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Mick Bramich's Irish Concertina tutorial


Jani
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Hi everyone!

 

I picked up the concertina two weeks ago and I've already managed to play few simple jigs in keys of G & D mixolydian.

 

Yesterday I received my copy Mick Bramich's book and I got bit confused. For the key of G Bramich suggests playing on C-row and of course F sharps on G-row.

Why is that? Why not using using G-row? Is there reason to prefer C-row or is it just a matter of personal style?

 

Another question is about the ornamentation. At what stage you recommend a beginner should start bothering about it? Bramich hardly mentions to whole subjet!

 

All thoughts & opinions welcome.

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I picked up the concertina two weeks ago and I've already managed to play few simple jigs in keys of G & D mixolydian.

 

Yesterday I received my copy Mick Bramich's book and I got bit confused. For the key of G Bramich suggests playing on C-row and of course F sharps on G-row. Why is that? Why not using using G-row? Is there reason to prefer C-row or is it just a matter of personal style?

 

Another question is about the ornamentation. At what stage you recommend a beginner should start bothering about it? Bramich hardly mentions to whole subjet!

It's quite a while since I looked at Mick's book (the first one; I understand he now has three out), and I don't have it with me right now, but I think I recall him saying in the introduction that he is self taught and just developed a style that worked for him. So if you're looking for reasons based on long history or tradition, I'd guess you're barking up the wrong tree.

 

However, there have been many discussions of different styles in these forums

  • "along the rows"
  • "cross row"
  • "C row as a 'home' row" (I guess the style in Mick's book is a version of this)
  • "G row as a 'home'row"
  • and my own favorite, "the notes are wherever you find them"

So if you can find some of those discussions via the Search facility, you should find plenty of "reasons" for each style, even though I don't think Mick himself has contributed any of them.

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Hello Jani,

regarding decorations (ornamentaion) and when to start putting these into your tunes. I would suggest learning your tunes 'well' first. Many people today, I feel, regard the ornamentaions as part of the melody. They do, of course, have a purpose in most cases and are not just pretty decorations but, better to have the bare bones of the melody really solid and then decide how and where to add ornamentaion.

 

Best of luck with your music,

Geoff.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The main reason is that if you follow your instinct on the G row you play the melody in the high octave on RHSand chord on the LHS

 

To play with other instruments . mainly melodically, the Irish players adapted C/G in the way Mick indicates.

 

If you get a G/D it can sound a bit too low as the reeds are bigger at the low end and also you tend to stick along the row so lose the fluidity.

 

 

As the techniques evolved The Irish players adapted the common C/G squeezebox to get the desired traditional sound and style o0ff the C row . But there are a lot of players who stick to the G row and play excellent music using the two sides, often in octaves.

Edited by michael sam wild
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  • 1 month later...

By playing on the C row, you learn to use the whole instrument. Many years ago I played at a folk festival just using the row the tune was wrtten in and felt quite pleased with myself. Then Alister Anderson Of English concertina fame told me you should always end a note withe the buttons and not by changing direction of the bellows. This confused me. But then I learnt Mike Brumich's teaching and suddenly the anglo was transformed to be fast, crisp and far more capable than the English. By crossing the rows you will be playing complete bars with the bellows in one direction and seldom runnig out of air. ie. yuou will find on the left hand side there are 3 identical G's and A's. You can use whatever finger you have spare. It's worth the effort of learning

Terry

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Terry, I assume Ali was talking about the Anglo! even though he pays EC.

 

I think the flowing cross the row style is fine for a lot of Irish music but there comes a time where you use the bellows for the notes that aren't available on both push and pulll, and also to get air in, and ,I maintain,to get the essential Anglo bounce and drive of a diatonic instrument that has been brought into the Irish tradition more widely than the EC and which has influenced the music itself in many parts of the country...

 

Having said which I think Ali plays Irish tunes well on EC but there aren't too many like him .

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I would presume what Alistair Anderson meant by ending a note with a button and not the bellows is that supposing you wish to play adjacent notes - one on push and one on pull on the same button - then you should lift the finger from the button between notes and not simply change the direction of the bellows. If you are learning it's easy not to remember to do this. This would apply to any type of concertina, but in particular to anglos and other diatonic instruments.

 

".....an Anglo is far more capable than an English". That sounds a start for a long discussion!

Edited by MichaelF
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I'd love to hear what some of the great EC players think about whether or how they could play for Irish dancers. I hear comments like 'I don' like Irish music ' . 'I'm not Irish so I don't try to play it' rather than 'I can't really play Irish '.

 

 

Some of those people have quite happiliy launched into Swedish or French music.

 

 

I don't hear many great Irish anglo payers wanting to play English tunes but I've heard some complimentary comments on those who do it well on either AC or EC, even from quite Nationalist individuals

Edited by michael sam wild
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I think Irish music is tough to play on any instrument. It is harder on the Anglo than on the English – at least as regards the simple melody. I have played both instruments. But the English doesn't give the music the snap that ITM has when played on the Anglo. In that sense the Anglo is more capable, as has been said above.

 

David Bromberg, the American guitarist and violin dealer, talks about having studied with the great bluesman, Rev. Gary Davis, Jr. Rev. Davis used a thumb pick and one finger pick. Bromberg thought that if Rev. Davis used two, then wearing three would make the music easier and better. Wearing three picks (one thumb and two finger picks) did make it easier. But it lacked a certain quality that music made by the Rev. with just two picks gave to the music. It just did not have the right accent with three picks. Bromberg said that “The em-pha’sis fell on the wrong syl-a’ble.”

 

I have no more quarrel with people who play The Galway Rambler on the English concertina than I do with those who play Bach cello sonatas on that instrument. Play whatever you want on whatever you want. But the music would, in either case, sound better to my ears when played on the Anglo and the cello.

 

I have a little tutor that goes into some detail regarding playing cross-row style on the Anglo concertina. Contact me if you want more information.

 

 

Cheers,

 

David

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 months later...

To revisit this I have been exploring octave playing in G on C/G Anglo and it does lie more easily on the G row, but the ring and little finger aren't as strong and so playing off the C row helps even though you have to move across rows.

 

I assume when people were srtriving for more volume with octaves the along the row style was easier to adopt and some of the old recorded players did/do amazing things that way.

 

Now the emphasis is on melody as single notes with occasional chords(if any) and because people are playing with accompaniment in sessions or bands, that development of the left hand weaker fingers isn't stressed as much.

 

 

I look forward to Dan Worral's CDof older octave style for more insight. I found the passages in his book on the Anglo very helpful as it showed how British and Irish musicians had more in common in the old days when they were playing , maybe alone, for dancing in small communal situations .

 

There it is lift, volume and rhythm not really ornamentation that were the drivers.

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Guest Martin Gibson

The difference between Anglo and English is imposed bellows reversal.

But it doesn't have to be the case.

English players have the possibilty of reversing bellows more frequently, Anglo players can to a limited extent reduce the choppiness if they so wish.

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