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Cheshire Chris

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Posts posted by Cheshire Chris

  1. I've recently scanned the "Simplicity Tutor for the English Concertina", originally published by Hawkes of London (which dates it prior to 1930, when Boosey and Hawkes merged). There is a scan already elsewhere on this site, but this appears to be a later edition, with an expanded selection of tunes at the end. It can be downloaded from:


    Simplicity Tutor for the English Concertina


    Thanks to Terry Evans for lending me the book to scan.

    Apologies for truncating the title of the tune at the top of page 31; the missing title is "Come Back to Erin".


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  2. 7 minutes ago, Kathryn Wheeler said:

    As someone who loves playing harmonically and who is relatively new to it -

    I made a note of whose playing (or which pieces) really stood out for me as something I love and (at first) literally played videos at a slower speed and noted down what was going on.  That helped me but I’m experienced at that and it’s one way I’ve always learnt music - copy it, internalise it, learn the grammar of it, then play with it and modify/adapt to suit whatever I’m doing.  Then play with new ideas


    There are many different options and ways of doing it.  Lots and lots to play with.  

    Ive started writing out tunes and accompaniments in a way that’s sheet music plus tab like Gary Coover’s system  (of various sorts - countermelody/equal parts, countermelody plus chord like rhythm, octaves, thick chords, oom pah or a mixture) 

    Thanks, Kathryn. I play the melodeon already, so "um pah" accompaniments are something that's very familiar to me. On the melodeon you have separate bass keys for the purpose. Have to work out how best to fit them in with the melody on the Anglo. Presumably you use the low-octave of whatever key you're playing in?




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  3. 12 minutes ago, Mikefule said:

    On the octaves thing, it is (in my mind) important not to play simple octaves note for note all the way through.  If you do this, you may as well get a single row 2 voice melodeon.


    Instead, I tend to play the lower note of the octave only on beats 1 and 3 (in 4/4) most of the time, occasionally playing every beat of a bar, and sometimes lingering on one note for longer, perhaps if it is a pedal point (a note that is common to two or more consecutive chords).


    From here it is a simple extension to vamp pairs of notes (the octave and the next button up or down) some of the time.


    This way, the left hand brings light and shade to the right hand melody, rather than simply copying it.


    In all of the various harmonic and octave based approaches to playing Anglo, it is incredibly useful to develop confidence playing across the rows.

    Developing the mental flexibility to play across the rows is the challenge I’m facing at the moment, Mike. I can confidently play along both the C and G rows, but I’ve not yet reached the point at which I know when it’s best to cross the rows. I’ll get there! Chris Sherburn’s book which I’m learning from is giving me lots of practice at it.






  4. 2 hours ago, Mikefule said:

    I set out from day 1 to learn "the harmonic style" and now tend to feel that there is no single "harmonic style"  There are techniques and approaches that work for different types of tune.


    However, you need to make a start with a basic style and the develop techniques as you go on.


    The two things to work on are:

    1. The physical coordination required to play 2 things at once.
    2. The intuition of which notes to play.

    The simplest harmonic styles are based on octaves.  Here is a link to an excellent article on the subject:



    A popular starting style is loosely based on the "oom pah" (bass note, chord) that you hear from melodeonists.


    The timing for this is a bit of a hurdle at first.


    Think of a jig rhythm.  "Tid-der-ly tid-der-ly."

    The base note goes on "Tid" and then you play one or more higher notes from the same chord on the "ly".


    A simple exercise to get the timing is to play (on a CG) the notes CDE CDE repeatedly on the right hand in a slow jig rhythm.

    The bring in the left hand: C gap G, C gap G.

    Then instead of just playing the G, play EG together on the left hand.

    Then experiment with playing with the OTHER C on the left hand.

    (Hint: your left little finger is your busiest finger in the harmonic style.  It owns the bottom 2 buttons on all 3 rows.)


    Now, choosing the chords.


    The 3 chord trick will provide a basic simple harmony for any tune in a single major key.  That is why country music was famously called "3 chords and the truth" and why dads the world over criticise their son's music as "It's only 3 chords".


    A chord is 3 notes counting up the scale: the root note, then note 3, then note 5.

    So if you count from C, that means CEG.


    The 3 chord trick, in this order of importance, uses these chords:

    Chord I (C in the key of C)

    Chord V (G in the key of C)

    Chord IV (F in the key of C.


    C is CEG

    G is GBD

    F is FAC.


    You will see that each letter name appears at least once, so at least one chord will fit any note in the melody.


    The 5 chord trick is common in folk music.  It is the 3 chord trick plus

    II (minor) which is A minor (notes ACE) in the key of C.

    III (minor) which is E minor (notes EGB) in the key of C.


    These two extra chords will add flavour to most tunes in the major key.


    Any note of any chord can be duplicated (e.g. Low C and high C together) and any note can be missed out.


    Find one simple tune that you know well enough to play on autopilot (something as simple as Oh Susannah) and experiment.


    Remember you don't have to harmonise every note, and gaps in the accompaniment are part of what makes the Anglo special.


    Thanks, Mike, that's great information.


    I play the piano, so I'm quite accustomed  to doing different things with each hand (plus, of course, I know the chords), so in theory that should be a big help. I'll try the simple exercises you suggest and see how it goes.


    Thanks again for your extremely helpful response.




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  5. 42 minutes ago, Devils' Dream said:

    Chris, I like all Garys books.

    Don't get too ambitious with "Harmonic Style" right away. 

    Start at the beginning.  Pick one tune you really like. 

    Gary has great YouTubes for nearly all  of them.

    Once you get the hang of it, it is fun....

    Thank you! Good advice.




  6. I've been playing the Anglo concertina for a few months now, using Chris Sherburn and Dave Mallinson's excellent "Anglo Concertina Complete Beginners" tutor book. I started with a Stagi concertina and have recently bought a lovely 1920s Lachenal Anglo from Chris Algar at Barleycorn.

    I can now play some really nice tunes from this book quite competently, but the book only teaches you to play in the single-note melody style. Obviously it's essential to learn to do that, but I feel that now I'd like to learn to "jazz up" my playing and perhaps move towards more of a "melody on the right hand and extra notes and chords on the left" style, which I believe is often called a "harmonic" style of playing?


    I've bought Gary Coover's "Anglo Concertina in the Harmonic Style" book. Would this be a good book to use to learn to make my playing a little more sophisticated?


    All advice would be very welcome,







  7. On 11/3/2020 at 3:23 PM, Johna said:

    I'll agree with everything Hillsider has written . This is a well presented clear course . I 'm doing the advanced and find it excellent 

    How long do you find a course takes? I realise that will depend on how much you practice, but on average? I was wondering if the 6 month subscription was worth signing up for, or the month-by-month would be more practical.




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