I really got a kick out of this. I have argued for years that Irish music beginners on the anglo could and should get a better quality 20 key rather than a poorer quality 30 key (for example) if both were priced the same. There is so much misinformation on the web and elsewhere that "you can't play Irish music on a 20 key," that it can be hard to convince potential new players that 20 key instruments have plenty of notes for a year (or many) of hard work learning the techniques and the tunes of Irish music. (Of course it can be hard to find a good quality 20 key without putting time and money into upgrading a typical one.)
The lovely Kitty Hayes and Mrs. Crotty recordings have been mentioned in this Forum many times. Although both were recorded on 3-row instruments, I challenge readers here to find any note on Kitty's cd that is played on the third row, and although I haven't tried the experiment, I doubt there are more than a couple C#s if any on Mrs. Crotty's cd. It is true that both players transposed certain tunes from "fiddle keys" to keys that suit the anglo, but there is nothing wrong with new players (particularly the beginners who are adults, and make up a large proportion of the beginners here in North America) doing the same. Here you have an extensive representation of the life's repertoire of two wonderful musicians, and if they have not seen a need for the third row notes, why should adult beginners and amateurs (who may take many years to sound as good as these two players, if they ever achieve this) be so convinced they must have all those notes right away? I think it is because they over-intellectualize the learning process, as I have written before. And, although potentially very valuable, internet discussion groups such as this, where music and instruments can be discussed somewhat in isolation from the experience of music itself, may sometimes encourage this misdirection of attention, just because it is so easy to write about and analyze information about notes and layouts, and so hard to write about the aspects of time, rhythm, phrasing, accent that actually make music sound good. It is also much harder (especially) for adult beginners to learn these latter, more important things, than it is for them to learn to play the right "notes" --- just as it can be a bit easier for an adult to learn the vocabulary of a new language than its proper accent, vowel sounds, etc.
Most adult beginners put their efforts into playing more tunes poorly, rather than a few tunes well. If the former is your desire, then your "instrument buying money" should go into more notes, and for a beginner on a budget, a poor to mid quality 30 key would fit right in. But if you chose to go the opposite route, caj has shown that you could have a lot of fun with a 20 key anglo that could be purchased, rebuilt, or commissioned to be made in much better quality for the same money.
My hat is off to caj for his very interesting work here!
1st time - edited for grammar and clarity;
2nd time - edited to remove term "newbie"
Edited by Paul Groff, 17 December 2003 - 02:17 PM.