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Everything posted by Mikefule

  1. That looks like a ridiculous price for the instrument even if it did not need extensive work doing on it.
  2. That's more or less my perception of the situation, and what prompted my train of thought. The contrast in my mind is that the very limited one row melodeon (slightly less versatile than a hypothetical 10b Anglo) is available at the very high quality/bespoke end of the market, whereas the "humble" 20b Anglo (rather more versatile than a 2 row melodeon) is seen only as a stepping stone to a box with more buttons. As I understand it, Kimber played all or most of his Morris repertoire on a 20b, and when it was replaced for him with an instrument with more buttons, he continued to restrict his Morris playing to the 20 button part of the keyboard, although he was happy to explore the accidental row for non-Morris tunes. So by analogy, if there is a strong culture of playing 1 row melodeon based on a well established traditional style, why is there no strong culture of playing 20b Anglo based on a traditional style? There is no reason why there should be, because it is music, and a hobby, and rational analysis barely comes into it, but it is a curious inconsistency.
  3. Thank you for responding. Barleycorn S/N 7750 is showing as a nice example of a Lachenal broadly similar to my own although with a different pattern of fretwork. It's certainly a nice-looking Lachenal 20b, as indeed is s/n 7684 on the same site. They are "top end" of the Lachenal range. What I am querying is, were there any, say Jeffries or other makes of 20b that were a whole level higher, or has anyone out there got a Dipper 20b or other modern instrument of similar quality? Put another way, if Lachenal is a "Ford Focus" and that particular instrument s/n 7750 represents the Ford Focus with the highest spec, where are the Mercedes?
  4. Hi, I'm thinking of a short piece for our concertina group newsletter, but I'm not sure if I'm barking up the wrong tree. I have a perception that there are very few high end 20 button Anglos around. I own a decent Lachenal 20b C/G and a similar quality Lachenal piccolo C/G and have seen and played many Lachenal 20b Anglos in C/G, G/D and one in D/A. However, I cannot recall ever seeing a 20b of "top quality". This is not criticising the humble but honest Lachenal — I love mine — but I am being objective about the simplicity of the fretwork, the cheapness of the bone buttons, the typically clicky action and the economy of the standard 5 fold bellows. These are all things that give the instrument charm and character, but the fact remains that top end 30 (or more) button Anglos such as my old Jeffries or my current Dipper tend to be smoother to play, less clicky, feel nicer to the fingers, have longer and better bellows, and look prettier. I am drawing a contrast with the melodeon, where the "humble 1 row" has become a bit of a Thing, with some boxes being custom made to the highest standards. It seems to me that the limitations of the 1 row melodeon have given it a prestige and cult following, whereas the limitations of the 20b Anglo have left it as the "poor cousin" to the 30 or more button versions. However, I am aware that this may be no more than my own perception and limited experience. Are there "top end" 20b Anglos out there? How many? is it that they are jealously guarded by enthusiasts, leaving the market awash with the more basic Lachenals, or is it that the 20b was seldom or never made to the same standards as the "bigger" boxes? I am asking here about early/vintage boxes and also about modern ones. Based on my own limited exposure to such instruments, the only modern "basic" Anglo of any quality that I can think of is the Marcus Traveller — and even that is a 21b rather than 20b. I'd be interested in anything you can tell me about the history and availability of "really nice" 20b Anglos. Thanks.
  5. It was not an ad hominem attack, nor even an attack. However, I promise not to offer my opinion to you again.
  6. @tuneloverI think your problem is having 9 tutors and 7 more in electronic form. There is no one single way to teach or to play, but if you "listen to" (read) too many experts, you will drown in confusion. In your position, I would choose one tutor to work through, put the others away, and not worry about them. Later, I might chose one of the others and work through that to see if it gave me any new insights. The best way to learn is a combination of 1:1 lessons if you can get them, listening to other players, hands on experimentation, and practice. If you can learn where to find the 5 most important chords for each of the 2 main keys, then you can pick out a melody from resources like the session dot org, or by ear, and develop the arrangement as you play it more. When you can play 10 melodies with some sort of accompaniment, the 11th will come more quickly.
  7. You could remove the ends and leave the bellows open to the air at both ends for a while.
  8. The more experience you get, the less air you use. Little things add up: learning alternative fingerings (almost every note is available in 2 or more places, sometimes in opposite directions), playing the accompaniment "percussively" rather than as long notes, and generally learning when to "snatch a breath" often with the air button, rather than taking a deep breath only when you need it. The air button is the hardest button on the instrument to learn, then one day you will realise you no longer have to think about it.
  9. On the whole, money saved by buying a cheap instrument is wasted. At worst, a cheap instrument will put you off playing, and at best you will need to upgrade. However, that is not to say that a good instrument has to be "expensive", just not "cheap". When I started out, I read up on the English and Anglo systems and their supposed pros and cons. On paper, there was no doubt that English was the system for me. I borrowed an English for a month and practised scales and attempted simple tunes every day. I made no progress, and had no feeling of "making music". I then had the good fortune to hear both types played by experts on consecutive evenings and knew the Anglo sound was what I was after. I then had a quick go on a borrowed Anglo and immediately knew I could make it work. Years later, I am still learning new ways around the instrument. I already played harmonica, and had some knowledge of melodeon, so you would think that choosing Anglo would be a "no brainer" but in fact the Anglo is so different from both that as I have got better at Anglo, I have lost all my facility with the melodeon.
  10. Think of the white notes of the piano, no sharps or flats. If you play a scale of 8 notes, C D E F G A B c that is a major scale. If you play the same notes (no sharps or flats) but start on D and end on d you get a different sounding scale. Ditto if you play E to e, or F to f, or G to g, or A to a or B to b. So using the same 8 notes (no sharps or flats) but starting your scale on a different note, you get a different sounding scale. Exactly the same principle could be applied to any major scale with flats or sharps in it. For example, you could use the notes of G major (only 1 sharp) and build your scale on any of those 8 notes. This is what this tune does: it has a G key signature, but the home note of the tune is E. These different scales are called "modes". They each have Greek names. The Greek names were historically based on the perception of the "personality type" of people from each place, and how this links to the sound of the scale. You can look up modes in more detail here. As the arrangements of tones and semi tones is different in each of the modes, the selection of chords is different too. I believe that it is formally correct to write (for example) E Aeolian with the conventional key signature for E major, and then to add sharps and naturals as accidentals when needed. However, in the folk world, it is common to use the key signature that gives you the right sharps and flats, and avoid having to write the accidentals. I think this perhaps comes from the prevalence of DG melodeons and the novice's perception that "this tune is on the G row" or "this tune is on the D row". I'm not formally trained myself, so the above is not necessarily a perfect explanation.
  11. You seem to be mixing a few ideas here. There is the famous three chord trick. In the case of a simple tune in a major key, a basic accompaniment can always be constructed from 3 chords: the major chords built on the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the scale. So if this tune was in G major as the key signature suggests at first glance, you would use G major, C major and D major. However, this tune is not in G major. This 3 chord trick will always work on a simple tune in the major key, but it is not always the best or most imaginative method. However, this tune starts with the chord E minor, so that 3 chord trick is irrelevant. You may also be referring to the fact that any simple chord is made of 3 notes. Therefore, any given melody note could theoretically be accompanied by one of 3 chords. The melody note could be the same as the first, third, or fifth note in the chord. So applying this theory, the note C in a tune in C major could be accompanied by C major (CEG) A minor (ACE) or F major (FAC). However, the note C is also part of C minor, F minor, and a number of other possible chords that are less relevant to the key of C major. But that does not mean that you have free choice between those various chord options. There will always be one option that is best, and sometimes a second option "that will do". Most of the others would just be inappropriate. I haven't tried this particular tune, but on a quick reading, I think I'd be looking to build my accompaniment around E minor, A minor, and G major. I also would not be making those chord changes on the fourth beat of the bar. Not every note has to be harmonised, and I see no place for a D (major or minor) chord in this tune. The tune is not in G major (despite the single sharp key signature) but in a mode based on E. I think it's Aeolian: that is all the same notes as G major, but using E as the tonic.
  12. The maximum possible change in air pressure if you send the concertina into space is one atmosphere, which is 1 Bar or around 14.5 psi. However, the actual drop in air pressure as the plane goes up is less as the plane does not go all the way to the top of the atmosphere, and the change is gradual. The instrument will adjust. Not a problem. I know many people who have flown with reeded instruments in their hold luggage.
  13. I have always taken every opportunity to play any Anglo that I encounter and have played several Normans. Whilst I wouldn't choose one in preference to a Jeffries or a Dipper (for example) I have never found a Norman that I didn't like. They feel right in the hands, and are cheerful boxes to play.
  14. The basic 20 button Anglo is tuned (roughly) like 2 harmonicas a 5th apart, so C and G, or G and D, for example. At the simplest level, playing "along the row" you can translate any tune from diatonic harmonica onto one row of the Anglo. Blow = push, and suck = pull. It's that simple. In terms of "blow/suck" or "suck/blow", the right hand is the top octave of a harmonica, the left hand is the bottom octave. Because of the way the notes are laid out, the most important chords are readily available so it is fairly easy to come up with some basic harmonic accompaniment. I started my musical life on harmonica. I used to play folk tunes on harmonica at a local folk club, and I still sometimes play harmonica for Morris dance practice. In my early steps on Anglo, this gave me a good start. Later, as I started to play across the rows, and use the additional options on the "accidental row" of a 30 button, the harmonica experience became less relevant. The above relates solely to Anglo, which can be thought of as an instrument designed to be played by ear. It may not seem "logical" but it is "intuitive". The button you need nearly always falls easily to hand. The English and various duet keyboards are laid out on fundamentally different principles and your harmonica experience would be neither help nor hindrance. With a basic principle of "one button, one note" and a pattern to the way the buttons are laid out, I am sure that picking up tunes by ear would not be difficult.
  15. My background is more Morris than folk. I started playing harmonica at folk clubs and got fairly good, moved on to melodeon and got moderately OK, and tried various other instruments including guitar, pipe and tabor, drums and even, briefly, piano. I never got very far with any instrument because I didn't love it. Then one day I had a whim, a stray idea on its way to somewhere else got entangled in my brain: I could try concertina. I did a bit of research, decided that the logical, consistent, and chromatic English concertina was obviously the one for me. I tried it and got asolutely nowhere. Then I heard an English and an Anglo played expertly on consecutive nights (English was Dave Ledsam, Anglo was Keith Kendrick) and I knew Anglo was the one for me. The initial decision to try concertina was a bit random, but what has engaged me over the last 15 or so years is the constant puzzle of finding the best route through the maze of the keyboard, and how incredibly versatile the instrument is if you work at it hard enough. As Keith Kendrick says: it's the thinking man's piano.
  16. I have seen a chap who played one end of a duet, with the other end blanked off and strapped to his thigh.
  17. The point of Richter tuning (which is the basis of one row of an Anglo) is to make 2 chords readily available. In C, it is C Major on the push, G on the pull, with D minor also available. The development of 2 rows a 5th apart was initially to provide the equivalent of 2 parallel instruments in one box. However, the use of 2 rows a 5th apart introduced a number of options for playing some of the same chords in different positions. In particular (on a CG) the G major chord becomes available on the push as well as the pull. This is the very first step to making choices about harmony: which of two chords to use to harmonise the note G. One of the most important notes in the C major scale can now be harmonised with either of the two most important chords in the key, and what a difference it makes. The addition of all or part of a third row made up of a selection of accidentals and duplicated notes further increases this versatility. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to play solely along the rows. You will still have several more accompaniment options than if you were playing a harmonica, and you will tend to get a robust, rhythmic, bouncy sound. However, if you choose to do this, you are making a decision not to make use of the other things that the Anglo can do. You will miss out on a variety of chords and part chords; you will miss out on alternative chords for certain note; and you will miss out on some options for playing in a smoother, legato, style — and in some cases, you may limit the speed at which you can play, if speed is important to you. That's OK, because by choosing to play the Anglo at all, you are already choosing to miss out on the chromatic capabilities of the English concertina, the raucous glissandos available to the trombonist, and the ability to play up to 10 notes at a time that the pianist enjoys. Similarly, the violinist misses out on playing chords, and the bassist tends to miss out on playing fast melodic passages. Point is that the Anglo is an instrument of compromises. I believe that the instrument's layout and limitations help to define its sound. Sometimes, the octave note is the only appropriate harmony for the melody. Often, you will have access to only 2 notes from the chord, or you may even allow a momentary discord to keep the percussive effect going. These are the sort of things that make this instrument unique. Enjoy playing it in the way that suits you. Try different things. It is better to know how to achieve as sound and choose not to, than to wish you could, without making the effort to find out how. I had lessons with an excellent player for about 10 years. I use a lot of what he taught me, but I feel that my sound has developed since I stopped lessons, because I am doing what suits me and the tunes I choose to play, rather than trying to imitate the master.
  18. The interesting challenge is that almost every note appears twice on the instrument, and in some cases 3 times. For example, on a 30 B GD, you will find the same note D on push button 3 on the right hand G row; push button 1 of the right hand D row; and on a pull button on the accidental row. (Which one depends on which tuning you have chosen.) On a GD, the notes that are not repeated are the C natural and the C#. This is part of the versatility of the instrument, but takes some getting used to. I suppose the equivalent for a string player is that you can find the same note on different strings by stopping/fretting further up the finger board on the thicker strings. In theory, on a GD 30 button, there are over a hundred different ways to play a simple G major scale over 1 octave. In practice, of course, you do not need to learn them all. However, most tunes are made up largely of snatches of arpeggio or short sections of the scale. Therefore you will gradually discover some "best routes through the maze" for the melody, depending on which is the best harmony, and what came immediately before, and what comes next. The main point is don't think of a 1:1 relationship between the notes on the stave and buttons on the instrument. In the early days, the Anglo can seem illogical. Why is it push pull? Why is it that on the left hand the lower of the two notes on one button is on the push, and on the right hand the lower is on the pull? Why are there "missing notes" low down on the left hand? Why is there so much duplication of notes? Why do the notes that define the difference between the two main keys only appear once each? It makes no sense. However, the more you play, the more it makes perfect sense. You will find that the note you need will nearly always fall comfortably to hand. It doesn't fit the logic of a theorist (like an English or duet, where the patterns are consistent) but it perfectly fits the logic of a folk musician used to playing by ear.
  19. I take every opportunity to play any Anglo that I come across. When you've played a few, you will know. I had a Rochelle. It did the job. I upgraded to a Marcus within 3–6 months of buying it. Since then I've upgraded again. An upgrade gets you a smoother and faster action, a nicer tone, reeds that respond more quickly, bellows that feel smoother, materials that resonate differently and improve the sound, and an instrument that feels better balanced and nicer in your hands. Also, of course, better boxes look nicer. It's not always logical. I have a 20b Lachenal which is "cheap and cheerful" with clickity buttons. I went to Barleycorn and tried 6 or 7 "identical" instruments and knew very quickly that this was the one that I wanted. It was not necessarily the "best" but it was the one that felt and sounded right to me. No rush to upgrade, but try to find opportunities to play other boxes whenever possible and sooner or later you will know what you want.
  20. Even simple one-line melodies and traditional folk tunes may be copyright. The copyright is often in the name of the first person or organisation to set them down on paper. In some cases, this was so long ago that the copyright has expired. Even if a melody is in the public domain, a specific arrangement of it may still be copyright. However, the person claiming copyright would need to establish that they had done something original. An actual document or recording is definitely copyright. You can run into trouble if you start photocopying sheet music and selling it, or converting vinyl records to MP3 and selling the recordings. However, you will never have to worry about copyright unless you either try to sell a written or recorded version, or, less likely, you try to pass either a tune or an arrangement off as your own. In reality, most musicians and composers in the folk/jazz/country worlds love their music and are flattered if someone else chooses to play it. If it is not for commercial gain, the most they will expect is attribution: "This is a tune composed by so and so and it's called..." or "I've copied this arrangement from the such and such album by so and so..." For comparison, the first written 12 bar blues was published and recorded by WC Handy around 1914. If he and his estate had enforced copyright on the 12 bar blues, by now, his descendants would have enough dosh to buy Microsoft, Google, and McDonalds and still have enough change to buy NASA.
  21. On a 20 button, you only have the notes for 2 major scales, in your case, C major and G major. However, there are many routes through the maze. For the part of the range that is typically used for melody, every note appears twice except the F natural (on the C row) and the F sharp (on the G row). Therefore, there are many many theoretical ways of playing each of those two major scales. The first way to branch out is cross row scales in C. Common tricks are to borrow some or all of the following notes from the right hand G row: G A B C D E It is also occasionally useful to borrow some of C D E from the left hand of the G row. Later, try playing in G, but borrowing the lower C D E (below the tonic) from the right hand C row. You cannot make complete major scales of other keys on a G row because the sharps or flats are not available. However, you can play in some of the other modes: basically the same scale, but starting and finishing on a different note. For example, many folk tunes are in a mode that uses only the notes of C major, but uses D as the tonic. I have never memorised the Greek names of the modes, but I think it's called Myxomatosis, or Friggin' or something.🙃
  22. The important thing is not to play every note of the chord at the same time, all of the time. A chord can be played as 3 notes together, or even 4: often called a block chord. The chord can be "represented" by a bass note, often but not always the root or 5th note of the chord. A chord can be played as a pattern: all of the notes once each. (Arpeggio) A chord can be played as a pair of notes, with the melody note either making the missing note, or simply duplicating one of the notes. (Try not to duplicate the 3rd note too often.) A chord can be implied by just the root and 5th note played together, perhaps with the 3rd note filled in on the next beat. Apart from that, the chord does not have to be full and rich. If you hold down lots of buttons for a long time, you will need lots of air. As well as reducing the number of buttons held down at any one time, you can reduce the duration by playing short "clipped" chords, almost like a tuned percussion. The other thing is to find the chords in the opposite bellows direction. Many, but not all, are available in both directions.
  23. My step up from a Rochelle was to a Marcus. I have since stepped up further to a Dipper, but the Marcus was an impressive box and I sometimes regret selling it.
  24. For folk music/dance music, the rule is play what sounds right. Keep it simple and pay it well, rather than making it complex and stumbling over the rhythm. Applying that to your question, you may play a block chord (3 or 4 buttons pushed together), or a single note from the chord (often but not always the 1st or 5th) or a pair of notes from the chord, or an "oom pah" of bass note followed by a pair of other notes... the possibilities are endless. I play Whitehaven Volunteers quite a lot and use all or most of the above techniques in it at various times. If you play a dance tune 3 times in a row, make the accompaniment slightly different each time.
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