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Concertinas For Beginners

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#1 ozishko

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 02:30 PM

Hello, I have been looking for a new instrument, and concertina really attracts me! I want to start it but I really don't know which model I should buy. Since it is impossible to find a concertina in my country, I need to buy it online and also products that are sent to Turkey is really limited. I found a "Scarlatti SC-20K Concertina". It is also not that expensive. Do you guys recommend this one? Or can you tell me some not-expensive models that I can find online easily? Thank you so much!



#2 Mjolnir

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 02:51 PM

Do you know which system you want to play?

Broadly speaking, there's the anglo concertina, which is notable for each button playing one of two notes depending on whether you're pushing or pulling the bellows. Tends to be used for Irish music, and you can add self accompaniment fairly easily.

Then there's the english concertina, in which consecutive notes in a scale appear on opposite sides of the instrument, so you alternate hands to play a run of notes. This allows you to play more quickly. Good for strong melody lines, and can convincingly play a wider range of styles than the anglo, but isn't as good for self accompaniment.

Finally there's various varieties of duet concertinas, which have higher notes on the right hand, and lower notes on the left hand, with around an octave of overlap. As the name suggests, they're designed specifically to allow self accompaniment. Downside is that not a lot of people make them, so once you're ready to upgrade beyond a beginner model, there aren't many options.

In any case, for a starter instrument I'd check out ConcertinaConnection.com. They've got good starters in all three styles, and have a nice upgrade program so you can get the full value back if you trade up to one of their better instruments.


Edited by Mjolnir, 27 October 2017 - 02:53 PM.


#3 ozishko

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 03:16 PM

Do you know which system you want to play?

Broadly speaking, there's the anglo concertina, which is notable for each button playing one of two notes depending on whether you're pushing or pulling the bellows. Tends to be used for Irish music, and you can add self accompaniment fairly easily.

Then there's the english concertina, in which consecutive notes in a scale appear on opposite sides of the instrument, so you alternate hands to play a run of notes. This allows you to play more quickly. Good for strong melody lines, and can convincingly play a wider range of styles than the anglo, but isn't as good for self accompaniment.

Finally there's various varieties of duet concertinas, which have higher notes on the right hand, and lower notes on the left hand, with around an octave of overlap. As the name suggests, they're designed specifically to allow self accompaniment. Downside is that not a lot of people make them, so once you're ready to upgrade beyond a beginner model, there aren't many options.

In any case, for a starter instrument I'd check out ConcertinaConnection.com. They've got good starters in all three styles, and have a nice upgrade program so you can get the full value back if you trade up to one of their better instruments.

Hello, thank you so much for replying. I want to play my harmonica and concertina at the same time, and I don't want myself to limit with Irish music. So the duet might be a good choice for me. I will look at concertinaconnection. com. Thank you so much!



#4 ozishko

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 03:18 PM

But is Scarlatti SC-20K a bad choice? It is an anglo one which is not really a problem for me. But I want to know if that model is too bad.



#5 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 03:27 PM

Both the English and the Anglo (funny these names so similar, aren't they?) can be played in the widest range of styles - listen to Adrian Brown who is playing as remote as possible from the cliché push/pull thing with the Anglo, or old recordings of A. L. Lloyd and Alf Edwards, with the latter doing a fantastic job accompanying the singer on his "English" concertina.

Of course I myself would strongly advocate for the English, which I love - but whatever system you may choose for yourself, enjoy!

Best wishes - Wolf

#6 ozishko

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 03:43 PM

Both the English and the Anglo (funny these names so similar, aren't they?) can be played in the widest range of styles - listen to Adrian Brown who is playing as remote as possible from the cliché push/pull thing with the Anglo, or old recordings of A. L. Lloyd and Alf Edwards, with the latter doing a fantastic job accompanying the singer on his "English" concertina.

Of course I myself would strongly advocate for the English, which I love - but whatever system you may choose for yourself, enjoy!

Best wishes - Wolf

Thank you so much! So i think i will simply go for a unexpensive anglo :) Thank you again!



#7 David Colpitts

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 04:06 PM

If you decide on the Anglo, the (perhaps huge) benefit is the "in/out" similarity to the harmonica. I don't mean to suggest that it makes the Anglo easier to play, in general, but for me, it made the learning of the Anglo much quicker, since it was literally just like two handsfull of harmonicas. Later on, that may or may not be a big deal, but it remains so for my, five years into it. I also have a Hayden duet, which is simple enough in its own way, but not as immediately "playable" as the Anglo. A minor difficulty, for me, is that when I try to sing with the Anglo, I find myself wanting to inhale when the note goes up, as I would with harmonicas. It's a challenge, but fun.

I also second the recommendation of Concertina Connection entry-level instruments, if you can get one conveniently/affordably.

Regards,

David

#8 ozishko

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 04:28 PM

If you decide on the Anglo, the (perhaps huge) benefit is the "in/out" similarity to the harmonica. I don't mean to suggest that it makes the Anglo easier to play, in general, but for me, it made the learning of the Anglo much quicker, since it was literally just like two handsfull of harmonicas. Later on, that may or may not be a big deal, but it remains so for my, five years into it. I also have a Hayden duet, which is simple enough in its own way, but not as immediately "playable" as the Anglo. A minor difficulty, for me, is that when I try to sing with the Anglo, I find myself wanting to inhale when the note goes up, as I would with harmonicas. It's a challenge, but fun.

I also second the recommendation of Concertina Connection entry-level instruments, if you can get one conveniently/affordably.

Regards,

David

Thank you so much !



#9 Mikefule

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 11:26 PM

Hello, thank you so much for replying. I want to play my harmonica and concertina at the same time, and I don't want myself to limit with Irish music. So the duet might be a good choice for me. I will look at concertina connection. com. Thank you so much!

 

 

 

If you want to play harmonica and concertina at the same time, then an ANGLO is the obvious choice. The tuning of n Anglo is essentially the same as a harmonica: the same pattern of blow and draw notes, with the 3 notes of the major chord on the blow (squeeze).

 

If you are after a cheap Anglo, I would suggest either the Rochelle or a Lachenal 20 button.  The Rochelle is a modern instrument, very basic, but the best of the cheap modern ones.  Rochelles are 30 buttons (more versatile) and come in C/G key combination.    The Lachenal would be 100 years old or more, but is a nicer instrument.  In the UK,we can pick up a C/G or G/D 20 button for around £500.  A 30 button would be quite a bit more.

 

I have played harmonica for nearly 40 years.  I found the Anglo quite intuitive because of the similarities.  The English is completely different: the same note whether you push or pull, but a completely different layout of buttons, and I don't think it would be easy to play at the same time as the harmonica.  Duet concertinas are comparatively rare, and are a bit of a specialised choice.



#10 David Barnert

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 04:54 PM

If you want to play harmonica and concertina at the same time, then an ANGLO is the obvious choice. The tuning of n Anglo is essentially the same as a harmonica: the same pattern of blow and draw notes, with the 3 notes of the major chord on the blow (squeeze).

...

I have played harmonica for nearly 40 years.  I found the Anglo quite intuitive because of the similarities.  The English is completely different: the same note whether you push or pull, but a completely different layout of buttons, and I don't think it would be easy to play at the same time as the harmonica.  Duet concertinas are comparatively rare, and are a bit of a specialised choice.

 

Ken Sweeney does an impressive job of playing harmonica and english concertina at the same time. First in unison, then moving on to harmony and rhythm.

 

I can’t find a video of him doing it, but here he is on the harmonica, and here on the EC.



#11 John Wild

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 07:25 PM

photo.jpg
Published on 21 May 2013
O'Neill's Lament - Halting March Played on a Custom XB-40 in G and a Wheatstone 56key English Concertina

https://youtu.be/skJk6B1AXQY

 

The 79th regiment's farewell to Gibraltar, march, Rick Epping, harmonica, concertina

 
Not the same player, but these might be of interest.


#12 Peter Laban

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 02:27 AM

f you want to play harmonica and concertina at the same time, then an ANGLO is the obvious choice.

 

Not necessarily. Best known players to play both (at the same time),  Rick Epping and Mick Kinsella,  play English. Food for thought, perhaps.



#13 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 02:52 AM

f you want to play harmonica and concertina at the same time, then an ANGLO is the obvious choice.

 
Not necessarily. Best known players to play both (at the same time),  Rick Epping and Mick Kinsella,  play English. Food for thought, perhaps.

At least when coupling harmonica with the Anglo you would have to stick to the respective row I figure - otherwise the push/blow - pull/suck thing might get pretty confusing... 😁

#14 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 04:40 AM

Most people who play the harmonica with another instrument strum chords on the guitar - an instrument that has very little similarity to the harmonica. I play both Anglo and harmonica, and although I've never tried to play them together, I could imagine that they're too similar for comfort. That is, the differences that do exist (as blue eyed sailor points out) are just enough to be irritating, or to lead to mistakes.

So I'd be inclined to believe that, if you must accompany your harmonica on a concertina, an English would be easier, and a Duet just as easy, but better still, because chording is part of the standard Duet technique.

 

Cheers,

John

 

Edited to add:

Of course, you can do almost anything if you practise diligently enough! At first, some Anglo learners (myself included) have difficulty singing to their concertina, because the lungs get coupled to the bellows movement. But that effect goes away after a while (fortunately for me), so perhaps you can learn to blow and suck the harmonica independently of the press/draw of the Anglo.


Edited by Anglo-Irishman, 30 October 2017 - 04:46 AM.


#15 wayman

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 06:02 AM

Out of curiosity, can we collectively name more than five people in the world who are known to perform concertina and harmonica together? 

 

Ken Sweeney (harmonica, English concertina)

Joel Anderson (harmonica, English concertina)

Rick Epping (harmonica, English concertina)

...

... Bueller? ... Bueller? ... Bueller? ...

 

All three of the above are world-class professional musicians (two of whom work for harmonica companies).

 

First, are there any others?...

(I'm going to guess that Will Pound will get honourable mention here for playing melodeon chords with harmonica, just because it seems like the sort of thing he would do, though I can't recall seeing it myself; but that's still not concertina and harmonica!)

 

Second, has anyone seen anyone do this with an Anglo, or any other system besides English?

 

And third, even the three musicians above do this as an occasional well-rehearsed piece in their concert sets, not as any kind of regular thing they'd just do in a session. My sense is that it's a very different sort of thing than playing harmonica with guitar (playing a melody against strummed chords), and not a skill a musician can just apply to a new tune without intensive practice. 

 

So ... my two cents would be, if you've never played concertina at all, just select a system - Anglo or English - that works for you. Even if you become a world-class professional, harmonica plus concertina is unlikely to be more than a party piece or an encore in your concert set, so don't base your decision of what instrument to buy on that. Just think about what concertina seems best (or is most readily obtainable, given where you are), and enjoy it!  :)



#16 David Colpitts

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 06:08 AM

I concurr in the opinion that it is more logical to NOT play Anglo while simultaneously playing harmonica. I (unlike John, the lucky and skilled) still can't separate inhaling from higher note in a run, but do somewhat better when trying with my Hayden duet, no doubt because it isn't "just like the harmonica" in the push/pull. And, yes, does seem that the notable artists (Mr. Sweeney, Mr. Epping, etc.) do play English when they accompany with harmonica, too.

Regards,

David

#17 David Colpitts

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 06:11 AM

Just got Wayman's post, after I posted. Agreed!

David

#18 Don Taylor

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 08:35 AM

Well this young lad is doing a fine job on a cheap Chinese 20b anglo and harmonica.

 

 

https://youtu.be/I5Q0DcmTs9c






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