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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

    Anyone Have a Verb?

    In comic announcements for our Morris side, I will sometimes refer to one of the musicians as an "accordion operator" or a "concertina owner".
  2. Mikefule

    Anyone Have a Verb?

    Squeezing, playing
  3. Mikefule

    Starting again

    I either play or sing in public, but never both together. However, when experimenting in the privacy of my own home, I find a simple technique that works nicely for a slow and thoughtful song. It is simply play two notes a fifth, or an octave, or a tenth apart, then, still holding them down, fill in the in between notes on the later beats. So I might Play [G and b] then add [D and g] in between = g major Play [A and E] then add the C in between to get A minor. The two outside notes sort of act as a mellow drone, and the timing of the in fill (which can be pulsed on the beat if preferred) adds to the sound of hte chord and helps with the rhythm. This is a crude basis for starting to build a simple accompaniment. It is not the be all and end all, but it sounds better to me than an Oompah, or just block chords, or playing the same tune as I'm singing.
  4. I agree. This is one of several reasons why I tend not to play in big sessions.
  5. As I have developed as a player, I have come to find more satisfaction and sometimes more musicality, in playing in D on the GD. It's harder work, but it introduces some harmonic options and a different way of thinking about a tune. I don't just mean transferring the same fingering across from the outer row to the inner. I mean reconfiguring the fingering to make the most of the cross row options. It follows from this that playing in in G on a CG is similarly more satisfying. However, moving one key further round (A on an GD, or D on a CG) is a tad trickier in the major keys if you play harmonically. It's far from impossible, but you're moving further from what the Richter tuning system was devised for.
  6. There's some sense to playing a single line of melody in an English session. I learn tunes on Anglo with carefully worked out arrangements, often only to find that some melodeon players pump out a I, IV, V (or even I, V) accompaniment to nearly everything, while the better melodeon players have worked out different arrangements. You can end up with clashes of chords as each musician has chosen different underlying harmonies. Also, where one musician leaves a gap for expression, someone else fills it with a cascade of decoration, and where one musician dots the rhythm, another plays a blurry legato. Sometimes, just playing the tune means you are highlighting the core of the music, without adding to the cacophony that surrounds it.
  7. I'm sorry if you think that my answer to a specific question about playing in an English session was inadvertently condescending towards the way that the instrument is played in an Irish session.
  8. In English music, the GD melodeon often dominates the session and most tunes are in G or D or the associated minors and modes. A GD is simplest if you want to play a full harmonic accompaniment. It is of course possible to pay in G on a CG, but t is a touch on the squeaky side. I have a baritone CG that sounds nice in G. However, doing harmonic arrangements in D is more of a struggle on a CG. If you are playing it like a mini piano, go for the keys you will play in most often. If you are playing it like a fiddle, as the Irish tend to, a CG will also work.
  9. Mikefule

    how do i make a song playable on concertina?

    Oom pah is only one way of accompanying a tune, and may not be suitable for accompanying a song. If the song only uses the notes C D E F G A B C, and comes home to land on C, you're playing in C major. The main chords you will need, in this order of importance, are: C Major: the notes C E G available on the push on the C row. G major: the notes G B D available push on the G row or pull on the bottom 3 notes of the C row. (add the fourth button pull to get G7) F major: the notes F A C, available on the pull, with notes from both rows. In addition, you can add flavour using E minor (E B D) and D minor (D F A) The notes of the tune that are one the beat will usually be the ones t choose the chords for. The chord will include that note. Experiment with handfuls of notes, rather than oom pah. See what sounds right. Sing with chords under your voice. It will take time, effort, and practice. Use YouTube and Wikipedia to find out about the basics of music theory. It's all there for free. The mroe tunes you can find by ear, the quicker you will be able to "guess" (work out, intuit) the right chords.
  10. Mikefule


    Fair point, but players who prioritise speed over other considerations tend to play badly. The very best players can play accurately, sensitively, and yet still be fast when it is appropriate.
  11. Mikefule


    In Morris music sessions, there used to be a Hohner Wall of Sound. These days, Castagnaris and Dino Baffetti melodeons are de rigueur, but the principle is the same. The alpha musicians set the pace as fast as they can. Anyone who leaves an expressive gap finds it filled with someone else's flutters and trills. Start singing a song in F or A and someone with a G melodeon will start playing along to "guide you to the correct key". To my mind, it is not musical, and it is often done rudely. If a tune is played well and at a proper pace, each note will have its correct value, and each gap between notes will add to the listening experience. A jig played steadily may have a nice "Did der ly did der ly" rhythm. Each triplet has a shape. A person doing a proper Irish step can fit in a complete "One two three and". (I used to do Irish dancing many years ago and learned some of the proper steps. Play a jig too fast and the audience hears only "DID (ly) DID (ly)". The triplets have no shape because so much emphasis is on the first note of the three. A dancer can only do stompy stompy step. This may be acceptable at a barn dance for people with no background in folk music, but it is short changing the experienced dancers. Playing very fast is difficult — it's a skill I've never tried to learn — but many bad musicians achieve the speed by bluffing. I know one melodeonist who strongly advocates a beginner in a session putting down two or three buttons of the most likely chord and releasing the two that are wrong. Music like this becomes a sterile technical exercise in keeping up with the fastest and at best will get people tapping their toes for a while before they become bored. Playing slowly is also very difficult. If you break down half way through a tune at very high speed, you may earn cheers and whoops for having tried. Playing slowly is less showy, less spectacular, sounds to the non-musician as if it must surely be easier to do, and exposes every wobbly note or hiccup in the rhythm to scrutiny. If you go wrong playing slowly, it may be interpreted as evidence that you are not very good. Strangely, in English folk song circles, the converse applies, and many singers can convert the most cheery and optimistic song into an interminable dirge. I have said before that the two rules of English folk are "Play as fast as you can, sing as slowly as you can — and the only exception is if you are singing and accompanying yourself on an instrument!" I know I tend to practise Morris tunes faster than they would be danced, but I never aim for speed as an objective in its own right. If a tunesmith has carefully crafted and shaped a beautiful melody, it is wrong to hammer it flat.
  12. Mikefule

    synonym for "concertina player"

    He fingers and squeezes, The ladies he pleases He smiles as he plays them his song When his instrument's short they don't give him a thought But you should hear them gasp when it's long
  13. Mikefule

    New to concertina

    For the original poster, asking about the 20 button C/G Anglo that he actually has, rather than the 30 or 40 button that he doesn't... I have owned 7 Anglos over the last few years, and currently own 4. I started on a 30 button. I can honestly say that the biggest step forward I made was when I got my 20 button, which was the 4th concertina I owned, and some 10 years after the 1st. I don't play it as often as my favourite 30, but I find four things about it: 1) The limitations of the 20 button layout create a real sense of satisfaction when playing simple tunes and finding harmonies and alternative fingerings, although those tunes might be trivial to play on a 30 button. 2) The limitations of the 20 button layout was the biggest encouragement for me to start playing in the higher of the 2 keys (G on a C/G) because of the additional cross row options and harmonies. 3) The lack of a 3rd row adds a delightful sparseness to the sound. It gives it that proper Anglo sound. On a 30+ button, there is a temptation to do full and rich chords whenever you can, and "over use" (I am being highly subjective) of the extra buttons can take you too far away from the core of what makes the instrument an Anglo. 4) When chords are not available, the octave always works, and playing in parallel octaves is a skill in its own right, and a link with the sound made by the untutored traditional musicians of the past. (This is a sort of point 3A as it is closely linked to 3 above.) Point is, don't think of it as "only a 20 button". Think of it as what it is: the heart and soul of all Anglos, but with no frills. The layout of an Anglo seems random at first. On a 20 button, nearly all the notes appear at least twice, sometimes in the same bellows direction. The push/pull thing confuses people unless they are used to the diatonic system. In fact, it is completely logical, in the sense that the more you play, the more you realise that the notes appear exactly where they are needed — at least for popular simple tunes. Take the C row push. Ignoring the bottom 2 buttons on the left hand, you just have a repeating pattern of the notes of the C major chord: C E G C E G C E. That means that any 2 or more push notes will automatically be part of the C major chord. Some combinations will sound better than others, but they will all harmonise. Of course, you don't necessarily want to play chords, but you will find that a lot of tunes rely heavily on sequences of notes from the same chord. You will also find that the notes C E and G tend to be on the beat when you're playing in C, so they sit nicely "on the push". There are 7 letter names available: A B C D E F G. If only 3 of them (C E G) are "allowed" on the push, then that means you need to fit the other 4 (A B D F) on the pull. This introduces one of the quirks of the Anglo layout: the fact that the scale goes << push, pull, push, pull, push, pull, pull again, push >> The knock on effect of this is that the fingering of the first octave of the scale (left hand) is different from the fingering of the second octave (right hand). Left hand goes (starting on button 3) <<push, pull, push the next, pull, push the next, pull" Right hand goes (starting on button 1) <<push, pull the next, push, pull the next, push, pull the next...>> It takes some getting used to, but it soon comes with practice. I said above, "ignoring the bottom 2 buttons on the left hand." The standard pattern is a repeated CEG. However, those 2 buttons give you C and G. There is no E. This is simply because there is only room for 2, and the E is the least useful of the 3. because the G is so useful, they also put one on the bottom button, pull. This means that the bottom 3 buttons, pull, will give you a G major chord, and the bottom 4 buttons will give you a G7 chord. All the same rules apply to the G row, the push notes being the 3 notes of the G major chord: G B D repeat. Also, some builders substitute different notes on the pull the very lowest button, taking advantage of the fact that the pull D is readily available on button 3 of the C row. As all the notes appear twice on the instrument, once on each row, except for the F/F# which appear once each, there are over 100 ways of playing a C major scale. You don't need to learn all of them, but you will find that some specific runs of notes "across the rows" will be really helpful. Here's one to start with. On the right hand, play C D E F (push, pull the next, push, pull the next) then transfer your fingers to the G row and repeat the fingering to get G A B C. You say you want to play "pirate songs" and Irish session tunes. Pedantry alert: the concertina was invented long after the so called golden age of piracy had ended. However, simple chantey type songs will fit the Anglo well. Tunes such as Blow the Man Down, Sam's Gone Away (aboard a man of war), and so on will be easy to pick out by ear, or you can find the dots/ABC file with a quick Google search. I don't play much Irish, but Dingle Regatta and the Irish Washer Woman both fit a 20 b and will challenge you to cross the rows. In fact Dingle Regatta, in particular, is a good tune for helping you to understand the quirky logic behind the layout, and why the manufacturers put the two rows a 5th apart. As a complete beginner, though, you may be better off playing some simple tunes by ear such as Donkey Riding, British Grenadier, Camptown Racetrack, When the Saints, and some slow waltzes such as Michael Turner's. Look for alternative cross row fingering patterns, and try different options. Listen to other players. If you're on Spotify, you can find some of the "old dead guys" such as William Kimber and Scan Tester, and plenty of the living players who have a more modern style too. There's also plenty on You Tube, and an almost infinite supply of free music and sound files if you search on abcnotation.com .
  14. Mikefule

    High jacking threads..etiquette

    On the whole, once a thread has been started, some deviation or tangental discussion is just the way that conversation flows. Generally, it is a Good Thing unless there is a tendency for all threads to end up circling on the same subjects. In the specific case of a bona fide established C-net user advertising an item for sale, I'd consider it poor form to criticise the vendor's price, either directly ("That's way too much!") or indirectly ("I've seen a better one at half the price here: [link]") or, worse, "I can under cut that price with mine: [details]." However, we all know that there are many scammers out there using "borrowed" photos and making false advertisements. In such cases, a regular C-net user may be directly qualified to intervene ("Hey, that's my concertina and it isn't for sale!") otherwise, rather than risk making a false accusation in good faith, it may be better to raise their concerns privately with the moderators. I think this forum tends to regulate itself pretty well most of the time. I go in another — non music — forum where the moderators have to police inappropriate posts so often that there is a sticky "gibbet" thread where details are posted of members who have been barred or suspended for breaching the rules. We neither want no need that sort of thing here.