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Dan Worrall's 'house Dance" -- Great Stuff!
GregHankins posted a topic in Teaching and LearningI have been reading (and listening) with great pleasure to Dan Worrall's book House Dance. I highly recommend it, both as a wonderful window into concertina history and an education in how to play the Anglo like the real old timers. I am a newbie on the concertina; I don't think I'd even qualify as a toddler, yet. But as someone who has played harmonica for years, and who acquired a melodeon shortly before acquiring an anglo concertina, I began my concertina playing without much in the way of instruction. Since I already understood the structure of the scale and how the buttons worked, I just dove in, transferring some of my harmonica repertoire over to the squeezebox. Rather quickly, and instinctively, I started playing some tunes in octaves -- at first along the row, and then discovering that I could move down to the G row in order to gain notes above A on the left hand. The same trick work on the right hand, too! Eventually, messing around on the web, I found that this octave style was indeed one of the ways folks traditionally approached the instrument, and I discovered Worrall's House Dance, which focuses on just that style of play. Octave playing was once the most common approach to the anglo (or German concertina), used to gain volume and reinforce the beat when a single unamplified concertina might be the only source of music for thirty couples dancing across the dirt floor of a settler's home in South Africa -- or across a wooden platform laid down at some Irish crossroads. I mentioned "listening" to House Dance. The "book" is delivered on CD as a set of well-illustrated web pages and associated audio files. So, as you read about the differences in the octave playing of Scan Tester and William Kimber, you can actually listen to recordings that illustrate the point. The first six chapters of House Dance provide a historical exploration of the concertina's place providing music for dance in the late 1800s and early 1900s in England, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa. The second six chapters look in depth at the playing of traditional concertina artists from each of these countries -- and provide a tutorial in the octave style. The huge number of recordings that accompany the text are a wonderful resource. And these are not recordings that you're going to find on Spotify. (I know; I've looked!) They are from private collections, museums, and other hard to find sources. In addition to music, there are also recordings of interviews with old-time players, talking about the octave style and the house dance context in which it was used. The whole thing is just a flat out marvelous piece of work -- and not just for the historian. There's plenty to learn about playing the anglo in the "pages" of House Dance. I've gone on enough. I ordered my copy of the CD from the Button Box. But there are other places to get it. Worrall's website will point you to the options. All the profits from sale of the book go to the English Folk Dance and Song Society. It's just an excellent piece of work. Dan deserves plenty of thanks for creating it. Happy Squeezing! Greg