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Hillsider

Default Cross Row Fingering Pattern for Absolute Beginner

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Hi

 

I started this post previously but it disappeared in the ether so apologies if it reappears after I have posted this one.

 

I have recently joined this group and from reading the posts have just bought a Rochelle which should arrive next week. I can read music but have never played a concertina before so this is a retirement project. I want to begin in the correct way from the outset and not get into bad habits.

 

My interest is mainly in Irish type music and having read posts here it would appear that the cross row fingering approach is the way to start. I would be grateful if you could set out the cross row fingering patterns for G and D scales I should learn as initial default patterns. Please could you relate the button to the appropriate finger.

 

Many Thanks

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I would be grateful if you could set out the cross row fingering patterns for G and D scales I should learn as initial default patterns

 

Hi Hillsider

 

There is no such thing as a default pattern for playing the scale of D on a C/G concertina. On some C/G concertinas C# can only be played in the push-direction and on some in the push as wel as the pull direction. On top of that almost all notes on the D scale can be played in the push or pull direction. It is more or less dependant on the tune you are playing and on your own preferences which cross row pattern you need.

 

It's a matter of trial and error and/or exploring your anglo...wink.gif

 

AP

 

 

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There is an online anglo tutor by Simon Wells at the website, concertutor.wordpress.com, which has a section on cross-row playing. He describes a couple ways to play a D scale. There is also a link to an article by David Levine that describes the cross-row style of Noel Hill. Unfortunately, the C# which David mentions does not exist on the Rochelle. Thus, you should use the LH push B on the G row before the push C# on the first button of the RH accidental row. Good luck with learning the anglo. I am new to it, too, but I am more interested in playing folk songs than ITM.

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There is no such thing as a default pattern for playing the scale of D on a C/G concertina.

 

This is not quite true. Did you have a look at the article?

 

Hundreds of people who have taken a class with Noel Hill have a default system that works perfectly well for them. There is a reason why Jack Talty, Edel Fox, et. al., mention Noel Hill when giving credit to their teachers. One reason why I am not a big fan of the Rochelle is because of the Wheatstone button layout, which I find a bit awkward for playing Irish music. Not everybody finds it awkward, but I think the Jeffries system, with two C#s, makes life a lot easier if you're living and playing in Co. Clare. The Anglo concertina seems a bit awkward to me in any case. As Jack Gilder has said, it's like playing a Rubik's Cube. I don't find it an intuitive instrument as compared to, say, the fiddle or the flute.

 

While the Wheatstone system does call for some modification, Noel's default system works for the Wheatstone as well as for the Jeffries layout. When I do find myself playing a Wheatstone I use the bird (middle) finger on my right hand to play the one C# on the top row, crossing the middle finger over my index finger if it is on the B on the C row (this is the default button for that note). It does not mean that you never play the B on the left hand. There are times when you must use it to avoid "chopping," which I discuss in the article .

 

While it is true that almost all notes on the D scale can be played in the push or pull direction, unless you have some idea of phrasing or efficient use of bellows direction this information is not very useful. This is exactly why the default system is so helpful for beginners. As you develop you find shortcuts that you include in the system (such as the alternate A on the G row). It isn't a straight jacket, this system, so much as a road map. After you've lived in the neighborhood for a while you discover shortcuts. Use the system or not, as you think fit. But don't say a default system does not exist.

 

For the D/G you really don't need a default system because you will be going up and down the rows, as if you were playing in the home keys of C and G on the C/G Anglo. There are some very fine players who play up and down the home rows nearly exclusively on the C/G. I play a lot with several of them. They are very good, strong players. But there are times when it seems as if they are fighting the instrument. This is when I think having that an idea of a cross-row system would be a great help.

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...don't say a default system does not exist.

No, the thing that "doesn't exist" is one and only one default system. There are several, though maybe not quite as many as individuals who developed their own "default" through trial and error rather than by copying someone else. Noel Hill has his. Does Mick Bramich have the same? Do any two players who have produced tutor books, CDs, or DVDs have precisely the same defaults? (Some day I hope to try them all myself, but so far I haven't, so I don't actually know.)

 

But which is "best"? I'd say that for a beginner, it doesn't matter. What could matter, though, is to use the default of the person whose instructional material you're using. Almost certainly, the tunes presented as exercises in each tutor's instructional material are selected to fit comfortably with that tutor's defaults, not to emphasize the difficulties that can be encountered by adhering too strictly to those defaults. For that reason it's also a good idea not to try too hard to digress from the tutor you've chosen. It can be fun and even useful to try the fingering you've learned on other tunes, but if you find a tune on which it seems awkward, set that tune aside until you've learned something more about alternatives.

 

By the way, this is a good reason for using a tutor as a beginner, rather than adopting a particular fingering default but then trying to apply it to tunes chosen with a different purpose, such as those most popular at a local session.

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The reason there is difficulty in defining a default fingering is because there are so many possible combinations:

 

One octave G scale (middle of the LH G row or 5th button on the C row to the next G above):

G*3, A*3, B*2, C*2, D*2, E*2, F#*1, G*3 = 432 (on a 30 key box)

 

If you repeat this for the D (middle of the LH C row, to the next D above) you get 144 combiniations for the Jeffries and 72 for the Wheatstone.

 

Chris

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The reason there is difficulty in defining a default fingering is because there are so many possible combinations:

 

True- but not all combinations are equal. Some lead to patterns that are impossible to play with any acceptable degree of fluency or phrasing. It also depends on where you want to go with the instrument. If you want to use chords continually -- as a Morris dance player or as a traditional English player -- then I assume it would be best to go up and down the rows in the home keys. If you want the single note melodies and ornamentation that are characteristic of ITM, with a heavy predilection for the keys of D, G, Am, Bm and Em, then a cross-row default system is much handier.

 

If you have better ideas for a default system then perhaps you should tell Noel Hill, who I am sure would appreciate the advice.

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While the Wheatstone system does call for some modification, Noel's default system works for the Wheatstone as well as for the Jeffries layout. When I do find myself playing a Wheatstone I use the bird (middle) finger on my right hand to play the one C# on the top row, crossing the middle finger over my index finger if it is on the B on the C row (this is the default button for that note). It does not mean that you never play the B on the left hand. There are times when you must use it to avoid "chopping," which I discuss in the article .

 

i think it's been a while since you have taken lessons from noel. nowadays, all of his concertinas have 2 C#s on the first button of the right-hand side, with no C# on the second button. i can say this with certainty, because noel told me himself directly that he had them all switched over for consistency. this means that the jeffries' layout is not his default teaching layout, and his solution for playing B and C# on the wheatstone is not crossing over as you describe.

 

his default fingering for playing B and C# next to each other is to use the push B on the left-hand side. he encourages his students to use the second-finger C# if they have it. i can say with some authoirty that noel would never endorse a cross over to get from B to that particular C#. in a very limited set of circumstances, you will actually see him jump from C# to B with the same finger (e.g. may morning dew). there are other note combinations that noel may cross over (especially for reels), but he would not do so in that situation. you say it is good to do so when you need to avoid jumping, but actually noel himself does jump from C# to B with the same finger, but only in a limited set of circumstances (may morning dew being a strong example). as an aside, jumping as noel does it is a very advanced technique, which requires exact positioning of the first joint and differential placement of the finger pad on the starting and ending buttons.

 

i am not going to say that i myself have never crossed over as you described when confronted with a strict wheastone layout (i have 3 C#s and use them all), but for sake of accuracy, if we are going to talk about noel's system it is most definitely not part of how he teaches or plays the concertina. there are players who cross over as you describe, such as john williams, but if you are going to speak as an authority on noel's system i think it would be helpful to have a more up-to-date account of his default fingering.

 

when you were taking lessons from him long ago his main instruments were jeffries concertinas, but that is no longer the case. as of now his main performance instrument is a c#/g# wheatstone linota, which he acquired in 1986 (great story behind that one!). he does play several jeffries of different pitches, but he only plays them for a piece or two per concert, and although he may not have changed all the buttons (i am not sure) on all of them, all the C#'s are consistent. as you know, his C/G linota for teaching has now been replaced by a carroll, with his own customized layout.

 

this is perhaps a minor detail, but many people listen very intently to what you have to say about noel's fingering system, and your account is not strictly accurate. i have hesitated to say something before, because your fundamental treatment of the basic scale is pretty good, but it is in your exposition on alternate fingerings where you begin to falter. i think many people have benefited from your description of noel's default fingerings (as you put it), but i think that you must keep in mind that your understanding of his system is outdated and most probably incomplete. this has no bearing, of course, on the legitimacy or quality of your playing or fingering choices, but only on the accuracy they have in reflecting a strict adherence to noel hill's system of playing.

 

pedantically yours,

david b.

Edited by david_boveri

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David B,

 

It seems that I am not au courant with Noel's recent pedagogy. As I said, in conversation with him two years ago he confirmed what I said in the article. There are many Anglo concertinas with different button layouts than the one to which I referred. I thought it understood that I was addressing only the one pattern. Other patterns will of course require a different approach than the one I offered.

 

There are many ways to approach the concertina from a default position (not The Default Position). The important thing involved is, I think, to have a default pattern and to stick to it, wandering from that when necessary for phrasing and to avoid chopping. Indeed, there are some people who feel that chopping is occasionally useful. I have never found that so, and certainly not when teaching a beginner to play.

 

I thought it was clear that on the alternate fingerings I did not refer to Noel Hill: When I do find myself playing a Wheatstone I use the bird (middle) finger on my right hand to play the one C# on the top row, crossing the middle finger over my index finger....

 

Noel will continue to develop as an outstanding teacher of the instrument. Over time his approach will change. What I offered is a snapshot of what one player recommended at one time. It is not The Gospel, as I have said many a time. There are many other fine teachers of the instrument (such as Tim Collins, Jacqueline McCarthy, Florence Fahey) and they offer different methods, which also work well.

 

I will leave it at that.

 

David L

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David Boveri, don't you mean 2 c# buttons on the RHS (Accidental row)/

 

yep! thanks for that. mistake corrected in the above post.

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David Boveri, don't you mean 2 c# buttons on the RHS (Accidental row)/

 

yep! thanks for that. mistake corrected in the above post.

 

Ahhhhh... you had me scrath my head for a while when I initially read your post. Two C# on LHS, was wondering what became of the G# and Bb hehe... I am now used to pull C# on the first finger RHS, and push C# on the second finger, do you think there's a disadvantage of that layout versus the two C# on the same button?

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David Boveri, don't you mean 2 c# buttons on the RHS (Accidental row)/

 

yep! thanks for that. mistake corrected in the above post.

 

Ahhhhh... you had me scrath my head for a while when I initially read your post. Two C# on LHS, was wondering what became of the G# and Bb hehe... I am now used to pull C# on the first finger RHS, and push C# on the second finger, do you think there's a disadvantage of that layout versus the two C# on the same button?

 

I seemed to have been unclear yet again... I have 3 C#s on two buttons. Two on the first button of the accidental row on the RH, and a push one on the second button. This allows for Jeffries style 2nd finger and Wheatstone style first finger. The pull C# on the first finger is great for those on the Jeffries system who are used to it, but I myself don't use it as often as the other 2.

Edited by david_boveri

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David Boveri, don't you mean 2 c# buttons on the RHS (Accidental row)/

 

yep! thanks for that. mistake corrected in the above post.

 

Ahhhhh... you had me scrath my head for a while when I initially read your post. Two C# on LHS, was wondering what became of the G# and Bb hehe... I am now used to pull C# on the first finger RHS, and push C# on the second finger, do you think there's a disadvantage of that layout versus the two C# on the same button?

 

I seemed to have been unclear yet again... I have 3 C#s on two buttons. Two on the first button of the accidental row on the LH, and a push one on the second button. This allows for Jeffries style 2nd finger and Wheatstone style first finger. The pull C# on the first finger is great for those on the Jeffries system who are used to it, but I myself don't use it as often as the other 2.

 

OK but I'm lost again, do you mean RH or LH?

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I seemed to have been unclear yet again... I have 3 C#s on two buttons. Two on the first button of the accidental row on the LH, and a push one on the second button. This allows for Jeffries style 2nd finger and Wheatstone style first finger. The pull C# on the first finger is great for those on the Jeffries system who are used to it, but I myself don't use it as often as the other 2.

OK but I'm lost again, do you mean RH or LH?

David, are you by any chance
cixelsyd
?
:)

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Not to answer for David B, but I believe he is referring to the Wally Carroll concertina button layout.

 

It certainly makes sense. I learned on a concertina with the C#/Eb - Eb/C# for the top two inner buttons on the right hand, so I'll be staying with that.

 

In any case I don't think any of this matters very much.

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David Boveri, don't you mean 2 c# buttons on the RHS (Accidental row)/

 

yep! thanks for that. mistake corrected in the above post.

 

Ahhhhh... you had me scrath my head for a while when I initially read your post. Two C# on LHS, was wondering what became of the G# and Bb hehe... I am now used to pull C# on the first finger RHS, and push C# on the second finger, do you think there's a disadvantage of that layout versus the two C# on the same button?

 

I seemed to have been unclear yet again... I have 3 C#s on two buttons. Two on the first button of the accidental row on the LH, and a push one on the second button. This allows for Jeffries style 2nd finger and Wheatstone style first finger. The pull C# on the first finger is great for those on the Jeffries system who are used to it, but I myself don't use it as often as the other 2.

 

OK but I'm lost again, do you mean RH or LH?

 

haha, RH. i need to double check more....

 

I seemed to have been unclear yet again... I have 3 C#s on two buttons. Two on the first button of the accidental row on the LH, and a push one on the second button. This allows for Jeffries style 2nd finger and Wheatstone style first finger. The pull C# on the first finger is great for those on the Jeffries system who are used to it, but I myself don't use it as often as the other 2.

OK but I'm lost again, do you mean RH or LH?

David, are you by any chance
cixelsyd
?
:)

 

no! i used to re-read my posts at least once before i submitted, and edit up to 3 or 4 times for little mistakes like that. now, i'm trying to be a bit more chill about it, B)

 

Not to answer for David B, but I believe he is referring to the Wally Carroll concertina button layout.

 

It certainly makes sense. I learned on a concertina with the C#/Eb - Eb/C# for the top two inner buttons on the right hand, so I'll be staying with that.

 

In any case I don't think any of this matters very much.

 

yeah, i use a carroll preferred. to be honest, i don't see much use for the pull C#, even though i do use it from time to time. if i switched it to something else, like a pull low E or C, i'd probably use it more (but don't think it would fit in the frame). i really liked having the push Eb like you do, but i just can't give up two push C#'s.

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