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Newbie Quesion: Best nautical style concertina


townpiper
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I'd like to expand my repertoire to include sea chanteys etc on concertina. Which is the best style (Anglo, English, 20/30 button etc?)

 

That depends. Do you whish to accompany your own (or someone else's) singing or rather do some instrumental soloing? How does your musical "thinking" basically work?

 

Apart from that, I renew my hint at the formidable approach by A. L. LLoyd (applying an English Concertina, which I personally find very suitable for that nautical stuff):

 

leviathan_tscd497.jpg

 

...and may you be lucky to get your copy (if you wished so)!

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I'd like to expand my repertoire to include sea chanteys etc on concertina. Which is the best style (Anglo, English, 20/30 button etc?)

 

That depends. Do you whish to accompany your own (or someone else's) singing or rather do some instrumental soloing? How does your musical "thinking" basically work?

 

Apart from that, I renew my hint at the formidable approach by A. L. LLoyd (applying an English Concertina, which I personally find very suitable for that nautical stuff):

 

leviathan_tscd497.jpg

 

...and may you be lucky to get your copy (if you wished so)!

 

 

Thanks mate. Probably not a lot of soloing as in jigs and reels etc.., more just accompanying myself... something like Lou Killen did way back when...

 

sort of like a phrase or two between vocal verses with a chordal accompaniment. What I like to do is get folks singing along.....not just listening.

 

Maybe English is the way to go, perhaps less hassle than a diatonic concertina. What do you think?? Thanks and fair winds to you

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I'd like to expand my repertoire to include sea chanteys etc on concertina. Which is the best style (Anglo, English, 20/30 button etc?)

 

That depends. Do you whish to accompany your own (or someone else's) singing or rather do some instrumental soloing? How does your musical "thinking" basically work?

 

Apart from that, I renew my hint at the formidable approach by A. L. LLoyd (applying an English Concertina, which I personally find very suitable for that nautical stuff):

 

leviathan_tscd497.jpg

 

...and may you be lucky to get your copy (if you wished so)!

 

 

Thanks mate. Probably not a lot of soloing as in jigs and reels etc.., more just accompanying myself... something like Lou Killen did way back when...

 

sort of like a phrase or two between vocal verses with a chordal accompaniment. What I like to do is get folks singing along.....not just listening.

 

Maybe English is the way to go, perhaps less hassle than a diatonic concertina. What do you think?? Thanks and fair winds to you

 

Hey sailor

Thanks mate--- just downloaded a copy of A. L Lloyd's Leviathan--that's exactly what I want to do....So he played and English concertina, right???

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Hi, townpiper,

 

If it's "authenticity" you want, list member Dan Worrel has written a history of the concertina at sea. One point he makes is that the common sailor in the sailing/shanty era - mid to late 19th century - was not a rich or musically educated person, so he would have been most likely to buy a cheap German concertina of the type that flooded the low-end market at that time. This was available in hexagonal form, similar to the Anglo-German concertina, and both types had the same 20-button push-pull layout.

 

The popularity of these instruments was due not only to the low price, but also to the ease of learning them without music lessons, which only the middle class could afford. Once you've managed to pick out a tune on the Anglo, the harmonisation falls more or less instinctively under the fingers. A bit of trial and error is all you need to get a decent accompaniment for a simple ditty, and very soon you're harmonising new tunes on the fly. What comes out is not sophisticated, classical music - but all a sailor needed was an accompaniment for simple songs and a bit of rhythmic punch with nice, fat chords for dancing on deck.

 

This is not to say that you can't accompany forebitters on an English or Duet - but on these, you have to be good enough to hit the right notes and avoid the wrong notes. Like many "popular" instruments of the Victorian era, the charm of the 20-button Anglo-German is that you have few wrong notes to worry about, and soon learn to avoid them. That's how I approached it, anyway. I can play most sea songs quite satisfactorily on a 20-button, but sometimes it's nice to have an alternative fingering or a low F on the third row of my 30-button.

 

Be aware that, even with 30 buttons, the "home keys" of the Anglo are easy to play, but the more sharps or flats you have, the more difficult it gets to find satisfactory harmonies. Whether or not this is an issue depends on your voice. As a baritone, I can sing almost any folk song in C, and those that I can't, I can sing in G, so a C/G Anglo is fine for me. For other voices, a G/D or an F/C might be better.

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

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Thanks mate--- just downloaded a copy of A. L Lloyd's Leviathan--that's exactly what I want to do....So he played and English concertina, right???

 

No, not quite - the English concertina on "Leviathan" is played by Alf Edwards.

 

More about Alf's contribution to the folk revival here:

 

http://www.concertina.com/eydmann/folk-music-revival/

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I think if you want to play concertina for whatever reason, you should start (as I've said many times before) with finding out which sort of concertina you feel comfortable with and want to play. You will work out for yourself and with assistance from others here how to play what you want to play on your chosen concertina, but if you don't get on with the instrument then you'll never get anywhere. I write at length about this in the Buying Advice section of the Concertina FAQ.

 

Dan Worrall's is the most authoritative guide to what was actually played, but in the modern world, when you hear shanties accompanied by all sorts of instruments (including, God help us, guitars!) I think the choice of concertina system is yours.

 

Best of luck, and keep us informed of how you get on.

 

Chris

 

Edited for typos.

Edited by Chris Timson
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, townpiper,

 

If it's "authenticity" you want, list member Dan Worrel has written a history of the concertina at sea. One point he makes is that the common sailor in the sailing/shanty era - mid to late 19th century - was not a rich or musically educated person, so he would have been most likely to buy a cheap German concertina of the type that flooded the low-end market at that time. This was available in hexagonal form, similar to the Anglo-German concertina, and both types had the same 20-button push-pull layout.

 

The popularity of these instruments was due not only to the low price, but also to the ease of learning them without music lessons, which only the middle class could afford. Once you've managed to pick out a tune on the Anglo, the harmonisation falls more or less instinctively under the fingers. A bit of trial and error is all you need to get a decent accompaniment for a simple ditty, and very soon you're harmonising new tunes on the fly. What comes out is not sophisticated, classical music - but all a sailor needed was an accompaniment for simple songs and a bit of rhythmic punch with nice, fat chords for dancing on deck.

 

This is not to say that you can't accompany forebitters on an English or Duet - but on these, you have to be good enough to hit the right notes and avoid the wrong notes. Like many "popular" instruments of the Victorian era, the charm of the 20-button Anglo-German is that you have few wrong notes to worry about, and soon learn to avoid them. That's how I approached it, anyway. I can play most sea songs quite satisfactorily on a 20-button, but sometimes it's nice to have an alternative fingering or a low F on the third row of my 30-button.

 

Be aware that, even with 30 buttons, the "home keys" of the Anglo are easy to play, but the more sharps or flats you have, the more difficult it gets to find satisfactory harmonies. Whether or not this is an issue depends on your voice. As a baritone, I can sing almost any folk song in C, and those that I can't, I can sing in G, so a C/G Anglo is fine for me. For other voices, a G/D or an F/C might be better.

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

Thanks John. Easy and no-hassle is what I'm looking for. I'm a bass/baritone so maybe c/g 30 button anglo. When I do banjo, I tune in E (a la Seeger etc...)- gives me a lower range and easier to sing with...

 

Regards,

Paul

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Thanks John. Easy and no-hassle is what I'm looking for. I'm a bass/baritone so maybe c/g 30 button anglo. When I do banjo, I tune in E (a la Seeger etc...)- gives me a lower range and easier to sing with...

 

Regards,

Paul

 

Aha! Another banjoist!

 

I have my 5-string tuned in the classic gCGBD, which gives me my comfortable C major as the "home" key. For songs that don't fit my voice (or the banjo) in C, I use F, which is the next easiest key in classic tuning, or G, which is easy for just chording along.

 

It's interesting that, although the banjo is in theory and practice a chromatic instrument (especially with a capo and a fifth-string spike), I get along as a singer with just two keys a fifth apart - which is what the Anglo also provides! B)

 

Cheers,

John

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Thanks John. Easy and no-hassle is what I'm looking for. I'm a bass/baritone so maybe c/g 30 button anglo. When I do banjo, I tune in E (a la Seeger etc...)- gives me a lower range and easier to sing with...

 

Regards,

Paul

 

Aha! Another banjoist!

 

I have my 5-string tuned in the classic gCGBD, which gives me my comfortable C major as the "home" key. For songs that don't fit my voice (or the banjo) in C, I use F, which is the next easiest key in classic tuning, or G, which is easy for just chording along.

 

It's interesting that, although the banjo is in theory and practice a chromatic instrument (especially with a capo and a fifth-string spike), I get along as a singer with just two keys a fifth apart - which is what the Anglo also provides! B)

 

Cheers,

John

 

Hi John

 

I use two banjos -one tuned to G, the other to E to cover all the bases- be nice to own a longneck, but I already have these, plus a tenor for Irish stuff. Looks like its the c/g anglo for me. Favorite instrument is pipes, though. Regards

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks John. Easy and no-hassle is what I'm looking for. I'm a bass/baritone so maybe c/g 30 button anglo. When I do banjo, I tune in E (a la Seeger etc...)- gives me a lower range and easier to sing with...

 

Regards,

Paul

 

Aha! Another banjoist!

 

I have my 5-string tuned in the classic gCGBD, which gives me my comfortable C major as the "home" key. For songs that don't fit my voice (or the banjo) in C, I use F, which is the next easiest key in classic tuning, or G, which is easy for just chording along.

 

It's interesting that, although the banjo is in theory and practice a chromatic instrument (especially with a capo and a fifth-string spike), I get along as a singer with just two keys a fifth apart - which is what the Anglo also provides! B)

 

Cheers,

John

 

Hi John

 

I use two banjos -one tuned to G, the other to E to cover all the bases- be nice to own a longneck, but I already have these, plus a tenor for Irish stuff. Looks like its the c/g anglo for me. Favorite instrument is pipes, though. Regards

Bought a Hohner 20 button anglo on ebay- turned out to have faulty keys and it stunk like cig smoke.The guy wouldn't accept a return, so I contacted Hohner, and THEY WERE GREAT!! Sent me out a new one- all I had to was ship the old one back. Those guys went above and beyond... Facing possible pressure from ebay, the seller refunded my shipping costs. The new box is chinese, but it sounds great- I'd recommend Hohner for their willingness to stand behind their products. Got a DVD tutor by John Townley -uses split screen demonstration- short (45min DVD) but real helpful...

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  • 5 weeks later...

I've been playing English concertina with a French sea shanty group for 3 years now. I think it goes well with the voices.

 

But then I'm a strictly chromatic kind of gal. I can parallel park, but I just can't get my head round diatonic. :-)

 

I think whichever you choose will be fine, because you'll make it yours.

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