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Raide Brest

Trying to define a beginner self-taught method...

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Hi to you all, I'm an old diatonic accordionist who recently bought a Stagi Anglo (second hand) and who is trying to sort out a way to play a couple of tunes on it as I stupidly thought it was just an avatar of accordion LOL!!! In fact I'm realizing there's nothing common but reeds, and above all playing is totally different... In my town I'm alone to try to play concertina so I started looking around on the net and found concertutor by Simon Wells and when I read his "Button positions/names" paragraph it made sense to me as it's almost the same we use here in Brittany when teaching diatonic accordion... So I considered trying to set up a tablature system based on a mix of CADB system and Simon numbering I draw a scheme of my Stagi layout (see attachment) and remembered I had worked with Matthieu Leschemelle on TablEdit design for diatonic accordions years ago... I asked him if he could do the same for my concertina and we set up all that so TablEdit supports concertina layout now, even in the free viewer (TefView) and the demo version... I think it's a great tool to learn fingerings, I know it will never replace a teacher or a workshop but I have to start, alone, and for a beginner it's a great way... now we just have to set up a library of tunes in that format and share it... I already wrote some and if you are interested, just ask.. all of them are traditional... Searching on the forum I found that subject had been discussed years ago by hjcjones and Ceilidh Jock but for some reason they never asked to the developer... The second attachment is a screen capture of TablEdit with concertina keyboard below (forgive the poor quality)...

 

One last thing, I don't want any incomprehension, I'm not advertising in any way for TablEdit, I'm not employed by them and not paid, I just want to share my experience to help people around confronted to the same problem than mine... I just hope my English is bearable LOL!! I'm Breton ;)

 

Have a nice day!! RB

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Edited by Raide Brest

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Raide, this is an interesting way to adapt melodeon tab, and if it works for you to learn Anglo more power to you! I think every Anglo tutor out there uses a different numbering system, some of which look a lot better on paper than in actual practice. I'd be curious to hear who likes which system.

 

For me, I use a modified version of the one used by Chris Sherburn and by Dan Worrall for his Kimber book, with 1a-5a for the accidental row, 1-5 for the C row, and 5-10 for the G row on the left side, and the same identical system on the right side. But instead of using those annoying little "P" and "D" or "^" or whatever, I just draw a line above the notes to be pulled, where a long line can indiciate long passages on the pull. Or......you can always try what someone jokingly suggested on this forum - just use "P" for pull and "P" for push - I like that!!!

 

I mostly play Morris and Country Dance with full accompaniment, and this system works great for me. I write the right hand numbers above the melody line dots, and then below it put in the left hand numbers. At one time I planned to put in the actual dots for the left hand in order to actually learn to read music better, but decided that was just too much trouble. The goal is to learn the tune, not notate the dickens out of it.

 

A lot of the numbering systems out there really get in the way of learning the notes and the tune, but I find this one works best for me.

 

Gary

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Hi Gary, Simon Wells numbering made sense to me as it follows the way we teach melodeon playing here, 1 for the lowest note up to 10 to the sharpest one in the same row and tonic note on 3rd, 6th and 9th pushed buttons, after all a concertina is an accordion keyboard cut in the middle and fit with bellows between the 2 halves hehehe!!! :lol:

 

I write the right hand numbers above the melody line dots,
in that case you can make errors, with TablEdit it's nearly impossible as the numbers are directly related to the notes in the score, so when you read it (It reads the score using the midi synthetizer of the puter) you hear the mistake even before trying to play it... Of course it imports and reads .ABC and .MID files too...

 

The goal is to learn the tune, not notate the dickens out of it.
I totally agree with you, the playing process of traditional music has to be made by ear, that tool is useful to learn either the instrument or the tune, but the printed tablatures are not aimed to be read while playing it would be ridiculous and would kill all the pleasure of traditional music... It's a great tool to archive tunes too, my Breton music library counts more than 200 files... but only 10 easy ones I try to play on concertina... (try is the right word, I'm at ligt-years of "rolls" and "cuts" :D )

 

G'night RB

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I have recently started learning to play an anglo (borrowed from a friend three weeks ago).

I found online tutors by Alan Day at concertinaman.com, and also by Peter Trimming on his website (I just typed his name in Google). I hope they will be helpful for you, too. If you like Irish music, Michael Eskin plays tunes fast and then slowly on his website tradlessons.com. Unfortunately even his slow speed is too fast for me at this point. Best of luck in your anglo adventure.

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Thank you AP and MaryB, I found Henk page after I had set up my own system, that shows when we start from the same point with the same aim, it brings almost the same result (Henk explains his system on that topic) Of course if I had found it earlier it would have saved time and energy to me ;)

 

Mary, Alan Day and Peter Trimming pages are really interesting, mainly by the tunes they use, I even found a Breton dance in the middle of Alan's MP3 and just like for you, Eskin's slow tunes are still far too fast for me :lol:

 

Thanks a lot to both of you, the adventure keeps on rolling!

 

RB

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Hi Gary, Simon Wells numbering made sense to me as it follows the way we teach melodeon playing here, 1 for the lowest note up to 10 to the sharpest one in the same row and tonic note on 3rd, 6th and 9th pushed buttons, after all a concertina is an accordion keyboard cut in the middle and fit with bellows between the 2 halves hehehe!!! :lol:

 

RB,

Forgive me if I do not share your accordion-centric view of the universe! :angry:

An Anglo is in fact two mouth-organs cut in half and fitted in a bellows! :D

 

Seriously, all concertina systems are based on a contunuous "tonal space" that is used by both hands. Each system does this differently: the EC has adjacent notes on different ends; the duets have the same fingerings on each end, only an octave apart; and the Anglo has a continuous pitch progression from left pinkie up to right pinkie (like the keyboard instruments), and the rare Jedcertina and Rust system duets are even more piano-like.

The corresponding "tonal space" on all accordions (except free-bass) is available only to one hand, because the left end is devoted to chords.

 

I've seen quite a few proposals for notating (tabbing) the Anglo, all of them using numbers for the buttons and a diacritic for "Pull". My favourite notation is based on the early German 20-button concertinas, which had numbers engraved on the button tops, thus:

 

Outer row, left: 1 2 3 4 5

Inner row, left: 6 7 8 9 10

 

Outer row, right: 1 2 3 4 5

Inner row, right: 6 7 8 9 10

 

The tutor I started with (I lent it to someone years ago and never got it back, so I can't give you the exact title) uses this numbering system to annotate staff notation. The right-hand button numbers (high notes) are written above the stave, the left-hand button numbers (low notes) below the stave. A "^" sign is used to indicate "Pull".

For 30-button Anglos, the buttons on the additional outer row are numbered 1a 2a 3a 4a 5a on either end.

 

This concept is better suited to a concertina, because it takes into consideration that the player is using both hands. Accordion tablature assumes the use of one hand only.

 

As I said, this was used in the tutor to annotate staff notation, showing you which button to press, and whether to push or pull, to get the corresponding note on the stave. I find the idea of "right hand over, left hand under" the stave quite instinctive to follow, and so is the idea that numbers 1-5 are middle row and 6-10 are the inner row. The number 5 is familiar as half of 10 - the upper half of 10 must be in the next row!

 

When used as annotation, this system only has to indicate button and bellows direction. The note duration is taken from the staff notation. I actually tried to define a complete tablature on this basis - something that will define the tune completely without staff notes.

I used the "tonic sol-fa" notation that is well-known to British singers. The note letters, d, r, m, f, s, l, t, are written in one line, with bar-lines to mark the bars (measures), and colons to separate the individual beats of the bar. Each beat can then be further subdivided by commas, and this maps the rhythmic structure of the tune.

In my Anglo notation, the sol-fa note letters are simply replaced by the button numbers (with or without Pull indicators), and this defines both pitch and duration of the notes. There is a row each for the RH and LH buttons, above and below a horizontal line.

 

This is, of course, tuning dependent, like all tablatures. If you play the same tabbed tune on a C/G and a G/D, it will come out in different keys (but will sound right in both), and the tab for the accidentals row will have to be different for Wheatstone and Jeffries layouts.

 

If anyone wants, I can e-mail a sample tab using this system.

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

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A lot of the numbering systems out there really get in the way of learning the notes and the tune, but I find this one works best for me.

 

Gary,

Re-reading your posting, I realise that this is the exact same numbering system that I learned with. To me, the beauty of it is that it breaks the whole keyboard down into very manageable 5-button units.

 

The idea of a continuous line over a series of Pull notes is new to me, but I like it!

 

Cheers,

John

Edited by Anglo-Irishman

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Hi John and thank you for developing your system which is very interesting...

 

Forgive me if I do not share your accordion-centric view of the universe! :angry:

 

I'm sorry but 36 years of pushing and drawing on my left arm definitely let traces in my brain, I'm even amazed I can realize that by myself!! :P

 

An Anglo is in fact two mouth-organs cut in half and fitted in a bellows! :D

 

The only problem is that there ain't no buttons on mouth-organs... ;)

 

Back to seriousness, your system is interesting because it's based on a totally different perception (understanding) of the instrument and of the player. First what I'll say will be linked only to the Anglo system, It's the only one I know... I really "see" that instrument with 2 tonalities and accidentals that's why my reflection started in that direction and after that I read some theory on cross-rows play (which I already practice with my melodeon playing... I know it annoys you, but it's a fact.. :) ) and all that took place naturally one finger per button and no "chop" between rows, the rules are the same for the melodeon hehehe... The flow of the play jumps from one side to the other without problem, and we try to mainly use the nimblest and strongest fingers of both hands...

 

On the contrary your system is based on the perception of 2 hands working independently, (at least it's what I understood, but I may be wrong...) as if there was no relation between the left and the right side...

 

This concept is better suited to a concertina, because it takes into consideration that the player is using both hands. Accordion tablature assumes the use of one hand only.

 

Nope, I'm sorry but the system I use doesn't take the hands in account, it only shows the position of the keys (and the action on the bellows) the use of the fingers is the sole responsibility of the musician, and it applies to the melodeon too, fingerings are seldom imposed... From that point it's just a problem of convention :)

 

and so is the idea that numbers 1-5 are middle row and 6-10 are the inner row. The number 5 is familiar as half of 10 - the upper half of 10 must be in the next row!

 

The limit is that you don't have 10 fingers on a single hand ;) So it seems more obvious to start counting on the left hand and go up to ten on the right one... (I'm kidding) :D

 

All that discussion is really interesting, I don't tell I'm possessing the truth, I'm just describing a system which works perfectly for me and I try to enrich it with other experiences... Thank you all for participating to the debate... :)

 

I attach one of the tunes I use for my training, it's simple and basic but it covers more than 1.5 octave and implies the use of 3 fingers on each hand, I guess it's a good start...

ships in full sail concertina.pdf

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RB,

Forgive me if I do not share your accordion-centric view of the universe! :angry:

An Anglo is in fact two mouth-organs cut in half and fitted in a bellows! :D

 

My view of the Anglo as well :rolleyes:

 

The only problem is that there ain't no buttons on mouth-organs... ;)

 

True, but then you don't blow into a concertina. That's why you have a bellows B)

 

There's no doubt in my mind, though that these different views of the Anglo will affect your approach to playing it.

 

Geoff

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On the contrary your system is based on the perception of 2 hands working independently, (at least it's what I understood, but I may be wrong...) as if there was no relation between the left and the right side...

 

This concept is better suited to a concertina, because it takes into consideration that the player is using both hands. Accordion tablature assumes the use of one hand only.

 

Nope, I'm sorry but the system I use doesn't take the hands in account, it only shows the position of the keys (and the action on the bellows) the use of the fingers is the sole responsibility of the musician, and it applies to the melodeon too, fingerings are seldom imposed... From that point it's just a problem of convention :)

 

Raide,

Just to clarify my approach:

My system doesn't take the hands into consideration explicitly. But it does take into consideration that the buttons on an Anglo are distributed over both ends, unlike those for the single notes of an accordion. It follows from this that half of the buttons have to be played with the right hand, half with the left.

 

My tablature, like lute, guitar or banjo tablature, does not indicate which finger to use for a given note. In a few cases of alternate fingering, such as the press D on the left and the draw D on the right, the tablature implies which hand is involved, but the choice of finger is still up to the player.

This is analogous to guitar tab, where I can tab an E as the 1st string open, or as the 2nd string stopped at the 5th fret. This also has implications for the fingering, but does not dictate it.

 

Most instruments have additional conventions for indicating which finger to use. Pianists number their fingers 1-5. For the right hand fingering, guitarists use P, I, M, and A (for thumb, index, middle and ring fingers in Spanish), and classic banjo has "+" for the thumb, "." for the index finger and ".." for the middle finger. These can be used to annotate staff notation or tabulature. They have the status of "helpful hints for performance", and do not actually define the music.

 

Cheers,

John

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An Anglo is in fact two mouth-organs cut in half and fitted in a bellows! :D

The only problem is that there ain't no buttons on mouth-organs... ;)

But there are on the Symphonium, Wheatstone's mouth-blown predecessor to the English concertina. :)

 

Back to seriousness, your system is interesting because it's based on a totally different perception (understanding) of the instrument and of the player.

And that's a very important thing to consider: Different notation systems are "best" suited to different mental models of how the keyboard is to be used. If you have decided in advance how you intend to use the instrument (e.g., melody-only "Irish style"), then you may find one particular notation system (1-5 in the left hand and 6-10 in the right) to be more "intuitive" than another, though someone who intends a different use (e.g., playing melody mainly in the right hand against chords in the left hand, sometimes called "English style") would find a different notation (1-10 in each hand) more "reasonable". And that's a two-way street. For those who haven't chosen a style in advance, each notation system may act to direct them toward a particular style.

 

There's no doubt in my mind, though that these different views of the Anglo will affect your approach to playing it.

In fact, I suspect that running the 1-10 sequence between the hands tends to encourage an along-the-row mindset, as opposed to "cross-row", at least in some people.

 

And all these systems based on multiples of 5 or 10 tend to break down when dealing with anglos that have more than 30 buttons, since (with rare exceptions) they have at least some rows that are 6 or even 7 buttons wide. But I doubt that many folks start with such an instrument, and by the time they begin exploring such a beast they should be well past needing to identify buttons individually by "number". :)

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From the other thread I thought ceilidhjock was going to contact the developer for Tabledit. I didn't do so myself because I don't use the program. I don't find tab (on any instrument) any easier to read than notation, in fact it's often harder because it gives you no visual clues to the "shape" of the tune. I also find I don't always agree with the button choices - on both anglo and melodeon there are often several ways to play the same phrase. Tab also depends on everyone playing the same keyboard layouts, and anglos vary widely, at least in the accidental row.

 

Melodeons aren't quite so varied (although many players change the layouts) and CADB is fairly well-established. There doesn't seem to be the same acceptance of anglo systems. The best way seems to be to find a system which suits you, but don't assume other players will understand it.

 

Where I do find tab sometimes useful is as an aide-memoire when I've worked out a particularly complicated way of playing something and don't want to forget how I played it. I use it only occasionally, and not for transcribing whole tunes.

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Hi to you all,

 

There's no doubt in my mind, though that these different views of the Anglo will affect your approach to playing it.

 

Exactly Geoff, and that's really interesting for me... :)

 

Raide,

Just to clarify my approach:

My system doesn't take the hands into consideration explicitly. But it does take into consideration that the buttons on an Anglo are distributed over both ends, unlike those for the single notes of an accordion. It follows from this that half of the buttons have to be played with the right hand, half with the left.

 

John, it was a misunderstanding from me, I follow your explanation and it makes sense too, thanks for adding these precisions... :)

 

But there are on the Symphonium, Wheatstone's mouth-blown predecessor to the English concertina. :)

 

Jim, we can't really say it was great success!! :P but accordinas are still built nowadays... :D

 

And that's a very important thing to consider: Different notation systems are "best" suited to different mental models of how the keyboard is to be used. If you have decided in advance how you intend to use the instrument (e.g., melody-only "Irish style"), then you may find one particular notation system (1-5 in the left hand and 6-10 in the right) to be more "intuitive" than another

 

That's exactly my case and my approach. For different reasons, including culture, musical background, age, friends musicians and so on, I'm more inclined to play Irish music and Irish style, cross-row technique seems obvious to me as I already use it on melodeon...

 

In fact, I suspect that running the 1-10 sequence between the hands tends to encourage an along-the-row mindset, as opposed to "cross-row", at least in some people.

 

That maybe right for a real beginner, but for someone already playing a button accordion, having solved the problem of the right and left hands coordination and having a slight idea of the structure of the keyboards (and of the strength of his fingers ;) ) Cross-row playing is obvious... well, just IMHO...

 

From the other thread I thought ceilidhjock was going to contact the developer for Tabledit. I didn't do so myself because I don't use the program.

 

Where I do find tab sometimes useful is as an aide-memoire when I've worked out a particularly complicated way of playing something and don't want to forget how I played it.

 

Howard, I must say I'm lucky enough to know TablEdit developer quite well as I already worked with him when he adapted the program to melodeons, I don't use tabs to play tunes, but it's a wonderful archiving tool as it shows the score and the tablature, it can be used by every musician... and to start learning an instrument it's very helpful too.

 

I don't try to convince anyone that this system is better than another, but just show up it's working for me and if some reader of this board is confronted to the same problem than me, it will save him time and energy... The aim in the long term is to have a library of tunes presenting a technical progression from "easy" to "a little more complicated" :D there are some already online on FreeTabs website

 

While we're on the beginners subject, do you know if there's the same breathing problems with concertina beginners than with melodeon beginners, IE linking of the breathing rhythm with the bellows moving??...

 

Thank you all for the interest you show in this thread, it really helps...

 

G'Night. RB

Edited by Raide Brest

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While we're on the beginners subject, do you know if there's the same breathing problems with concertina beginners than with melodeon beginners, IE linking of the breathing rhythm with the bellows moving??...

 

Raide,

 

I certainly had that trouble when I started on the Anglo. My lungs moved 1:1 with the bellows. When the bellows was fully extended, my lungs were almost busting, and when the bellows was completely closed, I had no breath left. I attributed this to the fact that I had been playing the mouth-organ since childhood, and still thought of the notes as "blow" and "suck" notes, rather than "press" and "draw" notes.

 

The problem went away after a while, and I was able to sing and play the Anglo at the same time. I can't remember whether I made a conscious effort to uncouple my breathing from the bellows movement, or whether it just happened.

 

The mouth-organ was helpful in one way, though - the habit of adjusting the amount of air in my lungs by breathing in and out though my nose helped me to learn how to use the Anglo's air-button.

 

Cheers,

John

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I certainly had that trouble when I started on the Anglo. My lungs moved 1:1 with the bellows. When the bellows was fully extended, my lungs were almost busting, and when the bellows was completely closed, I had no breath left. I attributed this to the fact that I had been playing the mouth-organ since childhood, and still thought of the notes as "blow" and "suck" notes, rather than "press" and "draw" notes.

 

Thanks for the answer John, I was asking that because it happened to me when playing the concertina at the very first beginning, and I had totally forgotten that problem... I had it with the melodeon too when I started but I had "un-linked" that quite quickly and forgot it... Then, being in the same early learning position, it showed up again, I don't think it has anything to do with mouth-organ practice because I noticed it with people never having played one, but more likely with the mental concentration one put in the approach of the instrument. As I wrote earlier, even if the principle is the same they really are different and it's a whole new set of reflexes and reactions which has to be integrated again. I'm amazed it doesn't rub off on the playing of the other instrument, when I take an accordion I find back all my usual automatisms and the same with the concertina... Strange but reassuring... :rolleyes:

 

Have a good day! RB

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And that's a very important thing to consider: Different notation systems are "best" suited to different mental models of how the keyboard is to be used. If you have decided in advance how you intend to use the instrument (e.g., melody-only "Irish style"), then you may find one particular notation system (1-5 in the left hand and 6-10 in the right) to be more "intuitive" than another, though someone who intends a different use (e.g., playing melody mainly in the right hand against chords in the left hand, sometimes called "English style") would find a different notation (1-10 in each hand) more "reasonable". And that's a two-way street. For those who haven't chosen a style in advance, each notation system may act to direct them toward a particular style.

 

There's no doubt in my mind, though that these different views of the Anglo will affect your approach to playing it.

In fact, I suspect that running the 1-10 sequence between the hands tends to encourage an along-the-row mindset, as opposed to "cross-row", at least in some people.

 

And all these systems based on multiples of 5 or 10 tend to break down when dealing with anglos that have more than 30 buttons, since (with rare exceptions) they have at least some rows that are 6 or even 7 buttons wide. But I doubt that many folks start with such an instrument, and by the time they begin exploring such a beast they should be well past needing to identify buttons individually by "number". :)

 

I've been following this thread with some interest .. I purchased an Edgley C/G a few months ago and I don't use any of these notations at all! I was able to find a local teacher (of ITM, so that's what I'm learning at least at first :)) and I've had musical training back in school so I've been able to just refer to buttons by note and row (and sometimes side) without very much confusion ... I do like Morris tunes and would eventually like to learn that style as well, and that seems to pose a much larger problem as far as notation (I've not found any tunes that show more than the melody line) .. I guess I'll find someone to work on that with next year (Jody lives close by!)

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I've been following this thread with some interest .. I purchased an Edgley C/G a few months ago and I don't use any of these notations at all! I was able to find a local teacher (of ITM, so that's what I'm learning at least at first :)) and I've had musical training back in school so I've been able to just refer to buttons by note and row (and sometimes side) without very much confusion ... I do like Morris tunes and would eventually like to learn that style as well, and that seems to pose a much larger problem as far as notation (I've not found any tunes that show more than the melody line) .. I guess I'll find someone to work on that with next year (Jody lives close by!)

 

Hiya Zeke and thanks for contributing, of course you are luckier than me as you have a teacher helping you, and that's a big difference... you say to have no problem to refer to buttons by notes but how do you define the best way to play a scale? Does your teacher give you the fingerings or do you have to find them by yourself? For instance how many ways to play a scale of G do you know and how many do you practice? There is a very interesting thread initiated by Alan Day about the "all on the push" and "all on the pull" scales... How do you deal with the F# in the scale of D? or the C# in the same scale as it's not always pulled on many concertinas? Don't you think it would be easier to have (for free) some sheet or a file giving you these examples and letting you practising them quietly in front of the screen? I don't say staying stuck to the score, but at least, during the learning stage, having a visual support?

 

Have a nice day! (it's early sunny morning over here!! B) )

RB

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