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About hjcjones

  • Rank
    Heavyweight Boxer
  • Birthday 07/15/1954

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Traditional music and song, especially English.

    I play Anglo: a C/G Crabb 40 key, a Dipper D/G 31 key, and Lachenal F/C baritone. Besides concertina, I play melodeon, guitar, hammered dulcimer and recorder, and sing.

    I used to be in the ceilidh band "The Electropathics" and now play with Albireo
  • Location
    Cheshire, UK
  1. hjcjones

    "Top Ten" session tunes?

    Seesions in England tend to be separated by genre. Commonly, you will find: Irish sessions are usually pretty much exclusively irish music. Some can be very specific about playing only "their" version of a tune in a "correct" style an on acceptable instruments (and may not regard EC, as opposed to Anglo, a proper instrument for playing Irish), others are more flexible. English music sessions, which usually also admit some European tunes, especially French and Scandinavian, but Irish tunes are generally not welcome (partly because there are plenty of pure Irish sessions, and partly as a reaction to the previous dominance of Irish sessions before English music was rediscovered). They may have a regional focus, particularly in areas such as Northumberland and East Anglia which have strong regional traditions. You may also find "Euro" sessions which focus on European and in particular bal-style music. You may also come across other genre-specific sessions, and of course there are also some very general sessions where anything goes. Even within these genres, there is considerable variation in repertoire. The standard tunes from one session may be unknown in another session only a few miles away. To the extent that there is a common repertoire these tend to be the ones which are so overdone that no one wants to play them. The list Paul Hardy gives above certainly contains tunes that most people will know, but they're not ones I hear often at sessions I go to (but at other sessions it may be different). However most sessions are tolerant of inexperienced players, up to a point, and if you start one of these people will usually join in. Edit: you may also come across "slow sessions", which are aimed at less experienced and less confident players, where you are more likely to come across these tunes and where they played slower than full session speed. Even if this description does not apply to you as a player, these may be your best chance of coming across the repertoire you are learning from books. Many sessions are now publicised on the internet (but beware, the information may be out of date) so try to find out beforehand what sort of music is played. I'm sure the session etiquette guidelines are no different to where you usually play. I think Wayman's advice is sound, and you may find people are more interested to hear one of your local tunes. The real skill to playing in sessions is learning to play by ear, then you can join in tunes you haven't learned beforehand and maybe have never heard before.
  2. hjcjones

    Tricks To Cover Up Mistakes

    Seriously, don't let it put you off. Chances are most of the audience havent noticed, and most of those who have won't care. Keep playing eith conviction, and try not to panic when you come to that place next time through. If its too obvious to ignore, laugh it off, it will help to get the audience on your side.
  3. hjcjones

    Tricks To Cover Up Mistakes

    Glare accusingly at the other musicians,as if they were the ones making the mistake.
  4. hjcjones


    I have to agree with Anglo-Irishman - if you want an instrument that plays like an accordion, get an accordion. Concertinas, in all their various forms (and diatonic accordions for that matter) are different instruments. Embrace that, and take advantage of it to do something different musically from what you can already do on accordion.
  5. Rather than "incorrect" the article should perhaps say "different". The intervals used in modern western music are simply a cultural convention, and different cultures use different scales with different intervals. Even in western music, equal temperament (which your concertina is probably tuned to) is a compromise which allows playing in any key but means that many of the notes aren't quite "right". Likewise pitch is a matter of convention. A=440 Hz was only settled on as "concert pitch" relatively recently, and even now many orchestras tune to a different pitch. Highland pipes are tuned to a different scale to those now commonly used for most western music.The difference is not much, but is noticeable especially when combined with the difference in pitch. It is close enough that you can play it on a concertina, but it won't sound quite right, whereas some exotic scales eg quarter-tone Arabic scales are simply impossible.
  6. hjcjones

    Is The Concertina For Me?

    Your original question appeared to be whether a 30-button instrument is capable of playing the same as the 40-button shown in the videos. The answer to that is yes. The additional buttons don't usually extend the range singificantly, they mainly offer alternative options for playing notes which nevertheless can usually be found on a 30-button. Having more 'reversals', where a note can be played in either direction, can allow some phrases to be played more smoothly, and can improve chording by avoiding a change of bellows mid-phrase. Nevertheless most tunes which can be played on a 40-button should also be playable with 30 buttons. As someone has pointed out, all instruments have some limitations. You are not going to be able to play the concertina the same way you would play accordion, but why would you want to? You already have the accordion for that. The concertina would let you play them differently.
  7. hjcjones

    A Touch Of Clare

    Why do musicians put out CDs? Obviously, they hope to make some money from it, but it's also a wish for their music to be heard. CDs are expensive to produce and have a minimum run which means that you have to be confident of selling a decent number for it to be worth the cost. However there may be still be interest in the music even if there is not enough demand to justify re-issuing it in physical form. Publishing online is cheap and easy. If it means keeping good music alive and still heard, why not? Like many older people, I'd prefer to have a physical product, but where this isn't possible then downloads provide an opportunity to hear the music, which otherwise would be lost unless you are lucky enough to pick up a second-hand copy. I have published 3 albums digitally, using CD Baby. Two of these are simultaneous digital releases of current albums which are also available on CD, the other is an out-of-print LP by a long-defunct band. They've more than covered the costs of online publication. What I find fascinating is the reach - these albums, by not especially well known bands playing an obscure genre of music, have been played in more than 30 countries from all around the world, and not just the anglophone ones. I find it extraordinary to think that my music has been listened to in Guatemala and Turkey, to name but two unlikely markets for traditional English dance music. I'd urge anyone with an out-of-print recording to consider publishing it online. You probably won't make much money but over time you should recover your costs and more, and more people will hear your music.
  8. hjcjones

    Mirrored Hayden Duets

    If there is really no difference musically between the two layouts then you may have a point. However I wonder whether a mirrored layout actually reinforces the instinctive tendency for one hand to mirror the other; whereas a non-mirrored layout might encourage the player to learn independent movement from the outset, which will make playing more complex music easier once they progress. With respect, I think your own preference for playing in octaves is a red herring, in my experience most people, and especially duet players, want to play something more complex.
  9. hjcjones

    Mirrored Hayden Duets

    I think most people find it easy to mirror with one hand what the other hand is doing. One of the challenges of learning a two-handed skill such as playing a musical instrument is learning to break that habit and becoming able to do different things simultaneously with each hand. It is more difficult to begin with, but once it is learned it opens up far more opportunities. I am therefore not surprised that you would find a mirrored keyboard easier to play, and as you seem to be content to play only in octaves then it would seem to be ideal for you. However music is much more than playing in octaves, and for most purposes the ability to play chords and countermelodies is essential. You haven't put forward any musical reasons why a mirrored system offers any advantages, only that it requires less effort to learn.. Any system can be learned when you're starting from scratch, but I think it would be very unwise for a beginner to start on any system just because it is easier to play, if it might cause them difficulties when they wish to play something more advanced.
  10. hjcjones

    My Dream Gig

    My dream gig was one we did last year, playing for a beer festival at a local brewery - free beer, free food, free camping, and we got paid! My oddest gig was singing shanties to the (slightly bemused) Saturday afternoon customers at a large shopping centre, sharing the bill with a sword-swallower and his two lovely assistants.
  11. The difference between concertinas and accordions is that with any system of concertina you have to build up chords from individual notes, rather than having them ready-made as on an accordion. On the anglo there is the additional limitation that all those notes must use the same bellows direction. This can sometimes limit what chords are available, and it might also be necessary to change how the melody is played to get those notes on the same direction of the bellows as the chords. Nevertheless a wide range of chords and keys are possible for a skilled player. There should be no problem playing a Bb chord on a C/G anglo. The usual way to play in this style on an anglo is to play the melody with the right hand and chords with the left - not unlike an accordion. The disadvantage is that the melody is then quite high in pitch. This differs from the melody-only style favoured for Irish music, which is mostly played in the middle range of the instrument. I'm not sure why you think particular rhythms such as polkas should be more difficult. The difficulty is mainly to do with the key - with the anglo difficulty generally increases as you move away from the home keys of the instrument because the fingering becomes more complex and less intuitive. Most anglos are C/G, but other keys are available and G/D is becoming popular among English musicians to more easily play in the popular session keys. It should be possible to get a maker to build a custom instrument, but I would suggest you try to learn a standard instrument first so that you fully understand where the issues lie and how you would want a custom design to address them. You may actually find that these problems are largely imagined. A custom instrument won't be cheap, and may turn out to be unsellable as it won't be standard.
  12. hjcjones

    Large Anglo Keyboard Numbering System

    There is a very well-established tablature system for melodeon (CADB) and I've never understood why this hasn't been adopted for anglo concertina (possibly because it's French?). There is perhaps more variation in anglo keyboards, but melodeons are not all the same either and you may have to adapt a published version to suit your own instrument. I tend to use tab as means of recording how I play something rather than a source of tunes. http://diato.org/exptab2.htm I'm not sure I see the benefits of a system which simply identifies buttons if it doesn't also pay regard to the notes they play. It might be useful for communicating with a repairer or comparing layouts, but a simple diagram is probably clearer and avoids any possible misinterpretation.
  13. hjcjones

    What Is The Point Of Scales?

    I think there's a difference between exploring scales when you're first learning an instrument, and practising them when you're an experienced player. Exploring scales is probably an essential part of learning to play. Whether you're playing by ear or from dots, in the early stage you have to work out which buttons give you which sound. However I then went on to playing tunes, and in the course of working out how to play them this led me to explore different ways of playing phrases and parts of the scale. So whether you get there through playing scales or playing tunes I don't think matters, if you end up in the same place. Whether or not it then helps to continue practising scales probably depends both on your own personality and the style and complexity of the music you play.. If you find it helps then of course do so, but if you don't see a benefit then why bother?
  14. As you already play melodeon you should find the anglo concertina relatively easy to pick up. Of course, it is really only up and down the rows that they are similar, and cross-rowing is quite different, but at least you have a head start over someone with no previous experience of these instruments. The inexpensive hybrids are a good starting place for complete beginners, but I think you would get more out of a vintage instrument. 26 buttons offers a lot more than 20, and other things being equal it's worth paying more for additional buttons, but this has to be balanced against the quality of the instruments. It is difficult if you can't get to a dealer and try out a number of instruments, but I would certainly agree with the suggestion to phone some up and discuss your needs. In my experience they are usually very helpful.
  15. hjcjones

    Anglo, English, Duet Relationships

    But was this the original intention? When you look at the key relationships between the rows, on both concertinas and melodeons, it seems to me that once additional rows of buttons were added these were intended from the start to be played as a whole keyboard and not as separate keys. Semi-tone intervals are fully chromatic, fourth and fifth apart provide reversals for most of the notes in the main scales, albeit in different ways. I'm sure these were all the result of deliberate design decisions rather than accident. Coming back on topic, I think the difficulty is that there are very few players who have truly mastered all three types of concertina and who are really able to make a fully-informed judgement of their relative merits. I suspect the real answer is that they all have their strengths and weaknesses, and whilst they might each favour being played in a particular way, in the hands of a good player almost anything is possible on any system.