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    I've played flute and box for many years, and recently swapped the box for a concertina. What can I say - it has more buttons, and that's better for all concerned.<br /><br />Mostly I'm here for the civilized discussions. Carry on.
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    Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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  1. Thanks Ross. My question wasn't particularly clear and I've had a chance to think about it a it more. I did mean the F#ED triplet on the left hand C row, and it might have been better to call it a subsitution. Now I'm thinking maybe it was GEC. Definitely one of those things where you play a bunch of notes that work in an interesting way even if they're not "right", especially if you're Noel Hill. Thanks for your advice about the lower octave triplets - that's helpful. I didn't have a tune in mind, but we could well have been playing Trip to Durrow. Cheers! Greg
  2. A few years ago when I was starting with the concertina, I met someone who had been to several Noel Hill workshops. She was trying to teach me an "ornament" (more of a trick, really) for playing DEF# triplets, or was it F#ED triplets? It seems to me that she was just playing GED instead (or DEG...). Does that make sense to anyone who has learned from Noel Hill? I can't really hear NH doing this on records, but it might be one of those things that you'd have to see him do. Thanks in advance! Greg
  3. I've had to swallow a fly once while playing flute. Swallowing the fly wasn't so bad, but I broke up laughing after. The rest of the band just carried on. Probably the worst show stopper is when the piper loses the end off one of his smallpipe drones. In northern Canada the humidity can change rapidly if you're travelling, and this has happened more than once. Once the drone landed in the lap of a lady in the first row. One time at a wedding dance, a very drunk man was swinging his very attractive partner around the room. After a while he decided to pick her up and spin her around on his shoulder, at which point everybody in the room learned that she wasn't wearing anything under her dress. To our credit, there was only a slight slowdown in the tune, although we laughed our faces off when it was done.
  4. Any idea who's playing on this video? Ril TG4 and Nfheadar Reels
  5. azalin,I have found this thread useful,thanks I've been playing a set from the first Patrick Street recording called The Shores Of Lough Gowna/Contentment Is Wealth/Have A Drink With Me. These all seem to work really well with the LH G row notes. I think the B part of The Shores of Lough Gowna ends up being all on the G row, which is cool.
  6. Well more bagpipes can only be a good thing - and maybe as a small step to going the whole hog and a future upgrade .... Putting that to one side, most pipes have a chanter which is tuned to harmonise with the drones. Many reproduction pipes do not do this very well (or are not well tuned) and so do not sound good to pipers. To play with other instruments, it is quite common to kill the drones, especially with uillean pipers, so as not to conflict with instruments with a wider register. How are players coping with this in your area - do the drones fit in well ? Do other players play single notes rather than than chords ? Is it all just close enough to enjoy in a pub ? Just wondering. I played for many years with a man who plays Scottish small pipes, both in a group and in sessions. Generally the drones are quiet enough that they don't really get in the way. One of the reasons this works is because he's very disciplined about his own tuning, and always helpful to others with tuning issues. There are some tunes where the small pipe version is in a key that conflicts with what people are expecting, but that's easy enough to fix. One problem he had is that because it's so dry here, occasionally the end of a drone would fall off during a tune. Once in a while the whole drone would pop out of the stock, leading to explosive decompression! Which gives the rest of the group an opportunity to have a laugh at the piper's expense, and occasions like that are rarer than we'd like. ;-) If there's a problem it's that there's usually not much overlap between the pipe band repertoire that most Scottish players here know, and the average Irish music session repertoire. You can only play Scotland the Brave two or three times before people start to notice.
  7. Not really. "Before long I was messing around with it and had come up with jigs, hornpipes and reggae versions!" works really well for me. Another way to put it is that after you've learned the tune, there's a period of playing around with it where you get to know it really well, and how you like to play it. Now multiply that by n+1 (there's always one more...) tunes and you're away. The "trick" is finding some reason to sit down and really enjoy the tune, whether it's making a reggae version, or trying it as a hornpipe (that's what works for me, although 6 & 7/8 versions can be fun), or whatever.
  8. I've encountered somewhat the same thing with my Edgley concertina, and before that with button box. I think it's just a matter of learning to to play a bit quieter. My sense with the accordion was that after a year of playing a particular box, I'd learned how to play at a medium volume, and I could get a really nice soft, rich tone. Then I had to go back and learn to play a bit louder. I don't know if you have as much flexibility with concertina, but after 18 months with this one, I think I can play "loud" and "a bit softer". Whether there's much actual difference in loudness, I don't know, but I can certainly get a "softer" sound. This is a moot point at sessions... If there's a breaking-in period (and I know there are people here who don't buy that concept), my theory is that the reeds tend towards a "natural" pitch and air pressure. Getting used to an instrument means learning subconsciously where that place is, and how much change you can expect in volume with slight variations in air pressure. Still, maybe it's the player that's breaking in.
  9. Here are some comments on this subject from a friend who is an occasional student of Gearoid O hAllmhurain. Sorry about the delay - I wanted to check before posting this quote from a personal email, which is a response to my questions about Gearoid's views on using the C or the G-row D as your "base" fingering: "I use the high D on the G row more often than the D on the C row. It's especially useful when playing D tunes with a lot of D-C#-D combinations. Sucks when it's an A on the C row back to a D on the G row - I can do this fairly quickly now but sometimes switch down to the A on the G row. I have also heard that Noel uses that D a lot - which follows his theory of using the strongest finger whenever possible. Gearoid uses both and uses the D on the C row more often than I would. If I'm playing up into the higher octave, I always use the D on the G row - so I will play from the C/B on the C row to the D/E (push/pull) on the G row and then up the scale. If I'm playing mostly down in the lower octave and just going up to the D or E then back down, I will use the D on the C row. He also makes a nice triplet on the pull from B, C (G row), and D. The D/E combination on the G row to the G/F# combination on the G row is especially handy for triplets involving those notes. Also, if I play E/D on the C row and then have play B/A on the G row - my fingers get all twisted up. Playing the D/E on the G row off either G/F# or B/A on the other side makes it bouncier too. I like bounce. One more thing - the D and E cran is done on the G row using the D/E button and the first two buttons on the G row, right side. So a D cran will be all push - D-B-G-D-D and an E cran will be all pull - E-A-F#-E-E. Love those crans - just wish I could do them better. I think that is probably the most compelling reason for using the D/E on the G row. Having said all that, it's a personal preference and you should do what feels comfortable - there are times when playing it either way works. I just find that whatever I do, I need to do it fairly consistently or I get myself all mixed up. So, some thoughts from someone who's spent a fair bit of time figuring out cross-row issues, and is quite a tasty player. I'm adding this in the hope that it will provoke more informative discussion on this topic.
  10. I agree with you about the tempo and lack of variety in rhythms at some sessions. I always hope ours are a little more adventurous (crosses fingers). But to answer the original question - no, I don't think Irish music on the concertina is boring. It probably helps if you're into Irish music to start with though. What I find odd is that some of the big name players who play highly ornamented, full speed Irish dance music are arguably less interesting - to my ear - than the old-fashioned, "rural" players like Mary McNamara and Miriam Collins and their ilk. The video of Mary McNamara and Martin Hayes posted recently in the video area is a good example of what I'm getting at.
  11. We seem to have about four different threads now, none of which deal with the original question. Hmmm....................... Well, since the title of the thread says "Irish Trad", I'd say no. As people have pointed out above, there are reasons for this, the main one being the lack of instuments in rural Ireland. (Someone told me that it was next to impossible to find a playable acoustic bass to buy in Western Canada until the 60's - there just weren't any around.) But I don't think you need to prove the claim that bass is a trad instrument, you just need to be able to play Irish music. On a practical level, there aren't many bass players around who can play session music, because they play... bass, and not a melody instrument. Because they don't play Irish music and they've got a loud instrument, they're not likely to be welcomed by the other players. I've heard the same complaints about some harpists: the bass lines they play are out of time, don't fit the local chord structure, and are annoyingly loud. After all that, we used to have a guy who played a 5-string acoustic show up at our sessions once in a while. He had learned to play in a band that played English and Scandanavian dance music, and he was a good listener. He's the only bass player I've heard who was able to add something to the session. Many years ago, I did some recording work with a guy who could play jigs and reels on a fretless electric bass. That was cool, and I always wondered how that would work if you could fit it into a session. My $0.93. Greg PS. Isn't this fodder for this forum?
  12. Rick, That's where I was 18 months ago. At 50 I found out that I have a neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome, which causes progressive loss of nerve and muscle function at the extremities. Which, unfortunately, is where I keep my fingers. I've played (Irish) flute for 25 years, and B/C box for about 14. I loved that box, worked my ass off, and was making great progress until a couple of years ago, when it seemed like I just couldn't play at speed for any length of time. The little muscles between the fingers - what Spock would use for the "Live long and prosper" sign - were in the process of packing it in. That was very difficult to come to terms with, as you can imagine. After thinking about it for a while, and getting some advice from friends and people like Rich Morse and Frank Edgley, I figured getting a G/C Anglo would keep me in the game. And a year ago at Christmas I lucked into a used Edgley concertina. 14 months later, that seems to have been a good route to take. The concertina is enough like the box that a lot of skills are transferable, and I'd say that overall the concertina is physically much easier to play on a number of levels. I know this doesn't relate to anyone else's limitations, necessarily, but there's a reason there are lots of older Irish concertina players around. Having the notes more or less spread over the two hands, and a much lighter instrument makes the whole thing a lot less effort to get around on. Plus, even though the button layout is just as quirky as the accordion, it's more flexible in several ways. So the fingering and memorization strategies that got you through learning the box will still be a big help. My big concern was that after spending a lot of time learning a new instrument, we either wouldn't get along or I'd hit some other physical barrier. So far, that hasn't been the case, apart from a few aches and pains. And, after a year of less-than-dedicated practice, I'm getting to the point where I can learn tunes fairly quickly and play most of the stuff I used to have on the box. I'm not up to session speed yet, but that goal is visible on the horizon. More importantly, I feel like I've got somewhere to go - that I'll be able to keep learning the concertina and enjoying playing for many years. I just wanted to share some thoughts from someone who has gone through the transition from box to concertina without too much physical strain. And I never use my RH pinky. Best of luck with your difficult decision! Greg
  13. I suggest to my students - flute & whistle, but I used the same technique myself when learning the concertina - that they spend some time learning to play some of the tunes they already have in their heads. For example, children's songs, hymns, Beatles medleys, Christmas carols, whatever. The idea is that you already know how the tune goes, and once you figure out the fingering it's all gravy. This gives you an opportunity to enjoy playing, listen to how your instrument sounds, have a bit of fun pushing the tune in different directions on the concertina (these all might amount to the same thing). If you get really bored, try inventing exercises based on the scales you already know...
  14. I know this is potentially a heretical viewpoint, given the name of this forum, but has your friend considered a button accordion? I know of at least one Irish musician who has switched to C#/D box because of an overuse injury from the fiddle. Stuart's caveats above apply to the accordion too, but if he's able to press and draw, one could be entirely happy playing just the right hand. Think of it as a large, unlikely looking concertina. Greg
  15. Could you talk a bit about the general differences between G/D and C/G? I'm thinking of switching from B/C box to concertina due to a problem with my left hand, and Rich morsesuggested that G/D would be a better choice. I don't have any real experience with concertina, so I don't have any idea what this means in terms of how you get around the buttons (I see that more of the notes used in Irish music are on the right, but that's as far as it goes). According to the Niall Vallely madfortrad disc, he's using a different group of left-hand buttons on the C/G than I would have guessed from looking at the button layout, so I'm thinking I don't know enough to think about this. Any thoughts on this? Greg
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