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About Anglo-Irishman

  • Birthday 06/15/1946

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

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  1. Could it be that you composed it without realising that you were doing so? That happened to me once, when I was trying to remember a chorale tune that I'd sung in a choir a long time ago. I thought I had reconstructed properly, and sang it to an acquaintance who is a church organist, and knows her chorales. She didn't recognise it, but said it sounded a bit like "Brich an, du schönes Morgenlicht." So I looked up that tune, and found that it was, in fact, the one I'd been trying to remember! Cheers, John
  2. Hallo,@Adavis, Alas, that choking sound is familiar to probably all concertina players. It's the result of some (almost microscopic) detritus between the reed and its shoe. Try pulling a piece of thin paper through under the reed, and see what appens. I get the choking most frequently on my Bandonion, which I don't play as often as my Anglo, and often it goes away when I just play that note repeatedly, fortissimo but with feeling. Cheers, John
  3. I think the fiddle is THE instrument which varies most, depending on the skill of the player. Violin intonation depends entirely on the precision of the player's left-hand fingering, and the tone is very dependent on the force exerted by the bowing hand. I used to play a bit of fiddle myself, and I remember well the excrutiating noises that I made when I picked it up again after a longer break. But, like with your grandson, it only took me a few tunes to get my fingers spot-on again. With the concertina, the pitch is correct whoever plays it, and the tone is pretty constant. I suppose that's the difference between the two instruments: the concertina has read-made notes that you just have to select, whereas on the violin you have to make each selected note individually. Cheers, John
  4. Playing-in, as indeed just playing, involves two individuals: the instrument and the player. You may be in a position to maintain that you play a certain concertina type pretty competently, but no two Anglos are exactly the same, nor are two Cranes, etc. One instrument may be louder, another softer. One may have stiff handstraps, another sloppy ones. The volume balance between LH and RH may be different in different concertinas, as may the relation between high and low notes. Bellows may be stiffer or more supple. All this means that, when I've really optimised a piece on my Dallas/Crabb Anglo, exploiting all its strengths and avoiding all its weaknesses, I have to play the same piece through several times on my Stagi Anglo, to identify the drawbacks and advantages it offers - and these are different from those of the Crabb! So yes, even with a "matured" instrument that has no more teething problems, if it's new to you (e.g. bought used, or borrowed from a friend, or picked upo again after a long period of disuse) "playing-in" will result in an improvement. The improvement will not be in the instrument itself, nor in the player, but rather in the rapport between them. Cheers, John
  5. Indeed! I do it all the time when singing in the choir. This is usually classical music, where foot-tapping is a no-no, but "in-shoe toe-tapping" certainly does help to keep track of the bars where my voice takes a rest. Cheers, John
  6. What's the fuss about? The gentlemen cited above made correct use of the inverted commas, making it clear that they are not talking about Irish music as such, but about something played in other countries that is loosely termed "Irish." I had the delightful experience in these summer holidays of returning home to Ireland again after 25 years' absence. One of the highlights was an evening in a pub in Derry-Londonderry where I heard a good fiddler and a good tin-whistler accompanied by a very tasteful guitarist. The effect was very much the same as in the YouTube clips linked by Peter Laban - lightness without excessive tempo, and clear execution of every note. That was Irish music (without inverted commas!) as I know it. It seems quite reasonable to me that people who prefer to speak in a foreign language (unless they're very good at it) will have a funny accent - which often comes from their pronouncing words the way they think a "native speaker" would pronounce them. Why should the same not apply to musical languages? And then there's the nagging thought in the back of my mind: why do English and Froggies try to play Irish music anyway? Haven't they got music of their own? (Sorry if the question offends anyone - but I'd just like to know.) Cheers, John
  7. Simon, This is one of the situations where I'm glad I'm a multi-instrumentalist! Concertina springs are easy to make with two pairs of pliers - a round-nosed pair and a normal flat pair. The raw material? In my case, that's a used Autoharp string. Specifically the C# from the middle octave, which is the thickest of the plain steel strings. One used string yields quite a few new springs. Cheers, John
  8. As a dabbler in the violin and mandolin, I was quick to learn that, to recognise a fifth interval, I just had to sing "Baa, baa, black sheep." Cheers, John
  9. If by "solfège" you mean tonic sol-fa, I doubt whether that would help with the expression. When I was learning to sing, I had to take part in music festivals, where the singing was adjudicated. In the more advanced classes, sight reading was also tested, and competitors could choose whether to sing from staff notation or tonic sol-fa (this was in Ireland). Invariably, the sol-fa candidates sang the syllables (doh, mi, so, re ...), while the staff readers sang the words. The latter were more expressive, because they were affected by the joy or sadness or whatever in the lyric. A friend of mine, a tenor-banjo player, attended some classes in the West of Ireland, and reported that some instructors told him to regard, say, a reel as a sort of dialogue between two people, e.g. "How're you doing? Lovely day! - "I'm fine now but it could rain later." The idea is that each phrase is played with a different "voice", now optimistic, now pessimistic, now cheery, now doleful. Keeps you from playing just one note after the other. I've only tried this out on one tune_ Carolan's Eleanor Plunkett. I already had all the right notes in the right place, but the lyric helped me to phrase the melody better. Here are the words; as you said, @bellowbelle, not great poetry, but valuable nonetheless: It's a lovely day today! (emotional statement) Do you think so? (called in question by another "voice") Yes, I think so. It's a really lovely day. (affirmative reply, with more emphatic repetition) If it weren't such a lovely day, there'd be clouds in the sky, (complex dialectic discussion on the state of the weather) And the little rain-drops would keep on falling, And I'd be so sad. It's a lovely day today! (simple repetition of original statement, with even more conviction) It works for me. Another genre that I enjoy playing on the concertina and the banjo is Scottish Psalm tunes (and sometimes Welsh hymn tunes.) I have all the words of the well-know ones in my head, and as I play, I "think" the words. This means that I alter the melody accordingly: now tying two notes that are otherwise discrete, now playing two quavers where other verses would require a crotchet. With the Scottish Psalms this is most marked. Normally, songs are written to provide a breathing space at the end of each line, but in the Psalms, it often happens that a phrase of the text begins in the middle of a line, and ends in the middle of the next. The Scottish choir singer learns to allow for this, and go from one line of the text to the next without taking a breath. Take the probably best-known Psalm 23 (verse 1): The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want. He makes me down to lie In pastures green; he leadeth me The quiet waters by. Obviously, taking a breath at the end of each line would disintegrate the syntax of the text. The correct way would be to sing: The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want. (OK - One sentence, one breath) He makes me down to lie _ In pastures green; (main clause all in one breath; then take breath for next main clause) he leadeth me _ The quiet waters by. (all in one breath) Each verse of the Psalm is structured differently; if I played the tune (preferably the tune Crimond) through several times, "thinking" the text as I played, each iteration would be different. Yes, words are essential to understanding! Ceers, John
  10. Simon, here's my group's arrangement of Carolan's Planxty Irwin. As you'll hear, the bass is used sparingly, the rhythm guitar is not obtrusive, and the fiddle and concertina just sing! Fiddle plays intro and bridge, concertina takes the melody in the verses. Cheers, John
  11. Well, considering that the concertina is a very British-Isles thing, this is not really surprising. The ubiquitousness of drumkits in many music genres - jazz, pop, rock, Latin, what have you - tends to obscure the fact that, in a specifically British context, drums are traditionally associated with war and death. Take the Scottish pipes and drums: that's pure military music, aimed at raising the adrenalin level in the troops. And the Irish Lambeg drum is similar in effect. The concertina is more at home in the domestic drawing-room or the convivial pub, where hatred, bloodshed and drums would be foreign bodies! But, some might object: What about the bodhrán, which is played in convivial pubs along with concertinas and other peaceful instruments like fiddles and flutes? Traditionally, the bodhrán, which came into use in Irish traditional music in the 1960s, as I remember, was a cult instrument, played by small boys ("Wren Boys") in folk ritual processions. So it was never a "weapon" of war! I quite agree! In my group, we always did our Carolan arrangements with that combination. A guitar and a bowed double bass provided the accompaniment (AKA basso continuo). Interestingly enough, I played my trusty, 1990s-vintage, metal-ended Stagi Anglo in those days. When I bought a Lachenal Crane, and had learnt the concertina part of Planxty Irwin, I tried it out at a rehearsal. The unanimous decision of the bandmates was, "Take your old concertina - it blends better!" Cheers, John
  12. Hmmm .... Though a concertina often has elaborate fretwork, it is not a fretted instrument as such. Perhaps that's why some of us fret over it. 😄 A Shakespeare quote comes to mind: When Hamlet's friends Rosenkranz and Guildenstern were getting on the Prince's nerves to try and influence his actions, Hamlet said: "Though ye may fret me, ye may not play on me!" (If you think Elizabethan music, the the significance of "fretting" my become apparent!) Cheers, John
  13. There's a theory here on CNet that 1. You should learn on the best instrument you can afford (applies to most instruments, not only concertinas) 2. Buy cheap = buy twice (In your case, most probable, since you already play other instruments) 3. Vintage concertinas in good condition may be more expensive, but should you have to sell for any reason (including inability to learn to play), you can get most of your money back. I played a metal-ended, 30-button Stagi Anglo in my group for almost 20 years, and was very satisfied with the tone and the tuning. (Admittedly I had to replace the bellows, but this boosted the quality of te instrument t the extent that I never thought about upgrading.) Now that I'm solo, however, I need an Anglo with more power and "character," so I got a vintage Dallas/Crabb, which I'm very pleased with. To each his own way! Cheers, John
  14. I agree with sadbrewer and Geoff. Whichever system you choose, you'll have to learn from scratch, so you'll grow into that system, and eventually find it "instinctive." And as Little John says, "logicality" does not necessarily meann ease of playing. One thought, however: In the heyday of the concertina, when it pervaded the music hall and the Salvation Army Citadel, the Macann was the instrument of the professional virtuoso performer with his dazzling solos and all day to practise them; whereas the Crane was the preferred concertina for accompanying gospel songs, played by Salvationists who had day jobs and only played on evenings and Sundays. That might be an indication of which system is for you - depends on your ambitions and your practice time! Cheers, John
  15. This is how I approch familiar melodies for which I have no score. However, the result is not baroque. Perhaps, if I were 400 years old, it might be.😄 I learnt most of what I know about harmony and counterpoint from singing in choirs. As a bass, I'm what you might call "part of the choirmaster's left hand." And after many years of singing bass, I can sight-read the bass part in most classical and baroque choral pieces, because I can sense what is coming up next, and merely have to refer to the dots to see if it's the higher or lower of the possible alternatives. However, with composers of justified repute, like Bach or Handel, the next note in the score is sometimes not one of the notes I would have expected. My reaction is usually, "Wow! I wouldn't have thought of that, but it's a stroke of genius!" I suppose the attraction of composed music, be it Baroque or Classical or Romantic, has to do with these little gems, which even a competent concertinist, left alone with his instrument, would never uncover. And to realise them as the composer intended, we obviously need to access the score in its entirety. Having said all that, I do believe that the Anclo is an instrument for "performers' music" - which in no way diminishes my respect for those who use it for "composers' music." If I wanted to play hymns in four-part harmony from the song-book - like the Salvation Army - I'd learn to sight-read for my (ex-S.A.) Crane/Triumph duet! Cheers, John
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