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harmoniums in folk music

GUEST,JTT 06 Mar 08 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,pete Sumner 06 Mar 08 - 09:39 AM
The Fooles Troupe 06 Mar 08 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,Davetnova 05 Mar 08 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Pete Sumner 05 Mar 08 - 09:57 AM
Rowan 04 Mar 08 - 05:17 PM
Harmonium Hero 04 Mar 08 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Suffolk Miracle 04 Mar 08 - 07:52 AM
Rowan 03 Mar 08 - 11:30 PM
Harmonium Hero 03 Mar 08 - 04:02 PM
Rowan 27 Feb 08 - 04:02 PM
Harmonium Hero 27 Feb 08 - 12:34 PM
GUEST 27 Feb 08 - 11:56 AM
Harmonium Hero 27 Feb 08 - 10:35 AM
Saro 27 Feb 08 - 08:08 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 27 Feb 08 - 05:51 AM
Mick Tems 27 Feb 08 - 05:15 AM
Big Al Whittle 27 Feb 08 - 04:52 AM
The Fooles Troupe 26 Feb 08 - 11:41 PM
Cats 26 Feb 08 - 02:40 PM
Ross Campbell 26 Feb 08 - 02:20 PM
The Borchester Echo 26 Feb 08 - 01:55 PM
Big Al Whittle 26 Feb 08 - 01:54 PM
Backwoodsman 26 Feb 08 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Orryl Oak 26 Feb 08 - 09:32 AM
Harmonium Hero 25 Feb 08 - 03:56 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 25 Feb 08 - 11:15 AM
sian, west wales 25 Feb 08 - 09:40 AM
The Sandman 25 Feb 08 - 08:07 AM
Rowan 24 Feb 08 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 24 Feb 08 - 04:37 PM
Rowan 24 Feb 08 - 03:57 PM
Harmonium Hero 24 Feb 08 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,JTT 11 Feb 08 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 11 Feb 08 - 06:41 AM
Big Al Whittle 11 Feb 08 - 04:35 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 11 Feb 08 - 04:03 AM
GUEST,JTT 11 Feb 08 - 02:30 AM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Feb 08 - 11:30 PM
Ross Campbell 10 Feb 08 - 11:28 PM
Greg B 10 Feb 08 - 09:02 PM
Suegorgeous 10 Feb 08 - 06:57 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 10 Feb 08 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's Apprentice 10 Feb 08 - 05:42 PM
The Villan 10 Feb 08 - 05:27 PM
The Villan 10 Feb 08 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,JTT 10 Feb 08 - 05:05 PM
Rowan 10 Feb 08 - 05:03 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 10 Feb 08 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 10 Feb 08 - 09:53 AM
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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 06 Mar 08 - 12:52 PM

The one I'm seeking a good home for looks something like this:

http://www.bondle.co.uk/personal_pages/jon/reedorgan/images/malcolm1.jpg

though I'm not sure how many knobs are on it - its cover is down and has layers of books on it right now.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,pete Sumner
Date: 06 Mar 08 - 09:39 AM

Hello Foolestroupe....
Not sure how to proceed here....
Try me at...
petersumneratmac.com

This will confuse the spammers....maybe...

Harmonium located in Redwood City CA....30 minutes south of SFO
It's HEAVY...

cheers
P


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 06 Mar 08 - 04:10 AM

Pete Sumner

Can we discuss this?


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,Davetnova
Date: 05 Mar 08 - 10:18 AM

One of my favorite harmonium players - Ivor


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,Pete Sumner
Date: 05 Mar 08 - 09:57 AM

When I came out west to California ten years ago, I brought a 1930's fold-up harmonium with me, in my carry on luggage, I think...
Anyway, it's still here and available if anyone would like to part with a reasonable about of cash...
No idea of value...it will need a bit of fettling...and will tone up your calf muscles as you peddle.....
Think this one has seem action on the tropics...or was designed for there...the key coverings are pinned and glued....
It's designed to be played in the missionary position :-)

If anyone's interested, post on this thread (hope that's allowed) ????

Cheers
Pete Sumner


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Rowan
Date: 04 Mar 08 - 05:17 PM

John, I've PMed you the words and some info on Look out below! both as written by Charles Thatcher and as collected from Sally Sloane.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 04 Mar 08 - 03:33 PM

Rowan: Thanks for the info. Fantastic. So my little harmoniflute might have been played by a gold digger?!.....or possibly just the local blacksmith/greengrocer etc. I must see if I can find any of those songs. It would be good if I could find one or two I could use. I keep meaning to sing some more Aussie songs anyway. I only know one.
Suffolk Miracle: Blimey...and I thought I was having problems....(see my comments a few posts back) John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,Suffolk Miracle
Date: 04 Mar 08 - 07:52 AM

"Jean Turiff of Aberdeenshire used one sometimes."

She was Jane Turriff - and she certainly did use one sometimes! Actually she used to travel all over the country to gigs with it - by public transport! And did I mention that she had one leg crippled? And did I mention she was also leading her husband Cameron who was blind?


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Rowan
Date: 03 Mar 08 - 11:30 PM

Ballarat is the name of the city, although it was often spelled "Ballaratt" in the middle of the 19th century. It, along with Bendigo, was a major goldfield in Victoria; ships would dock at Geelong and their crews would desert en masse to travel the 60 odd miles north to Ballarat. It started around 1851, was the site of the Eureka Stockade (at Bakery Hill) and features in lots of songs as well as the history of various characters like Lola Montez.

These days the city (about 70 miles northwest of Melbourne) has its own university and a reputation of being cold, at least by Victorian standards. I'm sure Googling any of the names/terms I've mentioned would give you more info than I could muster, but feel free to PM me with specific requests.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 03 Mar 08 - 04:02 PM

Rowan: I had another look, and yes, it is Ballaratt (with a double 't'). What sort of a place is that? I'm wondering if the instrument was taken there by a seaman. These things were made in Paris, and 'Chat Newark' doesn't sound like an emigrating Frenchman! J.K.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Rowan
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 04:02 PM

G'day Hero John,
Rowan: further to my previous comments about the harmoniflute; the name written inside is: Chat Newark, Ballarall, Australia. and the date 1857.
Did you have a typo? I suspect you mean "Ballarat" but 'you never know until you ask'.

I'll not be able to check the one that, 20 years ago, was at Nariel until I get there at Christmas and even then I'm assuming it is still in the Klippel family.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 12:34 PM

"...sounds like....."
I think that would depend who was playing...
Actually, it was freebass accordian. That is, it has the left hand arranged like the right hand of a continental system accordian, rather than in chords, so you play a lef hand part as you would on a piano or an organ.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 11:56 AM

'Freebass model' sounds like a harmonium played whilst smoking crack.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 10:35 AM

Diane Easby: Thanks for that clip. I saw that concert on the telly years ago. It was the first time I'd seen the 'Penguins', and I was hooked. I have a couple of recorded versions of the tune by them. It ably demonstrates why you shouldn't throw harmoniums on skips! Find a deserving folkie to give them to instead.
Rowan: further to my previous comments about the harmoniflute; the name written inside is: Chat Newark, Ballarall, Australia. and the date 1857.
Dr. Price: The 'tiny hand-held Victorian harmonium' sounds like a harmoniflute (see my earlier comments). These were mostly (or possibly all) made by Busson-Brevette of Paris. They are also known as lap organs.
Foolestroupe: That should be 'chest reed organs'. Quite right though - the accordion is basically a two-manual organ. In fact if it's a freebass model, it is definitely a two-manual organ. It just has the bellows in a different place.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Saro
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 08:08 AM

Remember the poem "What is it that roareth thus
Can it be a motor bus?" that went through the declension??
On the same lines we could have
"What makes this delightful hum?
Is it a harmonium?
Listening I quickly see
the virtues of harmonii
And how far I'd gladly go
to play you, O harmonio.

See them coming from afar,
More and more harmonia
We've a chorus (or a quorum)
Of these sweet harmoniorum.
Then at last we beg for peace
Even from harmoniis."

Far from perfect, I'm sure some of you can do better!
Saro


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 05:51 AM

I remember that visit well - in fact our car liked it so much that it didn't want to leave Wales at all. And didn't. Royston Wood had to drive us back to London. With a whip. [Just kidding] Great days, those -


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Mick Tems
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 05:15 AM

Calennig had two harmoniums, or harmonia. I played the first after Bonnie and Packie stayed at my cottage, and Packie did his wonders to make the harmonium really collapsible and portable. The second Calennig harmonium was of the Jonny Adams/Pete Coe job-lot variety; this Pearl River has flown back and forth to America many times and has travelled Europe, and it is still in tune (apart from the one time that Marcus Butler restored and tuned it.)

Following my stroke, the Pearl River is still packed away. I want to it go to a good home - any offers? I did have a tiny victorian hand-held harmonium, made in France and called a brevette, but I sold it to Artie Tresize.

Incidentally, the four of us met the good Captain and Cathy for a wonderful session at Daly's Bar in Ballydehob, West Cork, just before we set off to The Gathering traditional festival at Killarney. Roger the uillean piper was there, and so were our generous and friendly hosts Bertie and Annie Moran. Methinks I'd better start another thread...


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Feb 08 - 04:52 AM

If it were the genitive case (pertaining to two harmoniums), would it be harmoniorum?


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Feb 08 - 11:41 PM

"As a box player, I find the British variety rather slow to 'speak'"

As a trained pipe organ player, most big organs are slow to speak (behave yourselves you lot - get back in your cage and stand in the naughty corner!), and you learn how to 'play in anticipation'. The problem is accentuated by the acoustics of large churches, and the usual awful positioning of the player console. You sometimes get the sound from the pipes coming past the player before the congregation has heard it, and then you get the echo returning to the player, usually after the congregation has heard it! Many untrained players cause the 'hymn getting terminally slower' syndrome, because they try to listen to the singers - this is a big no-no!

There is only one technique that works - play the piece 'as if you are deaf' - and keep strict time. This means however in ensemble playing, that often some sort of musical director/condusctor is need if changes of pace to keep up with a soloist who 'bends the tempo' are needed.

The same trick applies to squeezeboxes/harmoniums that are slow to speak. Piano accordions are really just 'chest pipe organs'.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Cats
Date: 26 Feb 08 - 02:40 PM

We used a harmonium [the one in Mike O'Connors spare bedroom] as backing on 'The Lifeboat Prayer'. We wanted a Cornish Methodist chapel feel to the song and it worked!


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 26 Feb 08 - 02:20 PM

How come there are no credits on that clip for harmonium, or harmonium player? When I saw PCO in Manchester (RCM) I think Simon Jeffes himself played it.

Ross


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 26 Feb 08 - 01:55 PM

According to Wikepedia, yes.

Whilst looking, I found this clip of the PCO doing MFAFH before it got Oirishised and used in DIY store ads.

It was the first composition Simon Jeffes produced after hauling the thing out of a skip, in Japan I think.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Feb 08 - 01:54 PM

The benefits of a classical education just never go away, do they?


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 26 Feb 08 - 01:33 PM

Shouldn't the plural be 'Harmonia'?
Jest arksin! :-)


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,Orryl Oak
Date: 26 Feb 08 - 09:32 AM

As a box player, I find the British variety rather slow to 'speak', although in the right context, it has a certain appeal. I'd instance the rendition of 'To A Wild Rose' in the film 'A Month in The Country' (Branagh's best -understated- screen performance?) as apt to the purpose of this instrument. It's noteworthy that the song has a hymn-like construction.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 25 Feb 08 - 03:56 PM

Rowan: what you describe sounds like a harmoniflute. It's built like a flutina, but has a three-octave piano keyboard (I think some may have been four-octave). It's played exactly as you describe, and is often called a lap organ. There seems to have been a stand available as an optional extra, with a single pedal which somehow connected to the bellows, thus enabling it to be played with both hands. I wonder if this is the instrument as described by Sian above. If you google 'harmoniflute', there are some photos of the instrument - both with and without these stands - in museums. Tne Indian harmonium certainly is supposed to have developed from instruments introduced by missionaries. I gather the impression from your email that you are in Oz. In which case, you might be interested to know that the one I have (bought on ebay a few weeks ago) has the name and address inside of somebody in Oz, who I take to be its original owner, and the date 1857. The instrument is not in the same place as the computer, but I'll open it up when I get back there and check the details and get back to you. You never know - It might be your great-great-grandad!
Just returning to Dick Miles' original questio: 'Do people like them'; I think you can see from the number of posts here that they certainly arouse plenty of interest, and my own experience of using the instrument - in groups in the past, and now as my main accompaniment as a solo singer, that people do like it. It always arouses interest, and people always come up to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed listening to it. Many people make the comment that it sounds good accompanying the voice, and they like hearting songs played on it which they have previously heard on guitar. In fact, a regular comment is: "where do you get them? - I want one!".
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Feb 08 - 11:15 AM

Hi John - thanks for that info. All the ones I've ever tried only play on the Push. I'll investigate further. Tom


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 25 Feb 08 - 09:40 AM

I saw a very very good Swedish/Finnish trio in Celtic Connections this year who used a harmonium: Nordik Tree. I think they borrowed one from Donald Shaw rather than bring theirs over. Well worth listening to; they have a myspace page.

There's a small missionary harmonium (small box, central pedastal, very Victorian) in the Museum of Welsh Life in Cardiff and the curator of the gallery tells me that the Indian use of the organ springs from those brought over in the 1800s by missionaries.

sian


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 08 - 08:07 AM

I have used it in conjunction with concertinas,as a rhythym instrument ,backing irish jigs and reels.I really like it.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Rowan
Date: 24 Feb 08 - 05:09 PM

Thanks for that link, Charlotte.
Again, its appearance rings bells in what passes for my memory but I have no knowledge of whether the Nariel instrument was diatonic or not, as I never got my hands on it. It wouldn't surprise me to find that the Klippel's one was diatonic, as the Nariel area as well as its music, was (in the 1960s) dominated by Hohner single row button accordions and melodeons, all in C. Keith Klippel (Con & Beat's nephew) is getting on but still plays his Lachenal 20 button C/G concertina in the Nariel dances every year.

As an aside, The Klippel family got a junior band going and the LP of the Nariel dance music has, as its cover, about 20 kids sitting along the trunk of a fallen eucalypt, all with accordions on their knees. Two of those kids were Ray and Ian Simpson, sproglets of Neville and Maureen, who lived over the Creek from Con and Beat and who played with them in the Nariel Band. These days, Ray and Ian both play anglos rather well and Ian makes anglos and very good timber penny whistles.

Cheers, Rowan (who is about to commence the working day)


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 24 Feb 08 - 04:37 PM

Flutina

Charlotte (Momma's got a squeeze-box)


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Rowan
Date: 24 Feb 08 - 03:57 PM

G'day Hero John,
bit puzzlaed about this 'flutina'; the flutina I know is a mid-19thC squeezebox, a bit like a melodeon in reversa.

The last time I saw this particular instrument would be at least 20 years ago but my recollection is that it had piano keys rather than buttons; it wasn't a lot larger than a 3 row button box though and was played on the lap, using a flap on the long side away from the player to provide air flow through the reeds. Mid 19th century would 'fit' as it was (I gather) brought to the area before the start of the 20th century. It had been owned by Con and Beat Klippel, who were instrumental in starting the Nariel Creek Black and White Folk Festival in 1962-3. Both are now playing for dances 'upstairs' but I might be able to chase up details of the instrument next time I'm at Nariel, just after Christmas.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 24 Feb 08 - 12:11 PM

I'm just catching up on a couple of weeks' mudcatting, so....
Tom Bliss: not sure what your problem is with the Indian harmonium only working on the push. They have a sprung internal bellows, which maintains the pressure, so giving continuous sound. So they are suitable for drones; in fact most of them have drone stops, so you only need to work the bellows. This, of course still requires one hand, but you can always collar a resident or someone off the front rowe to do this while you play another instrument. For that matter, you could get somebody to play a shrutti box. Only problem is that they usually seem to be tuned slightly sharp to western concert pithch.
Ross Campbell: as you said, some 'harmoniums' are actually American organs (also called reed organs). The bellows on the harmonium pump air in, while those on the American organ draw it out, allegedly producing a more mellow tone, although I'm not sure if this is true. To find out, you'd need to compare two otherwise identical instruments - if you can find them! Purists will tell you that a true harmonium has a harmonium stop, which bypasses the internal air chamber, so that you are controlling the air pressure from the padals, thus allowing greater expression. The one I use is an American organ; however, it's leaking to the extent that I'm controlling the pressure from the bellows anyway. See you at Fleetwood Folk Club on 3rd April, by the way.
Rowan: bit puzzlaed about this 'flutina'; the flutina I know is a mid-19thC squeezebox, a bit like a melodeon in reversa. My latest aquisition is a harmoniflute, which is sort of a cross between a harmonium and a flutina. (Also called a lap organ).
The harmonium has been a very useful instrumenrt for me; I've performed a wide range of English, Scottish, Irish and American songs with it, and one or two originals. Lugging it up and down stairs, and negotiating sprung doors - which will ALWAYS open towards you if you're carrying anything awkward - is a pain; however, the rewards are well worth it, and I can recommend anybody thinking of buying one to go ahead. Collapsible ones do crop up not infrequently on ebay, and can often be found at antique fairs and the like. The indian ones are easy to come by, and even harmoniflutes show up on ebay - it's where I got mine a few weeks ago, and there have been two or three there since.
John Kelly


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 11 Feb 08 - 11:51 AM

Bonnie - The harmonium was certainly living in a cottage when I got it. Neighbours of my parents gave it to them to mind; the neighbours later died, and my parents were left with the organ, which eventually drifted in to me.

If you get someone genuinely interested in it, for music, I'd be delighted.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 11 Feb 08 - 06:41 AM

Bonnie and others,

Dolly Collins' instrument was a portative organ made I believe by David Mander, which I think was electrically blown. It was a sort of replica of the mediaeval ones you see carved on choir stalls in cathedrals. I think it gets a name check on the "Anthems in Eden" cover but as I'm supposedly at work I can't verify this!

Anyway I was lucky enough to see Dolly play it and Shirley sing and it was lovely (as was Dolly and is Shirley).

I must have seen the Muckram Wakes harmonium as well - could it REALLY have got down the Troubadour stairs? I think we must have been in the pub down the road when they did the sound check!


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Feb 08 - 04:35 AM

I wonder if anybody remebers Widdershins, who used to have that tall bloke called Clive on vocals, who worked in mansfield carlsboro music shop - early 1970's. I used to like their bash at trad material. They did acracking version of Rufford Poachers.

John kelly is currently a hero of mine. He lends elegance and clarity to traditional songs that I had thought were awful, becaause I'd heard so many awful versions of them. The guy's brilliant.

Theres something satifying about a harmonium, that big 'woof' of air coming out the front that you don't get with a concertina.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 11 Feb 08 - 04:03 AM

I wasn't actually thinking of myself, as I already have two harmoniums (and a potential third, if it can be raised from the dead). But it's useful info to pass on to people, or even just to post here. Someone in this thread might be interested in it - Dublin's not that far away.

From the dimensions, it sounds like a cottage organ. Tabster and I used to co-own one of those, and I still have a phantom-of-the-opera-esque joke photo of myself sitting at it, dressed in Victorian gear.

I'll mention it around to people. If you want to, you can email me some contact details. Email is my full name (with no spaces, dots etc) {a t} g m a i l {d o t} c o m

I hope it finds a good home -


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 11 Feb 08 - 02:30 AM

Bonnie, it's about three feet high and three deep, and four feet wide, I'd say. I'm in Dublin. Would you use it for music?


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 11:30 PM

Saw a group of English buskers on TV a while ago. The 32 bass P/A player had a Melodica attached to the P/A - used it as a contrating sound.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 11:28 PM

I just remembered my aunt and uncle near Enniskillen used to have an instrument that sounds just like those described by Greg B. I had forgotten about the chord buttons, but i do remember they had some sort of fan. Can't say if they were mains-powered or battery (the one they had was fairly small). Hardly more than a kid's toy, it was nevertheless capable of producing a pleasant sound. I guess it had brass or possibly steel reeds, nice mellow sound, in tune with itself at least, and I think the fan/blower noise wasn't too obtrusive. I used to play it on visits there in the early '70s. Was really disappointed to find they had traded it in when upgrading to a Hammond organ!

Around the same time, I had a Hohner Melodica (I haven't seen it for years, but it may still be around). I think Hohner produced an adaptor to provide a powered wind-supply (or maybe I'm thinking of somebody's home-made effort?) Wouldn't have quite the same street-cred as a harmonium down the folk-club, but could be a cheap way of finding out if you like singing to the accompaniment of reeds!

Ross


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Greg B
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 09:02 PM

Back in the 60's and 70's a popular child's amusement at least
here in the states, was the "Magnus Electra-chord Organ" They
made them from quite small 'tabletop' models to quite a bit
larger free-standing models, with anything from maybe ten
major and minor chords to a full set of bass notes and major,
minor, diminished and ninth chords on the left hand.

They were free reed instruments, powered by internal electric blowers
which could get rather wheezy over time. You'd turn a knob on one
side or the other, and the blower would spool up--- some second
later the thing would be ready to use.

These, I think, were really nothing more than 'powered harmoniums'
of various sizes. Quite popular at Christmas-time as a gift.

Generally I found that the only kids that had them were those who
were never given actual music lessons; those of us who had actual
music lessons on actual pianos were then thought by the Magnus
owners and their parents to be some sorts of geniuses because
we could walk up the the things and play them, either by 'ear' or
from the 'teach yourself' music books offered as accessories.

Kind of sad, really. I can recall being held prisoner by friends
who had these things and who kept insisting that I 'play more' on the
thing that had always eluded them for lack of even rudimentary
instruction. I also recall some rather sticky messes where the
names of the notes were either written on bits of masking tape on
the keys or (worse yet) in marker pen directly on the plastic.

But you could get quite a sound out of the larger 'console' models
which had sometimes a several octave range and all those nifty
chords for the left hand.

Some Indian friends of mine had a harmonium, and one of their sons
was trained in playing 'raga' music on it; the 'traditional' use in
India. Quite different!


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 06:57 PM

I've been thinking about getting a small one in the future, just to use as accompanying drone on a few songs, as I don't play an instrument and the few I've heard do this sound gorgeous. Is this a feasible idea, and are there ones particularly suitable for this?


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 06:54 PM

I think Dolly's organ was too small for a foot-bellows. Certainly the early portatives were, and my vague memory of watching Dolly from backstage at a festival is that she just had it sitting on a table. She sure could play it though.

JTT: How big is "a cupboard"? Can you tell us any more about yours, and where in Ireland you are etc etc etc.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's Apprentice
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 05:42 PM

"but I can't remember how she handled the bellows issue"

a friend of mine has a pipe organ, with hers you have to pump with foot pedals to get the desired effect.

Charlotte (may be interested)


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 05:27 PM

oops typed Wily instead of Willy

Wild Willy Barrett & Mary Holland


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 05:26 PM

Mary Holland who is part of the Wild Willy Barrett Sleeping Dogz takes her Harmonium with her for each gig.

Here are some photo's of when they were at Faldingworth Live

Wild Wily Barrett & Mary Holland


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 05:05 PM

I have a beautiful one the size of a cupboard, with lovely old ivory keys. When it played, it had a lovely tone, but the canvas bellows now need mending. I'd really love to find it a good home - if anyone in Ireland would like to talk to me...?


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Rowan
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 05:03 PM

Bonnie, That sounds very much like the "Flutina" (brand name) that Beat Klippel (of Nariel Creek fame) had.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 10:42 AM

IIRC it had a little row of wooden pipes standing vertically which worked in much the same manner as fipple flutes (recorders), rather than the metal-reed system used by harmoniums. Those are very much older: you see them in medieval iconography, often sitting in the player's lap. They're also called portative organs or positive organs, and the keys were often played with one hand while the other worked the bellows; though there were also slightly larger ones which had someone standing around the back doing this chore. (I used to play with an early music group that had one.) So flute organs are actually mini pipe-organs, and their sound is slightly less edgy.

I saw Dolly play hers in gigs with Shirley a couple of times (and what a magnificent pair they were) but I can't remember how she handled the bellows issue. Sometimes people just use a little fan-motor, unfolky as it sounds.


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Subject: RE: harmoniums in folk music
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Feb 08 - 09:53 AM

btw.. one of my special favourite CDs

is "Love, Death and the Lady" by Shirley and Dolly Collins...

always assumed the beautiful haunting reed sounds were harmonium..

but googling now to confirm,

turns out its something called a flute-organ ??????


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