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About Mjolnir

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  1. I think a lot of the joy of the Anglo is in using it to play tunes it wasn't even remotely designed to play. Even Irish music isn't really what it's "for" - that's just what people use it for because once upon a time, it was a cheap and plentiful instrument, and now it's "traditional". So now you've got a bunch of people using a diatonic instrument in C and G to play fiddle tunes in D and A. It's absurd, but that's just a part of the fun. It's chromatic for enough of a range that you can play all manner of things - sometimes you just have to be a bit clever about it.
  2. I'm kind of curious what the difference is between the clover and the minstrel w/ all the various upgrades. I think the end up pretty close in price at that point.
  3. Re the Rochelle, it is a bit bulky, but it's something you notice more when switching between it and a more expensive hybrid. If you're just playing the Rochelle, you get used to it's own particular weight distribution fairly quickly. Actually, they main thing that annoys me about the Rochelle is that the hand straps are ridiculously loose, but that's easy enough to fix.
  4. Mjolnir


    Gary Coover's books are hard to beat. I think they're all technically for 30-button, but most the tunes in Civil War Concertina are playable on a 20 button, and the basic principles in Easy Anglo 1-2-3 will still apply - just skip the pages that say "and this is how to play a C#..."
  5. Hmm, well the note chart on their website seems to match what you were expecting: http://www.concertinaconnection.com/jackie layout.htm But if you got it used, maybe one of the previous owners made some modifications? When you say there are two G#'s, is one of them where the high C "should" be?
  6. For that price, the Concertina Connection Minstrel wouldn't be a bad bet. I haven't played one myself, but I've heard good things. You might also luck out and find mid-range vintage instrument for sale somewhere. Barleycorn Concertinas has a pretty large selection of vintage instruments, though they're based in the UK, so you'd have to consider shipping and import taxes when working out the final price.
  7. I mostly play contra dance tunes, which constitutes a mix of Irish, Scottish, old time, and really just about anything else that sounds vaguely folk-y and fits into 64 beats. I'm not yet good enough to play for actual dances, but some of the people I jam with are in contra dance bands.
  8. I haven't been playing as long as most of the people on here, but in my relatively short experience, a large part of the joy of a 30 button is working out optimal fingering 'paths' on the fly. For the most part, I'm going to play C#/D# with my index finger. There might be occasional exceptions, but not many. The trick then is arranging things so that you can get your index finger there on time. If I've got the note sequence G - E - C#, I'm going to play the G with my index finger, the E with my middle finger, and then while I'm playing that E, I'm going to move my index finger up to the C# so it's ready for that next note. On the other hand, if the sequence is B - C# - D, I'm going to play the B with my left hand middle finger, so my right hand index finger is free to move to the C#. And then for the D, it would probably depend on what comes after that, but I'd likely go with the left hand index finger so that all three notes are on the push. For the most part, you can find paths such that the same finger never has to play two different buttons in a row. Not always. You might have a C# followed by an F#, and then it's really down to the particular tune and personal preference whether you want to try and move your index finger from the accidental row down to the G row in the space between notes, or whether you want to try and twist your hand a bit so that you play the F# with your middle finger. If you want to give your right hand a workout, the B part of 'Wizard's Walk' makes you get creative.
  9. Smythe's Accordion Center has a cheap 20 button. I'm afraid I don't know if he ships, but if he does, it looks like a decent deal, and I believe he goes over all cheap instruments that come in, and makes sure they're in solid working order.
  10. Gah, wish I could attend. Unfortunately, I'm going to be down at a dance weekend in SoCal. Though maybe if I'm lucky, there'll be some concertina players there. One of these days I'll make one of the bay area meetups.
  11. Eh, everyone has different preferences. A left handed carpenter would be perfectly justified in blaming a tool made for right handed people. I haven't personally had issues with delrin, but I prefer larger buttons with domed tops, while other people prefer small buttons with flat tops. You could probably get used to delrin with practice, just as I could probably get used to narrow buttons. But if there are other options out there, like brass buttons that are more sticky, there's no harm in trying them and seeing if they feel better.
  12. If you're playing in C major, you should find that the direction of the notes often correspond to the direction of the chords you need, and that's by design. The first tune I tried to work out a score with accompaniment for on my own was Redwing / Union Maid. In G major, it would have been tricky, but I transposed up to C major, which put the melody mostly on the right hand, and magically made most of the chords fall right into place. Had to get a little creative when the melody crossed back down to the left hand, and made use of the G/A reversals on the accidental row in a few places, but the nice thing about the home keys is that you actually do have multiple options for most of the notes you need to play. Apart from F/F# basically every note in the C major and G major scales are available in both directions, at least for the octave and a half-ish of range where a lot of tunes spend most of their time.
  13. If you're just doing melody lines, most anything will work on anglo - it's got a pretty wide range. I've yet to encounter a fiddle tune that wouldn't be possible on the concertina, even if I have to get a bit creative with the fingering sometimes. Now chords of course will make things trickier, as you're limited in what notes you can actually play simultaneously - no matter how hard you try, you won't be able to play a C# at the same time as an F. But if you're willing to be creative, you can still manage quite a lot. Maybe you can't play a particular minor chord, but you can play it as an open chord, and that might be good enough. Or maybe you drop the chord briefly while you reverse the bellows to get the note you need for the melody. Or maybe you can get really creative, and throw in a new chord that wasn't there in the original score, but still sounds good. Or if all else fails, transpose the whole piece to a new key, and the chords might become easier.
  14. As a general resource, check out thesession.com for scores of various Irish pieces. If you have a program like MuseScore on your computer, you can copy over the ABC notation from thesession, and play the tune back at whatever tempo feels comfortable. I always find it helpful when trying to get around a new piece.
  15. Do you dance at all yourself, by chance? Way back in my youth I used to play clarinet, and always found it a bit tricky to really get the rhythm. But then over the last several years, before I picked up the concertina, I started going to contra dances, and it's done so much to improve my sense of rhythm. Now when I sit down to play a jig or a reel, I just imagine that I'm dancing to my own music, and everything just kind of falls into place - my feet know where the beats need to be, and they communicate it to my hands.
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