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Anglo players - how/what do you play?


  

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Right hand melody, LH chords - but also some RH chords, and the melody may drop onto the LH occasionally. Sometimes a bit of playing in octaves for variety. I use a lot of cross-rowing. I sometimes use it for song accompaniment in which case I'll play chords and arpeggios more than the melody.

 

Here's an example:

 

http://www.myspace.com/howardjcjones/music/songs/the-battle-of-the-somme-949361

 

40-key C/G Crabb, Guitar, 30-key Lachenal F/C

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Did the music you wanted to play make you play a certain way, or did the style you chose affect what tunes/songs you play?

 

the music i wanted to play definitely made me play a certain way. the fingering system should NOT affect what tunes you play... you must learn a new style for new tune types, genres, and stylistic choices.

 

for example, in irish music i play across the rows. when i want to play like to play in the old irish style, i switch to in the rows only, and use vamped chords. sometimes i use a modern "in the rows style" (i truly believe this is an inaccurate description. my grandmother's aunt played in the rows, anybody who EVER grabs a note from another row is not playing in the rows) style to get a certain sound as a variation. most of the time my fingering patterns and ornamentation is based on noel hill's, but when i want to make a different sound or phrasing than he would in a particular location, i change it. so, in other words... the sound i want to make dictates how i play, not a fingering system.

 

 

i think flexibility is key. if you are trying to learn tunes that do not fit your fingering style.... learn a new fingering style! the anglo concertina is not the sort of instrument where you can just pick one limited approach and stick with it. even someone who decides to play in the rows will eventually have to reach outside of them if they need a note that doesn't exist in that row....

 

there are more types of fingering styles than you specify. for example... if you play melody on the RH and chords on the LH, do you vamp the chords, play counter melodies, or do harmonies? then, for the RH, do you do kimber style, avoiding your pinkies where possible, or just go straight up and down? do you chose your LH chords based on your RH melody, or vice versa? ideally, you should be able to do ALL of these things, and pick and chose different styles for different sounds, even in the same tune.

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Basically I want to know if you play English Style or Irish Style (but don't want an argument starting over what constitutes each). I would also like to know what genre/tunes/songs you play on it. And how what you play affects how you play?

There is a reason behind this....which I'll explain later.

 

I probably should have clicked other, but I put myself in melody rh chords lh English, since I'm doing more of that these days. It's more accurate to say that I'm split fairly evenly between morris music (a la Tom Kruskal and John Roberts), and Irish music (major influencers are Noel Hill and Frank Edgley). Some of my playing is very along the rows, but more and more I'm using various alternate fingerings that make sense for the particular tune and/or chords I want to use.

 

What's annoying is when I have something all figured out, and I transpose from my G/D to my C/G or vice versa, and it doesn't quite work.

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Yes, I agree David. Flexibility is the key. The way I think about it is that there is a conflict between the needs of the right hand (melody) and the needs of the left (accompaniment). A successful arrangement satisfies all the needs of both hands and propels the tune along as well. There are so many ways to skin a cat on the Anglo and that is it's joy and dilemma. There is no right way to finger a tune, but rather a range of possibilities and that is what makes it such fun to play and what makes every player sound different.

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Jody has it right on..."There is no right way to finger a tune." It all depends on the tune and how you want it to sound. It's very much like bowing on a violin...changing direction of the bow, or not...is similar to changing bellows diection, or not. Some tunes, as well seem to play better with certain button choices, or row predominence. What I don't agree with is following slavishly a certain fingering system because "so-and-so" says to. A few years ago, I was teaching classes at the annual Button Box event, in April. The beginner class went well, as did the intermediate class. But when I gave the advanced class its music, they had great difficulty with it because they were all students of a certain teacher who taught them to play using certain buttons. They were unable to play these tunes. For example, one of the tunes had a B,C,C# triplet run. This is very hard to do if you are using the draw B, on the C row, and even if you can do it sounds less than ideal. While the teacher is a great concertina player, he had not allowed his students to become flexible with their approach to a tune. The beauty of this instrument is the variety of styles that can be expressed, partly through button choices. Individuality can be yours, even with the influence of great players. But unless you make the music yours, most of us will be poor imitations of the original.

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Jody has it right on..."There is no right way to finger a tune." It all depends on the tune and how you want it to sound. It's very much like bowing on a violin...changing direction of the bow, or not...is similar to changing bellows diection, or not. Some tunes, as well seem to play better with certain button choices, or row predominence. What I don't agree with is following slavishly a certain fingering system because "so-and-so" says to. A few years ago, I was teaching classes at the annual Button Box event, in April. The beginner class went well, as did the intermediate class. But when I gave the advanced class its music, they had great difficulty with it because they were all students of a certain teacher who taught them to play using certain buttons. They were unable to play these tunes. For example, one of the tunes had a B,C,C# triplet run. This is very hard to do if you are using the draw B, on the C row, and even if you can do it sounds less than ideal. While the teacher is a great concertina player, he had not allowed his students to become flexible with their approach to a tune. The beauty of this instrument is the variety of styles that can be expressed, partly through button choices. Individuality can be yours, even with the influence of great players. But unless you make the music yours, most of us will be poor imitations of the original.

 

If it's the same teacher as I think it is based on your description, I wouldn't necessarily blame the teacher. The students have some responsibility, if they've been playing for some time, for being musically lazy about not giving some thought about (or asking him directly) why said teacher advocates a particular set of fingerings. His fingering "rules" are just the outermost layer of the onion that makes up his playing and are a I think good starting point for a new player who wants to learn the general style of this teacher, certainly not the end game.

 

The problem I think is that some players think that the basic fingerings he teaches are somehow set in stone and are the complete and only set of rules for playing the instrument. They are based on a set of guiding principles regarding efficiency, timbre of certain notes on push or pull, and opportunities for phrasing, not gospel handed down by the gods. The same teacher when performing goes way outside his own basic fingerings when require to accomplish the effect he requires, his students who have studied with him for some time understand when to break the rules as well as when to follow them.

 

At least that's been my experience both as a student and detailed analytical listener of this teacher. You do what's required understanding the tradeoffs, not just blindly follow some set of rules without understanding the "why" behind the "how".

Edited by eskin
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Jody has it right on..."There is no right way to finger a tune." It all depends on the tune and how you want it to sound. It's very much like bowing on a violin...changing direction of the bow, or not...is similar to changing bellows diection, or not. Some tunes, as well seem to play better with certain button choices, or row predominence. What I don't agree with is following slavishly a certain fingering system because "so-and-so" says to. A few years ago, I was teaching classes at the annual Button Box event, in April. The beginner class went well, as did the intermediate class. But when I gave the advanced class its music, they had great difficulty with it because they were all students of a certain teacher who taught them to play using certain buttons. They were unable to play these tunes. For example, one of the tunes had a B,C,C# triplet run. This is very hard to do if you are using the draw B, on the C row, and even if you can do it sounds less than ideal. While the teacher is a great concertina player, he had not allowed his students to become flexible with their approach to a tune. The beauty of this instrument is the variety of styles that can be expressed, partly through button choices. Individuality can be yours, even with the influence of great players. But unless you make the music yours, most of us will be poor imitations of the original.

 

If it's the same teacher as I think it is based on your description, I wouldn't necessarily blame the teacher. The students have some responsibility, if they've been playing for some time, for being musically lazy about not giving some thought about (or asking him directly) why said teacher advocates a particular set of fingerings. His fingering "rules" are just the outermost layer of the onion that makes up his playing and are a I think good starting point for a new player who wants to learn the general style of this teacher, certainly not the end game.

 

The problem I think is that some players think that the basic fingerings he teaches are somehow set in stone and are the complete and only set of rules for playing the instrument. They are based on a set of guiding principles regarding efficiency, timbre of certain notes on push or pull, and opportunities for phrasing, not gospel handed down by the gods. The same teacher when performing goes way outside his own basic fingerings when require to accomplish the effect he requires, his students who have studied with him for some time understand when to break the rules as well as when to follow them.

 

At least that's been my experience both as a student and detailed analytical listener of this teacher. You do what's required understanding the tradeoffs, not just blindly follow some set of rules without understanding the "why" behind the "how".

 

I suspect that when it comes to the actual technique of playing a musical instrument many of the finest exponents have probably, to all intents and purposes, developed and taught themselves ? A good teacher should be able to offer advice and encouragement to those who are sufficiently enthusiastic, gifted and motivated to benefit but I'm not sure that the word 'teach' is appropriate in this context ?

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to all intents and purposes, developed and taught themselves ? A good teacher should be able to offer advice and encouragement to those who are sufficiently enthusiastic, gifted and motivated to benefit but I'm not sure that the word 'teach' is appropriate in this context ?

That is certainly the case with me. I'm self taught with little guidance beyond pleasing my own ear and the (non-concertina playing) musicians I play with. I did however bring a developed sense of musicianship to the study of the Anglo. That helped greatly.

 

I completely agree with you that "teaching" the Anglo is really about guidance. Of my many students, the ones that succeed are the ones that bring their own energies to the instrument. In the end, you really have to teach yourself. A teacher can only point you in the right direction and alert you to challenges before they become problems.

 

One of my most diligent students is always saying "just tell me exactly how to do it" when I offer him some of the many options available in realizing his music on the Anglo. He is slowly realizing that to make the music his own, he has to make his own choices about how to play it. Give a man a fish...

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to all intents and purposes, developed and taught themselves ? A good teacher should be able to offer advice and encouragement to those who are sufficiently enthusiastic, gifted and motivated to benefit but I'm not sure that the word 'teach' is appropriate in this context ?

That is certainly the case with me. I'm self taught with little guidance beyond pleasing my own ear and the (non-concertina playing) musicians I play with. I did however bring a developed sense of musicianship to the study of the Anglo. That helped greatly.

 

I completely agree with you that "teaching" the Anglo is really about guidance. Of my many students, the ones that succeed are the ones that bring their own energies to the instrument. In the end, you really have to teach yourself. A teacher can only point you in the right direction and alert you to challenges before they become problems.

 

One of my most diligent students is always saying "just tell me exactly how to do it" when I offer him some of the many options available in realizing his music on the Anglo. He is slowly realizing that to make the music his own, he has to make his own choices about how to play it. Give a man a fish...

 

 

Jody, you have gone some way to answering what was going to be my next question.... 'Who taught the teachers ? !'

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Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.

Give a man a fishing rod and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer!

 

Which just goes to prove that when you start experimenting with new ideas you get unexpected results (not always unpleasant ones)!

 

Robin Madge

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Jody has it right on..."There is no right way to finger a tune." It all depends on the tune and how you want it to sound. It's very much like bowing on a violin...changing direction of the bow, or not...is similar to changing bellows diection, or not. Some tunes, as well seem to play better with certain button choices, or row predominence. What I don't agree with is following slavishly a certain fingering system because "so-and-so" says to. A few years ago, I was teaching classes at the annual Button Box event, in April. The beginner class went well, as did the intermediate class. But when I gave the advanced class its music, they had great difficulty with it because they were all students of a certain teacher who taught them to play using certain buttons. They were unable to play these tunes. For example, one of the tunes had a B,C,C# triplet run. This is very hard to do if you are using the draw B, on the C row, and even if you can do it sounds less than ideal. While the teacher is a great concertina player, he had not allowed his students to become flexible with their approach to a tune. The beauty of this instrument is the variety of styles that can be expressed, partly through button choices. Individuality can be yours, even with the influence of great players. But unless you make the music yours, most of us will be poor imitations of the original.

 

If it's the same teacher as I think it is based on your description, I wouldn't necessarily blame the teacher. The students have some responsibility, if they've been playing for some time, for being musically lazy about not giving some thought about (or asking him directly) why said teacher advocates a particular set of fingerings. His fingering "rules" are just the outermost layer of the onion that makes up his playing and are a I think good starting point for a new player who wants to learn the general style of this teacher, certainly not the end game.

 

The problem I think is that some players think that the basic fingerings he teaches are somehow set in stone and are the complete and only set of rules for playing the instrument. They are based on a set of guiding principles regarding efficiency, timbre of certain notes on push or pull, and opportunities for phrasing, not gospel handed down by the gods. The same teacher when performing goes way outside his own basic fingerings when require to accomplish the effect he requires, his students who have studied with him for some time understand when to break the rules as well as when to follow them.

 

At least that's been my experience both as a student and detailed analytical listener of this teacher. You do what's required understanding the tradeoffs, not just blindly follow some set of rules without understanding the "why" behind the "how".

 

My own experience was about 16 years ago, at Milltown Malbay. I was in the class taught by this person. Sheet music was handed out. The comments were to be "meticulous in playing exactly the same embellishments, using the same fingers on the same buttons". It was quite a few years ago, so it may not be the exact words, but the meaning was clear. Let me add, this was not a beginner's class. It was the advanced class, and one of these "students" went on to win the All-Ireland. Flexibility was not the word I would use to describe the teaching style, although, to be fair, this person's teaching style may have changed since then. I realise that a great musician may, himself, stray from dogma. After all, he is a great musician, and great musicians can do anything they choose to do. It's like the old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do."

Edited by Frank Edgley
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Jody has it right on..."There is no right way to finger a tune." It all depends on the tune and how you want it to sound. It's very much like bowing on a violin...changing direction of the bow, or not...is similar to changing bellows diection, or not. Some tunes, as well seem to play better with certain button choices, or row predominence. What I don't agree with is following slavishly a certain fingering system because "so-and-so" says to. A few years ago, I was teaching classes at the annual Button Box event, in April. The beginner class went well, as did the intermediate class. But when I gave the advanced class its music, they had great difficulty with it because they were all students of a certain teacher who taught them to play using certain buttons. They were unable to play these tunes. For example, one of the tunes had a B,C,C# triplet run. This is very hard to do if you are using the draw B, on the C row, and even if you can do it sounds less than ideal. While the teacher is a great concertina player, he had not allowed his students to become flexible with their approach to a tune. The beauty of this instrument is the variety of styles that can be expressed, partly through button choices. Individuality can be yours, even with the influence of great players. But unless you make the music yours, most of us will be poor imitations of the original.

 

If it's the same teacher as I think it is based on your description, I wouldn't necessarily blame the teacher. The students have some responsibility, if they've been playing for some time, for being musically lazy about not giving some thought about (or asking him directly) why said teacher advocates a particular set of fingerings. His fingering "rules" are just the outermost layer of the onion that makes up his playing and are a I think good starting point for a new player who wants to learn the general style of this teacher, certainly not the end game.

 

The problem I think is that some players think that the basic fingerings he teaches are somehow set in stone and are the complete and only set of rules for playing the instrument. They are based on a set of guiding principles regarding efficiency, timbre of certain notes on push or pull, and opportunities for phrasing, not gospel handed down by the gods. The same teacher when performing goes way outside his own basic fingerings when require to accomplish the effect he requires, his students who have studied with him for some time understand when to break the rules as well as when to follow them.

 

At least that's been my experience both as a student and detailed analytical listener of this teacher. You do what's required understanding the tradeoffs, not just blindly follow some set of rules without understanding the "why" behind the "how".

 

My own experience was about 16 years ago, at Milltown Malbay. I was in the class taught by this person. Sheet music was handed out. The comments were to be "meticulous in playing exactly the same embellishments, using the same fingers on the same buttons". It was quite a few years ago, so it may not be the exact words, but the meaning was clear. Let me add, this was not a beginner's class. It was the advanced class, and one of these "students" went on to win the All-Ireland. Flexibility was not the word I would use to describe the teaching style, although, to be fair, this person's teaching style may have changed since then. I realise that a great musician may, himself, stray from dogma. After all, he is a great musician, and great musicians can do anything they choose to do. It's like the old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do."

 

Makes sense in the context of a workshop as a starting point for transmitting a very specific method and philosophy of playing, like teaching a basic vocabulary to allow for further exploration. I don't think said teacher is any less rigid in what and how he teaches today, but I know he's open to discussion, at least outside of the organized classes, of what's behind every aspect of what he does. Now, in the context of a class, particularly if there are many students with a limited time together, that may not be the right time to have these more philosophical discussions, you're likely to get shut down if you want to spend a lot of time challenging him in the context a group class. Outside of class, during discussion at meals or in the evening, that's a much better time to discuss motivations and philosophy behind why he teaches a fairly rigid set of fingerings and substitutions.

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I find I can learn a new tune faster on the Hammered Dulcimer than I can on my Anglo (despite having played the Anglo for longer). But that's because there is an obvious (and generally right) way for me to play the tune on the Dulcimer, and when it comes to embelishments, ornaments, and harmonies, I have a smaller space to worry about (two hammers instead of ten fingers, and I need to worry about neither bellows direction nor air remaining).

 

When setting a piece for the Concertina, I end up spending more time figuring out how I want to get what I want (where do I want any harmonies, do I want to play a two note sequence across the same button (which gives a sweeter turn, if I leave the button depressed and simply reverse the bellows) or should I be looking for another way to play the same note on a different finger, how am I set up for ornaments, does this sequence sound better in one direction or with a bounce from reversing the bellows, and how am I doing at balancing the bellows usage to keep the bellows close to neutral).

 

Different instruments, different options, lots of flexibility.

 

Of course, I can't learn someone elses "do it this way" fingering system on my Anglo, so that isn't even a temptation.

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I'd hate to see this thread turn into a subtle bashing of an unnamed player/teacher. But rather then pick on the teacher, let's remember that each student needs to do more than just learn the rules -- they also need to become proficient enough to know when the rules need to be disregarded or just don't fit the tune. One way to develop this skill is to take classes from multiple instructors and get exposed to different styles and fingering. I recently attended classes taught by Florence Fahy. The wonderful tunes she taught us come from northern Clare and are played along the rows, and my training thus far had been primarily across the rows -- so I did have a fingering challenge. But rather than criticize any teacher, this showed me that I could benefit from more time spent learning the alternate fingerings and when each is more appropriate. And I didn't have too difficult a time adapting in class.

 

With regard to Frank's comment about the B, C, C# triplet, this "nameless teacher" is not locked into draw B and Cs and does advocate switching to press combinations for situations like this if it is more comfortable for the tune. Possibly some students are misinterpreting the focus on certain fingerings as some kind of law never to be broken, but I've attended these classes long enough to know better.

 

Ross Schlabach

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Ooops! That'll teach me to not look at this thread for a bit its drifted.

 

Anyway....my issue is more when I play I have tune on the RH, chords/octaves on the LH....so when I see a tune that goes up to a high A or above I'm a bit stuck. I can't play it. I just can't swap mentally from playing all tune on RH to playing the melody only along the rows, because my brain instantly goes into melodeon mode and implodes as it expects to go up not across the buttons.

I'm finding I am limited to playing songs (on my own and no I don't sing along) rather than tune coz of it. And so I get bored quickly. Maybe concertina just isn't for me.

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Ooops! That'll teach me to not look at this thread for a bit its drifted.

 

Anyway....my issue is more when I play I have tune on the RH, chords/octaves on the LH....so when I see a tune that goes up to a high A or above I'm a bit stuck. I can't play it. I just can't swap mentally from playing all tune on RH to playing the melody only along the rows, because my brain instantly goes into melodeon mode and implodes as it expects to go up not across the buttons.

I'm finding I am limited to playing songs (on my own and no I don't sing along) rather than tune coz of it. And so I get bored quickly. Maybe concertina just isn't for me.

 

can't you play melody and chords with the same hand? also, you can also play chord notes ABOVE, not just below. that could keep you busy. also, don't hesitate to transpose into a different key.

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