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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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  1. Anglo-Irishman

    Different sounds on different concertinas

    Depends what you mean by "sound." If it's just the timbre of a single note, I can answer that for you. I have before me 3 concertinas: a wooden-ended Lachenal Crane/Triumph Duet, a metal-ended Dallas/Crabb C/G Anglo (both with traditional reeds) and a metal-ended Stagi C/G Anglo (a hybrid with accordion reeds). When I play the C above middle-C on all of them, the Lachenal and the Crabb sound very similar, and the Stagi is just slightly less penetrating. However, when I try to play a harmonised tune on each of them, the traditional-reeded Crane and Anglo do sound different. Partly because of the different layouts, which influence the arrangements differently, partly because the duet is in Equal Temperament, and thus sounds harsher than the Anglo, which is probably in some sort of meantone tuning, and sounds really sweet in its home keys. The more reeds are sounding, the more noticeable the difference between the hybrid Anglo and the two traditional-reeded concertinas becomes. They all sound like concertinas, and are more similar to each other than to any other wind instrument (including accordions and harmonicas). Cheers, John
  2. Anglo-Irishman

    Elastic band

    The topic heading reminds me of a joke I heard at school (long, long ago): "I say, a friend of mine has invented a rubber trumpet!" "Why's that?" "So that he can play in one of those elastic bands ..." Cheers, John
  3. Anglo-Irishman

    Why Give Up

    Giving up is not something I've ever done. But here's an interesting anecdote: The fiddler in my groupdecided he wanted to learn the accordion. So he approached a Russian friend of ours who plays the bayan and teaches all types of chromatic accordion, B-Griff, C-Griff and piano-accordion. The first question was how to obtain a reasonably-priced accordion, to which our friend replied that there are lots of good, used PAs on the market, but very few CBAs. His reasoning was, that a lot of beginners have some knowledge of the piano or keyboards, and assume that the PA will be easy to learn. When they find out that it isn't that simple, many of them fall by the wayside, and sell their instruments. Beginners on the CBA, by contrast, realise that they're venturing into unknown territory, and only take it up if they have the resolve to persevere with the accordion. So, basically, giving up the accordion has to do with false expectations. My fiddler plumped for the CBA, and has kept it. However, he is very musical, and knows it, having learnt classical violin and taught himself the melodeon, so he was confident in his own learning abilities. For someone who has never played an instument before, the risk of disillusionment is much greater. And disillusionment is probably what feeds the used-instrument market (apart fron those who really have caught the bug and want to upgrade to a better intrument of the same type). For me, life without an instrument wouldn't be worth living! I grew up in a house full of instruments, and saw how much pleasure my parents had in playing them. My father had a fiddle, a mandolin and a mouth organ, and at a very early age I learned to make music the way I learned to talk - by hearing and copying my parents. The mandolin was my first musical companion, its small size and slender neck being amenable to the hands of a small child. While still at primary school, I picked up the mouth organ, and when I was "sensible" enough, I was allowed to play the fiddle, too. My mother had an autoharp, and that was easy! When my father got a derelict banjo given to him, and renovated it, I started on that, too. I was about 10 at the time, and the frets were too wide for my fingers, but it waited for me to grow a bit, and then the fun started. The first instrument that I actually went out and bought, without knowing anything about it, was in fact the concertina. The only one they had in the shop was a cheap, East German 20-button Anglo-German. I realised at once that my mouth-organ skills were transferable to it, and the fun started all over again! I must stress that the above instruments did not succede each other - the later ones just joined the gang. I still play all of them, although the 5-string banjo and the Anglo are my main emphasis at the moment. I have phases for one instrument or the other, so none of them get really neglected, and if the situation calls for it, I can work up one of the less-used instruments quite quickly. Like cycling or swimming, you never really forget how to play an instrument, once you've got to know it. In my view, wanting to play another instrument is no reason to give up the one you already play. Of course, I define myself as a singer, so I start off using most instruments for accompaniment. Some of them do develop into instrumental solo instruments, but as a singer, I have an excuse for not reaching the virtuoso level! Cheers, John
  4. Anglo-Irishman

    EC accompaniment question for "Red Haired Boy"

    @McDouglas, I absolutely agree with Jody here! The material you're using in this example is an Irish dance tune, and Irish dance tunes are conceived as a single melody line, playable by a lone fiddler or fluter, that has the dance rhythm built in, and mostly suggests a harmonic progression (though it may suggest different harmonic progressions to different musicians,depending on their background.) The flat-picked guitar in Irish music is a modern addition, but it has managed to assert itself because Irish guitarists have found ways of applying the aforementioned, suggested harmonic progressions that are imanent in Irish jigs and reels, without affecting the pulse of the tune itself, as adequately rendered by the fiddle, flute, pipes, concertina or tenor banjo. Note: the guitar is nice to have, it is not essential. The guitar adds nothing, it merely emphasises what is already there (in Flamenco it's different!) A guitar accompaniment to an Irish dance tune should be such that the music is complete without it. With your combination of EC, fiddle and mandoin, the obvious way to play a jig or reel would be in unison. All your instruments have the same bottom note, and plenty of room at the top end of the range. For dancers, that would suffice, but for listeners - or your own enjoyment - you need a bit of variation. The simplest variation would be for the designated lead instrument to play the straight melody, and for the other two to play little variations. The next variation would be for fiddle or mandolin to use double stops, or open drones on the G or D strings. The EC can do that, too. The next enhancement would be harmonies.This is where the EC comes to the fore! Like the guitar harmonies, the EC must be "in character" and must not interfere with the pulse of the lead instrument. I've played jigs and reels often enough in a folk group to know that there are sources for guitar chords for Irish tunes, so if you get chords from an Irish source, you should be on the right road, without having to be too creative. The next thing would be to learn the commonest chord shapes on the EC. That's what beginner guitarists do! There are chord charts for EC available. Once you can progress smoothly from D major to G major to A major, you can accompany The Red Haired Boy! You've identified the buttons you can press at each point in the tune - but which ones should you press? Jody's "oom-pa, oom-pa" idea is a good start. Press one of the buttons on the "oom" and the other two in the "pa".The "oom" should be low and soft, so as not to impair the pulse of the lead instrument. The next refinement would be to leave out the "oom", and play only the "pa" on the 2nd and 4th beat ot the bar. (Don't worry, there won't be an embarassing silence - your two companions will be playing their strong beats at the time! In principle, you should play less in an ensemble than you would solo.) Or you can play the notes of the chord as an arpeggio, i.e. one after the other as quarter notes (crotchets). One accompaniment that the EC can do but the guitar can't is to underlay the whole phrase between two chord changes with one continuous chord. So there are a lot of things you can do to accompany the RHB on the EC without learning harmony theory. Just learn your chord shapes, and use scores or lead sheets that have the chord names in them. Then just mix up your oom-pas, off-beat pas, arpeggios, and held chords until it sounds rhythmically appealing. Have fun! Cheers, John
  5. Anglo-Irishman

    considerations re the idea of a Duet concertina

    What I admire about so many forum members is the cerebral way you have of talking about what should "feel right." The down side of these recommendations is that each method is described as if it were THE way to harmonise. Because, for me, all these harmonisation methods form a sort of arsenal from which I can choose the "weapon" for a particular phrase of a particular piece. I can quite conceive of using a drone, parallel octaves, parallel thirds, block chords or oom-pahs at different points in the same arrangement. As I see it, the duet concertinist has basically the same capabilities as the pianist, in that all the notes are available at any time - low notes left, high notes right - and the combinations are limited only by the dexterity of the player. Now, I'm not first and foremost a concertinist, but a singer. And in my singing lessons, I got to know Franz Schubrt pretty well. For me, he's the absolute master of accompaniment. So whenever I have to harmonise a tune, or find an accompaniment for a song on the Crane, I always find myself wondering, "What would Schubert have done on the piano?" And between Erlkönig and Am Brunnen vor dem Tore I find a wealth of lush, sparse, loud, soft, fast, slow, homogeneous and heterogeneous accompaniments. And most of them can be used as models for a Crane accompaniment. Listening is the start of learning, as far as I'm concerned! Cheers, John
  6. That's what I do most of the time. It's certainly quicker and more efficient than trying to work out what is the third, fifth, seventh, tenth or whatever of the melody note, and then wondering which interval is appropriate at this point in the tune! That's why I find it so important to learn chords on the duet - not to create a carpet of sound or to provide an oom-pah, but to reduce the choice of possible harmony notes to a minimum. I don't have to press down all the fingers that are hovering over the buttons for the given chord. Cheerts, John
  7. Anglo-Irishman

    considerations re the idea of a Duet concertina

    Like, do your thing, man! 😎✌️ I must say that my Lachenal Crane/Triumph is not at its best in the folky, meditative area. Being a chromatic instrument, it's tuned to equal temperament, which makes richer harmonies rather "edgy" or "uneasy," unless you're careful to avoid certain intervals. I find my Anglos (a Dallas/Crabb and a Stagi) a lot more pleasant to listen to when I'm just improvising with full chords. With your disciplined approach and experience of the EC, Wolf, you'll probably be able to identify and avoid those "sour" intervals on the Crane. Cheers, John
  8. Anglo-Irishman

    considerations re the idea of a Duet concertina

    Hallo, Wolf! I have a philosophical answer to your questions. The Crane Duet is an established instrument that has proved itself to be more than a passing fad. I'd like to compare it with other established instruments, for instance the piano and the volin. Both composers and performers have done very different things with these two instruments. The piano emerged around Mozart's time, and was used by the Viennese Classical pianists like Beethoven and Schubert, then by the Romantics like Schumann and Bahms, then the Impressionists like Debussy and the modern composers like Tati. All very different concepts, melodically, harmonically and rhythmically. Then came Joplin's Ragtime and the later jazz (trad. to modern) and boogie pianists, and the piano still has a place in contemporary pop music - not to mention the pub piano bashng out accompaniments to popular songs. Someone taking up the piano today has all those possibilities at his or her fingertips. Some of them call for hard work and dedication, others can be achieved more easily. The violin is similarly versatile, though the contemporary styles are more folk than pop-oriented, but American, Irish, Scotttish, Scandinavian and Balkan fiddlers use the same instrument for their different musics. HOWEVER, piano music will never transfer to the solo violin, or vice versa! So what about the Crane? Remember, it was soon adopted by the Salvation Army, whose main use was in leading hymn tunes in SATB settings (SA on the right, TB on the left, like the pian). or accompanying folksy Gospel choruses (just chords, or chords left, melodies right). As former Forum member "Dirge" ably demonstrated, piano literature can be performed on the duet, too. Basically, a lot of the piano's versatility can be had on the Crane. Depends on what style of music resonates with you! But the differences between piano and violin are also echoed in the comparison between the Crane Duet and other instruments. I'm not familiar with the EC, but I do know that there are arrangements that I play quite easily on the Crane but have difficulty reproducing on the Anglo, if at all. And, conversely, the Anglo can be a lot more sprightly because its push-pull calls for less finger movement. When the key of Eb major is called for, then the Crane is ready for it, but the C/G Anglo isn't. And so on. No-one tells a pub pianist that he should be playing four-part harmony, or a Ragtime pianist that he should be playing Rachmaninov - each just does what the piano lets him do. I reckon the Crane Duet lets you do quite a lot - probably more than you personally can think of! Do it - and let's hear it! Cheers, John
  9. My experience - and I've had it confirmed by a few others in the Forum - is that, as a beginner on the Anglo, you tend to want the straps snug, but as you become more accustomed to it, you want to slack them off a bit. Perhaps this is because you use the bass and treble ends more frequently as you progress. As I see it, bellows reversal is an important factor in a bisonoric concertina. That means that we must be able to change from press to draw and back with no "slop" in between. That in turn means that some part of the hand must always be in contact with some part of the end (for the press), and the handstrap must always be in contact with the back of the hand (for the draw). That would seem to indicate a need for snug straps. However, on the other hand, we need to give the fingers freedom of movement to reach all the buttons comfortably. And that indicates a need for looser straps. The only way I can see to escape this dilemma is what most experienced players seem to do: arch the hand so that the heel of the hand and thumb are against the end, while the back of the hand is braced against the strap. This way, the knuckles are not trapped between strap and handrest, and can move freely. As to control of the instrument, I find that snugness is less important than the quality of the straps. I get best control when the straps are of thick, broad, and above all stiff leather. Thin, pliable straps have to be set snug to hold the instrument up steadily. Cheers, John
  10. Anglo-Irishman

    Questions for bandoneon

    That's a good point! @accordian, could you tell us a bit about your Bandoneon? Is it new, old or reconditioned? What make is it? And how did your enthusiasm for the Bandoneon arise? Are there Bandoneon players in your neighbourhood, or did you hear it during a holiday in Buenos Aires? What about your musical experience - do you already play (an)other instrument(s), and if so, which? It's often said that you should start learning on the best instrument you can afford or obtain - but there are many on this Forum who started out with a cheap concertina and got on very well. At the start, the main job is to get familiar with the fingering system, and you can do that on an instrument that may not have the best sound (as long as it's reasonably in tune). I find it very important when starting out on an instrument to have some "role model" - an experienced player who plays the music you like the way you would like to play it. If you just listen to them and watch them, you'll go in the right direction. If you already play another instrument, that's a good thing, because then you only have to learn Bandoneon, not Music as such! Skill transfer is possible in some aspects, not in others, so don't expect too much, but look out for the déjà vu experiences! Cheers, John
  11. Anglo-Irishman

    Questions for bandoneon

    Right! That's why you have 72 buttons instead of the Anglo-Chromatic concertina's 30 buttons! To the discerning ear, no two instruments sound exactly alike. And no two players sound exactly alike, either. So what are you comparing your sound with? A virtuoso Bandoneonista with an Alfred Arnold instument, or someone like me, messing around on a small, single-reeded, no-name Bandoneon? Whatever you do, don't compare the actual sound of your Bandoneon played by you with a recording of someone else playing their Bandoneon. That's the sure path to insanity! Recorded instruments sound the way the sound engineer wants them to sound! And always remember: it's not the instrument that makes the sound - it's the interplay of instrument and player. Report back after a couple of months' practice, and we'll talk about sound! Cheers, John
  12. Anglo-Irishman

    Questions for bandoneon

    Well, what did you expect? To put it on your knee, turn a handle, and hear "The Stars and Stripes?" Rome wasn't built in a day, and an instrument as idiosyncratic as the Bandoneon can't even be assessed in a day, either! Even the fairly staightforward piano takes weeks or months to familiarise yourself with. As Wolf pointed out, the Bandoneon is bisonoric, so you have to press different buttons on the press and the draw to get the same notes. However, the notes may be in a differrnt octave, which would invert the chord. For instance: C major is made up of the notes (low to high) C, E, G. In the other bellows direction, the same C and E might be available, but the most convenient G might be an octave lower, so the chord would come out as (low to high) G, C, E, which is still a C-major chord, but with the notes in a different order, which will make the chord sound slightly different to the C, E, G version. By the way, why start with C major? On the Bandoneon, the keys of G, A or E major are much more accessible. An Anglo concertinist can play tunes - and harmonise them - in those keys right from the start! Learning to play the same chord on press and draw is - for me, at least - something for the next step in familiarisation. BTW, in another thread, I recommended the following tutor: http://bandoneon.petermhaas.de/en-grifftabellen/ . It's for a small Bandoneon with 110 tones (like the one I have), but as the author points out, the button layout and the fingerings you learn on the 110-tone instrument can be transferred directly to the 142 and 144-tone versions. Cheers, John
  13. Anglo-Irishman

    30 button Anglo fingering

    I quite agree! And a good first step would be to print out Mike's posting and read it through regularly. Cheers, John
  14. Anglo-Irishman

    144 bandoneon

    Try this link: http://bandoneon.petermhaas.de/en-grifftabellen/ Cheers, John
  15. This thread makes me think of "historically informed performance practice" in the world of academic music. Since J.S. Bach's day, the orchestral instruments and keyboards have been improving steadily. Bach composed for the harpsichord, whereas Mozart and Beethoven composed for and played the piano. But Beethoven's piano was not nearly as advanced as Glen Gould's piano. Until fairly recently, there was the notion that the older composers' music was "upgraded" by playing it on modern instruments. But recently I heard an eye-opener (or ear-opener) on the radio: a Mozart piano sonata played on a Steinway, and then on a reproduction Hammerklavier of Mozart's day. It was astonishing how much more ... authentic the music sounded on the older instrument. Its timbre was what Mozart wrote for, and it did deal with the "noteyness" of Mozarts music better than the modern piano with its long sustain. Thanks to my daughter's involvement in a good church choir, I've become accustomed to hearing Bach played on historical instruments: violins with gut strings, oboes and flutes without flaps, natural trumpets and horns. Modern instruments just don't sound right to me any more in this context. Of course, when there's a post-romantic work involved, the modern brass, woodwind and steel-strung strings are the way to go - that's what the more recent composers wrote for. This is all rather removed from the musical world of the Anglo concertina, but I do see an analogy. There was a time when popular music was such that a 20-button German or Anglo-German concertina was all that was needed to play it adequately. If we play the popular music of that period, a 20-button concertina will help to keep us "authentic!" Cheers, John