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English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!

Ptarmigan 06 Feb 09 - 07:47 AM
Mr Happy 06 Feb 09 - 07:58 AM
Ptarmigan 06 Feb 09 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,chris 06 Feb 09 - 09:07 AM
Mr Happy 06 Feb 09 - 09:15 AM
EBarnacle 06 Feb 09 - 10:23 AM
Guran 07 Feb 09 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,HSA 09 Feb 09 - 05:24 AM
Ptarmigan 09 Feb 09 - 05:43 AM
The Sandman 09 Feb 09 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,HSA 09 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM
Guran 09 Feb 09 - 08:26 AM
Richard Mellish 09 Feb 09 - 10:53 AM
Richard Mellish 09 Feb 09 - 11:09 AM
The Sandman 09 Feb 09 - 12:46 PM
Guran 10 Feb 09 - 03:07 AM
The Sandman 10 Feb 09 - 10:17 AM
Guran 18 Feb 09 - 03:22 AM
Ptarmigan 18 Feb 09 - 03:52 AM
The Sandman 18 Feb 09 - 05:32 AM
Ptarmigan 18 Feb 09 - 12:30 PM
Guran 18 Feb 09 - 01:31 PM
The Sandman 18 Feb 09 - 01:40 PM
Guran 18 Feb 09 - 02:46 PM
The Sandman 18 Feb 09 - 04:57 PM
Guran 20 Feb 09 - 12:09 PM
Guran 23 Feb 09 - 11:24 AM
Ptarmigan 23 Feb 09 - 11:37 AM
The Sandman 23 Feb 09 - 12:08 PM
The Sandman 23 Feb 09 - 12:56 PM
Guran 23 Feb 09 - 02:08 PM
Alan Day 24 Feb 09 - 05:46 PM
Guran 25 Feb 09 - 03:22 AM
Alan Day 25 Feb 09 - 09:53 AM
Guran 25 Feb 09 - 11:53 AM
Guran 02 Mar 09 - 09:58 AM
The Sandman 02 Mar 09 - 03:16 PM
Guran 03 Mar 09 - 09:20 AM
Alan Day 04 Mar 09 - 09:03 AM
The Sandman 04 Mar 09 - 09:40 AM
Guran 04 Mar 09 - 11:34 AM
Guran 04 Mar 09 - 12:16 PM
The Sandman 04 Mar 09 - 01:05 PM
Alan Day 04 Mar 09 - 01:55 PM
The Sandman 04 Mar 09 - 02:09 PM
Alan Day 04 Mar 09 - 05:45 PM
The Sandman 05 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM
Guran 05 Mar 09 - 05:04 AM
Guran 05 Mar 09 - 05:29 AM
Guran 05 Mar 09 - 05:47 AM
The Sandman 05 Mar 09 - 06:03 AM
Guran 05 Mar 09 - 02:47 PM
The Sandman 08 Mar 09 - 08:32 AM
Guran 08 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM
sian, west wales 21 Apr 09 - 04:58 AM
Guran 26 Apr 09 - 01:16 PM
The Sandman 26 Apr 09 - 05:25 PM
Alan Day 27 Apr 09 - 03:55 AM
The Sandman 27 Apr 09 - 09:58 AM
Alan Day 27 Apr 09 - 10:36 AM
Guran 27 Apr 09 - 01:40 PM
Guran 02 Jan 10 - 04:21 AM
The Sandman 02 Jan 10 - 06:44 AM
Guran 16 Oct 12 - 10:42 AM
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Subject: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 07:47 AM

I've just been watching Goran's new YouTubes, which demonstrate his very interesting "cross-the bellows-strap", broad straps & his Bellowsing technique.

Given my recent problems with thumb pains while trying to learn to play my Baritone English, I'd be very interested to hear what other members think of this new approach to playing the EC!

Walking my baby back home

Värmlandsvisan

Tango Uno

I see his approach actually employs the use of:
"ergonomic handle" (wrist support, broad steady thumbstraps, broad steady wriststrap, no finger-plate) and a 'cross-the bellows-strap' facilitating articulation and rhythimical playing"

On the positive side, I can see how this could mean you could now play an English Concertina with more of a rhythmic style, which I'm sure will interest all Irish Music enthusiasts who play the English Concertina, as well as many others.

However, surely there is perhaps a downside, in that you then can't play music with the same flow & you no longer have the possibility of playing lovely long notes or slow, lazy passages?

I'm sure there'll be those who feel that the standard set up works fine for them, especially in relation to little Trebles, but I suspect all players of the larger Concertinas will read Goran's ideas with great interest.

What do you think?

Cheers
Dick


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Mr Happy
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 07:58 AM

Can't quite see where the strap is.

Has he just left the bottom travel strap fastened?


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 08:05 AM

Mr Happy, Goran told me that, & I quote:

"I use an elastic strap to assist keeping the lower folds together in this procedure and the effect is most remarkable!"

So from that remark I assume he has made a special strap to suit the purpose.

Cheers
Dick


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 09:07 AM

Hi Dick
see also professor rat (Danny Chapman) c.net


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Mr Happy
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 09:15 AM

Wonder if it'd work with a melodeon or other squeezables?


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: EBarnacle
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 10:23 AM

I watched the video and then noticed his travelling case. Geez, he carries a lot of stuff. He also does not pad his instrument within the case. A lot of weight and a real risk of major damage.

About his strap system: I see a benefit to his system but I also noted that some of his noting was clearly a compensation for his straps.


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 07 Feb 09 - 01:45 PM

Hello Guys, do continue reflecting, but most of all, do try it in practise!
Even if you are sceptical or perceive that your habitual playing suits you fine do it anyway! It may change your entire joy of playing - so don't miss the chance! And it costs 'nothing'! It will certainly feel strange at first and if you usually draw the bellows until wide open until you close them again it firstly takes a while to accept the restriction and secondly getting used to "fanning" the bellows which is an issue by itself ! If you are "fanning" allready it will come easier.

A couple of replies:

Mr Happy: "Can't quite see where the strap is.
Has he just left the bottom travel strap fastened?"

- A textile born elastic strap is fastened between pairs of endbolts

GUEST,Chris: "Hi Dick see also professor rat (Danny Chapman) c.net"

- Yes, and you can see it on some of his You Tube videos too and on some others of mine a bit more visibly than on those Dick mentioned.

I firstly had considerable difficulties trying to convince Danny about the greatness of the strap (I actually never did I think..) and I was very pleased finding some years later that he had actually adopted it after all! I am curious to hear him report about his experiences because we haven't met since...

MrHappy: "Wonder if it'd work with a melodeon or other squeezables?"

- As a matter of fact I initially tried it with melodeons since I got mad about the tiny thumb strap and fighting the bellows. Later on I used the idea with a large piano accordion which was very easy - just keeping the 'bottom' travel lock locked as you asked at first. After these experiences it was natural doing the same with concertinas...

EBarnacle:"I .. noticed his travelling case. Geez, he carries a lot of stuff. He also does not pad his instrument within the case. A lot of weight and a real risk of major damage".

- Not at all! I didn't expose that but there are some internal 'walls' tightly around the instrument in the centre of the case and all the other stuff outside the walls.Further on concertinas are very resistable gadgets...more dangers outside he case...

"About his strap system: I see a benefit to his system but I also noted that some of his noting was clearly a compensation for his straps".

- Not really, I hardly ever find the straps obstructing the actual playing but I do try a)always to keep the bellows as much closed as possible b) to practise the bellows reversals as closely to the musical phrasing and articulation as possible contrary to as far as I have seen many English players who use the bellows capacity to the extreme by reversing push and pull as seldom as possible.Very much opposite to Anglo players who have to reverse more often to get the notes and phrases right.
The only occasional situation when the strap may cause some obstruction for my part is with polyphonic hymns if the phrases are very long.
I use it for instance also with a Victorian treble with its 4 folded very small bellows and it works fine. The clue is that efficiency of bellowsing is so much improved that the mobility restriction mostly is generously compensated for.
First of all however precision in articulation and dynamic expression are vastly facilitated.

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: GUEST,HSA
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 05:24 AM

As someone who does play Irish music on an English concertina this has set me off thinking about what I actually do! Clearly in order to play Irish successfully on the English you have to be much more dynamic with bellows movement than it recommends in the English Concertina tutors and I have consciously developed a style where I change bellows direction pretty frequently. But where and how often? So that means I have to play while watching the bellows. Ok...

So I reckon I change direction at least with every phrase, and depending on the tune that can be more or less often. Any kind of emphasis note needs to be on a change of direction as well. When I'm playing in a session I tend to move the bellows even more often because in playin gloud you need more air.

Watching Goran, that seems to me to be what he is doing. Apparently I do "fan the bellows" a lot of the time as well - though without the aid of a strap but I can see that it might assist if you have a lot of air in the concertina. Mine are standard 6-fold Lachenal trebles and I like them a bit leaky because then you have to move them faster!

There are times when the natural "long breath" of an English is handy, especially when accompanying songs or playing chords so I would not choose the restriction of the strap but I can see it would be useful to people trying to play more rhythmically. And I'd apply this to any players of any kind of (dance) music on the English concertina - moving the bellows a lot improves the rhythmicness of any kind of music and there are a lot of English players who in using all the air they have, play in a very stodgy manner!

Interesting

Helen


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 05:43 AM

"there are a lot of English players who in using all the air they have, play in a very stodgy manner!"

Oh Oh that sounds like fighting talk to me, Helen! Care to name names?

......... only joking! :-)

I notice that Goran posted two new Fanning YouTubes yesterday, in case your interested.

Cheers
Dick

Tango "Uno" .No2 on a 56 key Baritone-treble

Twilight time on a 56 key Baritone-treble.


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 06:35 AM

last night,I went out to a session,and played alongside avery good anglo player,the two concertinas were almost indistinguishable,of course I was listening closely to her playing,.
this is a major failing ,of some session musicans they dont listen to other people.
the secret of good playing is listening and practice,listening to oneself and listening to others,there is no one correct way of using the bellows,any more than there is one correct way of bowing the fiddle.
there are many different ways of bowing the fiddle,which are suitable for dance music,likewise there are many ways of using the concertina bellows on an English,Which still give a dancey feel.
one of the important things about playing for dancing,is watching the dancers,another important point for EC players is to make sure there is plaenty of seperation between the notes,the use of finger attack is just as important as use of the bellows.
I have probably been playing the EC for over 33 years ,have played many times for dancing[both solo and ceilidh],and generally had complimentary remarks from dancers.
I would recommend that all players who wish to play for dancing,practise regularly with a metronome,this guarantees steady playing.,it also trains youto listen to yourself
practise jigs 115 to 122,hornpipes 140 to 150,reels 200 to 210[I halve this]polkas 140 to 143,slides 140 to 143.,marches 117 to 125
of course if you play for rapper youwillneed to be able to play jigs somnewhere in the 130s.
Baritone concertinas were designed to play parts and only play melody occasionally,Ispeak from experience,I played in the NMEC,1985, TOhttp://www.dickmiles.com 1987


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: GUEST,HSA
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM

Well that's confusing we've got 2 Dicks posting to this thread...

Ptarmigan Dick - No, no names, no pack drill etc etc. But we have all heard them at sessions.

Dick M - we did talk about this when we met up at Maidenhead FC last year. It's interesting in your comment that you focus on timing, which is obviously very important (and I hate playing with a metronome it's worse than playing with a drum machine, but did so a lot when I was starting and even now sometimes it's useful if you become aware that a certain tune tends to get speeded up when you play it) - but don't mention rhythm which I think is more what Ptarmigan was referring to..

I do agree about the need for separation between the notes and making sure you come on and off the buttons in a staccato style (which is more natural on the anglo) but again that's important IMO whatever style of music you are playing.

It's also interesting, as an English player, playing with an Anglo player because while they can sound very similar there are always subtle differences between styles and players and I find I can pick up ideas that way. Just pity the poor chap who sat between me and an Anglo player in a session at Chippenham once and had to move because he could not cope with one set of notes in the right ear and a different set in the left ear!

Helen


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 08:26 AM

Helen, you said:"I do "fan the bellows" a lot of the time as well - though without the aid of a strap but I can see that it might assist if you have a lot of air in the concertina. Mine are standard 6-fold Lachenal trebles and I like them a bit leaky because then you have to move them faster!"

- I have to repeat that you don't need a lot of air/large instrument or long bellows to gain from "fanning" or using the strap.On the contrary even ! - particularly with the strap fanning makes "pumping" (that is what you are up to in real - sound may be looked upon as a side effect...) so much more efficient that it mostly is a musical advantage as well.There are very few long phrases that may demand the full extension of any bellows.Precisely as you say for yourself - the method reversing the bellows according to muscical rhythm and articulation is of greater importance than bellows capacity. BUT
I have to object concerning fancying the leaks! I know exactly what you mean: I once had a real big piano accordion that leaked and it seemed very comfortably 'easy' to play initially but after tightening the bellows it was not difficult to realize that bellows should be dead tight if possible!You can play exactly as rhythmical , just with smaller movements! Check it! Of course - if you play polyphonic hymns or song accompaniment on a little treble you do get out of air...
The straps if used should be attached so you just snip them on and off

Dick (Miles),
- First, I sympathize will all you are saying (almost:-). Just adding a little:

"no one correct way of using the bellows"
- I fully agree! Everything has to be carefully choosen according to circumstantial needs.What Iam advocating for is the primary approach that this choice better be based as long as possible upon fundamental anatomical and physcial conditions, and these are not changeable!With that as the starting point you can(or have to) compromise in various ways depending on the specific music and situation.

"Baritone concertinas were designed to play parts and only play melody occasionally,Ispeak from experience,I played in the NMEC,1985"
- Hm..I don't fully agree! a) They can be suitable of course for playing 'baritone'range solo/melody. Perfect for cello or guitar solos for example. b) For accompaniment they can be very suitable also with chordal/polyphonic styles BUT it may be bloody tricky to avoid getting a muddled mess of it all. c) For polyphonic hymn (solo) playing they are outstanding among concertina models. d) "designed" - well that differs a lot does it not! They may be so very different in sound , response, distinction, tonal balance.(Long reed single action old ones entirely different from modern short reed compromise models etc) e) Baritone trebles - which are my favourites - may have additional characteristics while still being possible to play like any other baritone or almost any treble(!). f)comparing tone in the same octave I think you often notice a warmer, mellower tone from the baritone compared to the treble and that may enrich the expression many times, comparable to playing the same violin part on a viola or a cello instead.

-Concerning legato/staccatto never take my own playing as any kind of musical example! I do play more legato than I might prefer but that is due to physical handicaps. Something I would like to emphasize in this issue is that many (most..) concertina players, compared to at least more advanced accordion players, seemingly are not familiar with fundamentals on basic articulation..i.e they may 'know' in practise but don't understand what they are actually doing physically.
"Staccatto" for instance is not only *that*. It may be performed by either a)'finger articulation' or b)'bellows articulation' and there is great difference. a) means that the bellows are activated first and the sound is initiated when the button is pressed b) means that the button is activated/pressed first and the sound is initiated when the bellows are moved. (Something for another topic maybe...?)

Cheers
Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 10:53 AM

Mudcatters who are also ICA members will have seen Göran's articles in Concertina World, but others won't be aware of them. In those articles he describes the physical and ergonomic considerations at greater length.

Having very briefly tried holding one or two of his concertinas with modified handles, I have mixed feelings about them. They do help to keep the instrument in a stable position without excessive muscular effort and without restricting access to the buttons in the way that a very tight strap does, but they also felt somewhat cumbersome to me.

I wish more people would experiment, applying Göran's ideas and adding their own ideas.

Apropos fanning versus using the full capacity of the bellows: my own style tends to involve chords (so the air is used fast) and changing direction only when it suits the tune, so I do often need the full capacity. But again this does depend both on the music and one's personal style, so it makes sense to try fanning where possible to see how one gets on with it.

Richard


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 11:09 AM

PS
I should have mentioned that I play anglo, so not strictly within the topic of this thread, but Göran's ideas are mostly applicable to all systems.

Richard


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Feb 09 - 12:46 PM

but if Baritones are going to be used in a different way[eg continuous melody] than they were originally intended to be used,the player is going to be carrying more weight for more of the time.,this could possibly cause strain.
when Nigel Pickles was playing baritone concertina in the NMECQ,he would have from time to time[a few bars rest],not normally long enough to go to the bar,but nevertheless enough to make a difference as regards strain .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 10 Feb 09 - 03:07 AM

Richard,
Thanks for the mental support! Not primarily for my own part, but truly for the *cause* since I regard my energetic advocating in these matters as a "mission" simply hoping that greater conscience and knowledge about some of these ergonomic fundamentals may help players to get along with greater comfort ( and health!)but first of all finding paths to greater musical enjoyment, when not hindered by instrumental obstacles.

You also say: "but they also felt somewhat cumbersome to me".
- No surprise! For me too they did so to a great deal at first and still may do in some ways ! You may have to "believe" in a change of anything in life to overcome a)the threshold of the transition itself b) the strenous period of habituation to new circumstances.
Generally speaking the habituation phase often can be estimated to 6-12months if you have become used to something before whatever...
For my own part - although I *knew* from professional experience that the´"ídeas" were right it took about 10 years of awkward playing until taking the consequences and starting systematic trials.After some years of experimentation I had forgot playing all together and lost 90% of my earlier repertoire! No one else should do that, the concept is principally settled now - you can just go ahead and use it, but
the threshold and the habituation are till there, both of them...On top of that the looks...I know, although I don't share the deep feelings...that many players are devoted to the beauty of their instruments even though they are meant for listening to...:-)

Now Dick, (Miles)

You say: "but if Baritones are going to be used in a different way[eg continuous melody] than they were originally intended to be used,the player is going to be carrying more weight for more of the time.,this could possibly cause strain".

- With the common traditional handle/attachment and if not using any efficient support YES! We are talking englishes now..Mostly since the strain comes on the weak thumb extensor muscles or on the even weaker 4th fingers causing a crampful grip from thumb and pinkies in cooperation.The trad. english 'handle' is an ergonomic nightmare and the only excuse for Sir CW if being responsible for the disaster is that as far as known he never played the concertina himself! The anglo/duet concept is a lot more adequate generally speaking.CWs brother William Wheatstone understood the matters completely on the other hand as he describes in his patent application 1861.
So - with proper handles and an adequate method supporting the instrument there is no significant weight factor to hinder the use of baritones for anything.Comparing say 1200g for a light treble and 2500g for a fairly 'heavy' baritone is not of great importance for the "carrying" issue itself.Our arms are capable of maximal loads at least over 25kg together mostly and the general rule is that static load should not exceed ca 10-15% of the max power so for common performance the baritone should be just as safe as the treble.

You say: "when Nigel Pickles was playing baritone concertina in the NMECQ,he would have from time to time[a few bars rest],not normally long enough to go to the bar,but nevertheless enough to make a difference as regards strain ".

- Nigel, I am afraid, had to get along with the original outfit:-)
I have managed playing my 2500g baritone-treble energetically while standing, continuously, for about two hours...Problems are meant to be solved...but I can agree that baritones originally were not designed for performing solo standing but neither were trebles :-) !!BUT we have to keep in mind also that Charles Wheatstone prescribed that the instrument should be held with BOTH 3rd and 4th fingers on the plate and that makes enormous difference! The finger plate IS designed for that purpose, then the little finger comes in the right position as well.But just two fingers for fingering makes poor music mostly...

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Feb 09 - 10:17 AM

Rhythym:I am sure the contributors to this thread know this,but here we go.
jigs,are not generally played evenly as they are written,the first note is lengthened slightly and the second note is slightly shorter,the emphasis is generally agreed,on the first beat and to a lesser extent on the fourth beat,there are several ways of getting this,finger emphasis or bellows emphasis[this doesnt necessarily,have to involve changing direction],bellows emphasis can be obtained through changing direction,or through pushing /pulling harder in the same direction.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 03:22 AM

Dick,
With some delay a couple of comments on the above.Just to sort out the terms a little at first.It seems to me - but correct me if I am wrong - as if you prefer using the terms "finger emphasis" and "bellows emphasis" for what I call "finger articulation" and "bellows articulation" respectively.No matter which, as long as we mean the same, but there is another point too and that is the common understanding, at best in an international outlook.There is no consensus on that I am afraid. I have got the terms finger/bellows *articulation* from the German origin in accordion pedagogy, which in turn emanates to a great deal from Hugo Herrmann in the 1950s.I don't think myself that "articulation" is quite adequate either since this term is practised in music with various meanings depending on what instrument(including the voice) is used."Emphasis" as you say again maybe is not the best either since in common language it means just that - *emphasis* and technically what we speak of here is different is it not?...

So . I would rather suggest for the primary distinction whether the finger or bellows is used for getting the note/sound to start that *initiation* of the tone/sound or *intonation* might be more appropriate for *that* but since in German "Finger Artikulation" and "Balg Artikulation" ( and linguistic derivates) World wide are established to speak of this matter with accordions it might be wise adopting it with concertinas as well...

Now back to the bellowsing.
Yes , I agree ! and what you say is important of course and furthermore it is my impression that (too) many concetina players are unconscious about the significance of these details in expression which may be included in a wider term "articulation" if by that we mean ALL means to form delicate expression, not only produce a note with a certain frequency.AND I think this is caused to a part by seeing the bellows only as a pump and not as the real source of the music performed.The finger, with squeezeboxes, can ONLY decide the note and the bellows does all the rest, consciously or not...! With string instruments for example it is mostly entirely different.

I stop here for the moment, hoping for some opposition...

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 03:52 AM

"Baritone concertinas were designed to play parts ..... "

In reply, can I just direct readers to this page: Juliette


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:32 AM

Ptarmigan,check out it out historically.
That does not mean that they cant be used successfully as a lead instrument.
BUT ,The player may suffer from physical problems ,in which case adaptations to the instrument maybe required .
I certainly would not want to do a 2 times 40 minute gig,playing a baritone concertina as a lead instrument.
I certainly would not want to do that five nights a week,Iwould be extremely concerned about muscular/strain problems .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 12:30 PM

Ah well Dick, that must be why Juliette works out! :-)

But seriously, I'm sure it's not the only instrument that folks would find hard work playing non stop for 2 x 40 minute sets.
After all, a lot of those orchestral instruments only get the odd honk, during a complete symphony!

Cheers
Dick


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 01:31 PM

Hello guys,
Haven't the topics got a bit mixed up now? "Bellowsing" being one and "Baritones" being another? Since I haven't started any one of them I leave it to you if you wish to sort it out and I reply to the baritone issue for now.

Dick (Miles),
Don't you think there are two matters here that better be separated?
a) Baritones you said were not "designed" for solo work/solo parts
b) Baritones nevertheless being used for solo work/ solo parts and what problems that may cause comparing to trebles, assuming that those ARE designed/meant for solo work/solo parts

Is that agreeable? If it is, I want to say this:

Concerning a):Historically like you say we may find that they were *mainly* used for *baritone parts* in ensamble performance but we also find a great deal of evidence that music was published for baritones particularly in the sacred or solemn segment.
Is it meaningful saying that they were not "designed" for solo work/ solo parts because of that? I mean compare the cello which is rather analogous. Still a lot of music IS written for cello solo and that works pretty fine. Baritone saxophone? Even if tenor singers do more lead parts, baritone singers are they not "designed" for the job?

Concerning b): Of course baritones ARE a bit more troublesome than trebles for playing solo standing up (assuming that the soloist always stands while playing) but like I have said before THAT should not be of any crucial importance if treated constructively.If a traditional treble OR a baritone is played standing in a low position and while using a wrist strap the conditions are not much different and if using a shoulder strap the difference is entirely eliminated what concerns *weight*. The difference in bellowsing effort of course remains, related to the different end area.AND if played seated the difference in weight is also eliminated for performance efficiency.

IF there are any strain problems performing with (english) concertinas those exist with trebles as well as baritones and there are only two rational ways dealing with that: arranging some better handle and arranging some better support of the instrument. Easy as pancake!

As a matter of (ergonomic) fact the only concertina models that maybe
can be said being "designed" (= suitable) for playing solo/lead/standing are miniatures with a weight of ca 300g conditionally that they are provided with appropriate handles too and for those( contrary to larger englishes) a thumb strap combined with a little finger rest can be regarded as adequate.At best a wrist strap is added as well.This is very simple and the reason is that for most people( some athletes maybe excluded) the thumb extensor muscles are not expected to manage greater load than those ca 150g (each side)

So Dick - if by any chance you are interested in playing a baritone solo after all - do try my handle concept and you will have no trouble with it at all...:-) Charles Wheatstone may be forgiven - he didn't play 'his' instruments so he could not know...

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 01:40 PM

no Iam not very interested in playing the Baritone,but if I was I would give your learned Prognostostications my esteemed cogitations


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 02:46 PM

Birdseye Dick,
You're welcome anytime. What about miniatures? Ever fancied that?

Now to the other (original) topic(s) - bellowsing(and articulation) -in my previous response. Please say something more about your view on the intonation/emphasis matter.One interesting detail as I see it is for example that generally speaking I find Anglo players more successful in the tone forming procedure than English players particularly when comparing fairly fresh players (not exactly beginners) and I believe this might be caused by the option the English offers playing in an idle way opening the bellows until they stop and closing them until they stop again and thus not using the bellows for dynamic articulation at all while with the Anglo you simply have to reverse the bellows almost for every note and that automatically stresses the competence in articulation/ forming the tone.

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 04:57 PM

Guran,its all about listening and playing with people.


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 12:09 PM

Dick,
Well...to tease you a little...that is the easy way out is it not?
Compare: How do I learn to drive a car? Reply: You get yourself a car, get out in the traffic, listen and play along with people...:-)

Of course you may learn making music by the intuitive method trying to copy what you hear but sooner or later you will likely meet things that you don't manage to copy or you wish to express other things but can't find out how to do it.

At that stage you want to have access to terms and some system to communicate and sophisticated elements of music simply have to get analyzed to be understood in a linguistic form.I haven't seen it but you have published one or two books on concertina playing yourself so I guess you agree that common language... not only the musical language...may be used for these matters so it surely can be a good idea coming to agreements on what we mean by different experiences.

The "bellowsing" issue certainly belongs here and IF (just imagine...!) I am by chance correct in my belief and impression that a great deal of even experienced and musically advanced concertina players from doing what you imply : copy each other in a long tradition by just "listening and playing with people" and by doing so miss a great deal of potential skills and options for expression would that not be very unfortunate??

Take just this: In ALL old tutors I have seen (if saying anything about it at all) it is prescribed that the bellows shall be worked in and out "in a straight line" and even if many players twist and turn the instrument and thus do not follow that prescription most players work the bellows rather straight and fairly much open while it still is absolutely impossible to get the same efficiency and precision that way as if the bellows is kept as closed as possible and at best worked by "fanning" - like every conscious accordion player would do...WHY is that so???

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 11:24 AM

Hi folks,
Some more crap below on YouTube to illustrate what I am talking about.I am aware it does not proove the claim that the baritone-treble may be played comfortably for more than a minute at a time...
The technical facilities do not allow me recording for two hours I am afraid and neither Dick M nor people within hearing range over here would stand that demonstration either...but take my word for it...:-)
Goran


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_905io91LM&feature=channel_page

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJPvIVMjqL0&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJPvIVMjqL0&feature=related


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 11:37 AM

Ah the jolly old Derry Air.
Well done Goran, more good Bass Concertina music on YouTube! I like it.

Goran, I must admit, I'm getting rather comfortable with my Baritone now.

I sat playing it for appx 90 minutes last night & to be honest, I only used the Thumb Straps. However, I must admit that I was, sitting down at the time & with my legs crossed, resting the Concertina end on my thigh.

The only trouble was, when I stood up I couldn't walk because my leg had gone to sleep! ;-)

...... perhaps what I really need is an "ergonomic" CHAIR! :-)

Cheers
Dick


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 12:08 PM

Ptamigan ,your doing it all wrong,you should be playing it in the bath .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 12:56 PM

accompanied by a metronome.


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 02:08 PM

Dick: "Goran, I must admit, I'm getting rather comfortable with my Baritone now".

Sounds comforting in double meaning but there obviously are a couple of reservations...

Dick: "I only used the Thumb Straps"

Magnificent! You have become Honorary Member of the 4fingerSociety*** and may apply for membership of the ScrapthefingerplateSociety*** as well...

Dick:"The only trouble was, when I stood up I couldn't walk because my leg had gone to sleep! ;-)"

Hmm...you have broken one of the golden rules of ergonomics and got an automatic punishment. I use one of these adjustable (one-)foot stools for classical guitarplaying to lift one thigh a little when sitting for a longer time

Dick: ". perhaps what I really need is an "ergonomic" CHAIR! :-)"

That really is an interesting topic itself.Leaning back comfortably and playing in an armchair is no trouble - arranging the music stand may be tricky however - but there are reading-tables on the market that serve quite well.
(Otherwise...hanging the instrument up in straps from the ceiling while staying in bed is the ultimate way of doing our stuff with minimal effort. It is also an excellent method demonstrating that the end area is the cause of differences in playing effort between small and big concertinas...)
Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Alan Day
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:46 PM

Although I do not play the English concertina I have found this an interesting subject.I have also enjoyed Gorans playing.A number of questions spring to mind.
How did this technique develop?
Is "Bellowsing your name for this technique or did it come from elsewhere?
With this technique it would appear that only half the bellows capacity is used Do you just unclip the elastic strap if you need to use it all?
You form a triangle with this technique where the bellows are fully stretched at the point of the triangle.I can see that you would get no bellows wear on the ends where most rest the concertina on the knee,but do you get any serious stretch on the centre folds ?
One of my favourite English System players is the late Tommy Elliott who used the technique of fast in and out of the bellows for some parts of his tunes and of course for his miniature playing,does Bellowsing lend itself to this fast action?
Thanks
Alan


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 03:22 AM

Alan,
At first some words on the terms I am using.

- "Bellowsing". When reading old concertina tutors I was struck by the awkwardness of the commonly used expressions like "management of the bellows" and some decade ago in a "Newsgroup" I first tried to introduce "bellowing" instead, which of course caused much hilarity, and so I changed it to "bellowsing" and have used it since.In spite of not being 'common english' it hasn't caused much opposition so I hope it may be accepted for meaning ALL activities executed by the *bellows* of squeezeboxes. As a word I think it goes fairly well along with 'holding','fingering','supporting','pushing','pulling' and so on and much easier to say than "management of the bellows"...

- "Fanning" (by the bellows).I don't remember how this came up. I did see many years ago the mechanical difference between pumping air with a *fan* (for instance the type used at the fireplace) and pumping with the concertina.Someone also pointed out to me that the specific way of bellowsing I advocated for resembled the management of a (sun-)*fan* (like the ones Spanish ladies use) and I started using the word "fanning" for this type of bellowsing.That seems to have come more naturally into 'common english' since I find it is used quite often now by others and maybe that occurred even before I publicly started my mission on the subject

You asked how the technique developed.
Very simple: from accordion playing.I came to the concertina from the accordion myself.At least in 'academic' accordion tuition ( which mainly emanates from german Hugo Herrmann around 1950s) it has been established talking about 'lower bellows support' meaning that the lower bellows folds are kept together and the upper folds are opened and closed and thus a "fanning" way working the bellows occurs.This has the mechanical advantages of a) creating greater stability and control which facilitates all activities and increases precision b) making pumping more efficient. Some accordion players have taken the consequences - having the lower transport lock locked while playing.
Wim Wakker - well known from his "Concertina connection" - shared my experience, coming from the 'accordion world' to the concertina world, and he has expressed similar views on the matter at his web site.

As you know not all accordion players practise it either but there is hardly any question about the mechanical advantages which in turn open up for several musical advantages as well.

You mention the possible disadvantage from restricted bellows capacity
Well,the maximal expansion is limited of course, but this hardly ever causes any practical problems! For my own playing it 'never' does but the straps are just hooked on to the heads of the end bolts which are elevated 3mm so they can be snapped on/off in a second.You see - the efficiency of the bellowsing gets so much improved that the result mostly is perceived as if the 'volume' had increased !! I use the strap concept even with old 4 folded trebles with their original small bellows ! Much is depending of course upon practising bellows reversals rhythmically and according to other musical phrasing and like I mentioned in the previous message - sorry to say particularly english-players often adopt a lazy fairly unsophisticated manner of 'bellowsing' in general that limits the musical expression and dynamics.

You ask:"do you get any serious stretch on the centre folds?"
I don't - but everything can be misused.Maybe one has to be a little bit extra careful not to overstretch the folds particularly with old brittle bellows and I guess some fear for such damage may have been the true reason for the common prescription in old tutors that "the bellows should be activated *in a straight line* " and this advise likely may have come from the makers of old concertinas and NOT from the performers , since in real those ought to have found out what I am preaching about - it definitely is much more efficient NOT doing the bellowsing in a straight line !! You can't fight 'natural laws' with much success, can you?

You ask:"Tommy Elliott"..Bellowsing lend itself to this fast action?"
Let's say "fanning" instead according to the above.Absolutely !! The special kind of 'bellowsing' you talk about, using fast bellows reversals for "tremolo" effects, and another in accordion environment similar ( but not the same!) technique called "bellows shake" definitely can be practised excellently with the fanning method and particularly by adding the "cross-the-bellows-straps" since the requirement for successful tremolo or bellows-shake of course is optimal stability and control and when holding a concertina with bellows open in the 'normal' way you have neither.
To make conditions ideal the bellows must be as much closed as possible and worked by fanning since this inceases stability.It is all basic mechanics.
With miniatures it can be done (and has to, since they can hardly be fanned) since you have manual effort enough to manage the control but doing it (for instance like Tommy Elliott !) with a normal size concertina takes a lot of practise. It obviously *can* be done but it is enormously much easier using fanning and straps !
( I fear my production of funny videos to accompany the mission risk getting unsurveyable in the end :-)

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Alan Day
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 09:53 AM

Goran-Thanks for answering my questions.
I know you are interested in ergonomics which leads me to the next question.With the fanning method of playing the wrists are doing all the work and in fact at the extreme fan opened position the wrists are back almost as far as they can go.So does this cause any strain in those areas,as opposed to the standard (for you non standard) method of playing where the shoulder muscles(muscle if one end is fixed on the knee) mainly do the work ? Sitting here pretending to play my fingers are much faster in the straight off the wrist and feel a bit strained with my wrist back at 45 degrees.I suppose it is what you are used to.
Very interesting subject,I have seen the fanning on Piano Accordions you refer to being used, but just put it down to the style of the player rather than an actual technique.
Al


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 11:53 AM

Alan,
These are very important factors you come up with and behind we may find interaction between some of them which decides what may be suitable or not, or maybe even harmful in relation the the different techniques.
Ideally the wrists should not be doing much (any..!) work at all since the hand at the best is kept in the "natural grip position" with the wrist not bent in either direction and the hand resting towards the end of the instrument while 'fingering' and like you say the bellowsing being executed by shoulder and arm muscles. With the normal arrangement such a position can NOT be maintained if the instrument ends are parallell, you have to 'fan' a bit to get the best hand position OR you have to extend your wrists with the anglo or duet OR leave a gap between hand and endplate with the english. All this is negative in the 'normal' situation and the main reason for my reformation of the handle using a wrist support to get the hand into the right position.
After that is done (!) the wrist is stretched again and the bellowsing can be executed in that comfortable position:
When seated the 'lower' folds are kept closed and you fan by rotation in the elbow.When standing as you may see on my videos the 'outer' folds are kept closed instead and you fan by combined movements at the elbow and the shoulder. Consequently the 'cross-the-bellows-strap(s)' are arranged differently for sitting vs standing also.

If the ideal positions are achieved there will be no unwishful strain but it has to be kept in mind that for a comfortable management of the concertinas there are several related factors that may be improved and among them, first of all, the traditional handles are generally insufficient , being the major ergonomic problem to approach.

All this is best described in 'real'of course , you can see it on the "Gran43" videos on You Tube and the theoretical background is also exposed in a series of articles in ICA "Concertina World" from issue No 438 and onwards.

Summing up I would like to say that the traditional way holding the instrument and traditional manner of bellowsing work comparably much better with the anglo than with the duets or englishes and that some playing styles with anglos may be so demanding on air capacity that
it may be difficult to manage by fanning.This also occurs with small englishes when playing longer polyphonic phrases.

If any rule might be formulated maybe this: Always use as stable conditions as possible - i.e what the music and other circumstances admit, and only make the compromises with that stability which are absolutely necessary for the occasional performance.
The concertinas, due to their somewhat illusory handiness, invite to flexible handling but that is quite deceitful. You can compare with slippers, which are very comfortable in the bathroom, but will risk causing your death if being used in a mountain excursion...

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 09:58 AM

Hi folks,
It is not very stimulating neither for myself nor for the possible readers if I continue this discussion all by myself but there is an analogous debate going on at www.concertina.net General forum on 'Bellowsing - in out or fanned' - and since I am hindered to comment there I say a few more words here instead.

Dick Miles, also present here, said in that other forum concerning "fanning":
"is Goran Rahm a virtuoso?"

I can tell you: certainly NOT !! I don't play any musical instrument to any decent standard but I have juggled with almost every thinkable common musical device and that possibly gives some experience too :-)
Now - in the end when talking about these matters neither individual skills nor degree of "authority" is of any significant importance as the main issue is the importance of physical/anatomical facts and those can be investigated on an objective basis.

Dick then said: "do whatever you want,
wear out your bellows,the concertina repairers will be laughing all the way to the bank,it is no guarantee that your playing will improve either".

Reply continued: Wrong... one thing IS "guaranteed"...it IS a *fact* that it is physcially impossible achieveing the same degree of stability and thus control (=efficiency and precision of bellowsing) by working the bellows "straight" as doing it by "fanning" (conditionally that this is done with support, keeping one part of the bellows closed).This is simple mechanics and has nothing with degree of skill to do.The playing will in *some* respect *improve* for every(!) player by adopting better working conditions.

This in turn does NOT mean that the 'method' necessarily is suitable for all musical purposes or occasional circumstances, but it remains a fact that it is crucial establishing as much stability as possible at first and *after* that making the specific compromises necessary for performance in the special situation... IF the very best conditions are sought for perfection.

Compare riding a bike.Hardly anyone would suggest doing that better without a steering-rod and a saddle or riding a horse without rein, saddle and stirrups...even though it 'can' be done with aquired skill.

IF musical performance were a competitive atheletic sport (thanks it isn't...) all this would be obvious for everyone since in competitive games the elite always is using the (same) for the moment very best availabe equipment and technique and the thrive for progress is always present since results can be easily measured.

This is no hinder for improvement also for 'us' however since we can always "compete" with ourselves and all it takes is systematically trying out the different equipments and techniques and finding some objective ways to evaluate the results.Listening to others may be important, but only to get the impulses for a change, the factual results have to be judged individually, by comparing ones own performances independently of those done by others.

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 03:16 PM

http://www.dickmiles.com .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 03 Mar 09 - 09:20 AM

Dick,
Thanks for the link - but what do you actually want to say by it?
I am for my part not meaning that YOU should change your methods or habits but I definitely mean it is worthwhile for anybody to consider what the various traditional playing habits and methods stand for and it is hardly unimportant that nearly all concertina players today are self-taught and that there simply does not exist any established tuition, particularly not at higher level, which might serve as a guide for tutors either. On the other hand for accordion, like I mentioned before,things are different and there are several academies offering high grade tuition, something which has been going on for half a century, and the knowledge from that ought to be possible to apply to our concertinas as well.

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Alan Day
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 09:03 AM

I have just been watching Edel Fox using this technique on UTube and I can now see why when I tried it out it was so painful,instead of the palms of the hand going through 90 degrees bending the fingers backwards,the hands are turned through 90 degrees .This means that your thumbs are approaching each other and then going away.This creates no pain at all,just a twist of the arm. This creates a triangle of the bellows on the bottom ,fixed, fan at the top of the concertina and not on the front going away from the body.I can see how this recreates the Piano accordion style where the fixed point is knee supported and the bellows (under the chin) fan out.
Very interesting.
Al


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 09:40 AM

so does Alistiar Anderson use fanning?
Noel Hill does not appear to.
this reminds me of discussions about thumb position when playing mandolin/banjo,barney mckenna plays one way ,gerry oconnor plays another, so what,they all make good music.
there is no correct way to using the bellows,you have to do that which suits you .,if fanning suits you,go ahead .
I do not find fanning gives me any more stabilty,neither do I find it comfortable.
playing the concertina well ,relies on other factors,as well, as use of the bellows .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 11:34 AM

Alan,
Yes, I checked the videos by Edel Fox and she definitely is a good example of fanning with the "bottom" folds fixed.
One outspoken fan and instructor of fanning technique is Peter Trimming, but he is doing it preferably with the "outer" folds fixed. Check for instance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9HGz6bHj68&feature=PlayList&p=6020CD56A82A05D9&playnext=1&index=1

I believe quite a few players do it more or less unconsciously. If one chooses the "bottom" or "outer" variant may be firstly a matter of personal preferrence but it can also be differentiated it a little bit systematically and choosen according to this:
- The "bottom" variant may be firstly suitable a)when resting the instrument on the thigh b) when not demanding maximal energy - as when playing single note fluent "Irish", or softly in general
- The "outer" variant may be firstly suitable a) when playing standing b) with a more energetic or polyphonic style like the Morris idiom or "British" anglo style for instance

Both interpretations seem to fit for Edel Fox (Irish idiom) and for Peter Trimming (British idiom)and for my own part mostly the posture decides - bottom when seated and outer when standing.
The physical reason for the difference is obvious - you may execute greater force by doing combined shoulder and upper arm work than by rotation of the forearm.

I am curious to hear what caused your problem trying it Alan, but my guess is that you tried acticvely to execute the fanning by flexion/extension to and fro in your *wrist* instead of either by the shoulder/upper arm or by the rotation of the forearm like I said above. Is that correct?

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 12:16 PM

Captain Birdseye Dick,
Generally speaking it is risky comparing with what various *star* performers do, either we speak of Paganini, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Jimi Hendrix or anyone else who has a unique talent and often a very personal idiom.

"so does Alistiar Anderson use fanning?"

- AA definitely has a very personal style and it obviously fits his particular repertoire.One thing that is particular with his bellowsing is that he uses his energetic arm movements not only for "pumping" but for articulating and phrasing and it seems as if some of the 'inertia' of moving the instrument about rhythmically creates some stability as well.It would be interesting to hear Alistair play something entirely different

"Noel Hill does not appear to."

- I don't quite agree. He is not doing it consequently but from what I have seen he actually does to some extent when adding cords - i.e when needing some extra energy - and this may be discrete but still obvious if you look closer. Another detail in his playing which is evident is that he keeps the bellows as much closed as phrasing admits and this may be quite tricky with an anglo, but this automatically means that even if the fanning as such is not marked he does use its object, support by keeping bellows closed as much as possible.

"there is no correct way to using the bellows,you have to do that which suits you .,if fanning suits you,go ahead "

- Like I said before - if someone is entirely happy with the 'product' why change but this also means that this someone may miss the chance of further development, something that is not always worth striving for...
.
"I do not find fanning gives me any more stabilty,neither do I find it comfortable".

- Frankly Dick, I am not sure you have found it worth while trying it out consequently, but noone says you have to...:-)

"playing the concertina well ,relies on other factors,as well, as use of the bellows ".

- Not denied...but tone forming and articulation inevitably is entriely depending on what we do with the bellows. What we do with the fingers and buttons is only deciding the frequency of the tone or noise we produce...

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 01:05 PM

no, articulation is also controlled by the fingers, its called finger attack,tone of the concertina is dependant upon the maker[what metal steel or brass and this varies depending on the reed maker and or what kind of ends you have metal or wood ]and to a lesser extent what kind of wood has been used for the sound board,the tone can also be altered by baffles.


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Alan Day
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 01:55 PM

You are correct Goran that is the method I tried,I can see that by twisting the arm that would create no problems.
I do not want to break up a good argument but just because I find this subject interesting,as I have never heard it discussed before I certainly would not change my way of playing now.It is interesting to see how this could be of use to someone starting out on the English or Duet path or even after watching Edel playing Anglo ITM style.I can also see that there are possibilities for someone with hand,arm or wrist strain problems that this method of playing could well be of interest.
Al


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 02:09 PM

I wonder what a teacher of the alexander method[posture related ] would say .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Alan Day
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 05:45 PM

Interesting point Dick,a week at Sidmouth sitting with no support on my back in a bent over posture usually resulted in me have a couple of weeks afterwards with back spasms.So I have plenty to learn in that area.Thanks for mentioning the Alexander Method which I Googled and listened to the talk which I found interesting.
Al


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM

I spend a lot of time practising,most of it sitting down,the right chair is vitally important.I have a special hand made chair,with a back that is not quite perpendicular,sloping back ,perhaps five degrees.
that STOOL you use GORAN is quite unsuitable,for playing, it has no back support.
I am really surprised ,that you have not considered your posture more,and how you are seated .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 05:04 AM

Dick,
1) Concerning articulation
Recall your message above 10/2 10:17 using the terms "finger/bellows emphasis" and my reply 18/2 3:22 speaking of "finger/bellows articulation". You did not confirm if we may use the terms synonymously or not.
Now you say:

"no, articulation is also controlled by the fingers, its called finger attack"..

- I am not picking on it, just want to make understanding easier...do you mean the same by "finger emphasis" and "finger attack" or do you mean different things? What in such case?
For my part I rather would not like ( in spite of the Hugo Herrmann terminology) to say *articulation* at all about the *way the initiation of the sound is executed* - by pressing the button after activating the bellows (= finger articulation) or by activating the bellows after the button is pressed (= bellows articulation). I would prefer calling all this simply *initiation (of the tone)* instead since that is what it physically IS."Articulation" is used in general musicology for so many entirely different things and related to entirely different conditions depending on what instrument (including the voice) we are talking about that only confusion will be the result if not sorting it out.

- Of course I was a bit drastic (and intentionally provocative) when I said that the bellows work decides all "articulation" so I better say 'nearly' all now to be more correct.What you *can* do with your finger ( while performing "finger articulation") is of course to regulate the speed of your finger movement and thus the abruptness of tone onset along the line of staccatto-legato. (Is this what you mean by "finger-attack"?). It IS also possible to "bend" the note for instance by special type of onset as well.


"tone of the concertina is dependant upon the maker[what metal steel or brass and this varies depending on the reed maker and or what kind of ends you have metal or wood ]and to a lesser extent what kind of wood has been used for the sound board,the tone can also be altered by baffles."

- I can agree about all that - some old but always interesting topics for a number of new "threads"....:-)

"I wonder what a teacher of the alexander method[posture related ] would say ."

- Possibly many things but I firstly wonder *what* aspect of our "bellowsing matter" you expect being treated or commented upon by "the Alexander method"? Like many other physiotherapeutic methods we have to face two *very* different aspects of such "schools" 1) the scientific results reported from controlled studies on treatmen of various specific health problems 2) the ideological or lifestyle non-scientific applications that often spread in the back-lash causing popular "movements" and a lot of confusion among the general public

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 05:29 AM

Alan,

"You are correct Goran that is the method I tried,I can see that by twisting the arm that would create no problems".

- Fine, it is always pleasing to conclude we understand each other even if the conclusions may differ a little...:-)

"I certainly would not change my way of playing now".

- By all means don't, if you don't feel inspired to!
Like I said to Dick, often no major reason for 'old dogs' to change habits if the old habits serve their purpose...BUT...always keep in mind that there may come up new situations, for instance when you want to learn something that seems difficult, or improve the perfection of the old stuff, and then (like in sports) the most efficient method *always* wins and you can not know if the old method is *that* one unless finding out in practise...

"It is interesting to see how this could be of use to someone starting out on the English or Duet path or even after watching Edel playing Anglo ITM style".

- That is exactly what I have been preaching about from the start of this mission: It would be a pity if the knowledge about these options were not spread enough to at least give the beginners a fair chance to gain from easier and faster ways of learning to control the instrument -thus giving them better chances to really *choose* methods that suit their own music and ambition

"I can also see that there are possibilities for someone with hand,arm or wrist strain problems that this method of playing could well be of interest."

- Here I would like add somtehing.People in common often think that "ergonomy" is something that deals with treatment of health problems and that "ergonomic design" is meant for disabled persons.As a field of knowledge "ergonomics" deals with ALL aspects of *work* including for instance the psychosocial 'work' segment and
in the meaning of today the general aim is "fitting the task to the man" - that is to all humans - young/old,healthy/unhealthy and so on - and it is *always* meaningful using the methods which are preferrable according to documented knowledge or have forseeable advantages accordingly. I 'recommend' ICA Concertina World No 438...:-)

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 05:47 AM

Dick,

"I spend a lot of time practising,most of it sitting down,the right chair is vitally important."

- I agree absolutely !!

"I have a special hand made chair,with a back that is not quite perpendicular,sloping back ,perhaps five degrees.

- Generally speaking that slope is not ideal. The commonly recommended range of back inclination (to suit lumbar conditions) is 105-120 degrees (= 15-30 degrees "sloping back")but individual choice of seating really IS an individual matter inspite of general recommendations which may need modifications depending on the actual work situation

"that STOOL you use GORAN is quite unsuitable,for playing, it has no back support I am really surprised ,that you have not considered your posture more,and how you are seated ".

- Hmm, *that* STOOL is choosen exclusively to fit the corner of my You Tube 'studio', I haven't recommended it to anyone, have I? :-)

There are some examples in ICA Concertina World No 439 when talking about seating...

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 06:03 AM

Possibly many things but I firstly wonder *what* aspect of our "bellowsing matter" you expect being treated or commented upon by "the Alexander method"? Like many other physiotherapeutic methods we have to face two *very* different aspects of such "schools" 1) the scientific results reported from controlled studies on treatmen of various specific health problems 2) the ideological or lifestyle non-scientific applications that often spread in the back-lash causing popular "movements" and a lot of confusion among the general pub.
the way one stands and sits, Goran,that what posture is,it is[imo] more importanrt than anything else,Take a look at yourself in your videos,is there not room for improvement in your posture.


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 02:47 PM

Goran before:*what* aspect of our "bellowsing matter" you expect being treated or commented upon by "the Alexander method"?

Re Dick:"the way one stands and sits, Goran,that what posture is,it is[imo] more important than anything else"

- I agree of course that this is very important in every work situation but I would not say "more important than anything else". Lets us first separate a) matters which are absolutely necessary for the particular work itself - and matters which are more or less associated with additional conditions, like b)making the work practicable and c)making it more or less suitable/comfortable and regarding all these factors we may add x) on short terms and y) on sustained terms
- In playing our concertinas regarding factors "a" two activities are *necessary*: and that is working the bellows ("bellowsing") and hitting buttons ("fingering").
The "posture" would rank into categories b) and c) and there will be great differences whether we talk x) or y) concerning posture as well.

If one practises the commonly known recommendations for seated and standing work respectively and also common "work hygiene" concerning distrbution of static vs dynamic work, energy control, environmental circumstances, relaxation and regular intermissions and so on one has mostly done enough to make the work situation acceptable.Playing a concertina ought not to be a very complicated or stressful occupation. We may compare with playing the violine which is a real ergonomic nightmare.
In my view the primary problems associated with concertina playing is NOT matters of "posture", like sitting/standing, but the "flaws" in the construction/design of the instrument itself and the inborn conflict created by the expectation carrying the instrument with both hands (executing static work) while simultaneously holding it in a suitable position AND stabilizing it (static work) AND pumping the bellows (dynamic work) AND finally carrying out precision dynamic work with the fingers.It is hard to find ANY activity combining so many conflicting tasks with the arms/hands and despite its seeming ergonomic attraction the conertina concept can offer nightmares close to the absurdity associated with violine playing !!

Consequently the best we can do is sorting out all this at first - before thinking of the "posture" - and find methods to reduce these conflicts as much as possible ! Purposeful "bellowsing" fits into that ambition...and the subject for this thread...

"Take a look at yourself in your videos,is there not room for improvement in your posture".

- Well, those videos are not intended to demonstrate the "posture" but the "bellowsing" but if you have anything particular in mind you are welcome to present some suggestions...maybe in a new thread?

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 08:32 AM

so we can conclude that finger attack/articulation is as important as bellows management .


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM

Dick:"so we can conclude that finger attack/articulation is as important as bellows management"

- Certainly so, to stress it a bit, since we use both to make varied and expressful music.What I wished to express in a slightly provocative way is that the "bellowsing"/"bellows management" is dominantly responsible for the dynamics of the music and thus for the major part of what is called "articulation" in a wider musical sense.If you attach the concertina to a vacuum-cleaner or some other indifferent air-pump it will be a bit like playing a cembalo compared to a ("forte"-)piano or Hurdy-Gurdy compared to a violin - still the concertina has such a great expressive capability that it would be a pity missing it.

Concluding what might be important with it all is as I see it

a) that concertina players in general are not particularly aware about the options using the bellows for articulation and many just by habit use "finger articulation" almost exclusively and thus miss a great deal of potential expressivity.

b) this style of playing may have developed to some part due to lack of systematic tuition and practise and maybe because of rather poor recommendations about it in published tutors which is in a way a bit surprising since several of the old Victorian tutors did express the need to "use the bellows as one uses the bow when playing violin" i.e by really dynamic management of the bellows

c) all the produced concertina models (English, Anglos, Duets ) suffer from design conflicts (particularly inefficient 'handles' and missing options for supporting the instrument) which has held back development of more dynamic playing styles including purposeful "bellowsing"/"management of the bellows".

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: sian, west wales
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 04:58 AM

I recently had this from Judith Cohen (U.York, Toronto) via the Ethnomusicology list and thought 'Catters would like it:

Smile of the day: just read the weekly paper of the area of rural Portugal where I do a lot of fieldwork. A 44-year-old shepherd in a small mountain village can't always afford a basic lottery ticket and doesn't have a bank account he just won a big lottery prize - a million - and said his priority is to get a concertina, which he's wanted all his life and could never afford.
Judith



sian


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 26 Apr 09 - 01:16 PM

Folks,
I am just writing on the 6th part in a series of articles on "Concertina ergonomics" for the International Concertina Association newsletter "Concertina World" and I would like to put a question to you:

What is your opinion on the choice of the term "bellowsing" like I have been using it here, in earlier discussions, and in presentations at YouTube?
Feel free to say whatever you like about it!

The background is that after reading some dozens of old tutors I found that most of them used the in my view clumsy formulations like "Management of the bellows" or "Manipulation of the bellows" for this matter while simple terms like "carrying", "holding", "supporting", "fingering" and so on where used for other activities.

So - in spite of maybe not being proper english some decade ago I started using this term "bellowsing" for all activities executed with the bellows - not only pumping air but also the articulation I have talked about earlier in this thread.
It was ridiculed in the beginning but I get the impression that it is not precisely rejected nowadays.
If accepted for a wider use I believe it might facilitate 'speaking english' about this important part of mastering squeezeboxes.

Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Apr 09 - 05:25 PM

I dont like it,bellowsing.it sounds like an angry concertina.
I like the story about theman who can now afford a concertina


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Alan Day
Date: 27 Apr 09 - 03:55 AM

I prefer the term "Fanning".
Al


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Apr 09 - 09:58 AM

for a woman called Fanny this might sound odd,Fanny was doing some Fanning,but its better than Bellowsing.
here are some belows exercises for the english concertina,youwillsee in the video that is perfectly possible to imitate the way an anglo would play a g major scale,infact i have demonstrated two different methods,plus many other combinations
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmqWMm2lGao


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Alan Day
Date: 27 Apr 09 - 10:36 AM

Your right Dick
"Bellows Fanning" should stop any problems with Fanny.
Al


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 27 Apr 09 - 01:40 PM

Thanks guys for your input so far!I just learnt from Ptarmigan Dick that Dickens had used the word, saying "bellowsing and hammering" describing the blacksmith's deeds in "Great expectations" so it may not be completely astray saying it is true *english* after all..:-)

Now, for "fanning" as Alan suggests that would
a)put myself in a pit since I have already settled the term "fanning" for "manipulating the bellows by bending it - keeping some folds closed - like a "fan"
b)as I see it be somewhat ambiguous since when I check "fan" in some dictionaries it comes up like 1)the air moving device in the hands of Spanish ladies 2)the hinged handpump to blow air on the fire at the fireplace 3)the motorized vantilator on car engines,in computers etc usually with a propeller 4)a table ventilator with a propeller/screw

Fanning in my meaning a) has not raised any opposition when I have used it in early discussions and it pops up now and then nowadays when others discuss methods handling the bellows by bending (vs doing it in a straight manner) so it seems to me that "fanning" has already got established to a point and what can be used for that manaeuvre otherwise?

Additionally we may also have to consider double use of the word "bellowsing" according to the grammar
1) as a 'verbal noun'
- 'the' bellowsing meaning "the management of the bellows"
2) as a 'present participle'
- '(I am) bellowsing in/out' ...'(I am) bellowsing slow/fast'...

Finally. "Bellows Fanning" consequently may be somewhat confusing even if Fanny is satisfied...

Cheers, more comments please...
Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 04:21 AM

There has been some recent discussion ( again...) on this subject at the c.net forum ("Teaching and learning")

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=10421

A few comments:

jggunn said(#1):" There appears to be some distinct differences of opinion about this matter. Some advanced tutors and players suggest that using the bellows to articulate a note is close to a sin and can be not only detected by the trained ear but is technically incorrect".

RE:A misunderstanding? or somewhat peculiar "advanced tutors"...!? All since "advanced" tuition for squeezebox playing was initiated the terms ( or similar) "finger articulation" and "bellows articulation" have been described and established as basically different but equally important and 'correct' methods for starting and ending a note. Bellows articulation particularly important for the most sophisticated and sensible expression since by finger articulation one can only start or stop the sound, hardly form it at all !

Alan Day said(#3):"He ( = Goran/myself)) recommends this style of bellows action as he states that it gives more control of the bellows particularly when playing an English or Duet for quick movement of the bellows in and out".

RE: Some modifications:By the term "bellowsing" I have meant ALL activities and variants using the bellows - what most tutors call "management of the bellows" (which I think is an awkward expression).
"Bellowsing" fits "fingering","holding","supporting",carrying" and so on and was once choosen because of opposition against my first suggested term "bellowing" - meant having funny associations

The "style" Alan refers to is the particular method "bellowsing" by "fanning" the bellows by keeping one part of the bellows closed and possibly facilitating the process by using a "cross-the-bellows-strap" like I have demonstrated.

Jim Lucas said:(#7):"But I personally find that it doesn't give me more control. Instead, I find it limiting, particularly in terms of dynamic "punch", which I can do with much greater strength using a straight in-or-out motion than the rotational motion of fanning".

RE:A comment from someone who has not investigated the matter thoroughly - neither in theory, nor in practise!

Theory: Everyone with elementary knowledge in mechanics is familiar with the importance of stability. Recall Archimedes from your school books! Fanning the bellows increases the stability and consequently the control.This has impact both on controlling the pumping and controlling the fingering since the connection between the player and the instrument benefits from the method.

Practise: It is very easy to find out but one has to overcome old habits and be openminded and criticial when trying out any 'new' way of doing what has been habituated otherwise for a long time!The easiest way to understand the significant advantage by "fanning" is using a "cross-the-bellows-strap".
One detail has to be kept in mind: The maximal volume capacity of the bellows of course is restricted by fanning and when this musically IS important as when playing polyphonic legato hymns or similar things depending on the model of instrument one may have to use "straight" bellowsing.
The improved control by fanning however mostly compensates generously for the restricted volume and the greater general efficiency means that it mostly is superior to straight bellowsing.
As m3838 said (#17) pointed out there are important anatomical advantages as well but the significance thereof depends on the occasional stature and posture of the player.
Goran


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 06:44 AM

Jim Lucas said:(#7):"But I personally find that it doesn't give me more control. Instead, I find it limiting, particularly in terms of dynamic "punch", which I can do with much greater strength using a straight in-or-out motion than the rotational motion of fanning"
spare us, Jim Lucas,please.


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Subject: RE: English Concertina ~ Bellowsing!
From: Guran
Date: 16 Oct 12 - 10:42 AM

This subject was discussed at considerable length ( above ) two years ago but comes up now and then for example recently in the "Ergonomics forum" at concertina.net.
Due to that re-awakening of the issue I would like to add a couple of comments:
The question came up now around what "axis" the "fanning" of the bellows ought to be performed. The asking c.net member was confused from some tutorial advice.

Firstly, we have to separate conditions playing seated from playing standing, or more specifically whether the instrument is resting on the knee or held in the air. (Some players hold the instrument in the air also when playing seated).Secondly, *if* playing standing - the actual position (high up or low) of the instrument is crucial.

1. When resting the instrument on the knee the fanning spontaneously comes with the resting/lower part of the bellows kept closed

2. When playing seated with the instrument in the air or when playing standing with the instrument high up ( roughly the same position in both cases with forearms about horisontal) it is difficult to manage any fanning at all since stability is so poor. With an Anglo or a small Duet for example it may work. ( ad below regarding Englishes)

3. When playing standing with the instrument low (arms near vertical)
and the instrument hanging in the hands the stability may be good enough to admit fanning with the distant/lower part of the bellows kept closed.This means another portion of the bellows than in 1.

4. ALL fanning is much facilitated by using the "cross-the-bellows-strap" I have demonstrated. Particularly when having the instrument in the air.

5. Additionally regarding Englishes in particular: The original English "handle" consisting of thumbstraps and fingerplates is so severely unstable that perfect bellows control is terribly difficult to achieve whatever method is used. All management of the bellows is much easier if a support for the wrist is added along with a wrist strap forming a girdle for the wrist by which the contact with the instrument is passively arranged instead of the active contact you otherwise have to establish by static muscular effort.


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