Jump to content

Song Accompaniment

Don Taylor

Recommended Posts

Matthew: Thanks for this idea, do you mean this version from his 'In Port' LP:



Actually, turns out I looked up the wrong one, thinking is was Cyril's I know. But now that I'm home and check my iTunes, the concertina version I know is Lou Killen's cover. I know it initially from my teenage years in the '90s off the Maddy Prior/June Tabor album, but Killen's is the version I like the most. Don, the Tawney version you post has McCallum on accordion; is there a Tawney version with concertina, or just the Killen?


In whatever case, a great song. That one and "Bright Smile" were among the songs I used to sing myself when I was stuck on a US Navy ship in the Indian and Pacific oceans.



A song I really like and am working on arranging now is "Canning Salmon", by Linda Chobotuck. Kind of a Canadian labour song about working in a packing plant. Oddly enough, the first clip of it I found on YouTube has a concertina in it, though the singer just uses it to pitch before starting acapella: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FZ4iDiRicA . Here's a cleaner version backed by guitar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvQiqwxrdAk


Good song for accompanying, slow and plaintive. Since I'm kinda new to song accompaniment on concertina, I'm mostly trying to find a properly understated way to back this up, rather than "mash C chord, mash F chord, mash G chord". I've got the music theory and fingering patterns down, I'm just figuring out how to space out the chord bits to get a more subtle effect.

Edited by MatthewVanitas
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 61
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Stuart: Yes please. Matthew: Thanks for this idea, do you mean this version from his 'In Port' LP:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1ZoEB494Y4 It is one of my favourite songs - and I am not alone in this I am sure. Don.

You made my morning - what a voice (which I didn't happen to know as yet), and what a take! :)


Don't believe it's Alf Edwards backing though since I don't hear his Aeola or a concertina at all...


As to adapting there's a frequent I6 chord as well as a diminished one which add to the outcome but are of course not inevitable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just had to try out this great new-to-me song. Thank you Matthew and Don, what a fine addition to the repertoire. :)


I recorded it spontaneously now representing my approach on slower tunes, again with melody + chords throughout. To my ears it works. Here is


Grey Funnel Line


My voice being a bit shaky from a cold I tried to compensate with a better mic / notebook position; but the hardware simply won't do I guess. I'll have to go for a proper mic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I am so impressed, you did this from not knowing the song at all in less than 24 hours! Thank you.


As background to the song, I am going to refer you to a German (yes, really - University of Hamburg) web-site that is probably the most comprehensive site for information about English traditional songs.




Skipping to the item on just this song you will find a detailed description by Cyril about why and how he wrote it.




At the bottom of this page is an embedded Youtube video of a remarkable version by June Tabor backed by a band of top musicians including Andy Cutting and Martin Simpson.


Cyril Tawney wrote a lot of songs about the sea and about being an ordinary sailor in the Queen's Navee. If you like Grey Funnel then you will like a lot of the others too.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Don,


thank you for your kind remark, glad that you seem to have liked my recording. The song appeared so familiar from just listening to it... (albeit I had of course to work on the details to get the melody right).


I'm really looking forward to learn more about Cyril Tawney and his songwriting! Thank you for pointing at the "Mainly-Norfolk" site (which has in fact been forced to move to another non-university webspace). Interesting reading particularly regarding this tune! And the recording by June Tabor is demonstrating (if needed) once more the potentialities of this classic-seeming song with its plain and true statement...


Best wishes - Wolf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

G'day Wolf,


Nice one, I did get the feel of the fiddle rhythm effect. Nice playing, all those chords and melody happening too. I understand your concern about the notebook mic though, hardly a great recording mic. And with a song I think it's important that the words are prominent over the accompaniment. Your vocal was a little swamped, perhaps because you have such a deep voice, but mostly because of how it was recorded.


As you've seen I record with a reasonable quality vocal mic and microvox for the concer and then put them through a mixer before it goes to the computer. More control that way.


But of course you have to start somewhere. Good on you. If you want to do more song recording you could experiment with the positioning of the notebook I guess. You'll work out what's best for you, carry on.


Cheers Steve.




your remarks have in fact encouraged me to go for a proper mic - due to economical limitations I chose a single USB microphone with stereo capabilities. To my ears it works quite well for recording "live" when adequately positioned (see this new thread).


Thank you again - Wolf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

It seems that most fok who accompany their own singing on concertina (that's what I want to do, mainly folk songs) play the EC. Is the EC better suited for song accompaniment and if so - in what ways?

Edited by donmcl
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When it comes to self accompaniment you're looking for something easiest to play on while performing other, very focus-intense activity. Even on the easiest instruments simultanous playing and singing is quite hard - I can sing pretty well, I'm quite decent at concertina accompaniment playing, but doing both at the same time requires my absolute focus and is not as natural as either of these activities alone. IMHO Haydens are the best option for self accompaniment, then comes Crane system and EC is third (descending order of logicality of layout). Anglos require you to memorize and controll more parameters while playing. You have two layouts of notes and must mantain not only proper pressure in the bellows, but also it's direction and limits (you have to watch out for running out of air). Of course anything can be done by skilled enough individual.


But said that, there is one, most important factor to consider: both availability and price tag favour ECs over duets if you don't need duet specific capabilities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't disagree with anything that Łukasz wrote, but I would add that there are players who do very effective song accompaniment on Anglo: John Kirkpatrick, John Roberts and the late Peter Bellamy are three well-known examples. I think that Anglo lends itself to bigger chords and a more bouncy style - English works well for a more flowing sound and fewer notes at a time, and for singing in a wide variety of keys. Duet might potentially be the best of both worlds - Geoff Lakeman's song accompaniment on Crane is one example.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since this has been discussed (not just regarding song accompaniment) here repeatedly, I restrain myself from saying more than the following:

The concertina that best suits you will be the best for song accompaniment as well. You'll have to find out if it's an English, an Anglo or one of the Duet systems available yourself. Any of them would be capable of accompanying yourself, with chords thick or thin or whatever...

Best wishes - Wolf

edited to add: Of course concertina.net members can refer to their own experiences (including myself as to the English), highlight the pros (and maybe pointing out the cons too), each in his or her own perspective - a ranking would not just be contraversial but pointless IMO.

Edited by blue eyed sailor
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most important Duet capability is full independence of hands and thus being able to play more than a melody line in various styles in ease. This can be done to some extent on both Anglo and English (with different limitations or requiring different level of mastery). Duets are also more versatile and more suited for modern music.

I agree with Daniel, that Anglo is very distinctive in it's bounciness and this is a feature of bisonoric instruments that is very hard to fake with unisonoric boxes. But "bigger chords" advantage is only relative to Englishes, all Duet types can accomodate (and be used this way in practice) more complex and larger harmonies than both Anglos and Englishes. [for example, I can easily play four step progressions with full triads on both sides or build and use 4 finger chords. I often use 6 notes sounding at once for rock songs accompaniment]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies. Daniel, in what way does the anglo lend itself to bigger chords?


In its home keys all the notes along each home row are in the chord on the press, and many of them are on a "nearby" minor on the pull. So on a C/G Anglo, big chords in C, G, Dm and Am are very easy to find and play, and chords that are close to these in the circle of fifths such as F and D and Em are pretty easy too.

Edited by Daniel Hersh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was going to quote from some of the recent posts above but decided all of the advice offered is pretty well spot on. As Wolf says the concer that most suits you will be the one that suits your accompaniment style. As Lukasz says it may depend on price (and availability).


You may have already done this but if you go back through the posts on the video and recordings forum there's a wealth of examples of accompaniment using all the different concertina systems. IMO the duet and english systems would probably be most suitable with the english being a little easier. However some wonderful and very impressive accompaniments are performed with the anglo.


For me the english system is quite adequate. Sure some different (more full sounding) things can be done with the other systems but I quite like the lighter, more sparse accompaniment of the english. But of course it depends on the song and upon how accomplished the player is.


The song is the most important aspect. The accompaniment is to support the song, not overwhelm it. If you're not a concer player already you've certainly some way to go. I suspect you'll just have to make a judgement call about a system, pay the money and not entertain regrets. But do try for a reasonable quality concertina if you can afford it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...