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Everything posted by MJGray

  1. I have not played a Minstrel, but you can mark down another satisfied customer for the Clover!
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. Interesting. I'm no expert (quite the opposite!), but I definitely use both pinkies when I play anglo. I play mostly in a harmonic / octave style and am very very bad at Irish style, for what it's worth.
  5. Not sure what you mean by "Jones 26", exactly, unless it's an antique Jones 26-button. That being said, of the choices you've listed, the Swan looks like by far the most reliable choice. The others could be OK, but without playing them in person, I'd be skeptical.
  6. Another consideration is that there is much more instructional material available for the Anglo than for the other systems. (Personally, I typically play by myself, so I also really like the Anglo's capacity to play both melody and accompaniment at the same time. A single melody line always sounds kind of sparse in my hands, but then again, I'm no good at Irish music on any instrument.)
  7. Jim, You might be interested to read Dan Worrall's two-volume "The Anglo-German Concertina", available on archive.org at this link: https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A"Worrall%2C+Dan+Michael" That would answer all your questions about the history of the Anglo, and has fascinating chapters on the use of the instrument throughout the world, including African Zulu and Boer musical traditions. Here's some great concertina music that certainly falls outside the traditions you list, anyway:
  8. William Kimber (foundational figure in modern Morris dancing) played a 20-button concertina, and there are plenty of old 78s and such that people have uploaded to YouTube. Here's a good one:
  9. Something to consider is that Gary Coover's "Pirate Songs for Concertina" exists, and is written for the 30-button Anglo. It's a very nice collection of sea shanties and related tunes.
  10. Anglo 1-2-3 is excellent, so here's another vote for that. I also got a lot out of the Australian Bush Music site. A lot of the historical concertina instructionals available are for 20 (or sometimes 10) button instruments, if you can manage the slog through the 19th-century style pedagogy. Here are a couple examples I found useful in one way or another: https://archive.org/details/merrillsharmonic00merr/page/18/mode/2up https://archive.org/details/imslp-book-for-the-use-of-learners-of-the-german-concertina-minasi-carlo/page/n1/mode/2up Finally, I found the last chapter of Dan Worrall's The Anglo-German Concertina immensely helpful for understanding how "cross-row" playing actually works and the value of playing in octaves: https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_JKZO1aevsiIC/page/n237/mode/2up Have fun! Mike
  11. The best historical resource I know of for this kind of question is Dan Worrall's "The Anglo-German Concertina: A Social History". The chapter on "The Concertina In Ireland" is freely available here: https://books.google.com/books?id=1-thWE5XRmsC&pg=PA187&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false Mike
  12. I'm not sure if this is much of a concern for the OP, given that the models they expressed an interest in are all hybrids and that they are looking for something in a < $1K range...
  13. I have a Clover, and it's very nice, for whatever that's worth. The Rochelle I tried out was OK, but admittedly had been given a once-over by Bob Tedrow, so may not represent how it comes out of the box. The main problem I had with it was bulk. It seemed very big.
  14. Helen, Welcome! Gary's books are excellent, and some of them are explicitly for the 20-button Anglo, which is relatively rare. You can't go wrong with any of them, as far as I'm concerned. Some other free resources I've found useful one way or another (I learn best from written material and have fairly old-fashioned and eclectic tastes). Australian Bush music Anglo Concertina Tutor: https://www.bushtraditions.org/tutors/concertina.htm Merrill's Harmonic Method for the Concertina (1872): https://archive.org/details/merrillsharmonic00merr/page/n6 (ignore the "music theory" section) Chapter 10 of Dan Worrall's "The Anglo-German Concertina: a Social History": https://books.google.com/books?id=JKZO1aevsiIC&amp;pg=PA229&amp;source=gbs_toc_r&amp;cad=3#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false If learning by ear is more your thing, Alan Day's tutorial may be helpful: http://concertina.folkweb.co.uk/ There are also excellent video tutorials available online. Even just the free sample at https://www.oaim.ie/concertina/concertina-basics/ is a good beginner's lesson, but the whole course is great if you're interested in Irish music (for which there are a ton of training materials available online). It is, of course, also a much more up-to-date and modern style of playing. Others will be able to direct you more knowledgeably there. Have fun! Mike
  15. Dan Worrall's book (if I recall correctly) has a story of an old Australian outback concertinist who would tie a string to his concertina and hang it down the well to keep it cool in the summer. Not a new problem!
  16. 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.
  17. 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... 🙂
  18. 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".
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
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