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Author Topic: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-7:30pm GMT  (Read 21482 times)

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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #100 on: April 10, 2019, 09:51:27 AM »

they just nod hopefully and don't turn up for the next session...

I'd like to add that this situation can be very frustrating for everyone involved: one party is overwhelmed & feels pushed out, but sometimes the other can also be left confused, not really knowing what went wrong, and unsure what (if anything) they should change about what they were doing. A lot of groups I've been in have had many people ghost from them with little to no explanation, and sometimes the people organising them lose faith and give up.

If that never happens, you can even ask them an innocent question like "How would you play X?" and see how they explain it to you.

One of my biggest fears is coming off as patronising, and I'm worried about how that would go. It doesn't help that I'm just like, super great at putting my foot like right into my mouth, especially if I try to think too much about how I'd want to say something.

I've found that some people do have a very strong anti-analytical approach, for example, my mum - I feel like, often enough, I might ask her a question like that and she'd says she doesn't know and that she 'just does it' and almost rebel against the concept. I've been noticing though that the point where she'll balk is changing, I think as she becomes more confident in her playing, she seems more prepared to talk about things than she did before. I've gone from the new girl in our local folk zone, to a confident, knowledgeable musician who's maybe a little bit too aggressively into melodeons, so, I know I can be intimidating, and I think maybe that helps push people towards feeling flustered and that point of uncertainty, possibly just because I am interested in them and what they're doing. Really though I feel driven to engage with people and have fun playing music, but to also hopefully learn from one another, as so much of what I know today has been taught to me by other people, either actively of passively, and I try to keep the spirit of that alive.
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Peadar

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #101 on: April 10, 2019, 11:19:33 PM »


Quote
One of my biggest fears is coming off as patronising,

Don't worry about that....just realise that some of us barely know what a major chord is. I  have to count on my fingers to work out  the notes of any major chord other than C. All I know is that the frequency of a 5th is 3/2 that of the fundemental.  As for minor keys and chords.....they are somewhere in the future.

Confession - one of the great attractions of the one row to me, versus learning PA is that it only has two bass keys (or 4 if you have  Stradella basses). And is therefore an instrument I may be able to play.
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #102 on: April 11, 2019, 01:08:46 AM »


. All I know is that the frequency of a 5th is 3/2 that of the fundemental. 

Wow. Didn't know that.

Quote
As for minor keys and chords.....they are somewhere in the future.
 one of the great attractions of the one row to me, versus learning PA is that it only has two bass keys

You don't have to know how a chord is constructed to use the bass buttons on a 4th apart melodeon. Just push them and see if they sound right. Worry about the rest later. The hard part is to get the hands working together.
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george garside

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #103 on: April 11, 2019, 09:55:55 AM »

ear ear!

george ;)
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playandteach

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #104 on: April 11, 2019, 10:28:49 AM »

As a teacher I still make many mistakes but can offer this advice, Gena, only because you ask.
Firstly, on the page, you use long sentences and long paragraphs. This won't give you a chance to observe if you have said something over their heads (assuming you talk in the same way).
Secondly, I'd suggest demonstrating as you use a term; so if you're talking about a descending bass line then play it at the same time.
Lastly, then take time to show them how to play that for themselves before the next step of putting that new skill in context.
As for your point about people leaving without saying why, I'm afraid that isn't in most people's nature - if they're not able to say 'whoa, slow down' in the instructional phase then they are likely not to be able to confront you at the end.
Personally, as we are not teaching here, I like a variety of posts from a variety of posters and admire your enthusiasm and knowledge.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 11:16:33 AM by playandteach »
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george garside

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #105 on: April 11, 2019, 01:40:01 PM »

As a teacher I still make many mistakes but can offer this advice, Gena, only because you ask.
Firstly, on the page, you use long sentences and long paragraphs. This won't give you a chance to observe if you have said something over their heads (assuming you talk in the same way).
Secondly, I'd suggest demonstrating as you use a term; so if you're talking about a descending bass line then play it at the same time.
Lastly, then take time to show them how to play that for themselves before the next step of putting that new skill in context.



seconded!

george
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #106 on: June 03, 2019, 12:00:34 PM »

Hello everyone! After a 2 month hiatus, I'm back! In tonight's Q&A I want to focus on mental health and music. Got a story to share? Ask me anything about my own journey - I'm an open book! Tonight at 7pm over on my YouTube channel (or catch up later)

Find me here: https://youtu.be/4OQqtYcJN34
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 03:01:38 PM by MelonBox »
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #107 on: June 07, 2019, 08:38:46 AM »

Hello everyone! After a 2 month hiatus, I'm back!

My apologies for forsaking you - I saw your posts to say that the Q/A was coming, but, actually posting a question got away from me. However, it was quite elucidating to listen to some of your story & adventures in this area. Thank you for sharing it.

I've also found that I have the capacity to turn my intensity inwards, against myself. My intensity rating could be described as 'the burning fury of a thousand suns', so, that can be a bad thing. I also find the social aspects of being in folk music taxing - the same part of me that likes to rewrite emails & posts and curate them for hours on end also likes to try to (fruitlessly) see if it can try rewriting, rearranging or reword my actions during past conversations or events that went sour to try and find some more favourable outcome, which can leave me feeling stuck in that (usually uncomfortable) situation, replaying it over and over in my head. Past me, who was well known for interacting with approximately zero people, ever, had significantly fewer social interactions & situations of being relied upon to obsess over. Also, I'm pretty sure that ruminating on things in this way has literally never been helpful.

It seems my ethos as a person, a software developer and a musician, is to take intellectual or system based problems and simply gaze upon them per the eye of sauron until my terrible, indomitable will renders them to ash. I have found that it is very effective - things seem to be going well for me in these fields and people compliment me on the things I have done. Despite being passionate about them, building things, nurturing ideas and being involved in society comes less easily to me, and I often find I'm chasing the next thing I could be disintegrating instead, while forgetting to do things like eg adequately express kindness, and end up feeling distraught when I realise my missteps after the fact.

I guess the reality is that I didn't really have a question and I just thought about writing the above because of the content of your stream. Strangely (or not), having written this is less about actually posting it for others to see it, and more about feeling like I've adequately written down the thing that I'd wanted to - another dusty victory, I suppose.

Here is, however, a question for the future: Do you do anything, or have a routine you like to use, to prepare for performances/gigs? Have you ever shown up and just... forgotten to bring your melodeon? I managed to forget mine going to practice once.

I sometimes go to my local folk club, and I really do like to practice right up until it's my turn to do something; during the breaks I find I can mime the feeling of opening and closing the bellows pretty effectively even with the bellows fasteners clipped, and effectively play the tune by feel & in my head. But, I do wonder if I'd be better off focusing on staying calm, though.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2019, 08:42:22 AM by Gena Crisman »
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malcolmbebb

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #108 on: June 07, 2019, 09:27:44 AM »

But, I do wonder if I'd be better off focusing on staying calm, though.

That is a skill, and you can learn it. Some people don't need to, sometimes I envy them, sometimes I don't.
People sometimes remark on how cool and calm I can remain, but it really isn't how I am naturally. I am not naturally confident, and I have to work at it.
The first thing is to recognise the rising swell of terror and despair (!) and identify it. That, for me, is the first step to separating myself from it, and once I can separate myself from it I can analyse and manage it. And once I can manage it, I can maintain a calm exterior on one level which helps to suppress the panic on another.
I know I'm not the only one who has to do this, but that's how it works for me.

And yes, I also tend to endlessly go over what went wrong and try to rationalise it. Again, for me, the trick is to admit to myself that I'm doing it and from there I can take steps to stop doing it - it's usually futile and at best unconstructive. But still hard to stop doing it, I have to go and find something that takes my full concentration for some time. Belting out a few favourite tunes can help.
It works also, for me, for depression. Tiredness is a depression trigger for me. The first step is to spot it happening. Once I recognise it's happening, I can analyse the reasons and that helps to stop me disappearing into the vortex.
Just wish I'd discovered the trick much sooner.
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nigelr

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #109 on: June 07, 2019, 10:46:56 AM »

Here is, however, a question for the future: Do you do anything, or have a routine you like to use, to prepare for performances/gigs? Have you ever shown up and just... forgotten to bring your melodeon? I managed to forget mine going to practice once.

I sometimes go to my local folk club, and I really do like to practice right up until it's my turn to do something; during the breaks I find I can mime the feeling of opening and closing the bellows pretty effectively even with the bellows fasteners clipped, and effectively play the tune by feel & in my head. But, I do wonder if I'd be better off focusing on staying calm, though.

I can highly recommend this book, http://theinnergame.com/inner-game-books/inner-game-of-music/, applying sports psychology principles to music.  I have found the exercises very useful in helping quell anxiety and panic before and during playing in front of an audience.
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #110 on: June 30, 2019, 09:00:14 PM »

Hi all! Get your chat on tomorrow night over on my YouTube channel for my Live Q&A. This one I'd like to focus on performance tactics.

Hear what I've discovered (and am still learning!) and if you've got any tips and tricks for how to give the best performance then please come and join in!

7-8pm BST

https://youtu.be/VtD05RvsKuw
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #111 on: July 01, 2019, 08:20:06 PM »

Well that was a bloody BRILLIANT #AskMelonBox live Q&A! I could've carried on for ages talking about performance and self management - some really great comments and conversation too! Thanks to everyone who tuned in.

You can watch again here:
https://youtu.be/VtD05RvsKuw

PS Gena - I promise to get back to your longer post above - it's a really interesting one but has taken a bit of time to think over/forget/think over it again!! xx
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #112 on: September 02, 2019, 08:04:32 AM »

I'm back in the Q&A seat tonight!

Catch #AskMelonBox over on YouTube tonight from 7pm for a Summer catch up and Autumn update:

https://youtu.be/FkKUdq_c_lQ
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #113 on: September 02, 2019, 02:52:43 PM »

Hello Mel, here is a question for you to consider.

Timbre! Do you find that you listen to melodeon-related recordings sometimes almost because of the sound of the instrument being played? Do you find yourself sometimes listening to recordings of yourself, or, enjoy other people playing your instrument/s?

(My husband mentioned he thought it was a bit weird that sometimes I'll watch back a recording I've made - I thought, well, yeah, of course, I play the type of music I like to hear! But I also realised I enjoy when other people play my melodeons, too, and since I can only practice so much in a day without being unfair to my neighbours, it gives me a chance to listen to the instruments I own. But, maybe he's right and I am weird!)
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #114 on: September 02, 2019, 07:15:37 PM »

Due to Mel not being able to see chat:

My summer went well: I escaped without getting sun burn so it was a good summer.

Thank you for talking about the 22nd button, I was quite interested! Honestly I think every instrument should have an extra button, since if you can fit 11 reeds worth on one row surely you should be able to fit 11 reeds on the other one, too. I think having the inside row accidental doubled would be a very useful addition.

It seems like a very nice instrument, although, it's tough over the stream. You seem very enthused, so, it must be good!
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #115 on: September 02, 2019, 07:37:42 PM »

Honestly I think every instrument should have an extra button, since if you can fit 11 reeds worth on one row surely you should be able to fit 11 reeds on the other one, too. I think having the inside row accidental doubled would be a very useful addition.
This is how the Castagnari 1914 11+10+2 configuration works. Although the accidental buttons are on the two-button half-row, the reeds activated by those buttons are mounted on the main reed blocks; there is not an additional short reed block just for the two-button half-row.
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Jackie Burnham

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #116 on: September 02, 2019, 08:05:11 PM »

Hi Mel!
Jackie from Norwich
Loved the new tune
Is Newmarket definitely on?!
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #117 on: September 02, 2019, 08:06:57 PM »

Hi Mel! Loved the new tune!
And the new Hohner.
Is Newmarket definitely on?
Alex thought not so on Saturday. Has this changed?
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #118 on: September 03, 2019, 01:03:35 AM »

One of the subjects Mel talked about this month was microphones, and Nigelr asked for advice using his H4n, as he's getting recordings which are either too quiet, or, too distorted. I use a similar but not nearly as cool h2n.

Mel gave some really good advice about how to use the device effectively, which I fully agree with:
  • Set the gain so your general recording doesn't go up past about 3/4 / -12dB of the little horizontal bar denoting the recording level. Always air on the side of turning your gain down, to give yourself that little bit more headroom.
  • I find that a narrower 90 degree cardioid pattern is best when recording a single subject or in a room, ensuring that you point the microphone at the subject. I had to read the manual for the h2n to figure out for sure which way was which.
  • I find that recording at a distance of a little over a meter usually works out well
  • Whatever you do, most likely you will want to take your recording into an audio editor of some kind to edit it. I use Audacity.

(in the world of audio, 0dB is generally line level / the loudest value you expect to capture, and then everything is -ve below that point)

I'm usually very conservative with my gain. Our goal with this device really is to get a useful recording of the audio, without accidentally including problems that we can not fix. This is a really nice microphone, and it can really capture a lot of fine details, especially in a quiet room. If needed, it is able to record audio at a 24 bit depth - while most finished audio you listen to is 16 bit, and truthfully it's basically impossible for humans to notice or benefit from 24 bit final audio, these additional bits allow the device to record even more fine detail of quieter sounds. This gives you a surprisingly big 'butter zone', allowing you to capture a good impression with your device's gain set conservatively and safely in a place where you can be confident the signal won't 'clip', which is I think what would be causing your distortion problems? Where the recorded signal has enough gain applied to it that it is louder than the loudest value the device can convey (0dB) then, it clips against that maximum, but we don't know if it was 1.1x times too loud, or, 1.6x times too loud - the data is lost forever and not recoverable. So, you really want to avoid clipping. Even at 16 bits, you may be surprised by what you can 'fix in post'.

Otherwise, perhaps because this is a stereo mic, if the recording cardioid is wide, I sometimes find I pick up a weird phasing effect due to sound reflections off of walls if I'm not careful. For the H2n, I use the 'XY' recording mode, so I'd assume that for the h4n, it's the 90 degree setting. With the distance, I find that I don't really want a strong stereo separation, where it sounds like the two ends are really far apart, and, this tends to give a good impression of the listeners experience without adding any more unusual factors which some mic setups seem to imbue - it just seems to sound more natural to my ear. When you move the mic further away, you'll hear less of the instrument itself, and more of the sounds that the instrument puts into 'the room'. So, if you consider the environment a favourable addition to the performance, then, maybe more distance is better, but my recording area is full of clutter so I try to keep it to a minimum.

Generally I would say you can expect to need to run your audio through an audio editor, though, just to edit it and amplify it to best fit the levels people & the codecs would expect it to be at - the 'butter zone' for final, produced audio is smaller, especially if you're putting your audio on eg youtube or elsewhere. Is this something you've looked into doing? I've attached an image of a recording I have. The waveform on top, it seems like it would be far too quiet to be usable - I was able to amplify it by 20dB before it got close to clipping. That works out to, I think, being perceived as 10 times louder? And: it sounds fine. I'm wasting about 3 bits of my bit depth, but even for this (I think) 16 bit recording, only having 13 bits being useful was completely fine. I always make sure to snip off the start and end of a recording off, or really, remove the areas where I'm handling the microphone. These generally add really loud clunking sounds and often interfere with normalisation (the process of amplifying the entire track up evenly so the loudest point in the track is the loudest possible value). But they also sound bad.

Rather than write this big post, I probably should have asked for more information about the problems Nigel's been having. Can you elaborate on what kind of problems you've been having?
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #119 on: September 03, 2019, 08:35:33 AM »

Hi Gena.  Many thanks for that.  The main problems I've had are either clipping/distortion or recording volume that is too low and gives an unacceptable (to me) background hiss when amplified.  I have tried both Audacity and Cubasis for editing.  I've tried a broad range of settings recording in the same room in the same position as well as trying different rooms and distances.  I suspect I have been impatient and not methodical enough to find something that works.  I plan to revisit with the advice above and see if I can find a happy medium.  Thanks again.
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