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NCW

Just Starting Out

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Hello!

 

So here's my story: I have always loved Irish music. I recently crossed paths with a great Irish flute player who inspired me to give Irish music a shot. We discussed different types of instruments that I could learn, and he seemed really excited about the concertina. To be honest, I didn't even know what that was, so I spent the next several hours online watching the concertina in action on YouTube. Needless to say, I immediately decided that I wanted to play one. Now I want to make sure I'm on the right path:

 

From perusing different forums around the web, the general consensus is that one needs to invest a little money in a decent instrument to start out with, and concertinaconnection.com came up in several discussions. I checked out their starter models and listened to various players on those three models (Jackie/Jack english, Rochelle anglo, and Elise duet). Does anyone have any personal opinions or experience with these models?

 

My second question is in regards to which style to pursue. I've read lots of discussions on this very question, so I hope I don't open a can of worms here. I've been playing classical piano for about 15 years, and the button layout of the duet system seems to make the most sense to me because of the parallel nature of the fingerings (like playing two mini piano keyboards on their sides). Any thoughts?

 

Is it also reasonable to assume that I would be able to play various styles (including Irish) on a duet system? I've heard people playing classical music on english systems, can duets do the same?

 

Ok, I think that's all of my questions for now.

Thanks for any help/advice!

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People will tell you (and they're probably right) that if you really want to play Irish like the Irish, you need a C/G anglo, minimum 30 buttons.

 

If your musical interests go wider, you will want to investigate the particular charms of English and duet. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to play anything other than Maccann duet, but then I'm biased.

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If your musical interests go wider, you will want to investigate the particular charms of English and duet. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to play anything other than Maccann duet, but then I'm biased.

 

Same as with me, but regarding the English. I can report that the English System at least can make a lot of sense to a dedicated piano player,,, B)

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Since you mention the possibility of playing "various styles" I think I tend to side with Maccannic ... but then I am also biassed, as I have a Maccann myself. Having watched and listened to other duet players I am also aware that duets can be used to play many and varied types of music. Good luck with your choice :)

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The Anglo as used by the Irish players has a very genre specific style for which good teaching and information is available and that is why the vast majority of people wanting to make that type of music will start with the 30key C/G.

 

Personally I play Irish music on the English and have resisted the temptation to change to the Anglo even when I lived in the heartland of Irish Concertina playing for 16 years. I also play other forms, Classical included.

 

Now I am starting to learn the Maccann; at first I could not see that I might be able to play Irish music on this form of Duet and really it had not been my aim in taking up the instrument. Recently, perhaps because I am getting more comfortable with this new keyboard, I feel that one could play Irish music on it but, would one want to ?

One thing that strikes me is that in the traditional Irish repertoire there are many tunes suited to the Fiddle which decend to G below middle C and these would call for the Duet player to swap the melody to the left hand, or play the instrument in a single note fashion using the 'octave ' crossover of the duets and playing with both hands to share the work as best as can be... rather like playing the Anglo or the English. Of course this makes perfect sense but do you wish to create your own method and style of playing?

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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I've read that as far as playing by ear, the Anglo is the best option. I really do want to explore Irish music, so I'm between Anglo and English at this point (at least as a starting instrument). Is the standard 48 button English variety reasonable for a beginner (is looking at less-button models a waste of money in the long run?)?

 

Personally I play Irish music on the English and have resisted the temptation to change to the Anglo even when I lived in the heartland of Irish Concertina playing for 16 years.

 

Why is that?

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I've read that as far as playing by ear, the Anglo is the best option. I really do want to explore Irish music, so I'm between Anglo and English at this point (at least as a starting instrument). Is the standard 48 button English variety reasonable for a beginner (is looking at less-button models a waste of money in the long run?)?

 

Personally I play Irish music on the English and have resisted the temptation to change to the Anglo even when I lived in the heartland of Irish Concertina playing for 16 years.

 

Why is that?

Why did I not change ? or Have I a reason for sticking to the English ??

 

Laziness perhaps. No, it is like this.... if you understand how to play Irish Music then you can play it on anything... Paper and Comb too! If you wish to be taught how to play Irish Music then it is best to get an instrument that the teacher understands.

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Laziness perhaps. No, it is like this.... if you understand how to play Irish Music then you can play it on anything... Paper and Comb too! If you wish to be taught how to play Irish Music then it is best to get an instrument that the teacher understands.

 

This makes perfect sense when you put it like that. Now I understand what maccannic meant when he said,

 

If your musical interests go wider, you will want to investigate the particular charms of English and duet. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to play anything other than Maccann duet, but then I'm biased.

 

Once you learn Irish music on an Irish-specific instrument, you can take that knowledge to other instruments (other concertina's in this case) that give you new capabilities and freedoms outside of Irish music per se. For you, Geoff, switching to an Anglo would be a little restrictive on your specific style of playing (am I on the right track?).

Edited by NCW

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if you understand how to play Irish Music then you can play it on anything...

As a duet (Hayden) player, I find playing Irish music very frustrating unless I stick to the right hand. There's nothing worse than having an instrument with all these great chords at your disposal and playing tunes all night that only use two of them.

 

[Edited for typo]

Edited by David Barnert

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Laziness perhaps. No, it is like this.... if you understand how to play Irish Music then you can play it on anything... Paper and Comb too! If you wish to be taught how to play Irish Music then it is best to get an instrument that the teacher understands.

 

This makes perfect sense when you put it like that. Now I understand what maccannic meant when he said,

 

If your musical interests go wider, you will want to investigate the particular charms of English and duet. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to play anything other than Maccann duet, but then I'm biased.

 

Once you learn Irish music on an Irish-specific instrument, you can take that knowledge to other instruments (other concertina's in this case) that give you new capabilities and freedoms outside of Irish music per se. For you, Geoff, switching to an Anglo would be a little restrictive on your specific style of playing (am I on the right track?).

 

Yes, that is correct.. as you can see from my avatar picture I play the Uilleann pipes so that is my Irish genre specific instument.

 

On the EC I play any type of music that I can understand... at the moment I play Irish, French, American, English, Scottish, Traditional (or Folk) musics as well as Classical (I love playing Bach) and bits of Ragtime or anything else that comes to mind.

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If you're considering one of concertina connection instruments, bear in mind that only Rochelle has a full key/note layout of more expensive instruments. This is one of advantages of starting with anglo - you can/have to/ buy more expensive instruments when you reach limits of speed/performance/sound of CC instrument, not when you "ran out of notes". This is most painfully true with Elise, which being a "chromatic" duet is unfortunately NOT chromatic...

 

Another thing about CC entry level instruments you should know is that they have very poor keyboard - keys are plastic/steel plates combo and are not bushed, so they buzz and are wobbly. Without modifying them, overall sound-an-feel of those instruments is worse than old, cheap german anglo from ebay - this is my personal experience with Elise, which lead me to replacing keys to fully bushed alluminium ones.

 

As for music styles, if you're mostly into Irish Folk (and folk in general), Anglo should suit you best, but in my oppinion, it's close to useless if you also want to play classical or modern music. This was main reason, why I switched to Hayden.

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Hello NCW, glad to hear the concertina has struck you so favorably! It is a really great instrument (or "class of instruments"): nice clean tone, very compact, good dynamic range, minimal maintenance other than mailing it off to be tuned after a few years.

 

I was in a position somewhat similar to yours a few years back, and was wavering between Anglo and English when I noticed Concertina Connection had just brough out the Elise Duet. I'd barely heard of duet before, but was sold on reading the concept, and have been casually playing duet a few years now. I play mostly out of the Anglo-Celtic-American tradition, and I'm finding the Elise to be really suitable for the stuff I do. As others have noticed, there really isn't any established Duet presence in those traditions, so there's no "Tom McHarry Hero of the Irish Duet Concertina" out there to emulate, but one can certainly execute tunes out of any of those traditions on the Duet and make them sound good.

 

I agree with your "piano-like" perception of the duet; I don't play piano myself, so ironically playing duet got me into learning to play electronic keyboard. I chose the Duet over the Anglo because the bouncy-in-out put me off at first (yes, I know it can be played smooth). I chose the Duet over the English because I wanted to be able to do accompaniment easily, which is fine on Duet where like piano the left can vamp chords and walking bass, and the right do melody, where it's trickier on the English where the whole octave is parceled out between hands. The Duet doesn't so easily lend itself to the driving rhyhthm of Anglo or its intuitive harmonizing, and it doesn't have the sheer speed of the English where rapid melody can alternate across hands. But I find it a great substitute for a keyboard (or in my case, the small Indian lap-harmonium I wanted until I got the Elise), while having that clean and simple concertina sound and being less huge and obtrusive (and passe) than a piano accordion.

 

 

Though Lukasz raises valid points as to the build, personally as an long-time amateur musician but concertina novice I've found the CC instruments to be fine for me starting out, though I'm starting to outgrow mine after a few years. For someone playing other than Western European folk music, the Elise can be rather limiting since it "only" plays in the keys of C, G, D, and F, but the vast majority of music in the Anglo-Celtic traditions are in those keys. I only really find the key limitations problematic if I play some wider-ranging tunes like Latin or Persian melodies, and when playing, say, Bach I need to transpose occasionally into keys that fit the Elise.

 

That's my little Duet pitch. If you're seriously focused on Irish trad than Anglo is the hands-down option, but if you want something piano-esque and versatile across a number of genres, Duet merits a look.

 

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