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Posts posted by geoffwright

  1. Change the 'version' or just add some fancy bits, I get lost, thrown, give me the dots to refer to and I instantly know what the others are doing and I can skip over or fit around as necessary. With dots, I can follow multi-part band arrangements, can count umpty bar rests, can even come in on the off beat after the rests (usually). I always feel that I know where I am.



    I can learn a tune off dots one evening, play it at tempo, eyes closed, and next day I cannot even hum it, show me the dots and I can sing it or play it straight off, close my eyes and play it again.


    Quoting from the "playing by ear" thread, some people can only remember the tune, the whole tune and nothing but the tune and they are confused if they hear it differently to what they are used to, so use dots all the time as a recall.


    Other people may not think in intervals and bars if they never see the printed music.

  2. On similar lines to Sharron - it struck me in the car this morning that I kept subconciously humming along to a tune I was learning but had not played yet - people who play by ear can practise without an instrument.

    Once you pick up the instrument, the only limitation is your fingering technique.

  3. Going around the room in turn at a certain concertina club meet at the weekend, two of the makers/menders were commenting on accordion reeded concertinas, especially Bastari. The next person whose turn it was to play, put her concertina back in the box. Guess what the poor woman was playing?.

  4. And just to show more possibilities, I am mad on bass runs with the chords for morris-style anglo.



    |G |B |C |D |G |E |A |D |

    |G |G |C |D |G |Em |Am |D7 |


    (Ignoring the chords) I would play the B part with basses



    |G|G#|A|D|G|E|C|D| or |G3 F#|E|C|D|

  5. you don't get to learn a tune by hearing it once through

    I don't as much learn new tunes as decide whether or not I can play most of it.


    By a bit of tune structure and idiom knowledge, and a fair amount of gestimation, I can play along with tunes I have never heard before, especially where 4 bars are repeated. If I like it, I find out what the tune is called and go and find the dots, if not, hard luck and try and learn some more next time.


    When playing for the others benefit, if it is a tune I want them to learn, I wll play it through half a dozen times and if they take it on board, repeat an hour later and at knock-off. If just part of a set, if I think they "should" know it, and they don't join in, I don't want to bore them so move on to another tune.

  6. {What is very rare (but not impossible) is to see melodeon players using the thumb to play notes.}

    I read that the late Jimmy Shand was struck by some hereditary muscle disease which rendered his middle finger unuseable. He changed his fingering style to use his thumb. His son was also struck with the same fate (his grandson also plays but don't know he he fares).

  7. Sat in with Andy Turner at Witney Concertinas the other weekend - He never uses his little finger at all (I think he said he started on melodion).

    I use my little finger for bass runs all the time.

    I wonder if your first instrument has some bearing on whether you use it or not?


    I played piano previously and learnt on a 3 row anglo. People who started on melodion or 20 button anglo might find it a little alien to start using it.

  8. Yes, Jim and Clive are probably right about "more than once through each tune", but what if the rest of the session plays it exactly the same, no matter how many times you play it?.

    My palate for multiple airings has been jaded by sessions where one tune is repeated (without variation), as loud as possible 6 or 8 times, solely, because the sessioneers cannot join two tunes together.

    At last nights session, I decided to have a "revisit" evening, where we played tunes that had not been played for at least two months previous. Whilst variation and improvisation is to be encouraged, it is important that wannabe-sessioneers get a substantial quantity of tunes under their belts so they can appreciate and join in at other sessions.

    There is a session for every night of the week in South Yorkshire and the wanabee-sessioneers get chance to practise their variations at the other sesions. My three times maximum through each tune gives them the material to practise.




  9. I try to open a tune-book and read a page or two a day, singing quickly through the tunes to see if there are any I like. I also tape around 5 hours of folk off the radio a week to listen to in the car.

    Any tunes I like, get scribbled down into a jotter set out with pages for 6/8s, reels, marches, slows etc. If a tune gets into the jotter and I can still remember it the next day, it is a good,memorable tune and I put it on the computer for eventual inclusion in a set, when I have enough similar tunes.


    I got to this point by writing music down from tape, starting a few notes at a time and working up to a few bars at a time - this is probably the best training for remembering tunes (providing you read music). If you don't read dots, it is still good practise to listen to 4 bars and sing it back to yourself, rather than try and play along first.

  10. Is the problem with people who play from dots, or people who play the same tunes from dots the month after as they never commit them to memory and probably play them exactly the same?.


    To keep things fresh, I make a point of playing a few more obscure tunes in session every week and am always pleasantly surprised when people either know them or join in and want to learn them because they like them.

    I also try to play a few sets on the slow side for the benefit of those that do slow.


    I have always been a quantity-of-tunes person only playing tunes once, but bowed down under pressure, to session etiquette and play a tune three times through as a compromise since they asked me to play a minimum four. (Unless no-one joins in, then its only once).

    Life is too short to play tunes in sets of one or two.

  11. As I always use cut & paste, I have never felt the need to use the quote boxes, prefering to use speech quotes which also helps to keep posts shorter. I find I skip over the quote boxes and ignore them.

    Looking at emails from around the world, I must be old fashioned as I seem to be one of the few who takes the use of punctuation, "speech quotes" (and brackets) to the extreme. Probably because, as a computer sort, I parse everything to check for ambiguity in statement construction.

  12. There are various sessions around Doncaster and concertinas (mainly english plus my anglo) are in evidence.

    Sessions are important venues for the public to see concertinas being played and to ask questions about the contents of their loft - and also for musicians (and beginners) to be encouraged to play concertina and to play along with them.

    Probably due to my influence, Northumbrian seems to be quite a favorite tradition, closely followed by English country dance tunes.

    See you (and your concertina) at -

    Three Horseshoes, North Bridge, Doncaster on a Monday

    The George and Dragon, West Haddlesey on a Wednesday

    Star, Moss on a Thursday (proper Irish)

  13. Concertinas are out, although free-reed instruments are in evidence.


    Three holed whistle and tabor were the instruments of the time for "street music" which by definition, had to be loud. Along with the Morris, shawms, racketts etc. (double-reed snake charmers oboe) had spread Europewide and these were very loud!! - would these have been used?? Sackbutts/clarino possibly? Certainly lots of drums.


    South America is the best place to look for the traditional dance as brought by the Spaniards where you will still find the ribbons, bells, sticks, disguise, pipes, drums and helmet-like headgear and droopy Zappa moustaches on their masks as worn by the Spanish at the time. The original Morrisco has been preserved!.


    Medieval stained glass and carvings show the angels playing portatives, bowed and plucked instrments, but apart from the brass and percussion, most of these would be instruments for inside.

  14. The best way to find out what speed or tunes dancers require is to learn to dance.

    So, it is the musicians fault again is it?

    After working out that a "heavy jig" (asked for in Leeds) is a hornpipe, I think it would be better all round if dancers spent less time entering competitions, and spent a night a week round at the instrument class and learned to play something (not necessarily concertina).

    Perhaps we then would have dancers that could tell you what they wanted and musicians that could dance.


    The only tips are -

    Work out whether they want 4 or 6.

    Before they start, play a bit to them slowly, gradually speeding up to the tempo they require.

    Watch like a hawk for the ending.

    Get a metronome in your head.

    Also get it into your head you will always be wrong and it will be your fault they come second place.

  15. As an avid arranger of tunes into sets, I use ABC as I can get the maximum number of tunes onto a page. Formatting/justifying is not perfect, but I get by. PLUS, I can sit typing into a text file at work and no one knows I am arranging music.

    The amound of resource available on the net in ABC must be the biggest reason to use it.

  16. Just to set things off, I started a poll on this.

    I hold one end against the knee. Most Irish players seem to hold against or over knee. Other players (notably Morris or singers) usually stand up to play, which I suspect you couldn't do if you wanted to play Irish.

    So there we have the two distinct styles (disregarding people who hang it around the neck).

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