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Concertina Contemplation


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#1 yerpalal

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 11:51 PM

Received my copy of the A. Atlas tutor today. Want to very highly recomend it. Its a complete overview of the English Concertina from the 19th cent. to today. It will inevitably be seen as a starting point for the future of the instrument . My hearty congratulations and thanks to AA and RM and the others involved. Nothing could be more welcome. The section on "favorite keys" , the bellows control pages , its the best thing that exists for the instrument to date. Not a entry level "method" but a real eye opener for anyone who is a music reader and wants to advance their approach to the instrument. As everyone out there will get a copy, let me know what you think. Very significant work that will raise the bar for all concerned. AW
and now the hoard of motile smilies..... here they come.... :unsure: :unsure: (doesn't know the cycle of 5ths)" :rolleyes: :rolleyes: (found a fingering for the chromatic scale that never had occoured to them) :blink: :blink: (mind boggled by playing F# major scale)

#2 BruceB

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 11:10 PM

Got my copy the other day too. Makes me realize just how much more I need to work on scales & arpeggios. Was just playing Regondi's Golden Exercise, which was harder than it looked. I too found the chapter on belllows control interesting. How about the stuff on bowing valves? I still don't get how they would be useful beyond just an air button.
I also found the discussion about using the pinky fingers to be interesting. I do use mine sometimes, mostly on some tunes in Hopkinson's Dancing with Ma Baby. The Hopkinson & Atlas books really compliment each other well, I think.
I do my thumbs differently too. I don't put them in the thumb straps too far, just the tips stick out. I also don't tighten the straps too much, my thumbs are just barely loose, which is just a tad looser than barely snug. With my thumbs this way, plus the fact I sometimes remove my pinkies from the rests, I can move pretty freely around the buttons. Whatever is most comfortable.
bruce boysen

#3 yerpalal

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 09:35 AM

BB, Yep The golden exercise is interesting, sort of forces the issue, requires the instrument to do that which it/we may rather not. Chromaticism on the EC is difficult and this text will help everything, by pointing out and giving examples of just about every situation I have encountered that was problematic. Its fantastic and exactly what I have been waiting for. I will try to temper my zeal in the future.
I was wondering if there were any suggested tempos for some of the examples and exercises ? Did Alsepti suggest a tempo for the Regondi exerciso de'ore ? Was there a tempo indication on the repeated note exercise from the Case Instructions ? A sugestion for the Tempesta exerpt ? Kreutzer usually doesn't give exact tempo so 3.11 is marked in the Kreutzer as Moderato (tranquillo). Its all very cool. Glad to have this to work on. Hope others will chime in with their observations and questions. I can't resist: here they come the weird little yellow things, someone must animate the little nipper with the concertina, my finger reaches forth and behold---- :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :unsure: :unsure: :blink: :blink: :o :o ;) Regards, AW

#4 allan atlas

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 06:56 PM

GOOD FOLKS: first, thanks for your kind comments about the tutor. . . . . .and thanks also for the generous kudos for the button box. . . . .

let me reply to a few things:

(1) bruce hit one thing right on the head: do what's comfortable. . . . .i try to stress that over and over. . . . .

(2) as far as i know, there are no indications of tempo for any of the exercises in any of the tutors. . . . . .at least none come to mind. . . . .i'd take the alsepti slowly, almost letting the fingers dig into the keys. . . .as deliberately as possible. . . . .and then gradually speed up the tempo as one gets comfortable with it. . . . .i think it might be the single best exercise in any of the tutors. . . .this because it gets away from the robot-like patterns that most of us so easily fall into given the layout of the buttonboard...................

(3) i certainly can't claim to have hit upon every possible fingering for the chromatic scale. . . . .

(4) circle of fifths: this happens when one progresses as follows: C down to F, down to B flat, down to E flat, down to A flat, etc . . . . . in other words, each succeeding key (or tonal area) is a fifth lower than the proceeding one. . . . .

(5) TWO TYPOS: (a). . . .in the chapter on single-note technique, you'll see that footnote 23 comes before footnote 22. . . .what happened???. . . .this: note that footnote 22 is in a caption for the Carolan piece. . . . .i think we originally intended for the caption and music to appear a little earlier, but it had to be moved in order to get the whole piece on a single page. . . . .(B) there is a BAD TYPO in the last tune in the tutor: Skinner's MATHEMATICIAN: measure 18/second note. . . .don't know how that "3" got under the c-sharp. . . .one would have to be a contortionist. . . . .IN FACT. . . i would welcome any notes about typographical errors or other problems. . . .proofreading the fingering was murder..........Allan


P.S.: have no idea how the little guy with shades got in there............

Edited by allan atlas, 03 October 2003 - 06:58 PM.


#5 JimLucas

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 01:59 AM

(4)  circle of fifths:  ...each succeeding key (or tonal area) is a fifth lower than the proceeding one. . . . .

Of course, one can take the circle of fifths in either direction, with each succeeding key being either a fifth higher (C-G-D, etc.) or lower (C-F-Bb, etc.) than the preceding one.

#6 Ken_Coles

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 07:30 AM

Allan et al.,

I need to put up some info about your book (and at least one other recent re-release from a C.netter) on one of the static pages. If you want to collect any typos I can include that...maybe we can even format it into a page folks can print out. I have Allan's book, and passed it around at the Portsmouth festival (interested reactions from several accomplished players of EC). Even though I can barely play English system, I couldn't resist tackling "Old One Hundredth" (or whatever it is called). Good fun.

Ken

#7 allan atlas

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 07:46 AM

DEAR JIM: the term "circle of fifths" customarily refers to the chain of fifths in DESCENDING order. . . .or moving "flatwards" (as each succeeding step will have more flats or, upon "reaching the edge", fewer sharps). . . .and it is the DESCENDING direction in which most extended jaunts around the circle of fifths in the music of the "common practice" tonal period (say roughly Bach to Brahms) will take place. . . .

if, on the other hand, the music moves in an ASCENDING direction (or sharpwards), C G D A E, etc. . . .the term "circle of fifths" is almost ALWAYS qualified as follows: one says that the passage is moving in an "ascending circle of fifths". . . . .

again, without the qualifier, it's the descending motion that music analysts have in mind...............allan

P.S.: i've replied to Ken's notice by e-mail.............

Edited by allan atlas, 04 October 2003 - 07:52 AM.


#8 Sandy Winters

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 09:37 AM

Allan, you are, of course, absolutely correct about the general use of the term circle of fifths. A clarification may be that the important aspect of the circle of fifths is the 'functional' (as in functional harmony) aspect of the relationship between the succession of notes. The first note 'resolves' to the following note, that is, the fifth or dominant resolves to the one or tonic.

I would add that the circle of fifths is used extensively to this day in jazz harmony. The "2-5-1" (say, Dm-G7-C) progression is a foundation of jazz composition and improvisation.

Edited by Sandy Winters, 04 October 2003 - 09:42 AM.


#9 allan atlas

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 10:32 AM

SANDY: you've hit the nail on the head. . . . .the progression around the circle of fifths is, perhaps, the most basic progression in music written within the system that we call "functional harmony". . . . .basically the system that evolved during the seventeenth century, was explained most cogently in the eighteenth by Rameau (and his theory of fundamental bass), and eventually petered out, at least among the "avant-garde" at the tail end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries (having been pushed to its limits, in a way, in the music of Wagner and Liszt)...................allan

#10 yerpalal

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 12:12 PM

Cheers all, The Tutor is great. Whatever your level, if you play English," Get This Book". As a general question to AA, I ask what method you would recomend for the non music readers to get their skills up to speed. What method would serve as a companion to Contemplation ? Ms. De Snoo's perhaps ? Others ? Do tell. AW ( what follows is an unfortunate misuse of clickable smilies what I will doubtless regret in a more lucid moment ) but...... :huh: :o :unsure: :blink: :ph34r: ;) :ph34r: :blink: :huh:

#11 Peter Dyson

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 03:05 PM

I have just got my copy too. Not only has it improved my playing, it has also changed the way I think about my playing.

Peter Dyson
Bellingham, WA

#12 allan atlas

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 03:35 PM

FOLKS: i'm not entirely sure what's meant by "non-" music readers. . . . . .the tutor by De Snoo has the advantage of having a CD with it, so that one can pick things up by ear. . . . . .there are two new tutors for beginners by Les Branchett and Dick Miles. . . . both are listed in the bibliography of tutors compiled by Randy Merris and available (the bibliography, that is) on the maccann-duet website. . . . .

perhaps any or all of those are the obvious starting places. . . .the tutors by Branchett and Miles will be reviewed in volume 1 of PAPERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONCERTINA ASSOCIATION, due out in Fall 2004, in both hard copy for ICA members and on their website for those who are not. . . . . .

my own tutor will NOT be reviewed there, since, as editor of PICA, that would be an egregious conflict of interest. . . . .in addition, Ms. De Snoo has, for reasons known only to herself, asked that we not review her tutor, a request with which we will comply..............

hope that helps. . . .and sincere thanks for the kind words................it really is gratifying to know that one's work is benefiting others................

finally, Peter hit it right on the head. . . . .it was to make people think about what they're doing that i undertook the project in the first place. . . . .i really would prefer people to disagree with me in a thoughtful fashion than simply to accept what i say uncritically......................Allan

Edited by allan atlas, 04 October 2003 - 03:37 PM.


#13 yerpalal

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 10:59 AM

AA, When refering to non music readers I was "fishing" for your recomendation for a beginers tutor for folks who might be thinking of "taking up" English Concertina with no prior musical experience. Thanks for making the recomendations , people might find them useful.
You mention in your historic contemplation the the eastern european "school" of playing developed independently of the 19th cent. English tutors. I know that you studied with Matusewitch. What were his teaching methods and how did they differ from the English tutors ? Did he relie entirely on transcriptions and selections from the violin and flute sources ? Al W.
I will in "future" restrain myself from further use of smilies. :unsure: :blink: :rolleyes: :unsure: :blink: :rolleyes: :unsure: :blink:

#14 allan atlas

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Posted 11 October 2003 - 09:23 PM

FOLKS: to answer the last set of questions re: Boris Matusewitch's teaching methods:

(1) he did not use or, for that matter, ever refer (at least in my presence) to any of the victorian tutors; i doubt that he had copies of any; and i doubt that he was even acquainted with them (perhaps his son, Eric, will correct me);

(2) his own repertory contained very little of the victorian material; he played the "Andantino" section only of Regondi's Morceau de Salon: Andantino et Capriccio-Mazurka, which, remember, was published as an independent composition and excerpts from which i give in the tutor; i know that he also played the Molique Concerto in G; i cannot -- now many years removed from my studies with him -- recall that he played any other pieces from that repertory (at least not when he performed in public);

(3) his repertory consisted largely of pieces originally written for the violin (plus a few from the repertories of other "melody" instruments -- the flute, for example), and extended from about Corelli through the nineteenth century; he was not particularly comfortable with twentieth-century music; he did not so much "transcribe" or "arrange" these pieces as he played them virtually note for note, making only the smallest modifications when these were necessary for the instrument; another part of his repertory consisted of non-violin music as arranged by violinists; thus he played (as i did) the absolutely gorgeous Chopin Nocturne in D-flat, for which there's an arrangement by the nineteenth-century violinist Wilhelmj, who transposes it into D major; he also played together with his brother on occasion, as he did also with other concertinists; a favorite of his in this respect was the Bach Concerto in D minor for two violins, which i played with him

(4) he also played music from the "light"-classical repertory, and turned out many arrangements for concertina of music from the Broadway musical tradition;

(5) as "exercise" material he used violin tutors: Kreutzer, Wolfhart, et al.;

In all, his way of looking at the instrument was not at all influenced by the victorians, though i should point out that the victorians themselves thought of the concertina at least to some extent as being perfectly suitable for violin (and flute) music. . . . .they themselves take pride in pointing this out, and perhaps i should have said a bit more about that in the tutor; in the end, though, the traditions were different. . . . .i would also say that his approach to the instrument was that of a practical/performing musician. . . . . .there were no absolute rules. . . . . .he didn't theorize about how to play. . . . .he simply played, solving each technical problem as it arose. . . . .if i end up taking more or less the same approach, i can credit it (and i think it is credit-worthy) to him.............Allan

Edited by allan atlas, 11 October 2003 - 09:25 PM.


#15 yerpalal

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Posted 12 October 2003 - 09:43 PM

AA, Thanks for all the information regarding BM and his teaching methods. I wonder if any of his arrangements of the " light calssical " or Broadway show tunes are kicking around in any of his former students collections ?
His use of Kreutzer is interesting. Its usually seen as preperation for the business of concertos, and often is a "lifes work" for a violinsit. # 14 is not an easy etude on fiddle. I will find the Wilhelmj. The concertina will help me "take two birds with one stone".
I tend to agree with the practical approach and the idea of avoiding rule making.
So if BM was unaware or disinterested in the 19th cent English tutors as you say, what were his thoughts about the 4 finger style. Did he ever employ the small finger for chords ? Lines ?, or was he always in the rests with his "pinkie". At the concert at the grad center last year I was careful to watch WW as he played his selections and seemed to notice that when he used the 4th finger it was only in one hand at a time, which would seem to be necessary to stabilize the instrument. Does Alsepti or Rigondi ever actually asign one finger to each row , or is it more of a 4 on demand type of thing. The examples in Contemplation would seem to indicate the later.AW

#16 allan atlas

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 05:29 PM

DEAR V AND FOLKS: to answer the questions one at a time, though not in the order asked:

(1) B.M. never used the fourth finger. . . .never. . .. .never. . . . .never. . . . .as you can see, i mean NEVER...................

(2) Alsepti does set up a "rule" whereby each finger is assigned its complementary row: 1st finger (index) first row, 2nd finger, second row, etc. etc. etc. . . . .however, he breaks the rule quite often. . . .i think i mention in the tutor that just in the Golden Exercise he breaks his own rule fifty some odd times. . . . .Regondi did not set up any such rule. . . . .as far as i can tell, it was in fact 4th finger on demand

(3) some years ago, Eric Matusewitch deposted a hefty carton's worth of his father's arrangements at the Button Box. . . . .as far as i know, Eric also has a set. . . . .it would be wonderful if someone published a selection of them. . . .either in hard copy or on-line......................allan

#17 goran rahm

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 09:47 AM

Al:"I tend to agree with the practical approach and the idea of avoiding rule making.
So if BM was unaware or disinterested in the 19th cent English tutors as you say, what were his thoughts about the 4 finger style. Did he ever employ the small finger for chords ? Lines ?, or was he always in the rests with his "pinkie". At the concert at the grad center last year I was careful to watch WW as he played his selections and seemed to notice that when he used the 4th finger it was only in one hand at a time, which would seem to be necessary to stabilize the instrument. Does Alsepti or Rigondi ever actually asign one finger to each row , or is it more of a 4 on demand type of thing. The examples in Contemplation would seem to indicate the later.AW"

Goran: Excuse me for breaking in...
Alsepti surely (in the tutor) did "asign one finger to each row" but in practise (even IN the tutor) evidently did not follow his own rule!! ;-) ...not surprising since it simply doesn't work....Regondi on the other hand rather used the principle 'all fingers on all rows' !! ;-)
The ideological approach by WW in my impression is meant to be the one of Regondi but like you have noticed Al it is not easy to practise consequently and using a neck- (rather shoulder- ) strap is a way to achieve a little bit more stabilization along with trying( since it may be be quite difficult) to use the base of the hand on the end of the instrument for another point of contact.
The use of the 4th finger in my view really IS one of the basic clues in (english) concertina playing and one of the resulting problems is IF/WHEN to take the step to liberate it...not to mention HOW to do it. There is absolutely no question that a 'free in the air' 4th finger is a major advantage and generally superior for the *fingering* ....the problem being how to manage *bellowsing* at the same time (or reverse...)

For 'philosophy' or I would rather say 'strategy' in the matter in my view the whole issue is clear....
1) for those who are used already since long to the 'three finger methods' the possible advantage of 'four finger methods' has to be calculated against 'cost' of spending time for re-learning
2) those who regard the original instrument concept/design as sacrosanct could choose between the 'Regond'/Alsepti' 4 finger idea or the 'common' 3 finger one keeping in mind that they may limit themselves.....
3) if NOT regarding the original instrument as sacrosanct .....since it is not particularly difficult to design or modify the instrument to work *very much* better with a 'four finger method' and since a change of method is quite strenous I mean that beginners ought to be informed about the options to improve the instrument and increase the related performance capacity according to elementary ergonomic principles....
4) always remember that ideal 'fingering' and ideal 'bellowsing' is NOT possible to provide at the same time..the instrument hosts an inborn conflict in this respect...
and for each piece of music each individual player has to find the optimal balance between the two.....one "method" can never be generally superior to another but in the specific situation it may be very much so....

Goran

#18 JimLucas

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 11:05 AM

1) for those who are used already since long to the 'three finger methods' the possible advantage of 'four finger methods' has to be calculated against 'cost' of spending time for re-learning

Göran, could you describe further what you mean by the 'four finger methods'? I know that in the past you've spoken in favor of a four-finger method as contrasted to a three-finger one. Since I think Allan has indicated that there seems to be no established *method* for the use of the fourth finger (Alsepti breaks his own "rule" and Regondi uses it "on demand"), I'd be interested to know to what extent and in what ways -- or in what situations, or note progressions -- you use the fourth finger.

2) those who regard the original instrument concept/design as sacrosanct could choose between the 'Regond'/Alsepti' 4 finger idea or the 'common' 3 finger one keeping in mind that they may limit themselves.....

I don't see the 3-finger and 4-finger "methods" as mutually exclusive. Allan says that Alsepti's "Golden Exercise" uses the 4th finger 37 times, and there are a total of 237 separate notes in the exercise. In spite of its comprehensive chromaticism and apparent purpose of exercising the 4th finger as much as the others, it is used for only about 15% of the notes, not the 25% one might expect. Toward the other end of the scale, *I* mostly use three fingers, but I do occasionally use the fourth to avoid awkward sequences. Because of the shorter length and relative weakness of my little fingers, I find that using only three fingers *most* of the time is not only adequate, but generally provides me with greater control and expressiveness. However, I use the fourth finger in situations where I find the reverse to be true.

4) always remember that ideal 'fingering' and ideal 'bellowsing' is NOT possible to provide at the same time..

Utter crap!




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