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There seems to be an assumption that an anglo is the instrument for you. Given your familiarity with the hammered dulcimer I suggest you also consider the English system. You may find it more logical.

 

(Lights blue touch paper and retires....!!!)

Can anyone give me an easy lesson in the difference between the English and Anglo system?

Two major kinds of difference: mechanics, and style.

 

Mechanics:

  • Anglo - bisonoric

    I.e., each button has different notes when you push and pull the bellows.

  • English - unisonoric

    Each button plays the same note on both push and pull.


  • Anglo - "spastic"

    As you play a scale, you (mostly) reverse the bellows for each successive note.

  • English - "schizophrenic"

    As you play a scale, successive notes alternate between the ends of the instrument.


  • Anglo - "horizontal"

    Hold your hands palm down in front of you. If they were holding the ends in that position, then in going from lower notes to higher ones you would progress roughly from left to right.

  • English - "vertical"

    Similarly, in going from lower notes to higher ones you would progress from nearer your body to further away.

    '

  • Anglo - regular pattern in two keys

    In the two "central" keys (invariably a fifth apart), playing a scale involves successive buttons in a single row (assuming that a "single row" folds over from the one end to the other). The pattern in other keys is quite different, and in fact quite different from one key to another. In fact, on a 20-button anglo, it's only possible to play in two major keys, so a 30-button anglo (which has an additional row of buttons to provide the notes missing on a 20-button) is highly recommended.

  • English - regular pattern in 8 keys (of the 12 possible)

    The pattern consists of 1) an alternation between the ends and 2) on each end an alternation between the two sides of the center line. A minor difference between these keys is that in the pairs of buttons to either side of the center line, each key uses only one button of each pair, but each uses a different set of the outer buttons of the pairs. But there's also a strict pattern to which buttons are outer for a given key. The other four keys have different patterns, but each of those patterns also has its own regularity. (And those are the keys with more flats than 3 or more sharps than 4.)


  • Anglo - bar and strap

    To hold an anglo, your hand slips into the space between a fixed "horizontal" bar (usually wood) and a leather strap. This permits a goodly amount of sideways movement of the fingers, but restricts "forward and back" mobility. That fits the keyboard layout, which extends more "horizontally" than "vertically".

  • English - loop and plate

    To hold an English, the thumb fits into a small loop of leather on one side of the button array and the little finger into the space under a raised plate on the other side of the array. (Some people use the plate passively or not at all. I use it more actively, using the thumb and little finger together to "grip" the end.) This limits sideways mobility, but gives much more freedom for "forward and back" mobility. That fits the keyboard layout, which extends more "vertically" than "horizontally".


Style:

  • Anglo - "bouncy" (or various other similar terms)

    The bisonoric nature of the anglo forces bellows reversals at points which may be dictated by the instrument itself. This generates a certain "rhythmic" quality (not necessarily regular; that's still up to the player) which many anglo players prize, at least when playing dance tunes. Others (or even the same ones) work hard to avoid this bounciness when playing more lyrical tunes.

  • English - smooth

    Bellows reversals aren't dictated by the notes you play, and are only forced if you continue without reversing until you reach maximum extension or compression. It's possible to get the same bouncy feel as with the anglo, but for most people it seems to take extra concentration and practice. On the other hand, a legato (smooth) lyrical style comes quite naturally.


  • Anglo - chords
    and
    melody

    Because on the anglo the lower notes are in the left hand and the higher ones in the right (with a little bit of overlap), it's possible to play chords in the one hand while playing a melody entirely (or almost entirely) in the other hand.

  • English - chords
    or
    melody

    Because on the English the entire range is split evenly between the two hands and most notes are found only in one hand, it is easy to play either chords or melody, but in most cases difficult to impossible to keep a steady rhythm of regular chords going against a melody. However, some other sorts of harmony, including parallel thirds and intermittent or irregular chords, are fairly easy.


  • Anglo - some chords

    On the anglo many notes are found in only one bellows direction. Some chords are quite easy, and others can be difficult, but some are not possible at all, because some of the required notes are available only on the push and others only on the pull.

  • English - all chords

    All notes that are available are available in both directions. This means that any combination of notes can be played simultaneously, limited only by your ability to reach the buttons with your fingers.


Points of view regarding Irish music:

There are persons who claim that the only concertina on which one can make Irish tunes sound "Irish" is the anglo. In my experience, these are all anglo players who concentrate on Irish music, though maybe a few players of bisonoric button accordions, as well. I (you might guess) disagree.

 

If you want to sound specifically like an Irish
anglo
player, then the anglo is probably the best way to go. (It's possible to get that sound/feel on an English, but few people do.) But in detail the "sound" or "feel" of a tune played on the anglo is quite different from the same tune played on fiddle, flute, pipes, banjo, etc., yet they're all "Irish". If you don't have any concertina players at your local session, then you probably don't have any anglo chauvinists, and a player of the English won't be criticized as not sounding "Irish" when what's really meant is that they don't sound "anglo". And the English is, after all, as different from the anglo as a mandolin is from a fiddle. (More so, since the fingering of the latter two is essentially the same.)

You also mentioned singing:

The Irish don't have a tradition of using concertina to accompany singing, but elsewhere (especially in England and the US), both anglo and English are used extensively and effectively for that purpose.

 

Now I see that Catty has offered you the chance to try these two different types. That should be worth much more than all my writings, though I might hope that the above commentary will give you some idea what to look for and try on them both.

 

Enjoy! (I'm sure you will. :))

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What a great explaination and comparison Jim!

 

Quite a tour de force of an explanation! Well said.

 

I wonder if Ken or Paul might find it worthwhile to "pin" this one someplace so newbies will be able to find it easily when the encounter concertina.net and need some basic questions answered.

 

Greg

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All I can say is thanks.... I can't believe how helpful everyone has been. Now I need to do some research and then as soon as I purchase I will let everyone know. What a wonderful community you have created.

 

Joanna

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I figured it out. I need both! Just kidding, but I can certainly see the merits in both systems.... this isn't going to be easy!

Better stop paying attention now... before somebody mentions duet concertinas, of which there are several flavors. :ph34r: :D

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BTW Joanna, speaking of duets: Greg Boyd had a small Lacehnal that he was having trouble selling...but it's been a while so I don't know whether he still has it.

 

When you come by, I'll be advocating for the English. If you haven't been spoilt yet with an anglo, you may speed away with it. Mind you, the 30 button anglo is the usual choice for ITM...but I love those ECs :) They're so...sexy! :rolleyes:

 

Randal

Edited by catty
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Randal,

I was already checking out the duets as well, and no, I haven't been spoilt with the anglo! Funny thing is my son is a guitarist who is looking to buy a concertina for travel as well. I may well end up with two! Greg has a bass of ours he is trying to sell.... maybe I should try to trade. Anyway, look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks. Everyone's help is so appreciated.

 

Joanna

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i disagree about bringing a restored instrument across the world while travelling. a hybrid is a wonderful instrument,

 

At the price range we're talking this would be an old Lachenal or a 50s Wheatstone. Both still reasonably replaceable and the 50s Wheatstones are often equal in performance and better sounding than the hybrids. I've had a few instruments pass through my hands and some of these 50s Wheatstones are good value.

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My two cents worth may not be decisive, but I would recommend the English. On the HD you are already accumstomed to moving from side to side, and HDs are nearly chromatic and some new ones totally. The notion that Irish music is only for Anglos is a definite prejudice rather than anything with a sound theoretical basis. Jim Lucas has provided all you need to know -- exept the final choice, but the English is a totally adaptable instrument for any kind of music.

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My two cents worth may not be decisive, but I would recommend the English. On the HD you are already accumstomed to moving from side to side, and HDs are nearly chromatic and some new ones totally. The notion that Irish music is only for Anglos is a definite prejudice rather than anything with a sound theoretical basis. Jim Lucas has provided all you need to know -- exept the final choice, but the English is a totally adaptable instrument for any kind of music.

I play HD too, and Anglo and Hayden Duet but not English. Anglo, English and duet all have pros and cons -- that's why they're all still being played.

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I figured it out. I need both! Just kidding, but I can certainly see the merits in both systems.... this isn't going to be easy!

 

Joanna

 

 

Joanna,

No, you don't need both. biggrin.gif A lot of the differences that have been pointed out between Anglo and English are that one can't do this, and the other can't do that. A duet can usually do both.

 

There are only three main duet systems, and they're more similar to each other than Anglo is to English. They're all reperesented here. Just ask.

 

Cheers,

John

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There seems to be an assumption that an anglo is the instrument for you. Given your familiarity with the hammered dulcimer I suggest you also consider the English system. You may find it more logical.

 

(Lights blue touch paper and retires....!!!)

Can anyone give me an easy lesson in the difference between the English and Anglo system?

Two major kinds of difference: mechanics, and style.

 

Mechanics:

  • Anglo - bisonoric

    I.e., each button has different notes when you push and pull the bellows.

  • English - unisonoric

    Each button plays the same note on both push and pull.


  • Anglo - "spastic"

    As you play a scale, you (mostly) reverse the bellows for each successive note.

  • English - "schizophrenic"

    As you play a scale, successive notes alternate between the ends of the instrument.


  • Anglo - "horizontal"

    Hold your hands palm down in front of you. If they were holding the ends in that position, then in going from lower notes to higher ones you would progress roughly from left to right.

  • English - "vertical"

    Similarly, in going from lower notes to higher ones you would progress from nearer your body to further away.

    '

  • Anglo - regular pattern in two keys

    In the two "central" keys (invariably a fifth apart), playing a scale involves successive buttons in a single row (assuming that a "single row" folds over from the one end to the other). The pattern in other keys is quite different, and in fact quite different from one key to another. In fact, on a 20-button anglo, it's only possible to play in two major keys, so a 30-button anglo (which has an additional row of buttons to provide the notes missing on a 20-button) is highly recommended.

  • English - regular pattern in 8 keys (of the 12 possible)

    The pattern consists of 1) an alternation between the ends and 2) on each end an alternation between the two sides of the center line. A minor difference between these keys is that in the pairs of buttons to either side of the center line, each key uses only one button of each pair, but each uses a different set of the outer buttons of the pairs. But there's also a strict pattern to which buttons are outer for a given key. The other four keys have different patterns, but each of those patterns also has its own regularity. (And those are the keys with more flats than 3 or more sharps than 4.)


  • Anglo - bar and strap

    To hold an anglo, your hand slips into the space between a fixed "horizontal" bar (usually wood) and a leather strap. This permits a goodly amount of sideways movement of the fingers, but restricts "forward and back" mobility. That fits the keyboard layout, which extends more "horizontally" than "vertically".

  • English - loop and plate

    To hold an English, the thumb fits into a small loop of leather on one side of the button array and the little finger into the space under a raised plate on the other side of the array. (Some people use the plate passively or not at all. I use it more actively, using the thumb and little finger together to "grip" the end.) This limits sideways mobility, but gives much more freedom for "forward and back" mobility. That fits the keyboard layout, which extends more "vertically" than "horizontally".


Style:

  • Anglo - "bouncy" (or various other similar terms)

    The bisonoric nature of the anglo forces bellows reversals at points which may be dictated by the instrument itself. This generates a certain "rhythmic" quality (not necessarily regular; that's still up to the player) which many anglo players prize, at least when playing dance tunes. Others (or even the same ones) work hard to avoid this bounciness when playing more lyrical tunes.

  • English - smooth

    Bellows reversals aren't dictated by the notes you play, and are only forced if you continue without reversing until you reach maximum extension or compression. It's possible to get the same bouncy feel as with the anglo, but for most people it seems to take extra concentration and practice. On the other hand, a legato (smooth) lyrical style comes quite naturally.


  • Anglo - chords
    and
    melody

    Because on the anglo the lower notes are in the left hand and the higher ones in the right (with a little bit of overlap), it's possible to play chords in the one hand while playing a melody entirely (or almost entirely) in the other hand.

  • English - chords
    or
    melody

    Because on the English the entire range is split evenly between the two hands and most notes are found only in one hand, it is easy to play either chords or melody, but in most cases difficult to impossible to keep a steady rhythm of regular chords going against a melody. However, some other sorts of harmony, including parallel thirds and intermittent or irregular chords, are fairly easy.


  • Anglo - some chords

    On the anglo many notes are found in only one bellows direction. Some chords are quite easy, and others can be difficult, but some are not possible at all, because some of the required notes are available only on the push and others only on the pull.

  • English - all chords

    All notes that are available are available in both directions. This means that any combination of notes can be played simultaneously, limited only by your ability to reach the buttons with your fingers.


Points of view regarding Irish music:

There are persons who claim that the only concertina on which one can make Irish tunes sound "Irish" is the anglo. In my experience, these are all anglo players who concentrate on Irish music, though maybe a few players of bisonoric button accordions, as well. I (you might guess) disagree.

 

If you want to sound specifically like an Irish
anglo
player, then the anglo is probably the best way to go. (It's possible to get that sound/feel on an English, but few people do.) But in detail the "sound" or "feel" of a tune played on the anglo is quite different from the same tune played on fiddle, flute, pipes, banjo, etc., yet they're all "Irish". If you don't have any concertina players at your local session, then you probably don't have any anglo chauvinists, and a player of the English won't be criticized as not sounding "Irish" when what's really meant is that they don't sound "anglo". And the English is, after all, as different from the anglo as a mandolin is from a fiddle. (More so, since the fingering of the latter two is essentially the same.)

You also mentioned singing:

The Irish don't have a tradition of using concertina to accompany singing, but elsewhere (especially in England and the US), both anglo and English are used extensively and effectively for that purpose.

 

Now I see that Catty has offered you the chance to try these two different types. That should be worth much more than all my writings, though I might hope that the above commentary will give you some idea what to look for and try on them both.

 

Enjoy! (I'm sure you will. :))

 

 

Man, I hate to ask, but how do duets fit into this complicated picture?

 

Joanna

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Ok,

 

Now I am asking. I started looking at the duet system and it seems intriguing, but they don't seem as readily available. Is that true, or am I just not looking in the right place?

 

Joanna

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Ok,

 

Now I am asking. I started looking at the duet system and it seems intriguing, but they don't seem as readily available. Is that true, or am I just not looking in the right place?

 

Joanna

 

Vintage Maccann and Crane Duets are readily available, and arguably give you the best instrument for your dollar, because of the lower demand.

 

For the Hayden system, the 34 key Elise is well within your price range, although it is designed to be a starter instrument. Modern Haydens are otherwise not within the price range you were discussing.

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Ok,

 

Now I am asking. I started looking at the duet system and it seems intriguing, but they don't seem as readily available. Is that true, or am I just not looking in the right place?

 

Joanna

 

Depends on which duet type and in what price range. You can get a good restored vintage concertina-reeded 48b Crane duet within your $2000 budget. You can get cheaper student/basic Hayden duets (34b Elise for $350, 48b Stagi for $1000) but there's a big price gap between that and the next level up (over $4000 for a Tedrow 52b (?) "hybrid"). I don't know as much about the market for Maccann or Jeffries duets.

 

But bear in mind what duet concertinas are designed to do: play melody with the right hand and accompaniment with the left. If you're mainly looking at Irish trad (heavily melodic) and song backup (accompaniment only) you might be happier with an Anglo or English.

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i disagree about bringing a restored instrument across the world while travelling. a hybrid is a wonderful instrument,

 

At the price range we're talking this would be an old Lachenal or a 50s Wheatstone. Both still reasonably replaceable and the 50s Wheatstones are often equal in performance and better sounding than the hybrids. I've had a few instruments pass through my hands and some of these 50s Wheatstones are good value.

 

well, i would argue that 50's wheatstones are indeed irreplaceable, but might add they are not worth replacing! :lol:

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