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About Mikefule

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    Author of Bridge of Otherwhere, 2018, available on Kindle/Amazon. Dancer and occasional musician with Dolphin Morris Men of Nottingham, UK. I play Anglo concertina and harmonica and occasionally a bit of 1 row melodeon. My concertinas are a B flat/F Jeffries, a G/D Dipper and a G/D Marcus. I write a few simple tunes and also write songs for occasional performance at Morris events. Other hobbies include cross country unicycling, motorcycling (BMW F800S)and other outdoorsy stuff.
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    Lincolnshire, UK

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  1. Mikefule

    DG Melodeon to GD Anglo?

    An Anglo is like a melodeon inside out. The right hand of each row is equivalent to the top octave of a melodeon. That means the right hand buttons have the pull note lower than the push. Also, where a melodeon is DG (D is lower than G, a 4th apart) the Anglo is GD (D is higher than G, a 5th apart). Many people can play both. I personally found that I forgot how to play melodeon as soon as I got deeply into Anglo.
  2. Mikefule

    Playing Position for Left Handed players

    There seem to be people seem to think there is a single right way, and that it just happens to be their way, and that they can teach it to you for a fee. I personally prefer to sit, resting both ends of the box on my lap. However, on my lighter boxes, I sometimes find myself resting the middle of the bellows on one knee. When I'm playing in a more relaxed manner, I sometimes find that I'm lifting one end of the box while supporting the other. All these things work in the right context.
  3. Mikefule

    Playing Standing

    I have always struggled to play standing up without resting the concertina on my knee. I tend to use my hard case as a foot rest when I do this. I can play several tunes in the "single line of melody" style by bracing the ends with my little fingers. However, my preferred style is harmonic, and relies heavily on the left little finger for bass notes. A member of our Morris side has constructed a strange bondage-style harness which straps one end of his concertina firmly in place. Seems t work for him.
  4. Mikefule

    What is folk music today? UK and USA

    I've never heard of that happening in England with folk clubs. We have laws requiring venues to be licensed for the performance of music, and there is a Performing Rights Society licence system relating to royalties. However, folk clubs are usually a very informal affair in an upstairs room (or back room). Very often, the pub does not charge the club for the room, knowing that they will make beer sales from the club members (or the pub may make only a small charge). The club itself is non profit making, with any proceeds solely for the benefit of members, helping to fund later club events such as guest bookings. On non-guest nights, many clubs ask for voluntary donations rather than an admission fee. I've had the most enjoyment from Morris sessions. English licensing laws have an exemption for unamplified singing and music associated with Morris dancing, so the pub doesn't even need a music license. The sessions are "all mates together" with no charge for admission and no formal structure. As for copyright law, many folkies inadvertently introduce sufficient spontaneous variation in the words or tune that many songs unintentionally count as a new composition.
  5. Mikefule

    What is folk music today? UK and USA

    Folk music is now a misnomer. It used to be the music of the folk: music that was endemic in mainstream working class culture. Now what we call "folk" is a minority interest, no longer mainstream. I have met people born in the 1970s who could sing every word of most of Buddy Holly's hits, and yet they had never been fans, and were born years after his death. That music was endemic in their culture. They had heard it so many times that they had just picked it up and they assumed that everyone knew it. My personal opinion is that if the expression "folk music" retains any meaning at all in England, at least, it is to do with the context in which it is played. A group of friends in a pub singing or playing collaboratively for their shared enjoyment are engaged in "folk music" whether they are singing broadsheet ballads about bold whale fishermen and coal mining, or performing a rousing rendition of "Delilah", or "Lily the Pink" or even a medley of Beatles songs. On the other hand, when Thin Lizzy recorded Whiskey in the Jar, great record as it was, it was not folk music despite the traditional origin of the song. Folk, traditional, and acoustic are not the same things, although there is considerable overlap. In England, we have a thriving "folk scene" with the overlap of the Morris world, the folk clubs and folk festivals, and many people live in that bubble for so much of their lives that they forget what a minority interest it is. Nevertheless, the folk community is thriving, changing slowly, and includes a lot of young and highly talented musicians, dancers and singers.
  6. Today was the 6 monthly meeting of Midlands Concertina Group, in a church hall in Wollaton, Nottingham. I counted 18 people present, 13 male, 5 female. 10 played Anglo, 4 played English, 1 played Hayden duet, and 3 were there to listen. I roughly counted 28 instruments, with some people bringing 3 or 4. There were at least 4 baritone Anglos, 1 baritone English, and 1 piccolo Anglo. (I played a couple fo tunes on this, which is quite a shrill instrument, and someone commented, "That sounded good — and if you don't believe me, ask any of the dogs in Wollaton." The standard of playing ranged from nervous beginner through to good enough to be professional, and everyone was equally welcome to play. The music included: English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh traditional dance tunes. At least one own composition, in a folky style. Some Romanian dance tunes. A Swedish waltz. American tunes. Some Mozart. A song, self accompanied on Anglo. The song was about Captain Webb swimming along a canal. Scarborough Fair played as a 4 part arrangement, followed by some o'Carolan played as a 4 part arrangement. One regular duo and some impromptu duos. Our resident 3 piece band (2 Anglos, 1 English) who are called Behind the Times and not Out of Time.😀 A medley of simple tunes (Donkey Riding, Clementine, Oh Susannah etc.) for everyone to join in. Finishing with John Tallis' canon for as many as wanted to play. A great afternoon, with 4 hours of concertina music and chat. Theres no charge, although donations to cover the cost of the hall and the newsletter are welcome. Next meeting: Saturday 2nd November 2019 13:00 to 17:00 Arnold United Reformed Church Hall 37 Calverton Rd Arnold Nottingham NG5 8FF
  7. Mikefule

    What our concertinas look like?

    Just re-photographed my instruments as my insurance is up for renewal. Lachenal 20 button piccolo in C/G, 6 fold bellows. "L & Co" incorporated in the fretwork on the right hand end. (See close up.) This one is a hoot to play for a few minutes at a time, but it needs a light touch on the left hand. The right hand is very squeaky indeed at the top end of the G row! Lachenal 20 button in C/G, 5 fold bellows. This is one of the nicest standard 20 button boxes I've played. Not the very nicest, but it's a good 'un. Dipper 30 button G/D with amboyna ends and 7 fold bellows. My pride and joy. (See close up.) Lachenal 30 button baritone in C/G with 6 fold bellows. Lovely rich and responsive left hand, although the right hand is less warm sounding. This one is responsive enough to play Morris tunes harmonically at normal dance speed.
  8. This Saturday. See details in the original post.
  9. Mikefule

    Anglo playing guidance needed

    For a lively dance rhythm on Anglo, common choices are: Bass note on the on beat, chord or part chord on the off beat: Oom-PAH Oom-PAH Oom-PAH Oom-PAH Silence on the off beat, chord or part chord on the off beat: ( — ) Pah ( — ) Pah ( — ) Pah ( — ) Pah Bass notes on the on beat, silence on the off beat Oom ( — ) Oom ( — ) Oom ( — ) Oom ( — ) These are only common choices. They have the benefits of being easy and obviously rhythmical. The bass notes on the on beats drive the tune forwards, and the chords/part chords on the off beat give it lift. However, if you do these things all the time all the way through every tune, it can become bland and repetitive, especially as many folk tunes have the same 5 chords (for any given key). The first simple change to make is not always using the root of the chord as the bass note. Oom (pah) etc. can become C (eg) E (eg) C (eg) C (eg) etc. The next change is to think about what chord is coming next, so that the bass walks in the right direction to get there. Fr example, if the tune has the chord C major followed by F major, you may play an oom (pah) accompaniment: C (eg) E (eg) F (ac), because the F is on the same button as the E, and the bass sound is moving upwards C, E F. Another nice change for a short passage of music is full or part chords on the beat, especially if there is a run of chords: play "chunk chunk chunk chunk" rather than simply "oom-pah oom-pah". Other options include playing the open fifth for the on beat, then filling in the missing third on the off beat. Another is to find the pedal points: notes that are common to two consecutive chords, and ether hold them down or repeat them as the chord changes. There should be no artificial limits to what you try, and no limits to your invention, but it is usually a good idea to have something consistent and simple happening (chords on the off beats) that you can then choose to vary for effect. The combination of bass note on the on beat, chord or part chord on the off beat, is a good foundation to build on, and the first thing to learn if you want to play harmonic style. Of the two, I certainly found it easier to get the chords on the off beats working before I managed to get the bass notes on the on beat working — but perhaps that's just me. Now I find that, whatever I'm playing, and however well I know the tune, nearly all my thought and expression goes into the left hand (accompaniment) and I accompany each tune slightly differently each time, sometimes changing the finger of the melody to get a different accompaniment.
  10. Mikefule

    My introduction and question.

    Well, for a start, it's good to have a clear idea of the music you want to play, rather than just a vague idea that you'd like to play a concertina. For example, if you'd wanted to play modern jazz then the Anglo would be a bad choice. Both the Anglo and the English will work for Irish tunes, cowboy tunes and shanties. The Anglo strongly favours a small number of keys, but is very versatile within those keys. The layout of the keyboard with the different notes on push and pull is confusing at first, but as you learn more tunes, you find out that the notes are all in the right place to fit the common patterns and harmonies. In a sense, the Anglo is illogical, but so is music, and the two are a good fit. The English layout follows a much more "obviously" logical pattern. The two instruments favour different styles of play and usually sound different, although a good player can make an English sound a lot like an Anglo and vice versa. Listen to good musicians playing each system. My own story: after around 25 years in folk music and dance, playing various instruments to a mediocre standard, I decided "on paper" that the English was the obvious choice for me. I borrowed one for a month and struggled. Then I heard an Anglo played well one Monday evening, and had a quick go on it, and I heard an English played well on the Thursday of the same week. Suddenly, I understood that the Anglo was the sound I wanted. I've never looked back.
  11. Mikefule

    My introduction and question.

    My first concertina was a Rochelle. I got on fine with it, but soon decided to upgrade. That was over 10 years ago. I now own 4 Anglo concertinas, but not the Rochelle. By coincidence, I got the chance to play a Rochelle only about 3 weeks ago. Of course, it was not as easy to play as the instruments I now own, but it was surprisingly good. It was far better than the various other "budget" and "beginner" models I've had a go on over the last few years. Far better. The Rochelle is an Anglo. The Jackie is equivalent in quality, but is an English. The two instruments are fundamentally different, despite superficially looking similar. They are more different than a guitar and a banjo, or a clarinet and a flute, or a boat and a motorbike. They are in effect completely different instruments from each other that just happen to be the same general shape. Point is, before you choose one, you need to be sure whether you want an Anglo or an English (or even a duet, which is different again! If you've never played either, it would be a good idea to see if you can find either a local shop/store or a local music session where you can talk to someone and have a go. What sort of music would you like to play?
  12. Mikefule

    B to C#

    I don't play Irish all that much, but I do strongly believe that there is no single right way of playing the Anglo that works for every situation. I try as far as possible not to use one finger consecutively on two buttons on the melody side, but sometimes it turns out to be the best way, not only for convenience, but also for timing and emphasis. I would not reject on theoretical grounds something that worked in practice. Playing a left hand accompaniment, my left little finger has sole control of 4 buttons, and is first or second choice for a total of 6 buttons. So while I'm agonising over the niceties of "correct" fingering for the right hand, my left little finger (my weakest and least mobile as I'm right handed) is wandering all over the place,, sometimes playing 3 or 4 different buttons consecutively. The sole arbiter of what is "right" should be whether it sounds good at the speed you want to play it: smooth if you want smooth, staccato if you want staccato. People who try too hard to convince you that there is only one right way may want to sell you their "method". This is traditional folk music on an instrument designed for the Victorian working class musician with little or no formal musical knowledge. I suggest you try as many approaches as possible, revisit tunes you've played for ages, and experiment. You may find 2 or 3 solutions to a fingering problem in one tune, and find several other tunes where you can use each of those solutions.
  13. The Webley in 2 keys on a 20 button Anglo:
  14. Ring o' Bells in two keys on 30 button Anglo.