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About Mikefule

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    Heavyweight Boxer

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    Author of Bridge of Otherwhere, 2018, available on Kindle/Amazon. Dancer and occasional musician with Dolphin Morris Men of Nottingham, UK. I play Anglo concertina and harmonica and occasionally a bit of 1 row melodeon. My concertinas are a B flat/F Jeffries, a G/D Dipper and a G/D Marcus. I write a few simple tunes and also write songs for occasional performance at Morris events. Other hobbies include cross country unicycling, motorcycling (BMW F800S)and other outdoorsy stuff.
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    Lincolnshire, UK

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  1. Mikefule

    Popeye on 20 button anglo?

    All Anglos are 20 buttons plus a few others. That is, the core of all Anglos is the basic 20 buttons: 2 rows of 10 buttons, each row in a version of Richter tuning. Think of it as 2 harmonicas, a fifth apart, strapped together and operated by a bellows. A 30 button Anglo is those 20 buttons plus 10 more, and some of those 10 extras are the same notes in the opposite bellows direction. This may make fingering more convenient, and/or it may open up new harmonic possibilities, but if a note is a duplicate, that means that the actual note is already there somewhere in the standard 20b layout. I said "a version of" Richter tuning because there is some slight variation, mainly on the pull note on the first button (lowest) on the left hand on the inside (nearest) row. The G row on a C/G, for example. I own 3 Anglos and (adjusted for key) that note is different on each of them. Folk music and well known melodies often have no accidentals at all. Therefore you can play a lot of melodies along one row. 7 of the 8 notes are also available on the other row. So on a CG 20 button: On the C row you have C D E F G A B C etc. On the G row you have G A B C D E F# G etc. The only difference in available notes is F/F# So, if you play in C, you have one accidental available: F#. This is the most likely accidental you will need in folk music because a lot of tunes modulate up a fifth for a few bars. If you play in G, you have one accidental available: F (natural). This is possibly the 2nd most likely accidental you will need in folk music because some tunes modulate down a 4th for a few bars. Also, some folk tunes have A and B parts that are a 5th apart. This means that if you play to the keys of the instrument (C or G on a C/G box) rather than sticking to whatever key the tune is usually played in, you can play hundreds of tunes on a 20 b Anglo. The problem is playing with other musicians. In English folk sessions, most tunes are conventionally played in G or D because of the ubiquitous D/G melodeon. In other folk traditions, such as Irish, A and E are also common. This does not mean that the tunes must be played in those keys; it only means that they usually are. If you look at written arrangements for 30 b Anglo, you may find that they are written in, say, D to be played on a C/G box. These arrangements will usually require one or more accidentals from the extra row that you don't have on your 20b. However, it will often be possible to pick up the tunes by ear and fit them to the 20 b. It's a question of how you approach it. Some tunes will fit better in one key and some in the other. (All the way through this, I have assumed a major key. Of course in folk music, many tunes are in related modes. For example, it is common for a tune "on the C row" to start and finish on D. Look up modes if you don't already know about this.) Some good starting tunes for getting confident on a 20 button include: Oh Susannah, When the Saints, Donkey Riding, British Grenadier, Waltzing Matilda, Red River Valley, English Country Gardens. You probably know many of these well enough to whistle or hum so you should be able to find them on the Anglo. Experiment with different fingerings rather than just playing along the rows. Crossing the rows may make fingering easier, and it may allow different harmonies. There's a lot you can do on 20 b if you think of it as an instrument in its own right, rather than "just a 20 b". Here's an example of quite a complex harmonic arrangement in G on a 20 b C/G: Here's an example of a tune played "just as a tune" in C on a C/G.
  2. Mikefule

    Popeye on 20 button anglo?

    I've had a quick look at the music and as far as I can see, you can play it on a 20 button Anglo. As a single line of melody, you can probably work it out. If you add a harmonic accompaniment, it's always a little trickier on a 20 than a 30, but in my view it often has more "concertinicity". I'm busy tomorrow but if I remember I'll look it up properly and have a go at it on my 20b over the weekend.
  3. Mikefule

    3 videos

    Thanks. Next stop: playing at the same speed when facing a camera, instead of sprinting for the finish line!
  4. Mikefule

    3 videos

    I've been experimenting with editing, so here are three videos I've posted today with annotations and some effects. You Tube have tightened up on their in house editing options, but I've been using iMovie.
  5. Mikefule

    Help to identify please

    More likely nickel silver, I think.
  6. Mikefule

    Help to identify please

    What an unusual instrument. I love those bevelled corners on the ends. That is "unnecessary" extra work. Add that to the 8 fold bellows, and it looks like someone put a lot of effort into making it. Most 20 button Anglos are much simpler. Could it have been custom made? 1946 is not old in concertina terms. The heyday was the late 1800s and early 1900s. I am no expert, but my gut feeling is that it was once a decent box. I have seen ones in worse condition that have been restored. Question is whether it would be worthwhile making new parts, individually measured, for the buttons and levers. If all the reeds are there, it might be restorable to a good condition. However, reasonable quality 20 button boxes are readily available around £500, so in cold economic terms, it might not be worth it. An enthusiastic hobbyist might relish the challenge.
  7. Mikefule

    Tricks To Cover Up Mistakes

    Most single note errors are far more noticeable to the player than to the audience. A bum note is come and gone in a fraction of a second. People will notice a stumble in the rhythm, so the important thing is to keep going. On an Anglo, you can often get away with crunching two buttons side by side. More often than not,they will be a third apart (there are exceptions) and will harmonise with each other. Main thing is, if you play through it as if nothing happened, only the musicians in the audience will notice, and they will smile rather than judging you.
  8. Mikefule

    D/a Vs C/g Starting Out?

    A sensible choice. Enjoy.
  9. Yes, very simple calculation "all other things being equal". ((Bigger size/smaller size) squared). However, all other things aren't equal because, amongst other things: 1) The depth of the bellows folds may vary between instruments. 2) The thickness of the bellows material and hinges may vary between instruments. 3) Not all of the air is useable because there is still air in the bellows when they are fully closed.
  10. Mikefule

    Sweet Jenny Jones, Anglo

    As a single line melody with a bit of vamping (as played on harmonica) I found it uninspiring. Ditto, playing it mainly along the row on Anglo. Now that I've "understood" the tune, there's a lot more to it than I thought. My main point, though, is what a wonderfully versatile instrument the Anglo is. I've posted elsewhere: there are 288 fingering patterns for the G major scale, 1 octave, on the G/D Anglo. For each tune, the number of possible fingering patterns is enormous - although of course many of them are only theoretical and would never be used for real. Then with little snatches of part chords, whole chords etc., it can bring a tune to life. I feel it is the limitations of the Anglo — the finger gymnastics you sometimes need to do — that give it that special quality.
  11. Mikefule

    Sweet Jenny Jones, Anglo

    So... Let’s hear what you’ve come up with! Not up to performance speed on the variations yet. Still having fun with different approaches, though.
  12. Mikefule

    Sweet Jenny Jones, Anglo

    If you're a beginner, it behoves the more experienced musicians to make the effort to play in your key, or at least to listen politely while you do a solo. You will find that simple bass and chord options will come quite quickly once you start to work on them. However, in 10 years' time, you will still be finding better and more imaginative solutions to tunes you've known forever. Also, playing a single line of melody is a difficult skill in itself. Without the chords and complexity to hide behind, every note counts: the timing, the volume, the dynamics, the attack, the lilt. Listen to Anglophilia (Brian Peters) to hear him making the Anglo sound like a fairground organ and, on another track, like a solo violin. When you can play a tune "on autopilot", don't! When you know the tune and can get it right every time, that's the starting point to making it a piece of music rather than a sequence of notes.
  13. Mikefule

    Sweet Jenny Jones, Anglo

    There are arguments both ways on the "particular key" thing. I believe that in classical music, there is an association between certain keys and certain moods. However, as even most musicians don't have perfect pitch, I suspect this is a bit like the "language of flowers": a convention, and a shibboleth. In folk music, choice of keys is often dictated by the preponderance of certain instruments, most notably the G/D melodeon (in English/Morris sessions). As most Irish Anglo players prefer the C/G box, this favours certain keys over others. Even the fully chromatic and versatile fiddle tends to favour the sharp keys, and brass instruments tend to favour the flat keys. There is also local convention. "We always play this in D" is a very different thing from "This should be played in D". Also, of course, some singers can only manage 1 or 2 keys. On the Anglo, I play in the keys that the box offers. I have a C/G 20, a G/D 30 and a Bb/F 38. Certain tunes won't fit on the 30, and even more won't fit on the 20. A tune that sounds OK on the inside row on the G/D will be squeaky on the inside row of the C/G. Accompaniments in some keys tend to be more sparse than in others. But no, I agree that "should be played in "is too prescriptive for folk music.
  14. Mikefule

    Sweet Jenny Jones, Anglo

    Just writing to express a bit of enthusiasm! The waltz/song/Morris dance tune, Sweet Jenny Jones. I learned it 35 years ago on harmonica then tried it on Anglo maybe 15 years ago and dismissed it at the time as slightly clumsy to play, and rather trivial. This evening, I have sat for over an hour exploring the tune on my 30 button Anglo. I have been amazed by how many different approaches there are to such a simple tune, with radically different fingering across or along the rows, and loads of unexpected chord and bass options. For a tune that is so simple to whistle, or to knock out of a single row (harmonica, melodeon, Anglo), it has the potential for almost as much complexity as you could possibly want. What a wonderful instrument the Anglo is capable of being. I know I've said it before, but it becomes more true with each passing year: it's the Rubik's cube you can play with in the dark. Or, as Keith Kendrick said to me, the thinking man's piano: it's all in there if you know where to look.