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Anglo vs er "contemporary" key signatures...


Ajoten
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For reasons I shan't go into now I find myself trying to write Anglo concertina parts to my band's catchy guitar pop songs. I'm getting in a right tangle, because I'm hugely unfamiliar with the instrument, but also because my (presumably normal) Anglo won't let me play certain 2 or 3 note chords due to the constraint of push/pull note options.

 

Of course now I wish I'd got an alternative system, but that's another matter.

 

Anyway, this post is partly grumble and partly asking whether people have faced similar problems or whether I'm the only person trying to play in B major etc etc etc.

 

Oo, and any examples of concertina in popular music welcome...

 

Andrew.

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Andrew, we all have the same problem with the Anglo, but your restriction may be due to a small number of buttons, twenty perhaps? If you have a larger number of buttons you will find the chords you are looking for and then you hit air restraints.This can be overcome by finding the chord in the opposite direction, or by putting in additional notes in the arrangement of the tune to take you in the opposite direction to drag air into the bellows.These little instruments can be very frustrating, but once you are addicted it lasts a lifetime as many here will tell you.

Have a look in the Concertina Videos and music section of this Forum and you may find some recordings of interest.

Good luck

Al

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Andrew,

 

Even with a 30b, it can be a challenge! Mine, which has Wheatstone note arrangement, cannot, for instance, play F# and C# simultaneously--frustrating when an F# major chord is needed. But it can play F# and A#, and then I can do the C# by itself on the offbeats. So there are workarounds.

 

That said, I consider myself fairly adventurous in spirit and I only rarely dip into the southern hemisphere of the circle of fifths in my own compositions (which are available here, if you've any interest!). Another great pop performer is South African concertinist Johnny Clegg. Here's a youtube video of him. Sixteen Horsepower also occasionally uses a Chemnitzer concertina.

's that on youtube, too.

 

Best of luck! I'd enjoy hearing the resultant work if you persevere.

 

Steven

Seattle, Washington

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how many buttons do you have? as alan says, this is a key consideration (pun unintended). we can maybe help you find some solutions, but we need to know what you're working with...

 

we have all run into those sort of problems. i'm about half way through my journey of learning to transpose into all 12 keys on the anglo. it's certainly doable, but once you start adding chords, things get a little messy. with 30 buttons, you won't be able to get every triad you want, but you will be able to get some harmonically consonant and key-appropriate non-melodic accompaniment (i avoid the term chord, as some consider it a chord only when it has at least 3 notes). for sure, to arrange in the key of B major, you probably shouldnt think of it from a music-theory perspective, but from an anglo-centric perspective, i.e. understanding the limitations of the instrument, and the best way to approach certain problems. if you look for chords, you will be severely disappointed in B major (for example), but if you look for consonances, double stops, and are willing to drop either the first, third, or fifth from the chord, you have a lot more options.

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Yeah B is a tough key for a C/G anglo. I made a table of keys that are easy to play in on different types of anglos (ie, not too many accidentals, options in both push and pull, and there are some nice chords available) to visualize the pattern (below). If there were such a thing as an E/A anglo concertina, it would play well in B (as well as E, A and D). :)

 

anglokeys.jpg

Edited by J Werner
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For reasons I shan't go into now I find myself trying to write Anglo concertina parts to my band's catchy guitar pop songs. I'm getting in a right tangle, because I'm hugely unfamiliar with the instrument, but also because my (presumably normal) Anglo won't let me play certain 2 or 3 note chords due to the constraint of push/pull note options.

 

Of course now I wish I'd got an alternative system, but that's another matter.

 

Anyway, this post is partly grumble and partly asking whether people have faced similar problems or whether I'm the only person trying to play in B major etc etc etc.

 

Oo, and any examples of concertina in popular music welcome...

 

Andrew.

 

There are quite a few things you can do by varying the way you play whatever you can get your fingers round, rather than necessarily playing all the notes in the chords you need - the two videos Steven linked to are great examples of what you can do. The 16 Horsepower one has a long-drawn out full sound when you've only got to find the notes of the chord and stick with them (and a great way of practising bellows control as your muscles learn just how much they have to work to make a particular volume of sound, and getting the same chord on push and on pull, with the right amount of pressure (much harder than it sounds). You can change the mood completely by just pulsing the same chord in the same rhythm as the drum/rhythm section or mimicking the main points of the song line; you can really build the tension as the whole band moves louder, or break it by dropping out suddenly - and all for the cost of learning one or two chord patterns to start with. You can play just a drone note, quietly and insistently under part of the song, or pulsed, or adding in other notes from the chord that happen to be in the same direction, then lifting them again.

 

And in the Johnny Clegg video, he plays a simple riff round the same chord again and again, rather than putting all the notes down at the same time (I mean what he's doing about 0.40, not right at the beginning, which sounds just impossible).

 

I used to play Anglo in a TexMex band whose singer loved the keys of E and B major, and some of the chords fit fine on an anglo with physically undemanding but very unusual finger patterns (it took a lot of practice to get my head round them). For the ones where one of the notes is in the wrong direction, you can play a figure round the chord using whatever double notes fit and changing bellows as neatly as possible to play the note in the other direction (e.g. in B, I could get my fingers round 2 of D# & F# above middle C and the pull B just below it, but couldn't play all 3 at once at first as the position's really awkward. So I'd pedal between 2 of the notes and the 3rd one, often using the push B to give each set of notes a bit of daylight before the note and changing the pressure on the bellows to vary the sound too. You can vary the colour/tone by sometimes spreading the chord wider, mirroring or contrasting with the rhythm of the melody line, and so on. And once you've got the pattern for B major, you can add a pull A to make a gloriously rich B7 for when you're playing in E.

 

Sometimes the notes are available in the same direction in the octave above middle C (esp. in the key of E, when you've got several possibilities for some of the chords), which is a really nice effect if you can control the bellows enough so that the harmonics don't shriek - you can get some great effects with that in one verse, it changes the whole mood.

 

Could you work closely with one of the guitarists for a few bars, so you're fitting the notes you can play together inside the guitar chords, and vice-versa? One of our guitarists was really good at that, we ended up writing joint solos and riffs which were dovetailed rather than soloist + accompanist; what was really nice was that he was a way better musician than I am, but the solos made it look like I was responsible for half instead of just fitting in whatever I could play; very good for morale!

 

Pippa

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This is great:

Another great pop performer is South African concertinist Johnny Clegg. Here's a youtube video of him.

 

Thanks for this. Living in Ireland and only playing ITM can be a very confining, rather than expanding, experience. I love ITM and will be happy only playing that, especially in the context of life in Ireland, but Johnny Clegg is a revelation.

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Yeah B is a tough key for a C/G anglo. I made a table of keys that are easy to play in on different types of anglos (ie, not too many accidentals, options in both push and pull, and there are some nice chords available) to visualize the pattern (below). If there were such a thing as an E/A anglo concertina, it would play well in B (as well as E, A and D). :)

 

anglokeys.jpg

 

There are A/E anglos. I have one. Frank Edgley has made a few of them.

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Apparently there are several of us with A/E concertinas made by Mr. Edgley.

 

As some of you may know, Tom Lawrence commissioned Frank to make his first A/E. Tom liked playing with pipers and he said the A/E tuning worked very well for that purpose. I used to play with Tom on occasion and found the pitch and tone of his A/E instrument to be very appealing so I asked Frank to make one for me as well.

 

I don't play with pipers, but still like the tuning so much that I usually play my A/E around home and my C/G only when playing with others in sessions. It's a little perplexing that one is in Wheatstone layout and the other Jeffries, but I've become adept at adapting quickly.

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