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Noel Hill fingering system


Sean M
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In my search for the best way to play cross-row I've seen the phrase "Noel Hill fingering system" used a lot. I however cannot find what this means. I've looked around the internet a lot but not knowing a real concertina player (me mostly being self taught) and not being close enough to attend a Noel Hill workshop I am searching for a way to find out what that means. I can't seem to find any books by him just CDs. Can anyone explain to me what this fingering system is? Thanks.

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Hello Sean, I happen to be going to Noel Hill classes, I go every friday and I'm in beginners. But I'm sorry to tell you that I play the english system! anyway I'm curious about this, I will try to find out. If I get to know something I will let you know.

 

Fernando

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In my search for the best way to play cross-row I've seen the phrase "Noel Hill fingering system" used a lot. I however cannot find what this means. I've looked around the internet a lot but not knowing a real concertina player (me mostly being self taught) and not being close enough to attend a Noel Hill workshop I am searching for a way to find out what that means. I can't seem to find any books by him just CDs. Can anyone explain to me what this fingering system is? Thanks.

 

 

 

Read This Thread and watch the lights start flashing. smile.gif

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In my search for the best way to play cross-row I've seen the phrase "Noel Hill fingering system" used a lot. I however cannot find what this means. I've looked around the internet a lot but not knowing a real concertina player (me mostly being self taught) and not being close enough to attend a Noel Hill workshop I am searching for a way to find out what that means. I can't seem to find any books by him just CDs. Can anyone explain to me what this fingering system is? Thanks.

Read This Thread and watch the lights start flashing.

Even more on this thread. Unfortunately, the link to David Levine's document there no longer works.

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In my search for the best way to play cross-row I've seen the phrase "Noel Hill fingering system" used a lot. I however cannot find what this means. I've looked around the internet a lot but not knowing a real concertina player (me mostly being self taught) and not being close enough to attend a Noel Hill workshop I am searching for a way to find out what that means. I can't seem to find any books by him just CDs. Can anyone explain to me what this fingering system is? Thanks.

Read This Thread and watch the lights start flashing.

Even more on this thread. Unfortunately, the link to David Levine's document there no longer works.

 

Thanks for the links! So far I have only read a little but already it makes a lot more sense.

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In my search for the best way to play cross-row I've seen the phrase "Noel Hill fingering system" used a lot. I however cannot find what this means. I've looked around the internet a lot but not knowing a real concertina player (me mostly being self taught) and not being close enough to attend a Noel Hill workshop I am searching for a way to find out what that means. I can't seem to find any books by him just CDs. Can anyone explain to me what this fingering system is? Thanks.

 

What do players mean when they use the term 'cross-row'? Is it something specific to Irish Anglo playing? I would have thought that all adventurous Anglo players will dodge about between the rows and can work out for themselves a system best suited to their own particular requirements.

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What do players mean when they use the term 'cross-row'? Is it something specific to Irish Anglo playing? I would have thought that all adventurous Anglo players will dodge about between the rows and can work out for themselves a system best suited to their own particular requirements.

Cross-row Anglo playing isn't just for Irish music. It does refers to the "dodging about" that you describe. I mainly use it to avoid unwanted changes of bellows direction in the middle of a musical phrase.

 

It's certainly possible to work out one's own cross-row system. That's what I did for myself. But there's a very specific approach to cross-row playing, developed by Paddy Murphy and refined and taught in workshops by Noel Hill, that's used by quite a few Irish-style Anglo players.

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What do players mean when they use the term 'cross-row'? Is it something specific to Irish Anglo playing? I would have thought that all adventurous Anglo players will dodge about between the rows and can work out for themselves a system best suited to their own particular requirements.

Cross-row Anglo playing isn't just for Irish music. It does refers to the "dodging about" that you describe. I mainly use it to avoid unwanted changes of bellows direction in the middle of a musical phrase.

 

It's certainly possible to work out one's own cross-row system. That's what I did for myself. But there's a very specific approach to cross-row playing, developed by Paddy Murphy and refined and taught in workshops by Noel Hill, that's used by quite a few Irish-style Anglo players.

 

Daniel, thank you very much for taking the trouble to answer my query. It would be a very restricted form of Anglo playing which did not employ plenty of 'cross-row' work involving both single notes and chords. I thoroughly enjoy the satisfaction of working it all out for myself. As one who plays solely by ear this inevitably involves a lot of trial and error at the outset, but that all adds to the fun.

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"cross-row" means considering ALL the notes on the concertina to be at your disposal, rather than only the ones occurring along one row or other. that is the point of a 30 or 38 button concertina. they came to be because the old more limited ones were augmented by the makers over time to give more note-pathway choices to the upper-class english aristocrats who had a big concertina drawing-room fad for a while and were playing classical and all kinds of stuff on them.

 

but when that fad ended and these concertinas started to go cheap to rural farmers over the channel, the folks in rural ireland getting these new, bigger concertinas did not know this. they just used the rows like on older, more limited concertinas. and the rows sound great for dance music so for a long time there wasn't really any motivation to go, oh, what is this other "A" here for?.....but eventually people started exploring what they could do paddy murphy being the most known example.

 

if you put all the choices into play, it takes you longer to get the possible pathways a tune could take into your neural circuitry, but in the long run, you get more "bowing pattern" choices in terms of phrasing. at least, in many principal itm keys where notes recur in different spots in different directions on the concertina. some notes don't recur and in those keys, you're going to play "on the rows" whether you enjoy that or not. but where you have recurring notes in more than one place, you then can choose different pathways to phrase long versus short, however you like, to make phrasing choices like a fiddler might. you can't do thick bass chords along with all of these alternate routes, but if you're like me and you like little to no bass accompaniment, this doesn't matter.

 

speaking very roughly, and no doubt oversimplifying, the paddy murphy/noel hill system opened up the choices so you had more options than just playing back-and-forth diatonically like a harmonica along one row. however, it did not open up the choices to the entire concertina. it opened it up to note options they considered ergonomically optimal, near the front of the concertina where your index & middle are. at least, those index/middle notes would be the first/default choices by this method.

 

i'm like the poster above, who worked out their own from the start. i put the whole concertina in play from day one. i don't want to sound so smooth it doesn't sound like irish trad, but for me, "too smooth" would be, "would it be too smooth for say, paddy carty" rather than, "does it sound enough like an old press/draw one-row." the point is, by putting everything in play, you can choose.

 

having said that, many people start with a more curtailed default system just to stay sane while getting started, and slowly add more choices by trying different stuff once they get going.

 

somebody quoted nh himself as saying, "don't rule anything out" (something like that) in terms of button/note choices. that's the essence of "cross-row." the only rules would be 1) does your chosen note pathway mess you up and create dead ends you can't get out of; and 2) does it create a phrasing that simply does not sound like the traditional genre you are trying to play?

Edited by ceemonster
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having said that, many people start with a more curtailed default system just to stay sane while getting started, and slowly add more choices by trying different stuff once they get going.

 

somebody quoted nh himself as saying, "don't rule anything out" (something like that) in terms of button/note choices. that's the essence of "cross-row." the only rules would be 1) does your chosen note pathway mess you up and create dead ends you can't get out of; and 2) does it create a phrasing that simply does not sound like the traditional genre you are trying to play?

 

 

I think this quote is the most succinct version of the wisest approach to learning the Anglo I've read in a long time. Start with a well-thought out system based on sound principles, master that (to a sufficient degree) and branch out from there based on the concepts enumerated above.

Edited by CaryK
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