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Posts posted by StuartEstell

  1. I agree, Rik - it says that that's what's currently popular. One could say that if viewed objectively [ALERT: HERESY KLAXON :lol: ], in many ways the anglo is inherently unsuited to Irish traditional music, yet - at the moment at least - it seems to have a secure place in the Irish tradition. But instruments come and go in the various traditions. Who in, say, 1950, would have predicted the rise of the bouzouki, or that the mandolin would find a place in the Indian classical music tradition?


    Additionally, I suspect that in the case of the popularity of D/G melodeons and anglos in playing English dance tunes, their bisonoric character is incidental to the fact that they're diatonic.

  2. My good lady and I have been invited to sing/play at a local allotment's "Pie night" on Friday. Songs about pies are fairly thin on the ground in my repertoire, but I have a few that can be filed under "general agriculture" which I have been dusting off this week.


    This is my own version of The Haymakers, or "The Month of May" learned from recordings of the Copper family but fairly heavily "folk-processed" over the years. A nice reminder that May isn't just a time for misery and nonsense peddled by the political classes!



  3. The problem with playing concertina in a session is that the sound is always going sideways. You'll be hearing more of whatever's either side of you, whereas they'll be getting loads of you... in Motorhead terms, it can end up with an "Everything Louder than Everything Else" scenario! Someone on here suggested a while ago that sitting in a corner is a good way for concertina players to hear themselves better at sessions.


    I have a G/D Norman, which is a similar melodeon-reeded instrument. It's a great box but it's not a particularly loud one - it's quite accordion-y and doesn't feel nearly as punchy as my C/G Norman. If I play dance tunes on anglo, I tend to play them in C on the C/G, which is more penetrating and feels more punchy to me. But while C might be "the people's key" for C/G anglo players, it isn't for anyone else ;)


    I would just say that there's no real reason you couldn't play any music that interests you on Crane - the anglo certainly gives you chords "for free" along the rows but whether that benefit outweighs the significant effort required to then learn alternate fingerings / more interesting voicings of chords etc. is open for debate. Having learned anglo before either Maccann or Jeffries duet I'm not able to offer any insight there.

  4. Thanks Mike, Daniel - I have transgender and genderqueer friends and too felt some unease at this, I think mainly because these days it's much less generally acceptable to make a similar joke where sexuality rather than gender identity is involved. There's still a way to go with equality where the latter issue is concerned, I fear.


    I confess I laughed - but not without making myself feel uncomfortable in the process.

  5. You might find some inspiration in listening to John Kirkpatrick - his LP Plain Capers has some really exemplary playing of English tunes from the morris tradition as well as a few of his own composition. You might also enjoy the "Morris On" and "Son of Morris On" albums - the first features JK as sole concertina player, the latter includes John Watcham and others. You can learn an awful lot by listening to these guys, but it probably won't help in an Irish music context.


    But really, the anglo can do anything you want it to, within reason - I used to play things like "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths on mine, although typically these days I tend to split my playing between dance tunes on anglo and song accompaniment on the Jeffries duet. There's no reason why you should only do what other people have already done, and I get the impression your musicianship is plenty strong enough for you to go off and explore some uncharted territories!

  6. This is fantastic progress, it really is, and I'm very much looking forward to hearing how your playing develops. Are you planning to focus entirely on Irish-style playing?


    As far as fingerings go, I'd imagine that the "knotting" you describe is common to all of us anglo-botherers in our early stages. You've only been playing a very short time - I found that it took a while for things to become unconscious on the anglo. One thing I found helped in this regard was practising tunes while staring at the television, with the sound off.

  7. Thanks, Matthew, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't see the link to the Jeff Warner track here, though.


    Tears for Fears: yes. I can imagine Everybody Wants to Rule The World and Sowing the Seeds of Love might work well too. Will we get to hear your version of Mad World?


    I've also been trying out some songs by The Cure. Just Like Heaven and Inbetween Days are obvious candidates, but I think Boys Don't Cry could work too. Friday I'm In Love might be a bit _too_ obvious a choice! One good thing about Robert Smith's writing is that there are almost always strong countermelodies to the vocal line.


    One day I'll find a way of doing "I Believe in You" by Talk Talk convincingly...

  8. Why would anyone be offended? (asks the guy who has used concertina to play Black Metal ;)) Seriously though, as far as I'm concerned, any use of the instrument is valid.


    For my tastes, the concertina is fine where it is in the mix; the track as a whole might sound a bit more balanced if you reduced the vocal volume just a shade and took a little bit of top end out of the vocal with EQ.

  9. Some ten years ago (I think) I recorded a version of this, multitracked, with guitars and bass, with the concertina part simply playing Peter Hook's amazing bass melody.


    This time I thought it would be nice to do an arrangement that I could play live if I wished, and this is the result. It loses some muscle in the process and becomes even darker than it was to start with... I know how special this song is to many (including myself) and am aware that this might be every bit as divisive as the cover of "Hurt" ;)




    I still find it astonishing that Ian Curtis was only 23 when he was writing lyrics like these. Such a sad loss.

  10. I find it really strange; I remember reading that Mendelssohn (I think?) once said that metronome marks - maybe even tempo markings - are unnecessary, and that the character of the music should give you all the pointers you need regarding the speed it should be played. While that's probably an oversimplification, there's a core of truth in it, I think - if I'd seen notation for Da Slockit Light before hearing the Tom Anderson/Aly Bain recording I'd like to think I would have played it at much the same speed I'm playing it now.

  11. I'm fed up with trying to get an error-free run through of One Too Many; I originally intended to record it for the Jig theme! The accompaniment is spectacularly uninspiring, but it'll do for now :D




    Also learning Floating from Skerry at the moment, which is really lovely, but the B section is strangely awkward. Will get that up later in the month hopefully.


    I think the accompaniment is absolutely fine - I wouldn't have done anything more complicated with it myself. What's the source of the tune? I've never come across it before.

  12. I've been exploring some Shetland tunes on Jeffries duet - Tom Anderson's "Da Slockit Light", and "Da Day Dawn". The latter sits fine in its original mode (A dorian) on the Jeff duet keyboard, whereas I've transposed the former from D into a more JD-friendly F.


    The arrangement of "Da Day Dawn" hasn't bedded in yet, but "Da Slockit Light" should be OK for a quick phone recording :)

  13. Interestingly enough this one obviousely has been played a lot in it's days. I had a big Jeffries-duet for a while, which seemed totally unplayable to me;-)


    Funny, isn't it? The Jeffries duet makes loads of sense to me.


    Jerome - I think this highlights that there are no hard and fast rules as to what system will suit each player...

  14. If you're a pianist and have been for some time you may find the English system counter-intuitive; I certainly do. The whole alternating-hands thing feels completely alien to me, but as Wolf shows, that doesn't necessarily hold true for everyone. Duet and anglo suited me, duet in particular as it allows an overlap between the hands, as long as the instrument has enough buttons.


    The best advice is to get your hands on some instruments, if you can.


    What sort of repertoire are you thinking of playing?

  15. For me, absolutely fundamental, yes!


    I use the handrail differently on anglo, maccann and Jeff. duet because of the difference in the keyboards (it would take a long while to explain all of the mechanics). But it would be extremely uncomfortable without. The Jeffries duet in particular seems to have a very high handrail on casual inspection but it would be difficult to get round the keyboard without it.

  16. A work-in-progress recording of Willie of the Winsbury / Willie o' Winsbury, depending on what you want to call it. Again, if you don't like insistent drones, this might not appeal :)




    My version is compiled from those of Anne Briggs, Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer, and Sharron Kraus, Meg Baird and Helena Espvall. The arrangement is probably closest to that of Sharron Kraus & co. - although I've kept closer to the outline of Anne Briggs's tune. Lyrically it's mostly Briggs with various alterations caused by lapses of memory. Played on my Jeffries duet concertina.


    I intend to work this up into another long-form interpretation like my version of Barbara Allen, incorporating more improvisation.

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