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Everything posted by Mikefule

  1. It's perfectly normal in a noisy pub or session not to be able to hear your own concertina. The sound comes out of the ends and dissipates away from you. The people either side can hear it better than you can. It's one of the several reasons why I seldom play in sessions.
  2. Hi, sorry if anything has put you off. My intention was to say there are many ways to "skin a cat." Some are simpler to learn than others. Build up your accompaniment skills bit by bit. Concertinas are great instruments and the English is extremely versatile. Don't put limits in yourself. Just enjoy.
  3. It is important to remember there are many ways to play chords, and many ways to imply or hint at the chord without playing it all. Playing block chords (3 or more notes simultaneously) can be dramatic, but if overused it can make the music turgid or muddy. A simple oompah (bass note on the beat, 2 other notes on the off beat) can be light and lively, but becomes monotonous. An oompah can be improved by using different bass notes. For example, for C major play low C, then high e g, then low G then high e g. Sometimes, you can walk the bass up and down the low register while keeping the "pah" higher. You can also play the notes of the chord separately (arpeggio) in various patterns. Another option is just to play bass notes on the down beats, or even on every beat. With planning, the bass can walk a natural path from chord to chord, like a walking bass line in jazz, blues, or rock and I'll. Another option is crisply-tapped pairs of notes a third apart. A favourite of mine is to play an open fifth (C & G of C major) and sometimes to add the 3rd (E) on the off beat. Another simple accompaniment option is short passages of parallel octaves. The is no single one size fits all option. Doing the same thing every time would be the equivalent of "campfire guitar" and would become tedious. Some approaches will work better on different concertina systems. I play Anglo in a harmonic style, and my comments above are no doubt biased towards that.
  4. A little harsh. Let's try, "A picture with you both smiling would be even better." 😀 I hope the event goes well.
  5. Definitely, learn new techniques that feel complicated by applying them to tunes that feel simple. What feels complicated or simple will vary throughout your playing career. Point is, if you can play the melody confidently, it releases brain processing power to concentrate on the accompaniment. For a new player, the Bledington Morris dance tune, "Getting Upstairs:, a generic "When the Saints", a generic version f "British Grenadier" and even very simple melodies like Camptown Races, or Oh Susannah. Maybe Red River Valley. Once you can do the accompaniment techniques on simple tunes, it is a small step to apply the same techniques to more complex tunes.
  6. Have the straps very slightly loose. Put your fingers through, but not your thumb. The top part of the strap should nestle in the crook between your hand and your thumb. By small adjustments of the position of the thumb, taking up the slack, you can slightly tighten or loosen the part of the s that goes over the back of your hand. A little bit of looseness enables you to adjust your hand position for the hard to reach buttons, but you might pull the thumb in to tighten the strap slightly when you need speed and precision. Note also that your hands should normally be slightly arched, rather than pinned against the hand rest. One day, it will feel so natural that you will forget it was ever a problem. Some time after that, you may find yourself struggligng to find the words to explain it to a newby in this forum.
  7. In my view, 2 consecutive notes on the same button in the same bellows direction should always be 2 presses of the button. 2 consecutive notes on the same button in opposite bellows directions should usually be 2 button presses. It gives a crisper articulation, with a definite start to the note. However, there are occasions where the speed and difficulty enforce a compromise, and some circumstances may call for a slurred sound for artistic reasons. It's better to be able to lift of and press agai , and choose not to, than to be unable to do it.
  8. For many of us, the Anglo is a transposing instrument. I play a tune in C on my CG. I pick up my GD and lay the same tune with the same fingering, and I am playing in G. When I had a BbF, the same fingering produced a tune in Bb. Thus, if you have a DA, and pretend to yourself that it is a CG, you can work from the CG book. The tunes will come out sounding perfectly good, but in D rather than C. (Or in A, rather than G.) If later you get a CG, you will be able to use the fingering you have learned, apply it to the CG, and the sound you make will be in the same key as the book says. DA is a fairly uncommon concertina. That does not mean there is anything wrong with it. It is just a convention that certain keys are more popular. I have seen at least one 20 button DA, but I cannot recall seeing a 30 button DA. A 20 button instrument is very versatile, and offers a certain raw purity of Anglo sound, especially if you play in a harmonic style. I have 4 concertinas, 2 of which are 20b and they get as much use as my 2 that have 30 buttons. I love the simpler layout so much that I have a 21 button instrument on order. However, there is no doubt that the 30 button offers even more versatility. Generally, CG for Irish style, although GD is more popular for English/Morris type sessions.
  9. Could be the manufacturer, could be the retailer, could be a previous owner (if there was one). It has 2 major keys, G and D. It may be more technically correct to call it "GD" but "DG" is unambiguous in the context of it being an Anglo. If the rows really were "the wrong way round" it wouldn't be an Anglo.
  10. In melodeons, it is normal to say DG because the D row is the lower of the 2. The rows are a 4th apart. For Anglo concertinas it is more common to say GD because the G row is the lower of the 2. The rows are a 5th apart. So you get CG Anglos (most common), GD, DA, BbF, and so on. However, it is only a convention, and some people perhaps refer to the near row first and the far row second. GD becomes DG. Perhaps some people, not realising the difference in the relationship between the rows on melodeon or Anglo, just habitually use the same terminology. As it is only list that is 2 items long, and the relationship between the main two rows of the instrument is standard, the exact terminology is not crucial.
  11. First, identify where the leaks are. There are various possibilities. The obvious one is holes in the bellows. The less obvious places are inside the instrument. It could be: The pads are not sealing over the holes. The valves (usually strips of leather, sometimes other materials) are not sealing. The reed plate (the hexagonal piece of wood with the reeds in it) is not sealing properly and air is leaking around the edges. There may well be other possibilities. The point is that the cure will depend on the source of the leak.
  12. I learn tunes slowly. I came to concertina in middle age with no formal musical background. I generally find lyrics easy to learn as I am a "words person". If I have never heard a tune before, and if it has any unusual phrases or features, it may take a month or two to learn it. The melody itself may take two or three practice sessions. The rest is working out optimal fingerings and accompaniment. The first thing is to work out where each phrase begins and ends. Is "that" note the last one of the phrase, or is it the one that leads into the next phrase? Is "this" section one long phrase or two short phrases? Then it is repetition at slow speed, gradually building up to something nearer to full speed. For a simple tune, I may learn the "A music" (typically 8 or 16 bars) first and then learn the "B music" (and "C music" etc.). For a very simple tune where the B music repeats part of the A music, I may take a run at the whole thing. For a more complex tune, I may learn phrase by phrase, and, in the most difficult sections, bar by bar. Until I get the sound of the tune in my head, I often find it easier to think of shapes on the keyboard. It is not unknown for me to spend half an hour on a tune and get it almost right, and then the next day I can't remember what it sounds like. However, it once I have the dots in front of me, I relearn it much more quickly than the first time, and after a few days, it becomes embedded. I know I'm getting there when I find myself whistling a tune. I recently learned a tune called the Cylph Dance. The A music is fairly simple, but the B music seems not to follow any of the expected "rules" of a folk tune, and requires the use of fingering sequences that I seldom use in other tunes. Strangely, I made a lot of progress one sleepless night (I've been ill recently) just visualising the fingering, without even having my instrument in my hand. Somehow, that weird sequence on the B music made sense the next morning when I picked my instrument up. There is no single way to learn tunes, but I think all approaches require breaking the tune down into manageable chunks, and practising a few minutes a day, rather than in a big block. The OP referred to tired fingers. That may be tension from trying too hard. You play smoother and faster when you're relaxed. An ideal practice session starts with something you know well, then moves onto something you're still learning, followed by something you know well, followed by something you can play but are still "polishing", finishing with a short revisit to the one you're learning, and then finish off with one you know well.
  13. I don't play that particular tune so I don't know the context. However, the two most important lessons I have learned about arranging tunes on Anglo are: 1) No accompaniment for a beat or even for a bar is often a good option. If a note is hard to harmonise, then let it sound alone. 2) An octave always works. Before learning these two simple rules, I was often agonising over a moment in the music that is over before the listener even notices. More technically, it is often acceptable to have the accompaniment leading into the next chord. A moment of dissonance is often OK if it resolves a moment later. One of the many delights of playing the Anglo harmonically is working within its limitations and producing that distinctive Anglo sound. If we wanted harmonic perfection, we'd probably be playing duets or accordions.
  14. Nope, my personal opinion of what is harder to read is not deeply wrong. Neither is your personal opinion. I followed your link and all I personally saw was complexity. Maybe it's just what you get used to. I doubt that the established system is at risk of being replaced. That may be intertia or it may be due to some objective advantage/disadvantage of one system or the other.
  15. Why does a staff has 5 lines when there are 12 semitones? That is an interestingly insightful question. The simple answer is because for most music, we think in scales rather than semitones. The standard major scale has 8 notes. These cover a range of 12 semitones, but those semitones appear s predictable patterns of 1 semitone, or 2 (i.e. a tone.) In a sense, it's a bit like saying, why do we call car a "4 wheel drive" rather than counting the wheel nuts. In another very real sense, that is an extremely bad analogy. So a major scale in C is C D E F G A B c and the pattern after the first C is: Tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone semitone. The notes are important: 7 different letter names, and 8 notes because the pattern repeats every octave. The staff or stave developed as a simple visual aid to where each note is positioned. 5 lines and 4 spaces gives 9 positions for the note, plus 1 "sitting on top" and 1 "hanging below". The stave provides a total of 11 positions for 11 notes before you need a ledger line. If the stave represented semitones, then to cover exactly those 11 notes of the scale from D above middle C, up to high G, from you would need 18 positions. The nearest approximation would be 8 lines, with 7 spaces, + 1 sitting on top and 1 hanging below = 17 positions, or 9 lines (8 spaces, + 1 on top and 1 below) = 19 positions. A stave with 8 or 9 lines would be harder to read at a glance, and would not give useful additional information, because with the existing stave, you already know which note it is, and you know whether to modify it by a semitone by either the key signature or an accidental # or b sign. So the simple answer is: it's easier to read, and still gives you all the information you need. You can go a long way in music without ever having to think directly about semi tones.
  16. It is one thing to swap a reed or two to optimise an instrument for your style of play. I'd be sceptical about making major changes like adding buttons. Just because something may be possible, doesn't mean it's a good idea. The end result might be the loss of an antique instrument for the gain of a compromise. Why not look for an instrument that already suits your needs?
  17. I own 4 Anglos and have owned 3 others, and played many more. I have no issue with the diameter of the buttons. Maybe fatter buttons are slightly easier to catch accidentally with a fingernail. Pretty much, you get used to what you play most. The two boxes I play most often are my Dipper with domed buttons that may be plastic and my piccolo Lachenal with tiny bone buttons. (I say may be plastic because I have been told otherwise, but can't help but feel sceptical. )
  18. Some people insist on some very specific details to make the perfect concertina. I once owned a Jeffries, and I now own a Dipper. They were separated in age by many decades. Both are top quality instruments. The date of manufacture is therefore not crucial to me. Some insist on reeds in shoes. Others accept or prefer accordion style reeds. To my mind, these are two competing methods with pros and cons. Some people no doubt prefer real gut strings on a fiddle, and others prefer metal. What do know is that, compared to the 1960s and 1970s, there are many options, ranging from budget beginner's beater boxes up to exquisitely hand made works of art. There is something readily available at almost every level of quality, and there are plenty of craftsmen restoring and maintaining vintage boxes. Furthermore, many people on low to moderate incomes are able to get a decent instrument at a fair price, and tuition is available in a range of forms. That sounds like a golden age to me.
  19. I don't claim to be an expert, but I work hard at my playing, and try to improve my technique more than I try to broaden my repertoire. My first biggest step forward in technique came after I bought a simple Lachenal 20 button with traditional 5 fold bellows. The constraints of the limited range of buttons, coupled with the low-volume bellows took some time to get used to compared to the luxury of my Dipper 30b with 7 fold bellows. However, my playing has improved immensely as a result. My second biggest step forward was when I got my Lachenal piccolo 20b with 6 fold bellows. This is approximately the same physical size as the Traveller, but with shorter bellows, and the reeds are an octave higher. With it being so high pitched, the left hand notes tend to dominate over the melody. This led me to develop a more sparse and percussive style of accompaniment that suited the instrument. These lessons then transfer to the 30b, giving me the choice of playing in that simple, sparse, percussive style or playing something fuller and more "indulgent". I do not expect any problems playing the traveller when it arrives. However, maybe 10 years ago, such an instrument might have presented substantial challenges.
  20. If you're still at the stage of understanding the different types, I strongly recommend you listen to the instruments being played. There is lots of concertina music on YouTube. The Anglo strongly favours 2 major keys and their associated modes and minors However, it is not limited to them. The standard Anglo layout has 20 buttons. (20b). Most Anglo instruments have anything from 1 to 20 additional buttons. These additional buttons include a selection of accidentals (black notes, sharps/flats) and some duplicated notes to provide a range of fingering options and harmonies. The layout of the additional buttons, over and above the basic 20, varies. The main variants are named after the original manufacturers who favoured them. Thus, a Marcus GD 30b Jeffries is an Anglo, made by Marcus, with the main keys being G&D, and 30 buttons. The "extra" 10 buttons are arranged in the style favoured by Jeffries. The English concertina is a different beast, as different from the Anglo as the guitar is from the banjo or violin. Only the overall appearance is similar. The English can be played in any key. The layout is standard, but instruments with more buttons have more range. Many people find one system much easier than the other. Only a few people can play both with equal facility. The duet is less common, but it's devotees have a good claim to it being the most versatile of all. It enables a full range of accompaniment like a pocket piano. There are several competing duet systems. For someone new to music, the Anglo may be the most accessible. To an experienced player, the one you prefer is always the best.
  21. I see your point, of course, but I think the reason they describe it as suitable for the Irish melodic style is because there is only the one C# available. That's fine if you want to play a single line of melody, as most Irish players do. It is less useful if you want to play in a harmonic or octave style, as many English players do. Many melodies have a range that will only require the one C#. However, in the harmonic style, in D major, that C# would normally be underpinned by the A major chord: A C# E. That said, many tunes modulate briefly one key up, so there may be many occasions where it makes the difference, even in the harmonic style.
  22. I have now emailed Marcus with my order for a Traveller.
  23. A concertina described as suitable for a "beginner" is likely to be harder to play well than one that an expert would choose to play. The expert is likely to have a strong preference for certain features, and be willing to commit financially towards the cost of an expensive item because they already know that they can play it and that they will enjoy doing so. However, that expert can probably get decent music out of the beginner's instrument. In many hobbies, the term for a beginner's item is "entry level". This generally means "good enough for serious use, but cheap enough for someone who is not yet sure if the hobby is really for them." Specifically for musical instruments, I'd always say do your research, try before you buy if possible, and buy the best you can afford. Money "saved" on buying a cheap instrument is often money wasted. A cheap instrument that is difficult or unrewarding to play may discourage you from practising. The ideal situation is where you have to force yourself to put the instrument down, rather than persuade yourself to pick it up.
  24. You could try looking at Norman. They have made some 20 buttons and some physically smaller boxes. I have played several Normans. They are usually enjoyable to play. http://www.acnorman.co.uk
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