Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by MJGray

  1. 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:




    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!



  2. 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&pg=PA229&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&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!



  3. 8 hours ago, Sebastian said:

    Druck is "push" and Zug is "pull".


    You need only the numbers from 1 to 5.


    Above the horizontal line is the right hand and below is the left hand. The digits on the right of each D or Z show the buttons to press: The superscript digits denote the outer row (C row), the subscript digits denote the inner row (G row). The button numbering goes from left to right (1 = deep sound, 5 = high sound).


    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... ?

  4. 9 hours ago, Tradewinds Ted said:

    With the 20 button, you won't have the 30 button's outer row of accidentals and reversals which does seem more random.   That also means there are a few notes which simply aren't available at all, and if you are looking to play Irish session tunes the first one you will miss will be the C# needed for tunes in D major.  


    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".

    • Like 1
  5. 3 hours ago, Sebastian said:

    For a collection of tunes notated in tabulature and PDF for your type of concertina, visit https://konzertinanetz.de and click on "Melodien".


    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!



  6. 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!



  7. 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.



  8. 3 hours ago, Fane said:

    Thanks for the advice, everyone! I think I'm going to try and get hold of Gary Coover's Irish session book and have a flick through the Merrill one - Bertram Levy's books don't seem easily available in the UK.


    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. 



  9. 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).



  10. 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.)

    • Like 1
  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.)

  • Create New...