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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

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  1. hjcjones

    Push vs Pull - why?

    In the real world, I doubt any theoretical differences in pressure make any difference, at least not one that is noticeable to players or listenerss. Similarly with dexterity, as players of all systems play with equal facility in both directions (although individual players may have a preference). There are only two possible arrangements, push-start or pull-start scales, and both have been tried. The flutina (pull-start) didn't catch on. The reasons why push-start was more successful is probably for physiological or psychological reasons than musical ones.
  2. Which is precisely the point of a G/D. And whilst the the C/G may pack more punch, the higher notes are approaching dog-whistle territory, and dropping an octave whilst still playing chords can be tricky with some tunes. I am not for a moment suggesting that English session tunes can't be played on C/G, only that G/D is a better fit where G and D are the predominant playing keys. I am lucky enough to have both at my disposal, and in a session it is the G/D which invariably gets more use. Unless there are one-row melodeons in C ...
  3. I think the majority of G/D players I know started out on C/G and simply adapted their playing. If you play by ear this is more or less effortless, if you play from music then it may be more difficult to relearn the keyboard. Playing in G on the G/D is the same fingering as playing in C on the C/G There aren't many tutors for C/G, come to that, at least compared with other instruments. Numerically, C/Gs must vastly outnumber G/Ds so it is to be expected that most tutors are aimed at them.
  4. A session isn't really the place for complex arrangements. The cacophony you describe can be minimised where all the players are used to listening to what other players are doing and are adept at adapting their own playing in response. However you have to be lucky to find a session where all the players can do this. Admittedly, even then if there are too many players it is difficult to avoid clashes and misunderstandings.
  5. What I meant by this was that playing in the instrument's home keys allows easier playing of accompanying chords and runs in those keys than when playing in G or D on a C/G anglo. If you want to play English music in the harmonic style (or whatever you may wish to call it), which for many is the preferred style for this music, it makes more sense to choose a G/D rather than a C/G. I'm not sure what you mean by the C/D making more sense musically - the instruments are identical to play, they are simply in different pitches. The context is of course the playing of English music in sessions, which for reasons already explained tend to be mostly in the keys of G and D.
  6. I don't know the numbers, but historically most anglos were made in C/G (also large numbers in the flat keys for brass band music) and I would say the majority of concertinas you see in sessions are C/G. However G/D is becoming increasingly common in order to play in the preferred session keys, and of my instruments that is the one which gets used most in sessions. The issue of keys is a thorny one. We have become locked into G and D, and this is usually blamed on melodeons, with some justification. However the D/G melodeon is a relatively recent introduction, from the 1950s or 60s, and was introduced in order to play alongside fiddles, who favour D, G and A to make best use of the open strings. The D/G is the highest-pitched of the melodeon family, and most players think the lower-pitched boxes sound better. If melodeonists really did dominate, we'd have you all playing in Bb/Eb. So it's really all the fault of the fiddlers Tunes in old fiddlers' manuscripts were in all keys. Modern collections tend to transpose them into session-friendly keys, so they can't be treated as truly representative. However we are where we are, and in the world where D G and A are the predominant keys then a G/D anglo makes more sense than the traditional C/G. This is of course in the context of playing English music. The Irish have found a different solution to using the C/G to play in fiddle keys. There is no reason not to use this approach for English music as well, but most players seem to want to play in the harmonic style so an instrument based on those keys works best for that.
  7. The death has been announced of Johnny Clegg, the "white Zulu" South African squashbox player. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-49011161
  8. hjcjones

    Miniature Concertinas - Playing English and Anglo

    That may be true for players in the Irish style, not for those who play in a harmonic style where the melody is mostly in the right hand, only occasionally dropping onto the left to get low notes.
  9. hjcjones

    DG Melodeon to GD Anglo?

    Easy? No. A concertina isn't a tiny melodeon. But the instruments are complementary, and playing melodeon will give you a head start over someone who has never played one of this family of instruments. If you want to try concertina, don't be put off, but don't expect to be able to play it immediately. Will it complicate your life? Learning any new instrument, indeed taking up anything new, will do that. Is it worth it? Definitely. However be warned that Concertina Acquisition Disease is just as contagious as MAD, and considerably more expensive!
  10. hjcjones

    Playing Standing

    One of our members, who posts as Spectacled Warbler, uses a camera chest harness. She plays a Hayden duet, but the same issues arise.
  11. hjcjones

    DG Melodeon to GD Anglo?

    I play both. There's definitely a relationship between the two, especially playing straight up and down the rows. However I assume you're aim is to play harmonic style with melody on the right hand and chords on the left. The right hand on the concertina is equivalent to playing in the upper octave on the melodeon., but the D/G is usually played in the lower octave, so you may find that some of the fingering is slightly different. Playing across the rows is also different because the relationship between the rows is different. On melodeon, the G row is higher than the D row. On the concertina the D row is higher than the G row. This makes for different cross-fingering patterns. However I don't find I ever get confused between melodeon fingerings and concertina. While you will find some similarities, it is not as simple as transferring melodeon fingering to the concertina. However you should already be familiar with the push-pull concept, bellows control, using the air button etc and these translate more or less directly. Give it a go, playing melodeon will give you a head start, but you will need to think of it as a different instrument.
  12. hjcjones

    Playing Standing

    John Kirkpatrick braces his concertina with his little finger, but he has hands like shovels. I can just about reach, but find that it constricts the movement of my other fingers. Brian Peters seems to manage just relying on the hand straps. I prefer to have my straps loose enough to reach all the buttons, but they are then too loose to support the instrument comfortably. I find it very difficult to play standing. For gigs I take my own high folding stool. Otherwise I'll use the case as a footrest or brace it against the top of my thigh, around the area of a jeans pocket.
  13. hjcjones

    tuning choice for an anglo

    But players of English music don't want it to sound Irish. As I said before,. G/D is favoured by English players because it makes it easier to play full chordal accompaniments in those keys. This doesn't have to mean sounding like a melodeon, there are other ways of playing chords beside oom-pah (but that goes for melodeon too). If you don't want chords then a C/G is fine for English music, and it's perfectly possible to pay chordally in those keys on a C/G (listen to John Kirkpatrick or Brian Peters), however G/D allows a few more options as you're then playing in the instrument's home keys. G/D is of course also suitable in terms of keys for Irish music. However the modern Noel Hill style of playing is based on a C/G played across the rows. There were older styles of Irish playing which were played up and down the rows, and a G/D would allow you to play in this style in sessions, but I think that would be an unusual (but interesting) choice for a modern player.
  14. hjcjones

    tuning choice for an anglo

    What do you mean by 'general use'? The conventional style of Irish concertina playing assumes a C/G, playing across the rows as the tunes are usually in D, G and A. G/D has become popular with English style players who want to play full chord accompaniments, as these are the common keys for English music. If you want to play only the melody then most keys should be achievable on any 30 key instrument, at least in theory - in practice some keys might be awkward to play. To play with chords you are more limited to the home keys and those nearby (although some players can manage the most unlikely keys) If you want to accompany singing, then the singer's preferred key is then a factor. There's no simple answer. You mention Irish, so that points to a C/G. You'll be able to play most other things on that too, but other keys might mean making some compromises, especially where chords are concerned
  15. hjcjones


    Auctions are possibly not the best way to sell a concertina. To get the best price at auction depends on as many potential purchasers as possible knowing about the sale. Many auction houses don't seem to do very much to publicise concertina sales to players (often when news of an auction appears here it has been posted by a member rather than the auctioneer), so in many cases they are probably bought by dealers rather than players. If more players were aware of the sale and were bidding for something for their own use the prices might be higher. Whatever the faults of ebay, it is more likely to be seen by players than something in the catalogue of an auction house. The other issue is that even specialist instrument auctioneers may not be very knowledgeable about concertinas and may undervalue them, or in some cases have over-optimistic ideas about value. The original seller may have grounds for complaint against the original auctioneer if they weren't properly advised. The other thing to bear in mind is that auction houses charge a commission to the purchaser as well as to the seller, so what the purchaser actually pays will be higher than the hammer price, which is what gets reported. It is common practice to start with a low asking price to get the bidding moving but to have a higher reserve price.