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Everything posted by hjcjones

  1. I play guitar and have callouses on the fingers of my left hand. They don't cause me problems when I'm playing concertina. I think its more likely to be a technique issue.
  2. I had to look it up, but I note that the Brush Script capital N also resembles how we now form the lower-case 'n' and so appears 'backwards' These styles of writing have long fallen out of fashion, and we forget how many different ways there are to form letters, especially now we do eveything at a computer using modern fonts by default. When I was at school in the 1960s I was taught to make a lower-case 'z' with a looping tail, so it looked almost like a 3 or the Old English 'yogh'. It was probably old-fashioned even then, but my teacher was quite elderly. I am more and more convinced that the stamp on the OP's concertina is not an error but a now obsolete style.
  3. I believe this substitution arose because printers didn't have the "thorn" character and used "Y" because it was the closest match. The confusion continues to the present day. When John Offord was re-printing his classic tune collection "John of the Greeny Cheshire Way" he discovered on looking more closely at the original music that there was a tiny "e" next to the letter "Y", so it should actually be "John of the Green, ye Cheshire Way". Which makes a lot more sense, but is a bit dull. I prefer his original interpretation. Reversed letters seem to have been commonplace on gravestones in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries but no one seems sure why. Poor education may be an explanation, you would expect skilled masons to know the correct shapes of letters, but you only have to look at the mistakes made by modern sighwriters to realise this might not be the case. It seems strange that this would still occur at the time Jeffries was making concertinas and it seems likely to me that this was deliberate. I think the OP is onto something when he compares it with the way a lower-case 'n' is formed, and perhaps this was a stylistic convention with masons and engravers?
  4. As for chords, most folk tunes are written out as simple melody lines. Players add their own chords, which is pretty straightforward on an anglo (in the home keys anyway), rather as a guitarist would. It is possible to find detailed arrangements for anglo in both notation and tablature, but these cover only a tiny fraction of the repertoire. I would regard them as an aid to learning, to see how other players have approached this so you can develop your own skills to be able to play any tune you come across. Different styles of music also require different approaches. Irish music uses very little chording, but the anglo is also suited to big chords with both hands! It pays to listen to a lot of players in your preferred style to find what works.
  5. Me too. I grew out of it eventually. I don't recall doing anything special to cure this. I suspect that as I became more proficient the bellows changes became more automatic, and as I wasn't consciously thinking about it my breathing became normal. I suspect this is a common affliction for novice players of push-pull instruments.
  6. For clarity, in CADB the letters P and T are not applied to each button. The buttons are numbered, with " ' " marks to indicate the row eg 3' indicates button 3 on the first row, 4'' means button 4 on the second row. These are then placed above or below the line to indicate Push or Pull. This works well for melodeon as the keyboard is continuous. It seems to be fairly widely used in France. Being a melodeon player I was aware of this system and did consider whether it could be adapted for anglo, but as you say having the keyboard split between two hands adds a further level of complexity. It can be made to work, as Roger's example shows, but as hardly anyone seems to use it there didn't seem any point in pursuing it. When exploring concertina tabs I was disappointed to find that there seems to be several different systems in use. This means that whenever you look at a piece of tab you first have to find what system it is using and how the buttons are numbered. Sometimes they appear to be similar but are quite different. Some use violin bowing marks, but not being a violinist I don't find these helpful, and don't instinctively associate up and down bowing with push and pull bellows. It's interesting that your tutor uses an inverted V for a draw, wheres "V" fiddle mark represents a down bow. It can all get a bit confusing, unless you are able to stick with a single system. It doesn't help in my case that my anglos have more than 30 buttons so I have to extend the numbering, and my melodeon starts the scale on the 4th button whereas CADB assumes a third button start. To be honest, I'm not a great fan of tab, on any instrument. Sometimes, when it's taken me a long time to work out the best way to play a particular phrase it can be useful as a way of recording that so I don't forget it, but as a way of learning tunes I find it only occasionally useful. I am principally an ear player, so I'll figure out a tune for myself rather than directly from dots or someone else's tab. However tab is undoubtedly a useful addition to the toolbox.
  7. You should also consider what style of music you want to play on it.
  8. I would go so far to say it isn't the same tune, although there are a few echoes of it in there. I wonder if something got lost in translation somewhere? It hardly matters though, it's a beautiful tune in its own right, and beautifully played.
  9. It looks to me like an adaptation of the French CADB system for diatonic accordeon (melodeon). You can find an explanation here: http://diato.org/expltabl.htm I can see no reason why this approach couldn't be applied to anglo. However it doesn't seem to be the most widely adopted system, most publications seem to use individually numbered buttons rather than a combination of row and button. There are a number of discussions here about tabs, including at least one current. The French versions uses P(ousse) and T(irer) for push and pull, which avoids confusion with the English words
  10. I can thoroughly recommend Adrian's book 'A Garden of Dainty Delights' which has arrangements for some splendid tunes for both Jeffries and Wheatstone layouts, and for which he has also recorded YouTube versions.
  11. Someone on the "Gigs from Hell" Facebook group says they've been offered an extra 25% "hazard pay"
  12. I think I would want to see, in writing, exactly what precautions they plan to take to protect your safety. A general assurance isn't good enough, and might put you in a difficult position if you were to turn up and found they weren't adequate. Having complete clarity beforehand allows you to decide whether to take the gig, and if not allows time for the venue to find someone else.
  13. Thanks Adrian. I couldn't quite see from you videos just what you were doing. Your approach seems to be similar to mine, especially on the 40-button where some of the buttons are a bit of a stretch. I've more or less copped out of trying to play standing up, and when performing with the band I use a high stool so I am at the same level as the others but can support the instruments (melodeon or concertina ) on my thigh. When singing, I also tend to "dangle" and maybe tuck it into the top of my thigh for bit of extra support, but I am usually playing simpler arrangements of mainly chords and arpeggios. May I add that I very much enjoy your videos, and I've recently got hold of a 'Garden of Dainty Delights' which has some great tunes. Howard
  14. In reply to schult, my video check wasn't very thorough and I've only looked at a few. I don't always find it very easy to tell whether a pinkie is being used to play a note or is simply "floating" while another finger is used, and the camera angles aren't always helpful. However I definitely notice this with John Kirkpatrick, who is someone I've watched closely for many years. I'm not saying he never uses it to play notes but often it is used to support the instrument. See here for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD42nuQHRpk But he has big hands - I have a very similar instrument (40-button Crabb ) and I can barely reach his contact point, and then I can hardly move the other fingers. I certainly agree with gcvoover that all the fingers are needed to play notes, at least where my own playing is concerned. I guess what I am interested in is the trade-off between added stability (especially when playing standing) and using fewer fingers. It would be interesting to hear from players who habitually do this. Coronavirus permitting, I'm still hoping to go to JK's workshop in October so maybe I'll ask him then.
  15. It's really harmonic-style playing I'm interested in, where you have to use several fingers simultaneously so the question is, which ones? Other styles of playing may not need you to use so many fingers. In particular, "Irish style" tends not to use the highest or lowest notes, and there are very firm ideas on which finger should be used for which note. I'm not sure note layout makes a difference. It is how those buttons are played, rather than the notes, which is the issue. I can see that layout might affect how often you need to reach for them. Certainly a larger keyboard makes it more of a stretch if you're going to brace the instrument, although John K manages this with a 40-button (very similar to mine, as it happens). However he has hands like shovels
  16. There was a recent discussion on the use of the little (pinkie) finger when playing duet. https://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?/topic/22384-using-the-pinkie-finger-on-the-ends-of-a-duet/ On anglo, I use the pinkies of both hands to play notes at the extremities of the keyboard. I came to the concertina from playing guitar where my little finger was already "in play" (on the left hand anyway), so it seemed quite natural to use all the fingers,. However I see that a number of excellent players seem to make little or no use of this finger. I have long noted that John Kirkpatrick mainly uses this finger to brace the instrument. Despite playing wonderfully complex music, as far as I can tell Adrian Brown doesn't seem to use this finger on either hand. Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne is another who seems to use these fingers only as a brace, and then only occasionally. Jody Kruskal doesn't seem to use them at all. I admit I haven't made a detailed study, these are just impressions from watching a few videos. So what do other anglo players in the harmonic style do? In particular, how do the teachers among you advise using this finger? I can see the benefits from bracing the instrument more firmly, which is a problem I always have when playing standing. However I suspect I am too set in my ways to change now, and besides I don't think my hands are big enough - it feels quite uncomfortable to use these fingers as a brace, especially on the 40-button, even before I try to finger notes. However I'd be interested to know what other players do, and what may be regarded as good practice (if indeed there is such a thing).
  17. Congratulations! I remember getting my hands on my Cotswold for the first time, and being astonished. You will find it gets even better as it plays in.
  18. The most widely used format for sharing folk tunes is ABC. This is a text based method of representing music. There are free programs and online converters which will turn it into conventional notation, let you transpose into other keys, or play it back. If you Google a tune title and add "abc" eg search for "rising of the moon abc" you should get some results. A website called The Session focuses on Irish music and has a large collection of tunes.
  19. I'm just intrigued by your idea of "more modern" stuff. "The Rising of the Moon" dates from the mid-1860s. The better-known version of "Roddy McCorley" was written in 1898. How old do you want it to be? In ITM the concertina is played as a single-note melody instrument with just occasional chord embellishment, but this style isn't very well suited to accompanying songs. However there are other styles of playing for song accompaniment which use chords. Perhaps not very authentic, but the same could probably be said for banjo as an accompanying instrument. However many great folk revival bands aren't worried about sounding authentic. If in doubt, get both! But if you have to make a choice. think about what has inspired you to want to play these instruments. Which musicians most attract you and make you want to play like them? Don't choose an instrument just because it seems "Irish" if you're inspired by something different.
  20. That's fair comment, Dave, but the converse is equally true for ear-players in music-led situations. I can't participate in concertina band or ensemble arrangements because I can't read music. If I were to try, I expect I would find that few of the sight-readers would be prepared to make any allowance while I attempted to pick up the part by ear, and why should they? Different situations require different skill sets, and in order to participate fully in a session then being able to play by ear is an essential skill, just as being able to sight-read is an essential skill for playing ensemble arrangements. Neither seeks to deliberately exclude the other, it's simply due to the nature of these events. Being slightly mutton myself I sympathise with your hearing problems, but I doubt that most who bring dots to a session have that justification.
  21. A session may be a playground, but it is just as much the "real thing" as the examples you mention. I've done all of those and they can be pretty intense, and yet some of my most intense musical experiences have been in sessions. I still have memories of a near-perfect session in the Tiger Inn at a Beverley Folk Festival which took place well over 30 years ago, when everyone hit just the right groove, and everyone listened and responded creatively to what the others were doing. It was very special. The great thing is that, unlike the other experiences, sessions are open to anyone who is past the beginner stage and has at least some command of their instrument. They don't need to be a great player or even to know all the tunes, just enough to play along where they can and sufficient self-awareness not to intrude where something is beyond their level of competence. It does require the ability to listen not only to yourself but to the others, and to play to them rather than to what is written on a page. By all means take your music if it gives you confidence, and if the custom of the session permits, but the sooner you can do without it then the more you will get out of the session. As RAc correctly said, every session is different and the most important thing is to fit in with the customs and norms of behaviour of that particular session. I said earlier that I regard sessions which depend on music as something rather different from those which don't. I don't wish to imply that they are inferior, they provide a great opportunity for people to play together and to develop confidence in their playing, and most importantly to have fun. They provide their own rewards, and require a different set of skills, which I lack. I am certainly not putting them down. What I am saying is that anyone who wishes to move from those into less structured sessions (and not everyone may want to) will need to learn additional skills which include giving up, or at least substantially reducing, their dependence on written music.
  22. RAc posted while I was composing my last post. Yes, session skills do have to be learned in sessions, but you won't learn those skills if you're dependent on the dots. Tearing yourself away from them is difficult, and if it helps to have them nearby as a prop if necessary to help your confidence then so be it. However the aim should be to remove that dependence, so you can focus your attention entirely on what you and the other musicians are playing. Once you can achieve that, if only in one or two tunes, it is immensely liberating and satisfying, and that will give you the confidence to continue and to improve those skills. I've never been to a session where written music has been handed out to introduce a new tune. Someone introduces a new tune by playing it, and others join in as best they can (joining in with an unfamiliar tune is another session skill you can only learn by doing it). If they like the tune well enough, the dots may then help them to learn it outside the session, so they are better prepared the next time it is played. I'm afraid that there are key skills which you really have to learn in order to participate fully in a session, and doing without written music is one of them. It also works the other way - I am excluded from some types of event because I cannot read music, and I accept that if I wish to participate in these then I will have to make the effort to learn new skills. Why should session-playing be any different?
  23. Dots have their uses, and a tablet is a great way to organise them, far better than a multitude of folders with paper falling out of them. I use MobileSheets for Android which appears to be very similar to forScore. However I use it as a prompt to help me choose something to play, but I don't then refer to it while playing. I sometimes use it on stage (with the tablet attached to to mic stand, and which also serves as a digital mixer) to remind me of a band arrangement, but it requires only a brief glance occasionally and does not interfere with my playing or how I engage with the audience and fellow band-members. Memory is like a muscle, if you don't use it then it becomes weak. If you habitually play from dots you don't need to exercise your memory for music, so of course it becomes more difficult to remember tunes. Try humming tunes to yourself without an instrument in hand whenever you get a moment, so that the tunes become embedded in your head rather than your fingers. The only way to break the dependence on dots is to put them to one side and try to manage without. Start with tunes you know well and can play confidently from music, and know well enough to hum without music. It will be difficult at first, but remember that you don't have to join in with everything that's played, and you don't have to play every note in a tune, it's more important to keep up with the other players even if you have to fudge tricky phrases or bits of the tine you can't remember. In the heat of a session most mistakes will pass unnoticed, and even glaringly obvious ones which turn you purple with embarrassment are gone in a moment, and are forgotten by the end of the set. The reward will be to be able to participate fully in a "good satisfying traditional session".
  24. There are several problems with dots in sessions (I'm talking here about sessions which do not rely on a shared tunebook). First is the time taken to find a tune - by the time someone has identified the tune being played and leafed through their folder to find the right page, the session is ready to move on to the next tune. Secondly, the written version may not match the one actually being played - these are folk tunes and there is no definitive 'correct' version. Perhaps most important, relying on dots is a barrier to learning the skills of listening and ear-playing which are essential to participate fully in a session. As Theo has said, a session is like a conversation - imaging trying to join in a conversation if your every contribution had to be prepared beforehand and read out. The skills required to participate fully go beyond simply being able to memorise tunes. The only use for dots in this type of session is as an aide-memoire when choosing what tune to play. My mind often goes blank and I can't think of a tune to play, so a list of titles or a few bars can be a handy prompt. But once a choice has been made, the dots must be set aside. Gatherings which work from tunebooks share many similarities with sessions but are more properly thought of a form of workshop, in my opinion. Their dependence on written music prevents the spontaneity and interaction which is the hallmark of a live session. That is not to say they do not serve a useful function, and for many people they provide their best opportunity to play along with others, but if those players want to move on to play in full-strength session they will need to break away from depending on dots.
  25. Tutors are to tell you how to play. For song accompaniment, you need to understand what to play. First of all, you need to find a key which you can sing in and which fits comfortably on the concertina. Then start with chords. The basis for a simple accompaniment is the "three chord trick" based around chords I, IV and V. Look this up if you don't know what it means - there are plenty of websites explaining it, and although they're usually aimed at guitarists the principles apply to any instrument. In the key of C the chords are C, F and G (or G7). Mess around with these to get used to their sound, and use your ears to tell you when to change chords. You can get hold of "fakebooks" which will show you the chords for a tune, but you might have to transpose the tune into a concertina-friendly key (there's lots of free and cheap music software to help with this). Don't forget you can play chords with the right hand as well as the left, and don't feel you have to play every note. It's usually better to avoid playing the melody line at first and just stick to chords. As you get more confident, you can try making it more complex - add some more chords, play arpeggios instead of full chords, add passing notes or bass runs to move from one chord to another, add a counter-melody. Listen to accompanists you admire and try to figure out what they're doing. The most important thing to remember is that the song is the most important element, the accompaniment is only there to support it. Trying to play something too fancy will probably mean you are not able to give enough attention to how you sing, and will only distract the audience from the song itself. Save the flashy bits for between verses. A simple accompaniment played and sung well is better than a complex one performed poorly. Just have a go!
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