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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

    Re-hosting of Anglo fingering generator

    Neat! Thanks for sharing.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. And less likely to sell you to the Russians than Facebook is! 🙄 In all seriousness, this is a good site: excellent work, y'all.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. 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!
  10. Most of the concertina tutors from the 1800's exclusively show the parallel harmony style (when they show anything other than just melodies), so it's a very old way of playing the instrument. Dan Worrall's books on the history of the Anglo also emphasize that playing in octaves was probably the most common way to play in many places around the world. It's also easier than the um-pah style, which a dabbler like me appreciates. I can improvise a parallel accompaniment which harmonizes just fine, but I'm not good enough yet to knock out a more complex arrangement on the fly. If I had to pick one thing that the Anglo seems designed to make easy, it would be harmony.
  11. Welcome! I haven't used the first book you mentioned, but Gary Coover's books are excellent. I struggled with "Anglo Concertina in the Harmonic Style" the first time I tried working from it, but after working through some of his "Easy Anglo 1-2-3" book to get my head around the skills of playing in a simpler style, I'm really getting a lot out of it. Highly recommended! If you're at all interested in the early history of the anglo, you might want to check out "Merrill's Harmonic Method" from 1872, freely available here: https://archive.org/details/merrillsharmonic00merr It's got a hilariously un-useful first half on 19th-century music theory, followed by some really excellent exercises for playing in the harmonic style. From what you say about your musical interests, the tunes in the book are probably not up your alley (waltzes, hymns, music hall songs, and American patriotic songs, mostly), but the exercises did wonders for helping me make the leap from playing single melody lines to melody plus accompaniment. Have fun!
  12. MJGray

    Absolute Beginner

    It took me a lot of twiddling to get the straps adjusted to my liking at first. Too loose and there's no control, too tight and you can't reach the buttons. I ended up with the left hand strap slightly snugger than the right hand one, but it may be worth playing around to see what feels right to you. (I stabilize the left end on my left thigh and mostly move the right end of the concertina, probably because I also started out with those OAIM lessons from Edel Fox, but there doesn't seem to be consensus about that. John Williams' DVD shows him stabilizing the right end and mostly moving the left end. Jody Kruskal, who often posts in this forum, seems to keep both ends moving with the bellows across his left thigh when he plays sitting down.)
  13. I've gotten a ton of mileage out of Gary Coover's books, and I like the structure of "1-2-3" a lot. That being said, I certainly didn't learn all of the 1- and 2-row tunes before moving on to 3-row ones, and have now largely abandoned that book in favor of his "Harmonic Style", which focuses on playing both melody and accompaniment at the same time, (what I like best about the anglo). The books are tools. I dare say that however you use them to accomplish your goals is fine. (My experience with music tutorial books - guitar, banjo, now concertina - has been that I get the most use out of the first half or so, which teach the fundamental techniques. It's a very rare tutorial where I've actually worked through it cover to cover. My goal is more to learn the most useful basics so that I can then spend my own time playing around with them.) Have fun! Mike
  14. MJGray

    Haste To The Wedding Chords Alan Day

    Ron, As a fellow long-time guitar player and new concertina guy, I had much the same problem trying to translate what I know about chordal accompaniment on string instruments to the concertina. It just doesn't work very well, and that push-pull dynamic really is a big issue. What's helped me is that I've realized is that you simply can't hold down a chord shape on the concertina for any length of time. It's all rhythmic pulsing, even if you're using the exact same chord shape. In fact, the shorter I go with sounding individual chords, the better it seems to sound, especially against a melody line in the right hand. That might have to do with the fact you (or at least I) can't really separate the volume of what each hand is playing, so keeping the accompaniment notes short compared to the melody notes helps keep the melody from getting overwhelmed. (I feel like maybe I read that on this site somewhere, actually.) Now what I haven't figured out is how to accompany myself singing on the concertina, although I know there are plenty of folks on here who have that pretty well mastered. Luckily, I have a guitar for that, so it's not the highest thing on my priority list... Hope that's slightly helpful. Mike