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Ashkettle

Question about the English (particularly traditional music related)

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Yeah, it's been a while since I've posted. What can I say, I lurk.

In any case, I'm about to come into a small bit of cash and am thinking about trying out an English System. They have always fascinated me and I find myself playing more styles than just ITM these days.

 

As is typical, I have a dilemma. I have about enough to get a Morse Albion. I'm a fan of the Button Box concertinas. However the number of keys makes me think. If I recall, it's a 37 key. From looking at things, it should suit what I intend on playing (mostly folk stuff...Irish, Scottish, Morris, Contradance, Old Time even, and maybe some backup for singing. Heck, I'd be willing to try some Scandinavian folk. I like folks music, what can I say?). I'm not one for Jazz and where I enjoy classical, I enjoy listening to it much more than playing it.

 

So I was wondering. Would the 37 keys be sufficient for that? I'm pretty solid in that price range, so the Geordie at 400 more is out of the range. Any Wheatstone I find in that range is with plastic buttons and from what I'm reading, that's not really a sign of quality (making the Albion a safer bet).

 

So...English players, help me out here. Any thoughts on if I'm going to regret the choice? Should I be looking for something else?

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I wouldn't worry particularly about the range-- when was the last time you really had to play higher than a D above the staff? I think I've got one piece that does that in a single place. And that whole piece is high enough that I could take it down an octave and fit the whole thing on my Albion if I need to. If I took it down an octave on my Wheatstone, I'd miss some of the quickness & lightness that comes in the upper octave, but the Morse is snappy all the way down to the bottom.

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I have a Morse Albion. Only once have I reached for an expected note and hit the air button-- I was playing scales!

I don't believe you'll miss the missing notes

Edited by CheeseNote

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if i were going to get a morse EC, it would be a morse geordie in a Tenor configuration. i know that sometimes people stereotype tenors as serving for chordal background in song accompaniment, but i think that configuration sounds fantastic for traditional and folk instrumental dance-music genres as well, which covers all the bases you have mentioned. the geordie is only $250 more than the albion, and if i was going to go into the mid-$2Ks for an accordion-reeded morse EC, it would be the geordie....

 

i am actually thinking of getting a concertina-reeded tenor made specifically for instrumental world folk music....

Edited by ceemonster

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I play with an Albion, and don't find it limiting in it's range. I don't remember ever playing melodies outside it's range. When I bought it, the Geordie wasn't available though. If I had a choice now, I don't know which I'd select. At one time, I had a passing thought to replace the air button with one more note, but it was only a passing thought, nothing more.

 

Thanks

Leo

 

P.S. I didn't realize you lived in the Burg. If you ever get to Monaca, there's a nice coffee shop, and you can play with mine.

Edited by Leo

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Hi Richard! So it is EC this time? Maybe we can get together some time. Leo, I keep track of all the players in western Penna (well maybe not any more) even though I haven't met any of you (must be this Admin stuff). Well have fun, they're all great instruments.

 

Ken

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I've got my heart set on an Albion baritone, and play them and the treble version at every opportunity - in all the hours I've spent hanging around festival stalls and the like playing these beauties, I've never run into a problem with the range or found 'only' having 37 keys limiting.

 

I dare say there's some classical pieces that would skitter off the end of the fingerboard, but for ECM and Scandinavian you'll be absolutely fine.

 

[edited for spelling]

Edited by Steve Mansfield

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Would the 37 keys be sufficient...?

I often go outside that range, but I seem to be unusual in that respect. And I don't do it because I have to, but because I have those additional notes available, I find ways to use them.

 

"Work with what you have" is one of my many mottoes.

 

I have a 64-button tenor-treble, which goes both lower and higher than a standard 48-button treble. When I have the TT in my hands I often do things I can't do on the treble 48... maybe deeper bass, richer chords, high descant harmonies, or playing a melody an octave lower or one or two higher. When I have the 48 in my hands, I don't complain about what's missing; I just do things a bit differently, using what I have available.

 

As others have noted, there are very few traditional tunes that go above the Albion's high D. (Even in classical pieces written to show off the violin, there are very few that go above the highest C of a treble 48.)

 

I'm pretty sure you'll be quite happy with an Albion, whether treble or baritone. Or with a Geordie, if you go that way, though it is slightly larger and heavier. There are people to whom the size and weight are important issues, though for me, it's just another thing I adjust to.

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I am just confirming what everyone else has said. I do not own an Albion but have played the wonderfully light and supple instrument. And one of the best players and singers I have heard, Mark Evans, who we have not heard from lately on the net, does absolute wonders with it.

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Thanks everybody. Sounds like I have my answer then. I've never had an issue with anything from the Button Box, and with this thread, I feel more than happy with the choice I'm making. Should be interesting getting used to a new system.

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Looking through the comprehensive collections of traditional tunes these are the following conclusions.

1) Scottish tunes "Kerr's Merry Melodies" 4 books nearly 450 in each. Very few go above the high d"', though a few go up to the high e"' (one or two d#"' & e"'} None go any higher than that.

2) American Contra dance "Cole's 1000 American Fiddle Tunes" is exactly the same total compass with the exception of one tune which goes up to the very high a"'.

3) Irish Trad tunes "O'Neil's 1850 Irish Tunes": I don't remember any that go above the high d"'; which is the highest note that can be played on the Irish Uillean Pipes.

4) English Cotswold Morris Tunes mostly have quite a small compass as they were originally played on the 3 hole pipe, (& tabor). Jinkey Wells (fiddle) of Bampton in the Bush played a few with a wider compass but none that could not be played on an Albion. William Kimber who played (C/G anglo) didn't play any Morris Tune above the high d"', and he was playing his tunes a fourth higher than most Morris musicians play nowadays.

Inventor.

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