Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Sean M

Cross-row Anglo Concertina Playing

Recommended Posts

Hello,

 

I'm an Anglo concertina player who is relatively new to the instrument. I have taught myself a few Irish trad tunes by playing "along the row" but I have read that cross-row playing is a better style for efficiency and speed. I understand that the difference is that instead of playing all songs in the key of G along the G row and all songs in the key of C along the C row (not sure how many Irish tunes are in the key of C...) cross-row playing is playing a song and using both rows of keys instead of just one row.

 

The part where I begin to get a little lost is deciding when to use which key from which row or which bellows direction (push/pull). A lot of people have pointed me in the direction of Noel Hill who no doubt could teach more than I could learn about the instrument. Unfortunatly the only way I've seen to learn the Noel Hill style is to take his class and I have a job that doesn't allow me to take a week off to travel and learn it.

 

I'm wondering if anyone can just point me in the right direction one how to choose which key would be better to play. Are you trying to keep the bellows direction steady? Are you trying to use mostly the keys played with your index and middle fingers as opposed to the keys further down the rows? Are there things I should avoid? Do I not want to switch back and forth between hands? Maybe thats what I want to do?

 

If anyone could give me just a little bit of advice on tips of what to look for when playing cross-row I would greatly appreciate it.

 

Thanks,

Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ahhh the old famous question. There are many threads about this, but they all end up being confusing because people are very "emotional" about the subject. I used to play mostly on the C row, on the left side and both on the right side, and switching to "cross row" opened new horizons to me. Tunes I thought were unplayable before became very easy to play, and made the mechanics of the instruments a bit less daunting.

 

I think you'd ask five different cross-row concertinists, you'd get five different answers. All I can do now is tell you what I've learned from my workshops, and from my own interpretation of it:

 

1) Never use the same finger to play two different buttons in a row, there's always an alternative that would save you from doing that

2) Many players would tell you to use the buttons that are close to the index fingers first. So your main D/E would be on the LH G row index finger, and so on.

3) Use your first finger (index) for the first "column" of notes, second finger for the second, etc, but borrowing fingers from column to column is totally acceptable when there's no other way etc

 

Your main A/G would be on the LH C row index finger, the high F#/G would be on the RH G row index finger, etc.

 

When it comes down to push and pull, it's a personal choice. When you play triplets, try to do them all in the push or pull, or at least two of them in the same direction. When it comes to phrasing, you push and you pull the way you want, depending on your style. You might want to avoid too much pull/push as it can be a barrier to the flow of your music, but you might want to avoid too many passages in only one direction, as you might not get enough "swing", but this is very subjective and there's no official rule, and it depends on the tune, the phrase etc.

 

That's it for now, it's my own basics and wouldn't work for everybody.

 

EDIT:

 

- Someone said (Noel Hill?) you should end up playing 80% of the notes on the left side, with this fingering... I guess it makes sense, didn't really pay attention

- Edel Fox said: "If your fingers are doing too much work, then you're doing something wrong". It makes total sense to me, and always something to keep in mind in my opinion.

Edited by Azalin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

 

I'm an Anglo concertina player who is relatively new to the instrument. I have taught myself a few Irish trad tunes by playing "along the row" but I have read that cross-row playing is a better style for efficiency and speed. I understand that the difference is that instead of playing all songs in the key of G along the G row and all songs in the key of C along the C row (not sure how many Irish tunes are in the key of C...) cross-row playing is playing a song and using both rows of keys instead of just one row.

 

The part where I begin to get a little lost is deciding when to use which key from which row or which bellows direction (push/pull). A lot of people have pointed me in the direction of Noel Hill who no doubt could teach more than I could learn about the instrument. Unfortunatly the only way I've seen to learn the Noel Hill style is to take his class and I have a job that doesn't allow me to take a week off to travel and learn it.

 

I'm wondering if anyone can just point me in the right direction one how to choose which key would be better to play. Are you trying to keep the bellows direction steady? Are you trying to use mostly the keys played with your index and middle fingers as opposed to the keys further down the rows? Are there things I should avoid? Do I not want to switch back and forth between hands? Maybe thats what I want to do?

 

If anyone could give me just a little bit of advice on tips of what to look for when playing cross-row I would greatly appreciate it.

 

Thanks,

Sean

 

There is much to be said for self-discovery by dedicated application of trial and error. What suits one player's style may simply confuse another. There is no correct way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no correct way.

 

There is and there isn't. If you have a sound in your head that you'd like to pursue - i.e., to sound like a player whose playing you admire - then that player's fingering is the correct way. I also think it's important to have a default system of fingering on which you can base your playing. So that you use the same A more or less all the time, and have a fall-back fingering for when the default system won't work. Not to be locked in, but to avoid confusion when faced with several choices for one note.

 

If you are playing up and down the rows then that will be the default fingering system. Cross-row playing is when it gets more complicated. Is cross row better? It depends on the music you want to play on the concertina and whose playing you'd most like to emulate. If you're happy playing English style -- with lots of chords --or ITM like Kitty Hayes and Chris Droney, then there's no problem and your way is pretty clear. You'll play up and down the rows, mostly in the home keys. If you admire and would like to play like Edel Fox or Noel Hill, then things get more complicated as you make the move to cross-row-town. For me, Noel's default system is the correct way to play traditional Irish music on the concertina. Not the only way -- but the best way, the best road map, for playing as he does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is definitely a correct way for me, and moving to cross row "saved my life" :-) Just a few days ago I learned three new reels and after only a few hours practicing them I couldn't believe how "easy" it was to play them the way I wanted to play them, and I realized that the exercize of learning cross row and be able to use the whole keyboard layout was really "life changing" for me.

 

I think the real important thing for me wasn't to learn to play such or such button by default, it was to train myself to be able to play any of the alternate buttons whenever I needed them. It's very important, when you sit down and try to learn a new tune, and try to find the "right ways" into the maze of notes so that you don't end up jumping buttons... having all the buttons accessible to you makes a hella difference.

 

But, again, what works for one person might not work for another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to pick up on something David said - playing "English style" also includes a lot of cross-rowing even when playing in the home keys, in order allow different ways of playing the melody. The problem with chord-style is when the melody note demands a bellows push and the chord needs a bellows pull - cross-rowing can prevent these clashes. It can also be used to allow ornamentation, again without interfering with the bellows requirements of the tune itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

 

I'm an Anglo concertina player who is relatively new to the instrument.

I'm wondering if anyone can just point me in the right direction one how to choose which key would be better to play.

 

Thanks,

Sean

 

I'm in exactly in the same boat as Sean here .. A new player! .. but also not sure what the best button flow is for different keys other than the 2 key rows CG!... I've worked out an easy flow for the key of D using accidentals but i also keep wondering what this Noel Hill fingering system really is and as i can't get to a class of his for a very long time, has the layout of playing a D scale and others and others been published here on this forum in the Noel hill method? .... I'm hoping this is not an exclusive club that only passes on the skills on attending the course.

Any advice welcome cheers Derek

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Derek, how many accidental C# options have you got?. If you have a 30 button C/G how many buttons has it got? Is it Jeffries or Wheatstone type layout.

 

If you,ve got a smooth way of D with chords that is great progress. I think Brian Peters and John Kirksaptrick and Andy turner are great exponents for 'English' style playing on C/G in a range of keys away from the home keys . Harry Scurfield too. Sorry for any I've missed

 

There is a lot if you search old posts but I'm sure there will be alot of posts or PMs.

I'll contact you via PM

 

Cheers

Mike smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing is, this thread is about irish style music played in cross row, chords are just an option and not something you need at all. We're talking about melody. This is what I found daunting when I started playing, most of the threads about cross row end up being so confusing, you end up having less direction and more confusion than before. That's why I tried to keep in very simple, and stick to what the initial poster said: "Irish traditional music, playing tunes and Noel Hill-style cross row". As we say here (in french), "sometimes 'too much' is like 'not enough'".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Derek, how many accidental C# options have you got?. If you have a 30 button C/G how many buttons has it got? Is it Jeffries or Wheatstone type layout.

 

If you,ve got a smooth way of D with chords that is great progress. I think Brian Peters and John Kirksaptrick and Andy turner are great exponents for 'English' style playing on C/G in a range of keys away from the home keys . Harry Scurfield too. Sorry for any I've missed

 

There is a lot if you search old posts but I'm sure there will be alot of posts or PMs.

I'll contact you via PM

 

Cheers

Mike smile.gif

 

40 button Wheatstone! B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm new to the Anglo too, and started out with Mick Bramich's book The Irish Concertina and learned a bit about cross-row playing. But I find myself wondering "am I playing too many notes in a row on the push or pull?". I try not to worry aout it too much, and just try to work out what buttons seem to be the easiest and most logical to pick to keep the music flowing. I don't want to learn a "system", but I do need some direction, so I've ordered the Mad for Trad tutor. From what I've read about it, I think I'll like the approach. I was hoping to go to Swannanoa this year and take the concertina class - but one day I looked at the house and yard and there's just too much to do! Next year I have my sights set on the Friday Harbor camp as it's a bit closer for me.

 

Scott Arbuckle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is no correct way.

Rod, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what you really meant was, "There is no one and only correct way."

 

In my experience, a "correct way" is one that works, and there are a great many of these, each working for some individuals, but not for others. And that is why this subject is just as tricky as the anglo/English/duet choice. What works for one advice-giver may be perfect for you, or for you it may be utterly unworkable. The best thing to do (IMO) is try the different suggestions one by one until you find (at least) one that works for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm new to the Anglo too, and started out with Mick Bramich's book The Irish Concertina and learned a bit about cross-row playing. But I find myself wondering "am I playing too many notes in a row on the push or pull?". I try not to worry aout it too much, and just try to work out what buttons seem to be the easiest and most logical to pick to keep the music flowing. I don't want to learn a "system", but I do need some direction, so I've ordered the Mad for Trad tutor. From what I've read about it, I think I'll like the approach. I was hoping to go to Swannanoa this year and take the concertina class - but one day I looked at the house and yard and there's just too much to do! Next year I have my sights set on the Friday Harbor camp as it's a bit closer for me.

 

Scott Arbuckle

 

 

have you got a link to Mad for Trad tutor. is it a book? or do you mean the Niall Vallely CD Rom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

have you got a link to Mad for Trad tutor. is it a book? or do you mean the Niall Vallely CD Rom

 

yes, it's the Niall Vallely CD-Rom -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How could you learn songs in D and not automatically learn to play cross-row? Regardless of whose system it might be, the C# and F# are where they are. For me, going cross-row seemed actually pretty natural. Now if only I could do it well...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

 

I'm an Anglo concertina player who is relatively new to the instrument. I have taught myself a few Irish trad tunes by playing "along the row" but I have read that cross-row playing is a better style for efficiency and speed. I understand that the difference is that instead of playing all songs in the key of G along the G row and all songs in the key of C along the C row (not sure how many Irish tunes are in the key of C...) cross-row playing is playing a song and using both rows of keys instead of just one row.

 

The part where I begin to get a little lost is deciding when to use which key from which row or which bellows direction (push/pull). A lot of people have pointed me in the direction of Noel Hill who no doubt could teach more than I could learn about the instrument. Unfortunatly the only way I've seen to learn the Noel Hill style is to take his class and I have a job that doesn't allow me to take a week off to travel and learn it.

 

I'm wondering if anyone can just point me in the right direction one how to choose which key would be better to play. Are you trying to keep the bellows direction steady? Are you trying to use mostly the keys played with your index and middle fingers as opposed to the keys further down the rows? Are there things I should avoid? Do I not want to switch back and forth between hands? Maybe thats what I want to do?

 

If anyone could give me just a little bit of advice on tips of what to look for when playing cross-row I would greatly appreciate it.

 

Thanks,

Sean

 

Hi Sean,

 

I'd suggest you just experiment with playing just one note at a time in a different place. For example, if you're playing a tune on the G row, try using the pull B on your RH index finger, middle row, instead. Listen to what that does to the phrasing of the tune. Decide if you like it, or whether you'd rather have the extra emphasis that comes with the break between the notes when you change direction. You might like the push B in one place or the pull B in another.

 

Then when you're familiar with that change, you might try the pull C on the same RH button instead of the push C on the G row LH; or the pull D on the RH second finger, middle row, and so on - just try one thing at a time, make progress in a series of small steps, and don't worry too much about the big picture.

 

Pippa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How could you learn songs in D and not automatically learn to play cross-row? Regardless of whose system it might be, the C# and F# are where they are. For me, going cross-row seemed actually pretty natural. Now if only I could do it well...

 

That's the question I've been asking myself, too! The notes you need for the scale of D major are distributed over all three rows (of a C/G).

 

Perhaps the topic is more relevant for those who play only in the home keys and in principle keep to the respective row, so that they get the easy harmonies.

This works very well for simple "3-chord-trick" tunes, but even at a fairly low level of elaboration the results sound rather pedestrian. In a tune in C, for instance, you'll often need a C note over an F chord - and that means using the pull C on the G row. And the root of the F chord is in the outer row anyway.

Playing in G major on the inner row, you need the low push G in the C row for a full tonic major chord.

 

The attractive feature of the Anglo is the "semi-automatic" chording along the rows, but I think you have to be aware that these harmonies are often not optimal, and that including a button from another row can add a lot to an arrangement. Any good automatic mechanism can be overridden when necessary, and that's how I see cross-rowing on the Anglo in the home keys.

 

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

have you got a link to Mad for Trad tutor. is it a book? or do you mean the Niall Vallely CD Rom

 

yes, it's the Niall Vallely CD-Rom -

 

 

I think it's an excellent tutor CD Rom and great value for money

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×