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Author Topic: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT  (Read 11512 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 #80 on: December 04, 2018, 07:17:23 PM »

Hello! I caught up your stream last night, thanks!

I enjoyed hearing about your experiences with the 18 bass instruments, in particular the one you've got your eye on - I've read a few good things the Benny 12 & 18 on mel net before. I'll keep an eye out for one to have a noodle on, although realistically it's such a significant departure from what I'm used to I'm not sure how rewarding it would be to only spend ~quarter of an hour with one.

I'm a big fan of compact instruments. I've been learning quite a bit recently about the pros and cons of couplers and registers and how they can add size and weight to an instrument. Something I've started to pay attention to a lot is the keyboard and how much it grows out as it connects to the instrument. Hobgoblin near me had a Castagnari Fazzy for a while and for a 2r12 bass, I was always surprised by just how big and heavy it seemed, compared to what I was used to at least. If you look at a picture of it though, you can see it gets pretty swole: http://www.castagnari.com/eng/prodotto.html?id=4&k=18

I'm not sure if the same can be sort of said of the the Trilly, weight wise, but it does have couplers at either end, I think you noted a different time that it shares the same casework as the 4v Castagnari Wielly? You seem very comfortable with it though, so whatever it weighs is probably around what you'd want to aim to not exceed. I guess to some extent, where a box keeps all it's weight is also a big factor rather than just its straight kerb weight. So, all of that noted, I can believe that the Big 18 would be a very tempting prospect! Looking on Casta's site, I can see that although the numbers themselves are probably not trustworthy, it seem to imply the big 18 may actually be lighter than your Trilly, or at least it is in the same ballpark. Players like Thoon do make the options 18 bass systems offer very appealing.

So far, I've found I'm super into compact 2r8b instruments though, and it's hard to match parity with their weight, since even many feature instruments in the same catagory feel outside of my preference. I have been wondering to myself about if my distaste for 2.5r12b could be alleviated by finding a high end, compact instrument with enough cut down features to keep the magic I'm chasing in there. I've stuck my flag pretty hard into a 3v 2 row instrument though so, I'll have to see how I get on with that, whenever I get the phone call at least.
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Among others, Saltarelle Pastourelle II D/G; Hohner 4-stop 1-rows in C & G; assorted Hohners; 3-voice German (?) G/C of uncertain parentage; lovely little Hlavacek 1-row Heligonka; B♭/E♭ Koch. Newly acquired G/C Hohner Viktoria. Also Fender Jazz bass, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Epiphone Sheraton, Charvel-Jackson 00-style acoustic guitar and other stuff..........

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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #82 on: December 07, 2018, 06:54:56 PM »

Missed my last #AskMelonBox live Q&A of 2018 on Monday? Never fear! Here's the round-up post.

Thanks for all the great questions this year! Keep them coming in 2019!

https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/2018/12/07/askmelonbox-live-qa-december-2018-results/
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #83 on: January 07, 2019, 02:36:55 PM »

I've arrived safely at Halsway Manor ready for a week of R&D on the new Moirai project album (launching in October at Derby Folk Festival so get your tickets now!)

Tonight's Q&A will be coming at you live from the Halsway library (wait till you see it!). This time I'll be over on YouTube Live for the first time. Fingers and toes crossed for a smooth tech run please!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_6Lhyv4BTY4Efp-27gcpbw

7-8pm GMT. Have your questions at the ready!
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 02:38:36 PM by MelonBox »
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #84 on: January 07, 2019, 06:34:14 PM »

I'm all set to go here in the library at Halsway Manor!

Find the live stream here (I think!)
https://youtu.be/Seii-Ocr304
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #85 on: January 07, 2019, 07:54:30 PM »

Hi Mel,

You asked me to share some of my mode tunes. My mode adventure started when someone said a tune was in "Mixolydian b6", and I was like... what is mixolydian b6?? Well, it's as simple as it sounds, it's mixolydian but the 6th scale degree is flat. The reality of this mode is that the first half of the scale sounds major, the 2nd half sounds minor. It's also very similar to a mode called Phrygian Dominant, but, not quite the same. The mode has a really neat feeling of wonder.

Provided you have a push D#, you can play in this mode on the DG melodeon with B major your tonic/home chord. I picked that because I learnt that the most effective chords for this mode are the are I (B major), VII (A major) and iv (E minor), with I and iv being the bread and butter.

And so I just sort of wrote a chord progression and, this is a tune I came up with:

Code: [Select]
X:2
T:Because It Was There
C:Gena Crisman 09/09/2018
%%titlefont Consolas, 22
%%subtitlefont Consolas, 16
%%partsfont Consolas, 20
%%partsbox
%%gchordfont Consolas, 18
%%MIDI program 21 % Accordion
%%MIDI chordprog 1 % Piano
M:4/4
L:1/8
% So this tune is written in B Mixolydian b6, or, sometimes called Melodic Major?
% It's a pretty cool mode - it's quite similar to Phrygian Dominant, but doesn't have
% the flat 2nd, scale is B C# D# E F# G A B, and the main business chords are the
% B major <-> E minor change, the A chord was actually pretty hard to use!
Q:150
P:ABAB
K:D
P:A
|: "B" B4 ^def2 | "Em" b8 | "B" fe^d2 f2a2 | "Em" g6 eg|
"B" f3e ^d2B2 | "Em" G4 BcB2 | "B" f3e ^d2B2 |1 "Em" G3 F G2 A2 :|2 "Em" G3 F G2 B2 |
P:B
|: "B" ^def2 d2 B2 | "Em" g4e2g2 | "B" fe^d2 "Em" B2 G2 | "B" F8 |
"Em" E4 F2G2 |"B" F8 | "A" A2BA G2 A2 | "B" B8 :|

Generally I write music before I play it, but know the restrictions pretty well, and took a stab at playing it for the theme of the month a few months back, but, decided it wasn't quite right (I didn't get my rhythm correct at the end of the A music, which is bizarre because I wrote the tune) and never got around to uploading a new version. That original recording is available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmSNPlghyM0 though

edit - So, the above mode is a mode of like, E Melodic Minor or something like that. Since then I've tried writing tunes in the more familiar modes, such as B Phrygian (Uses the same notes as G major), C Lydian (Also uses the same notes as G major) and A dorian (G major again!). I've also explored writing harmony parts, specifically a tune that is it's own harmony part, and other silly restrictions or ideas. The main thing with the modes is that many of them do not feel very stable, and you have to be very selective with your chord choices because otherwise you can easily modulate yourself back to Ionian (so, G. Lydian is particular unstable!)
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 08:37:22 PM by Gena Crisman »
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #86 on: February 03, 2019, 10:03:50 PM »

Get your questions ready for tomorrow's Q&A over on my YouTube channel 7-8pm GMT:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_6Lhyv4BTY4Efp-27gcpbw
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #87 on: February 04, 2019, 06:50:46 PM »

Hi Mel,

Some news: I went to York, and Pete at Acorn Instruments was very happy to let me pop by and have a play through his selection of Castagnari Melodeons. Included in that, I had the opportunity to play (granted only a 12 bass) Benny - I can see why you're interested in them! If I were going to buy a 3 row, it would probably have to be one of those, as... actually I don't think anyone's making anything that comes close in terms of size/weight? Castagnari's compact range of melodeons are, I think, something special, and a really good fit for how I play - I'd much prefer a Tommy over a Trilly, I must admit, but, the sensitivity of their regular sized instruments isn't something to shirk off lightly. It was really very informative, Castagnari really do make some fantastic instruments and Pete does a very good job in letting you figure the things out that you need to, which I'm very grateful for.

I've also been working on writing a post about modes that is more practical & writing melodeon friendly modal tunes, rather than talking about if a tune is or isn't in one. I'm on my 3rd draft...

However, as usual, I'm off to band practice, so:

Question time; You mentioned last time that you thought people should keep their B major chord (or non DG equivilent) - as sometimes it gets changed to B minor. I've seen Beginners often having 2nd hand boxes, sometimes with a strange layout or customisation they actually don't know about. Have you ever had students with strange layouts? Have you come across anything that you've thought 'oh that's a neat idea!'? Unlike most instruments, Melodeons really come in all shapes and sizes, and can be fettled to be quite strange - I'm wondering if you've ever had that get in the way of teaching, or, seem like a barrier to your student's progress.

All the best with the Q/A! I hope it doesn't have the video doesn't end up with the same strangeness as last month's did.
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #88 on: February 04, 2019, 08:07:04 PM »

Thanks for you update Gena! And really pleased to hear that you enjoyed your play on the Benny! I agree I've not come across any other make that can do good, responsive compact instruments like Castagnari.

I answered your question too - thanks for that!

For everyone else, if you missed tonight's #AskMelonBox Q&A you can watch it back here:

https://youtu.be/0HPPihpayWY

Thanks for all contributions this month - I'll see you next on 4th March!

I'm off to research into Colombian accordion music...!  :|||:
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #89 on: February 05, 2019, 02:17:58 AM »

Thanks Mel! Thanks for tracking down my post, I like to try and leave a question for you but I did leave it a bit close this time.

While I was at Acorn, Pete actually very kindly also offered me a short go on the box you mentioned, the one that had been Dave Whetstone's 2.5 row. I whipped out a tuner app on my phone to try and figure out some of what was going on. I thought it was quite bizarre - it had standard ADG basses, which I think makes little sense without an actual A row (so A+/E+, F#+/B- ), and then it's 5th button start - I suspect the intent was to continue the Richter progression down into very low notes for playing right hand diatonic chords/harmony/playing under yourself systematically rather than memorising any complicated layout. It seems to me though that a lot of people have their own 2.5 row layout that works for them, but this is the sort of thing you have to learn to play it as it is, and not try to impose your own ideas upon it - you'd be mad to try and change it, and Pete seems to be doing a great job looking after all of the instruments in his care.

Speaking of changes, I actually decided that my accidentals were around the 'wrong way' for me, and reversed them - they were Hohnerways, now they're Castarelleways (so, I use a pull F and a pull G# on my accidental buttons now). I think there's a little bit of row focus on each way around, since if you think about it, your inside row and outside row are kind of at odds with one another, so whichever way you pick favours one row or the other. Just for playing over bass end notes though, it just feels more right to me this way around, and the tunes I wanted to play work better, but, I only had about a years worth of playing under my belt when I decided to do it. I'm sure with time I will come to find more situations where I just can't find a workaround, but, no big regrets so far. It did take some time to adapt to it, but, I did manage it in the end. It's tough when both ways are correct - it's also tough to realise that you can effectively be making layout decisions without really knowing it from the getgo.

Video came out just fine, by the way.
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Spikey

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #90 on: February 06, 2019, 03:00:50 AM »

Just to say thanks so much for these videos Mel - just managed to watch the latest AskMelonBox and was really enjoyable (could definitely relate to 'beginner's indigestion', and really useful demonstrations of different bass styles for dance).
Got to find time to catch up on last year's ones now (:)
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #91 on: March 04, 2019, 01:34:20 PM »

Mel posted on facebook that she's on the road after some gigs over the weekend, but, will be doing her Q&A tonight still.

I guess I'd better come up with some kind of weird question! I guess I have managed to come up with 2 really, perhaps you should just pick one?

Do you have any advice for playing in/arranging for small bands as a melodeon player - I think that often you 'take turns', weaving what each member plays between melody and accompaniment, but, we can just do both at the same time, and a counter melody at the same time too, if you're feeling up to it! Do you have any strategies you can share that you have found that worked well in your ensembles?

Also

A lot of my local melodeon playing compatriots are very averse to my occasional sordid ideas of 'how about we play something in C?' or 'have you tried B phrygian?'. This has had a knock on effect though, when I want to talk about something straight forward enough, they still assume I'm discussing some kind of dark sorcery, and they're quite sure they want no part in it. "Try the A basses" has, occasionally, been met with looks of terror. What has your experience been like? eg finding the right methods and language to describe things about our unusual instrument, firstly so you don't invoke any dark incantations, but also so you don't end up with people feeling uneasy because of unfamiliar terms for things they play every week.

(Melodeon Clavimancy can be a lonely passtime)
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malcolmbebb

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #92 on: March 04, 2019, 01:56:47 PM »

One might follow on by asking, in the Morris context, are variations added for the dancers, the audience or the musician(s)?
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #93 on: March 04, 2019, 03:52:47 PM »

One might follow on by asking, in the Morris context, are variations added for the dancers, the audience or the musician(s)?
Good question, but I think we have come a long way from William Kimber's father who, in the late 19th century, said to his son, William Kimber Jnr, concertina player of Headington Morris, "These are the notes you play and you play no others", when WK Snr was teaching WK Jnr the tunes for the morris.

As a long-standing musician for Lizzie Dripping and also, for a few years, for Ouse Washes Molly, the tunes we use constantly evolve by way of harmonies, variations, drones, counter melodies, etc. Certainly for Lizzie Dripping and, as I recall, for OWM, the tunes are/were never played exactly the same way in each performance.

I think that last word says it - we are performers, both dancers and musicians alike, and it is our joint task to create a living piece of art for our audience, each and every time. If we hold the audience's attention and interest, we will have succeeded. As musicians, we have a duty not to let our music interfere with the dancers, but neither is it purely background music. If it were, then just have a CD and amplifier to provide the music and do away with the real musicians.

The best morris (etc.) sides have a continual interaction between dancers and musicians which enables and enhances each with the other, and breathes life into their performances.

Here's a video of Hammersmith Morris. Listen to how the musicians (which include our own Ian Dedic of this forum) subtly change the harmonies and articulation while still keeping to the basic melodic structure of the music. I think it's good stuff.

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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #94 on: March 04, 2019, 04:50:23 PM »

Link to tonight's feed. You can tune in live or watch later via this link:

https://youtu.be/zMATMqiQPl4

Thanks for your question(s) Gena! I shall get my thinking cap on about both of those, especially the last one... hmmm!

Also to Malcolm - I shall answer live later.

Steve, thank you for your comments. Creating living art - YES! I love this!

C ya l8r peeps
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #95 on: April 01, 2019, 05:39:23 PM »

Due to a minor setback, I have decided to postpone tonight's Q&A until next Monday night.
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Pick Up & Play with Mel Biggs - Online beginners course: https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/course/pick-up-play-lets-get-started/


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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #96 on: April 08, 2019, 09:37:42 AM »

Due to a minor setback, I have decided to postpone tonight's Q&A until next Monday night.

Hi Mel,

On the assumption you're able to do your Q&A tonight:

Last month I managed to mangle my question a little, but, your answer was interesting anyway! However, I shall have another go!

Sometimes when I talk to my local melodeon friends, I might use an unfamiliar word or term for something that, actually, they do know about. For example, we might be talking about our bass end, and I might refer to a bass button by the notes/chords it plays, but, I think most of my friends don't know the notes, or at least don't think of them that way, but: they do know how and when to play them. Often, they think whatever it is I'm asking about is too complicated for them, but often I'm asking about their playing, or answering a question. I guess I'd like to come off at least a little bit less scary, somehow! In your time teaching, I imagine your students have come from many different backgrounds. Do you have any advice for avoiding information overload & communicating ideas effectively in different ways?

If that question is bad, well, then I'd also be interested to hear about your flute plating!
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #97 on: April 08, 2019, 01:30:59 PM »

Sometimes when I talk to my local melodeon friends, I might use an unfamiliar word or term for something that, actually, they do know about. For example, we might be talking about our bass end, and I might refer to a bass button by the notes/chords it plays, but, I think most of my friends don't know the notes, or at least don't think of them that way, but: they do know how and when to play them. Often, they think whatever it is I'm asking about is too complicated for them, but often I'm asking about their playing, or answering a question. I guess I'd like to come off at least a little bit less scary, somehow! In your time teaching, I imagine your students have come from many different backgrounds. Do you have any advice for avoiding information overload & communicating ideas effectively in different ways?
I'm not Mel, but I have some (non-musical) teaching experience so I'll share my tuppence anyway.
You come across in the forums as a very verbal person and your approach for playing is very conscious which as a computer scientist myself I find it great, but I can understand how it might intimidate someone who approaches the instrument in a more subconscious way.
I think you could try substituting words for actually showing/playing something on the box or humming if it's easier. Even a simple sentence like "Alternating the G and D basses for the G chord" becomes more friendly when hummed or when shown on the box.
Another thing you might try is watch how they explain things to each other and try to imitate this. 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.
Other than that, build things gradually, get simpler communication (try the A bass) working well before trying to tackle more complex things (B phrygian).
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #98 on: April 08, 2019, 05:16:20 PM »

Hello! I'm afraid after what has turned out to be a rather emotionally draining day, I don't have the spoons to run the live Q&A this evening. So this month's #AskMelonBox will be cancelled. *Sigh* I really wanted to talk to you all about practice too and show you some stuff I've been working on!

Instead, I'm more than happy to answer questions here throughout the next week or two making up for lost time!

Gena - thanks so much for another well thought out question. I love them because they make me think and that's what I really like in this monthly Q&A! Thanks also Eshed for your input - I think you make a very valid contribution.

I'll respond to your question more fully once I feel less leaden... zzz
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Castagnari Trilly DG and GC, Castagnari Tommy DG all by Acorn Instruments,
Serenellini 233 Deluxe D/G set up by Steve Dumpleton, Hohner Picoletta Bb/Eb set up by Mike Rowbotham.

Pick Up & Play with Mel Biggs - Online beginners course: https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/course/pick-up-play-lets-get-started/


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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #99 on: April 08, 2019, 05:45:19 PM »

As a very general point, prompted by the above but not necessarily directed at it, it is vital to understand the starting point of your readers (victims?  >:E).
I have been turned off of material written by very knowledgeable authors because they referred to material, or methods, that they hadn't introduced but assumed that everyone knew. It's bad enough in written material, readers might be able to skip ahead (but it's distracting) but face to face they just nod hopefully and don't turn up for the next session...
My two penn'orth. 
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"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."
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