Jump to content


Photo

"full Band", Barrel-Organ Style Arrangements?


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 ritonmousquetaire

ritonmousquetaire

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 09 February 2018 - 11:04 AM

Hello everybody,

 

I know that the "full band" characterization I used in the title is not very clear. To be more precise, I refer to a style - whose name I don't know - in which the bass is usually based on the "oom-pah" or "oom-pah-pah" pattern, with some additional short runs, and in which the right-hand work (let's call it like that) not only carries the melody, but also enriches it using chords or short melodic passages when the melody note is held down long enough. The repertoire is mostly composed - it seems - of marches, polkas, waltzes...

 

It's a kind of sound that I associate with the sort of "full" arrangements that can be heard on barrel organs - it's a fair sound.

 

These kind of arrangements have been played on some instruments of the bellow family. Here are a few examples :

 

On the CBA, some records by V. Marceau fit in that category. Marceau had a very rich left hand compared to most accordion players, and made a different use of his right hand than most musette players (who favored fast chromatic melodic licks over chord work). Here is a video when you can see him playing solo : https://youtu.be/bttQfTkgHH0?t=38s 

 

On this page : http://gallica.bnf.f...8/bpt6k1311023gYou can here another accordionist (named Delepierre - I can't find any infos about him) playing in the same style.

 

On the Chemnitzer concertina, I stumbled upon a few videos by Maureen Dwyer which correspond to what I'm trying to describe : https://www.youtube....h?v=TR3JXEU03Gwor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmcKZFiUI-g Here again, right hand is not only playing the melody, but enriching it with chords, etc.

 

So, my questions are :

 

1 - Do anyone here knows a proper name to describe that kind of music?

 

2 - Do you have any examples of this kind of arrangements being played on the concertina?

The anglo is well suited to oom-pah music, but it's limited number of notes available in either push or pull position makes it difficult to play complex (and even not so complex) melodies.

These arrangements seem to be technically out of the english concertina's range - even simple oom-pah arrangements are extremely rare on the instrument. I can think of a few, for instance Jody Kruskal's recent arrangement of Shostakovich's famous waltz ( http://www.concertin...showtopic=19996), or a waltz on Danny Chapman's website (look here http://www.rowlhouse.co.uk/concertina/music/ in the Tunes for Louise files), yet these examples don't sound as "full" as the videos I linked to above.

The duet concertina would seem to be the best suited of all to this kind of music, but there are surprisingly few videos out there featuring it playing even a simple oom-pah bass. The closest examples to what I'm searching for are JeffLeff's videos on youtube, especially these two : https://www.youtube....h?v=5PDvPkV_-TMa waltz medley and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDVrHqQkMC0 where his right hand work is really good.

Do you know of any other examples?

 

3 What, in your opinion, is the best layout to play it? I'm an anglo player myself; but having looked at the Hayden keyboard it seems to be well fitted to the kind of right hand work that would be necessary, while some other duets layouts (the crane one for instance) would make it more difficult - once again this is only based on the look I had at the layout; I haven't tested any duet concertinas so I can't tell if this is actually the case.

 

I'd be glad to hear your opinions on this.

 

Best,

Riton



#2 Geoff Wooff

Geoff Wooff

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2128 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:France

Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:42 PM

Hi  Riton, 

 

I'm not sure I have a better  name  for this  sort of  brass band  style  but there are a few examples  by  Alexander Prince  on Youtube... try  his  "skottlandspojkar polka"...  Even though most of Prince's  recordings have  Piano accompaniment  which  tends to  mask the  left hand work, the  suitability of   any  duet concertina for this kind of  arrangement  is  clear.  Having independant  keyboards  for each hand  of the duet  is a great  help  but the single  voice  of each note obivously does not allow the full sound of  an accordeon  or barrel organ  with  their multiple  reeds.

 

Of course  Marceau's  CBA  had a few more voices  than the average  accordéon  too.

 

Tongue  in cheek:  the best layout  to try these  'full on '  arrangements  is  the one you know best.   I  have tried this  sort of thing  on  the MacCann  and Hayden  duets  but came back to  the English  which I 've played for much longer. 


Edited by Geoff Wooff, 09 February 2018 - 01:55 PM.


#3 W3DW

W3DW

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 26 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Georgia, USA

Posted 09 February 2018 - 02:18 PM

I really enjoyed the Maureen Dwyer link you attached-it reminds me of my marching band days, though her tune has a much more advanced chord structure than the marching repertoire!
JeffLeff is doing a great job on his Hayden, and you'd have to be amazingly talented to get a significantly bigger and richer sound than the arrangement he has recorded. Is this the sound you are after?
Ms. Dwyer's instrument has SO much more going for it than a Concertina! Multiple reeds and the greater range do so much for the presentation, and the huge keyboard makes the chord sequences more orderly and accessible than a concertina of any description. Even a middling accordion of any design would make a far more satisfying rendition of this musical style.
But if you find LeffNeff's approach satisfying, that's wonderful. All of us here work to get the most out of our delightfully portable concertinas, and I, for one, enjoy the game.
I play a 52 button Hayden Beaumont, which is about as many buttons as you can practically obtain in this modern system. Yes, I still wish it had a few more buttons, for convenience, but it has everything I need. I am attracted to the logical pattern of the Hayden. However, there is a good supply of larger Mccann vintage concertinas available at good prices, and they would clearly help make a bigger sound. Go to the Button Box site for two current examples of larger Mccanns. I found them a bit big for my plans and definitely wanted a Hayden, but your view may differ.
Welcome! I look forward to hearing what you come up with.
Daniel

#4 gcoover

gcoover

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Land of Aloha

Posted 09 February 2018 - 02:54 PM

It's hard to beat the full sound of Michael Hebbert's Jeffries Duet at fuel steam. See his brilliant album "The Rampin' Cat".

 

But unfortunately these instruments are hard to find... and even harder to play!

 

 

Gary



#5 ritonmousquetaire

ritonmousquetaire

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 09 February 2018 - 06:18 PM

Thanks all for your answers!

 

Geoff > Thanks for the Prince reference. I wonder why they always had to add this piano accompaniment to his performances - it would have been great to hear his left hand work more. It's true that the multiple reeds question have a large influence on the band-like sound of the videos I linked to; I hesitated to comment directly on this issue in my first post. I think that a well-thought, "complete" arrangement can to some extent overcome that "limit" - JeffLeff's video are almost perfect to me. But you're right, it has to be taken into account as well.

 

W3DW > Yes, that's the sound that attracts me the most at the moment. Of course, chemnitzers or accordion have their multiple reeds and so on, but as you say, the concertina is delightfully portable (that's really a nice way to put it!), and this really makes it (at least in my opinion) a charming instrument. Thanks a lot for your feedback on the Hayden system. I'll have a closer look at the MacCann - they indeed seem more accessible.

 

gcoover > I had never heard of Michael Hebbert, thanks a lot for pointing to him! I had a listen at the extracts that are available online and some of his records definitely have this full-band sound going on (by the way it seems that there are some other records of him available here : http://buskinlondon....michael-hebbert). I haven't really given a look at the Jeffries duet system because it looks more complicated than the other ones, but this example proves that it can be really powerful. I'll look deeper into that.



#6 Daniel Hersh

Daniel Hersh

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2173 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:near Oakland, California

Posted 10 February 2018 - 12:31 AM

You might listen to Fred Kilroy on the Anglo International CD set.  I don't know if any of his recordings are available online.



#7 ceemonster

ceemonster

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1352 posts

Posted 10 February 2018 - 01:01 AM

RE "proper term" for this genre of music:  Believe it or not, the music in your examples often goes under the umbrella term, "Oom-Pah music."  If you Google "Oom-Pah Music," or, "German Oom-Pah Music," you can find lots of fascinating intel.  Not all oom-pah bands feature free-reed instruments, but the accordion and the chemnitzer concertina do have their niches.  Excerpted from one online intro:

 

[[[Oom-pah is a term that' become slang for a large body of traditional German, Austrian, Swiss, and Eastern European music.  . . . This is not a single style of music, but a wide variety of styles including Polkas, Mazurkas, Scottisches, Waltzes, and Landler. . . . ]]]  This write-up also mentions "the Prussian & Austrian military bands of the late 19th & early 20th centuries," which is indeed what some of this music calls to mind.  

 

Much typical Oom-Pah band music involves brass instruments and/or clarinet.  In free-reed instruments, the robust chordal arranging on the right-hand melody side is simply a way of making a hell of a lot of joyful noise for dancers, often in a setting when the accordion or chemnitzer IS serving as the entire band or nearly the entire band.  The calliope you hear in merry-go-rounds is Oom-Pah derived, and definitely has that chordal quality to the melody.

 

One of the factors you're hearing that distinguishes Oom-Pah on free reed instruments is, in most traditions there is a low reed in the multiple voices you are hearing.  Classic Oom-Pah chemnitzer is a bandoneon with at least one low reed in the mix, and Oom-Pah accordion is usually played with multiple reed sets including a low set in there.    Whether you find this sound a "joyful noise," or a menace to society, is subjective, though watching the marvelous Maureen Dowd one wonders why there would be any debate.

 

If you don't miss the low reed, and don't mind sounding not quite classic traditional Oom-Pah,  you can play this stuff fine and dandy on concertina . . but as stated above, a duet with plenty of notes would be the optimal way to go.  It doesn't matter which system.  The one drawback to Maccann or particularly Jeffries, is the longer time it will take you to memorize their layout since it is not a repeating consistent pattern as on Crane and Hayden (just about).  But all duet systems will play this stuff wonderfully, if you don't mind the pitch sounding higher and the timbre being different with only one voice and no low reed.   


Edited by ceemonster, 10 February 2018 - 01:02 AM.


#8 ritonmousquetaire

ritonmousquetaire

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 11 February 2018 - 09:48 AM

Daniel Hersh > thanks for the name! I have the english international set but not the anglo one. I'll try to get a copy.

 

ceemonster > "Oom-pah music" - as simple as that! I should have thought about it. Thanks for pointing it out. Yes, the multiple-reed issue is certainly important. It's sort of a tone vs arrangement issue here - can a good arrangement overcome the lack of multiple reeds? As long as the result is enjoyable, I think it's fine.



#9 Anglo-Irishman

Anglo-Irishman

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1503 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Near Stuttgart, Germany

Posted 11 February 2018 - 11:57 AM

ceemonster > "Oom-pah music" - as simple as that!

Is "barrel-organ" music really as simple as that? I find your original description much more fitting: "I refer to a style - whose name I don't know - in which the bass is usually based on the "oom-pah" or "oom-pah-pah" pattern, with some additional short runs, and in which the right-hand work (let's call it like that) not only carries the melody, but also enriches it using chords or short melodic passages when the melody note is held down long enough. The repertoire is mostly composed - it seems - of marches, polkas, waltzes...

 

"Oom-pah-pah" is not so much typical of certain instruments or bands - it's more typical of certan dance rhythms.  More precisely, waltz rhythms, which were also used extensively for song tunes in the barrel-organ's heyday. The waltz is danced three steps to a bar, and the music is written in 3/4 time, i.e. three beats to the bar - but the tunes typically have a minim and a crotchet (a half and a quarter note) in most bars. To get the tune synchronised with the feet, the rhythm has to go "ONE-two-three", which comes across as "Oom-pah-pah".

There is a lot of waltz-type and similar music in Germany, so the finger-style guitar forms a mainstay of traditional music (e.g. Stubenmusi). In Ireland, where every beat that you need to accompany a danced jig is present in the jig tunes, there was never a need for the guitar or other "rhythm" instrument. A fiddle or a flute was always enough.

 

For me, what is typical of the barrel-organ is the total independence of the number of fingers the player has! It can play big, fat chords in the bass and treble simultaneously to the melody, and execute a chromatic demi-semiquaver run while doing so. I'd like to see the duet concertina virtuoso that could emulate that!

 

Cheers,

John



#10 ceemonster

ceemonster

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1352 posts

Posted 11 February 2018 - 12:38 PM

[[["Oom-pah-pah is not so much typical of certain instruments or bands]]]

 

You seem not to have read my post, or investigated the terms I referred the OP to.   I was not discussing "oom-pah-pah" in the generic, colloquial sense people on this site (me included) often mean when discussing types of rhythmic bass, etc.   I was referring the OP to this term as it is used, unbeknownst to many, in a proper-noun sense, (n.b., the upper-case in all parts of the term), an umbrella term used by the initiated, for the music of several regions, which the examples the OP gave in the original question, do indeed fall into.   The OP's examples were not limited to the barrel organ.    The OP was asking if there is an actual proper-noun name covering these examples.    Indeed, there is.  It's just that the term "oom-pah-pah" also has a generic sense, and most people are aware of that, but have no clue there is also a proper-noun umbrella term in the ethnomusicology sense.



#11 Jody Kruskal

Jody Kruskal

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1637 posts
  • Location:New York City

Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:37 PM

Hi Riton,

 

I understand what you mean by 'full band" and this is the sound I have been striving to achieve on the Anglo for many years with some success. I think of this melodic accompaniment style as containing as many elements of the whole band as possible, yet played on a single free reed instrument.

To achieve that goal, the melody and the bass/harmony must both be there, of course, but they must also go hand in hand with internal lines that sometimes reinforce the melody, sometimes the harmony, or the bass or even more importantly...the rhythm.

As I practice I try to play an unfamiliar song or tune in several ways, with as many buttons going as possible. Then I mix and match those several ways, switching between them at will in performance.

After learning to maximize the number of buttons pressed, the next step is to decide how to keep everything (melody, harmony, bass and internal lines as well as the all important rhythm) going with as few buttons as possible. For instance, these elements can take turns in coming forward in the arrangement. Choosing which buttons not to play is just as important.  In performance, I love to explore contrasting density and sparseness.

The “full band”  is a glorious sound on the Anglo. Yes, it can sound very music box and calliope-ish... but it doesn't have to. There are ways to mitigate that tendency to some degree. To help with that, I like to listen to the piano greats like Fats Waller and the guitar greats like John Hurt.

 
 
 

 

 
 
 


Edited by Jody Kruskal, 11 February 2018 - 04:38 PM.


#12 adrian brown

adrian brown

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 497 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amsterdam, NL

Posted 12 February 2018 - 05:13 AM

I think one of the problems one has in trying to do these sort of arrangements on an anglo is the diatonic lower octave. As soon as the harmony modulates you start missing sharps or flats and have to start faking it. It's a lot of fun of course to see how far you can go and with experience, you learn to see by looking at the score, whether a certain piece can be tweaked into an anglo-friendly version. However it's never going to be as straightforward as on a duet and will nearly always require a certain amount of compromise. 

 

I'm not sure if you would include music hall songs in your definition Riton, but I've found in practice that these can be faked a lot easier than instrumental pieces along the lines of Sousa et al. When you have a song to keep the interest going, the compromises I've outlined above can be made a bit more convincing.

 

Finally I guess it's worth pointing out that smaller barrel organs and musical boxes often miss part, or parts of their lowest octave too, and the pieces are arranged to compensate for this. If you have a 30+ anglo, you could retune one or more of the extra bass notes to give you a bit more flexibility - it's amazing what having a low F# would do in this respect, although personally, I've always found a low D to be more useful for our main repertoire.

 

Adrian



#13 Mikefule

Mikefule

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 686 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lincolnshire, UK

Posted 12 February 2018 - 12:32 PM

I'd call it the harmonic style: melody mainly on the right hand, accompaniment mainly on the left.

 

Even on a 20 b Anglo there is a lot you can do, with several variants of the main chords, and a few partial chords available too.  On a 30 b, whole new vistas open, and beyond 30, you can play some very rich accompaniment indeed.

 

Often there is less "going on" than you might think.  For example, what sounds like playing 3 parts may be the result of putting down the 1st and 5th of the chord together, then filling in the 3rd, or you may hold a pedal point (a note that is common to two consecutive chords) and then change the chord around it.  Arpeggios ate also very useful, and can walk up or down tot he next note of the tune.

 

Another favourite trick is if the same note appears twice in succession (or there is a long note) then change the chord on each beat.  For example, the note G appears the chords of G major, C major, E minor and A 7th. 

 

The Anglo is capable of so much more than single note melodies, playing in octaves, or imitating a melodeon's oom-pah style.  Keith Kendrick, who was my first Anglo teacher, called it the "thinking man's piano".  I call it the Rubik's cube you can play with in the dark.



#14 ritonmousquetaire

ritonmousquetaire

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 February 2018 - 06:31 PM

Anglo-irishman > I agree with you when you point out that many characteristic barrel-organ "licks" wouldn't be feasible even on large instruments. But what I was trying to describe was not necessarily playing a note-for-note arrangement for the barrel organ on a concertina (for instance), but rather to arrange music in a way that recreates the kind of several parts at once sound that can be heard on a barrel organ, even if in a less complex way. I don't know if I'm very clear here.

 

Jody Kruskal > Yes, I think you tackle it right : it's all about these internal lines in addition to the bass + melody combo. It's what makes the sound richer. I hadn't thought about switching ways during the performance, but that's a good idea indeed, to add more variation. I had a look at some of your videos on the anglo and have got to say that you really managed to get a nice, full sound.

 

Adrian Brown > Yes, music hall songs would certainly fit - I mentioned the waltzes and marches as the kind of music that seem to dominate the genre, but I guess any piece can fit as long as it's arranged to sound in the way I described in my first post. I play the anglo myself, but in the 20-keys version, which is very limited. Yet as you say it can be quite fun trying to overcome its limits by thinking of other ways to play a piece, but sometimes I wish I had more buttons. That barrel organs can also be limited is an interesting point; it would be interesting to look at the arrangements that are done within these limits, but I doubt they exist in the sheet music form.

 

Mikefule > In the style I tried to describe, the right hand also plays a role at accompanying - or at least at enriching - the melody, with chords or short counter-melodies or ornaments... I was looking at an accordion method the other day and stumbled a brief description of that kind of right-hand work (the method even included a primitive barrel-organ imitation!); it called it "polyphonic style". Not very different to what you suggest! Thanks for the "one chord per beat" trick, I'll try to see if I can achieve it on my instrument.



#15 Mikefule

Mikefule

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 686 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lincolnshire, UK

Posted 12 February 2018 - 07:24 PM

 

 

Mikefule > In the style I tried to describe, the right hand also plays a role at accompanying - or at least at enriching - the melody, with chords or short counter-melodies or ornaments... I was looking at an accordion method the other day and stumbled a brief description of that kind of right-hand work (the method even included a primitive barrel-organ imitation!); it called it "polyphonic style". Not very different to what you suggest! Thanks for the "one chord per beat" trick, I'll try to see if I can achieve it on my instrument.

I've never managed countermelodies on the same hand.  However, on the right hand, I sometimes ornament with parallel thirds, and sometimes, The lower of the two notes is vamped while the higher (melody) note is held.



#16 Jody Kruskal

Jody Kruskal

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1637 posts
  • Location:New York City

Posted 13 February 2018 - 06:54 AM

Hey Mike, I think you have nailed it when you say...

 

"The lower of the two notes is vamped while the higher (melody) note is held."

 

That's the way I play. Some notes are held, and others are short. Variable button duration, as you say, is a valuable tool to shape a rhythm and to set a melody free from its rhythmic constraints. We want the rhythm and harmony to be there, but we also want to avoid covering up the all important melody in a solo concertina  arrangement, right?. Variable button duration is the key to that for the concertina.

 

The amazing Um Pa concept can be played on a a single note ... using the bellows and the button off as a rhythmic accent to do the work.

 

Um Pa is not only about harmony. ex:1 35, 1 35

 

but rather a basic concept that connects with dancers and the human body in motion as we step through a dance and foot it with a Right, Left, Right, Left.

 

Um Pa can be further understood in terms of range as in: Low, High, Low High

 

or dynamics as in: medium, loud, soft, loud

 

or duration as in: long short, long short.

 

The Um Pa concept has all of these five elements together: Harmony, Rythmn, Range, Dynamics and Duration wrapped up in one delicious all purpose dancing package that makes folks take notice or even scream with delight.

 

Um Pa is the bomb!


Edited by Jody Kruskal, 13 February 2018 - 08:29 AM.


#17 Rod

Rod

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1064 posts

Posted 13 February 2018 - 08:32 AM

Riton must give serious consideration to treating himself to an Anglo with at least 30 buttons.

#18 Jody Kruskal

Jody Kruskal

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1637 posts
  • Location:New York City

Posted 14 February 2018 - 04:13 AM

Sure, 30 button would be far, far, far better, but 20 will work for lots of great stuff. Limitations are the stuff of invention and you can quote me on that.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users