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About MJGray

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    Advanced Member

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Anglo concertina, clawhammer banjo, baritone ukulele, guitar and (occasionally) tenor banjo.
  • Location
    Homewood, AL

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  1. MJGray

    New Book - Sailor Songs for Concertina

    Thanks for these, Gary! As tealeaf said above, these videos are a spectacular resource, and really help with translating the dots and numbers into music under my fingers.
  2. MJGray

    New to Concertina and music in general

    Thanks! That's an interesting system to try to wrap my head around. I will have to spend some time with it to turn it into music, but even a cursory glance at the arrangements is enough to know they're right up my alley: cross-row octave style! Also, now I know that Germans use lowercase letters for minor chords and "H7" to indicate a B7 chord (apparently "B" means B flat). Oy. That's a heck of a thing to encounter without expecting it in the first tab on the page... 🙂
  3. MJGray

    New to concertina

    Ted, I agree with what you're saying completely, but for the sake of the original poster, I'd posit that the outer row only seems more random. It makes pretty good sense from the point of view of being a set of useful "extras" added on to the core 20-button instrument to try to make more sophisticated musical effects (like "playing in the key of D" 🙂 ) possible. I haven't played with a 40-button Anglo, but I suspect it's the same kind of deal: more bells and whistles for the "advanced" player who wants to get beyond what's "easy".
  4. MJGray

    New to Concertina and music in general

    Well now, there's a collection of tunes I haven't seen before. And all for the 20-button, no less. Very nice! (I'm going to have to puzzle out enough German to decipher it, but it seems doable. All I need is "push", "pull", and the numbers 1-20, right?) Oh, and Cody, welcome! The books you've got should be a great start. Have fun! Mike
  5. MJGray

    New to concertina

    I get where you're coming from, Michael, but the layout does make pretty good sense, from it's own point of view. Here's my thinking: Every musical instrument (or tuning for a string instrument) makes a compromise between what's possible and what's easy. The more things that are possible, the fewer things, generally, that will be easy. Standard tuning for a guitar (EADGBE), for example, makes it easy to play full chords in first position in the keys of C, G, D, A, and E. It's kind of brilliant that way. It's possible to play any melody in any key in standard tuning, of course, but it's not what the instrument is laid out to do most easily. A "pure" melody instrument, like a violin or mandolin, tuned in fifths (e.g. GDAE), makes playing melodies (in the keys you have strings for) easy, at the cost of making chords and other keys harder. It's easy to create a driving 2/4 or 4/4 rhythm playing clawhammer banjo, but that style almost forces the player to use different tunings for every key. Not every tune is possible, but that's been sacrificed for the sake of the rhythm. When I look at the Anglo concertina, I see first and foremost that it's laid out to make harmony easy. Press any two buttons on the same row on either side and push and they will harmonize with each other. Pull and that's almost true. To accomplish that somewhat startling feat, quite a few compromises were made, I think, including leaving out lots of notes at the high and low ends to favor useful harmonizing notes and strongly biasing the instrument to the two home keys (C and G). Now, that doesn't mean you can't play pure, unharmonized melody lines in any key you want (look to the entire nation of Ireland), but it's not what the concertina makes easy. The reason these little squeezeboxes were popular around the world was because anyone could play one "without a master". As a beginner, I suppose it depends what you want to do, but it might be simpler to work to the strengths of the instrument. "Anglo 1-2-3" is a phenomenal book, and if you're interested in the history of the Anglo concertina, Dan Worrall's entire 2-volume "The Anglo-German Concertina: A Social History" is available for free on Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Anglo_German_Concertina.html?id=1-thWE5XRmsC It's utterly fascinating. Have fun! Mike
  6. MJGray

    Learning the Anglo in Ohio

    Hi, David! I don't have much advice to offer (not being much of an Irish style player), but this forum is quite a nice little place, and the Anglo is a pleasantly ridiculous instrument. Gary Coover's books have been good to me, as well. Have fun, and I'm sure more seasoned players will be able to help you out soon. Mike
  7. MJGray

    Re-hosting of Anglo fingering generator

    Neat! Thanks for sharing.
  8. MJGray

    Beginning player, need purchase advice

    You may also want to take into account the fact that there are a lot more instructional materials available for Anglo than for English or Duet instruments. Personally, I noodled around happily with a cheap 20-button Anglo for quite a while before shelling out the money for a nice hybrid 30-button. Mike
  9. MJGray

    Anglo playing guidance needed

    Have fun! The first half of Merrill's book is a truly opaque tour of 19th-century music theory, and can safely be skipped (except for comedy value), and most of the tunes have fallen out of what you might call "common use", but the exercises on pages 16 to 24 are well worth your time. Mike
  10. MJGray

    Anglo playing guidance needed

    As far as the left hand goes, I've found Gary Coover's books invaluable for learning accompaniment and in general for sorting out useful fingering patterns I might not have come up with on my own. His books use a very clear and straightforward tablature system. Highly recommended! I don't have either his Irish Session Tunes or Civil War tune books, but I imagine their quality is just as high, and those might contain repertoire you'd be interested in. I'll also put in my semi-regular plug for Merrill's Harmonic Method from 1869 (available at archive.org) as the only "first generation" concertina tutor I know of that teaches chords and accompaniment (with progressive exercises I found very helpful). Mike
  11. And less likely to sell you to the Russians than Facebook is! 🙄 In all seriousness, this is a good site: excellent work, y'all.
  12. MJGray

    Concertina perceptions

    Yup. Best solution is to not care what other people think. Elitist jerks and gatekeepers are a problem in every hobby. That's their problem, not mine. (Also, I kind of like how ridiculous my little squeezebox is. That's part of the appeal. 🙂 But I've never been accused of taking myself too seriously.)
  13. Not every day, but reasonably often. The activation energy for concertina playing is pretty low (no need to tune it up), so it's easy to pop open the box and squeeze out a tune or two when I have a few minutes in between things.
  14. MJGray

    Pirate Songs for Concertina - new book!

    And a most excellent novel it is, too! (Thanks for your contributions to the concertina world, Gary. I really appreciate all the work you put in, and you've taught me a lot.)
  15. MJGray

    Anglo Right Hand Cords

    If I recall correctly, in his Social History of the Anglo-German Concertina, Dan Worrall mentions some South African players who would add harmonizing notes to their right hand playing rather than the left, but it seems to have been an uncommon technique, historically speaking. That's no reason not to try it out, of course!