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Horse! A proposal


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Well IMO I think maybe if on the main website there was a decision chart:

e.g Do you read music Yes/No, Do you want to play Irish music yes/no....etc.

which will lead you to the right type of concertina for you. wink.gif

 

Or maybe a list

the Anglo concertina will suit you if.....

 

 

Oh well just an idea anyway.

 

 

Milady,

 

Not a bad idea at all! biggrin.gif

 

I have a case in point on my hands right now. Someone popped up on the German-language concertina forum, saying he was interested in acoustic music, mainly folk and singer-songwriter, and that he'd been using the guitar up to now, but found that it had inadequacies, and thought that free reeds would serve his musical purposes, but the accordion was too big and heavy - so he was wondering what concertina might suit him. Also, he wanted to be chromatic, so as to be able to follow guitarists when they capo up.

 

Geuss what I recomended! A duet, of course! Now all we have to do is find out WHICH duet offers the best technical and commercial options. sad.gif

 

People like this are easy to advise. They already know music, know what kind of music they'll be playing, even have definite notions of whether chromatic or diatonic will suit them, and what's in their bank account.

 

What the beginner needs is a profile for each concertina type. What genres it is typically used in; what other genres it is used for as well; what special attraction it offers (e.g. Anglo - easy harmonisation, English - fully chromatic melody, Hayden - easy transposing ...); whether you can get a new one or only a vintage one, and whether an economically priced hybrid version is available. A link to the fingering charts on concertina.com can help a beginner to assess whether he can "get his brain around" this or that system.

A hint that specific previous musical experience may make one system easier to "get into" than another might also be a good idea.

On the expense side, a sober comparison of the (chaeaper) hybrids with the (more expensive) traditional concertinas would be helpful.

Perhaps we could also list the forum members who play this or that system in this or that style, so that the interested party can enquire directly, with a hint to the newbie to ask if there are any forum members in his or her area, because face-to-face and hands-on is the best way to gain clarity!

 

Cheers,

John

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I think that it can be just as important to find out what instrument suits you rather than what instrument works well for the type of music you are setting out to play. What I mean is that the intent to play a particular style of music is not, for me, the main factor in choosing an instrument. I would suggest trying different instruments as it is such a personal thing.

 

I don't ask whether a person can read music, I ask if they can play a harmonica or a piano and this gives me more idea about how their brain works.

 

When I pick up a different instrument I find that I play a different style of music as that is what sounds right for that instrument. I play Anglo because I can and I don't play English or Duet because I can't; my brain just works that way. I don't feel right when attemping to play a Duet and I don't get on at all with the English layout. If I was to follow a "flow-chart" set of questions about what music I wanted to play I would probably end up with a Duet and still be struggling with that whereas I am happy attempting anything with the Anglo to see how far I can get.

 

Robn Madge

Edited by Robin Madge
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I think that it can be just as important to find out what instrument suits you rather than what instrument works well for the type of music you are setting out to play.

What I mean is that the intent to play a particular style of music is not, for me, the main factor in choosing an instrument. I would suggest trying different instruments as it is such a personal thing.

...

I don't ask whether a person can read music, I ask if they can play a harmonica or a piano and this gives me more idea about how their brain works.

 

Robin,

There are several criteria in the choosing of a concertina system, and sometimes they conflict. It may be a matter of choosing between an instinctively easy system, like the Anglo, and a system that can be used to accompany low, middle and high solo voices (each requiring a different key) like a Duet.

For me, it was easy - I can sing most songs in C, and most of the rest in G, so a C/G Anglo is fine! biggrin.gif

The Anglo was so easy to learn because I'd cut my teeth on the mouth organ. When I did finally feel the urge to break out of the diatonic straight-jacket, my choice fell on the Crane duet, because its logic is similar to that of the banjo and mandolin, which I'd been playing for decades.

 

The question is, which system do you suggest for someone with no prior instrumental experience?

 

As to trying several systems: that would be impossible for the vast majority of us, simply because of the lack of availability. Shops have, perhaps, a cheap Chinese 20-b Anglo in stock - maybe, if you're lucky, a Hohner English. Concertina squeeze-ins are not on everyone's doorstep, either. So it is important to have all the options laid out up front, before ordering, which is the way most of us get our concertinas.

 

I play Anglo because I can and I don't play English or Duet because I can't; my brain just works that way. I don't feel right when attemping to play a Duet and I don't get on at all with the English layout. If I was to follow a "flow-chart" set of questions about what music I wanted to play I would probably end up with a Duet and still be struggling with that whereas I am happy attempting anything with the Anglo to see how far I can get.

 

Yes, the second question is, which compromise are you most happy with? As I say, I was very happy with my Anglo compromise for many years. I guess I just got to a stage where I wanted to be uncompromising for a change! laugh.gif

 

Cheers,

John

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.. The questioners are asking for assistance. The least we can do is direct them to prior threads dealing with the same question.

 

I've often wondered about this very aspect of forums in general. FAQs are sometimes helpful, if the FAQ maintainer is dedicated, energetic, and persistent. But alas, FAQs seem to always eventually go stale. So a fall back from that is to admonish the questioner to use the Search function. And then, in order for the regulars to cling to some form of sanity, the next step down is to start exclaiming "Horse!" at the questioner.

 

The main problem is that all of the common questions have been more than adequately addressed within forum, and often in exhaustive nuanced detail. But it can be nearly impossible to find those threads. And then, from the point of view of the questioner, how do you know you've found the conclusive threads on the topic? And further, things change, lots of questions should be re-asked and often.

 

So here's a proposal: Create a FAQ Subforum. Set up permissions so that total newbies can't post to it. Or to put that another way, only experienced members can post to it. Then when a thread comes along that is a "classic" in some way add a thread to the FAQ subforum. Within that thread there would be just a link to the active discussion. If and when another thread explores the topic again, then add another link to the FAQ thread. Using the Forum mechanism itself would help alleviate the stale problem and maintaining it would entail the exact same processes as posting and editing (and the work would be spread among many).

 

From the point of view of a person just trying to find some basic info I can feel confident that I'm looking at the pertinent and recent information. From the point of view of a regular I can participate in identifying informative threads.

 

Now as for the answer to this particular question... two words: Hayden Duet. smile.gif

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Create a FAQ Subforum.

 

 

It doesn't work as well. It is destined to go stale.

New players pop up, show what they can do, and it changes perception of others. FAQ is in need to be altered, as it's answers are no longer valid.

Besides, there are several articles serving this purpose already.

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So here's a proposal: Create a FAQ Subforum.

The trouble with a FAQ -- which stands for "Frequently Asked Questions" -- is that people rarely spell it out, but commonly think of it as "fact", while it is often purely opinion, and opinions can differ greatly. That's certainly the case with the subject at hand. The only indisputable facts regarding choice of concertina are that the opinions on the matter vary widely, include contradictions, and are often strongly held.

 

FAQs, whether one or a forum full, cannot provide a single, conclusive answer to the question, because we here can not agree on what such an answer should be. The redundant redundancies of repeated repetitions of the same arguments in essentially the same discussion are proof of that.

 

Meanwhile, the suggestions in this thread, from "Horse!" to "FAQ", strike me as attempts by people who feel some responsibility for helping newcomers to evade the work that responsibility necessarily entails. Horse! is, IMO, the worst, since it essentially burdens the unsuspecting newcomer with responsibility for knowing things that (s)he shouldn't be expected to know.

 

Compiling a FAQ or FAQs sounds noble, but who's going to do the work? If you think that's the right way to go, don't propose it... do it. If several individuals want to work together on it, that's great, and you can ask here for volunteers, but then go off line to actually create it. (Trying to involve the entire membership on line is a sure way to see that it's never completed, because it will never come to agreement.) When you think it's achieved a useful form, then present it to us all, and we can praise it, criticize it, and debate what to do with it. If enough of us think it really is useful, maybe we could convince Paul and Ken to "pin" it.

 

That's what I intend to do with my own suggestion -- a compilation of links to previous incarnations of the discussion, -- but I have many projects on my "to do" list, so I expect it will be some time before I actually get around to this one. If someone else likes the idea and would like to do it first, that's fine with me. I would say that it's not necessary to make it an exhaustive list, nor even to include all the "latest" discussions, since most such discussions have been so long and active as to be exhaustive each in itself, and rarely if ever has there been any truly new information or viewpoint.

 

Hmm... here's another idea. I won't claim it's a good idea, but maybe someone will think it is and try it?

The next time the "what kind of concertina?" question comes up, instead of taking the time to yet again compose an
argument
presenting your point of view, just post a headline-like introduction (e.g., "it is just not possible to play ITM properly on the EC"), and then provide a list of links to your individual posts where you've argued your point in previous threads. If you do that once, then if the question comes up yet again, you will only need one link, to your post containing your list. Various individuals could do this in a single thread, thus effectively compiling the different points of view, but even if only one person did it, any truly curious questioner could scroll to other posts in the linked threads to get "the whole story".

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I play exclusively English. Now and then I have someone who wants to learn to play the concertina. The first thing I ask is' Do you read music'. If the answer is no I tell them I only work with students who read music and to recommend some books to start with and places on the internet. If the answer is yes then we discuss what type of music they wish to play and what type of concertina they have. The majority have an Anglo and want to learn how to play traditional Irish or contra dance music. If so I recommend a few places in town where they regularly gather and play or the DC Folk Society.

So for me the answer is not which system is better but what you gonna do with it once you learn to ride the darn thing.

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I sure hope you can learn a tune without having to have it written down. ( I had a friend who couldn't play a note if it wasn't written down. ) Most of my students read music, but written music is the coarsest form of transcription. I spend a lot of time getting my students not to play what they see, but what the music feels like, what brings it to life. Even orchestras need a decent conductor to get beyond the bones of the score, lest it remain a corpse. I also ask my students if they can read music, if they can't, I ask how good's you ear, and do my best to provide them with something worth listening to. Reading music is great, but I sure don't put it first. Through most of history music wasn't a written tradition. Even relatively late in of western notation, I believe that great freedom was allowed and even expected of musicians within the framework of the written notes.

Dana

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I sure hope you can learn a tune without having to have it written down. ( I had a friend who couldn't play a note if it wasn't written down. ) Most of my students read music, but written music is the coarsest form of transcription. I spend a lot of time getting my students not to play what they see, but what the music feels like, what brings it to life. Even orchestras need a decent conductor to get beyond the bones of the score, lest it remain a corpse. I also ask my students if they can read music, if they can't, I ask how good's you ear, and do my best to provide them with something worth listening to. Reading music is great, but I sure don't put it first. Through most of history music wasn't a written tradition. Even relatively late in of western notation, I believe that great freedom was allowed and even expected of musicians within the framework of the written notes.

Dana

 

Knowing and understanding musical notation is far from limiting. In fact there is such a plethora of written music today one could spend a lifetime and never skim the surface. Before one learns to embellish and improvise, they need to learn the notes. I have worked with some amazing musicians whose knowledge of music notation was limited at best. However I find the those who do have a strong music training background to learn faster and have a better understanding. You are correct that traditional music whether Irish, bluegrass, old time music is handed down by playing often without the use of any written music. However we are fortunate that the internet alone one can find ways to teach themselves musical notation and have access to charts of music. My great uncle never had an O'Neils or a fake book. We do.

If someone wishes to learn music by playing the concertina say as a opposed to guitar or piano, I can assist them with materials to help though at this stage in my life, because of lack of time I tend to recommend another teacher. I also unfortunately lack the patience for someone who comes to me for lessons and does not practice or take the time to know their instrument. There are wonderful venues for someone who does not read music or plays by ear and I can will spend time assisting in learning the buttons or recommend some of them to sessions or folk societies . I spend a lot of time practicing and playing and working out music and at this stage I prefer to work with students that can read. I would never dissuade anyone from playing or learning.

However playing together, sharing tunes and ideas and time and laughter does not need notation. I am always up for that!

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... the dread topic of Which concertina system is best?

 

 

 

 

The BEST concertina is the one you can AFFORD!!!!

 

 

However I propose a true metric of concertina "Best-ness":

 

It should not be too difficult to create a data map of all currently used systems (in the case of duplicate notes, this must be considered as well as alternate fingerings for the same notes) and apply it to the staves of sheet music.

 

The ease of which a tune can be played within each system can be expressed in the ability of the human hand to reach certain notes in the required sequence to play the piece, and the direction of the bellows, as well as air key considerations, etc. Each note thereby given a weight as to to ease of play in context with the other required notes. This requires a bit of fuzzy logic and/or a neural network as the context will shift across the keyboard as the notes unfurl in the melody.

 

Then, take sheet music and feed the models the playing sequence of each piece in the analysis. This will be accomplished by comparing the exact same piece of music for each system. Since harmony is virtually infinite we will focus on melody, with harmony considerations a seperate analysis.

 

Once the models are tuned with a bit of expert commentary (for example, "No anglo player would play it like that.."), we should be able to compare nearly any piece of music, in multiple keys, for thousands of known melodies.

 

After modeling a thousand or so tunes, we can tally the difficulty ratings of each piece on each system.

 

 

This will answer once and for all which system is "best".

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There is no best system but it would be nice to think that when people ask for advice about which

Concertina they should buy that people would try to give honest unbiased advice however politics

seems to rear it ugly head and truth goes out the window when ever things like ITM are mentioned.

 

I don't think the idea of which instrument is easiest to play has any relevance compared to what

sort of music do you want to play.

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the best system is clearly all of them! i am now accepting donations for one of every system.

Good grief...isn't that the truth! One of my biggest problems in life has been trying to decide which instrumnent to play. For better or worse, I simply never have been able to focus on any one...or two or three or even eight or ten. Some of us are cursed.. :(

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the best system is clearly all of them! i am now accepting donations for one of every system.

Good grief...isn't that the truth! One of my biggest problems in life has been trying to decide which instrumnent to play. For better or worse, I simply never have been able to focus on any one...or two or three or even eight or ten. Some of us are cursed.. sad.gif

 

And one in every key combination for the anglo!

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the best system is clearly all of them! i am now accepting donations for one of every system.

Good grief...isn't that the truth! One of my biggest problems in life has been trying to decide which instrumnent to play. For better or worse, I simply never have been able to focus on any one...or two or three or even eight or ten. Some of us are cursed.. sad.gif

 

And one in every key combination for the anglo!

 

...and DBA. Right!...I was speaking only of instrument types: strings, horns, drums, keys, reeds, etc.. :(

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