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Little John

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Everything posted by Little John

  1. That's what I would do; so you get all three notes of the F major chord with nothing missing and nothing duplicated. I would, but only in specific circumstances. 6/4 is terminology used in baroque music, more usually called a second inversion nowadays. And 6/3 is a first inversion. Both useful, particularly to give a flowing bass line. So, for example, I would play Phil Cunningham's Miss Rowan Davies with chords G, F#(6/3), Em, D(6/4), C, B(6/3), Am, D etc. Equivalently, using (for example) D(f#) to represent a D major chord with F# as the lowest note, G, D(f#), Em, G(d), C, G(b), Am, D etc.
  2. I doubt there's any special relationship between guitar and concertina. Lots of people play more than one instrument, and if you're going to do that you might as well choose instruments which have very different characteristics; which the guitar and concertina do but so do lots of other pairings. I play mainly duet concertina, but I also play bouzouki, tenor guitar and fretless bass guitar. They are not generally interchangeable; it's horses for courses. In the past I have also played anglo, English and Crane duet; all at the same time (well, not literally). I gradually reduced to one system largely because there seemed to be no point in struggling with three when to 99% of listeners they all sound the same.
  3. There's a guy called Mark Morley-Fletcher (Play in the Zone) who does a lot of videos (YouTube) on this sort of stuff. I also get emails from him. Here's an extract from one on learning to play from memory: Most of the approaches that have been scientifically verified to improve learning actually reduce performance in the short-term. They only start to deliver the goods over periods of days and weeks So if you judge progress by whether your ability to play from memory improves during a practice session, then you’re holding yourself back. Don’t feel bad about this! It’s just part of being human. A study by Robert Bjork and Nate Kornell had students try two different practice strategies – one designed for short-term results, and the other optimised for long-term progress. Measurements confirmed that the students actually did better with the long-term strategy. But 80% of them (incorrectly) rated it as feeling less effective. Elsewhere he states (if my memory serves me correctly) that the very process of learning by ear helps to embed the music better in your brain. LJ
  4. A concertina has one major advantage over an organ - the air pressure can be varied to give dynamics to the sound that are not possible on a reed organ.
  5. If my rough calculation is about right, that would but them approximately eight cents sharp. I have read that most people won't notice until the difference is about 20 cents (though I think others have suggested 10 cents). The observation is consistent with my own experience. My Cranes are tuned fifth comma mean tone; so some notes differ from equal temperament by as much as 17 cents, but no-one has ever said they sound out of tune.
  6. I can understand this. The main difference between my 44-button and my 45 button Crane is the left-hand A4 on the latter. It is useful, but not essential. My comment was based on two factors, which I think we have discussed before: 1. The vast majority of tunes sit in the range D4 - B5, which the RHS of the Peacock covers. 2. The Peacock's range C3 - G4 on the LHS (same as a 48-button Crane) gives you enough notes to form any chord you are likely to need. The thing that would cause me most trouble would be the C#4 missing on the RHS, but that's true of a 46-button Hayden too. And of course, there are always ways round these small difficulties. For some of us, having a small, light instrument outweighs the slight advantage a few extra notes could give.
  7. I don't play Hayden and I don't have any experience of the models you discuss, but from my experience as a Crane duet player I would say the 42 buttons of the Peacock give you all the notes you really need.
  8. Playing melody-plus-harmony on the Anglo is fairly similar to playing it on a duet, but with the added complication that for each note or phrase you have to work out whether the best combination of notes is available on the push or the pull. So if you found the duet too difficult you might find the Anglo even more difficult. But it depends to some extent on what aspect of playing the duet you found difficult. If it was co-ordinating the two hands that's likely to apply to the Anglo too. If it was the button layout (say Maccann or Jeffries) then you might be better trying the Crane or Hayden instead. (You don't say which system you tried.) Yes. But the English is rather like a guitar. It's easy to play chords and it's easy to play melody but putting them together is ten times harder than either on its own. It you learn the melody first you have to change all the fingering to accommodate the chords; and vice versa. At the end of the day, SEANC is right: You can learn each hand independently then put them together without any fingering issues. As with all systems, it's best to get melody and chords working together as soon as possible.
  9. Should we? Equal temperament allows us to play equally in all 12 keys, but in every single one the major third is horribly sharp. And who needs 12 keys? Six is enough for most of us (two flats through to three sharps*) and this allows any instrument to be tuned mean tone**, which sounds much sweeter than equal temperament. * Giving the major keys of C, D, F, G, A and Bb; plus all the related minors and other modes. ** As indeed they were, at least in the nineteenth century.
  10. Indeed it is, but that's what I have in Holden numbers 4 and 10. There is a difference in tone, but small enough that most people either can't hear it or can't describe it. To me the difference is clear all through, just listening on my laptop: the metal one is brighter and more open sounding. To some extent that's what conventional wisdom would tell us, but with my two Holdens the opposite is true (at least to my ears): the metal one is the more gentle sounding.
  11. When reading threads like this I often wonder whether, for those seeking 40-odd buttons so as to have (more-or-less) every note in both directions, the player wouldn't be better off changing to a duet. A small duet (42 - 46 buttons) is adequate for most folk music, and is probably as small and light as an anglo. It wouldn't suit ITM players, but for harmonic-style players a lot of the issues of "do I suck or blow at this point" vanish. (I await the brickbats!)
  12. Harmony is very important to me. Early on I changed from English to duet (Crane) so as to be able to harmonise more easily. I agree to a fair extent with David: but I think he's too dismissive of chords. They don't have to be "piles of notes": just two on the left hand (along with a different one in the melody) creates a chord, and a single note on the left usually implies a chord. I usually think in terms of chords as a starting point for accompaniment, often choosing first or second inversions for variety and to make the bass line interesting. But the melody often doesn't lend itself to this* at which point I'm likely to change to a counter-melody for a few notes. *Most tunes, and especially the older ones, were written as pure melodies. They need to be good and interesting in their own right to survive. Some modern tunes, pop songs etc. seem to start from a chord progression then add a dull melody which fits the harmonic structure; and to that extent I agree with Simon: I appreciate a good melody played unadorned (I do it myself occasionally) but I also think a sensitive accompaniment can enhance a melody.
  13. Before throwing away thousands of pounds on a bespoke instrument that would have no resale value, why not try an English concertina? Triad chords are easily formed with just two fingers, and fifths ("open chords") can be played with one finger. Thirds are extremely easy too. A modest instrument won't cost anything like a custom instrument, and if you don't take to it you can sell it for something close to what you paid for it. If you like it, you have the option to expand into more adventurous (and rewarding) accompaniment.
  14. To be honest, I don't know much about this. I was just going on a vague memory the Northumbrian pipes were in G, along with this Wikipedia article. That indicates the chanter as being in G from the earliest reference in about 1695. Probably not modern concert pitch of A=440Hz. Thinking about it I seem to recall Tom McConville having a fiddle tuned a tone down to F; very likely for playing with pipers if their instruments were in F. Perhaps Northumbrian piping has a tradition of notating in G whilst sounding in F (not unlike the Highland great pipes which are notated in A but sound closer to Bb).
  15. Interesting, though I find it hard to believe the story about players in Northumberland preferring G and D because they learnt tunes from Irish radio. A more simple explanation is that their local Northumbrian pipes have a natural scale of G with drones tuned G D G. Plus the fact (noted elsewhere in the link) that G and D are natural scales for fiddlers to use. All of which pre-dates radio!
  16. As the Chidley layout seems much more sensible, I'd have thought the temptation would be to go the other way: convert Maccanns to Chidley!
  17. That wouldn't be the case for my duet playing. I would almost never play the same note at the same pitch on both hands. I'd also play the same note in different octaves only infrequently - I deliberately avoid it in order to keep the overall sound from getting too heavy - apart from the occasional unison passage of maybe three or four notes; but it would be odd to get that "wet" effect just for a few notes.
  18. I envy your opportunity to try this out. I'm sure I would find it fascinating, but in the end I have to go with your later sentiment: but if I had come across it much earlier I would have been sorely tempted to make the change! I don't really think about it now, but in my earlier days I tended to think of it as right-to-left: D E F (up a row) G A B etc. I also wondered why the original design wasn't right-to-left: C D E (up a row) F G A etc.; ie why the "D" and "E" columns are interchanged to give the 1-3-2 pattern of fingering. My conclusion lay in the right hand accidental column. If you think of them as being related to the adjacent column then the CDE pattern would yield Eb, Ab, Db, Gb and Cbb (yes, C double flat). The actual CED pattern gives D#, G#, C#, F# and Bb which is much more intuitive. I actually played a mouth-blown version of this once. The keys were hexagonal so there were no gaps. However following the link and studying the layout makes it clear that you couldn't convert a Crane as even a single chromatic octave takes 7 columns.
  19. If this is what you want to play then the English was the right choice. But it begs the question “why would you just want to duplicate what you can already do on the fiddle?” The concertina opens up other possibilities such as adding accompaniment. On the English a simple but effective start is to add thirds or fifths below the melody. Don’t dismiss “oom-pah”. I did for many years but it was a mistake. For some tunes, even slow ones, it can be the best approach. It doesn’t have to be used exclusively; it can be interspersed with single notes or countermelodies in the same tune. Finally, as others have mentioned, for a given budget you will get a better quality vintage English or duet (Crane is my choice) than Anglo.
  20. That's good to hear! I started on the English about 40 years ago before I'd heard of duets. The Crane is similar in some respects to the English which made it the natural choice when I changed over.
  21. From my reading of the ledgers, it's the one below that's marked "SP". 33011 is shown as a model 21 with "NP" which I think indicates "nickel plate" ends.
  22. This might confirm that it was intended as a band instrument. Brass instruments are "transposing" instruments - the note that sounds isn't the one that's written. So a trumpet for example sounds a Bb when the written note is a C. I'd suggest your concertina was configured similarly to sound at the same pitch as a trumpet or flugelhorn. Then quite likely it was tuned up a tone for someone who wanted a normal treble.
  23. It's 6 1/4" AF. The size reference in the title alludes to its having the note range of a 48 button English baritone in a box the size of a standard treble.
  24. Here it is, then, Alex Holden's number 10! It's everything you would expect from Alex: beautifully crafted, gorgeous to look at and wonderful to play. He's just posted a blog about making it, which includes a video compilation of some tunes and an explanation of the layout. You can see it here.
  25. I have a 19-button G/D specially made for me by Andrew Norman. Measures 4 15/16" across the flats. I'll PM you.
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