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Doug Anderson

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Everything posted by Doug Anderson

  1. After playing just my Anglo concertinas since the covid lockdowns began I picked up my melodeon about a month ago and fairly quickly was playing some of my old favorite melodeon tunes. But after a week or so I found the limited bass accompaniment possibilities with just the eight buttons was keeping me from playing some of my favorite concertina tunes. I put the melodeon back on the shelf, picked up the G/D Morse and to my dismay found myself stumbling all over the place trying to play the intro to Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland. It's very chromatic part which means lots of row crossing and reversals, and it just wasn't working. (I was planning to accompany a friend singing Joe Hill's alternative lyrics.) It took at least a week to get back to being able to pick up a concertina and just start playing the intro without thinking about what I was doing or looking at my hands. Apparently being a multi instrumentalist with the squeezeboxes is not in my future.
  2. One of the treasures in my little antique snuff can is the original G reed that Button Box replaced with a C reed for the drone button push of my 31-button G/D Jeffries.
  3. I sing bass with a mixed professional and volunteer church choir. I have no trouble sight reading standard musical notation with the professionals. I play concertina, melodeon and mandolin by ear, but I often learn a piece by singing the melody to myself several times from musical notation and then setting the music aside and working out the melody with "my" chord progressions on the instruments.
  4. When I ship a concertina I photograph it from every direction, ship it by UPS, have them pack it, and insure it for the appraised insurance cost. I have not have occasion to make a claim but one box had a nasty puncture that fortunately wasn't deep enough to reach the instrument.
  5. My favorite key on the Anglo concertina is that of the center row of whatever Anglo I am playing - G on my G/D's. My favorite key for singing is whatever key does not take the bass part of the particular piece below the bottom G of the bass clef.
  6. One complication I've found when trying to learn a LH part independently is that I don't know which bellows directions will be needed for the RH part. (I play a 31 button G/D Anglo.) Another issue is that the RH melody part sometimes strays into the highest notes on the LH side which ties up not only the key but also the finger playing it. With a new piece, once I am really comfortable playing the melody part by itself I start tapping in time with the music on the lowest available note on the LH side that sounds good as the melody proceeds. That will be the one of the notes making up a suitable chord. If none of the low notes work for a particular passage I go back to my RH arrangement to see if a bellows reversal note is available. If that doesn't work either I just skip the offending tap. Once I can play the melody comfortably with a harmonic sounding tap-tap-tap accompaniment I have a usable arrangement to play with others. But I then gradually start replacing the taps with something more interesting. For a waltz tempo that might mean keeping the initial tap but replacing the second and third with two-note chords. By doing this measure by measure I keep a viable version of the piece in my repertoire as I continue to enhance it.
  7. Also excellent lobster rolls at the Sugarloaf Frostie just a short walk south on Amherst Road (with an interesting variety of ice cream for dessert too). I am sorry the retail store is closing, but very relieved to hear that the repair business will continue.
  8. I started with an EC, switched to a melodeon with little difficulty despite its being a completely different system, switched to AC with no difficulty despite the inside out rows, and then tried to play an EC again and it was hopeless. The changing of the bellows direction completely did me in.
  9. The Button Box makes both a D/A Céilí and a baritone D/A ESB.
  10. The UK hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern uses the tune Lewes (hymn 64).
  11. In my hands or in the case is what I was taught. But the case is on a low table, with a raised border, in the middle of the living room.
  12. I spent several months trying to play both my Morse with the Wheatstone layout and my Jeffries with the Jeffries layout - both are G/D Anglos. I eventually gave up and sent the Morse to The Button Box to have the reeds changed to the Jeffries layout. I had no particular preference for one layout over the other but switching the Morse was a much more practical solution.
  13. Red River Valley, of course, but also Whoopee Ti-Yi-Yo (also called Git Along Little Dogies) which was my first public performance piece as a vocalist at age five.
  14. Thanks for the heads up. I just downloaded the site as a web archive.
  15. Might the difference have something to do with the key the instrument is likely to be played in relative to its home keys? If most tunes in a book emphasize the push notes then showing push on top might seem more intuitive, and vice versa if the tunes tend to emphasize the pull notes. (I am assuming playing across the rows.)
  16. I tried it with the "e3" in the second measure, and with an "e2 e", and I prefer the latter.
  17. I began singing in public at age 5, and am still doing so 65 years later. I currently sing first bass in a choir that concentrates on early church music in the English tradition. I have played for various lengths of time and eventually abandoned the piano, harmonica, recorder, guitar, penny whistle, mandolin, English concertina and melodeon. I currently play the first instrument I ever played, the ukulele, and the most recent, the G/D Anglo.
  18. Hi Jody, I'm working on an example of this right now. An arrangement of a hymn tune (Dundee) that I am trying to play in G (transposed from the Eb that my choir sings it in) has a distinctive switch to the key of C in the first line, but you would never know it from listening to the soprano/melody part (or the tenor part). The switch from the F# note to the F natural only occurs in the alto and bass parts. Without the change of key the whole effect of the musical phrase is lost. That means I have to find a way to work in an F natural on the left side. It's only available on the pull, and that complicates playing the melody on the right side. And it's just this sort of thing that makes the Anglo such a fascinating instrument, for me at least.
  19. Hi Jody,Thanks! That's actually kind of encouraging. It sounds like I'm on the right track. The more I find my way around the third row on the instrument the better I am able to experiment with the bellows direction and find partial chords or single accompanying notes that fit the melody line. I like your list of priorities too. Lots to think about!
  20. I get the G/D part. Playing melody on the right hand of the G row of a C/G gets pretty squeaky. But what do the extra 8 buttons add to the equation? (I ask this as a 30-button G/D player trying to teach myself to play right hand melody and left hand accompaniment.)
  21. Thanks for posting. It explains a lot :-)
  22. I agree it's frustrating. When members of my choir miss practices they keep the rest of us from hearing how we sound together. And that has a negative effect on our performances.
  23. I agree. If not for the Rochelle I would not be playing the Anglo today. I began about 12 years ago with an English concertina. My frustration with not being able to play melody and accompaniment (my problem, not the instrument's) led me to switch to a Melodeon about six years ago. That was better, but I was still limited to just bass notes and chords for accompaniment. I was tempted to try an Anglo, but after two false starts I was hesitant to put even more money into the search for THE instrument. Finally, some positive comments here about the Rochelle convinced me to give it a try. I was accustomed to playing good instruments (Wheatstone, Castagnari, Saltarelle, Morse) and was pleasantly surprised by the playability and sound of the Rochelle. It's a tremendous value. I would probably have stayed with it longer if it was available as a G/D. I found that playing melody and a low harmony on the C row of the Rochelle was fine but the G row was impossibly squeaky to my ear. I ordered a G/D Morse Céili. It arrived a week ago and I've barely put it down since. Keep in mind that the following observations may be partly the result of the change from C/G to G/D, and not just the change from a Rochelle to a Céili. The first revelation was the air button. A quick tap on the Céili air button at the end of a musical phrase is enough to correctly position the bellows to begin the next phrase. On the Rochelle it takes more like a complete measure to do the same thing. The result is that the Céili always has more air available. The next difference I noticed was the balance between the low and high notes. On the Rochelle, when a chord on the left hand contains the same note as a melody note an octave higher on the right hand the melody note almost disappears. This effect is more noticeable on some notes than on others. It might be something that a good tuning could improve - at a price. In contrast, a right hand melody note on the Céili seems to have more of an "edge" than the same note an octave lower on the left hand. It stands out more clearly. The last difference I've noticed so far is more subtle and may well have more to do with the pitch than with the instrument. On the Rochelle. the two-note chords that I prefer sound thin. That's fine for ethereal pieces in minor keys but it doesn't work well with the hymns and American folk tunes that I mostly play. Switching to three or four-note chords exacerbates the air and balance issues I mentioned above. On the Céili, two-note chords have a fuller sound which creates more opportunities for interesting harmonies and moving bass lines. To sum up, buying the Rochelle worked out very well for me. But even if the result had been deciding that it was not for me, I'd have felt that I'd given the Anglo a fair chance. I would encourage anyone considering taking up the Anglo to buy a Rochelle and give it a squeeze.
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