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English V Anglo


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#19 Larry Stout

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Posted 18 September 2008 - 11:34 AM

How about it, you English players - can you "punch" out a dance tune with heavy and light beats (like a Strathspey, for instance) on the English?


Yes.

I play for dancing, though not for Scottish dancing. I think there is enough punch, though I suppose you'd have to ask the dancers I play for. I enjoy playing strathspeys and hornpipes, particularly the dotted ones with lots of articulation. Certainly I have heard other players of EC who did get plenty of punch for Scottish dance music (Gene Morrow comes to mind) or for other forms needing it (Alistair Anderson and Rachel Hall come to mind). My impression is that historically the EC was more prevalent in Scotland than the anglo. Could someone more certain of the facts on that either support or refute that impression?

#20 Boney

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Posted 18 September 2008 - 02:26 PM

Is it possible that the accenting in Anglo playing comes from a different set of muscles than the accenting in English playing: on anglo it seems to come from upper body (chest, upper arms) and on EC from wrist and hands?

I think this is true. To play Anglo to speed, you have to learn how to reverse the bellows very quickly, sometimes for two or three notes in a row. It takes the larger, stronger muscles of the upper body to do that, which gives a much more decisive and vigorous action than you ever need on an English (or duet). It's possible to learn to do this playing English, I'm sure -- but you'd have to artifically create situations where you regularly reverse the bellows quickly back and forth at speed, and that's hard at first. I rarely see an English player that uses this technique. From my experience playing duet and Anglo, I think the necessity of fast repeated bellows reversals (and how you have to use more of your body to do them) is the main difference as far as "punchiness" is concerned. I haven't played with the English-style thumb loop and pinkie rest to assess how they might contribute.

#21 chiton1

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Posted 18 September 2008 - 07:23 PM

Well I play my EC with as much dynamics as possible. I play with the right end of the concertina on my right knee. I play with 2 x 2 fingers only (very rarely I use an extra finger when playing an air or slow air). So there are two fingers in each pinkie rest. There are also wrist straps. All this allows a firm grip on my instrument and allows me to create the dynamics I want, especially when playing Irish dance music.
I observed my own playing a little and I use the bellows constantly. I use the reverse technique but I also use a kind of push, push, push or draw, draw, draw ''technique''. This technique gives extra punch to the music without having to reverse. So with smaller or larger ''shock-like pulls'' (sorry do not know how to describe this correctly in English) while on the pull you can create a similar effect, and you can use that for the draw also. I see that my bellows is always in motion, like: small pull, larger pull, reverse, series of small pulls, reverse, draw, etc. Most EC players I know use their bellows quite differently which most of the time result in a legato effect. This can be beautiful for airs and slow airs or for just a small passage in some of the dance music, but doesn't work at all for most Irish dance music.
And of course there is all the different ornamentations (much of the ornamentation should not be too smooth but ''hiccup-like'') wich together with the bellow technique will create an Irish feel to the music you make.
But there is more; for instance the way you hit (or just push) a button can also create certain effects.
OK it is way past bedtime here - I'm off.... -_-

#22 Alan Day

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 03:22 AM

Having listened to hours of English and Anglo system playing I cannot see any justification to change instruments.The construction of the instruments is the same principle it is only the layout of the notes and buttons that are different.If an Anglo is played across the rows or by using the accidentals for speed on an Anglo there is no difference between what an Anglo player can achieve against an English. What is lacking is technique English players tend to get into a habit of not playing a note crisply, but slightly slurring one note into the next.The art of just touching the button to get a crisp note seems to be lost from a very early age in English playing techniques. An Anglo player usually does not get into this habit as the quick playing to get a note in and out forces the habit of sharp crisp notes and bellows control. This technique suffers immediatly the Anglo player starts to cross rows or use accidentals immediatly slurring the note as English playing. There are certain things an English or Duet player can do like holding a note or a chord and by pushing and pulling fast can provide a sound effect on the instrument that cannot be done on an Anglo. Classical music and Song accompaniment favours the smoother system of the English and Duet systems.
For other types of music I would suggest that you "review the situation".
Al

#23 chrisbird

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 05:39 AM

So it does look like Anglo was designed as harmony instrument, and English as melody. That's why the pinkie rest is there, to place fifth and forth fingers there, and play with other two. Very comfortable and logical. Any other ways of using pinkie rests are anatomically compromised, and playing seated with such a small and light instrument seems like a compromise as well.


I think that Alistair Anderson is probably one of the finest exponents of the English Concertina and, in comparison to an Anglo, the playing (for lack of better phrasing) sounds 'light' and lacks punch - not, of course, that is intended as a negative observation. No doubt it is possible to get an 'Irish' sound out of an English Concertina, if one was a good player and I'm not that good. It is the punchier sound of the Irish that appeals to me.

OK, that's off my chest. Anyone fancy making an observation or recommendation on my possible purchase? I am looking at:

The Scarlatti from Hobgoblin at £165
The Stagi from Hobgoblin at £279
The Rochelle from the Music Room at £270

Regards, Chris

#24 LDT

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 05:49 AM

OK, that's off my chest. Anyone fancy making an observation or recommendation on my possible purchase? I am looking at:

The Scarlatti from Hobgoblin at £165

well I have the Scarlatti from Hobgoblin no complaints at least nothing major that isn't just being penickety. But its not going to be the one I keep playing forever...I've been saving and am going to get a more expensive one. It was a bit buzzy at first but now its gone away with more playing. Still rather stiff though definitely feel like I've had a workout after an hours practice. lol!

#25 Alan Day

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 07:30 AM

So it does look like Anglo was designed as harmony instrument, and English as melody. That's why the pinkie rest is there, to place fifth and forth fingers there, and play with other two. Very comfortable and logical. Any other ways of using pinkie rests are anatomically compromised, and playing seated with such a small and light instrument seems like a compromise as well.


I think that Alistair Anderson is probably one of the finest exponents of the English Concertina and, in comparison to an Anglo, the playing (for lack of better phrasing) sounds 'light' and lacks punch - not, of course, that is intended as a negative observation. No doubt it is possible to get an 'Irish' sound out of an English Concertina, if one was a good player and I'm not that good. It is the punchier sound of the Irish that appeals to me.

OK, that's off my chest. Anyone fancy making an observation or recommendation on my possible purchase? I am looking at:

The Scarlatti from Hobgoblin at £165
The Stagi from Hobgoblin at £279
The Rochelle from the Music Room at £270

Regards, Chris

I would suggest a purchase of English International and listen to the playing of Dave Townsend and Jan Elliott before you fully decide.The rest are pretty good as well.
Al

#26 chiton1

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 07:46 AM

I think that Alistair Anderson is probably one of the finest exponents of the English Concertina and, in comparison to an Anglo, the playing (for lack of better phrasing) sounds 'light' and lacks punch - not, of course, that is intended as a negative observation. No doubt it is possible to get an 'Irish' sound out of an English Concertina, if one was a good player and I'm not that good. It is the punchier sound of the Irish that appeals to me.

OK, that's off my chest.



Alistair Anderson is a wonderful player but doesn't come near to what Irish Music should be like on EC (but than he has another repertoir).
Listen to this on English concertina (youtube):
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=JUWKM16vwzA

#27 davidcorner

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 10:51 AM

My impression is that historically the EC was more prevalent in Scotland than the anglo. Could someone more certain of the facts on that either support or refute that impression?

When I started playing in the 1970s, the only concertinas I saw and heard were English.
So, yes, I would say that the EC was the most prevalent type in Scotland.

#28 David Levine

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 01:33 PM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=cpMVPV2mf_4

This is a pretty good example of an Irish tune played on the EC.
It's the same person referred to in the earlier post.
It's very punchy and very crisp- and he does it with little bellows movement.
However, it seems to me not to have the flow and beauty of the AC.
I think the playing is very accomplished but it's just not the same as on the Anglo.
It's as if he's forcing the insturment to do somethng it doesn't want to do.

---------------

"...it is possible to get an 'Irish' sound out of an English Concertina, if one was a good player..."
If this is the true, then who might that player be? I've never heard an EC player
communicate the same rhythmic bounce and phrasing as an AC player.
The sound itself seems very different- to my ears at least.
This is odd since the reeds aren't much different.
Could the chambers make the difference?

#29 chiton1

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 06:08 PM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=cpMVPV2mf_4

This is a pretty good example of an Irish tune played on the EC.
It's the same person referred to in the earlier post.
It's very punchy and very crisp- and he does it with little bellows movement.
However, it seems to me not to have the flow and beauty of the AC.
I think the playing is very accomplished but it's just not the same as on the Anglo.
It's as if he's forcing the insturment to do somethng it doesn't want to do.


It's the second clip by ''clunktrip''.
I do not believe that you can force an instrument to do something it doesn“t want (or can) do. It's just another approach using different techniques and methods than is commonplace on the instrument. This guy uses especially his fingering technique (hitting the notes) to get more punch. As discussed Simon Thoumire does that quite often too. There are other methods to achieve more punch but all deviate from the general and traditional use of the EC.


---------------

"...it is possible to get an 'Irish' sound out of an English Concertina, if one was a good player..."
If this is the true, then who might that player be? I've never heard an EC player
communicate the same rhythmic bounce and phrasing as an AC player.
The sound itself seems very different- to my ears at least.
This is odd since the reeds aren't much different.
Could the chambers make the difference?


I agree that the sound of an AC is generally different from an EC, and I still do not know why (I recently posted a thread with exactly that question, but no satisfying answer came from it). Furthermore you must not expect that an EC should sound the same as an AC, just that the music made should have a ''good Irish feel'' to it. Otherwise it's like playing a melody on a bouzouki and trying to make it sound like a guitar...
There is no tradition at all of Irish playing on EC. But there has been a great boom in Irish concertina (AC) playing lately (for quite some time actually) which produced many great young players. I personally am not impressed by most of older pre-Noel Hill AC players. There are quite a few that I find not that convincing both rhytmically and ''punchlike''.

Edited by chiton1, 19 September 2008 - 06:10 PM.


#30 Alan Day

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 02:22 AM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=cpMVPV2mf_4

This is a pretty good example of an Irish tune played on the EC.
It's the same person referred to in the earlier post.
It's very punchy and very crisp- and he does it with little bellows movement.
However, it seems to me not to have the flow and beauty of the AC.
I think the playing is very accomplished but it's just not the same as on the Anglo.
It's as if he's forcing the insturment to do somethng it doesn't want to do.


It's the second clip by ''clunktrip''.
I do not believe that you can force an instrument to do something it doesn“t want (or can) do. It's just another approach using different techniques and methods than is commonplace on the instrument. This guy uses especially his fingering technique (hitting the notes) to get more punch. As discussed Simon Thoumire does that quite often too. There are other methods to achieve more punch but all deviate from the general and traditional use of the EC.


---------------

"...it is possible to get an 'Irish' sound out of an English Concertina, if one was a good player..."
If this is the true, then who might that player be? I've never heard an EC player
communicate the same rhythmic bounce and phrasing as an AC player.
The sound itself seems very different- to my ears at least.
This is odd since the reeds aren't much different.
Could the chambers make the difference?


I agree that the sound of an AC is generally different from an EC, and I still do not know why (I recently posted a thread with exactly that question, but no satisfying answer came from it). Furthermore you must not expect that an EC should sound the same as an AC, just that the music made should have a ''good Irish feel'' to it. Otherwise it's like playing a melody on a bouzouki and trying to make it sound like a guitar...
There is no tradition at all of Irish playing on EC. But there has been a great boom in Irish concertina (AC) playing lately (for quite some time actually) which produced many great young players. I personally am not impressed by most of older pre-Noel Hill AC players. There are quite a few that I find not that convincing both rhytmically and ''punchlike''.

During my lengthy investigations for English International,I spent some considerable time investigating Irish EC playing.One name that was suggested was
Ms O'Dowd (from memory Mary)who was All Irish Concertina Champion about 50-60s and played EC. With the help of friends I tracked her down in Ireland and sadly she had stopped playing about twenty years ago and also there were no known recordings of her playing.You do not however win a competition like this with poor playing so it is possible on this Instrument.
I do not play the English Concertina ,but I would like to suggest some comments on the example of playing put forward by David as suggestions for discussion.
Firstly his button control is excellent ,each note comes over crystal clear .His timing is also spot on with not speeding up or slowing down.The overall effect is good. I would suggest however that his bellows control is non existent. Although he has the choice of the same notes in the opposite direction,most of the tune is played with the bellows totally on the push until the bellows smack together and then to the extent of the bellows in the opposite direction.There is no use of the bellows to emphasise certain notes,which with the Anglo the pressure in the bellows is an important factor.I would suggest that the instrument is not at fault but the technique of the player.
Al

#31 chrisbird

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 10:07 AM

Anyone fancy making an observation or recommendation on my possible purchase? I am looking at:

The Scarlatti from Hobgoblin at £165
The Stagi from Hobgoblin at £279
The Rochelle from the Music Room at £270

Anybody with an opinion on the above? Or is it just down to my own personal choice?

One thing I can't do is actually compare them myself as I live far too far from anywhere to make that a possibility. So, I'm really buying 'blind', or should that be 'deaf' as well? If anyone can offer guidance on a good choice, then I'd be very grateful.

Regards, Chris

#32 michael stutesman

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 11:29 AM

I would suggest however that his bellows control is non existent.

Al



I'm a little hesitant to disagree with such an expert but on the other hand I do play english concertina. I do not believe it is possible to play the EC the way 'clunktrip' is playing without very good bellows control. It is difficult to see changes in bellows pressure during play and that is primarily what supplies the accent and rhythm influence of the bellows of an EC. With anglo playing it is much easier to see the reversals of the bellows giving rhythmic punch to the playing even at fast tempos.

#33 Alan Day

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 04:16 PM

I would suggest however that his bellows control is non existent.

Al



I'm a little hesitant to disagree with such an expert but on the other hand I do play english concertina. I do not believe it is possible to play the EC the way 'clunktrip' is playing without very good bellows control. It is difficult to see changes in bellows pressure during play and that is primarily what supplies the accent and rhythm influence of the bellows of an EC. With anglo playing it is much easier to see the reversals of the bellows giving rhythmic punch to the playing even at fast tempos.

No hesitation necessary Michael,I am a listener not a player of EC, so that is why I suggested a discussion and I welcome points your of view as an English player.
Perhaps you can tell me why so many notes need to be played with one direction of the bellows and a similar number on the pull when there is an option to change direction.With more air in the bellows there is more control.The bellows do not reach their limit and there are more options for enhancing certain notes.
I agree watching and hearing the music he certainly plays with skill and ability,my comments are an attempt at constructive criticism .I still cannot understand why an English concertina who's reeds are made in exactly the same way cannot be made to sound like an Anglo with skilled playing techniques. If on an Anglo player plays across the rows it is possible for long passages to be played on the pull or the push.If that is the case no matter what instrument is being played, the notes will sound the same on an Anglo or an English.
Perhaps I am wrong, do not hesitate to tell me, I am keen to know the answer.
Al

#34 michael stutesman

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 06:21 PM

I would suggest however that his bellows control is non existent.

Al



I'm a little hesitant to disagree with such an expert but on the other hand I do play english concertina. I do not believe it is possible to play the EC the way 'clunktrip' is playing without very good bellows control. It is difficult to see changes in bellows pressure during play and that is primarily what supplies the accent and rhythm influence of the bellows of an EC. With anglo playing it is much easier to see the reversals of the bellows giving rhythmic punch to the playing even at fast tempos.

No hesitation necessary Michael,I am a listener not a player of EC, so that is why I suggested a discussion and I welcome points your of view as an English player.
Perhaps you can tell me why so many notes need to be played with one direction of the bellows and a similar number on the pull when there is an option to change direction.With more air in the bellows there is more control.The bellows do not reach their limit and there are more options for enhancing certain notes.
I agree watching and hearing the music he certainly plays with skill and ability,my comments are an attempt at constructive criticism .I still cannot understand why an English concertina who's reeds are made in exactly the same way cannot be made to sound like an Anglo with skilled playing techniques. If on an Anglo player plays across the rows it is possible for long passages to be played on the pull or the push.If that is the case no matter what instrument is being played, the notes will sound the same on an Anglo or an English.
Perhaps I am wrong, do not hesitate to tell me, I am keen to know the answer.
Al


I have never seen anyone try to play an EC with lots of bellows reversals and I have not tried it myself. I think there are several things that are intrinsic to the construction of the instruments that make differences in the sound given the same reeds. The bellows are constructed differently. The anglo bellows is stiffer to facilitate rapid changes in air pressure. Also, similar to a melodeon, the sound is different if you hold a button down and reverse the bellows to get two notes versus pressing the button twice or using two different buttons. As you know it is not possible on the EC to have this option. Consequently I don't think anyone, however skilled, is going to 'fool' knowlegable listeners with an EC and make them think it's an anglo. That is not to say they can't make excellent renditions of Irish tunes. I chose the EC because I think it is a wonderfully versatile melody instrument but I'll be the first to admit if I wanted to play only irish music I would have chosen the anglo.

#35 Mark Evans

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 08:47 AM

This conversation has been so polite...and the moon was full. :blink: Mr. Stutesman makes good point on the EC bellows. However I play more Irish music on a weekly basis than anything else and would not choose the AC ever. Been there, done that and really found it a limitation...for me.

From time to time the Stoners have had an Anglo player cruse through our session. For the other members it was how can I say...jarring.

The "bounce" and "lift" oft dispalyed was overwelhming. I could see it in their eyes. :blink: The instruments were mostly very loud and angular. Instead of becoming a part of the group sound dymanic it seemed that there was a need to stand apart. This is just the experience in Ashland at present, from time to time and as they say "your milage may vary"...

I don't want to play Irish music on an EC like an AC. What I wish I could have done was to play the fiddle. That didn't happen, so I guess I live with second best and what worked with the muddle that is my mind....Over the years I have come to love it almost as much as I envy fiddle players :( .

#36 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 04:35 PM

I don't want to play Irish music on an EC like an AC. What I wish I could have done was to play the fiddle. That didn't happen, so I guess I live with second best and what worked with the muddle that is my mind....Over the years I have come to love it almost as much as I envy fiddle players :( .


Mark,
As an Irishman, and thus one who grew up with the entire spectrum of Irish music - of which so-called ITM is a stylised version of just a small segment - I can relate to that.

Irish dance music is not concertina music, certainly not Anglo concertina music. It is a body of melodic material, with a range of rhythms matching the indigenous dances. The traditional way of playing this material has emerged because of the necessity for a solo fiddler or piper to provide the music for dances in times past. The decorations are there to provide the musical interest and rhythmic support that in other traditions come from accompanying instruments. Later, fluters found ways to realise this playing tradition on their instrument, too.

Fluting, fiddling and piping are all older in Ireland than AC playing. When the AC came along, players looked for ways to adapt to the tradition, as the fluters had done before them.
One thing that fiddle, flute and pipes do NOT have is a necessity to change bellows direction! The fiddler is free to change his bow direction when he wants to (within reason, like an EC player his bellows); the bellows of the pipes are independent of the flow of the music; and the flute has only one airflow direction that has to be interrupted to take a breath.
Each has its limitations, too: the fiddle can't sound more than 2 notes at once; the flute can only sound one, and needs pauses for breath; and the pipes have no dynamics and their sound cannot be interrupted.

The standard C/G Anglo has a decisive disadvantage in this fiddle-determined music, which is often in D or A, which is alleviated by the sparseness of harmonies that was, thankfully, part of the tradition before the concertina arrived. So the AC can find, and has found, its entree.
But why must the EC come in by the same door? The AC does not sound like the traditional pipes, so why should the EC sound like the meanwhile traditional AC? The clips of reels on the EC linked to from this thread remided me very much of uillean pipes - the most traditional dance-music sound you could get. Like the pipes, the EC gets its emphasis from the fingering and the sparse harmonies. If you want to dock on to ITM with your EC, it would seem to me more logical to emulate the pipes than the AC.

Of course, ITM , like OTM in the US, is a vested interest of AC teachers and AC builders, among others, so they have an interest in regulation. And apparently, in their opinion, a concertina that wants to be ITM has to sound like an AC.
Ignore them! :P

Cheers,
John



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