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#1 mathhag

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 08:43 AM

So I have never played an instrument before. I have been renting a Rochelle for about a month. I have been practice scales and watching OAIM videos. I can "play" a few and I can tell I am making progress but maybe slowly.
My questions is about learning to read standard music notation. That is how the tutor book I have proceeds but it seems much harder then abc notation. But I am not sure that will be true for the long haul. I would really like to hear folks insights on this. If I should be learning to read music , I might as well work on it. One other thing to note, it is unlikely I will be playing with anyone else.

#2 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 12:49 PM

Good question! - Ask two experienced Anglo players, and you'll get three answers (at least)!

 

My answer is that the Anglo is the "play-by-ear" instrument par excellence. Practise you scales diligently, play the tunes that you learn over and over until you fingers seem to find the right buttons, and your hands the right bellows direction, apparently by themselves, and you'll soon be able to play any tune that's in your head more or less off the bat. Whereby I must add that it may take a bit of further practice to get that new tune running smoothly. 

I personally can't read music for the Anglo, So to get a new tune into my head, I listen to it repeatedly until I can hum or whistle it, and then try it on the Anglo.

 

The reason why it takes a bit of practice to get each tune running smoothly is that there are notes on the Anglo that are available on two different buttons, sometimes in the same bellows direction, sometimes in the opposite direction. Often, one of these "alternative notes" will be easier to finger than the other, and you find this out by trial and error. It does pay to identify the "alternative-note" pairs. (Which note of an "alternative pair" to use doesn't emerge from the standard notation, unless you annotate it with a button number and bellows direction - that's what makes standard notation awkward for the Anglo.)

 

What I do extract from the standard notation is the key signature, which tells me which scale I should be using; the starting note; and the notes that occur in the "twiddly bits" that my ear can't catch just from listening. When I've got that, it's "by ear and muscle memory" from there on in.

 

That's my answer - let's see what others have to say!

 

Cheers,

John



#3 Mikefule

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 02:26 PM

The Anglo is ideal for playing folk and traditional music, pop songs etc. by ear and there is no need to be be to read notation.  I have monthly lessons with an expert player who can barely read standard notation, but has a massive repertoire of beautifully harmonised tunes in a  variety of styles.

 

However, if you can lear to read notation, a whole range of new tunes will be available to you from books and websites.

 

One particular challenge wth the Anglo is that it is a sort of "transposing instrument".  That is, you have a C/G, or G/D (etc.) and you are limited to playing on those keys and closely related keys.  However, many tunes that you find written down will be in other keys.  So you may find a tune written in A and play it in C on a C/G Anglo, then pick up a G/D Anglo and play the same fingering to get the same tune in G.  The problem with this is that you never learn a clear "one to one" link between lines on the stave and notes on the instrument like you would if you were playing an English concertina or a fiddle or a flute.



#4 lachenal74693

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 09:26 PM

 

...Which note of an "alternative pair" to use doesn't emerge from the standard notation, unless you annotate it with a button number and bellows direction - that's what makes standard notation awkward for the Anglo...

 

I'm assuming that what is meant here is what is often called tabbing?

 

If that is so, and if you want to go down the road of adding button-push/pull information to your scores, I have found

the system described on the Australian Bush Music (ABM) site very useful. I use it all the time for all the tunes I muck

about with.

 

http://www.bushtradi.../concertina.htm

 

You mention abc notation. If you are familiar with this, it is easy (if slightly fiddly) to annotate a standard abc script

with button-push/pull information. Once it's done and saved, you have a notated score which can be displayed or

printed.

 

A major beneficial side-effect is that although you may start off relying on the 'tabs', you will slowly acquire the ability

to actually read standard musical notation, which you mention in your post (very slowly, in my case!).

 

There are other such systems (Mick Bramich, Gary Coover) but I prefer the ABM system because it seems to pack

the maximum information into the smallest space.

 

R.


Edited by lachenal74693, 10 September 2017 - 09:38 PM.


#5 Michaelmas

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 12:06 PM

I acquired a Rochelle less than a year ago and have enjoyed the OAIM tutor as well.  I had played in the high school band and had played a little piano so I knew how to read music -- 35 years ago. Although I began my concertina education relying heavily on standard music notation, a month ago I decided to put away all the paper and to learn and play only by ear.   It has been frustrating, fun and very rewarding -- and a whole new learning experience.  I still have a long way to go.  In hindsight, I wish that I had NOT used written music from day one on the concertina.   As noted above, the concertina is a perfect instrument to play to pick out a tune.  And your OAIM videos -- playing with them over and over -- is a great way to begin your education.  As you get more experienced, you may also want to use a music slowdowner app, which allows you to slow down a tune, without changing the pitch.   Best wishes on your journey.  You are asking all the right questions.



#6 mathhag

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 01:28 PM

Thanks everyone. I have checked the resources suggested and they are quite helpful.

#7 W3DW

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 05:50 PM

It seems to me that the play-by-ear versus play-the-notes depends on the person, not the instrument or the type of taditional music. They are different ways of using the brain, and we all have different brains and different ways to get to the same result.
So which one are you? You don't know yet! Start to learn the basics of reading music, because a basic familiarity with written music is always helpful. See how this fabulously versatile tool works in your hands, and be patient - you're learning a new language.
And do your best to hear it and play what you hear - it is also a developable skill.
Neither is better, because they will both get you where you are going, and even if you favor one method, the other can still serve you as well. I'd rather just pick it up by ear, but if you give me the music and a little time, I can have the tune in hand.
That said, playing by ear is more convenient because you don't need the written music to transmit the tune, so long as somebody knows the tune to start with.
Enjoy the journey!

Edited by W3DW, 11 September 2017 - 05:51 PM.


#8 Tradewinds Ted

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 11:53 AM

On the other side of it, reading notation is convenient because you have a written record to refer to if a tune is forgotten by all present  You can also pick up new tunes even if you have never heard them played, as long as you are familiar enough with the style of music to understand the required feel.   But even though I often learn tunes by reading, I don't consider that I really know it until I can play it from memory.  That takes time understanding what is going on, rather than just reading, but that is a different discussion.

 

That said, I know there is definitely an advantage to learning how to pick up tunes by ear when notation is not available, and it forces you to really listen.  This is what it generally expected in most traditional music sessions, and I wish I could do this better.

 

Both are valuable, but how valuable depends upon your situation.  Most likely you can do either well with practice, but whichever you do is what you will get better at, and what will eventually seem natural.  Ideally enough of each will make it possible to do either well.

 

I've never understood when people say that standard notation is more difficult than ABC notation.  I find that getting anything out of ABC is terrifically awkward.  ABC is absolutely terrible to directly sight read at tempo, and particularly horrifying to sight read ABC for tunes with a harmony line or countermelody.  ABC is useful for sending tunes in text files of course, but then translating back into notation is the reasonable next step.



#9 lachenal74693

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:52 AM

You mention abc notation. If you are familiar with this, it is easy (if slightly fiddly) to annotate a standard abc script

with button-push/pull information. Once it's done and saved, you have a notated score which can be displayed or

printed.

 

On re-reading my post, I see that I may not have been as clear as I intended. What I meant was that

it is easy to modify an abc script to include button/bellows information in the same style as that used

on the Australian Bush Music site. I don't know if it would be possible to add tabs which include any

form of 'image' (eg: Mick Bramich uses little black/white squares to indicate push/pull). 

 

Roger


Edited by lachenal74693, 13 September 2017 - 05:55 AM.


#10 JimmyM

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:29 PM

to me standard music notation IS a form of tab. When i started playing i did use some of the other kinds of tab in various tutor books but there are SO many! so i decided to stick with 'conventional' written music. However i only really use written music when learning a tune and i. personally, dont consider a tune to be learnt untill i can play it from memory.

I do learn tunes by ear too but i find this harder to do. I'm mainly playing ITM so mostly concerned with the melody. Sounds silly but I was at a workshop given by Ollie King ( a very good melodeon player) recently and the best bit of advice he gave was to learn where all the notes are on your instrument. Its quite suprising how many people that have been playing for years but only know part of their keyboard.

 

So no its not essential but yes its very handy and transferable to other instruments. imo i wouldnt waste too much time on any of the various forms of tab



#11 Robin Tims

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 05:39 AM

For ITM we found that 'Concertina Diaries' by Heather Greer is just about as good as it gets. That super book really got us moving with Irish on novice/intermediate Anglo. (which other books failed to do). The tremendous amount of work Heather has obviously put in makes the tutor truly effective, very easy to use, moving gently but steadily upwards from that first tune, using a tab that is instantly understandable. Every single one of the 47 tunes is fully tabulated, you are never left on your own. Each tune is there for a learning step purpose, along with encouragement to learn it and play away from the dots or to try alternative fingering patterns yourself.  Very friendly and generously noted comments help you along the path. The tunes are typically popular Irish session tunes.

 

We also found both the Gary Coover books really good too for tunes other than Irish. My only very slight gripe is that the Harmonic Style book features tunes mostly in C and we would have liked to see more chorded examples in say G.

 

'best

 

Rob and his missus !


Edited by Robin Tims, 14 September 2017 - 05:41 AM.


#12 Pete Dunk

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 11:08 AM

On re-reading my post, I see that I may not have been as clear as I intended. What I meant was that it is easy to modify an abc script to include button/bellows information in the same style as that used on the Australian Bush Music site. I don't know if it would be possible to add tabs which include any form of 'image' (eg: Mick Bramich uses little black/white squares to indicate push/pull).

 

The standard symbols for 'up bow' and 'down bow' could be used to indicate bellows direction, these are added to abc using the letters 'u' and 'v'.





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