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Tunes in D and B minor


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#1 Lawrence Reeves

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 12:16 PM

After a very nice post about the Musical Priest, and ideas on playing it, a few things come to mind. Do not fear the key of D, or B minor, learn how to handle your particular concertina for those keys. I wonder sometimes if we only tackle tunes, and forget the discipline of practice. I am in no way suggesting that one should play every tune in O'Niell's or expect to sight read in all keys, but however that an understanding of possible keys and patterns that will enable a player to explore more tunes. So, here we sit with ( for most of us on Anglo) an instrument describes as C / G. D only involves one note in the accidental row, and A major two. Learn how to play a scale in either direction using that note. If you are using a Jeffries, learn both C#s. If a 38 or 44 keyed instrument, learn to use those buttons. They can help. An example in A major is the extra high G# on the spare button. By using that, or the push high F# one can get out of certain finger twisting problems. The other thing for me, is if I love a tune and want to play the music I will find a way. It might mean that I have to drop a note ( allowing a chance for a variation, not to interfere with others), or another tactic of bouncing an octave down might be helpful. I also often take a tune and drop from D to C. I play Dr O'Niell's jig in C a lot more enjoyably than D. I do however play the tune in D when in a big session. To me playing the tune in a different key can bring out some very interesting possibilities. Doubling in Octaves, certain chords, and drones etc. Practice. That is an art unto itself. Learn every aspect of your concertina, mechanically, tonally, and comfortably. If certain notes have options for rows, and direction learn all the ways to play it. In a tune like the Congress Reel, I might be more likely to use a pull e, down to a pull A on the G row with a roll or crann. In a tune like the Copperplate ( old or whichever you think is the one that starts on A) I use both As. I start with the A on the C row followed by a separate pulled note of A on the G row. It gives a nice rhythm to the tune as a variation instead of sustaining. I use a similar technique of both As on the maids of Mount Cisco.
I am spending hour after hour learning the subtle things my new Suttner can do, and incorporating those discoveries into my tunes. Merry Christmas everyone!

#2 michael sam wild

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:47 PM

Wise words. Bertram Levy is advocating the whole instrument and its possibilities and his exercises are helpful.,

I think some awreness of chords in both directions is helpful and I have found my visits to Brian Peters very stimulating. It's not aimed at Irish music but opens up the whole range of the C/G in a variety of keys and has really informed my playing in a range of genres.

#3 Kautilya

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 03:40 PM

After a very nice post about the Musical Priest, and ideas on playing it, a few things come to mind. Do not fear the key of D, or B minor, learn how to handle your particular concertina for those keys. I wonder sometimes if we only tackle tunes, and forget the discipline of practice. I am in no way suggesting that one should play every tune in O'Niell's or expect to sight read in all keys, but however that an understanding of possible keys and patterns that will enable a player to explore more tunes. So, here we sit with ( for most of us on Anglo) an instrument describes as C / G. D only involves one note in the accidental row, and A major two. Learn how to play a scale in either direction using that note. If you are using a Jeffries, learn both C#s. If a 38 or 44 keyed instrument, learn to use those buttons. They can help. An example in A major is the extra high G# on the spare button. By using that, or the push high F# one can get out of certain finger twisting problems. The other thing for me, is if I love a tune and want to play the music I will find a way. It might mean that I have to drop a note ( allowing a chance for a variation, not to interfere with others), or another tactic of bouncing an octave down might be helpful. I also often take a tune and drop from D to C. I play Dr O'Niell's jig in C a lot more enjoyably than D. I do however play the tune in D when in a big session. To me playing the tune in a different key can bring out some very interesting possibilities. Doubling in Octaves, certain chords, and drones etc. Practice. That is an art unto itself. Learn every aspect of your concertina, mechanically, tonally, and comfortably. If certain notes have options for rows, and direction learn all the ways to play it. In a tune like the Congress Reel, I might be more likely to use a pull e, down to a pull A on the G row with a roll or crann. In a tune like the Copperplate ( old or whichever you think is the one that starts on A) I use both As. I start with the A on the C row followed by a separate pulled note of A on the G row. It gives a nice rhythm to the tune as a variation instead of sustaining. I use a similar technique of both As on the maids of Mount Cisco.
I am spending hour after hour learning the subtle things my new Suttner can do, and incorporating those discoveries into my tunes. Merry Christmas everyone!

Some videos,showing either and both ends' button action to illustrate examples would be really good. :) :)

#4 BertramLevy

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 10:47 AM

Playing in D and A on a 30 button C/G need not be feared. Playing in D actually is as natural as playing in G, both of which in a strange way are more natural than playing in C. Why? Because there is only one C and one E in the middle octave while there are Ds and Gs in both directions. True the F# is only represented on the out but that is no more an obstacle than the “in” E. In addition, in both D and G the dominant chords (A7 and D7) are in the opposite direction to the tonic chords (D and G). This allows for replenishment of air in most tunes just as the G7 in the key of C. In the key of A the challenge is one of air since the dominant E7 is in the same direction. As a result one must careful arrange the piece to find spots to open the instrument. This is one reason why myxolydian (flatted G) Appalachian and Irish tunes work easily in A – the G chord is opposite to the A.

The most important guideline when constructing scales and phrases in any key is that the leading tone and the tonic should be in the same direction This is what I call the pairing principle and is essential to playing phrases with the correct intention. For example in “shave and a hair cut – two bits”, the “two” is the leading tone to the tonic “bits”

For D, the leading tone is C# in which the C# is on the right top row (R1 or R2 in the Jeffries) and the D on the lower row left (L15). Also in the Jeffries one can play the C# on R1 and the D on R6 on the in. In G the leading tone F# and the tonic G are both found on the same side (lower Row III and Row I respectively) in the opening position in both octaves. For the key of A it means playing the G# and A on the top row. The left is easy L5 to L4 while on the right they are found on the top row R3 to R2 in Wheatstone and R3 to R5 in Jeffries. In the key of F the leading tone E (L15) to F (R7) only works in the middle octave.

Bertram

#5 david_boveri

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 07:29 PM

Playing in D and A on a 30 button C/G need not be feared. Playing in D actually is as natural as playing in G, both of which in a strange way are more natural than playing in C. Why? Because there is only one C and one E in the middle octave while there are Ds and Gs in both directions. True the F# is only represented on the out but that is no more an obstacle than the “in” E. In addition, in both D and G the dominant chords (A7 and D7) are in the opposite direction to the tonic chords (D and G). This allows for replenishment of air in most tunes just as the G7 in the key of C. In the key of A the challenge is one of air since the dominant E7 is in the same direction. As a result one must careful arrange the piece to find spots to open the instrument. This is one reason why myxolydian (flatted G) Appalachian and Irish tunes work easily in A – the G chord is opposite to the A.

The most important guideline when constructing scales and phrases in any key is that the leading tone and the tonic should be in the same direction This is what I call the pairing principle and is essential to playing phrases with the correct intention. For example in “shave and a hair cut – two bits”, the “two” is the leading tone to the tonic “bits”

For D, the leading tone is C# in which the C# is on the right top row (R1 or R2 in the Jeffries) and the D on the lower row left (L15). Also in the Jeffries one can play the C# on R1 and the D on R6 on the in. In G the leading tone F# and the tonic G are both found on the same side (lower Row III and Row I respectively) in the opening position in both octaves. For the key of A it means playing the G# and A on the top row. The left is easy L5 to L4 while on the right they are found on the top row R3 to R2 in Wheatstone and R3 to R5 in Jeffries. In the key of F the leading tone E (L15) to F (R7) only works in the middle octave.

Bertram


that is an interesting rule. what is the reason for it? it seems awfully restricting...

#6 BertramLevy

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:31 PM


Playing in D and A on a 30 button C/G need not be feared. Playing in D actually is as natural as playing in G, both of which in a strange way are more natural than playing in C. Why? Because there is only one C and one E in the middle octave while there are Ds and Gs in both directions. True the F# is only represented on the out but that is no more an obstacle than the “in” E. In addition, in both D and G the dominant chords (A7 and D7) are in the opposite direction to the tonic chords (D and G). This allows for replenishment of air in most tunes just as the G7 in the key of C. In the key of A the challenge is one of air since the dominant E7 is in the same direction. As a result one must careful arrange the piece to find spots to open the instrument. This is one reason why myxolydian (flatted G) Appalachian and Irish tunes work easily in A – the G chord is opposite to the A.

The most important guideline when constructing scales and phrases in any key is that the leading tone and the tonic should be in the same direction This is what I call the pairing principle and is essential to playing phrases with the correct intention. For example in “shave and a hair cut – two bits”, the “two” is the leading tone to the tonic “bits”

For D, the leading tone is C# in which the C# is on the right top row (R1 or R2 in the Jeffries) and the D on the lower row left (L15). Also in the Jeffries one can play the C# on R1 and the D on R6 on the in. In G the leading tone F# and the tonic G are both found on the same side (lower Row III and Row I respectively) in the opening position in both octaves. For the key of A it means playing the G# and A on the top row. The left is easy L5 to L4 while on the right they are found on the top row R3 to R2 in Wheatstone and R3 to R5 in Jeffries. In the key of F the leading tone E (L15) to F (R7) only works in the middle octave.

Bertram




that is an interesting rule. what is the reason for it? it seems awfully restricting...

Hi David

well of course every rule is meant to be broken . Forgive me, I am going to be a bit technical to answer your question so I hope I can make it clear. A leading tone (the major 7th) is only a half step away from the tonic and coupled with the third of a dominant chord becomes a tritone which is very unstable. This means it wants to go somewhere and generally wants to resolve to the tonic. For example in the key of C the dominant chord is G7 has the B as the third and the F as the 7th. This is a tritone and wants to resolve by half steps - that is the F to the E and the B to a C which are the notes of the C chord or tonic. If you change bellows as you move from the leading tone to the tonic, , it interrupts the flow or intention of the phrase as you reenergize the column of air in the bellows. . Sure you can play it with a change but it is more musical if you try to keep them in the same direction.

My point being that if you are learning scales and phrase in the different keys, you will be better off starting off by following the simple pairing principle on the leading tone to the tonic and break the rules when necessary. . Subtle, sure, but music is all about the details

Bertram



#7 david_boveri

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 11:28 PM



Playing in D and A on a 30 button C/G need not be feared. Playing in D actually is as natural as playing in G, both of which in a strange way are more natural than playing in C. Why? Because there is only one C and one E in the middle octave while there are Ds and Gs in both directions. True the F# is only represented on the out but that is no more an obstacle than the “in” E. In addition, in both D and G the dominant chords (A7 and D7) are in the opposite direction to the tonic chords (D and G). This allows for replenishment of air in most tunes just as the G7 in the key of C. In the key of A the challenge is one of air since the dominant E7 is in the same direction. As a result one must careful arrange the piece to find spots to open the instrument. This is one reason why myxolydian (flatted G) Appalachian and Irish tunes work easily in A – the G chord is opposite to the A.

The most important guideline when constructing scales and phrases in any key is that the leading tone and the tonic should be in the same direction This is what I call the pairing principle and is essential to playing phrases with the correct intention. For example in “shave and a hair cut – two bits”, the “two” is the leading tone to the tonic “bits”

For D, the leading tone is C# in which the C# is on the right top row (R1 or R2 in the Jeffries) and the D on the lower row left (L15). Also in the Jeffries one can play the C# on R1 and the D on R6 on the in. In G the leading tone F# and the tonic G are both found on the same side (lower Row III and Row I respectively) in the opening position in both octaves. For the key of A it means playing the G# and A on the top row. The left is easy L5 to L4 while on the right they are found on the top row R3 to R2 in Wheatstone and R3 to R5 in Jeffries. In the key of F the leading tone E (L15) to F (R7) only works in the middle octave.

Bertram




that is an interesting rule. what is the reason for it? it seems awfully restricting...

Hi David

well of course every rule is meant to be broken . Forgive me, I am going to be a bit technical to answer your question so I hope I can make it clear. A leading tone (the major 7th) is only a half step away from the tonic and coupled with the third of a dominant chord becomes a tritone which is very unstable. This means it wants to go somewhere and generally wants to resolve to the tonic. For example in the key of C the dominant chord is G7 has the B as the third and the F as the 7th. This is a tritone and wants to resolve by half steps - that is the F to the E and the B to a C which are the notes of the C chord or tonic. If you change bellows as you move from the leading tone to the tonic, , it interrupts the flow or intention of the phrase as you reenergize the column of air in the bellows. . Sure you can play it with a change but it is more musical if you try to keep them in the same direction.

My point being that if you are learning scales and phrase in the different keys, you will be better off starting off by following the simple pairing principle on the leading tone to the tonic and break the rules when necessary. . Subtle, sure, but music is all about the details

Bertram


perhaps it is because i am an irish musician, but i find that i find the characteristic sound and response of a given reed to be more important than the bellows direction. i could maybe see where your rule may be useful in heavily chorded playing, but i have trouble understanding it's usefulness in melodic lines alone. i was taught to play in the staccato style, which means that my notes tend to have more space between them than not. this lessens the effect of bellows direction and change in many situations.

from your technical explanation, to my ears it sounds like saying that one must never change bow directions or strings on the violin between a leading tone and tonic, because that would require you to reenergize the string.

again, maybe i have trouble seeing the utility of it because to me articulation is more important than avoiding bellows changes, but at any rate i thought perhaps you might better understand my position if you saw a video of me playing. perhaps it might be hard to judge the quality of my phrasing in isolation from my friend's fiddle playing. however, i wonder if you could tell me: do you think my phrasing suffers because i almost always resolve the tonic on a bellows change?

http://youtu.be/u_NXCYUtpQ8

i have definitely tried out what you describe many times and found that, at least for my style of playing, it tends to make the phrases seem flat and lifeless. there are instances where i do play the leading tone into the tonic in the same direction for reasons of tone color, but i find that it requires more work to even the sound out. i think that perhaps i am missing out on something, or it may be the difference between legato and staccato playing styles.

i am definitely interested in your take on playing and scales, and appreciate your time to make a technical response.

#8 BertramLevy

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 12:57 PM

Hi David I watched your video -nice job - clean and fast. If you are happy that your playing fulfills your vision of the music, don’t change. However if you want to play in other idioms, you may need a different approach To answer your question specificlly, none of these three tunes use a leading tone. The first tune George White’s Favorite resolves B G A B G but no F# The second tune Eel in the Sink is in the key of A and is in the myxolydian mode which uses a flatted G (G chord) rather than a G#. The last tune Woman of the House in G seems to end in a descending G arpeggio however there bit of a problem in the articulation of the conclusion of the phrases which makes it difficult for me to analyze.

From a technical standpoint, your hands look good. A small detail: your middle finger on the left hand occasionally stands out which puts tension in the hand. I constantly have to monitor that myself and I use a mirror when I practice to help me monitor my left hand. I find that often occurs when there is a reach between the index and ring finger. It means I need to bring my hand a bit forward to center the hand over the phrase, cup the palm and play more on the fingertips.

I do have a few comments regarding some of your statements. Playing two notes in the same direction can be as legato or staccato as you want. The attack on the buttons is just as articulated as a change in bellows direction. If you want legato, leave your finger down on the button until the next note. If you want staccato let go, place some silence between it and the next note. No one is more articulated or lively than Alistair Anderson on the English system.

Secondly the analogy of the energized sound of the violin and change in bow direction is not correct. The sound in the violin comes from the energized air in the resonant body of the instrument created by the vibrating string. Changing the direction of the bow does not stop the movement of air in the instrument. In contradistinction in the concertina when you change the bellow direction, the air goes from expansion to contraction and the movement is interrupted and must be reenergized. When the air is reenergized the reed can make an unpleasant bite if not executed carefully. The physics of sound production is beyond me but Professor Rodolfo Daluisio offers an interesting explanation. There is an Andian instrument that the indigenous people make – it is two round hollow ceramic balls connected by a curved narrow neck. It is partially filled with water and when tilted so one ball is higher than the other, a whistle sound is produced. Rodolfo says that as the water passes through the narrow neck, there is a small stream of air which flows in the opposite direction producing the sound. Professor Daluisio believes that the same situation occurs in the bellows where the sound travels in a channel above the column of air. Whether this is correct of not I can not say but clearly one can feel a column of air in the bellow. For me when I playl the column almost feels like a gelatin globule. The point is that control of this column is the art of the concertina, not the buttons. Changing bellows should not be avoided , just harnessed. I am always reminded that we are not playing the concertina, we are playing music.

Bertram

#9 david_boveri

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 04:56 PM

Hi David I watched your video -nice job - clean and fast. If you are happy that your playing fulfills your vision of the music, don’t change. However if you want to play in other idioms, you may need a different approach To answer your question specificlly, none of these three tunes use a leading tone. The first tune George White’s Favorite resolves B G A B G but no F# The second tune Eel in the Sink is in the key of A and is in the myxolydian mode which uses a flatted G (G chord) rather than a G#. The last tune Woman of the House in G seems to end in a descending G arpeggio however there bit of a problem in the articulation of the conclusion of the phrases which makes it difficult for me to analyze.


i figured that might be the case, in regards to leading tones. i don't have any recordings on hand with leading tones, then. but, in the key of G, i definitely as a rule resolve pull F# into push G, etc. in the key of D, i do use push C# to resolve to push D, but i can't think of any other key where i match up the leading tone with the tonic.

From a technical standpoint, your hands look good. A small detail: your middle finger on the left hand occasionally stands out which puts tension in the hand. I constantly have to monitor that myself and I use a mirror when I practice to help me monitor my left hand. I find that often occurs when there is a reach between the index and ring finger. It means I need to bring my hand a bit forward to center the hand over the phrase, cup the palm and play more on the fingertips.


can you give me a rough time stamp for my middle finger being too high? i only ask because there is something strange about how my fingers move. they do not move entirely separately, especially the middle fingers. this may sound hard to believe, but entirely true: if i relax one hand and move the other into and out of a fist, there is a "bleed over" of movement into the other hand. i can inhibit this bleed-over movement, but that requires increased tension. i once asked a neuroscientist about it, and besides being completely disinterested, he said he had never heard or seen anything like it and he'd have to cut me open to figure out why.

so, if i am moving my left hand during these moments you noticed, then i can surely work on it some more. if i am moving my right hand also while this is happening, i can't really stop it. overall, i have since the recording developed a more rounded finger posture to counteract this tendency. i still use a flat finger for tone control, but try to not make it my default position.

I do have a few comments regarding some of your statements. Playing two notes in the same direction can be as legato or staccato as you want. The attack on the buttons is just as articulated as a change in bellows direction. If you want legato, leave your finger down on the button until the next note. If you want staccato let go, place some silence between it and the next note. No one is more articulated or lively than Alistair Anderson on the English system.


i agree with that. i do not create the staccato with the bellows changes, but i was saying that because of my staccato style of tone control, the impact of bellows changes for melody notes is kind of moot. i would like to add that another important consideration of staccato playing is that not only should you leave a gap between the notes, but you should apply pressure to the bellows while no button is pressed, to add that extra bit of clip to the notes.

Edited by david_boveri, 24 January 2012 - 04:57 PM.


#10 BertramLevy

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 01:02 PM

Hi David

here are a few from each tune

0.24-26 ,0.28 0.36,0.59,1.33 ,1.41, 2.47

Generally hand tension problems are based on overuse of the instrinsic muscles of the hand (lumbricals and interossei) rather than the long muscle of the arm If you want me to take a look at your hand via skype, I would be happy to do so - write to bertramlevy.com and we can arrange a time (gratis of course)

Bertram



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