of the tina's superiority?

Steve
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Post by Congratulations »

Now comes the line of concertinas marketed specifically to ventriloquists.
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Post by johnkerr »

It is indeed one of the more vexing aspects of playing concertina to have to live with half of your sound coming out of one end of your instrument while the other half of your sound is coming out of the other end. And it's especially vexing in a crowded session setting that neither of the sound sources is pointing toward your ears so that you could maybe hear yourself. Surely there are miking issues aplenty with this "feature" of the instrument, but my playing is still a long way from making anyone want to point a mic in my direction.

As for other instruments playing aural tricks with you, many's the time that I've been playing (or even not playing) the flute with fiddlers in the session and wondered "Who's the other flute player?" In the upper register, fiddle tones often have flute-like aspects.

Another angle on the accordion vs concertina debate: Don't know about Az's 'tina, but many concertinas (especially at the lower price points) are made with accordion reeds. Does this indicate (a) that concertinas are most likely a higher life form, having evolved from the accordion (the missing link I suppose would be if someone ever finds an accordion made with concertina reeds), or (b) that concertinas are fragile beings that could not exist without the life support provided by accordions? Discuss.
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Post by Caj »

The sound of a concertina is weird in a number of ways.

The way it comes out, it's hard for the player to hear, and is strangely directional. It also carries in weird ways; I've heard stories of concertinas being inaudible up close but clear and overbearing to someone in the loo at the back of the room.

There's also something weird about the sound itself. I've found that mp3-compressing a fiddle vs a concertina, the concertina can end up with some nasty warbling unless the bitrate is higher. I ran audio experiments as a grad student, and I used to use concertina samples for fun; it took me a while to realize my experiments were much better if I used anything aside from concertina music.

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Post by eskin »

There are ceiling fans over our session here at the Ould Sod in San Diego. I get tremolo whether I want it or not.
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Post by Congratulations »

eskin wrote:There are ceiling fans over our session here at the Ould Sod in San Diego. I get tremolo whether I want it or not.


:lol:
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Post by Wombat »

Recording concertina is a challenge. In order to ensure I get both sides I use two mics, one for each. But you also need to ensure that your mics aren't too sensitive to distance, as some vocal mics are, or you'll find the volume fluctuating as the bellows move about. The last guy who recorded me just stuck a single not very directional mic in front of me and said 'play.' It seemed to work OK but the concertina was mixed with lots of other stuff.
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Post by johnkerr »

eskin wrote:There are ceiling fans over our session here at the Ould Sod in San Diego. I get tremolo whether I want it or not.


Last summer at East Durham Gearoid O hAllmhurain refused to sit and play anywhere near a fan or A/C unit for this very reason, no matter how hot it got. That was the first time I became aware of breeze issues in concertina playing. I was already well aware of the problems they can cause for fluteplayers. I suppose this could be an issue for accordions as well, but maybe not so much if they're tuned on the wet side.
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Post by Martin Milner »

Some stereo concertina recordings clearly have the notes jumping form one ear to the other, which can be fun or annoying.

It's worse with an English concertina where the notes alternate on the ends.
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Post by Caj »

Wombat wrote:The last guy who recorded me just stuck a single not very directional mic in front of me and said 'play.' It seemed to work OK but the concertina was mixed with lots of other stuff.

This can work really well in the right room. I once recorded Noel Hill with a stereo Sony mike on a MD player. This was in the Weldon House in East Durham, a big rectangular room, and the sound emitting from both ends of the box bounced off the walls back to the mic ends. Excellent stereo reproduction.

In fact, that's the best recording I ever got of a concertina.

Caj
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