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Learn Thirds, Sixths, And Tenths Urges Alf Edwards


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#1 Jim Ventola

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 02:20 PM

Although I have owned Alf Edwards' The Art of the Concertina for eons, only today did I notice its overall structure. First, individual notes in the various scales, with practice tunes. Then, playing more than one note at a time in the various keys. But in every key it is always thirds, sixths, tenths, and octaves--at least that's what my tardy skimming seems to show.

 

Is there a reason that these intervals are focused on? Is it a music theory reason or an  English concertina specific reason?



#2 John Adey

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:13 PM

It's music theory, specifically harmony theory. Those intervals are the ones that harmonise. 

 

Learning to play parallel scales, i.e. scales separated by the intervals you mention, in different keys is a great exercise for helping you find the notes that harmonise with a tune. 



#3 Jim Ventola

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 09:35 PM

Thank you. I have been looking for harmonies in thirds, fourths, and fifths, probably due to misunderstanding some reading. (You can see I am ignorant about harmony and theory--but not for want of trying.)

 

(I see you are in Devon. I just today read of a Devon mystery from the past. "The Devil's Hoofprints" chapter of Rupert Gould's Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts describes various attempts to explain a vast number of animal tracks that appeared after a snow storm on February 8, 1885. These prints had never been seen before and appeared in many towns, including Exmouth and Dawlish. No known animal could have made them, it seems. And yet, there they were. I wonder if the mystery is still talked about in Devon?)



#4 lachenal74693

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 02:35 AM

...probably due to misunderstanding some reading...

 

..Alf Edwards' The Art of the Concertina...

 

Me too. This business of intervals was doing my head in, until recently the whole thing was explained to me in simple terms 

by someone who had both musical and scientific/maths training (I only have the latter).

 

Apart from the explanation(*), I found the following diagram and text very helpful:

 

http://www.learnmusi...s/intervals.php

 

Supplementary question: Is The Art of the Concertina written around English or Anglo concertina?

 

Roger

 

(*) I won't reproduce it here, but it's based on the idea that in Europe in the Middle Ages, folks started counting at '1' not '0'...


Edited by lachenal74693, 14 October 2017 - 05:45 AM.


#5 Bill Worsfold

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 05:47 AM

Alf Edwards played English concertina. I have a book by him called 'Wheatstone's Instructions for the English Concertina" - is that the same one that you have? I believe he made a record called "The Art of the Concertina" - maybe they renamed later editions to go with it.

 

Thirds are really easy on EC - just diagonally adjacent buttons (making allowance for the key) mostly. Sixths (which are inverted thirds) and tenths (which are thirds spaced by an octave) are a bit trickier - they involve one note on each hand which is sometimes confusing to line up but I found some harmonised scale practice then leave it and they seemed to fall under my fingers.

 

What I found more confusing was his recommended fingerings for the intervals. If I can figure out a way to copy a bit and post it I'd like to ask if anyone can enlighten me. Briefly though, if you're doing a scale of sixths in C, it seems to me that they work fine with just the first two fingers on each hand, but he uses the third finger a lot. Why? Does it make a difference at speed (which I haven't got yet?)

 

Cheers, Bill


Edited by Bill Worsfold, 14 October 2017 - 05:48 AM.


#6 Jim Ventola

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 10:21 AM


Supplementary question: Is The Art of the Concertina written around English or Anglo concertina?

 


 

Thanks for the info and link. I should have mentioned that he was a master of the English concertina.


Edited by Jim Ventola, 14 October 2017 - 10:30 AM.


#7 Jim Ventola

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 10:25 AM

Alf Edwards played English concertina. I have a book by him called 'Wheatstone's Instructions for the English Concertina" - is that the same one that you have? I believe he made a record called "The Art of the Concertina" - maybe they renamed later editions to go with it.

 

Yes. I also have the record, which I have converted to mp3. I quoted the title from memory and confused the two. The record is not based on the book but has some wonderful playing of tunes. On YouTube I posted the part of Moby Dick (the one with Gregory Peck) where Alf Edwards plays for the sailors at the inn. If you read his life, it was amazing. And talk about speed and harmony. To me, it is all sublime magic. As for his fingerings, I am going to have to trust him, given what he could do.


Edited by Jim Ventola, 14 October 2017 - 10:29 AM.


#8 John Adey

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 10:30 AM

   'These prints had never been seen before and appeared in many towns, including Exmouth and Dawlish. No known animal could have made them, it seems. And yet, there they were. I wonder if the mystery is still talked about in Devon?'

 

Not that I've heard of. Of course there are several examples from around the world of mysterious animal tracks appearing in snow, with feasible and rational explanations as to their origin. In Devon we also have more recent tales of giant cats being sighted on Dartmoor. We all love a mystery it seems.

 

Good luck with the harmonising.

  



#9 lachenal74693

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 01:40 PM

Thanks for the info and link. I should have mentioned that he was a master of the English concertina.

 

If  I had read your original post more carefully, I would have realised that! Thank you. R.


Edited by lachenal74693, 14 October 2017 - 01:49 PM.


#10 David Barnert

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 06:23 PM

Is there a reason that these intervals are focused on? Is it a music theory reason or an  English concertina specific reason?

It's music theory, specifically harmony theory. Those intervals are the ones that harmonise.

 

Indeed, I play the Hayden Duet concertina and spend much of my time playing thirds, sixths, tenths, and octaves. So do pianists, for that matter.



#11 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 02:44 AM

I play Anglo and also employ thirds, sixths, tenths, and octaves in parallel harmony as one very important means to harmonic accompaniment. The contrasting Um Pa idea with it's multitude of variations contains both harmony and rhythm and so that is what I do most of the time when playing solo. When that becomes inconvenient, then the parallel harmony steps in for a short time till I get back to familiar Um Pa territory. Sometimes though, the parallel harmony is so beautiful that it becomes my main accompaniment idea, especially in high singing legato passages. Um Pa is great, but very dramatic when it stops for a time and then comes back in and parallel harmony fills the gap nicely.

'

When playing with others, the parallel idea plays a greater role in my choices. Perhaps the guitar or bass is playing those low Um notes with much more volume and authority than I can muster. In a big band, I would use parallel play exclusively, as the Um Pa low parts would be completely lost... so what's the point? Parallel playing is the way to go in a big session.

 

I recently had a visit with an Anglo player from the Bootle and District Concertina Marching Band that has Anglos with percussion and glockenspiels. We played some cracking old tunes and I noticed that parallel harmony was employed by him continuously. Sounded good too!


Edited by Jody Kruskal, 23 October 2017 - 07:50 PM.


#12 Don Taylor

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 09:09 AM

Jody

 

Could you explain what you mean by 'parallel harmony' in a bit more detail?

 

Thx.  Don.



#13 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 07:48 PM

The idea is that the selected intervals follow the contour of the melody. When the melody goes up, down or makes a leap, so does the parallel harmony.

 

Example 1: In the key of C, if the chord in the song is C and the melody goes CDEDC___   you might want to play the third above as your parallel harmony, so you would simultaneously play EFGFE____. That is playing two notes at a time starting with the interval of a major third. If you lower that harmoney EFGFE___ by an octave then you get the sixth below the melody.

 

Example 2: Still in the key of C, if the chord in the song is Am and the melody goes CDEDC___   you might want to play the third below as your parallel harmony, so you would simultaneously play ABCBA____. That is playing two notes at a time starting with the interval of a minor third. If you lower that ABCBA____by an octave then you get the tenth below the melody.

 

Example 3: Octave playing always works in every key against any chord. That is playing two notes simultaneously with the interval of an eighth.

 

So how to choose between #1 and #2 and which inversions to use? The major and minor thirds must match the chords of the song. You could figure it out abstractly or do what I do, just listen and play the appropriate interval. There are only two to choose from. One always sounds better than the other.

 

As for the thirds octave-lowerd inversions of a sixth and 10th. As a general rule, I prefer those wider inversions, especially when the melody is lowish. When the melody goes high I often play the close thirds too.

 

Playing parallel harmony requires practice. Scales work well for this. When performing though, I might use just a few notes of this technique at any one point. It can also be nice to let the other musicians play melody while I play the parallel harmony as a single line.


Edited by Jody Kruskal, 23 October 2017 - 07:53 PM.


#14 David Barnert

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 09:51 PM

While I agree with everything Jody said, above, I think something needs a little clarification. When he says

 

Example 1: ... That is playing two notes at a time starting with the interval of a major third.

 

and

 

Example 2: ... That is playing two notes at a time starting with the interval of a minor third.

 

The parallel strings of notes do not remain a major or minor 3rd apart beyond the first pair of notes (Jody implied that with his use of the word “starting,” but it bears emphasizing). They remain a 3rd apart, but the major/minor quality changes back and forth as dictated by the key signature. So if the melody goes CDEFG and the harmony (in parallel 3rds or 6ths) goes EFGAB, the 5 successive intervals are all 3rds, but only the first one and the last two are major. The other two are minor.

 

[edited for formatting]


Edited by David Barnert, 23 October 2017 - 09:52 PM.


#15 Don Taylor

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 10:18 PM

Ok, so in this style of harmonizing  the use of singular 4ths, 5ths and the occasional 7th are out, and the rhythm of the harmony notes mirrors the melody line?

 

Not the same as counterpoint, but then Bach did not play the concertina...



#16 David Barnert

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 07:08 PM

Ok, so in this style of harmonizing  the use of singular 4ths, 5ths and the occasional 7th are out, and the rhythm of the harmony notes mirrors the melody line?

 

Not at all. Parallel thirds (or sixths or tenths) isn't meant to be an exclusive technique, but a tool to be used in combination with other tools, including contrary motion, rhythmic variety, and other elements of counterpoint to build a meaningful harmony line. It would get kind of boring if a harmony line contained nothing but parallel motion from beginning to end, but parallel motion in thirds works very nicely as part of a harmony line.

 

Not the same as counterpoint, but then Bach did not play the concertina...

 

Here's a familiar example from your friend (and mine), old Mr. Bach. The opening measures of the Rondeau from the 2nd Orchestral Suite for flute and strings.

 
 
Interesting contrapuntal techniques all over the place, including parallel thirds for two measures between the 1st and 2nd violins (and the flute doubling the 1st violin).
 
I like to think that my bass lines on the Hayden Duet Concertina form a counterpoint with the melody that follow the same rules Bach was following (if not as ingeniously). Unfortunately, when I try to add a middle voice or two, the layout of the Hayden makes it very difficult to avoid parallel 5ths with the bass, which Mr. B would have frowned upon.


#17 blue eyed sailor

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 03:02 AM

 

Ok, so in this style of harmonizing  the use of singular 4ths, 5ths and the occasional 7th are out, and the rhythm of the harmony notes mirrors the melody line?

 

I like to think that my bass lines on the Hayden Duet Concertina form a counterpoint with the melody that follow the same rules Bach was following (if not as ingeniously). Unfortunately, when I try to add a middle voice or two, the layout of the Hayden makes it very difficult to avoid parallel 5ths with the bass, which Mr. B would have frowned upon.

 

 

No he almost certainly wouldn't..  :)

 

However, as concertinists we need to encourage ourselves re the use of parallel fifths anyway I reckon, mixing counterpoint with a more "folky" approach to accompaniment (just avoiding funniness like in KV 522, which wouldn't be even amusing if we'd try it ourselves).

 

Best wishes - Wolf



#18 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 04:27 AM

Yes, in practice any such rules or conventions or paradigms can fly in the face of actual musical performance and thank the lord that it is so. This is not a science but rather an art.

 

Always... Let your ear be your guide.

 

If it sounds wrong It is likely wrong, but not always.

 

If it sounds right... then you may be on to something. Perhaps something interesting.


Edited by Jody Kruskal, 25 October 2017 - 04:32 AM.





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