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Kevin Rielly

Technique for repeated notes

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Hello,

I've been teaching myself Anglo for about 1-1/2 years and am doing pretty well. I've been thru the Levy and Bramich tutors and can play all of the songs. One thing that bothers me is how repeated notes are best played (and me, not wishing to teach myself any more bad habits than necessary). I recall reading (not sure where) that if you use the same finger to play two consecutive notes, it is called "chopping" and is to be avoided. Neither Bramich nor Levy seem to provide guidance. In the case of some notes, it would make sense to use the same finger, such as playing the F# (L-12) with the left pinky or E (L-9) with the left middle finger since this note is not duplicated anywhere else on the instrument (I have a Morse Ceili C-G with the Jeffries layout). Where a note can be played in 2 or 3 different places, what is the norm? The D may be played on the draw at L-8 and pressed on L-12. My inclination on some songs, usually where two D's end a phrase (Garret Barry's Jig in Bramich's book), is to play the second note by using the same finger along with a brief interuption of the bellows. In the first measure of Shandon Bells (also in Bramich's book) there are two D's in the first measure. The first I press (L-12) and the second, I draw (L-8) which allows the following F# and A (L-12 & L-13) to be played without changing the bellows direction. Other choices do not seem so clear...the G and A notes are available in three different places, the B, C, C#, D, D# and E in two places. I have to admit that using the same finger to repeat a note, at times, seems to make sense even if it is an expediancy. With multiple choices where to play the same note, repeating the use of the same finger can be avoided with some thought. My own inclination (as a long time musician) is to develop proficiency with both methods and use each to my advantage (even if one is bad technique). Other fingerings, such as going from A# to A, L-5 to L-10, with the left index finger seems to be sloppy and should be avoided. Folks on this forum never seem to be at a loss for opinions, so, am I on the right track? KBR

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What some people call "chopping" or "jumping" is using the same finger to jump from one note directly to a different note on a different button. This necessitates a bit of space between the notes, so it prevents legato phrasing at that point. Some teachers apparently advise against ever "jumping" like that (at least while learning, to avoid bad habits). You can learn to slide the finger from one button to another, if they're adjacent, and still play legato.

 

I've never heard a teacher advise against playing the same note on the same button twice in a row.

 

Also, trying to stop the bellows between notes often gives a mushy sound, nowhere near as crisp as keeping the pressure in the bellows and articulating with your fingers. Generally, I find it sounds much better (and it's much easier) to keep the pressure in the bellows constant, even when playing the notes detached.

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What some people call "chopping" or "jumping" is using the same finger to jump from one note directly to a different note on a different button. This necessitates a bit of space between the notes, so it prevents legato phrasing at that point. Some teachers apparently advise against ever "jumping" like that (at least while learning, to avoid bad habits). You can learn to slide the finger from one button to another, if they're adjacent, and still play legato.

 

I've never heard a teacher advise against playing the same note on the same button twice in a row.

 

Also, trying to stop the bellows between notes often gives a mushy sound, nowhere near as crisp as keeping the pressure in the bellows and articulating with your fingers. Generally, I find it sounds much better (and it's much easier) to keep the pressure in the bellows constant, even when playing the notes detached.

 

In a perfect world there would be no necessity for 'chopping' but I doubt that there are any players out there with an extensive repertoire who do not find it an occasional necessity ?

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I'm glad you asked about this, Kevin, because I have been wondering about the same thing as a beginning player. I've come to the conclusion that my three choices are: (1) pressing the same button twice, (2) using two different buttons when available, (3) using the bellows to create a slight separation between the two identical notes. Are there others options? Which is best?

 

Jeff

Edited by jeffn

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I'm glad you asked about this, Kevin, because I have been wondering about the same thing as a beginning player. I've come to the conclusion that my three choices are: (1) pressing the same button twice, (2) using two different buttons when available, (3) using the bellows to create a slight separation between the two identical notes. Are there others options

Would it be a solution to tap on the box? Is someone using this rechnique for repeated notes?

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Boney,

Thank you for your response, I think you've raised a couple of interesting points. I'm glad to know that repeating same finger on the same button is acceptable. In so doing however, one would not be able to play in legato style. If available, the use of another button with the same note could be used to play legato. The choice then is dependant upon the song (or how you wish to play it).

I've tried sliding my finger from one button to an adjacent button but it seems a bit uncontrollable. For instance, I've play A# to A (on the draw) from button L-5 to L-10 using my index finger. It seems rather like cheating. Though its somewhat clumsy, using my index on L-5 and middle finger on L-10 seems to offer more control, better articulation. My own inclination is to learn both ways and use them as needed, right or wrong. It is helpful to know what constitutes correct technique on the concertina. There is so little written about the instrument (believe me, classical guitarist have written books about the merits of a particular fingering..).

I think Jeffn's list of three fingering possibilities is complete, Sailor mentions tapping the box, I'm not sure what that is but would like to know more. Thank you for your responses. kbr

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Tapping the box means tapping where there is no button with the right hand (for example) while holding down a left hand button. I don't use this technique but I think it's an Irish ornamentation detail.

 

There is a very handy way to play two or even three consecutive notes on one button that is missing from your list. I sometimes use it for eighth notes if the tempo is brisk and the chopping method sounds too clumsy.

 

Here's what you do. You play the same button and direction with two fingers in quick succession. Using either the index then middle or the other way around, depending on the fingering context... what comes before or after. This is very clean and fast but takes practice. Once you get the hang of it, getting the first finger out of the way for the second, it is very good trick.

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Jody, very good advice.

In my opinion based on my own experience, I find it important to make sure that you finish with the finger that you would normally use, so if you normally would play this note with the index, I would use my middle first and then play the index, if I normally played it with the middle then I would use a fingering sequence of index/middle, that way finger patterns are not thrown out of kilter.

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I'm glad to know that repeating same finger on the same button is acceptable. In so doing however, one would not be able to play in legato style. If available, the use of another button with the same note could be used to play legato.

Using the same finger need not be staccato. Trying lifting your finger only halfway off the button, or most of the way off, then press it back down. Just a quick "flicking" or "bouncing" motion. You can make a very short interruption in the sound once you get the feel for it. I find using a different button with the same note (on Anglo or duet) often gives an odd sound, as the buttons have a different tone. Sometimes it sounds OK, sometimes not.

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What some people call "chopping" or "jumping" is using the same finger to jump from one note directly to a different note on a different button.

I continue my crusade against the loss of distinctions in terminology. B)

 

My understanding is that "jumping" is using the same finger on two different buttons in a row, while "chopping" is the audible effect of not being able to keep the music smooth while "jumping". I think some people are capable of getting a "chopping" sound even while using different fingers. Maybe some would even consider it desirable, as some do with the "bounce" they get from bellows reversals?

 

Whether you agree with my separation of terms, I do think it's important to recognize that some players can "jump" a finger much more smoothly than others, maybe even without noticeable "chopping".

 

I've come to the conclusion that my three choices are: (1) pressing the same button twice, (2) using two different buttons when available, (3) using the bellows to create a slight separation between the two identical notes. Are there others options? Which is best?

As Jody has noted, your (1) comes in two flavors:

  • (1a ) pressing the same button twice with the same finger
  • (1b ) pressing the same button twice with different fingers
    Even 1b has variations if the note is played more than twice in a row, since you can alternate with two fingers, but in some cases it's possible to use three different fingers in succession on the same button.

There are also (4) "tapping" (see below) and (5) ornaments. "Cuts", "tips", "rolls", and "crans" most likely were invented by bagpipers as a means of creating separations between successive notes that were identical. Since it wasn't possible to separate the notes with silences (there are a few types of bagpipes which can, including the uilleann pipes, but they are unusual and mostly relatively recent inventions), they separated them with other, very brief, notes. The same technique can also be used (and is) on the concertina.

 

Note that each of these techniques has its own characteristic sound, subtly different from the others.

 

I'm glad to know that repeating same finger on the same button is acceptable. In so doing however, one would not be able to play in legato style. If available, the use of another button with the same note could be used to play legato.

Picking a nit, I know, but strictly speaking, "legato" means "without breaks between the successive tones", so the word doesn't really apply to repeated notes. But there are many degrees of separation between full legato and "staccato", which is where the individual notes are quite short and their separation is emphasized.

 

Sailor mentions tapping the box, I'm not sure what that is but would like to know more.

As I remember Tim Collins teaching it several years ago, this technique is used for quick triplet repetitions of a single note and consists of pressing the button twice with the same finger and tapping the (other) end once, in between the two button presses but while the first one is still sounding (as the finger is lifting, I think). I have been able to get it to work now and then, but I've never gotten to the point of being able to do it consistently.

 

I don't know if traditional players use tapping for a single note played only twice, but I just tried it -- press the button, then tap the opposite end while the button is still depressed, -- and I think one could work it up.

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I was going to reply to this but having read Jim's reply I feel a little inadequate!

 

For what it is worth, I was going to say that playing 2 notes on the same button is easier if you pull or push the bellows a little harder.

Playing 3 notes on the same button is a right pain, although I find it ok on the pull, if you see what I mean. Other alternatives are - play the same note on different rows if available (e.g A on the C row, A on the G row), or play the same note an octave higher - EeE all on the C row.

 

Nigel

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