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A Scottish Slant 13

Your recordings, audio or video - let's have a listen!
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boxplayer4000
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A Scottish Slant 13

Post by boxplayer4000 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:52 pm

A Scottish Slant 13

This is set of pseudo-Irish tunes, mostly composed in America and recorded ‘live’ at one of our dances in the Scottish Borders. The dance is the Eva 3-Step which I believe originated in England.
The tunes are:
If you’re Irish (come into the parlour)
With me shillelagh under me arm
MacNamara’s Band
I met her in the garden where the praities grow.
Donegal

(Apologies for the recording quality. It is recorded on 2 tracks only with limited scope to edit and balance).


https://www.dropbox.com/s/cf1f3je32afn4 ... s.mp3?dl=0

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by jozz » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:19 am

nice on the wet side, but I like it

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by boxplayer4000 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:17 pm

Thanks Jazz.
Does the 'wet' comment refer to the accordion tuning?

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by maugein96 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:46 pm

Hi boxplayer,

As always I think your playing is great, and I particularly liked this selection, regardless of whether the tunes were Irish or "plastic" Irish from America. As you'll now be aware I'm from an Irish background and all of those tunes are very well known to me.

I think member jozz is referring to the tuning, but he'd probably be better to answer for himself.

If I could dare to make a bold statement about Scottish tuning. You may have noticed that several forum members with little experience of listening to Scottish tuned accordions have expressed their dislike of the very strong musette tuning that is used here. It may not be the strongest musette out there, as Amsterdam tuning could probably give it a run for its money, as could the old French musette tuning, as used by Emile Vacher, the man who created the French musette genre. The older Irish musette tuning was also probably slightly stronger than Scottish.

In my own very limited experience Scottish accordion music is synonymous with very "wet" musette tuning. Most of the repertoire appears to be played in either LMMM or MMM, and if you have been brought up listening to and playing instruments with that tuning, then there isn't a problem. It is the music and accordion tuning that most Scots (at least those of them who play and appreciate the accordion) are used to, and indeed expect to hear.

I will say that it is a very localised genre in the bigger accordion world, and it is not very well promoted internationally, in keeping with other "national" accordion genres. People tend to like the music, but perhaps aren't quite sure about the tuning of the accordions that are used to play it? Irish music has drifted towards swing tuning, and they've knocked quite a few cents off the French musette tuning of old. Most players of Scottish accordion will not be swayed away from the traditional sound and that is understandable. I take lessons from a Scottish pro CBA player, and he maintains that Scottish music needs a strong musette to be appreciated by a local audience. However, he recognises that other styles are probably better served without strong musette tuning.

The clincher is that most popular accordion styles worldwide, as well as classical, don't use any form of musette tuning at all, or alternate it with other register combinations. I've seen a few comments on here from people who express a dislike of Scottish tuning. I'm not making a case for condemnation of the tuning, but merely trying to explain that it can be an acquired taste. I like French accordion music, but not when the player is accompanied by a cabrette or any form of French bagpipe. Those instruments are too overpowering for me to enjoy listening to them. If I had lived in France and had become accustomed to their sound it might be different, but I'm not used to the instruments, and my ears react adversely to them.

Keep posting as I love your music. I'm not a fan of Scottish musette tuning, as you know. I didn't like Jimi Hendrix's choice of effects and amplification either, but the man could sure play guitar!
Last edited by maugein96 on Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:10 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by Tom » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:25 am

Great! Sounds like you were having fun!

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by jozz » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:19 am

with wet I meant the tuning yes, but I reckon that is tradition in Scotland

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by losthobos » Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:34 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:46 pm

Keep posting as I love your music. I'm not a fan of Scottish musette tuning, as you know. I didn't like Jimi Hendrix's choice of effects and amplification either, but the man could sure play guitar!
Perfectly put there... And a real reminder that we should experiment with the different registers we have available for different tunes / sections...
And Box player I must say you play with a lovely feel of bounce on this selection
Right or wrong make it strong...when in doubt miss it out...

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by boxplayer4000 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:14 am

A Scottish Slant 13
Thanks to all for responding.
Maugein:
The Irish themed tunes remain popular so I play them. Whether they’re ‘plastic’ or not doesn’t matter, as long as they reach the audience. It’s a common Scottish/Irish theme that many of their people are sitting thousands of miles away in foreign lands singing about how good it is back home.
I’ll try switching off the ‘musette’ coupler on my accordion and use a different one on the next post.
Tom:
I’m glad you picked up on the ‘fun’ because that is a strong theme of our dances. The Scottish Borderers relate strongly to the music and the fun element can peak when they dance enthusiastically but also sing along to the music at the same time.
Losthobos:
Thanks for the ‘bounce’ comment. I appreciate that. The aim is always to reach the dancer’s feet. A few years ago a British brewery company advertised their beers as being the one that reached parts (of the body) that other beers did not. I like to think music can do the same thing (though I’ve nothing against beer).

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by maugein96 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:58 am

Terry,

I would seriously doubt whether many accordionists playing regional and/or national styles anywhere in the world have much freedom of choice on registers, especially when they are playing at a traditional dance venue, such as the one in the clip. Suffice to say that certain music styles worldwide, accordion or otherwise, are perhaps more akin to being "disciplines", and specific instruments and/or tuning are often a prerequisite, regardless of whether they meet with international approval.

Boxplayer,

Even if I express a certain dislike of the tuning, I totally respect that it is the correct tool for the job, and there is no reason why you should alter your playing habits of the last 50 years to appease a handful of us. I wouldn't have got involved in that part of the discussion at all, but the gun was already loaded, and I wasn't sure if you had taken cover, or were preparing for a counter attack. Sometimes I've wondered if I could have got "into" Scottish accordion music if players were given more scope to experiment with the choice of register, but I think you and I both know that probably wouldn't work, the same as vegetarian haggis.

You have demonstrated to us all that you are an excellent player, and as you pointed out, the recording set up in the clip never gave you much scope for editing. If it's any consolation to you I hate the sound of French musette being played live through amplification, even if I like the tune being played. In truth I prefer the tunes being played with americain or even swing tuning, but that's normal for that repertoire where choice of register is at the prerogative of the player. Don't think a Scottish audience would appreciate a reel played on the bandoneon register, but an Italian audience would probably make no difference. It's just what they're used to.

It remains a fact that the extremes will always attract controversy, and Scottish, Irish, French, and Amsterdam musette are all pretty extreme. I doubt whether the opinions of outsiders and "non-extremists" will ever change that. I know, as I've lived most of my life in Scotland, and my wife has relatives in Amsterdam. At a guess Amsterdam musette is the stronger of the two, but it isn't a competition.

I suppose it is all down to what we're used to, as well as personal preference, and as long as people are enjoying themselves does it really matter if the whole world is not on the same wavelength? I do tend to overplay my dislike of most types of musette tuning, and the fact that I've never had a real interest in playing Scottish or Irish music is mainly down to the fact that at times I could never make up my mind what side of the Irish Sea I should be living on, or whether being the product of a so called "mixed marriage" I should be kicking with the right or left foot. It was easier to walk away from that type of music than to get involved, as it were.

Your posts have attracted a lot of positive comments and your playing remains an inspiration. No need to change anything at all, unless you are intent on hitting us with some "Continental". Few of us have the bottle to allow others to hear our playing. I tried it once, only managed half a tune, and soon realised I was about 30 years short of being good enough.

Scottish Slant 14-24 ( and more) please Maestro!

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by boxplayer4000 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:34 pm

Maugein,
I’ve no interest in promoting any particular sort of accordion tuning. I listen to and enjoy all styles and have been involved in their repair for many years. I’ve got no loaded gun and certainly haven’t taken cover. As for changing my habits ……… it’s too late for that.
It might be worth remembering that whatever you listen to on the internet it can be a pale imitation of the original. In the case of my ‘live’ clip the sound was recorded onto a fairly good quality digital recorder. From where it was placed at the front of the stage it picked up ‘first generation’ sound directly from the source but also, inevitably, 2nd generation sound which arrived via. a microphone, mixer and sound PA system as well as reverberated sound from hard surfaces nearby (varnished wood in this case).
This mix is then transferred to the computer for editing and like many others I still use a sound editor called ‘Audacity’. This runs at only 16 bit which inevitably lowers the quality.
To make the finished file more acceptable and easier to handle with web hosts such as SoundCloud and Dropbox it’s best if the file is not too big. To reduce the size of the file it is converted to the standard mp3 format. This reduces the file size by about 90% but which comes at a price in quality.
At the other end of the chain ie. the listening stage most PC and TV speakers are not up to good reproduction and probably the best way to listen is by using good quality head phones.

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by maugein96 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:09 pm

Hi BP,

As usual, my tendency to talk in riddles, coupled with my off the wall terminology, failed to deliver the true message. A comment was made by another member and I wasn't sure if it had gone down too well. I decided to get involved when I'd have been better keeping my hands in my pockets and just waiting to see what happened. My reference to a loaded gun was inappropriate, and I'm sorry if it caused offence.

You have me totally beaten with the explanation of your recording technology. It's something as an amateur player that I've never really taken much interest in, and is way beyond my experience. I tried to do it a few times on my laptop and my box sounded like cats fighting in the street. I do believe you may have heard my half hearted attempt at recording some time ago. In any case I decided not to repeat the exercise. Your box usually sounds good regardless of what register you are using, and it was only in that one clip where I reckon anybody had cause to draw attention to the wetness of the tuning.

The Norwegians use swing type tuning for most of their repertoire, and my niece and her husband got their hands on a Scottish accordion CD a few years back. Neither of them are really into accordion, but thought they might listen to the CD which they had bought in a music shop in Bodø. Henning offered to send it to me from Norway as he said he didn't care for the music, until I told him I probably wouldn't like it either. He knows I play the accordion and just assumed it would be my bag. He cannot understand why I prefer Norwegian tuning to Scottish, and I suppose I'll never really know either.

Most of my listening on You Tube is done through wireless headphones (when I can get them to synch otherwise I just plug them into a USB port), and I agree with you that laptop speakers don't quite cut it for any type of accordion music.

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by maugein96 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:57 pm

Hello again,

You'll know I rarely hear a bad word said about Italian accordion. Great tune, brilliant player, but the musette tuning of that box is way too wide for my taste. Or is it the recording? Also, if my bassoon reeds sounded like that I'd put a hammer through the box!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYgiTCIyZe0


This is about as wide as it goes for me. I'd want to wear waders for anything wetter than this:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcGbr3hUzVI

Ignore the pic of the CBA. He plays a PA, but sometimes has a female CBA player in the line up. This tune appears to be solo. I'm not really a fan of his, but selected the clip to illustrate strong Italian musette.

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by boxplayer4000 » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:49 am

Scottish Slant 13b
Maugein:
Thanks for the two ‘wet’ links. I took your advice and put on my waders before listening.
I find the tuning on the first perfectly acceptable for the type of tune being played. Though it doesn’t detract at all from the quality of the recording I notice that a ‘double take’ has been used by the accordionist to insert the short passage on the straight coupler.
On the 2nd clip the backing in particular is particularly mechanical, rigid and stiff (bass, chords and drums). I suspect this a computerised backing. Also the accordion tuning sounds almost too perfect and wouldn’t be surprised if this was also electronic. I associate this sound with pub or bierkeller and in a past situation I asked an MC for advice on what to play and his reply was ‘Don’t worry about it. After 10pm they’ll applaud a clap of thunder’. Job done.
My attempt to describe a recording procedure was not an attempt to confuse or educate at all but merely to indicate that what you hear may be a poor imitation of the original. The reverse is also true that in the hands of a skilled technician a poor sound can be improved and made to sound better than what it actually is.
After reading some of the threads on this site I feel I have made progress in recording. JerryPH’s information is particularly useful.

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Re: A Scottish Slant 13

Post by maugein96 » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:13 pm

Thanks for that info. It helps the cavemen amongst us to understand what is going on. I don't know what a "double take" is. I thought he'd just switched coupler from musette to bassoon. A lot of people dislike Italian backing tracks and the fact that players don't use the basses when they are playing with backing. I'm sure some Italian players habitually take their bass reeds out.

The whole Liscio style can often sound very mechanical and repetitive, and some players can vary it more than others. I suppose that is possibly a factor why the genre has never really broken out of Italy. I would suggest it's a bit like the "Marmite" syndrome. The main thing that attracted me to it is players are free with regard to choice of coupler, and they can embellish away to their heart's content without upsetting the dancers, if there are any.

I've noticed that in most of your clips you explain any dance steps that are relevant, and I forget that Scottish accordion is almost indelibly linked with dancing. The Liscio and French musette styles I've listened to over the years have mainly come straight out of the recording studio and I suppose I've become used to listening to tamer "engineered" music that is geared more towards seated audiences. The French and Italian styles all have their roots in dancing, but in most cases the dancers will consist of a handful of couples only, if any bother at all.

Most of the time I wouldn't have any clue as to whether the backing was live or digital, as I just wouldn't know what to listen for. I do have some backing CDs somewhere for various instruments but I've never used them. Somebody gave me one of those guitar modelling amps a few years ago that are supposed to recreate the sounds of famous amps from the 50s onwards. It's lying in a cupboard as I never had the patience to read how it works. Reckon if I got a Roland I'd just find one sound I like and stick with it. The other several hundred sounds would remain in uncharted territory. I can't even manage a "moothie" with a slide on it!

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