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Everything posted by MJGray

  1. Agreed! I always anchor the left end of the concertina on my left knee and only move the right end. This helps a lot with exactly the problem you mention.
  2. You may want to look into the work of “P. D. Q. Bach”. 😃
  3. Accompanying singing on the Anglo is an art I have not mastered myself (coordinating the bellows and my lungs independently is a challenge), so hopefully someone more expert in the art will chime in. However, both the F and G left hand chords can be done quite nicely on the pull, which may help you out some here. (Buttons 1a-4-5 and 1-2-3, respectively.)(Edit: There’s an Am on the pull, too, although it’s a little high: 8-9-10) It may also be useful to think about how many buttons you need to be pressing at any time and for how long. Brief pulses or oom-pah patterns take less air than held notes. Two notes can suggest a chord effectively. I like the sound of playing the melody without ornaments in octaves under a voice line, but that may be a slightly unfashionable opinion (and avoids your actual question).
  4. I've only ever seen it written in the "C#" order, and would find the other way a little confusing. See, for example, the first couple of images at https://pegheadnation.com/string-school/music-notation-guide/
  5. Yeah. Out of those 4 the Branwen looks the most like a decent instrument. The others look kind of cheap and flimsy. Not a brand I've ever heard of, though. A quick search of the forum finds only this: Still, probably an adequate starter instrument. Mike
  6. Leo, I'm sure either of those will serve you well. The important part is to have fun! Mike
  7. We don't disagree as much as you think. Absolutely you can play many Irish tunes on a 20-button anglo, especially if you're willing and able to transpose, but if you want to participate in the dynamic and technical living tradition of modern ITM concertina playing, that means playing cross-row on a 30-button C/G instrument, in keys that are convenient for fiddle players. This is not the most intuitive way to play music on an anglo, but essentially all of the modern instructional material and teachers will assume that's what you want to do. As you point out, G/D anglos are fairly rare on the ground, and finding one in the OP's price range is tricky. The subject of "can you play ITM on a G/D concertina?" comes around periodically, and always has roughly the same answer: "Yes, you can, but most people don't and will think you're weird for insisting that you know better than they do." If you don't care what those people think (a good plan!) and have the self-confidence and musical chops to play your instrument well, go you! Maybe the rest of the world will come around to your thinking. Some maniac managed to make the Greek bouzouki a fairly mainstream ITM instrument. Mike
  8. I have not played a Wren (I started on a very cheap 20-button Hohner and traded up to a Concertina Connection Clover once I decided that I wanted to pursue playing the instrument), but here's a thread in which some folks were not super impressed: It depends what you want to do. For Irish music, you definitely need the 30-button design. Keep in mind that it's hard to get a "good" musical instrument of any kind for less than $500. For that budget, all you can really hope for is "good enough for now". Mike
  9. Agreed on Gary's books, and his "1-2-3" book in particular does a nice job of ramping up to fairly complex arrangements. I'd also second what Mikefule said about playing in octaves. This is an excellent way to enrich the sound of your playing, and gets both hands involved quickly. New forum member Kathryn Wheeler recently posted a lovely arrangement of a tune (in the General Discussion forum) where she uses octave playing extensively. It's an old-fashioned, but very effective style, and personally, I love the way it sounds. -Mike
  10. 🙂 Or you can just play a bit each day on whatever tune you want and just have a good time. Also a valid strategy! It'll take longer to "get good", but if you're having fun, who cares? It all depends on your goals.
  11. Examples I pulled off a quick YouTube search (solo playing in very simple settings): From Gary Coover, harmonic style - combining melody (mostly right hand) with chords and rhythmic harmony accompaniment (mostly left hand): From Sarah Thomsen, Irish trad style - mostly a single melody line with lots of ornaments, similar to how other instruments are used in Irish music: Gary and others can fill you in on the detailed technical differences, but my feeling, as a fairly unsophisticated musician, is that harmonic style playing is more old-fashioned and fits "more naturally" on the Anglo vs. ITM, which is more technically demanding, but has a dynamic living tradition with more active high-level players.
  12. If you're interested in the history of the Anglo concertina and the role it's played in music in countries around the world (including Australia), you can't beat Dan Worrall's "The Anglo-German Concertina - A Social History", available for free in two volumes on archive.org: https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_1-thWE5XRmsC https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_JKZO1aevsiIC Fascinating stuff!
  13. I started in more or less the same place. Luckily, the Anglo was designed to be easy to learn to play! There are also lots of learning resources available, both modern and historical. What kind of music are you interested in playing? This thread in the "Teaching and Learning" forum is a great resource: The most important thing, of course, is to have fun! Mike
  14. I sort of agree here. You can play any kind of music on any kind of instrument, but each type makes certain things easier. Anglos sacrifice being able to play easily in non-home row keys for simplifying rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment. English and Duet systems make other compromises. If you're a virtuoso musician, it doesn't matter, but if you're not planning to dedicate your life to the instrument, it may be more fun to pick an instrument that is optimized for the kind of music you find most interesting and fun to play.
  15. 👆What David said! The Button Box is great, and they will be able to help you narrow in on the right instrument for you. For a very broad overview, Anglo concertinas are mostly used for folk music and are designed to make harmony easy (at least in their home keys), English concertinas are fully chromatic, more melodic (being originally designed for classical music) and less rhythmic, and duet concertinas are meant to allow more complex arrangements in many keys.
  16. 20-key instruments are great for learning, and work very nicely for fairly simple harmonic arrangements in the two keys they are focused on (typically C and G). A lot of the historical manuals are for 20-key instruments, and Gary Coover has a couple of excellent modern tutors for them. I played a 20-key for quite a while before trading up. 30-key Anglos allow you to play in other keys (more or less easily, mostly less) and give you additional options for direction (push vs. pull) on some useful notes. If you're interested in Irish style playing, this is essential, but it's less important for other styles. My understanding is that the 26-key instruments have the important extra buttons for playing in, say, the key of D, but lack a few of the handy bass notes at the left end of the top row. I use those a fair bit, but certainly wouldn't miss the furthest right couple of buttons on the other side. Mike
  17. Fantastic resource! Thank you for compiling this. A small addition to the 20-button list, and a personal favorite of mine: Merrill's Harmonic Method (1872) - https://archive.org/details/merrillsharmonic00merr And while I was looking for that, I found this for English (which I don't play): The Concertina Without A Master (1857; Case, Sedgwick, & Ruttinger) - https://archive.org/details/concertinawithou00case Mike
  18. If you look at the music in very early 19th C. Anglo tutors, they're about evenly split between dance tunes, music hall songs, and hymns. I think it was always meant to be able to play a wide range of "genres".
  19. In my experience, that happens on a regular 6-month cycle with no extra effort needed, but YMMV. ?
  20. To be honest, I've had something like this problem, and it was a big turnoff from getting into playing Irish music. Now, I'm not very technically accomplished, but I've definitely encountered folks with the attitude that if you don't know the locally "right" version of all the tunes and can't get it all by ear immediately, you're not welcome to play. That kind of gatekeeping just makes it less fun if you're not already at a very high technical level. Presumably there are Irish music scenes that are friendlier to new folks and have the kind of healthier attitude Gary describes above. (My personal solution was to stop going to Irish sessions and play other kinds of music, but I also mostly play solo for my own amusement. I don't have any particular emotional attachment to Irish music, and there's plenty of other things I can spend my time on. Depends on what you're trying to accomplish, I guess.)
  21. I have not played a Minstrel, but you can mark down another satisfied customer for the Clover!
  22. I started on a cheap (~$100) 20-button Anglo, and had a glorious time honking away at it for a year or so before I shelled out for a fancier instrument. It was a great way to figure out if I thought it was fun to play without a serious investment up front.
  23. Most of the 19th century instructionals have regular sheet music, although often also with tablature (of one sort or another). Most of them don't include accompaniment, though. And, of course, that does nothing for "showing" rather than "reading", but it may be useful regardless. A few examples: https://archive.org/details/merrillsharmonic00merr/page/18/mode/2up https://archive.org/details/imslp-for-the-german-concertina-sedgwick-alfred-blair/page/n27/mode/2up https://archive.org/details/winnerseasysyste00winn/page/12/mode/2up Mike
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