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Brassett

Concertina Clowning

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Hello,

I'm interested in getting a concertina to learn to play and use in conjunction with a clown character I am developing. I want it to be functional and be able to play different types of music, but I would also like to have it be something easier so I can dance and jump around whilst playing. I've been looking at 20 button anglo's so far. Let me know if you have any ideas of a better concertina or something else.

 

Thanks

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Hello Brassett,

There's plenty of threads on this forum discussing what type is easier to learn (Anglo / English / Duet, etc) and what type of music they're best suited for. Of course, there are also many differing opinions. Look around, I'm sure you'll see something you like.

As for jumping around, I'd learn to crawl with it first. Jumping and dancing while playing tends to give you bellows movement when you may not want it. I suppose with practice, anything can be accomplished. I belong to a pirates club and I've managed to learn to play while walking (although after some partys, I still crawl) But, be that as it may, we pirates don't jump around much, dance yes, however I've never tried playing while dancing so good luck with that. I'd guess most here would suggest sitting in a chair with one end of the instrument resting on your knee for bellows control which is not very piratey... or clown like for that matter. Those guys tend to be all serious and stuff.

There's been a lot of discussion on playing for dancers, It'd be interesting to see how many here actually play while dancing. I believe it brings forth a whole new challenge.

At any rate, I'm sure you'll find the instrument rewarding and an asset to your character in many ways.

Be careful though, those serious guys have a way of making you want to sit down. Don't listen to 'em!

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Hello,

I'm interested in getting a concertina to learn to play and use in conjunction with a clown character I am developing. I want it to be functional and be able to play different types of music, but I would also like to have it be something easier so I can dance and jump around whilst playing. I've been looking at 20 button anglo's so far. Let me know if you have any ideas of a better concertina or something else.

 

I've seen some clown stuff in Leo's YouTube clips. Based on those, it looks like the standard choice for clown work is a brightly-colored shiny plastic Anglo with a dozen bellows folds, and probably a frame or two. So it sounds like you're on track, more or less.

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Hello,

I'm interested in getting a concertina to learn to play and use in conjunction with a clown character I am developing. I want it to be functional and be able to play different types of music, but I would also like to have it be something easier so I can dance and jump around whilst playing. I've been looking at 20 button anglo's so far. Let me know if you have any ideas of a better concertina or something else.

 

Thanks

 

Hello, Brasset,

 

Congratulations on your decision to go with the concertina in your clowning! I don't know where you're located, but here in Germany the small, hexagonal concertina is almost invariably regarded as a clowns' instrument.

 

I'm not a clown myself, but I've seen enough clowns to have an idea what you'd need. When you talk about "different types of music", I envisage you playing a haunting, love-sick serenade to the Tattooed Lady, to which she responds with a hurled bucket of water, whereupon you march boldly to join the Foreign Legion, falling over a tent-peg after ten paces. Something like that?

Your serenade would have to be really love-sick and haunting, and your march would have to be really militaristic, to heighten the contrast with your subsequent misfortune.

 

Actually, you only have to appear to play a serenade and a march, because you'll only need a few bars to set the mood. On the other hand, you'll probably be doing this kind of spontaneous act without a band to back you up, so your concertina should be full-sounding; not just individual notes, but good, full chords.

For this combination, I would say the 20-button Anglo is ideal.

 

Harmonisation is relatively easy - that's the up side. Admittedly, you're tied to two keys, and some complex tunes can be difficult enough to play sitting down, let alone clowning about - those are the down sides. But as a solo performer, you get to choose the key, so that's no problem, and most of your tunes will probably have set their mood before you reach the difficult bit.

And you can always just mash down 4 buttons on each end and pull the bellows in and out - that should be good for a laugh, or to gain attention. You can give them a touching little solo after that.

 

Another advantage of the moden 20-button Anglos is the low price. I don't know the statistics for "buckets of water between failures" for concertinas, but I always imagine clowning to be a fairly rugged environment for an instrument ...

 

Other types of concertina are more expensive, and none are as easy to learn to the state of proficiency needed for clowning (though they may be more suitable for advanced "serious"music).

 

Speaking of clowns: In Bonn, there 's a Museum of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in the section on post-war entertainment, there's a concetina in a glass case. It belonged to a famous clown, and was part of his act. It's of the familiar small, hexagonal shape, but the buttons are "piano-style" - a white row and a black row on either end. It could have been a Rust System duet or a Jedcertina - at any rate one that could be played fairly readily by someone who played the piano. That would probably be even more suitable for "different types of music", but since you're starting from scratch, I'd say you'd get where you want to be quicker with an Anglo!

 

Cheers,

John

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I can play anglo one-handed, whilst drinking beer. Does that count?

 

Don't call us, we'll call you!

 

B)

 

Cheers,

John

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I can drink beer with one hand tied behind my back; I'm told that it doesn't improve my playing, I already get called a clown...but that started before I picked up a concertina!

 

Have a good time.

RB

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I worked in circuses worldwide for 23 years. I was half of the musical acrobatic clown act Bello & Stein. I had a few different sizes of English Concertinas though the one I primarily used was an inexpensive Hohner.I saved my Wheatstone for more serious musical interludes and performances.

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Edited by Randy Stein

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