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Posts posted by Halifax

  1. Slightly off topic...Here's an interesting history of the tune and it's Irish origin story: "The haunting hymn “Amazing Grace” was penned by the anti-slavery advocate John Newton when he landed in Donegal, safe, having survived a shipwreck. His arrival on Irish shores marked the beginning of his conversion to Christianity and the start of a life of good work. He wrote the first verse in Buncrana, County Donegal."





    If we're talking 3 rows...get used to the reversals on the top row as soon as possible....Opens up much greater fingering possibilities.


    Could you clarify what you mean by 'reversals'? I think I know what you mean, and I'm working out

    such alternative fingering possibilities right now, but just to be sure...



    On the (often misnamed) accidental row on the left hand end of a 3 row C/G , there is a button that plays the same notes as the middle button of the G row, but A push/G pull instead of G push/A pull, hence the term "reversal".


    A similar, but higher pitched G/A reversal also appears on the right hand side, but the position of the G and the A on the accidental row can vary according to whether your concertina has Wheatstone/Lachenal or Jeffries fingering. And of course, on the right, the G and the A notes on the G row are on different buttons too. However, they should be easy enough to find....


    Why use reversals? Firstly, playing a note in the opposite bellows direction can often help greatly in achieving a smoothness to a phrase. And secondly, if you play in a harmonic style, it will often assist in achieving a chordal accompaniment that may not be available in the bellows direction usually needed for the melody line.


    Hope that makes sense and help, Roger.




    As an aside, I have heard two well known and respected teachers, one Irish and the other English, use the words "magic buttons" rather than "reversals"; both claim to have invented the term, which I just managed to avoid using in my previous post....but I think that their importance is indicative by the use of the "m" word....


    Using reversals when planning fingerings is a good tip indeed! This gem has already made itself useful when I planned fingerings for "The Old Favourite". Thank you.

  3. Still very much a beginner, but things that have helped my playing:


    1. Learn to play a melody in octaves on both sides of the instrument, both along the row and across them. Not only does it get both hands working, but it sounds surprisingly good, both for entire tunes and for occasional embellishments.


    2. Learn to separate the rhythms on the left and right hands, so you are not always playing in unison. Merrill's Harmonic Method (available on archive.org) has some great beginner-level exercises for this.


    3. When playing in C, the E/F button under your left middle finger almost always harmonizes nicely. :-)


    (I am aware that 1 and 2 are kind of contradictory, but being able to play both in unison and not has made my playing much more flexible and interesting.)

    Thank you, MJ. #1 would not have occurred to me at all. But I can see how it could be helpful, too, in overly loud sessions at the pub.

    #2 is certainly something to work toward. And (yeah), #3. It's good to have a magic bullet for chords.

  4. Regarding the EC, Bullethead said: "Just remember that in the treble clef, the lines of the staff are the left buttons and the spaces are the right buttons, and you're golden." Beautiful stuff, that. T


    Regarding the Anglo, does anyone have any "magic bullet" gems to share with us beginners? I've got one:

    When figuring out fingering, make sure you don't have sequential notes that make you have to jump a finger from one button to the next.


    I look forward to your gems!









  5. Hi, Angie: I don't know if you're in the stage of driving kids around, but I've started bringing my concertina along on my chauffeuring. So, while the wee girl dances, I sit in the car in the parking lot and play. And when the middling boy plays soccer, I practice (sometimes parking the car around the corner so as not to embarrass him). 15 minutes here and there, it adds up.





  6. Hi, TimTim:


    I'm a beginner myself and have had my concertina since June. The bellows just softened up noticeably in the last few weeks (likewise, I'm playing about 15 mins per day) and what a game changer it was! Before, I could only work the bellows in a stiff in-and-out motion, but now I can bend them for a little breath of a draw note and it's not as big a deal to change direction. Sometimes doing so---even within a phrase---means you can access better, more comfortable fingerings, thus keeping the flow that you want.


    It's so fun, isn't it?



  7. Saddle soap tends to migrate through the leather, and stain the papers.

    Using nothing at all is as good as anything. If you're reasonably careful with it, you should easily get a hundred years out of the bellows.

    If you only get 90, let me know, I'll buy you a new set.

    Nothing at all sounds good to me. Thanks for the good advice. I wish I could apply the same action to house maintenance!


    The concertina seems to have a strange effect on animals. My dog is none too keen either but my cat, on hearing the first notes will come running in, even from outside, and leap onto my knees purring in order to be as close as possible to the action. And I'm no great shakes as a player. Even CDs with concertina or accordion on them have the same effect. It shows no interest when I play the mandolin or guitar.

    We used to have a cat that would come meowing into the room where i was blowing my pipes or practice chanter. I was never sure whether she was coming to protest or to sing along.


    So, what does the cat think of the concertina?

  9. Ours discerns between accordeon reeds and concertina reeds; my wife's Rochelle and my Morse baritone, the dog will stay in the room quite happily.


    But As soon as my brass-reeded Wheatstone treble is out she's up barking and exiting the room.


    Thinks - have I found a good excuse to get a Morse Albion treble? :)

    Call the Button Box today! Canine harmony is as good a reason as any.

  10. Thank you all for your thoughtful responses!


    Doug: I took your advice to heart and took my concertina to a hooley---even though I thought I wasn't ready. It was great! So much more fun (for me) to snuggle up in the corner with the band than to be sweating it out on the dance floor. And playing next to another concertina made me realize that my mistakes weren't unforgivable and that I could catch up. So thanks!

    Bill N: Good advice regarding muscle plasticity vs muscle memory. The other concertinist at the hooley made fingering suggestions that make good sense and I'll have to work against muscle memory to incorporate. So, I'll work on plasticity.

    Mr. Jones: You bring up a good point. Ya gotta be able to see the big picture in order to best map out the fingerings for phrasing. It's good that so much of the Irish music has a loose pattern to it, so I usually have a pretty good idea of where things are going note-wise. Just got to get my fingers to figure things out.

    Jim: I did not know about using the stronger finger, and that concept has greatly changed the way I look at the buttons. Makes great sense. I will try out your suggested fingerings, they sound like they make a whole lot of sense.


    Again, thank you all. Sorry for the delay in my reply, I've been taking a few days to let your advice soak in. Now, back to playing, everyone!

  11. Just started playing this summer. Y'all have such good advice, I'm interested in what you have to say about fingerings.


    I'm working with Edel Fox a bit via her lessons on OAIM and I'm following her fingerings for "Maggie in the Woods." It works, I'm happy, seems to make sense to my fingers.


    But on my own, I'm learning the Kesh jig from a music book, so I've no guidance on fingering variations. Is there a trick to it?






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