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Is G/D Anglo actually better than C/G for ETM?


Twizzle
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Not trying to be cute here. I'm new and trying to sort this all out, especially as I'm getting a G/D (not for ITM session playing). I'm talking about playing in G and D. Is there an English (or American) style that makes sticking more to a single row than the Irish C/G method preferable? Some have said that you might as well play a D/G melodeon as play a G/D concertina. Is a G/D just a more portable box?

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Not trying to be cute here. I'm new and trying to sort this all out, especially as I'm getting a G/D (not for ITM session playing). I'm talking about playing in G and D. Is there an English (or American) style that makes sticking more to a single row than the Irish C/G method preferable? Some have said that you might as well play a D/G melodeon as play a G/D concertina. Is a G/D just a more portable box?

 

I'm speaking as a relative beginner here. I play mostly English dance music, and sit in on an ETM session. Most of the tunes we play are in G or D.

 

Currently I am working on the "two handed" style of playing with melody mostly on the right hand, and bass and chords on the left. My G/D works well for this style, since the lower pitch keeps the right hand from getting too squeaky, and playing mostly in the rows takes advantage of the "built in " property of the Anglo to harmonize everything nicely.

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If you want to play melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS I reckon C/G and G/D are both good for tunes in the home keys. I know Jody Kruskal does nicely on G/D

 

William Kimber did great on C/G

 

IMO G/D is the way to go for all fiddle and dance tunes regardless of origin... if you fancy:

* the greatest range of play (high/low),

* you want to play with self accompaniment,

* you want to play in the keys that most are playing in.

 

I'm pretty sure W. Kimber played many tunes in C that we now are used to playing in other keys. The problem is not playing in D. D is a fine key on the C/G for some tunes. The problem with the C/G for "melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS" play is mostly one of range. In the keys that most folks play fiddle or dance tunes, the melody gets too high on the C/G to be taken seriously or too low to fit on the right hand. Also, to play in those keys on the C/G requires some crafty tricks like cheating the melody to a harmony note at need or jumping octaves for whole sections. The G/D does not need to do that as often because its range fits the "melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS" model of play.

 

BTW, a better name for this style I think is HARMONIC STYLE for reasons we could discuss.

 

G/D Anglos can be a tad slower to respond than C/Gs, but with a decent instrument that delay is just a few scant milliseconds and I have never had a problem with it.

 

As for "you might as well play a D/G melodeon as play a G/D concertina. Is a G/D just a more portable box?" They are very different beasts both in timbre and in how they handle accompaniment. The melodeon with its standard 8 button bass is a clever system but crude when compared to the subtle accompaniment possibilities of the 30 button Anglo. I like the 38 button variety because it goes even further in that direction but 30 is quite enough and even 20 will do for many tunes.

 

As for on the row/cross row issues, I think you will find that regardless of style or key, cross row playing will quickly become required if you want to play the whole instrument and get the best music out of it.

 

Good luck with your new G/D. When do you get it? What make?

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If you want to play melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS I reckon C/G and G/D are both good for tunes in the home keys. I know Jody Kruskal does nicely on G/D

 

William Kimber did great on C/G

 

IMO G/D is the way to go for all fiddle and dance tunes regardless of origin... if you fancy:

* the greatest range of play (high/low),

* you want to play with self accompaniment,

* you want to play in the keys that most are playing in.

 

I'm pretty sure W. Kimber played many tunes in C that we now are used to playing in other keys. The problem is not playing in D. D is a fine key on the C/G for some tunes. The problem with the C/G for "melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS" play is mostly one of range. In the keys that most folks play fiddle or dance tunes, the melody gets too high on the C/G to be taken seriously or too low to fit on the right hand. Also, to play in those keys on the C/G requires some crafty tricks like cheating the melody to a harmony note at need or jumping octaves for whole sections. The G/D does not need to do that as often because its range fits the "melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS" model of play.

 

BTW, a better name for this style I think is HARMONIC STYLE for reasons we could discuss.

 

G/D Anglos can be a tad slower to respond than C/Gs, but with a decent instrument that delay is just a few scant milliseconds and I have never had a problem with it.

 

As for "you might as well play a D/G melodeon as play a G/D concertina. Is a G/D just a more portable box?" They are very different beasts both in timbre and in how they handle accompaniment. The melodeon with its standard 8 button bass is a clever system but crude when compared to the subtle accompaniment possibilities of the 30 button Anglo. I like the 38 button variety because it goes even further in that direction but 30 is quite enough and even 20 will do for many tunes.

 

As for on the row/cross row issues, I think you will find that regardless of style or key, cross row playing will quickly become required if you want to play the whole instrument and get the best music out of it.

 

Good luck with your new G/D. When do you get it? What make?

Jody, it's a 32 key metal-ended Lachenal that sounds very nice from what I've heard played on it. I should hopefully have it before the end of the year. I've been playing a D/A melodeon off an on for quite a while. My question concerning comparison between boxes and concertinas was in response to what others had written. Because of the box background, I'll probably start off playing melody RHS and chords LHS.

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Jody, it's a 32 key metal-ended Lachenal that sounds very nice from what I've heard played on it. I should hopefully have it before the end of the year. I've been playing a D/A melodeon off an on for quite a while. My question concerning comparison between boxes and concertinas was in response to what others had written. Because of the box background, I'll probably start off playing melody RHS and chords LHS.

 

Ooo, lucky you!

 

Yes, thanks for posting the question. I had been holding off and you gave me the opportunity to sound off in the proper context.

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The problem with the C/G for "melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS" play is mostly one of range. In the keys that most folks play fiddle or dance tunes, the melody gets too high on the C/G to be taken seriously or too low to fit on the right hand. Also, to play in those keys on the C/G requires some crafty tricks like cheating the melody to a harmony note at need or jumping octaves for whole sections. The G/D does not need to do that as often because its range fits the "melody on the RHS and chords on the LHS" model of play.

 

BTW, a better name for this style I think is HARMONIC STYLE for reasons we could discuss.

 

 

Thanks for this definition, Jody. I shall now describe my playing as HARMONIC STYLE from now on..... no more confusion over "Oom-pah", "English", "Morris", etc.

 

David

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I agree with Jody. I've started describing it that way too. Now all we need is a good description for ITM for a beginner 'The System' sounds daunting and doesn't tell you much . 'In the rows' and 'cross row' go some way to it.

 

As a melodeon player I also agree it is much more limited for harmony but in the hands of a good'un like Tony Hall et al it's superb. I do know he changes his B basses to Bm. And a lot of players take out the thirds in the chords to allow for minors or 'modes'

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I agree with Jody. I have both C/G and G/D, and I prefer the G/D for playing in sessions for the reasons he gives. However, for some tunes I prefer the brighter sound of the C/G - I'll play Horse's Bransle in G on the C/G rather than the G/D for that reason.

 

When you're playing harmonic style you can get the most out of the instrument, in my opinion, by playing in the key of the middle row - C on a C/G, G on a G/D. I find this gives the most possibilities for chords and bass runs. Of course, it's not a universal rule and some tunes play better in other keys. This doesn't mean playing up and down the row. To get the most out of this style you need to play across the rows, with both hands.

 

I also play melodeon. They're quite different. A G/D anglo doesn't sound like a melodeon, and it doesn't play like one. Some tunes work better on melodeon than concertina, and vice versa.

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I thought I might chip in here, but Jody (seconded by Howard) has already said pretty much everything I was thinking - even though I play C/G almost exclusively.

Brian

 

Brian, I think you and I tend to agree on most things Anglo... but why do you play C/G almost exclusively?

 

I started guessing your reasons and the first one that came to mind is that you do it because you can. True? Other reasons?

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Brian, I think you and I tend to agree on most things Anglo... but why do you play C/G almost exclusively?

 

I started guessing your reasons and the first one that came to mind is that you do it because you can. True? Other reasons?

Well, Jody, the reasons are various.

 

1. I've had my C/G for nearly 30 years and really like playing it.

2. I have an old G/D as well but I'm not so fond of the sound of it, and usually use it only for teaching purposes (though it does appear on the 1993 CD Squeezing Out Sparks).

3. I play D/G melodeon and, while agreeing with you and Howard that it's a very different animal to a G/D anglo, it does the job as far as playing in English music sessions is concerned.

4. I'm already toting guitar, melodeon and concertina and CDs around to gigs, so the last thing I need is another case to carry.

5. I've enjoyed the challenge of trying to make the C/G work in a few different keys (although I admit that A major with chords is a long shot!).

6. Quite a bit of what I do is song accompaniment, and F is a good singing key (see previous threads).

 

The reason I agreed with you in the first place is that, if I had my life over again and was starting out on anglo, and looking to play English dance music (or contra etc.), I think a G/D would be the logical place to go.

 

Those are my reasons. Perhaps we should ask John Kirkpatrick his?

All the best,

Brian

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Those are my reasons. Perhaps we should ask John Kirkpatrick his?

John often says in workshops that when he decided he wanted a concertina he had very little idea about them. He just went into Crabb's shop and asked them for one and bought the one they offered him (apparently extracted from a shipment about to leave for South Africa). As is well known, he's still playing it today, many years later.

 

He plays it in all sorts of keys, but if he's playing a solo tune then more often than not it's in C or G. So I think his reasons for playing a C/G, if asked, would be much like yours, Brian.

 

Personally speaking, I first got a C/G and found that a convenient instrument for song accompaniment, but I never really got on with playing in sessions (English, not Irish. I don't really hanker to play Irish) until I got my first G/D - a square Herrington. Then there was no stopping me!

 

Some have said that you might as well play a D/G melodeon as play a G/D concertina.

Bet they weren't concertina players!

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Timson
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I reach for the G/D as a first option as most tunes in the sessions that I go to are in C, G or D or possibly A and their related minor keys and hence I get away vith few acidentals.

 

However since getting my C/G baritone I find myself using that and playing harmonies. If you are ued to singing bass parts, as I am, you soon find yourself inventing a suitable line to play!

 

Robin Madge

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I also got my G/D from Crabb, way back in '84 or so. At that point I had been playing C/G for a few years pretty much in isolation. When I started playing with other folks on my C/G they were astonished that I wanted to play the tunes in keys that worked best for me rather than what they were used to. So to join in without raising eyebrows too much I knew at that point that a G/D would solve my problems.

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A G/D Anglo can be a bit growly in the very low register, and a C/G can be a bit squeeky in the high register when playing English style.

 

English style is mainly melody on the right hand (sometimes overlapping onto the left for the lower parts of the melody) and accompaniment mainly on the left hand with "oom-pah", block chords, bass runs and the like. I say "mainly" on the left hand, because there are plenty of options for chords and part chords on the right hand too.

 

In most English sessions, especially where the melodeon (pre)dominates, most tunes will be in G. If you are going to play in these sessions, then being able to easily and enjoyably in G will be priorities when choosing your instrument.

 

There are far more harmonic options in G if you play it on a G/D Anglo compared to a C/G Anglo.

 

You can manage a G melody on either, but the G/D box will be easier to play in G, and will give you more chords,a nd richer chords, and a much wider variety of bass notes.

 

And without any disrespect to the many many melodeon players who are far better on a melodeon than I will ever be on a concertina, the 30 button Anglo concertina inherently gives lots more harmony options than a standard 2 row melodeon.

 

Whichever you choose, playing across the rows is an essential skill to get the most out of the instrument. As a simple example, the "top G" on a G/D Anglo can be found on the push on the G row and the pull on the D row. That gives you options to harmonise it with the chords G maj and E min on the push, or G maj, C, E min, and A7 on the pull. (And no doubt other options.)

 

However, the melodeon has a wider range (longer keyboard) if you want to play melody and accompaniment. There are some tunes that fit easily on a melodeon that are tricky on the Anglo, and some that are impossible (or nearly so) on the Anglo. You choose your repertoire to fit your chosen instrument.

 

Also, trying to play both instruments is confusing, because the concertina is G/D and the typical melodeon is D/G, so all the button patterns are "inside out".

 

I found the D/G melodeon uninspiring and mechanical to play (a persona feeling, not a criticism of the instrument) and I find the G/D Anglo fascinating and inspiring.

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I found the D/G melodeon uninspiring and mechanical to play (a persona feeling, not a criticism of the instrument) and I find the G/D Anglo fascinating and inspiring.

Hi Mike,

 

I also played melodeon for a bit and found the power of it, the "umph" factor very inspiring. Still, as you point out, the harmony possibilities of the Anglo, C/G, G/D, Bb/F or whatever offer a wider range of expression. The Anglo offers a number of ways to alter the accompaniment to fit the desired flavor, texture or mood.

 

One main way is chord spelling. Many chords offer two possible bass notes an octave apart and still leave room for the upper notes of the chord, all on the left hand. I like simply using octaves in an um pa pattern. You can leave the third out or stick it in. You can be spare with just a note or two, or rich using everything you've got. You can play fifths, close triads or seconds up high or spread the notes out over 11/2 octaves. You can use inversions. (1 3 5, 3 5 1, 5 1 3) or put an alternate bass note on the bottom that is not properly in the chord at all.

 

The other way to get richness in the accompaniment is to alter the durations of the various notes in the chords. You can do this because each finger operates independently. I often let my index finger stay on a button while doing um pa with other fingers. This goes a long way in getting past that mechanical feeling and is one of the main ways I am able to get the rhythmic sound I like from the Anglo.

 

Duet players use these tricks too but that is another discussion.

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