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Playing The Primrose Polka


David Levine
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Quoting Jileha in an earlier thread:

For your second example (F#-G-G#-A), I would use the [little] finger on F# (as usual), then switch to the G row for the push G with the ring finger, index on push G# in 3rd row, back to the pull A in the G row with the ring finger (which I keep on that button for that sequence). This means you have to stretch your fingers a bit more, but I find this also more comfortable than your alternative with three fingers taking up the space of two.

I'm not sure I understand this. Referring to Jileha's example, isn't the ring finger the same as third finger (little, ring, middle, index)? Do you really mean to put your ring (third) finger on the G in the G row? I don't get that. It doesn't make any sense at all to me. Have you tried to play the tune? Or are you just citing this possible way of playing, without actually using it in practice? I don't mean to catch you out here. I am asking if yours is a productive way to play the tune.

It's important to me because I love The Primrose Polka and this sequence occurs in the opening notes. For me this is a key tune for using and understanding sharps and flats in the context of a tune in G or D. I worked out playing the sequence after the F# (E.g. the G-G#-A) all on the third row, as well as the cross-fingering I mentioned in an earlier thread (where the G=index finger, G#=middle finger crossed over, A=index again). It is smoother played on the third row than cross-fingered. But I don't like the fact that playing on the third row like this is so unusual and counter-intuitive. Not that cross-row is ever intuitive. There is also an unavoidable jump, or slide, down to the low E in the third or fourth bar.

Are other people playing this tune? I can post a clip of my playing the tune if you're not familiar with The Primrose Polka. The tune is on Kilfenora's latest CD, "Century."

I've also asked Tim Collins how he plays the tune in the opening measure - whether he plays it on the third row, or uses a cross-finger technique.

Sorry to bore everybody. There must be somebody else on the board who plays Primrose, or who has attempted it....

I'm posting this as a New Topic on the Learning Tunes forum, where I think it would more appropriate. I know it's a double post- I won't do it again. It's an answer in the previous "Middle Row" thread in the General Discussion forum, but should properly be a new topic rather than a spin-off in the old thread.

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...Primrose Polka. I do not know it or perhaps I do know (but I am bad at remembering names), anyway I am curious now...

There are two slightly different versions in the Tune-O-Tron here on Concertina.net, and a substantially different version on thesession.org.

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There are two slightly different versions in the Tune-O-Tron here on Concertina.net, and a substantially different version on thesession.org.

... and neither version here matches exactly the original, which was written in F, although they are closer than the version on thesession.org.

(I have a photocopy of the original published version)

The tune was written by Robert Brown, accordion player in Adam Rennie's dance band of the 1950s.

There's a link to the Adam Rennie recording on

raretunes.org

 

Edited to add:

but I can't help you on Anglo fingering because I play English concertina.

Edited by davidcorner
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Quoting Jileha in an earlier thread:

For your second example (F#-G-G#-A), I would use the [little] finger on F# (as usual), then switch to the G row for the push G with the ring finger, index on push G# in 3rd row, back to the pull A in the G row with the ring finger (which I keep on that button for that sequence). This means you have to stretch your fingers a bit more, but I find this also more comfortable than your alternative with three fingers taking up the space of two.

I'm not sure I understand this. Referring to Jileha's example, isn't the ring finger the same as third finger (little, ring, middle, index)? Do you really mean to put your ring (third) finger on the G in the G row? I don't get that. It doesn't make any sense at all to me. Have you tried to play the tune? Or are you just citing this possible way of playing, without actually using it in practice? I don't mean to catch you out here. I am asking if yours is a productive way to play the tune.

It's important to me because I love The Primrose Polka and this sequence occurs in the opening notes. For me this is a key tune for using and understanding sharps and flats in the context of a tune in G or D. I worked out playing the sequence after the F# (E.g. the G-G#-A) all on the third row, as well as the cross-fingering I mentioned in an earlier thread (where the G=index finger, G#=middle finger crossed over, A=index again). It is smoother played on the third row than cross-fingered. But I don't like the fact that playing on the third row like this is so unusual and counter-intuitive. Not that cross-row is ever intuitive. There is also an unavoidable jump, or slide, down to the low E in the third or fourth bar.

Are other people playing this tune? I can post a clip of my playing the tune if you're not familiar with The Primrose Polka. The tune is on Kilfenora's latest CD, "Century."

I've also asked Tim Collins how he plays the tune in the opening measure - whether he plays it on the third row, or uses a cross-finger technique.

Sorry to bore everybody. There must be somebody else on the board who plays Primrose, or who has attempted it....

I'm posting this as a New Topic on the Learning Tunes forum, where I think it would more appropriate. I know it's a double post- I won't do it again. It's an answer in the previous "Middle Row" thread in the General Discussion forum, but should properly be a new topic rather than a spin-off in the old thread.

I think you might have skipped a bit in Jileha's reply, David - she's suggesting normal G-row fingering (ring/third finger) for the G, then index finger on the G# on the 3rd row (not ring finger, as in your reply).

This is how I play it sometimes, depending which notes I want to emphasise - I used to do all 4 first notes on the pull (using the middle finger on the pull G on the 3rd row, and pull G# on the RH middle row), but unless you time them exactly right and get the slurs between them even, it can sound a bit flat. It can be a nice change to pull the G# and A so they run up to the B starting the next set of 4, and the change of direction puts a bit of daylight in front of the G#/offbeat, too. Depends on the dancers in front of you, I suppose.

 

Pippa

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Thanks pippa- I misread the "G row" in Jileha's post as the "C row." It made no sense. Now, having played it that way, it does make sense.

 

Here is the way I play the first two parts of the four part tune. Primrose Polka . Please pardon the slips.

This is pretty much how the Kilfenora Ceil Band plays it.

 

In fact, Jileha's way is easier. But with the current Noel Hill system, using the G/A/B on the G row isn't advised. In time I suppose I'll be able to make such glaring exceptions but at this point it wouldn't be worth the effort. I do step out of the system occasionally but never so much as this would entail. So I'll continue cross-fingering that opening measure. It fits in better with everything else I play.

 

It's interesting to hear other versions of the tune. Dick Miles sent me his version as well. The English approach to the tune is very different. Here is a link to the KCB's version, on their great CD, "Century": Kilfenora Ceili Band The Primrose Polka

Edited by David Levine
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In fact, Jileha's way is easier. But with the current Noel Hill system, using the G/A/B on the G row isn't advised. In time I suppose I'll be able to make such glaring exceptions but at this point it wouldn't be worth the effort. I do step out of the system occasionally but never so much as this would entail. So I'll continue cross-fingering that opening measure. It fits in better with everything else I play.

 

 

Thanks for the recording, David. This is definitely a tune for a good finger workout, no matter what approach! :D

 

That's the good thing in Irish music; there are so many techniques that work for one musician but not for the other, but they are equally acceptable as long as the end result sounds good. You're more used to cross-fingering, so it works for you; I'm used to playing alternate notes in the C row, so it works better for me (as you might have guessed I'm not using Noel Hill's system).

 

One comment regarding "using the G/A/B on the G row isn't advised": Maybe the chromatic steps of this tune fall a bit out of the ordinary and warrant a less strict interpretation of Noel Hill's advise. It would be really interesting to find out what he'd actually use on such a sequence. ;)

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Yes- if I could play it fast and bouncier I would. I relax more when not recording, and then I can more closely get the sound and feel that I want, but I get too nervous in front of the recording device.

 

I was referring to the composition only, not your playing. I know how difficult it is to play in front of a microphone or (even worse) camera. I recently made a few recordings to put on youtube :blink: , now I have to find out how to put these soundfiles in the right format to be acceptable for youtube <_<

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