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Feedback please - Badinerie bellows control

breezybellows

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I posted this on Facebook. Someone commented that I need to improve my bellows control before I played it at that speed.

I'm always very grateful for feedback. Some of you may be aware of how long I've been working on this piece. You've given me so much feedback. I was able to apply some of that and it helped me get rid of some problems.

But I'm not really convinced that there's anything standing out wrt bellows in this performance. There are a few spots where there are other issues, but I didn't really see anything wrong with the bellows control.

If really appreciate if I can get honest feedback from a few of you reg bellows control. I'm working on this for a competition. I have about two more weeks before submission. So I don't think if be able to make major changes, but I'd still like to know.


 
I am not a teacher, I do not see you changing direction in the middle of a note, but they maybe do not like the way the action seems to be a little floppy
 
I am not a teacher, I do not see you changing direction in the middle of a note, but they maybe do not like the way the action seems to be a little floppy
I tried listening to the audio without watching the video. Do you hear something floppy is you don't watch the video?
 
Someone commented that I need to improve my bellows control before I played it at that speed.

But I'm not really convinced that there's anything standing out wrt bellows in this performance.

To be taken with a very big grain of salt because I just listened once to it at low volume because of the time (probably should dig out headphones). I'll try a more thorough listen tomorrow.

At any rate, that comment is way too handwavy to be of much help.

I don't think I found much wrong with bellows control here, and the bellows has limited applicability. The treble voice lives from its articulation, and you got that pretty good. One could try with the passages close to the end of the phrase where you have every fourth note be part of an ascending scale and the three notes in between significantly lower and close in pitch to one another, to play the group of three slightly more connected and to give the outstanding ascending notes a bit more of a push (since a flutist would need to overblow those). However, this is an accordion after all, and at least the push suggestion might mess up what the left hand does.

And that brings me to a point that may be possibly worth working on: it sounds like the whole piece is running pretty solidly on autopilot so it would likely not make sense at this point of time to practice the hands separately as it would throw off the autopilot. But what you could do is throw in an hour where you listen and focus just on the left hand and work out compelling lines and dynamics there. I might start with a steady tenuto there and make the bellows volume follow the pitch in the left hand: ascending crescendo, descending decrescendo. A steady tenuto articulation will be most susceptible to following pressure changes, and that the right hand is inheriting the pressure is less apparent because it derives most of its expressiveness from the sprightly leggiero that you got pretty well.

That would allow the judges to focus back and forth between left and right hand and in either case hear something they like. My just-one-quiet-listen made me find the left hand a bit haphazard and more of an afterthought when I focused on it.

Don't take me wrong: you got this very nicely worked out, and particularly the right hand shows that you don't need flute patches to make this sing. But you are asking for contest-level suggestions, so I wanted to point out that spending focus on a self-consistent left hand rendition may possibly be a good investment of time and effort. Because when judges cannot find fault with the right hand, the next thing they'll do is check out the left.
 
I posted this on Facebook. Someone commented that I need to improve my bellows control before I played it at that speed.

I'm always very grateful for feedback. Some of you may be aware of how long I've been working on this piece. You've given me so much feedback. I was able to apply some of that and it helped me get rid of some problems.

But I'm not really convinced that there's anything standing out wrt bellows in this performance. There are a few spots where there are other issues, but I didn't really see anything wrong with the bellows control.

If really appreciate if I can get honest feedback from a few of you reg bellows control. I'm working on this for a competition. I have about two more weeks before submission. So I don't think if be able to make major changes, but I'd still like to know.


@breezybellows I am very impressed. I have no specific critique regarding the bellows. I would like to hear the basses more punchy and staccato. It is a bit of a challenge because a lot of the right hand notes are legato (as they would be played by the flute), so you have to pay attention to that.
Good luck 👍🏿!
 
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To be taken with a very big grain of salt because I just listened once to it at low volume because of the time (probably should dig out headphones). I'll try a more thorough listen tomorrow.

At any rate, that comment is way too handwavy to be of much help.

I don't think I found much wrong with bellows control here, and the bellows has limited applicability. The treble voice lives from its articulation, and you got that pretty good. One could try with the passages close to the end of the phrase where you have every fourth note be part of an ascending scale and the three notes in between significantly lower and close in pitch to one another, to play the group of three slightly more connected and to give the outstanding ascending notes a bit more of a push (since a flutist would need to overblow those). However, this is an accordion after all, and at least the push suggestion might mess up what the left hand does.

And that brings me to a point that may be possibly worth working on: it sounds like the whole piece is running pretty solidly on autopilot so it would likely not make sense at this point of time to practice the hands separately as it would throw off the autopilot. But what you could do is throw in an hour where you listen and focus just on the left hand and work out compelling lines and dynamics there. I might start with a steady tenuto there and make the bellows volume follow the pitch in the left hand: ascending crescendo, descending decrescendo. A steady tenuto articulation will be most susceptible to following pressure changes, and that the right hand is inheriting the pressure is less apparent because it derives most of its expressiveness from the sprightly leggiero that you got pretty well.

That would allow the judges to focus back and forth between left and right hand and in either case hear something they like. My just-one-quiet-listen made me find the left hand a bit haphazard and more of an afterthought when I focused on it.

Don't take me wrong: you got this very nicely worked out, and particularly the right hand shows that you don't need flute patches to make this sing. But you are asking for contest-level suggestions, so I wanted to point out that spending focus on a self-consistent left hand rendition may possibly be a good investment of time and effort. Because when judges cannot find fault with the right hand, the next thing they'll do is check out the left.
Autopilot it is. Sometimes even thinking about what I'm doing will make everything fall apart. My teacher suggested I move the starting point to different places so that I can recover from mistakes during performance. Things are are stitched together as a blob and as you guessed, it's a big undertaking to take. For the two weeks I have, I could try improving just one phrase that stands out the most.

Reg your suggestions for the bass Harmony, it is very valid. I find the bass articulation harder especially on the lower end. The lower pitched bass reeds start a tad slower. It responds faster than the other free bass Accordions I have but it's still a little too slow for the brisk passages. The articulation is much better if I use the coupler and play 2 sets. But I like the single set's sound better. That being said, there are obviously shortcomings in my articulation that I can't blame on the instrument.

I appreciate actionable feedback. Even if I'm not able to act on it for the competition, these are items that I can work on after the competition.
 
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Reg your suggestions for the bass Harmony, it is very valid. I find the bass articulation harder especially on the lower end. The lower pitched bass reeds start a tad slower. It responds faster than the other free bass Accordions I have but it's still a little too slow for the brisk passages.
That's why I suggested spending time focusing on the left hand exclusively. Focusing on the left hand does not mean only playing the left hand: that makes no sense while you are on two-hand autopilot. It means only listening to the left hand and its lines. And you actually need both hands on autopilot to do this properly so that you can focus only on the sounds you make and not on what your fingers are doing. Because you need the sound on time, not the finger actions.

That is, of couse, instrument-specific training and even (as you noted), registration-specific. And it takes a brutal amount of concentration. But it may be worth spending time on that repeatedly, and the Badinerie may be a good practice piece for working on that even when the competition is over, because it is one thing you do have pretty good on autopilot right now which is a good starting point for shifting attention away from the fingers and towards the sound.

Apart from the adjusted timing (which takes time), one thing the left hand focus should achieve is turning notes into lines that develop and unfold. And here I think that the two remaining weeks could be enough to make a noticeable difference.

Anyway, wish you success!
 
Ok, so now I spent more time with your recording, and quite a bit of Youtube. Regarding the left hand counterpuntal character, the available renditions put up kind of a low bar compared to what I expected. I actually hear more of what I want to be hearing in your rendition. This version appears hectic/rushed but that may well fix itself once you disengage from the metronome. Maybe try to get to 105% or so of your desired speed with the metronome, then relax into your performance speed without it.

Regarding the slow response of single-reed registration: I am with you there, but maybe you should try to spend an hour on each registration and then record and then compare the renditions in their current state to decide on a contest variant as opposed to what you want to be playing long-term.

Also there might be a registration where the low bass octave has the higher octave active whereas the other notes are without a higher octave. Of course this gives you an even more noticeable break when getting into the low octave, but I find that on my instrument that works better for melodic bass work. Of course you need to figure out for every piece where the "oomph" suddenly comes in and be cautious with the pressure/volume in order to not make it stand out too much. But I think in the Badinerie we are often talking about an "octave dip" for the real low notes rather than a whole line, and then the registration difference doesn't really matter.

On my instrument, I don't like that registration as a matter of principle but have come to grudgingly accept that it is the better compromise for some pieces.
 
Also there might be a registration where the low bass octave has the higher octave active whereas the other notes are without a higher octave. Of course this gives you an even more noticeable break when getting into the low octave, but I find that on my instrument that works better for melodic bass work.

I'm not sure how that could help. Because the lower notes are the ones that respond slower (as you mentioned later). I didn't have that bass decoupler in my Petosa. This was an older transformer model that didn't have it. Neither does my Giulietti super Bassetti.

My Solloni converter has the decoupler that plays the lower octave as a single reed and the higher notes as double octave.

I tried playing with the LM on left have and MM on right hand. I'm making fewer mistakes and the reeds respond significantly faster. But I like the M (clarinet register) that sounds more flute like.
 
I'm not sure how that could help. Because the lower notes are the ones that respond slower (as you mentioned later).
When you have LM with the lower notes instead of just L with the higher notes, the M serves as a reed starter for the L reeds. That's not the "decoupler" which concerns coupling into chord reeds rather than the M that shares the reed block with the L in the bass octave.
 
When you have LM with the lower notes instead of just L with the higher notes, the M serves as a reed starter for the L reeds. That's not the "decoupler" which concerns coupling into chord reeds rather than the M that shares the reed block with the L in the bass octave.
My bad. I thought you were talking about the decoupler that does the exact opposite.
 
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