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#1 McDouglas

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 09:12 AM

I'm new to this forum and to the concertina community and need some advice.

 

A bit of background: I am a choral conductor and pianist. I'm the music director at a church in Dallas, Texas.  I read music fluently and play by ear a bit but not am not gifted this way.

 

In recent years I've discovered I enjoy a good stout in an Irish pub so have become curious about ITM (Irish Traditional Music) and that lead to doing some research on the concertina.

 

I understand in broad terms the different key arrangements and the terms unisonoric/bisonoric of the English, Anglo and Duet systems.

 

Here is my question:

as a pianist and music reader will I make faster progress with which system? What do you think will be more intuitive and therefore I will be able to manage the learning curve in order to make music?

 

I'm eager to hear your responses.

 

McDouglas in Dallas

 



#2 Ken_Coles

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 09:21 AM

In my experience the answer is that it is very personal.  Every one of us is wired differently, and what works for one doesn't fit well for another.  In Dallas you shouldn't be far from some of our members who can help you try the different systems yourself (and giving it a few days, rather than 15 minutes, can help also).  This is a sound way, uh, to find out what is most promising for you.

 

Of course my esteemed colleagues will chime in with many other opinions here!  I've seen ITM (and most other styles) played very well on every system of concertina.  Some folks think EC is easiest for reading music, but I actually read music better on Anglo and somehow like playing EC by ear.  And so on.  We have every kind of approach and style in the group here somewhere.

 

Welcome to the madness,

Ken



#3 Bubo

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 09:35 AM

Hi McDouglas! I also play piano but am not a pianist by any stretch of the imagination! I took up ITM on the Anglo about a year ago, and I think it made a lot of sense, because of my prior experience with piano.

 

I've been using the Online Academy of Irish Music https://oaim.ie Have you checked that out yet? It's been most helpful.

 

Help me out on this, everyone. I've always thought that the Anglo was THE concertina to play ITM on? Is this right?



#4 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 09:36 AM

Hi and welcome to the forum!

 

From my personal experience I would say: Try the EC (of course, you should - other than me, for whom it nevertheless turned out perfectly well - try out first how you're getting along with a system)! For me it was highly intuitive right from the start.

 

I will gladly come back to as to why later (as I'm busy with vocational things now), but in short: The EC provides a diatonic "core" (the center rows) with fully chromatic extensions (the outer rows), just like the piano keyboard with its white and black keys.

 

However, the choice of a system might depend on your personal way of playing the piano. I'm a pianist for more than 50 years now, and I have happily found out long ago, that I would never play "melody" (right hand) plus "chords" (left hand), but rather harmony incl. the melody (right hand) and bass incl. some augmentations (left hand). I reckon this rough sketch is not too cryptic for a fellow pianist...

 

Starting from there, the English systems is providing a unique capability of playing (as I'd put it) "interwoven" music, whereas the duet might offer easier access but as such rather in an accordian-style way (chords plus melody). Of course there are players (including fellow forum members) who are crossing these bounderies and play whatever they choose - but I can affirm that the English has been offering a quick and rewarding route to continue my playing the piano (and throwing in some fiddle as well, just to my taste!).

 

Best wishes for your concertina journey - Wolf


Edited by Wolf Molkentin, 06 December 2017 - 09:42 AM.


#5 W3DW

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 11:30 AM

When I read "faster progress" and "intuitive", I think Hayden duet. It follows the piano plan of chords/accompaniment on the left and melody/harmony voice on the right. Best of all, the pattern of the notes and chords is the same in the primary keys, and the greater the number of buttons, the more keys will follow this pattern. It's like playing in C all the time! Down side? They are the least common system, as there are no historical instruments to buy since it was (re-) discovered in the 60s.
Good news? An Elise model by Concertina Connection can get you started for about $450, and it plays easily in D, C, and G which will get you off in running at any session. I found mine to be a suitable first instrument, which I've since outgrown.

The comment that different systems appear logical and intuitive to different folks is entirely true. Anglo instruments are "traditional" to ITM, but I personally find different notes on push and pull to be illogical, and there are thousands of great Anglo players out there who would have it no other way! I think my piano background shaped my preferences.

Consider EC, too. It imitates the piano with sharps and flats adjacent to the natutal "white" keys. It's logical to me as well, but duet suits my desire to construct great accompaniment. Enjoy your search!

Edited by W3DW, 06 December 2017 - 11:34 AM.


#6 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 12:02 PM

Consider EC, too. It imitates the piano with sharps and flats adjacent to the natutal "white" keys. It's logical to me as well, but duet suits my desire to construct great accompaniment.

 
Though I'm not inclined to enter into a battle over "the best system" here, I would firmly advise anybody seeking orientation as to which type of concertina would suit him or her best not to simply adopt the common prejudice deeming the EC uncapable of "great accompaniment". Every one of us playing in a "harmonic" style, be it on the Anglo, EC or a Duet, has to avoid the temptation of making the accompaniment too big (and thus drowning the melody), and I'm still on my way with that. But apart from this common issue, it's rather about what kind of accompaniment.
 
If it is in fact about added harmony for you, you may want to give my latest attempt a listen as to how an accompanied tune might sound played on the EC.
 
Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by Wolf Molkentin, 06 December 2017 - 01:50 PM.


#7 Chris Ghent

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 12:28 PM

If you choose anything other than Anglo for ITM then you condemn yourself to life as an outlier with no access to teachers or collaboration and no top player role models. And while consideration of "which system" is almost always accompanied by discussion of layout, in/out/left/right, how the concertina is held is very relevant. The hand straps on the Anglo and the way in which it is held provide easier access to the explosive power needed to emphasise dance rhythms at speed.

#8 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 12:38 PM

If you choose anything other than Anglo for ITM then you condemn yourself to life as an outlier with no access to teachers or collaboration and no top player role models. And while consideration of "which system" is almost always accompanied by discussion of layout, in/out/left/right, how the concertina is held is very relevant. The hand straps on the Anglo and the way in which it is held provide easier access to the explosive power needed to emphasise dance rhythms at speed.

 

Chris, I wouldn't object by any means - maybe the OP could clarify, as my understanding was that ITM just had been an inducement for exploring concertina territory. There are players (namely Henrik Müller) who are playing ITM on an EC perfectly well, as far as I'm able to judge on that - but I guess it's a route to travel only with good reasons I'm not aware of here.

 

So if the OP is inclined to play ITM, there's apparently no denying a solid prima facie advantage of the Anglo.

 

Best wishes - Wolf



#9 W3DW

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 01:29 PM

Perhaps a word of explanation would help, Mr. McDouglas. When playing jigs and reels at speed in ITM, a bisonoric concertina (or accordion) is reversing bellows rapidly throughout the tune which creates a driving rhythm which has become part of the role of free reed instruments in this idiom. The wrist straps of an anglo (and a duet as well) are used to good advantage to give a crisp attack on the draw notes. It would take more effort on an EC, but folks do it gracefully.
Quite correctly, if ITC were your only goal, go anglo. I also enjoy ballads and hymns and songs for which the duet is ideally suited, and when I play at our local session, I reverse bellows in the same manner as I would on an anglo, and they invite me to return!

#10 Bubo

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 02:25 PM

I'm finding this discussion really interesting! I really don't know anything about the other systems - so I'll continue to read this and learn from you all! I'd love more information. How many different systems are their and what are their peculiarities?

 

This website is quite a goldmine for a novice like me.



#11 Don Taylor

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 04:23 PM

If you live in the US then give the Button Box a call and ask about their rental program. I believe that you can rent any of the Concertina Connection boxes (Anglo, EC or Duet) on a month by month basis. You can swap boxes for the price of the postage so you could spend a month, say, on each system to see what you like. Then, when you are ready to buy, part of the rental can be applied against the purchase of an instrument. Or you may simply conclude that the concertina is not for you and you would only be out the rental cost.


Edited by Don Taylor, 06 December 2017 - 04:24 PM.


#12 Chris Ghent

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 02:44 AM

 

If you choose anything other than Anglo for ITM then you condemn yourself to life as an outlier with no access to teachers or collaboration and no top player role models. And while consideration of "which system" is almost always accompanied by discussion of layout, in/out/left/right, how the concertina is held is very relevant. The hand straps on the Anglo and the way in which it is held provide easier access to the explosive power needed to emphasise dance rhythms at speed.

 

Chris, I wouldn't object by any means - maybe the OP could clarify, as my understanding was that ITM just had been an inducement for exploring concertina territory. There are players (namely Henrik Müller) who are playing ITM on an EC perfectly well, as far as I'm able to judge on that - but I guess it's a route to travel only with good reasons I'm not aware of here.

 

So if the OP is inclined to play ITM, there's apparently no denying a solid prima facie advantage of the Anglo.


 

Wolf, I think Henrik's modifications to the way you hold the EC mean it has the same advantages as an Anglo for ITM.



#13 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 03:58 AM

 

 

If you choose anything other than Anglo for ITM then you condemn yourself to life as an outlier with no access to teachers or collaboration and no top player role models. And while consideration of "which system" is almost always accompanied by discussion of layout, in/out/left/right, how the concertina is held is very relevant. The hand straps on the Anglo and the way in which it is held provide easier access to the explosive power needed to emphasise dance rhythms at speed.

 

Chris, I wouldn't object by any means - maybe the OP could clarify, as my understanding was that ITM just had been an inducement for exploring concertina territory. There are players (namely Henrik Müller) who are playing ITM on an EC perfectly well, as far as I'm able to judge on that - but I guess it's a route to travel only with good reasons I'm not aware of here.

 

So if the OP is inclined to play ITM, there's apparently no denying a solid prima facie advantage of the Anglo.


 

Wolf, I think Henrik's modifications to the way you hold the EC mean it has the same advantages as an Anglo for ITM.

 

Chris, you certainly have it right once again here - apart from the war of opinions about whether or not an unisonoric instrument is at all capable of the same "bounce" as the (bisonoric) Anglo (which I - having no experience myself in either playing the Anglo or ITM in the stricter sense - of course will let well alone)  :rolleyes:



#14 McDouglas

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 07:48 AM

Thank you all for your responses here.  Given my background and personal preferences it is more likely I will play classical literature than a steady diet of ITM.  Suppose I'l just have to keep frequenting pubs and enjoy a hearty stout along with some Irish music.  

Perhaps one day I will give an Anglo a try but for now I've settled on an EC.  Have found a preowned Jackie at Concertina Connection and it will be more than adequate for a beginner such as I.  I look forward to continuing to learn from this community.  



#15 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 07:51 AM

Thank you all for your responses here.  Given my background and personal preferences it is more likely I will play classical literature than a steady diet of ITM.  Suppose I'l just have to keep frequenting pubs and enjoy a hearty stout along with some Irish music.  

Perhaps one day I will give an Anglo a try but for now I've settled on an EC.  Have found a preowned Jackie at Concertina Connection and it will be more than adequate for a beginner such as I.  I look forward to continuing to learn from this community.  

 

May you do well and enjoy your experience then!

 

Best wishes - Wolf



#16 W3DW

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 03:35 PM

Great choice! Please keep us posted!

#17 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 03:45 PM

Yes, enjoy!

 

In my experience, the first concertina that you lay hands on and get to grips with will become your paradigm of "The Concertina," whatever system it is. And it doesn't really matter whether you chose the system after careful research, by inheriting it, or because it was the only one available at your price.

 

If you want to upgrade from an entry-level instrument to a beautiful vintage one, there are plenty of examples to choose from. But I bet it'll be an EC, in your case!

 

Cheers,

John



#18 W3DW

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 04:54 PM

You'll probably still want some great tunes to go with that pint, so drop by thesession.org which will give you the music to thousands of session tunes - you will find them ideal as you start to sort out fingers and buttons. Also, your EC has a small technical advantage over other systems because you get to share a fast melody between both your hands, while I gotta fly along with just my right. Jigs and reels!

My Elise was the duet cousin to your Jackie, and I hope yours will serve you just as well. Mine worked admirably as proof-of-concept trainer and was lots of fun too.





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