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New Tutor - Anglo Concertina In The Harmonic Style


gcoover
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I'm a complete beginner to concertina (or any other instrument) although I sing. Getting my first concertina very soon. I've done some reading and would like to learn the 'harmonic' style. Would this book be good for a complete beginner or should I try something else first?

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I'm a complete beginner to concertina (or any other instrument) although I sing. Getting my first concertina very soon. I've done some reading and would like to learn the 'harmonic' style. Would this book be good for a complete beginner or should I try something else first?

 

Don, if you're wanting to play in the harmonic style on an Anglo, then I think this book would be perfect for you. The tunes start off easy and do get difficult fairly quickly, but it's a pretty big learning curve to get both hands and both directions and all those buttons working the way you want. Granted, there are other beginning books out there, but they often use different button numbering systems and some make it very hard to learn. This one has the easiest tablature system of all, and you don't even need to be able to read music.

 

You can preview a lot of it on www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com, so that's a good start to see if it's what you're looking for. And a lot of the tunes are on the Anglotutor playlist on the "angloconc" YouTube channel.

 

Feel free to PM me with any questions. Between this book and the good folks on these cnet forums, we'll get you up and playing in no time!

Gary

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Wally,

I see the Kennington Jig video is working now, not sure if it was a YouTube or Brinwins issue, but all is good. Hope you enjoy the book! Please keep me posted on any questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

 

Gary

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I recently bought my first anglo concertina, a lovely Lachenal C/G 30 key, with brass reeds and mahogany ends. I've also just become the happy owner of the harmonic style tutor book. Despite the fact that this is my first instrument and that I know very little about music, I can already see what an excellent tutor this is.

 

I would find it really helpful though, to see a video of the different parts being played in the first tune it teaches, 'Oh! Susanna'. I'm not familiar with the tune so it's hard to know what I should be trying to do. I'm very dyslexic and so I'm probably struggling with the tablature system a little more than most people would, and it makes it difficult to understand what I'm meant to be doing with each hand. I can see how important the skills learnt on these first couple of tunes will be to mastering the later ones, as they become increasingly challenging.

 

It would be incredibly helpful if someone would at least put a video up of this tune played on anglo, and even more helpful if someone was willing to record it in the stages shown in the book, i.e. left hand/right hand, octaves and then harmony.

 

Many thanks!

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I would find it really helpful though, to see a video of the different parts being played in the first tune it teaches, 'Oh! Susanna'. I'm not familiar with the tune so it's hard to know what I should be trying to do.

Wow! :)

 

Not a criticism, at all, but it's truly a surprise to find someone who isn't familiar with "Oh, Susanna". The first successful song of the American composer Stephen Foster, it became a worldwide favorite and has remained popular to this day. It was even used as a shanty by sailors, both with the original words and with unrelated verses... even in German and Swedish.

 

Not that it will help you with the fingering and bellows work on the anglo, but here are links to few recordings, which might help you become familiar with the melody.

A brief digression: I'm actually quite surprised at how few videos of this tune my quick search was able to find. (And of those, James Taylor seriously changes the lyrics from the original string of ridiculous impossibilities to a sort of love song, while Neil Young more or less keeps the lyrics but uses a completely different tune.)

Edited by JimLucas
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The Royton Morris (NW Morris tradition) danced to Oh Susannah, so maybe that would be a good place to catch the tune in an English context. It can be found on the House Dance CDRom, in the section on Ellis Marshall (Musical Traditions website)

 

http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/worrall.htm

 

Ellis plays it in octaves, which seems to have been the most common style of Anglo playing around the world before the folk revival.

 

Oh Susannah was spread around the world by the minstrel shows in the 1850s to 1890s. There is a section in House Dance that discusses the minstrels and their legacy, especially in regard to the Anglo concertina.

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Will

 

You might find it worthwhile learning the ABC notation system so that you can enter tunes that you do not know into EasyABC or ABC Explorer. You will then be able to play the tune and to slow it down while you are learning it.

 

There are lots of other benefits to knowing ABC including access to a huge number of tunes available online.

 

Don.

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Thanks for the tips guys! The links to other recordings were particularly helpful. I wonder of it is such an oddity that I didn't know this tune already? Perhaps as an English folky, I've been less exposed to that kind of music? Oh well, I certainly know it now!

 

So, having mastered Oh! Susanna, on left hand, then right hand and then playing in octaves, I moved onto lesson two which was Oh Susanna, using very simple harmonies on the left hand (just playing which ever key was left of the melody key). This is simple enough, but to me it just sounds like I've got fat fingers and I'm hitting too many keys, even if it is intentional. (Again a video of someone doing this well would be very helpful to folk like me who have bought the tutor as total beginners).

 

I've started trying to play the second tune in the book too, Shepherd's Hey. A tune that I recognised, hooray! I'm rather confused by the instructions for the left hand chords though. The way I'm stabbing at it, it sounds bitty and like I'm doing something wrong. Also the second chord, an F, doesn't sound right to me at all... maybe I'll get this, as I persevere, but at the moment I'm pretty confused by what it's meant to sound like and Garry Coover hasn't put a video of this on his page either. I suppose Mr. Coover's assumption is that these first couple of tunes are simple and commonly known, therefore unnecessary to put up videos, but I would suggest that as the first two tunes in the book it seems essential to have good videos of them on youtube. These are the tunes that you're using to master all the most basic techniques to carry on your playing, so getting them right to begin with is, in my eyes, pretty important.

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Will,

I know it's a struggle if you're just starting, but it sounds like you've got the will and determination to persevere! Glad you got through "Oh Susanna" - playing the adjacent harmonies (p.23) just takes some practice to be able to play them fairly cleanly. Just think of yourself as playing a bellows-powered harmonica and try to mimic that sound.

 

As for "Shepherd's Hey" on p. 25, I've just posted a quick video of the two versions, each played twice through at normal speed. Hope this helps!

 

http://youtu.be/gMfK-d-o2MU

 

Gary

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Thanks Gary! Your video is a massive help. It makes a real difference seeing someone actually doing what you're reading in the book. I've now more or less got the first lot of harmonies. Thanks again! :D

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