Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
gerardo1000

Can you play melody and chords on an English ?

Recommended Posts

There is an old man who comes to a folk club that I go to regularly who plays an English Concertina in the kind of style the OP seems to be asking about. He doesn't exactly play melody and chords but sings and plays a very rhythmic chordal accompaniment which includes hints of the melody within it.

 

I have a duet but for folk song accompaniment I personally believe this is the way to go whatever system you play. It's not the way I play at the moment, but it's the way I aspire to play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting to note Inventor's comment that he has come across so few who play the English in any sort of chordal style. This may well be very true but it can be done effectively on the EC. After 40 years of playing EC, of which a fair proportion of that time I would have been grouped with Inventor's non chordal types, I find that keyboard totally intuitive and can add chords, Omm-Pah's,arpeggios and Bass runs, at least in the keys that I am more familiar with,on the fly, without having to think which notes/chords I need.

 

Now I am beginging to learn the Maccann and have had to ask my wife, who knows about these things, for a simple method of knowing which basic chords one needs for any specific key signature. In other words I am having to think about what I need and find myself going back to the EC and playing a piece and seeing what I am actually doing at any point so that I can find the notes that I am looking for on the Maccann. This comment comes as a result of just my first week on the Maccann and I hope that with time and effort it too will become an intuitive keyboard for me.

 

For chording on the EC there is no substitute for an instrument with a greater range. 30 keys is a very small range which will mean that chords will all be very close to your melody, inside the melody line at times.This need not be a problem and those who do it become quite adept at moving a finger from one role to the other,at jumping a finger over a large range of buttons.

 

If you go with the EC you might quickly find that you desire an instrument with more notes and although there are plenty of 48 key models about, if you want a larger range a ( 56key+ Tennor/Treble or Baritone) then the search and costs will be quite significant.

 

Given the type of music you like to play and that you are coming from playing the Accordion I would agree with some of the other posters here that you really should look at a Duet seriously.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I now only play the EC and I know that on a standard 48 key EC you can play any chord in

any key. However you also mention a walking bass which I know from guitar playing and piano

playing.

 

It suggests the sort of two handed style which you can only do on a duet. I have no idea

which sort of duet is best. Its an expensive and difficult decision. Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...you also mention a walking bass which I know from guitar playing and piano playing.

 

It suggests the sort of two handed style which you can only do on a duet.

Suggests, perhaps, but doesn't require. After all, the guitar doesn't use one hand for melody and the other for walking bass. It's the coordination of the two hands that generates the desired result. While the details are quite different, the same holds true for the English concertina.

 

And there are players of the English -- Simon Thoumire, for example -- whose playing demonstrates melody against not only walking bass. but also more complex bass figures.

 

I have no idea which sort of duet is best.

If you would go with a duet, I'd say that any one of them is as good as any other. What is "easier" or "more difficult" on a particular duet depends on the details of the arrangement, and none of them is inherently "better" all or even most of the time. The caveat on that is that a given individual may generally be more comfortable with one duet layout than another, just as some folks are more comfortable with English than anglo, while it's vice versa for others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After 40 years of playing EC, of which a fair proportion of that time I would have been grouped with Inventor's non chordal types, I find that keyboard totally intuitive and can add chords, Omm-Pah's,arpeggios and Bass runs, at least in the keys that I am more familiar with,on the fly, without having to think which notes/chords I need.

 

Yes! The key is the timeline. Play any instrument for 40 years, and it will come easily to you.

 

The corollary to this is, of course, that if you feel you'll never make it on your chosen concertina system, and you've only been playing it for 20 years, you shouldn't be disheartened. Give yourself 20 more years. B)

 

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes! The key is the timeline. Play any instrument for 40 years, and it will come easily to you.

 

The corollary to this is, of course, that if you feel you'll never make it on your chosen concertina system, and you've only been playing it for 20 years, you shouldn't be disheartened. Give yourself 20 more years. B)

 

Cheers,

John

 

 

Hi John, please send me a package with 40 years, please! (lol) I'm just trying to play for 4 years, but i like it very much, and that's what is the most important for me

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

40 years just happens to be how long I've been at it but 'time' is important more in the sense of how much you have available for practicing. An hour each day is what I regard as minimum. When one is new to an instrument, and therefore very keen, great progress can be achieved in a short period. There is no reason why one cannot be playing very well after 4 years.

 

 

Although there is no substitute for starting young ,Tommy Elliot's and John Nixon's playing shows this point perfectly, many of us who began in our twenties, when we could at last afford to buy a Concertina, have made decent advances and enjoyed the journey.

 

At that time, when I started to play the EC, it would have been the very luck person who could have found a teacher or even a selection of 'Tutor' books and recordings. These days there are plenty of courses (workshops) and so much information available on the Web that a faster advancement is possible.

 

Good luck to all, especially the beginners, and remember, none of us should ever stop learning.

 

Geoff.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I'm no expert on the EC, as anyone who has heard me playing can testify - but I've been playing EC for about 5 years now (having been playing other instruments for many years before that) and am personally now reaching the level of dexterity and familiarity on the instrument where chording is starting to feature in my playing.

 

I'm in awe of people like Robert Harbron and our own ratface who can achieve big chordal effects, whilst I'm pleased to be putting the odd one or two-note chords into a melody.

 

The point is, though, that I feel like I've started to put a few tentative steps on the road. The Salvation Army tutor for EC is available from various links on this forum, and that gives you full and slightly eye-watering detail on the level of chording that they expected a dexterous EC player to manage, on a 48-key instrument.

 

As with so much in the technicalities of playing music, a lot of it comes down to application - the harder you practice, the luckier you get ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I read that in theory you can play chords on one side and melody on the other side at the same time with a Hayden Duet,

but a lot of people say that in reality it is difficult because of the keys layout of the Hayden system that force the fingers to stretch too much and does not allow for speed. So, going back to my original question: is it possible to play chords (not occasional ornaments, I mean chords) and melody at the same time with an EC ? Or the only way is a Duet ? You know, the main reason why I insist with this question is that I want to play by myself, solo, and I am used to boththe accordion and the guitar where you don't really feel the need for another instrument helping you out while you play. I bet that it would be a bit "boring" in the long run to play concertina by myself only with melodic lines, a bit like playing a flute or a trumpet alone. Thanks.

Edited by gerardo1000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I read that in theory you can play chords on one side and melody on the other side at the same time with a Hayden Duet,

but a lot of people say that in reality it is difficult because of the keys layout of the Hayden system that force the fingers to stretch too much and does not allow for speed. So, going back to my original question: is it possible to play chords (not occasional ornaments, I mean chords) and melody at the same time with an EC ? Or the only way is a Duet ? You know, the main reason why I insist with this question is that I want to play by myself, solo, and I am used to boththe accordion and the guitar where you don't really feel the need for another instrument helping you out while you play. I bet that it would be a bit "boring" in the long run to play concertina by myself only with melodic lines, a bit like playing a flute or a trumpet alone. Thanks.

Well, the fact remains that for the kind of playing you want to do, there is a class of concertinas designed deliberately to do that, and that is the Duets. You are fortunate to already have an idea of the style of playing you want to do, and it really sounds like a Due to me.

 

Which system (Maccann, Crane/Triuph, or Hayden) is a whole 'nother matter, but the main thing is to go with one of them.

--mike

Edited by ragtimer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, I read that in theory you can play chords on one side and melody on the other side at the same time with a Hayden Duet, but a lot of people say that in reality it is difficult because of the keys layout of the Hayden system that force the fingers to stretch too much and does not allow for speed.

A "lot of people" who have never played a Hayden Duet, I'd wager.

 

I can play melodies on the Hayden duet at least as fast as I ever could on an Anglo. And playing chords on one side and melody on the other is just what any duet system is designed to do.

 

If you want the easiest self-accompaniment, play accordion. Duet gives you more flexibility on the left side, but with more complexity since each note of each chord has to be fingered separately. English makes it more difficult to play completely independent accompaniment, but can play chords alone or harmonized melodies with great facility. Anglo gives you a different feel and some opportunities for ornaments not available on the others, and the push-pull aspect creates a more physical style of playing.

 

It's a tricky question, because it takes years to know if a system is really for you. But I don't think the technical theories people have about each particular system end up meaning much after you've played for a while. If you have the music in you, you can get it out of whatever instrument you end up playing. Diving in and exploring is so much more useful than theorizing and fretting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you heavyweight boxer. Question: when you play chords on an English, do you use both sides of the concertina for the same chord, or just one side ?

I mean: let's say that a chord is made of three notes. Do you play all three notes on the same side of the concertina, or you

spread them between the two sides ? I am asking the question because I have an English on rent (Jackie) and I have the "Handbook for English Concertina" tutor from Roger Watson. There is a full page of diagrams with chords, but they are all on one side or the other.

I find it difficult to press three adjacent buttons with three fingers all on one side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Question: when you play chords on an English, do you use both sides of the concertina for the same chord, or just one side ?

I mean: let's say that a chord is made of three notes. Do you play all three notes on the same side of the concertina, or you

spread them between the two sides ?

 

Of course you can use all possible options to manage the harmonizing.The piece of music and the style of playing decides what is possible to do but the smart way is to choose both according to the limitations of the instrument. Don't try to do an independent stride piano accompaniment with the English - then pick an accordion. With some pieces it may work fine however, it all depends on the distribution of melody notes and chords either side. Choose the most suitable key carefully. In keys with just few signatures ( F,C,G..) many three note chords come naturally at one side and sometimes you can press three or even four ( G7,Dm7,Em7..)notes with one finger. Otherwise the most versatile keys with the English when you want to play chords are those (like Eb or Ab) when you can use the enharmonic doublings (D#/Eb G#/Ab) as frequently as possible which also makes fingering easier since you use rows 1 and 4 more ( particularly if you don't use the finger rest but use the 4th finger for button work instead).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can do either, play a chord on the opposite side to the melody note or spread your chord over both sides it depends on the piece.

Playing a close three note chord using three fingers is something I only do if I need to move one or two fingers to change the chord or play a melody note whilst some of the chord is still active.

It is normal to play a three note close chord using two fingers, covering two buttons with one finger. When playing in C these type of chords will often be very constrictive , using only the middle two rows of buttons. When you play in keys that use more sharps or flats you will find a good increase in space for spreading the load over three of four fingers.

My point earlier in this topic about the use of an EC with a greater range should be noted here because then you can make wider spread chords .

 

When playing fast melodies like Irish Reels etc, it is not so easy to play a chordal accompaniment and that is why you rarely hear a Concertina player doing this to any great extent.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gerardo, et. al,

 

It seems to me that two recent postings by members can serve as objective points of reference for illustrative responses to your query.

They are here (with links to YouTube):

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=12737

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=12736

 

I truly enjoyed listening to both of these.

Thank you, Dick and Marien, for sharing them.

 

It seems to me that both of these are very nicely arranged and presented and are meaningful representations of what can be done with respect to chords and melody on both an English system and a Duet (in this case a Crane) system.

Just to make certain that someone doesn't get too persnickety, I don't mean to suggest that these are entirely representative of what can be accomplished by either system, but both are representative of what can be accomplished by a player who is willing to devote the time to learning how to play polyphonic music on the respective systems.

 

I will refrain from further comment as I am profoundly biased with respect to this question (and I play both EC and Duet systems), but if others are able to comment more thoughtfully than I, using these as a standard point of reference, their comments may be very instructive and more meaningful in a practical way to you than are generalized comments.

 

Happy: Easter, Passover, and Spring (in alphabetical order) or Spring, Passover, and Easter (in chronological order) to all.

 

Be Well,

Dan

Edited by danersen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, in all honesty, it seems to me that what the English concertina player is doing is adding ornaments to the melody, while

the Duet concertina player really can play melody and chords separately and fully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, in all honesty, it seems to me that what the English concertina player is doing is adding ornaments to the melody, while

the Duet concertina player really can play melody and chords separately and fully.

 

There is a simple relationship between printed music and the EC. Suppose a chord is three

notes and the chord is printed as music. Any note on the lines of the stave must be

played with the left hand and any notes on the spaces between the lines must be played

with the right hand. So given any arbitrary chord you may have to use both hands to play it

on an EC.

 

As other people have pointed out only the duet was designed deliberately to make

independent two handed playing possible. But a duet is not a piano. It is however

the closest thing to a piano in the concertina world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...you also mention a walking bass which I know from guitar playing and piano playing.

 

It suggests the sort of two handed style which you can only do on a duet.

Suggests, perhaps, but doesn't require. After all, the guitar doesn't use one hand for melody and the other for walking bass. It's the coordination of the two hands that generates the desired result. While the details are quite different, the same holds true for the English concertina.

 

And there are players of the English -- Simon Thoumire, for example -- whose playing demonstrates melody against not only walking bass. but also more complex bass figures.

 

The guitarist uses his thumb to play the base and uses his fingers to play the melody. This

enables the guitarist to simulate two handed piano playing. So the guitarist can play a separate

base and melody using the fact that humans have opposable thumbs. It may occasionally be possible

for an EC player to play melody and a walking bass but the instrument was not designed for it.

In general Simon Thoumire does not play walking base against a melody, if he did I am sure he

would buy a duet.

 

I only play the EC and I have no wish to play a duet but I always advise people to get the

instrument that was designed for the job. EC - designed for melody and chord playing. Duet

designed for counterpoint and piano like independent two handed playing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...