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Gusten

How to play The Musical Priest

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Hi guys,

 

I've played irish trad music on anglo concertina (G/C) for a couple of years now, and I keep trying to improve my playing. I'm really struggling with finding a good flow in some tunes, usually tunes in D. It would be very helpful for me if someone took the time to line out what buttons they use when they play The Musical Priest (Bm is essentially D), as that tunes pretty much sums up the problems I have.

 

My concertina has Wheatstone layout, and I find myself playing alot on the first three buttons on the inner (G) row, the G, B and D button. Maybe I just need to work up my left hand dexterity, but it feels like I should be able to play it without using my left ring finger so much on the G button.

 

Ultimately, if someone could describe which button they use for every single tone in the tune, I'd be very happy. However, any little piece of advice is very welcome. If I can find a "smarter" way to play that particular tune, then I think I could work that in to alot of other tunes as well.

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Thiis video was nice .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxitAw3Cvas Or input Musical Priest Concertina

 

It is on a G/D Stagi but would be good to play along with in working out your fingering. D is tricky on a C/G and I have found it takes a long time playing slowly and building up ornaments that help it to flow. The Bertram Levy tutor is helpful in showing various bellows and button patterns to plan your playing.

 

I use marker pens to colour the notes either on a stave or ABc to show whether it is push or pull and work out the phrases accordingly Remember to use the buttons on either side and in all the rows to get the best pattern, don't just go up and down the rows. I also think working out the basic chords helps in dec9ding buttons to choose as you may wish to put in a few droens or partial chords ( 1,5 notes work fine eg D,A,. G,D ., A,E)

Read about cross row playing and ornamentation.

 

I also diidle or lilt the tujne to get a flow.

 

A lot of people have advocated a slowdowner programme to play along to the tune in the same pitch.

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My pal Tom Driscoll, a lovely player, plays The Musical Priest in the key of A minor. It's lovely in that key and easier than in B minor.

 

However, it's good to practice playing in B minor so that... well, so that you can play tunes in B minor.

 

But is there a difference between playing and practicing? isn't it really all just playing?

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But is there a difference between playing and practicing? isn't it really all just playing?

 

 

I agree with you David. My spouse, however, can make the distinction!

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...

 

I also diidle or lilt the tune to get a flow.

...

Never play before didle or lilt...

 

My only contribution - sorry, Gusten laugh.gif

 

/Henrik

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My only contribution - sorry, Gusten

/Henrik

 

Well it's better than the "Just go English" I had expected.

 

Thank you all for advice. I haven't spent much time trying to use ornaments to help the flow - I seem to force them in instead, which really stops the flow. Youtube is a great source though, I've started to use it alot more recently to get ideas on ornamentation. Soon enough I'm sure it'll enhance the flow, rather than hinder it.

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A lot of tune sources just show the bare skeleton and you need to adopt ornaments sparingly where they help the flow. If you try to put them in from a fiddler's perspective eg Miles Krassen's copy of O'Neill they don't always work .Anglo has its own limitations and possibilities so you are best emulating someone whose style you like. Eventually you will come to your own ' voice'/style

A lot of old players played for dancing and that lift came first. About 100 beats per minute (at two foot taps per bar which equals 4 crotchets or quarter notes in 4/4 time was quite common before people tended to play more for listening in sessions etc.

Edited by michael sam wild

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My concertina has Wheatstone layout, and I find myself playing alot on the first three buttons on the inner (G) row, the G, B and D button. Maybe I just need to work up my left hand dexterity, but it feels like I should be able to play it without using my left ring finger so much on the G button.

 

Ultimately, if someone could describe which button they use for every single tone in the tune, I'd be very happy. However, any little piece of advice is very welcome. If I can find a "smarter" way to play that particular tune, then I think I could work that in to alot of other tunes as well.

Hi Gusten

 

I've never played the Musical Priest before, but I have also a C/G with a Wheatstone lay-out and I gave it a try. I noted my finger-pattern in a simple tablature that (I hope) is understandable. I've attached the result as a GIF file.

It is indeed a difficult tune and my tablature is a first approach.

 

Have fun with it!

post-37-0-47422400-1324151466_thumb.gif

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Hi Henk

That was really neat!

Could you let me know how you set that up on computer it's a great aid. I am a real novice at the technology but it would be nice to get my head round it.

Mike

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I've been trying it in a variety of minor keys and Bmin is probably the trickiest! I have a 26 button Jefries C/G and only havce one pull c# and pull a on the right sid.

 

 

I have a record of Liz Carroll playing it in Gmin which I find nice and it's quite easy on the C row and also Dmin and Amin on the same row.C min might need Bb and Eb being rel to Bb major. In sessions we tend to be dominated by fiddles and flutes and their favourite keys. The tune is in B min in O'Neill too.

 

On the G/D it goes quite easily in the on the D row of course, I think Tijn does it great on that Stagi G/D on the video I linked to.

 

 

Having played a D/G melodeon/accordion I find D on the C/G Anglo a constant challenge and MusicalPriest is hard so you have chosen a tricky one :blink:

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Hi Henk

That was really neat!

Could you let me know how you set that up on computer it's a great aid.

Hello Michael,

 

I made it "simply by hand" but there is a program that produces the same type of tablature from a simple ABC source. The point is however the program does not make the same decissions as I do with respect to playing a certain note or a series of notes in the pull or push direction.

The program (or is it an app nowadays?) can be found at: http://members.quicknet.nl/j.coolegem/Mefa.html

 

Henk

Edited by Henk van Aalten

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Gusten

I have returned to the tune after a rest and find it goes OK on the G row but on mine it hasn't got the same fluidity and possible chords but for a session I'd use the G row as a default row if surfing on the backs of other good players ;)

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Hi guys,

 

just checking in (don't visit the forum as often as I should, especially after making a post asking for advice) to say thanks for all the advice, both here on via PMs. All different input has inspired me to really revise my playing on all tunes in D or Bm. A helpful PM also gave me some ideas on ornamentations, and my simulated rolls have actually started to help the flow instead of hindering it.

 

One problem I had with Musical Priest was to get an even flow. Using my pinky finger, and using the C# in combination with the first two fingers on the left hand G-row, has always caused problems to my flow. I've started using a metronome, and playing the tricky parts of a tune slowly over and over, and then raising the tempo when the rythm is even. I've also looked into which beat I accent, which has helped the flow as well. Less "just playing" and more actual practice is what's been missing, it seems.

 

All in all - it's been a busy couple of weeks, and the inspiration came from c.net. Thanks guys!

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glad the tune is working out! tell me, do you ever learn tunes by ear? if so, keep it up... if not, try it out! it can help with that flow thing! also, watch some good videos of concertina players to see how they hold the instrument. there are different approaches, but good bellows control leads to good tone control which leads to good flow. i'm pretty strongly vested in one approach to holding the instrument, but i would recommend trying out several different ones that you see the top level players using to find one that works for you right now.

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I learn almost exclusively by ear. I've played the musical priest on other instruments for a long time, but wanted to really dig in and make it work on the concertina. Now it's one of my favorite concertina tunes to play!

 

Since I started using a metronome and slow down my playing to practice, I've started to understand how important bellows control is. (I'm also getting to know my concertina better, as some reeds seem to move air a lot easier, which disturbs the flow if not compensated for.) I'll take your advice and start looking into how skilled players hold their instruments! I don't really know how I hold it myself, just that I put my hands in the straps (that I keep pretty tight, maybe they should be looser) and play away on my left knee. I'm guessing there's more to it than that...

 

Oh, I noticed another habit I've developed. I keep my right pinky finger pressed against the side of the concertina. It's not constantly on, but I do it every now and then, I'm guessing for increased stability, or to reduce wobbling when push/pulling. It's odd what you find when you look into what you're really doing!

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I learn almost exclusively by ear. I've played the musical priest on other instruments for a long time, but wanted to really dig in and make it work on the concertina. Now it's one of my favorite concertina tunes to play!

 

Since I started using a metronome and slow down my playing to practice, I've started to understand how important bellows control is. (I'm also getting to know my concertina better, as some reeds seem to move air a lot easier, which disturbs the flow if not compensated for.) I'll take your advice and start looking into how skilled players hold their instruments! I don't really know how I hold it myself, just that I put my hands in the straps (that I keep pretty tight, maybe they should be looser) and play away on my left knee. I'm guessing there's more to it than that...

 

Oh, I noticed another habit I've developed. I keep my right pinky finger pressed against the side of the concertina. It's not constantly on, but I do it every now and then, I'm guessing for increased stability, or to reduce wobbling when push/pulling. It's odd what you find when you look into what you're really doing!

 

glad to hear you learn by ear! you should definitely watch yourself in a mirror to get a good idea of your own habits. some players wouldn't be caught dead resting their pinkie, but i am definitely a pinkie rester on both hands! i also rest my ring finger and sometimes you might catch me resting my middle finger, but these fingers can be difficult, as it sometimes requires you to place your fingers between buttons.

 

i don't really have a good video showing my idiosyncratic and sporadic finger resting, but if you watch my video, you'll minimally be able to see me doing it on the last notes of the set, where i use my fingers to brace a lift-up of the concertina. off-the-knee playing can be quite complex, so i might recommend to stay against it, even though i teach it to my students when i can.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_NXCYUtpQ8

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