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F# Roll On A G/c 30 Buttons Concertina


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Hello,

 

I started playing a few months ago and now I can pretty much manage rolls on the concertina by switching index finger and middle finger pretty fast, which makes rolls I'm happy with, meaning not too slow or robotic, they seem to flow nicely. But my mean problem now is to roll the F# on the pull on the G row. I'm always trying to keep the same position with my finger, sometimes borrowing my index to play a roll on the second column, or my middle finger to play a roll on the third column... But that F# would require me to roll with my little finger and the finger beside it, and it seems very hard. I mean, I think I could practice a lot and manage to play rolls with my little finger and it's neighbor but I'm not sure if it's the way to go.

 

So there's two choice, I can try to roll the F# with my index and middle finger but then I'm kinda far from my normal playing position and would require lotsa practice to come back in time, or I can learn to roll wth my little finger and the finger beside it, which seems hard but doable wth loads of practice. I don't want to roll using only one finger, I'm not happy with the result.

 

Is there anyone here who remember having a class with some teacher talking about how to roll the F# or equivalent?

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As another fairly new player, I'm also having trouble figuring out how to ornament/punctuate that low F#. I'm trying to "crann" (I think!) with various keys on either the left or right hand, but I find it difficult, partly because of a weak left pinky and partly because my left hand didn't recover well from carpal tunnel surgery a few years ago.

 

Along with Chris, I'd like more information on the roll technique you're describing here.

 

How do the rest of you people ornament the low F#? (Or is this a closely held secret? :ph34r: )

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If you're trying to embellish the F#, with an F#, A, F# (I gather), then you could use the A in the L-2-5 position (left hand, second row, 5th button from the right). You would then be using your index finger to get the A instead of the ring finger as I think you are indication. Another way of embellishing the F# would be to play this sequence: F#, D, B, F#. All of these notes would be on the draw. You would have to use the draw D and B from the second row, right side. The B and D are farther than usual from the melody note but can be effective. What you are trying to achieve is the rhythmic effect with this one. Also, a "slap roll" can be done. You can really hear this on Tim Collins' new CD, and he is a master at it. Play the F# and then slap the right end of the concertina with your middle and index finger. This sets up a vibration though the concertina and results in the effect of 3 or 4 very rapid F#s. This one is not easy and takes a while to get it effectively. ;)

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Thanks all.

 

Here's a clip I just recorded demonstarting what I'm trying to achieve with my rolls. They need more practice but you get the idea. I got think finger, yeah, so hitting the same button with index/middle/index (and middle again for an extra cut) isnt that hard.

 

http://www.metayer.info/mp3/VOICE156.MP3

 

Thanks Frank for the hint, but I'll really need to hear someone play that to really get it because I still can't understand how a roll can sound nice hitting 3 different notes, at least on the concertina. I play whistle so I love when my rolls do ya-ta-la on the same note, any extra just being a subtle way to cut the main note.

 

Last night I experimented holding the F# and hitting two other buttons, but just slightly, not too deep, and it kinda gives me satisfactory results.

 

Az

 

PS: Frank, our comon friend, Bill, saw you at Goderich, he said you said hello, so hello! :-)

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Frank,

 

Thanks so much for letting me know I'm on the right track! :) Guess I just need more practice... I haven't studied a slap roll yet, so I'll keep on with the other methods for now.

 

Azalin, what Frank's suggesting--ornamenting with additional notes--actually does sound great if someone better than me is playing it. Since my recorded collection is limited, can anyone point Azalin to some specific recorded multinote rolls/cuts/cranns?

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Here's a clip I just recorded demonstarting what I'm trying to achieve with my rolls.

A question on terminology here, for Azalin and others:

 

It sounds to me as if Azalin is attempting what I would call a "triplet", not a "roll". Is concertina terminology different from that used by other instruments? I have not taken lessons from traditional concertina players (except for sitting in on one class by Tim Collins a few years back), so I don't know if they have a common terminology that differs from what I've learned from traditional players of other instruments. My understanding of the terminology as used on the other instruments (flute & whistle, pipes, fiddle) is...

 

.. 1) A "triplet" on a single note is playing it three times in quick succession. On a fiddle this is known as a "bowing triplet" and is done by rapid reversals of the bow. Its equivalent on a flute or whistle would be "triple tonguing", a technique I've rarely heard in Irish music. These "triplets" are often also rhythmic triplets, e.g., a single eighth note divided into three equal parts, and written in standard notation as three beamed sixteenths with a little "3" above the beam.

 

.. 2) Another kind of "triplet" ornament is rhythmically like the first, but consists of two notes the same separated by a different note -- usually the note above, sometimes the note below, rarely some other note -- in the middle. However, all three notes are "full" length.

 

.. 3) A "cut" is a note above the melody note, and a "tip" is a note below, but in all cases -- even in slow airs -- played as short as humanly possible. Cuts and tips can be used as lead-in grace notes, but are also used to break up a single note into quicker repetitions of that same note. They're intended as substitutes for tonguing or bowing, not as notes in their own right. On a fiddle the cut is usually the note of the scale immediately above and the tip is the note immediately below, but on a whistle the cut is often a note (or a hole, not producing an actual "in tune" note, because the intervening fingers aren't lfted) that is higher. E.g., the A-hole is used for cuts on D, E, F#, and G, while the corresponding "cut" notes on a fiddle would all be different. My understanding is that on a concertina, the cuts and tips most often use the buttons above and below the melody note being ornamented.

 

The main difference between a triplet of the second kind and a note with a cut (or tip) is that the first is intended to be heard as three distinct notes, while the second is meant to be heard as two separate notes, with the cut or tip providing the separation, and not intended to be heard as a separate note. I understand that this originated as a technique on the pipes, where it's not possible to stop the sound, so it's the only way to make it sound like a single note is being repeated. And it's precisely because the cuts and tips are meant to be perceived as separations, rather than as notes, that it doesn't matter that the fiddles, flutes, and concertinas can all play different notes and nobody minds.

 

.. 4) This brings us to "rolls", as I understand them. A "roll" is a single note broken into three parts, not by stopping the sound (with bowing or tonguing or tapping a button), but by inserting a cut and a tip. So in one sense, it's five notes, not three, but the cut and tip (always, it seems, the cut first, then the tip) are so short as to be heard as separations, not as musical notes.

 

So why not just use "triplets" of the first kind, on those instruments where you can? And why use a different name for "a single note broken into three parts", just because it's done in different ways? Because even though the separator notes -- the cuts and tips -- can't be heard clearly as separate notes, the overall sound and musical feel is quite different. That difference is why fiddlers use rolls in some places and bowing triplets in others, or may even switch between them on different repetitions of a tune. The same should hold for concertina players. If you want to just play the same note three times in succession, you can, but a roll can sound really nice.

 

There is also what is known as a "short roll", which just leaves off the first of the three repetitions of the base note, starting with the cut as a grace note.

 

.. 5) Finally, there is the "cran". A "cran" is a single note divided not by a cut and a tip, but by multiple cuts, each using a different "higher" note. On pipes or a whistle, that means that each cut uses a different finger. The most common cran -- in fact, almost the only one I've ever seen used -- is a cran on the low D. The reason is simple; there is no "lower" note to use for a tip. For reasons lost in the mists of time, the standard cran uses three cuts, not two, thus dividing the base note into four parts rather than three.

 

Just as the particular notes used for cuts and tips are a matter of what instrument is being played or even of individual choice, which notes to use as the cuts in a cran vary from player to player. The low D cran on the pipes or whistle seems generally to be done using the notes F#, G, and A, though the E could be used. But... I learned the sequence as A-G-F#, yet the piper who taught me that said that he sometimes finds it easier to play A-F#-G, and a flute player told me that she uses F#-G-A.

 

.. 6) As I said above, I haven't taken lessons on the concertina. In fact; I haven't yet tried to carefully study the playing on those recordings I have. Mainly I experiment. One thing I've noticed, though, is that it's as easy on the concertina to cut with a note far above the base note as with one nearby. That's difficult on flute or fiddle, since it requires change of breath or bowing. But on the concertina it can sound quite nice... sometimes.

 

 

SO... Frank and the rest, does the term "roll" really mean something different on the concertina than on the other instruments? And does Tim Collins really call his ornament a "slap roll" now? I recall that when he taught it at Bielefeld several years ago he called it a "triplet", and didn't use the term "roll".

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It sounds to me as if Azalin is attempting what I would call a "triplet", not a "roll". Is concertina terminology different from that used by other instruments?

What Azalin is describing, at least in terms of his whistle playing, is indeed a roll, not a triplet. When he talks about it sounding like ya-ta-la all on the same note, he's referring to achieving success in making the grace notes (the cut and tap) so short as to just be separations, not distinguishable notes. The only note you hear is the one being ornamented (the "base note" in Jim's terminology), and it is clearly and crisply separated into three parts. This is something I've achieved on my flute exactly once. Then again, Azalin plays a lot more than I do.

 

I can't speak for what he's trying to achieve on the concertina, because I play English, not anglo, and even at that I'm still pretty close to brand new.

 

:)

Steven

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Jim, for me a triplet isnt what you describe, a triplet is 3 different notes, usually going up and following each other, that will replace two dots in the tune. I'm pretty sure it's also classical music terminology, never her triplet for what you are describing.

 

Steve, yes, rolls for me are what you are describing. In the whistle and flute world, triplets are what I described above and rolls are the same note being played but slightly evenly separated twice, which could give the impression you're playing the same note but hitting it three times.

 

Sandy, my clip contains rolls on different notes because this is exactly my problem, I can't really roll the F# the way I roll other notes, so this is an example about how I roll other notes. I'm hitting the same buttin three times, using two different fingers so that I can do it at "machine-gun" speed.

 

I'm currently working on holding the F# while I softly but quickly hit the top of the left side of the concertina (some random button or buttons) and do the same on the right side. It really gives what I want, an F# being "cut" by something twice, but I don't hit the sides strong enough to actually play a note, it will just add a separation to the main note.

 

I just added this clip, it starts with a triplet and have often the same triplet patter throughout the first part, triplet is Bcd... Rolls are played often on the G and the E. There is no triplet in the second part but lotsa rolls.

 

http://www.metayer.info/mp3/VOICE157.MP3

Edited by Azalin
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Well sais, Jim. Quite a detailed explanation. To answer your questions:

 

"SO... Frank and the rest, does the term "roll" really mean something different on the concertina than on the other instruments?"

ANS> Yes. If you check on pages xii ans xiii of CeolRince na Eireann, you will find the different ways to play fiddle onpipes, whistle, fiddle and accordion. Concertinas are not included on these pages, but I remember in a class I took with John Mc Mahon in Milltown Malbay 12 or so years ago that the were several ways to play rolls on a concertina. While theoretically a roll is what Jim explained, not every instrument is set up so that the "perfect" roll can be achieved on every note on all instruments. What is strived for is an embellishment which satisfies the rhythmic effects of a roll rather than the actual note pitches.

 

And:

 

"does Tim Collins really call his ornament a "slap roll" now? I recall that when he taught it at Bielefeld several years ago he called it a "triplet", and didn't use the term "roll".

ANS> He called it a slap roll at the Comhaltas Convention in St. Louis a few years back. That's not to say that he didn't call it a triplet when you heard him in that workshop you attended. Embellishment terminology seems to be fairly loose in this area. That's why I didn't put labels on embellishments in my tutor. The terminology varies from player to player just as the embellishments vary depending on the style and which buttons you use for your "default" position.

 

A note to "Azalin". Hi, nice playing. Nice sounding instrument, too.

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Well sais, Jim. Quite a detailed explanation. To answer your questions:

 

"SO... Frank and the rest, does the term "roll" really mean something different on the concertina than on the other instruments?"

ANS> Yes. If you check on pages xii ans xiii of CeolRince na Eireann, you will find the different ways to play fiddle onpipes, whistle, fiddle and accordion. Concertinas are not included on these pages, but I remember in a class I took with John Mc Mahon in Milltown Malbay 12 or so years ago that the were several ways to play rolls on a concertina. While theoretically a roll is what Jim explained, not every instrument is set up so that the "perfect" roll can be achieved on every note on all instruments. What is strived for is an embellishment which satisfies the rhythmic effects of a roll rather than the actual note pitches.

 

And:

 

"does Tim Collins really call his ornament a "slap roll" now? I recall that when he taught it at Bielefeld several years ago he called it a "triplet", and didn't use the term "roll".

ANS> He called it a slap roll at the Comhaltas Convention in St. Louis a few years back. That's not to say that he didn't call it a triplet when you heard him in that workshop you attended. Embellishment terminology seems to be fairly loose in this area. That's why I didn't put labels on embellishments in my tutor. The terminology varies from player to player just as the embellishments vary depending on the style and which buttons you use for your "default" position.

 

A note to "Azalin". Hi, nice playing. Nice sounding instrument, too.

A note to "Azalin". Hi, nice playing. Nice sounding instrument, too.

 

Well, thanks, my instrument is actually a Frank Edgley ;-) I'm far than being happy with my playing on the concertina, off course, after listening to some Michael O'Raghallaigh I just know it will take many years to achieve something I like <sigh> There's just so much to handle and the potential of what you can do on the concertina for me is limitless, compared to the whistle anyway.

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OK. A tune like The Wise Maid presents an opportunity for embellishment (Roll, triplet, crann, whatever, call it what you want) on the first note, low F# (quarter and eighth note, or dotted quarter note).

 

On an anglo I would ornament it like this:

 

Rhythm---first 1/4 note becomes two 1/16s and an 1/8 (irish triplet) then the following 1/8 note on the second beat.

 

Notes---F#-A-F#---F# (all on the pull, left side)

Fingers--pinky-index-pinky-ring

 

or-------F#-d-b-----F# (d and b pull right side C row)

 

The middle 2 notes of either example should be very crisp (they are there for rhythm, not melody)

 

In most cases a *same note* triplet (you call it a roll) on a low F# won't be practical because, as you indicate, your fingers are pulled so far out of a *normal* position. The two examples above offer the same rhythmic pattern and are very typical (especially the second example) to the unique sound of Irish concertina style.

Edited by Sandy Winters
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A tune like The Wise Maid presents an opportunity for embellishment ... on the first note, low F# (quarter and eighth note, or dotted quarter note).

An excellent example.

 

On an anglo I would ornament it like...:

Rhythm---first 1/4 note becomes two 1/16s and an 1/8 (irish triplet) then the following 1/8 note on the second beat.

...

The middle 2 notes of either example should be very crisp (they are there for rhythm, not melody)

A quibble regarding your description, Sandy, but if "crisp" means "short", then I would think the "two 1/16s" would apply to the middle two notes, not the first two.

 

Notes---F#-A-F#---F# (all on the pull, left side)

Fingers--pinky-index-pinky-ring

An alternative fingering could be: pinky-index-ring-pinky.

 

or-------F#-d-b-----F# (d and b pull right side C row)

To make that more like what I would consider a roll, I would play

... F#--d--F#--B--F#

Where each F# is essentially a full 8th note, and the d and B are struck as briefly as possible in the gaps where the (little) finger lifts off the F# button and drops again. I find that I can easily play the three 8th notes on F#, but the space between them makes it sound sluggish. But sticking other, "crisp" little notes into those gaps hides the sluggishness and gives the whole thing a crisp feel. And there are many alternatives for those in-between notes: d & B, yes, but also d & A, B & A, f# & A... well, you get the idea.

 

As an alternate rhythm for Sandy's first ornament, I would use three equally-spaced 8th-note F#'s, putting the A between the first two and leaving a gap between the second two. In the terminology I'm used to, that would be a cut separating the first two (or "dividing the first quarter note"), with the last one simply considered a separate note. And if you have a low A next to the F# instead of a duplicate D, a lovely alternative is to use that lower A in the same pattern (starting with your ring finger on the F#, of course), instead of the upper one.

 

For a quite different "enhancement" -- not an "ornament" in the sense of these others -- try playing the F# as a quarter note and an 8th note, with no "extra" notes in the gap, but playing D along with the F# on the quarter note. (For a tune in Bm, put a low B under the F#, rather than a D.) That's a technique often used by fiddlers and even pipers (not necessarily with the same notes), which is quite impossible on the flute or whistle. :) (I notice that Azalin already uses that technique on the high F#.)

Edited by JimLucas
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It sounds to me as if Azalin is attempting what I would call a "triplet", not a "roll".
What Azalin is describing, at least in terms of his whistle playing, is indeed a roll, not a triplet. When he talks about it sounding like ya-ta-la all on the same note, he's referring to achieving success in making the grace notes (the cut and tap) so short as to just be separations, not distinguishable notes.

Precisely my description of a "roll", but I wasn't referring to his whistle playing, nor to descriptions, but to the concertina playing on his mp3. There are several places where he plays three identical notes in quick succession, but on none of them can I hear any grace notes. My description -- and my understanding from other instruments -- is that with the grace notes it's a "roll", but without them it's just three notes.

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If you check on pages xii ans xiii of CeolRince na Eireann, you will find the different ways to play fiddle onpipes, whistle, fiddle and accordion.

I don't really want to argue, Frank, but I do get tired of people quoting Brendán's book as if it were the word of God. In my experience, his notations of the ornaments are simply wrong. E.g., on the long rolls he notates the middle of the three "base" notes (my term) as being just another grace note and as short as the notes above and below, but that's simply not the way a roll sounds. If I did hear an ornament played that way, I wouldn't perceive it as a roll.

 

Even the particular notes he shows for some of the whistle rolls, though reasonable alternatives, are different from the fingerings that I've learned are pretty well standardized among traditional players. In my experience, the Comhaltas tin whistle tutor gives a much more accurate representation of what most traditional players actually play.

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Thanks so much, all, for your help on these ornaments. It's incredible how much helpful energy is available in this forum! :)

 

And Azalin, I completely agree with your sentiments on moving from whistle to concertina. The concertina is so much more complex, and to me its challenges seem pretty daunting compared to the whistle, which I'm guessing from your lovely playing must have come fairly naturally to you.

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