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Who are the concertina pros?


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#19 hjcjones

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 03:57 AM

I've now had a look at Peter's other thread which people have linked to, and he was asking a slightly different question, about young (ie under 30) players. He also used the term "professional" in its loosest sense, and I'm not sure that some of the names mentioned are full-time players.

So far, contrary to m3838's claim, Irish-style players are definitely in a minority, but I'm sure there are a lot of names still missing. Keep them coming!

#20 JimLucas

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 05:24 AM

I would include teachers, because teaching is an extension of their playing skills. Builders and repairers are a bit different - this is an entirely different skill set and I think for the purpose of this discussion it should be regarded as a "day job" (besides, there is already a thread listing builders). So if Frank Edgley, who has been given as an example, earns most of his living from playing then he should be on the list, but if it is mostly from building instruments then he should not.

As far as I know, all of the contemporary makers are also competent players, at least some of them good enough that I'm sure they could make a living as performers, if they weren't spending the bulk of their time making instruments. It's also true that they (at least some of them) are making their living through concertinas, through the fact that concertinas are being played. Maybe there could be a serparate category for them?

#21 Bill N

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 06:10 AM

Who have I missed?


Fergus O'Byrne of Newfoundland plays traditional music on an English. Also plays guitar, banjo & bodhran.

#22 hjcjones

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 08:09 AM

As far as I know, all of the contemporary makers are also competent players, at least some of them good enough that I'm sure they could make a living as performers, if they weren't spending the bulk of their time making instruments.


The same could be said for all those competent players who could make a living as performers if they weren't too busy being computer programmers, lawyers, teachers, bus drivers etc.

It's also true that they (at least some of them) are making their living through concertinas, through the fact that concertinas are being played. Maybe there could be a serparate category for them?


For this discussion, I'm really interested in those who make their living from playing. That's not to belittle the makers, but there's already a thread listing all them.

#23 david_boveri

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 01:29 PM

I would include teachers, because teaching is an extension of their playing skills. Builders and repairers are a bit different - this is an entirely different skill set and I think for the purpose of this discussion it should be regarded as a "day job" (besides, there is already a thread listing builders). So if Frank Edgley, who has been given as an example, earns most of his living from playing then he should be on the list, but if it is mostly from building instruments then he should not.


i would definitely include frank because he has been teaching and playing far longer than he has been building.

#24 david_boveri

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 01:47 PM

As far as I know, all of the contemporary makers are also competent players, at least some of them good enough that I'm sure they could make a living as performers, if they weren't spending the bulk of their time making instruments.


The same could be said for all those competent players who could make a living as performers if they weren't too busy being computer programmers, lawyers, teachers, bus drivers etc.

It's also true that they (at least some of them) are making their living through concertinas, through the fact that concertinas are being played. Maybe there could be a serparate category for them?


For this discussion, I'm really interested in those who make their living from playing. That's not to belittle the makers, but there's already a thread listing all them.


i have a contention with this differentiation between "could make a living from playing" and "do make a living from playing." for example, my uncle does not make a living at a playing irish music, though he is definitely a professional musician, and has been so for as long as i have been old enough to make that distinction.

he makes a living working for verizon, programming routers all day. could he make a living playing music? yes. does he? no. has he in the past? yes. although i would not call him a "touring" professional, i would call him a professional, and he plays shows and concerts throughout the midwest on a very regular basis. even if he stopped playing shows altogether, i would still consider him a professional musician.

if you want to hear a quick sample of his playing, go to the burke whistles website ( http://www.burkewhistles.com/ ) and allow the page to load--the sound clip that will start playing is my uncle, brian mccoy, the whistle player for the kells. whether or not you like his playing, i would really find something suspect with your logic if you tried to tell me that he is not a professional musician, just because he does not "make his living" at playing music.

sir james galway, classical flutist from ireland, recently encouraged my uncle to both do a workshop and to perform at the national flute convention in new york this august. this does not mean anything about whether or not my uncle is a GOOD musician, or worth listening to, as sir galway could have bad taste in music, ;). however, i think it points out the seemingly illogical distinction you make: professional means you make a living at it. my uncle does not make a living at playing music, yet plays at professional venues at a level good enough that someone like sir james galways respects his music and invited him to play at the national convention. if we are to use your distinction for differentiating between professionals non-professionals, we would have to say that in this example that my uncle is not a professional musician, which leaves us begging the question: what sort of musician does that make my uncle?

i truly believe that your distinction is very limited, and does not help us figure out who the professional concertina players are. "who is professional" is a very different question from "who is making their living from playing concertina?" which is in itself a flawed question, because it precludes people like my uncle who COULD make a living playing music, but choose not to because they enjoy having multiple ventures or do not want to be on the road for the majority of the year.

so, i give this example not to be argumentative, but to illustrate a point of a musician who is indeed professional but does not meet your qualifications, so as to further elucidate the fact that i think that frank edgley SHOULD be on your list. just because one does NOT make a living playing, does not mean that they are not a professional.

Edited by david_boveri, 24 July 2009 - 01:53 PM.


#25 Paul Read

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:10 PM

On another thread, m3838 made the comment that "90% of pros play Irish style". Leaving aside (for now at least) the accuracy of that percentage, it got me wondering how many concertina players are full-time professionals, meaning that they rely on their music to make a living?

In folk music the rewards for being a musician are not great, and many good musicians are capable of earning far more by having a "real job". To be a folk musician, you've really got to want to do it, and many (including some highly-regarded players) choose to earn their living by other means and play music as a sideline. This is particularly the case with bands, since the fees don't rise pro rata with the number of band members. On the English ceilidh scene (which I know best) virtually all the top bands, even those with national reputations, are semi-pro. Some of the best and most highly-respected players, therefore, are not always full-time professional musicians.

So far, the ones I've come up with who are full-time pros are (in no particular order):

John Kirkpatrick
Brian Peters
Alistair Anderson
Simon Thoumire
Dick Miles
Jody Kruskal
Noel Hill
Michael O Raghallaigh
Liam Robinson
Roger Watson
John Spiers

Who have I missed?

Keith Kendrick
John Roberts

#26 Paul Read

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:12 PM

As far as I know, all of the contemporary makers are also competent players, at least some of them good enough that I'm sure they could make a living as performers, if they weren't spending the bulk of their time making instruments.


The same could be said for all those competent players who could make a living as performers if they weren't too busy being computer programmers, lawyers, teachers, bus drivers etc.

It's also true that they (at least some of them) are making their living through concertinas, through the fact that concertinas are being played. Maybe there could be a serparate category for them?


For this discussion, I'm really interested in those who make their living from playing. That's not to belittle the makers, but there's already a thread listing all them.


i have a contention with this differentiation between "could make a living from playing" and "do make a living from playing." for example, my uncle does not make a living at a playing irish music, though he is definitely a professional musician, and has been so for as long as i have been old enough to make that distinction.

he makes a living working for verizon, programming routers all day. could he make a living playing music? yes. does he? no. has he in the past? yes. although i would not call him a "touring" professional, i would call him a professional, and he plays shows and concerts throughout the midwest on a very regular basis. even if he stopped playing shows altogether, i would still consider him a professional musician.

if you want to hear a quick sample of his playing, go to the burke whistles website ( http://www.burkewhistles.com/ ) and allow the page to load--the sound clip that will start playing is my uncle, brian mccoy, the whistle player for the kells. whether or not you like his playing, i would really find something suspect with your logic if you tried to tell me that he is not a professional musician, just because he does not "make his living" at playing music.

sir james galway, classical flutist from ireland, recently encouraged my uncle to both do a workshop and to perform at the national flute convention in new york this august. this does not mean anything about whether or not my uncle is a GOOD musician, or worth listening to, as sir galway could have bad taste in music, ;). however, i think it points out the seemingly illogical distinction you make: professional means you make a living at it. my uncle does not make a living at playing music, yet plays at professional venues at a level good enough that someone like sir james galways respects his music and invited him to play at the national convention. if we are to use your distinction for differentiating between professionals non-professionals, we would have to say that in this example that my uncle is not a professional musician, which leaves us begging the question: what sort of musician does that make my uncle?

i truly believe that your distinction is very limited, and does not help us figure out who the professional concertina players are. "who is professional" is a very different question from "who is making their living from playing concertina?" which is in itself a flawed question, because it precludes people like my uncle who COULD make a living playing music, but choose not to because they enjoy having multiple ventures or do not want to be on the road for the majority of the year.

so, i give this example not to be argumentative, but to illustrate a point of a musician who is indeed professional but does not meet your qualifications, so as to further elucidate the fact that i think that frank edgley SHOULD be on your list. just because one does NOT make a living playing, does not mean that they are not a professional.

Good point David. That would let in Ian robb, Alistair Brown and countless others I think.

#27 JimLucas

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 03:55 PM

For this discussion, I'm really interested in those who make their living from playing. That's not to belittle the makers, but there's already a thread listing all them.

i have a contention with this differentiation between "could make a living from playing" and "do make a living from playing."

...the seemingly illogical distinction you make: professional means you make a living at it.... just because one does NOT make a living playing, does not mean that they are not a professional.

Oh, no!
:o
Not this argument, again!

David, Howard's purpose in his question is clearly stated. It is to determine who is actually earning their livelihood, not who could be.

It most definitely is not to argue over the "one true meaning" of the word "professional".

"Professional" is a word with many different meanings, some differing subtly and some significantly, but each valid in its own context.

Howard has been quite clear about what he meant when he used the word, so that there should be no misunderstanding. I myself proposed an amendment, but an amendment to the question Howard was asking, not to the "meaning" of the word "professional". He said no, as is his right, because it is his question. In the English language, your definition is as good as Howard's... but so is his as good as yours. And in starting this Topic it is Howard who has asked a question, and so it is he who has a right to define that question, not you or I.

That isn't to say that the classification you want to make isn't valid. It is. And you could pose that question and make your own list. I know that if I were trying to gather/compile such data, I would also make distinctions different from Howard's. In fact, I would create several categories, not just two ("living from playing" and "other"). But I would start my own Topic to do so. This is Howard's classification, and I support him in obtaining an accurate response to his query.

Good point David. That would let in Ian robb, Alistair Brown and countless others I think.

But including those "countless" others would render the results meaningless... not only to Howard but also because it would be impossible to define a meaningful criterion for who would or would not be included in the list.

#28 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 04:03 PM

i truly believe that your distinction is very limited, and does not help us figure out who the professional concertina players are. "who is professional" is a very different question from "who is making their living from playing concertina?"


David,
In my book, the definition of a "professional" is "one who earns his living" with whatever it is.
Per se, it is not an assessment of quality or competence.

However, someone who doesn't have to spend his working day doing something else can practise all day, and as we know, practice makes perfect (well, nearly!). So "professional" has the connotation of "very good at it".

There are, as you say, players with day jobs who play very well. I would say that they play "to professional standard" - that is, they play in the same class as someone who has nothing else to do but practise and perform.

Probably a lot of us are semi-professionals: we're good enough musicians to get paid to entertain people, but we don't get enough gigs to pay the rent. With an instrument like the concertina nowadays, this is about as professional as a lot of good players get. The concertina doesn't have the wide demand that generates the many lucrative gigs for the top pop or classical musicians.

The people whose concertina playing I would take as an example to follow are not necessarily "professionals," but "top players."

Cheers,
John

#29 Chris Drinkwater

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 06:22 PM

Louis Killen (Northumbrian, living in America) - songs, unaccompanied or with English concertina, and the odd tune.


A correction here. Louis no longer lives in America. He lives back home in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and has 'retired' from paid performing, as far as I am aware. He came to a singers' night at The Cumberland Arms in Byker, in the autumn of 2008, that Rosie and I also went to and we managed to have brief chat with him. Rosie's singing so impressed him, that he invited her to perform at another pub session he goes to. Sadly she's no longer around to take him up on the offer. :(

Chris

#30 david_boveri

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 01:00 AM

Howard has been quite clear about what he meant when he used the word, so that there should be no misunderstanding.


you know, i must redact, as i went back and very clearly you are right. who knows why i didnt see it... i did read the original post, and for some reason i must have rewritten it in my head. going back and looking at my post, it would surely seem that i did not read the original post! now, if only that was the case, then at least i would have an excuse.

some days that kind of stuff just happens to me... carry on.... ignore the daft man in the corner...

#31 hjcjones

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 03:58 AM

David, you made a valid point, but as Jim pointed out that isn't the question I'm asking.

It's absolutely correct that some of the best players are not full-time musicians, but if we throw open the question to include semi-professionals then we'd be overwhelmed. I would guess that a good many of the contributors to cnet do paid gigs from time to time. I do myself - I play about 30 gigs a year with my ceilidh band Albireo, besides the occasional solo spot (and I declare it to the taxman) - but I don't consider myself a professional musician.

It's undoubtedly true that the best players aspire to, and often attain, professional standards. Many of the most inspirational and highly-regarded players are not full-time pros.

I think you are right, in the sense that identifying the full-time pros is not the same as identifying the best or even most influential musicians. My question (which I admit is possibly flawed) was prompted by m3838's claim (in a discussion about chording) that 90% of pros play Irish style, and I was curious to see whether that is correct. On the results so far, it seems that actually only about 30% play Irish (50% if you restrict it to Anglo players), but I'm sure there are more names to come.

#32 JimLucas

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 05:26 AM

Howard has been quite clear about what he meant when he used the word, so that there should be no misunderstanding.

you know, i must redact, as i went back and very clearly you are right. who knows why i didnt see it...

I do ;)
And I'll bet you do, too. :)

It's the most natural thing in the world.
Some particular details catch your attention, and your thoughts follow them toward a conclusion, meanwhile distracting your awareness from other details, even ones that -- if you considered them -- would lead you to different conclusions. (And I could as well substitute "I" and "me" for "you" and "your" in that sentence.)

The ability to focus, and the ability to "notice" things and then examine them more closely without being distracted by other things... most of the time these are good, useful abilities. We wouldn't want to be without them. But every once in a while they can trip us up, if they prevent us from seeing something else that's important. It's always been like that. E.g., the hunter focusing on his prey normally doesn't want to be distracted by other things nearby. But if one of those other things is something hunting him.... :o

The advantage we have in a forum like this is that before posting we have the opportunity to reread both what we've written to post and what was written before. A disadvantage is that this takes time, which isn't in unlimited supply. A further disadvantage is that even if we do, and no matter how hard we try, every now and then we'll still overlook something. That's human. And so there are other human traits, such as apologies and tolerance. (Alas, there are also rationalizing and defensiveness. But not in your case, David.)

Looking forward to more of your posts... and more names for Howard's list. :)

#33 JimLucas

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 05:37 AM

My question ... was prompted by m3838's claim (in a discussion about chording) that 90% of pros play Irish style, and I was curious to see whether that is correct. On the results so far, it seems that actually only about 30% play Irish (50% if you restrict it to Anglo players), but I'm sure there are more names to come.

Would you include Chemnitzer players in your list?
We haven't yet heard from that community, but including them would surely change the percentages.

#34 m3838

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:50 AM

My question ... was prompted by m3838's claim (in a discussion about chording) that 90% of pros play Irish style

My question was prompted by availability of players of specific level. I can't care less if some singer uses concertina for song accompaniment.
I was active on accordion forum too. If to compare accordion forum participants, few of whom were professional players, to concertina forum players, accordion forum presented more variety of music and higher class of musicianship.
My impression is that today, concertina players earn higher (relative) respect for less craftsmanship compared to players of other instruments. With the exception of Irish players, for whom I have great respect.
Whether percentage is right - mute point. Don't take my statements for face value, they more of an impression than statistical article.
As for professional vs. full time musician - another mute point. In Concertina world we can't have such luxury, it's an obscured instrument that is mostly known in Irish folk circles. Term "Professioinal Folk Musician" is, to my opinion, an oximoron. Like "Professional Amateur" or Full time part timer.
We've discussed this elusive matter before.

#35 JimLucas

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 06:38 AM

As for professional vs. full time musician - another mute point.

Misha, I think you mean "moot", which means "debatable". We have already demonstrated that it's not "mute", meaning "silent". :D

Term "Professioinal Folk Musician" is, to my opinion, an oximoron.

Ah, but that depends on your definitions of both "professional" and "folk", and the latter is even more in dispute than the former. B)

The way that term is normally used, you're right. It's applied to persons who are "professionals" performing their own interpretations of "folk" music, but who aren't active participants in the folk traditions they perform.

But in various folk traditions, at least some of the central figures in the tradition do make a living from the music (even though others may not). This is particularly true with dance music. In many traditions, a good dance musician or even an entire band may be in sufficient demand that they can make a living from the music. (Also some callers for traditional contra and square dances in the US.) That demand is local, and it is because they are part of the tradition. So they are indeed "professional folk musicians". (But note that I didn't capitalize that.)

#36 hjcjones

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 07:36 AM

Misha, my question was inspired by your original comment, but was not asked simply to challenge it. I never took the actual figure of 90% as being statistically accurate, more an impression. However your comment did prompt me to wonder how many people do make their living from playing the concertina.

So far I have 34 names (including Louis Killen who I'm told is now retired), which isn't really very many worldwide (although there may still be some more names to come in - none so far from Australia, New Zealand or South Africa)

This isn't surprising in view of the economics of folk music. The overwhelming majority of the names I've been given play folk music of some kind (including song accompaniment) so I don't think it's unreasonable to think of them as professional folk musicians. However, whilst I never expected the proportion to be as high as 90%, I do find it surprising that only about 30% play Irish, given that Irish music is arguably the most commercially successful form of folk music with a global appeal.




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