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Playing in D on a C/G anglo


Susanne
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Hello anglo concertina peeps!

 

I started off this summer to learn to play the anglo concertina. I have a C/G anglo, who knows what layout, I think they all seem to be the same.

However, I have a tiny little repertoire now, mostly slower tunes in the key of G, and now I want to start learning to play in D as well. I know the scale and all that, and I have a bunch of tunes to start with. The problem is that it's all on the pull or most of it anyway and I run out of air a lot. I've found an A on the push (on the accidental row) and a D on the push (on the G row), but it seems to be a big jump in difficulty to learn to use those instead, plus I think it gets a bit too much push-pull all the tune through.

I have no teacher, and no possibility to get one, unless I do it online in some way, so I'm totally on my own. How do people usually play in D? I use the C row as my "home" row because that's what I think sounds best in tone, the G row is too squeaky in my opinion. Should I alternate between the different A's and D's? Or use those that I'm most comfortable with and try to get more air when I can? How do people usually do it?

 

I have a DVD tutor that I haven't used for ages, will check there for ideas as well.

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As I understand it, part of the trick is to also use notes on the alternate buttons from the G row more often to supplement the home keys in the C row, so YOU gain more control of when you push and pull, rather than the intrument having control. Most of the time (more than 80% ?) you can find the note you want going either direction somewhere, so you can build phrases that minimize the push pull. You mention the D on the push in the G row, but there are B's there as well, and there are C's and E's on the pull, to complement the C's and E's on the push in the C row, so you can build phrases in either direction as needed. But it is hard to get to the point of really being just as comfortable with either button. I am also a beginner, and playing along the rows when possible does seem more natural, but I am trying to branch out. Others will hopefully offer more help!

 

Bertram Levy has written some good instruction in this. He has a beginner book "The Anglo Concertina Demystified" which I have just started to look at. He discusses D major toward the end of the book. He recently published another book about phrasing when playing american fiddle tunes on concertina, that seems to focus even more on this issue, but I haven't actually seen this book yet.

 

Oh, and about layout - the difference is usually just in the accidental row, on the right hand. The rest is the same. You should be able to find a diagram of the Wheatstone/Lachenal vs. Jeffries button layouts somewhere around here! Otherwise it available in the book I mentioned, or online you can find it in the ordering information for the anglo concertinas sold by the Button Box, in Amherst MA, USA.

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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In addition to all the good advice on this network I'd advise Mick Bramich's tutor book (from Dave Mallinson Music) and John William's DVD. Frank Edgley's book and DVD is good too.

 

A lot of reels and hornpipes are in D and you can get used to playing in that key with practice . The C# in the scale can be tricky, how many opportunities do you have ? If you are playing Irish music why not try The Boys of Bluehill? I start with the d pull on the right hand side then go as follows ( I use ABc notation for convenience) . The first 2 bars are dB/ BAF#A D F#A / BA Bc#d e de /

 

I mainly use a pull A on the left hand side on the C row in the key of D. You should get used to a push or pull D on the left side and find the best c# if you have more than one (I only have one on either side as I play a 26 button C/G concertina)

 

 

 

You rarely need the C# on the left side. I would practice scales to find the best fingers for the key of D.make a diagram , I use two colours to distinguish push or pull in additio to the ABc notation to indicate the best button and direction.

 

The tune I put up on Youtube (see end of post), Miss Hamilton is a nice slow air in D. You often end up more on the pull so need good use of the air button and the thumb should always be near it

 

All the best!

Edited by michael sam wild
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Hello there!

 

Thanks for all your input. I have both the first tutors you mention, Michael, but I've just found a basic scale in the book (maybe haven't checked out that chapter enough yet). Boys of Blue Hill is a good tune and it's one of the D tunes that I've started with. I also start with the D on the pull, right hand. For the C# I think I have two options, but I usually use the one on the push, right hand.

 

So, a combination of air button use and finding the fingering that works best, yes? It requires some work. I'm very impatient with this (I mainly play strings otherwise, and the scales are so straightforward there!), but I'll do my best. But I've come a little bit on the way at least. I can play a few tunes so it's just to keep on going I guess.

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Nice to get your response. Play slowly and precisely so that you get your fingers exact, don't rush it and don't move on till you get things right. Eventually aim to play without looking at your fingers (I play with my eyes shut a lot when on my own

 

When you have the tune quite well learned and have speeded it up play along to a good CD track. If you have aslowdowner on a media player it helps a lot

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Hello there!

 

I would recommend a general "good idea for learners" technique which I always impress upon students: don't just appreciate that you have options, USE them. Play a tune as much in the G row as you can, then try it as much in the C row as you can, then try mixing and crossing more freely. Play it in the low octave, then play it in the high octave, and figure out where you'd cross rows for each. You can't really choose freely until you know what options you have to choose from!

 

As for D major specifics, I'll let you know I generally use the low pull D on the C row, the press E on the C row, then switch to the G row for F# and up. Using the press B and D in the G row means you can easily get a good B-C#-D triplet all on the press.

 

Hope that helps.

--Dan

Edited by Dan A
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I haven't found a B on the push on the G row - I'll have to try that. But that's the lower octave, isn't it?

There should be 3 or 4 of them, all in different octaves, depending on the layout of your instrument. The lowest button on the left in the G row is a low B on the push, and the the next B in each case is one button higher than each G.

 

Basically on the push, the G row is all a G major chord, a whole handfull of G B and D's, although if it is a Jeffries layout there could be one high F up in the screech range on the far right button.

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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Another tip in deciding buttons is to try some chords (1,3,5 or 1,5) in the main chords for key of D eg D,G,A,Bminor . Try them in both directions mainly on the Left hand side, you can slot them i where hey feel right , a bit like pipers do or fiddlers who 'double stop' I find it often makes me consider the best button and bellows direction. Don't aim for a guitarist 'fakebook' approach for Irish music, although some Englsih style uses bass /chord oom pah approach quite nicely with tune on right and accompaniment on left.

 

Again, some blank button layouts help innoting chord shapes and two colours help with push or pull using highlighter pens.

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Hello there!

 

I would recommend a general "good idea for learners" technique which I always impress upon students: don't just appreciate that you have options, USE them. Play a tune as much in the G row as you can, then try it as much in the C row as you can, then try mixing and crossing more freely. Play it in the low octave, then play it in the high octave, and figure out where you'd cross rows for each. You can't really choose freely until you know what options you have to choose from!

 

 

agree 100% with this. I'm just getting into using cross row techniques. It starts with finding an individual phrase within tunes that can be played across the rows, and just practicing that short phrase until you get it and can play it in the context of the tune. It gets you familiar with where the notes are. later you'll want to try it with another phrase. eventually, like typing on a qwerty keyboard, you just know where to go. you just have to start doing it, like Dan says.

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Hi,

It's a really good excercise to draw up a lay-out of your own box. It's not hard to do (you can even shuffle it into a spread-sheet so's you can print lots of copies to scribble cords and such-like on.) Start with the 'C' row; you know what the notes must be -- just play thru the Do, Ray, Me tune & note where each note comes. Then do the same on the 'G' row. Once you've written all of these down you can explore the outer row -- some of the notes are the same, often going the other way, as those you've found already -- some are inbetween the notes you've found already -- sharps and flats. If you do this you'll get a better understanding of where stuff is -- also, when you've found a difficult piece to finger you can look at your chart for possible ways round.

Of course, this will then help you into other keys -- 'F', 'A' and further exotica.

Chris

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I've used a layout chart a lot for learning the scales, and when looking for alternate places to find certain notes. I don't remember where I found the chart, I just googled "anglo concertina layout" or something like that and the one I have seems to work for my box.

To actually USE all the options I have, will probably take lots of time, until I've learned where all of them are. But, step by step, I'll learn as I go.

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One other thing is also to learn to be more economical with the air. Don't worry, that will most likely happen automatically over time as your bellows control improves.

But you could already try to use smaller bellows movements, so you don't run out of air before you can change bellows directions. Maybe you're also playing fairly loud; try to play more softly. You'll use less air this way.

 

The other thing, which will also develop over time, is the very quick use of the air button. Sometimes, there is just this one short note on which to "breathe". But with practice, this will be long enough. Ultimately, it all boils down to bellows control.

 

Definitely learn to play across the rows. It gives you much more flexibility in tricky situations.

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So, a combination of air button use and finding the fingering that works best, yes? It requires some work. I'm very impatient with this (I mainly play strings otherwise, and the scales are so straightforward there!), but I'll do my best. But I've come a little bit on the way at least. I can play a few tunes so it's just to keep on going I guess.

 

this is the clincher. learn to use the air button! even if it is just a quarter note, you should press the air button on a push note if you are running out of air. there are some players that maximize efficiency by doing alternative fingerings, but the best way to go about it is to make the air button your friend, ;)

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The air button is a wonderful invention :) It will definitely be my friend. Or already is. I'm trying to find push notes (for example in "The butterfly" where I run out of air a lot in the middle part especially) where I can gasp for air. Just need to remember to do it every time.

I'll try to experiment with playing more softly. The problem is that I think my concertina has a very soft sound already. But I'll see what I can do... I suppose the main problem has to do with bellows control.

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...you should press the air button on a push note if you are running out of air....

 

Pull, surely?

 

You can run out of air in both directions but in key of D on a C/G it is often because you have reached full open extent of the bellows as a beginner.in such cases learn to sneak pushes or push in air buton as DB says.

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  • 1 month later...

Are there some D tunes that are notorious for being hard to play smoothly on a standard tuned 3-row C/G concertina? Like well known session tunes that concertina players seldom if ever participate in? Or, to put it another way, what is the D tune you'd like to be able play but can never seem to get right?

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