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January 30, 2008



Meeting Notes

According to our bylaws (see About Us), January is the time for our annual meeting. We got this business out of the way quickly at our January 20 meeting so we could get on to the fun.

(1) The membership voted to approve the slate of candidates: Karen Uribe as president, Joan Grauman as vice president, and Mara Cherkasky as secretary-treasurer. In addition, Peter DiGiovanni will continue as membership chairperson, and Lee Paulson will continue as communications chairperson.

(2) The treasurer’s report indicated we have approximately $3,500 in the bank.

(3) Members were reminded to pay their 2008 dues of $20 for individuals and $30 for family memberships.

President Karen Malan-Uribe announced the February meeting’s theme: Dance Party! Bring your dancing shoes and your accordion to join in the waltzes, polkas, and maybe even a schottische or two! Ken Kunec has volunteered to serve as master of ceremonies (we hope he’ll perform as well), and a couple of people have already agreed to play. PLEASE SIGN UP.

Karen also announced several upcoming events that are on the "don’t miss" list. They are listed at the end of the Meeting Notes.

The highlight of the evening was a presentation by Peter Fuehres on Digital Interfacing with the Accordion (see his notes below the Announcements). Peter explained how a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) can enhance playing, construction, and recording of music. The medium is standard, meaning all MIDIs can "talk" to each other. The MIDI file player connects to the computer, allowing the user to control up to 16 tracks, each carrying a different electronic instrument, all controlled by the keyboard. The tracks can be edited in various ways including tempo, key, orchestration, and inclusion or omission of parts, even pitch for playing music with half-tones.

The MIDI can also be used to learn new music by playing along at a slower tempo until proficiency is reached. After downloading the music from an MP3 file, the user can delete the lead instrument and play at a tempo that is comfortable until the music is mastered. Peter demonstrated this technique with a song titled “Die Kleine Kneipe.” Reading the sheet music and listening to the MIDI, several members of the audience were able to join in what sounded like a large group as the MIDI played the enhanced tracks. Later in the workshop, the same technique was applied to a polka, “In Den Bergen.”

Many of the MIDI Sequencing software programs that can record and play back MIDI data are accessible in shareware or freeware on the Internet. Just Google "MIDI sequencer" and select from the large array of programs available. After connecting a MIDI file player to a computer through a USB port, the user can set up playlists, connect a microphone for special effects, even turn a MIDI into a karaoke machine!

After Peter’s most interesting workshop, one of our newest members, Yimin Zhuang, treated us to the sound of his new Roland electronic accordion. As so often happens, a jam session broke out with the Roland leading the group. The sounds of Italy, France, Russia, and many other countries closed out our evening on a delightful note.



The American Accordion Musicological Society (AAMS) will hold its Accordion Festival and Competition March 7-9, 2008, at the Dolce Valley Forge Hotel in King of Prussia, PA. Highlights of the weekend include performances by Mario Tacca and Mary Mancini, a Cajun/Zydeco band (on Friday night), and our own Potomac Ensemble. In addition, numerous informative workshops are scheduled. See http://www.aamsaccordionfestival.com for more information and to register.



The American Accordionists’ Association will host several events on the East Coast this year, including the Carrozza Scholarship Dinner in Walkill, New York March 2; a Master Class and Concert Series in New York City July 25, 26, and 27, and the 70th anniversary Festival and Competition August 13 through 17 at the Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, Virginia. See http://www.ameraccord.com.



On February 16, the Maryland Accordion Club is hosting guest artist Jim Vandelly. Jim says he would enjoy having some of our members attend MAC’s meeting for a little "home support"! MAC meets at the Bloomsbury Community Center - 2nd floor auditorium, 106 Bloomsbury Avenue, Catonsville, MD 21228. For more information call Joe and Marie Fertitta at (410) 744-3352.


New Accordion Club

Dale Wise is starting an accordion club in the Piedmont area of Virginia. Please contact him at accordionplus@aol.com for more information.


Accordions in the Washington Post

See Nancy Leonard’s short and sweet accordion story published Jan. 16 in the Washington Post Metro Section, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/15/AR2008011503670.html.


Italian Classics for the Accordion

Italian Classics for the Accordion assembles selections from the stacks of old, handwritten, hand-copied, and mimeographed tunes prepared by teachers and friends during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Three volumes of 23 classics each are being offered to accordion players at http://www.italianclassicsfortheaccordion.com .

The contents of the volumes are as follows:

Volume 1:

- Bride and Groom Polka/Brillantina Mazurca/Canto del Canarino/El Serio

- Waltz/Faccetta Nera/Ho Detto al Sole/Julia Waltz/La Capricciosa

- Polka/“Lina” Mazurka/L’o Vista Ieri Sera/Manin Polka/Marianna

- Waltz/Mirella/Occhi Neri/Piruli-Pirula/Quando Ero Piccolina/Quando Mi

- Bacia Teresa/Sbarazzina/Serafina Polka/Stella Alpina/Un Bicchiere d’Acqua e un Bacio/Valzer Della Domenica/Vola e Vá

Volume 2:

- Arie Italiane/Ballerina Polka/Bersaglieri Polka/Bigol/Biondina Mia

- Mazurca/Castel Sant’Angelo/Cesarina Mazurka/Chitarra Romana/Cielo

- Turantata/Cuchoo Waltz/Dino Polka/Gloritta Polka/La Marianna—Non Va In

- Campagna (Verse)/La Marianna—Non Va In Campagna (Chorus)/Mala

- Femmena/O Trieste Del Mio Cuore/Poeta Soldato Mazurka/Polka

- Brillante/Se Avessi Un Mandolino/Ti Salutoi—Vado in Abissinia/Valzer

- Delle Campane/Vieni—Vieni/Vita Veneziana Polka

Volume 3:

- Allegro Waltz/Blue Venetian Waters/Chiudi Gli Occhi, Rosita/Deirina

- Mazurca/Drigo Serenade (Part One)/Drigo Serenade (Part Two)/Il Mio

- Capriccio Mazurka/Il Volo Degli Angeli (Part One)/Il Volo Degli Angeli

- (Part Two)/La Barchetta/La Romanina/La Spagnola (Part One)/La Spagnola

- (Part Two)/Mariana/Marinello/Marsala Mia Mazurca/Paesanella/Polka

- Variata/Romagna Mia/Tango Delle Rose/Tic-Ti Tic-Ta/Valzer

- Trullallero/Veronica Waltz



What is MIDI?

MIDI (short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a music industry standard communications protocol that lets MIDI instruments and sequencers (or computers running sequencer software) talk to each other to play and record music. More and more of the music you hear everyday is written with and played by MIDI sequencers.

MIDI is:

- Compact – Hours of music can fit on a single 3-1/2” floppy disk.

- Efficient – Just about any computer can handle it.

- Powerful – A whole orchestra is at your command.

- Versatile – A click of a button is all it takes to change key, tempo, instrument, etc.

- Intuitive – A MIDI file is just an electronic version of a player piano roll for many instruments.

- An Industry Standard – Any MIDI instrument can talk to any other.

Why do I need MIDI?

- Bring your sheet music to life! Hear the music collecting dust on your shelf. If you can hear it, you can play it!

- See it play! Print out lead sheets.

- Arrange with Flexibility & Control – change tempo, transpose key, isolate parts, change feel and swing, accent alternate lines, orchestrate.

- Perform & Record – Play/sing along with ensembles, duets, trios, concertos, songs (with lyrics)

- Low Price – cheaper and easier than buying a bunch of recordings or hiring others.

- Easy to Use – compact, quicker than tapes. It takes only a second to start a file, cue to a section, etc.

What do I need to play MIDI songs?

- Hardware:

o A Multimedia Computer (PC with sound card) OR

o A Dedicated Sequencer/Synthesizer OR

o Computer connected to a Sound Module/Keyboard by a MIDI Interface

- Sequencer Software: We’ve delivered to Mac, PC compatible and Atari users and support all major sequencers and keyboards. Windows users can play standard MIDI files with the Media Player. To gain all the control MIDI offers, we recommend you get a sequencer that can mute tracks, transpose, display and print the score. We sell a full range of sequencers and notation programs, and digital audio, too, starting at just over $25, the cost of a book.

- MIDI Sound Modules - Most MIDI sound modules today are “multi-timbral.” This means that the module can listen to all 16 MIDI channels at once, and play any 16 of its “patches” simultaneously, with each of the 16 patches set to a different MIDI channel. It’s as if the module had 16 smaller “sub-modules” inside of it. Each sub-module plays its own patch (i.e., instrument) on its own MIDI channel.