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Which Concertina for French mazurkas


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Dear All, this is my first topic and I am sincerely Ignorant. Love French mazurkas, the ones Eric Theze makes for instance (Which he plays on bandoneon by the way). Noted that majority of players use diatonic accordion but I would be more interested to learn a more compact and smaller instrument like the concertina seems. On top of this I never understood why I am always fascinated in exploring different path than others, therefore if they all use accordeon I might like a different instrument.

Questions now:

- can I obtain good sounding mazurkas with concertina?

- Diatonic or chromatic?

- English or Anglo?

- how many keys and which tune?

 

Thanx so much, I really appreciate your help

 

I forgot to mention: I'm a big fan of mazurka myself, and I collected a bunch of them on my site: http://www.tangosite.com/concertina/pub/dc-tunes?open&tag=mazurka

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Deep breath...

 

All duets are chromatic, and produce just the one note per button. They have the bass notes on one end and the treble on the other and there is some duplication of the middle notes, often called 'the crossover' which eases play considerably. They come in four main flavours, Maccan, Crane, Jeffries and Hayden. Playing one system does not help you to play any others. They are all quite different. You can do amazing things with a duet.

 

Maccan is the commonest. The majority are of arround 1920's vintage (which is good) and all but the smallest tend to be top quality instruments, often the very best, aeolas and edeophones. It has a keyboard layout that works very well indeed but takes quite a bit of learning, and they come in a wide variety of sizes that are all equally available. The biggest are large enough to play a lot of piano music straight, if that's your fancy. (that's what I do, just so you know I'm completely biassed on this one) The available size range is a big plus. You want a few deeper bass notes, you go and buy a bigger one. Easy. But as I said they have a reputation for being fiendish to play. You don't pick one up, have a fiddle with it and go down the pub and busk chords the same night. It takes practice is the truth of it.

 

Cranes came a little later but still in 'the golden years of concertina making'. There are a lot less of these arround; I'd guess I see one to every ten Maccans. The majority were made for the Salvation Army for use as portable harmoniums so tend to be mid range mid quality instruments. You'll have trouble finding Aeola and Edeophone Cranes, and the big range instruments are rare but equally the Sally Army buyers weren't idiots; they bought decent enough machines that their modern owners seem to like. Cranes have a much more logical layout, far easier to get started with. I think the keyboard is fundamentally less useable if you are after big strange chords and polyphony but with a Crane you can busk chords the same night. A medium sized Crane might be the instrument for you.

 

Hayden is a modern system; supposedly incredibly simple to learn. Also the cheapest to start with; you can buy one new for peanuts; the 'Elise'. It's a small range instrument. The HUGE catch with these is buying an Elise starts you down a very expensive and nearly blind alley. Anyone who buys a small duet and takes it seriously soon wants a wider register. Because Haydens weren't made in the heydays of the concertina they are very scarce s/h; the people that ordered them originally are usually still alive! So there is virtually no s/h market and you are forced to buy new. This costs much more (twice as much?) than buying the absolutely top notch vintage Maccans and quite decent Cranes that are available. Of course your larger Hayden, once made, will also be new, which must be nice, but vintage instruments are no trouble; nothing to be scared of.

 

Jeffries. Hmm. Another difficult system, invented and made by, erm, Jeffries... supposed to be laid out to be 'friendly' to Anglo players. Limited availability, and the few I've seen haven't been very big and have minimal crossover. I'm not impressed, you can tell. They tend to be played by people who found or inherited them rather than bought them for reasons, which doesn't stop some players doing really nice things with them. The ITM lot particularly and, as far as I can see, anyone who plays folk music LOUD all the time love the Jeffries sound, but duet players mostly don't, so a lot of them get broken for reeds or converted into unfeasibly large Anglos. Good riddance say I. Forget them.

 

Perhaps I should say that at the expert end there are players of all these types doing impressive things with them.

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In addidition to the other comments.

 

Mazurkas can be played on any instrument, I use both the anglo and the Crane duet for it.

 

is a french mazurka from the Auvergne. This type of mazurka with not too many scale jumps is suitable for an anglo. There are other mazurkas that are using more scaled, and those I play on the Crane, but I did not list them on youtube...

 

But if the setting is the american french style I'ld go for a one row melodeon with a tex mex or cajun sound. A concertina is not that loud as a cajun box.

 

Marien

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Thanx everybody and especially Dirge for his crystal clear and long response. I have been lucky enough to get in touch with a French musician playins several mazurkas with it. Both advises (forum and him) seems to converge on MacCan or Crane Duet type. will now try to acquire one that will not break my Bank account. bye for now.

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I did not know about Eric Thézé ; I enjoyed a lot his playing, and his site is a great resource for partitions !

I think that most of his tunes shoud be playable as well on the anglo and will have to try one when I have time.

The only thing is you may have to tranpose because his compositions are in a variety of keys that are not normally

playable on the anglo ( and probably difficult as well on duets)

David

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I made a quick recording of the Italian mazurka Tra Veglia E Sonno. I am playing an English Concertina. I apologize for the small blooper in the trio section.

test_4680 1:43 1 6/13/2010 12:07 PM

 

Doesn't seem to be right Randy. Can you fix it? (I always enjoy your offerings!)

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I made a quick recording of the Italian mazurka Tra Veglia E Sonno. I am playing an English Concertina. I apologize for the small blooper in the trio section.

test_4680 1:43 1 6/13/2010 12:07 PM

 

Doesn't seem to be right Randy. Can you fix it? (I always enjoy your offerings!)

 

Operator error. Should be okay now.

rss

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Right on the spot, Alan! That's how a real traditional French mazurka sounds. I'll see if I can squeeze one out of my EC myself this weekend.

 

With all due respect, how is it possible that a "real traditional French mazurka" sounds real traditional french on english made 30 button Concertina? It may sound good, convincing, interesting, inspiring but been "real", "traditional", "French" is a bit too much.

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It's all in the way you play it: the accents, the long- or shortness of the notes, the little bounces in the melody that makes or breaks it. And in fact, there's a long story behind it. Young people nowadays don't play mazurka as we used to 30 years ago... Hence my expression "real" and "traditional"... Maybe I should have used "old" and "bouncy". To me it seems that the concept of mazurka itself is fading from memory, as is the way to dance it properly. That's a shame, really.

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I have not played these two Limosin Mazurkas in years but here is a quick attempt at them to show a different style

(sorry about the plane noise).

Al

 

I know nothing about French Mazurkas but, with reference to the opening posting of this topic, Al provides ample evidence here that the Anglo appears to be an entirely appropriate instrument for the task in hand.

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Something like this?

 

(it's a french canadian something in Russian)

French Canadian?

Sounds more like Cajun to me, a guess which is furthered by the mentions of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, bayous, and the Mississippi River, all of which are a long way from Canada, and especially from French Canada. (There is a historical connection, but it predates the accordion.) Also, the lyrics and attribution of authorship suggest that it's imitation Cajun. Not a bad imitation, though.

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It's all in the way you play it: the accents, the long- or shortness of the notes, the little bounces in the melody that makes or breaks it. And in fact, there's a long story behind it. Young people nowadays don't play mazurka as we used to 30 years ago... Hence my expression "real" and "traditional"... Maybe I should have used "old" and "bouncy". To me it seems that the concept of mazurka itself is fading from memory, as is the way to dance it properly. That's a shame, really.

I think it makes a lot of difference to have actually danced the French dances and played the music for French people to dance to. It perhaps needs a Hurdy Gurdy and some French pipes to make it sound a bit more authentic.

Al

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There are some that assume French music should sound like French Cafe Music ,piano accordion style . Smooth with a lot of ornamentation. This is not always the case with some French Traditional music of Central France. Some of it is very bouncy and whilst most French style dancing the feet hardly lift from the floor ,I remember one dancer dancing an Auvergne Bouree when he was three feet up in the air.

Al

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