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Don Taylor

Double Stops

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In a recent post ceemonster talked about using double stops with particular reference to the EC, but I think the same can be applied to all concertinas.

 

I would like to hear more about recommended techniques for double stopping on concertinas.

 

My starting assumption is that a double stop is adding an additional note underneath a melody note, that additional note having the same duration as the melody note. It is not counterpoint harmony and it is not chordal harmony, it is more a technique to add interest to a single line melody.

 

What intervals should be used between these two notes? I guess an obvious answer would be anything that sounds good but maybe there are some guidelines, such as concentrate on sixths, fourths, thirds and fifths? Maybe never more than an octave apart?

 

Which melody notes should be double-stopped and which notes played as singletons? Long notes? Ends of phrases?

 

Fiddlers/violinists use bowing and vibrato to accentuate double stops, should we do the same thing with bellows pressure and bellows shake?

 

What about sliding double stops? Any techniques to achieve that sound?

 

FInally, has anybody got some good examples that they can point at?

 

Thx. Don.

Edited by Don Taylor

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I usually think of the term 'double stoping' as refering to the way a fiddle player will bow and finger two strings to produce harmonies, but on a concertina surely the world is your oyster ?

 

I enjoyed playing in octaves on the Hayden, but all the duets lend themselves very well to playing melodic harmonies. I like to add a note an octave above at points of emphasis.

 

A very simple device available on the EC keyboard is to suspend a second note to the melody a third below... so with a simple run of notes like B,C,D one could make it GB,AC,BD for example. This can be very effective if not over done.

 

The possibilites are huge, if not quite endless, on an instrument that readily plays more than one note at a time. After all one of the relations of the concertina is the Accordion...' Armoniche' in Italian... names that suggest the abilites of playing chords and harmonies .

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Don, double stops are a centerpiece of what I once - or twice :) - called my „fiddle approach“ to playing the EC. In this regard, I might start with an open fifth, then let the lower (root) note last while the melody or ornamentation is going forward. Alternatively one could use the octave (a forth above the starting note), or start elsewhere, asf.

 

This is meant to engage and as well expand the only way fiddlers are able to play (simultaneous) harmony - as Geoff has already mentioned. I guess you could just touch the second note (in an arpeggio style), but I prefer - all the more for the concertina - playing around then fifth with the root or octave added.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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I would like to hear more about recommended techniques for double stopping on concertinas.

 

My starting assumption is that a double stop is adding an additional note underneath a melody note, that additional note having the same duration as the melody note.

I have not studied formal music theory, but this is my "naive" understanding:

  • "Double stops" generally refer to a technique on the violin/fiddle and other instruments of the violin family where a passage is played with two strings sounding simultaneously. Such a passage could be a single note or an entire piece, but is often just one or more parts -- from a few notes to a few measures -- of a piece.
  • The additional (harmony) notes are not necessarily of the same duration as the melody notes, nor necessarily below the melody, though both are often the case.
  • On a violin, the two notes must be played on adjacent strings, and that limits the potential harmonies. On a concertina (English, anglo, or duet) the options are much wider. (The bow can't skip a string between two other strings; the fingers can avoid any number of intervening buttons.)
  • Playing more than two notes at a time is normally not considered an option on the violin, but "triple stops" and more are often accessible on the concertina.

Which melody notes should be double-stopped and which notes played as singletons? Long notes? Ends of phrases?

The only reliable rule is "whatever sounds good to your ear". Try harmonizing different groups of notes of different lengths at different places in the tune -- maybe even different segments of the tune on different repetitions, -- and pick one(s) that you like.

 

What intervals should be used between these two notes? I guess an obvious answer would be anything that sounds good but maybe there are some guidelines, such as concentrate on sixths, fourths, thirds and fifths? Maybe never more than an octave apart?

Your "obvious answer" is the only real answer. There is no definitive formula.

 

Nevertheless, the most-used bit of double-stopping harmony is parallel thirds, with the harmony either below or above the melody... maybe each in different parts of the tune. This is also the simplest on the English concertina, since it's the same pattern as playing the melody, but with two fingers at a time. But beware! If you try doing parallel thirds througout a piece, you'll almost certainly find places where it sounds "wrong". Then you would need to either drop the double stopping with those melody notes or use a different note (4th? 5th? 6th?) for harmony. (On an anglo, the arrangement of push and pull into "chords" can sometimes do that for you.) Harmony in parallel sixths involves a more "complex" pattern, but it's a "feeling" that can be learned.

 

Another simple "double stop" harmony would be a drone. That's an example where the harmony would not change every time the melody does. Or against an extended melody note, you could apply an upward or downward "run" as harmony.

 

Fiddlers/violinists use bowing and vibrato to accentuate double stops, should we do the same thing with bellows pressure and bellows shake?

"Should"? Only if it sounds good, in context.

 

What about sliding double stops? Any techniques to achieve that sound?

There's one song where I do that, but I don't recommend it as a general technique. Remind me next weekend, and I might try to record and describe it.

 

FInally, has anybody got some good examples that they can point at?

I'll try to gather a few links to things I've posted previously on concertina.net, but I'll post this now and make that a separate post.

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I'll try to gather a few links to things I've posted previously on concertina.net, but I'll post this now and make that a separate post.

And here's that separate post, with links to some things I submitted to the old Theme of the Month threads.

 

Tobin's Favorite (scroll down for link)

briefly thirds below at 0:59

 

Road to Lisdoonvarna

double stops (held "bass" notes) at 1:02

parallel thirds above from 1:17

 

Maid of the Sweet Brown Knowe

double stops (mostly thirds below) in bits & pieces throughout

 

Green Sleeves and Yellow Lace

thirds below, accumulating arpeggios, sixths below, moving against held, other intervals

Jamie Allen

second time through (0:31), bits of double stop in A part; drone-like harmonies in B part

third time through (1:02), parallel thirds above throughout (except holding g for fourths over a couple of d melody notes)

 

Planxty Irwin

2-part throughout, mostly sustained notes below (ignore the "jig")

 

Bampton Princess Royal

harmony starts at 1:42; a few isolated notes before that

Carolan's Farewell to Music

2-parts throughout; not so simple

Edited by JimLucas

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I have not studied formal music theory, but this is my "naive" understanding:

  • "Double stops" generally refer to a technique on the violin/fiddle and other instruments of the violin family where a passage is played with two strings sounding simultaneously. Such a passage could be a single note or an entire piece, but is often just one or more parts -- from a few notes to a few measures -- of a piece...

 

Well, I have studied formal music theory and have played a bowed stringed instrument (the cello) 20 years longer than I have been playing the concertina (which is a long time), and as I began to read this thread and formulate an answer in my head, I found that pretty much everything I was going to say was said by Jim. I have to add, though, that until just now, I’ve never encountered the expression “double stops” to refer to the concertina or to any other instrument that wasn’t a bowed stringed instrument.

 

Some of my favorite techniques on the Hayden Duet Concertina that might be called double (or triple) stops are: parallel 10ths (left hand an octave + a 3rd below the right hand), single note drones (usually the 1st or 5th note of the scale), and double note drones (usually both the 1st and 5th notes of the scale, in either inversion, depending on the desired effect).

 

Incidentally, triple stops are not unheard of on bowed stringed instruments. Modern players will play two lower strings together and then roll the bow to include a higher string, disengaging from the lower string, but letting it ring. In baroque times (3 – 400 years ago), bows were made that arched in the opposite direction and were loosely strung so that three strings could be engaged at once.

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Thanks everyone, lots to chew on here.

 

Coincidentally, the double stop sound that I thought that ceemonster meant[*], and the sound that I imagined, is beautifully demonstrated today in Mike Piercall's rendition of Winter (Vivaldi?) on his Wheatstone 5A:

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=19996&p=187486

 

Mostly a single note melody with occasional runs of two note intervals and sustained fifths at the end of most phrases. To me this is an example of less is more.

 

I really like that sound and I suspect that for most folks this would be an easier step up from playing a simple melody on an EC than trying to play a counterpoint or chordal harmony.

 

MIke's example is from a classical violin piece but it seems to me that the same technique/choices would work well for playing fiddle tunes on the EC.

 

[*] Continuous rhythmic bass is what accordions and duets are for. It "can" be done on EC, but my own preference on EC aesthetically as well as technically, would be to express the melody on it like a violin or clarinet would, with double stops here and there (or chords for those who can't live without multiple voices), and bring in a second instrument to supply the bass rhythm, like a fiddler would do.

Edited by Don Taylor

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I think the moral of this thread is that we should watch our language!

 

The word "stop" is really only applicable to stringed instruments (more specifically necked, stringed instruments or zithers with a fingerboard). It's common with the bowed strings, where it's the player's fingertip that "stops" the strings. "To stop" is also used in banjo tutors, but common parlance is "to fret" a string - it's the fret that defines the sounding length. So "to stop" is predominantly a violin/fiddle word.

 

So when "double stop" is used in a concertina context, it can only be meant metaphorically. A concertina has no strings that can be "stopped", or shortened. And banjoists and guitarists don't use the term "double stop", because stopping (or fretting) multiple strings is basic technique. So by using the metaphor "double stop" you're equating the concertina with the violin. This equation really only applies to the EC, which is often perceived as a generator of single-line melody, as the violin is. With Anglos and Duets - as with the guitar and banjo - sounding multiple notes simultaneously is basic technique, so the metaphor of "double stopping" would make no sense.

 

So if you use the term "double stop" an a concertinist, you're implying that you normally play single-line melody on your concertina.

 

This can be quite effective most of the time - the listener can put your melody in a harmonic context. But sometimes, a particular note in the melody could be harmonised with a subdominant, dominant or dominant 7th chord, each of which would be theoretically correct, but would create a differnt "feel" at that point. Here, I think, it is necessary to add one note that will "tip the scale" in the direction of the harmony you want the listener to hear at that point.

Sometimes, a tune will modulate up a fifth without having a sharped fourth (e.g. C major to G major without an F# occurring in the melody). Here it might be appropriate to add one note that will make the modulation to the new key audible.

 

Cheers,

John

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Of course I meant it metaphorically. But I have discovered that maybe it can said be more literally:

 

"With organ terminology, you stop the flow of air to a set of pipes with a stop knob or turn the air on with the stop knob . A double stop would mean 2 voices, or 2 stop knobs in the "on" position giving you two sets of pipes".

 

Anyway, I want to achieve a sound like a violin/fiddle - I am too old to learn the violin now, I should have started 65 years ago!

 

I have a Hayden for harmonized music, but I recently (re-)aquired a sweet sounding EC and I don't see the point in trying to make it sound like a duet, fingering would be difficult and she really does not have the lungs for lots of notes. I am trying to figure out what I want to do with this little thing.

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I have just started working my way through the exercises in Bertram Levy's "American Fiddle Styles for the Anglo Concertina" (which I am finding revelatory). I haven't got that far yet, but the application of the fiddle double stop to anglo playing in this style is a major theme of the book. I won't try to paraphrase it, but well worth a look.

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Thanks everyone, lots to chew on here.

 

Coincidentally, the double stop sound that I thought that ceemonster meant[*], and the sound that I imagined, is beautifully demonstrated today in Mike Piercall's rendition of Winter (Vivaldi?) on his Wheatstone 5A:

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=19996&p=187486

 

Mostly a single note melody with occasional runs of two note intervals and sustained fifths at the end of most phrases. To me this is an example of less is more.

 

I really like that sound and I suspect that for most folks this would be an easier step up from playing a simple melody on an EC than trying to play a counterpoint or chordal harmony.

 

MIke's example is from a classical violin piece but it seems to me that the same technique/choices would work well for playing fiddle tunes on the EC.

 

[*] Continuous rhythmic bass is what accordions and duets are for. It "can" be done on EC, but my own preference on EC aesthetically as well as technically, would be to express the melody on it like a violin or clarinet would, with double stops here and there (or chords for those who can't live without multiple voices), and bring in a second instrument to supply the bass rhythm, like a fiddler would do.

Thanks, Don. Here is the link to the video: Not Vivaldi, though. It's one of my own. Not sure who I was channeling.

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"With organ terminology, you stop the flow of air to a set of pipes with a stop knob or turn the air on with the stop knob . A double stop would mean 2 voices, or 2 stop knobs in the "on" position giving you two sets of pipes".

 

Organ stops are a whole ’nother (unrelated) thing. When you add an organ stop, you add a tonality, or a sound quality, a timbre, but not a musical line. Sometimes an organ stop might add a parallel 5th, but not alternating major and minor 3rds or 6ths.

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