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About Anglo-Irishman

  • Rank
    Heavyweight Boxer
  • Birthday 06/15/1946

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Acoustic music of all kinds. Collecting playable instruments.
  • Location
    Near Stuttgart, Germany

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951 profile views
  1. Anglo-Irishman

    Keeping instrument dry in rain

    The concertina, that most English of instruments ... I'm just back from a fortnight's holiday in England. At the Sherwood Forest Visitors' Centre (while waiting for my granddaughter to try out all the apparatus on the playground) I had the opportunity to watch that most English of games, a cricket match, on the neighbouring playing-field. And, of course, the inevitable happened - it started to rain! Cricketers know what to do in that situation: they walked off the field for an early tea, while the groundsman and his staff shoved the covers over the pitch. Half-an-hour later, as we were heading for the car-park, the match had restarted. Just saying ... Cheers, John
  2. Anglo-Irishman


    A bayan playing friend of mine - a man of impeccable musical taste, great virtuosity and showmanship - once pointed out that playing too fast in a performance situation is a sign of nerves, stage fright and uncertainty. One tends, especially as a beginner, to play as fast as one can, in order to get the "ordeal" over as quickly as possible. And, of course, the exaggerated tempo leads to mistakes, so it's counter-productive. A tasteful, musicianly tempo comes with practice. Cheers, John
  3. Anglo-Irishman

    New to concertina

    Just in case you want to read up about it, the press-draw pattern of each row of the 20-b anglo is referred to as "Richter tuning" after its inventor, the Bohemian musician Josef Richter. It's the same as used on the harmonica - in fact, each row of your 20-B anglo is arranged the same way as a 10-hole blues harp. The same tuning is used on diatonic button accordions and on the various German Konzertinas, including the Bandoneon. The 30+-button anglo, the Chemnitzer, the Carlsfelder and the Bandoneon all have Richter-tuned rows somewhere in the centre of their layout, though they all have different buttons grouped around that. In fact, there are a couple of tunes that I play with identical fingering on my Anglo and my Bandoneon - but in different keys. The fingering that gives me "Linden Lea" in C major on the C/G anglo gives me the same arrangement in A major on the Bandoneon. So the 20-b anglo is a good place to start! BTW, th3e term "Anglo" comes from "Anglo-German" - a concertina built with English-style reeds and similar in shape and sound to the English concertina, but with the German button arrangement, which used the Richter tuning from the start. Cheers, John.
  4. Anglo-Irishman

    Tuning of 1860 Lachenal

    Bill, I'm not a expert on temperaments by any means, but I have the feeling that, if each and every button gives exactly the same note on push and pull, all the reeds are as they were intended to be, with regard to both concert pitch and temperament. As a singer myself (though not an EC player) using a concertina only for solo song acompaniment, the concert pitch would be immaterial to me. The couple of Hertz higher or lower wouldn't force me to transpose a song to make it singable. And an unequal temperament could be an advantage, because some chords do sound better, and would thus flatter my voice. Cheers, John.
  5. Anglo-Irishman

    Name of this tune from the Hebrides?

    This may well be the case - or vice versa! There's an effect that the Americans call "The Folk Process," whereby existing popular tunes are slightly altered, by mistake or design, for new songs, and then these modified tunes are re-modified (again by mistake or design) for even newer songs. In this way, we get what I call "families of tunes". They're all different, if you listen closely, but they have common features, as do members of human families. Think of the Habsburg chin that was so common among European royalty in the Renaissance and Baroque. Some of the changes can be quite far-reaching. There's a tune family called "Tooraliay", which includes the English "Vilikens and his Dinah," the American "Sweet Betsy from Pike," the Australian "Bold Tommy Paine" and the Irish "The Oul' Orange Flute." The first three have a tune that carries four-line stanzas, but the last one has the tune extended to carry an eight-line stanza. There are families (of tunes) in which the children seem to have the same mother but different fathers, because the underlying similarity is half-hidden. For instance, the 17th-century Irish song "Lillibulero" has given birth to several English nursery rhymes: "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross," " Humpty-Dumpty," "Little Bo-Peep" and "Hush-a-bye baby on the treetop." When my children were small, I had to sing them German children's songs with strong family resemblances, e.g. "Alle meine Entchen" and "Fuchs, du hast die Gans gestohlen". (@Wolf and RĂ¼diger: am I over-interpreting here?) As a song-writer myself, I know how hard it is to avoid using melodic phrases from some existing song that has the same metre as the lyric you're just trying to set to music. I have, on occasion, actually taken a trad. tune and deliberatey mutated it. Possibly the same has happened with this beautiful Hebridean air - perhaps it is a child of "Jacobites", or "Jacobites" is a child of it, or they are sisters, and both children of something older. Who knows? BTW, I suspect that they have a New-World sister, too: "500 Miles." Cheers, John
  6. Anglo-Irishman

    expanded: button layout options on 20b vs. 30b Anglo

    Yes indeed! I play a lot in C major on my C/G, and I would say that the left-hand 1a is the most frequntly-used button in the outer row. A good, solid F chord (the subdominant of C) is really essential to me. What I sorely miss, however, is a press Bb, which would give me an equally resounding C7 chord to lead to the solid F. My Bandoneon has a press F in its LH G-row, which alternates with a draw C. I wish the Anglo had something equivalent! Cheers, John
  7. Anglo-Irishman

    Jeffries Anglo Repair on BBC iplayer

    I tried to watch it in Germany, but got a message to the effect that the BBC player is available in the UK only. Pity! Cheers, john
  8. Anglo-Irishman

    DG Melodeon to GD Anglo?

    Yes, and there's a non-specific version of the bug, known as MIAS (Musical Instrument Acquisition Syndrom), which gets progressively worse, the more different instruments you have. đŸ˜® So having a melodeon and wanting a concertina is, in fact, worse that having a melodeon and wanting another melodeon ... Cheers, John
  9. Anglo-Irishman

    Arranging Music for the EC

    Hi, McDouglas, It's some time since you posted, so I hope you're still listening, although no-one has answered yet! I don't play the EC myself, but I do arrange a lot for Anglo or Crane Duet concertina and classic 5-string banjo. And in my experience, although there are aspects of arrangement that are instrument-specific, there are other important aspects that aren't. Why devise your own arrangements? In my case, it's because I'm a singer, and have hundreds of tunes stored in my memory (the grey cells, not the hard disc!), but I don't read music well enough to access other people's arrangements. Like you, I start with "unadorned" melodies. My first step in arranging the tune is to be able to play the melody fluently. The second step is to find the chord structure: what chord goes with what melody notes. A lot of this is schematic - there's often only one chord that fits - but there are cases in which several chords would be possible and sound pleasant, and it's part of the creative process to choose the best one (whereby the choice may be differnt in later iterations of the melody). Music consists of the three elements Melody, Harmony and Rhythm, but each genre has its own particular mix. For instance, Irish music is largely melodic, whereas African music is largely rhythmic. When we're arranging popular songs, the Melody is, of course given. I've mentioned the Harmonic element in Step 2.To complete the arrangement, we need to think about Rhythm. First off, there's the time signature (e.g. 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 time). This is often "built into" the melody, but there are notable exceptions, like the Irish song "Raglan Road," which is often sung in 3/4 time and just as often in 4/4 time. Then there's the consideration whether the beats in the bar are more or less equally stressed, or whether there's a strong beat and weaker beats - the differnce between song accompaniment and dance accompaniment, for instance. For me, the rhythmic treatment influences the treatment of the harmony notes. Should the accompaniment consist of block chords, or are broken chords (arpeggios) more appropriate, or do you want a counter-melody? Feel free to treat each iteration of the tune differently - this is known as variation! As a singer, I have got to know and admire Franz Schubert, and when I have to work up an accompaniment for a song, I often ask myself how Schubert would have done it on the piano. Other variations are harmonic: lush or sparse chords, for instance, or replacement of major with minor chords. I don't vary my melodies much - for me, they are the soul of the music - but a grace-note here or there doesn't alienate the tune too much. This is all very theoretical. On the practical side, I mostly arrange for 5-string banjo in classic style - strong melody and interesting chords. On a banjo (or guitar) you can hold down a chord with your left hand, and still be able to choose which notes of that chord to actually sound wiith your right hand. My left hand follows my harmonic structure, and my right hand decides what to make of it, rhythmically speaking, or in the sense of "lush" or "sparse." The Crane Duet concertina is slightly different: my left hand positions its fingers over the buttons for the appropriate chord, but I can still decide whether to mash them all down for a fat chord, or one after the other for an arpeggio, or even just one finger. Meanwhile, the right hand is playing the melody and filling out the lusher chords. I realise that both of these related techniques might present a challenge on the EC, where the roles of the two hands are not differentiated. I don't know, because I've never played an EC. Perhaps an EC player should not so much think of harmony notes as "partial chords," but rather as "counter-melody notes." Nevertheless, confident melodic playing matched with an ear for harmonic structure and a feel for rhythm are IMHO the key elements of arrangement. Cheers, John
  10. Anglo-Irishman


    Hi, Nedly, As you suspect, the fingertips are not for closing the bellows, only for pressing the buttons. To get control of the bellows, adjust the hand-straps such that, when you insert your hands in them and then arch the knuckles, the heel of the hand is pressing on the face of the concertina, and the back of the hand (close to the knuckles) is pressing against the strap. The fingers and thumb should then be able to move independently, and any movement of the hands should be translated directly into bellows movement. Cheers, John
  11. Anglo-Irishman

    What is folk music today? UK and USA

    Perhaps songs like "The Garden where the Praties Grow"? Oh, no, sorry! Potatoes aren't roots, they're tubers. Cheers, John
  12. Anglo-Irishman

    What is folk music today? UK and USA

    Well, "folk" means "people", right? And like the people themselves, the People's music has been formed over the years, decades and centuries by the social and political conditions, which are different in every country, or even region. To focus on the UK and the US: here, we have two very differnt envioronments, although the common language does allow a certain amount of cultural exchange, specifically song lyrics. For a start, Americans tend to live wide apart in their great country, so in the days before radio, the rural populace had less contact with academic music than in England, where no farmer was all that far from a market town, where he could hear urban, "bourgeois" music, such as the popular songs of the day, or even pretty classical stuff in Church on special days. Then there's the material culture, as far as it affects musical instruments. The Americans were privileged to have had the banjo brought to them by the African sub-culture, and the guitar by the Hispanic group (and to have very good specimens of it made by the German luthier, Herr Martin.) The banjo enterd the UK in the hands of the (white) Minstrel Showmen, and was immediately adopted by polite society, up to the Prince of Wales himself.The Spanish guitar never really caught on, and the English guitar, a variant of the cittern, was mainly a bourgeois instrument that fell from grace some time after 1800. With this disparity in the availability of instruments, popular music just had to develop differntly in the UK and the US. The most extreme case is the music of the Western Isles of Britain, which, like the West of Ireland, were remote and poor and had no instruments at all - except perhaps for a fiddle here and there - so music is intensely melodic there. The UK had no entrepreneurs like Charles Zimmermann, who spread his Autoharps throughout rural Appalachia with the help of travelling salesmen and mail order. On the other hand, British working-class musicians did have ready access to cheap German concertinas early on in the 19th century. Of course, the British amateur musician now has access to chording instruments like banjos, guitars and Autoharps, like his American cousin, but he has had to build up a tradition of using them, based on an earlier, melodic way of making music. In the US, the way of making music with fiddle, banjo and guitar has a very long, uninterrupted tradition, to the extent that it has become resistant to change - an accusation often made against OT musicians over there. In the UK, the tradition of "string-band" music is relatively new, and it is only yet another influence to adapt to, like the changing tastes in music-hall songs and the drawing-room ballads that seeped out of the drawing-room into the worker's or farmer's kitchen. Perhaps we could say that the Folk of the UK have a tradition of assimilation, whereas the Folk of the US have a tradition of fiddle, banjo and guitar playing. It seems to me that, in the US, extraneous influences are greeted as new genres (e.g. ITM, Klezmer, Polka) rather than being added to the mix that the Folk, broadly speaking, identifies with, which is, for me, the definition of "folk music." Cheers, John
  13. Remember that (according to Wim Wakker) Anglos have "stouter" bellows than ECs! Another point: On the Anglo, one often has the options to play the next note in the same or the opposite bellows direction. So you can put your "drone" note on a button where it's in the opposite direction, and just apply less force. I know that EC players are free to choose when to reverse the bellows and when not to - but don't the tenuous grip via thumb-strap and pinkie-rest and the softer bellows make the bellows changes less emphatic? And, BTW, I couldn't help noticing the circumference of Cormac's biceps. Muscles like an uillean piper! Cheers, John
  14. Anglo-Irishman

    Case for carrying 2 concertinas

    Mike, That's just what it is! The actual load-bearing component is a springy steel band, which has a leather cover for appearance and comfort. Cheers, John
  15. Anglo-Irishman

    Case for carrying 2 concertinas

    This is my solution - my Callas/Crabb Anglo and my Lachenal Crane/Triumph, each in its own (presumably) original case, but capable of being carried in one hand. I use a pair of webbing straps from an Army Surplus haversack. The width and the material make for a comfortable handle. Cheers, John