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Everything posted by Anglo-Irishman

  1. Never understimate an old man with a bike concertina! Cheers, John
  2. Perfectly logical! However ... If all the arranging were left to instruments, all Anglo arrangerments would sound alike, all Maccann arrangements would sound alike - and for that metter, all banjo arrangements would sound alike. It is the illogicality of the human element in arrangement that makes the music idiosyncratic. Cheers, John
  3. Good players, perhaps! But as a folk singer with adequate command of the 30-b Anglo for self-accompaniment, I took up a duet - the Crane. Right from the start, I played tunes on the Crane that I never had on the Anglo. Anglo more folky/nautical, Crane more Sally-Army/drawing-room. But I did work up one of my Anglo-nautical pieces on the Crane: "The Greenland Whalers." Same key, same tempo, same general expression, same chord structure - but the two arrangements are subtly different. I'm a lazy so-and-so, so I let my instrument do at least 50% of the arranging. And the Anglo and the Crane have different ideas on some poinst!πŸ˜‰ Cheers, John
  4. Nice! German traditional reeds, 10 to a plate - I bet it sounds nice and rich. Somebody has kept it playable by replacing the old, leather valves with plastic. Pity about the broken reed. Cheers, John
  5. Hi, @Arktrav, I seem to detect a certain affinity here! Like you, I've been playing mandolin, guitar and banjo (folk/classic style) for a very long time. I also had some experience with the mouth organ as a child. However, unlike you, I added the concertina to my musical toolkit at an early age. It was a simple, 20-button East German "Anglo." Perhaps it will help if I tell you how I "got into" the concertina - YMMV, of course. The combination of mandolin, guitar and OT banjo hints at a folkie who plays predominantly by ear or memory - certainly this was the case with me. When I had ordered my Anglo concertina, I resolved to catch up on the music theory I had missed hitherto, and learn to read sheet music, which I couldn't up to then. When the Anglo arrived, I unpacked it and the simple tutor I had bought with it, played the scales of C and G, and realised that this contraption was just two mouth organs cut in half and fitted to a bellows. I completely forgot about sheet music, and just started exploring. It's amazing how much more you can find do with a 20-button Anglo than with two harmonicas! Mandolin is good training, as it gives you a feeling for carrying a melody; guitar is good, as it gives yiu a feeling for the 3-chord trick and chord changes; and banjo is good, because it teaches you to use sparse, uncluttered chords. You'll do fine! Cheers, John
  6. Hello, OskariL, Your question is a difficult one for this forum, because most of us here play a British style of concertina, whether Anglo, English or some form of Duet. Some of us do play different types, and could tell you which type is more suited to a certain kind of music than another type. When we're talking about Chemnitzers and Bandoneons, however, we're into German concertinas. These are differnt from their British cousins in shape, size and construction. Notably, German concertinas (of all types) tend to have two or more reeds to each button, which gives more volume, and also allows special effects, like "wet" tuning (two reeds tuned slightly apart), or the Bandoneon's typical "dry octave" tuning (two reeds tuned precisely an octave apart). As @wunkssaid above: "Any instrument will sing with you." This is true to a certain extent, in that you can, for example, play all the notes of a bagpipe tune on an oboe - however, it will not sound like bagpipe music, though it may be attractive. Certain genres of music are to some extent formed by the instruments typically used to play them, and these genres sound most authentic when played on the defining instrument. With the Argentinian tango, the "authentic" sound comes with piano, violin - and the "dry-octave" tuned Bandoneon. Even when an accordeonist switches in his "dry-octave" register, we immediately think, "Tango!" British-made concertinas are all single-reeded, so this "tango effect" just can't be achieved (though a well-played tango on an Anglo or Duet may sound very nice). I must admit that I don't know much about the way Chemnitzers are tuned. I know that there are double- or triple-reeded ones, but I dont think there are "dry-octave" Chemnitzers. Another aspect that affects the typical msic for an instrument is the tuning. For instance, European and North American dance music is almost exclusively in the keys of G, D or A, because these are the open strings of the fiddle. The bisonoric concertinas all have a preference for certain keys: the Anglo and the simple German concertina in C or G, and the Bandoneon in G, A or E. These are dictated by the tuning of the two central rows of buttons of the old, German 20-button concertina (which gave its tuning to the "Anglo-German, or Anglo, concertina). The buttons outside of this central area of 20 buttons (10 on each side) vary a lot between the diferent types, and make certain musical effects easier or more difficult, thus influencing the typical tunes of the genre that the instrument is "responsible" for. I've never tried a Chemnitzer, but I play Anglo and a little Bandoneon, and my experience is that only very simple, rudimentary tunes with standard accompaniments are transferable. Hope this helps! BTW, although I have a Bandoneon, I never use it for tangos. It's a small model with only one reed per note, so it hasn't got the "tango" sound! Cheers, John
  7. Why should someone prefer a Duet to an Anglo? Perhaps for the reason that led me to look for a Duet in addition to my Anglo. And that was the freedom to play in any key that might happen to be preferered by singers, or required by wind players. Of course I thought about a small Duet that might fit a beginner's budget. Of course there would be limitations, and my study of the button layouts proved this. HOWEVER ... Study of the button layouts of the 35-b Crane and the Elise Hayden showed different limitations: The 35-b Crane is limited in pitch range - more specifically, the top notes of the bigger Cranes are omitted, and the overlap is less, by reason of the missing high notes on the left side. But even the 35-b Crane is fully chromatic from bottom to top note, as far as the range goes. So you can't play as high as you might like, but you can play in any key you like. LH chords are all available, though most of them in only one voicing. The Elise, on the other hand, is missing notes from the middle of its range, and the missing notes are sharps and flats, so their absence counteracts the Duet principle of full chromaticity. I decided that this wasnt' enough added value over and above my existing 30-b Anglo, so I plumped for the Crane. In the end, I bought a 48-b Crane, which can handle anything I care to take on, pitch-wise. Key-wise, I find myself playing mostly in C, G or F major - keys that suit my singing voice. Cheers, John
  8. πŸ˜„ That's a new one on me! Though beginners on stringed instruments sometimes get confused when their tuner calls the note we all think of as Bb, "A#". There's usually a setting that detemrines whether all the enharmonics are expressed as sharps, or all as flats. Most of us, I think, would want a tuner to indicate F#, C#, G#, but Bb, Eb, Ab. Db. We Autoharpers are an exception: on a chromatic Autoharp, the enharmonics are all labelled as sharps! So calling a note A# is OK with us - even though the chord that it's the root of is labelled Bb! 😝 Cheers, John
  9. Fascinating, indeed! By good fortune, my first contact with the sheng was live, at a concert of Chinese music in a hall near here. The concert was organised by the more classically-oriented side of our culture club, so, thankfully, there was no PA system to falsify the timbre of the sheng (or of the erhu, the two-stringed fiddle, which I heard live for the first time on that occasion). As I remember, I was very much struck by the sheng's similarity of timbre to the Crane/Triumph concertina that had so impressed me in my childhood. Cheers, John
  10. Count my Anglo in with those! It's 30 years old, was played regularly in the group, and is stil going strong. It had to have a new bellows, and I had to repair a broken air-button lever along the way - but the reeds are still in tune, and my bandmates preferred the sound over a raditional-reeded Lachenal! BTW, I bought it in a "normal" music shop in Stuttgart (i.e. not one specialising in free reeds), so there was no tweaking of the reeds before purchase. Cheers, John
  11. Hallo, Bernhard, Congratulations on your upcoming "freedom!" I've been a pensioner for almost 10 jears now, and enjoy having the time to improve my playing. I live near Stuttgart, by the way! That describes me pretty well! My excuse is that I have a good singing voice, and my instruments are mostly for accompaniment, so I don't have to be able to pay them like a virtuoso ... What instruments do you play? I'd say that people who play several instruments, and do it at home just for fun, are musical, even if they never perform in public. The concertina is one of the instruments I've been playing for a long time. My first concertina, back in the 1960s, was a Klingenthal with 20 buttons. I used it like other young people used guitars in those days: accompanying singing at camp-fires, in youth Church services, at parties etc. About 10 years later, I bought a small Bandoneon in a Berlin junk-shop. It had almost all its buttons, and was even in tune with itself! This could do everything that the 20-button could - and more, of course. But I never learned to exploit all its possibilities. I finally moved on to a 30-button Anglo - a Stagi with metal ends. I played this in a folk band for 20 years. It has a pleasant sound that blends well with the fiddle and guitar. Admittedly, I did have to do some work on the buttons when it was new, and modified the air-button, but it was good enough to profit from a new bellows. So it isn't really a standard Stagi. I had no problems with the reeds. They're still in tune after a quarter of a century. After I retired, I bought my first English-built Anglo, a Dallas-Crabb 30-button. It is better as a solo instrument. So what would I recommend as a starter? Some say, start with the best instrument you can afford. For me, that would be my Crabb, which is no more difficult to play than my earlier concertinas, and sounds better. On the other hand, I got a lot of enjoyment - and use - out of my old Klingenthal. I don't remember it as being difficult for me as a beginner. My Stagi turned out to be a very useful instrument after modification, and it's still going strong. So any of them would be suitable for a beginner. The Klingenthaler have only 20 buttons, whereas many Anglos have 30. The 20-button concertinas (wherever they were made) only have the notes of two major scales, usually C and G, so you're limited to these two keys. However, if you're playing just for yourself, and can choose the key to play in, that's no great problem. If you want to sing folk songs, you'll find that those you can't sing in C, you can sing in G, and vice versa. And if it's German folk songs you're thinking of, then perhaps a Klingenthaler with its warmer, fuller tone might be better for you than a vintage English-made 20-button. But with Klingenthaler as with all used concertinas, you have to find one that's in good condition. It would certainly be simpler to buy a Wren or Swan, but I have no experience with these. LG, John
  12. For self-accompanied singing, I use a Tascam recording device, which produces a WAV file that I can edit in Audacity. You may have to experiment a bit with whether the recorder should be nearer to your mouth or to the instrument, but there's no witchcraft involved! It's just like a self-accompanied gig. If you want two instruments, it gets more complicated, with multi-track work. Cheers, john
  13. Yes, there is sometimes a tendency to forget that a dance tune is not just a time signature and a tempo - in the same way as a dance is not just movements of the feet. I had this brought home to me when two German orchestra violinists I know asked me to help them work up an Irish tune, of which they had the sheet music. It happened to be "The Irish Washerwoman", probably the most widely-known jig in Ireland. So we tuned up, and off we went ... I'd never realised before what a lovely waltz the "Washerwoman" makes! When I asked what they were doing, the violinists said they were playing in the indicated 6/8 time. They were counting each bar "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6", with a secondary stress on the first note of the second half-bar, like you're supposed to. But what came out wasn't a jig, by any means. I tried to get them to stress the 1 and 4 even more, but that didn't help; it was just a more energetic waltz. Then I found the solution: "I know it's written 6 quavers to the bar, but think of it as 2/4 time, with the quavers played as triplets." So they did that, counting "One-and-a-Two-and-a," and immediaterly we had the typical "Diddely-Daddely" of the Irish jig! I think what happened was that the violinists now took each group of triplets in one bow-stroke, whereas they had previously taken each individual quaver on a separate bow-stroke. And this made the difference between a pedestrian one-note-after-the-other and a directed, overall movement with the lift of a dance tune. It's taking one note at a time that takes the "spunk" out of any music. Instrumentalists are perhaps more prone to this failing than singers, who have the grammar and syntax of the lyrics to guide them. Cheers, John
  14. Hi, LDT, Long time, no see! My take is that keeping instruments in cases is, on the whole, safer than keeping them permanently in gig bags. However, there are temporary constraints on the weight and bulk of the cased instrument, when using public transport or hiking, for instance. That's the reason I bought a gig bag even though each of my concertinas has its own hard case. I had a look at the knitting bag you linked to. It's wider and longer than my gig bag (28x30 cm vs. 23x25 cm), so it would have pleny of room for protective padding all round. And you wouldn't get even an inferior gig bag for that price! Cheers, John
  15. I have one arrangement where I have to press left-hand buttons 5 and 9 at the same time. I just use the flat of the top joint of my index finger, rather than the finger-tip. Hope this helps, Cheers, John
  16. I suppose so - my concertina gig-bag didn't take up any more space than his camera bag. And I played my concertina, and he took his photographs, on deck! Cheers, John
  17. To pick up this line of thought: I just recently had this YouTube clip pointerd out to me. It deals with my other instrument, the banjo, but I reckon the principles discussed are not instrument-specific. https://youtu.be/SZR-u9SF7-Y Cheers, John
  18. Hello, Kathryn, and welcome to the forum! I like that piece, and the way you play it. Just goes to show that some good can come of lockdown! Cheers, John
  19. Yes, and the gentleman behind the concertina "player" is not actually playing the mandolin, either. He can't be - hasn't even got a plectrum! πŸ˜‰ Cheers, John
  20. Nice story, Jody, and two nice songs that came out of it! In my experience, it's not uncommon for a chance remark or allusion to trigger a lyric, a poem, or even a story. At least you in the US and UK can still have a harmless chuckle at gender-speak. In German-speaking countries, due to the structure of the language, in particular the declension of the definite and indefinite articles, statements about peoples' occupations have nearly doubled in length ... Cheers, John
  21. I play the banjo and the mandolin, and I'm inclined to agree with @hjcjones . I would, however, point out that there are buttons and buttons. English-style buttons are thin (about 5 or 6 mm dia.) whereas German-style ones are thick (about 10mm dia.) English-built concertinas have different shapes of button-top: some are flat, some lens-shaped, some domed. And the millimetre or so difference in diameter can make a difference, too. These factors man influence whether our callussed fingertips slip off or not. Perhaps there's an optimum button-top-shape for your callusses and your technique. Cheers, John
  22. @GoHokies, This is a good point! Also bear in mind the old adage that "if you buy cheap, you buy twice." I believe a lot of beginners shy away from a more expensive instrument because they don't know whether the concertina, or this type of concertina, is going to work for them. However, you say: So why buy a $500 model now, and then a $1000 model later on? Even as a learner, you'll make better-sounding music on a good concertina than on a bad one, and when your competence increases, a good concertina won't limit you, as a bad one would. Think about it! Cheers, John
  23. Easiest concertina for a pianist to learn? Crane duet! I base this statement on an anecdote ... At my company's summer fΓͺte, I ran a stall for children to try out musical instruments. Guitar, banjo, mandolin, of course, but also Autoharp and Waldzither. And my two concertinas, an Anglo and a Crane. One little girl - perhaps 11 or 12 years old - wanted to try a concertina. She said she had piano lessons, so I gave her the Crane, and explained that the middle 3 columns were her "white" piano keys, and showed her middle C and told her how to play the next notes in the scale of C major. By the time she'd reached the C above middle C, she seemed quite comfortable with it, so I said, "Just keep on going," and she made it through the next octave without a mistake. "Great!" I said, "Now do the same with your left hand!" - and she did! As I say, just an anecdote ... Cheers, John
  24. This is a good point! I'm a multi-instrumentalist, being self-taught on all my instruments. While I have found that each instrument teaches you something that is useful for the others, it is also true that my personal arrangement of a given tune differs from one instrument to the other. I'm a folkie, so the melody is inviolable, and when I've worked on a tune for a while, the chord sequence is also pretty well cast in concrete. However, the actual notes that I play, which chord inversions and chord voicings I use, depend on what falls most easily on the keyboard or fingerboard of the particular instrument. My Anglo and 5-string-banjo arrangements of the Psalm tune Crimond obviously sound very different because of the timbre of the instruments, and in spite of the same melody and chord sequence. My Anglo and Crane Duet arrangements of The Greenland Whalers, on the other hand, probably slound pretty similar to a listener because of the simliarity of timbre, and in spite of the fact that I use parallel thirds at some places on the Anglo, because they're simple, and at other places I use suspended notes on the Crane, because they're easy. I reckon you'll get the best results if you exploit the specific strengths of your instrument! In short, if you want to use an arrangement that was made for a different instrument from yours, do so at an abstract level, i.e chord structure and rhythmic treatment, and not at the note-by-note level. Cheers, John
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