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Who are the concertina pros?


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#37 hjcjones

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 07:56 AM

Here's a summary of the names so far:

Artist (Instrument type) Genre
Alistair Anderson (English) English
Aogen Lynch (Anglo) Irish
Bob Webb (Duet) songs & tunes; Maccann duet and various other instruments
Brian Peters (Anglo) English
Chris Coe (Duet) English
Chris Sherburn (Anglo) Irish
Damian Barber (English) English
Dave Townsend (English) English
Dick Miles (English) Irish, songs
Fergus O'Byrne (English) Irish
George Marshall (English) contra dance caller, plays English concertina with his bands
Grey Larsen (Anglo) Irish
Ian Robb (Canada) (English) songs & English concertina
Jeff Warner (Anglo) songs & tunes; anglo concertina, but also banjo & guitar
Jody Kruskal (Anglo) American
John Kirkpatrick (Anglo) English
John Roberts (Anglo) songs & tunes; anglo concertina, but also banjo & guitar
John Spiers (Anglo) English
Keith Kendrick (Anglo) English
Liam Robinson (Anglo) English
Louis Killen (English) songs, unaccompanied or with English concertina, and the odd tune (now retired?)
Michael Cooney (?) folksinger; concertina, guitar, banjo, misc. instruments (retired?)
Michael O Raghallaigh (Anglo) Irish
Niall Vallely (Anglo) Irish
Noel Hill (Anglo) Irish
Padriag Rynne (Anglo) Irish
Pauline de Snoo (English) Classical
Robert Harbron (English) English
Roger Watson (English) English
Simon Thoumire (English) Scottish
Steve Turner (English) English
Tim Collins (Anglo) Irish
Tim Laycock (Duet) English
Wim Wakker ( English) Classical

The stats are:


By instrument:

Anglo: 16
English: 14
Duet: 3
Unknown: 1

By genre:

English: 13 (38%)
Irish: 10 (30%)
Other: 11 (32%)

#38 JimLucas

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 08:28 AM

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.

Doesn't surprise me.

In spite of the popularity of Irish music and the "explosion" of interest in the concertina in Irish music, it hasn't come at the expense of other instruments. There has been a corresponding increase in interest in fiddle, whistle, and flute for playing Irish music. Even if the concertina's "market share" in Irish music has increased by a large factor, it's still very small. (Can some of our Irish members give us an idea of the concertina's relative popularity outside of Clare? And I wonder how the number of new concertina players compares with the number of new uilleann pipers.) I think that here on concertina.net we get an inflated view of the concertina's importance in Irish music generally.

Most of those "professionals" who make their living from playing concertina are not riding the coattails of fad within a fad (that's not meant to belittle the phenomenon, or the music), but have established themselves in a variety of genres as musicians in demand, in spite of the fact that their instrument doesn't enjoy mass popularity. I suspect that one reason for your surprise, Howard, is that you were unduly influenced by publicity in the mass media. Or rather by the lack of mass publicity for those musicians and musical communities that you have only now become aware of.

#39 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 08:42 AM

Don't you think your image is skewed by the fact only maybe four of the glaringly obvious Irish names made it onto your list (and even out of them (if you stick to the 'only concertina' rule anyway) some could be disputed, Tim Collins' for example because of his work in academia).

On the other hand, there are the omissions of people doing the hard-graft of teaching and/or night after night playing in places like Doolin who are well below the radar of this forum

#40 JimLucas

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 09:04 AM

OOPS!
Two corrections, which were my fault, and a little further information:

Artist (Instrument type) Genre
...
Jeff Warner (Anglo) songs & tunes; anglo concertina, but also banjo & guitar
...
John Roberts (Anglo) songs & tunes; anglo concertina, but also banjo & guitar
...
Michael Cooney (?) folksinger; concertina, guitar, banjo, misc. instruments (retired?)
...
The stats are:
By instrument:
Anglo: 16
English: 14
Duet: 3
Unknown: 1

  • Jeff Warner plays English, not anglo, as I know very well. How I managed to type in "anglo" and then miss it in my proofreading is one of the mysteries of the human brain, I guess.
  • John Roberts is also a fine player of the English concertina, though I think it's been many years since he has played it in performance.
  • Michael Cooney plays English. As I recall, it's a baritone English, specifically because his high-frequency hearing is poor. Why play notes you can't hear yourself? ;)
  • And so the corrected by-instrument statistics should be:
    Anglo: 15
    English: 16
    Duet: 3
    Unknown: 0
I have corrected my original post to indicate that both Jeff and Michael play English.

#41 CaryK

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 10:13 AM

I would include for consideration, John Mock, who is a member of this forum. John plays anglo, in addition to guitar, and is a fine composer. However, I don't know if John's studio work or concert appearances as an anglo player comprise the primary source of his income or if his compositions and cd sales do. John might weigh in if interested. I would describe his anglo-playing genres as orchestral treatment of irish or broader celtic (please no fights about that term here) traditional music and country.

Edited by CaryK, 26 July 2009 - 10:19 AM.


#42 hjcjones

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 11:06 AM

In spite of the popularity of Irish music and the "explosion" of interest in the concertina in Irish music, it hasn't come at the expense of other instruments. There has been a corresponding increase in interest in fiddle, whistle, and flute for playing Irish music. Even if the concertina's "market share" in Irish music has increased by a large factor, it's still very small...

I suspect that one reason for your surprise, Howard, is that you were unduly influenced by publicity in the mass media. Or rather by the lack of mass publicity for those musicians and musical communities that you have only now become aware of.

I wasn't thinking of the ratio of the concertina to other instruments within Irish music, but the proportion of professional ITM concertina players to professional concertina players in other genres.

It appears to me that Irish music has spread worldwide, and well beyond the Irish diaspora. Even in England, ITM sessions still outnumber English music sessions in many areas, and most of the ITM players I meet have no Irish family connections, they just love the music. Whilst there are morris teams all round the world, English music has a far lower profile than ITM, worldwide and in England itself. And yet the largest number of full-time pros seem to be playing English music in one form or another. Since ITM is apparently so popular (especially in comparison with other genres of folk music) I had expected there would more opportunities for players to earn a living in that field.

The main musical community which I was not aware of is that in North America, where there also seems to be a substantial number of professional players, many using the instrument for song accompaniment. I would guess that this is mostly American material.

However, as Peter Laban suggests, perhaps ITM players are under-represented in the list. If so, I'd be glad to hear of other names.

#43 Theo

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 12:07 PM

Not Irish, but Benny Graham sings, plays Anglo and melodeon and is a full time musician

#44 JimLucas

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 12:23 PM

The main musical community which I was not aware of is that in North America, where there also seems to be a substantial number of professional players, many using the instrument for song accompaniment. I would guess that this is mostly American material.

Not necessarily.

Many of these singers got their start -- and their interest in concertina -- from English singers during the "folk revival" of the '60's and '70's, and they do a lot of English material, as well as some American. And if there's a new generation of singers using concertina, I think they learned from the first generation. Lots do sea songs, which largely derive from a tradition shared by the English and American shipping trades, though many of the actual sailors were from Ireland and elsewhere. I don't think you'll find a large proportion of bluegrass, old-timey, blues, Cajun, etc. in these folks' repertoire. Nor, as far as I know, does Ireland have a tradition of singing accompanied by concertina for the current generation to copy. I think Karan Casey with Niall Vallely is an exception.

Ah, but here's one I overlooked earlier: Cindy Mangsen.
She uses the English concertina for song accompaniment (and some tunes), with a largely contemporary American repertoire.

#45 hjcjones

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 12:27 PM

I would include for consideration, John Mock, who is a member of this forum.

Thanks for that, I've just had a look at his website. Interesting stuff. He's also a fine photographer. I'm inclined to classify his material as "other" since it seems to be original compositions or arrangements and although clearly inspired by Irish/"Celtic" music aren't ITM.

One of the interesting aspects of this thread is that it's leading me to the music of people I might not otherwise have come across.

#46 hjcjones

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 12:39 PM

The main musical community which I was not aware of is that in North America, where there also seems to be a substantial number of professional players, many using the instrument for song accompaniment. I would guess that this is mostly American material.

Not necessarily.

Many of these singers got their start -- and their interest in concertina -- from English singers during the "folk revival" of the '60's and '70's, and they do a lot of English material, as well as some American.


That's interesting, because the English folk revival was to a great extent triggered by the American folk revival, and American songs initially formed a large part of the repertoire. It was only later that English musicians began to realise that there was a wonderful body of our own native music (the Scots, Welsh and Irish were much more aware of their own traditional culture).

I'm very conscious that pigeonholing can be very difficult, if not downright misleading. This is particularly true for singers, who will generally go for a good song regardless of where it comes from. The same applies, to only a slightly lesser extent, to players of tunes (with the possible exception of ITM players, who in my experience are often very focussed on Irish music and not very interested in playing anything else).

#47 Boney

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:09 PM

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

The phrase "moot point" uses the second definition of moot: "deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic."

#48 JimLucas

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:30 PM

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

The phrase "moot point" uses the second definition of moot: "deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic."

Hmm. When I clicked on that link, it said the word wasn't in the dictionary, though further search found that it was. :unsure:

But I do know that definition, too. I've always thought that the "second definition" was derived from the first, i.e., a moot point has no significance because it is open to debate. Without a definite conclusion, it can't validly be used to support an argument or proposition.

I suppose we should really ask Misha to clarify what he meant. ... Misha?

#49 Boney

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 03:17 PM

Ah, seems to be another UK vs. US difference. I've only heard the US meaning of the term.

http://en.wiktionary...wiki/moot_point
http://www.usingengl...moot point.html

#50 RatFace

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 03:41 PM

Some potential additions that spring to mind:

Douglas Rogers (English) Classical
Jackie Daly (Anglo) Irish
John Williams (Anglo) Irish

#51 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:00 PM

Some potential additions that spring to mind:

Jackie Daly (Anglo) Irish

Hmmm, he lives near me & I'd often see him, but I've never known him to play concertina (though I know he did play a bit, a long time ago). He has told me he'd like a C#/D concertina though...

#52 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:01 PM

You wouldn't class Jackie Daly as a concertinaplayer. He certainly doesn't himself.

#53 RatFace

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:24 PM

You wouldn't class Jackie Daly as a concertinaplayer. He certainly doesn't himself.


I agree. I just supplied his name because he plays concertina on his recording with Kevin Burke (Eavesdropper). He plays it on just two tracks. But there's others on that list who aren't primarily concertina players either...

#54 Pete Dunk

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:29 PM

Another name for the pot: Jon Boden of Spiers and Boden plays duet. Not as often as John Spiers plays the anglo on stage, but he is a full time musician who plays concertina during a paid public performance.




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