Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
just4fun

C/g Or G/d?

Recommended Posts

Perhaps I should post this under Teaching and learning but I have a dilemma with which I would really like some help.

 

I have played the Melodeon for some years, (D/G/Acc) eighteen bass Handry, and am about to venture into the world of Anglo Concertina. I play a lot of English but also a bit of anything else and have assumed that the logical thing would be to play a G/D Anglo. To this end I have ordered a new Marcus. BUT the vast majority seem to play the C/G for which, I am sure, there is good reason.

 

With regards to Marcus it is not too late to change my order so my question is what are the arguments for or against? I am aware that there are some good box players lurking on these forums and would greatly appreciate their, as well as everybody else's, views.

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Confused.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not being an Anglo player myself I nevertheless feel being able to answer as follows:

 

The C/G (be it 20b German oder 30b Anglo) had been the most common (since cheapest) model as the concertina gained its popularity in and spreading over Ireland. In the keys other than C or G it requires playing "across the rows", which had led to that bouncy "ITM" style we all know. It is much discussed to which extent this style can be emulated on other instruments (be they a G/D Anglo or even an EC).

 

If you want to stick mainly to Gmaj, Dmaj ant their relatives without playing of "ITM" in the stricter sense it might be natural to keep the order as is IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For non-ITM, I think that you have to decide what range of notes you like best.

 

I personally prefer the range of a G/D concertina. Left-hand accompaniment and right-hand melody fits better without going squeaky high, and I think a G/D matches better with most male voices.

 

One negative for a G/D is that the bigger low reeds might be slower to sound. You should probably ask Marcus about this.

 

Also, on an accordion reeded instrument the lower notes sound more accordion-like than the higher notes which sound closer to a traditional concertina reed. This may, or may not, bother you.

 

This Button Box link has audio for both their C/G and a G/D 'Ceili' boxes that, I think, illustrates the strengths of each box quite nicely:

 

http://www.buttonbox.com/morse-ceili.html

 

Same physical box, same quality of reeds.

 

Which sound do you like best?

 

Don.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like them both and play them both, but the box I reach for first and play the most is the G/D - for reasons well said above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is really interesting and I think going some way to allaying my worries. Personally I prefer the pitch or sound of the G/D, plus I accompany a fiddle quite a bit on the box and suspect a G/D would be better than a C/G for this reason. though I am more than ready to be corrected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Confused,

 

You haven't expressed a specific interest and so that somewhat ties our hands in making suggestions to you. But I'll take a stab just the same as I am an Anglo player and have both pitched instruments. Should you want to involve yourself in the Irish music scene, then the C/G would be the logical recommendation. Most Irish players play C/G in sessions just because it's always been that way if for no other. Playing a G/D in an Irish session could be done but you'd always be an octave down and the character of ITM is all instruments play the same notes and the sound is dictated by the instrument participating. Harmony does not have a great role in ITM. If ITM is not one of your goals, then the issue gets a bit muddier and I can offer little more direction. I have read but don't have firsthand knowledge that a G/D would go well with English tunes -- if not too fast.

 

While I primarily play C/G, I really prefer the sound and character of lower pitched instruments and really like my G/D. But as was mentioned by Don, the G/D as a lower pitched instrument plays a good bit slower and you would be hard pressed to keep up in a sprightly session. The reeds just don't respond as quickly. Of course, if you are going to be playing alone, then either will be fine.

 

Good luck,

 

Ross Schlabach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever merits that any of the arguments for/against the G/D or C/G configuration may or may not possess, I could not disagree more with the notion that the higher notes on the C/G box sound "squeaky." I've heard it 1,000 times on this forum if I've heard it once. I play a C/G box myself and find that, if the bellows are employed with proper expression and intent while playing the notes in these higher octaves, the concertina renders them in a haunting, ethereal tone, somewhat resembling that of a fife.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Confused,

 

You haven't expressed a specific interest and so that somewhat ties our hands in making suggestions to you. But I'll take a stab just the same as I am an Anglo player and have both pitched instruments. Should you want to involve yourself in the Irish music scene, then the C/G would be the logical recommendation. Most Irish players play C/G in sessions just because it's always been that way if for no other. Playing a G/D in an Irish session could be done but you'd always be an octave down and the character of ITM is all instruments play the same notes and the sound is dictated by the instrument participating. Harmony does not have a great role in ITM. If ITM is not one of your goals, then the issue gets a bit muddier and I can offer little more direction. I have read but don't have firsthand knowledge that a G/D would go well with English tunes -- if not too fast.

 

While I primarily play C/G, I really prefer the sound and character of lower pitched instruments and really like my G/D. But as was mentioned by Don, the G/D as a lower pitched instrument plays a good bit slower and you would be hard pressed to keep up in a sprightly session. The reeds just don't respond as quickly. Of course, if you are going to be playing alone, then either will be fine.

 

Good luck,

 

Ross Schlabach

Hi Ross and Confused,

 

I hate to contradict you Ross but my experience does not bear out what you say about the G/D. Of course, instruments by different makers vary, and musicians also play differently but...

 

I play my G/D in sessions with the melody in the same octave as everyone else is playing. With my C/G I often have to play an octave above everyone else. Though it sounds pretty nice up there, you might call it squeaky though I would prefer words like thin and sharp, or perhaps shrill and piercing.

 

My G/D has no problem keeping up at the fastest tempi and though I guess my C/G is quicker, it's hardly a dramatic difference, barely noticeable at all.

 

Though I play lots of Irish tunes, I do not play in the Clare style but rather the English or Harmonic style with mostly melody on the right and accompaniment on the left. Perhaps that accounts for Ross and I having different experiences. If I tried to play the G/D lowered by an octave it would certainly slow things down.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Though it sounds pretty nice up there, you might call it squeaky though I would prefer words like thin and sharp, or perhaps shrill and piercing."

 

D'AAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Personally, and may it please the court, yer honor, I would prefer words like "if the bellows are employed with proper expression and intent while playing the notes in these higher octaves, the concertina renders them in a haunting, ethereal tone, somewhat resembling that of a fife."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

KAPEEEEEEEEESH????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (phew; it felt good to get that kapeesh out of my system)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

KAPEEEEEEEEESH????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (phew; it felt good to get that kapeesh out of my system)

Dear Mister Enthusiast,

 

I heard you quite well the first time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting topic. I play both D/G and G/C according to mood and the tunes I want to play. But since I generally want to play English country dance music I usually play the D/G for many of the same reasons others have mentioned. Played in a harmonic style however, the G/C strikes me as more cheerful for improvisation and unrehearsed accompaniment. But with fiddles, hurdy-gurdies, or melodeons (Morris-style) the D/G is what you want. And especially for traditional singing. I also find it better for the more formal style of playing favoured by projects like the Mellstock Band and Magpie Lane - both lovely by the way. I play melodeon as well, and often bring a four-stop, one-row C to use when the D/G concertina isn't right. I am passionately attached to all my concertinas, but the melodeon has its own charms, especially in the hands of players like Clive Williams, Anahata, or Roland Carson. By the way, I've had a Morse D/G for a couple of years and although it's no Wheatstone, its a pretty decent box, and miles ahead of the cheaper alternatives, especially if you're set on a 3-row.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One final question, if I may, and then I think I will be able to rest easy. On the basis that I've been playing a D/G melodeon, albeit with a third full row of accidentals, am I right in thinking that it would be far more intuitive to play a G/D concertina than a C/G or am I missing something?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the things you need to do IMO is to get togther with someone who plays both boxes.I live down in Penzance so bit far for you in S Wales.

I have both c/g and G/D and us them for session playing, Morris, Band work and singing.The C/G sound carries well outside also band work & session playing especially when their are other instruments playing the harmoney.When I need harmoney I use most the G/D.There must be someone in your area that could help you.Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One final question, if I may, and then I think I will be able to rest easy. On the basis that I've been playing a D/G melodeon, albeit with a third full row of accidentals, am I right in thinking that it would be far more intuitive to play a G/D concertina than a C/G or am I missing something?

 

In my experience, yes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first concertina was a G/D Morse (Wheatstone layout) which I played heavily in the "harmonic style" (Jody, Gary Coover, etc) primarily for morris dancing.

 

My initial choice of the G/D was based on the same thinking as you have as a D/G melodeon player (which I was as well prior to concertina) -- that the G/D concertina would be more intuitive given that background. I found it partially true. The fingering on the right hand of the melody on the concertina is the same as in the high octave on the melodeon (where I rarely played) -- so I was familiar with it, but it was still a bit of retraining my fingers. But the basic ideas that "on the press, you get G, B, D, G ... likewise, on the press you get your G chord, and on the draw you get your C chord, and you get your D chord both ways" are absolutely the same, though, so from that standpoint, it's a very natural and intuitive concertina to choose.

 

A year or so later, I inherited a C/G Morse (Jeffries layout) which had been well-loved and heavily played by a dear friend for nine years. For a while I was carrying both around in a padded camera-case backpack well-suited for carrying two concertinas, but after six months or so I got lazy and wanted to just carry one concertina around. I chose to focus on the C/G, for several reasons -- which may or may not be applicable to others:

 

* the bellows on my C/G are so much more supple -- but that's more a factor of age and breaking-in than anything else, so it has only to do with my two particular instruments compared against each other, and not any G/D versus any C/G

 

* a Bertram Levy workshop, in which I was intrigued by the challenge of learning to play my C/G in a wide variety of keys ; also, the "Farewell Manchester" track on Brian Peters' Anglophilia album, showing off the beauty of playing a tune in four different keys on a C/G (and how each key suggests a different character to the accompaniment based on available notes / chords) -- but this has more to do with personal aesthetics and interests than with the innate qualities of a G/D versus a C/G ... and you can, of course, play in just as wide a range of keys on a G/D as on a C/G, so unless you're really keen to play often in keys like Bb/Gm (which I find comfortable on the C/G but outside my comfort range on the G/D), or E (which would be comfortable for me on a G/D but outside my comfort range on the C/G), this shouldn't be a make-it-or-break-it factor in your decision. Particular keys will sound/feel different on one instrument or the other, though -- G has a very different character on a C/G versus a G/D, etc. (I happen to really, really like G on a C/G (played in the octave starting with the left hand ... but still in the harmonic style) better than G on a G/D (played with the melody all on the right hand) ... but I might be in the minority on that!)

 

* convenience of playing in workshops where a C/G is the expected instrument ; also, convenience of playing along with a few particular morris musician friends (John Dexter, Peter Klosky) who play C/G -- but, if I were spending more time around morris G/D players like Robin Harrison or Tom Kruskal instead, I might have focused on my G/D more, so this really comes down to "if there are other musicians whose playing you want to emulate or directly learn from, what do they play?"

 

* I eventually came to prefer the Jeffries layout for the accidental row, and my C/G is set up that way but my G/D isn't. If/when I eventually get around to changing my G/D to a Jeffries layout, that won't be an issue for me anymore. Of course, if you're getting a new concertina, you can get whatever you want in either C/G or G/D.

 

* I feel like the C/G carries better outdoors, but as I'm never hearing it from thirty feet away it's pretty hard for me to judge that :-) The G/D reeds, being lower, take a bit more air, and if you're playing in the harmonic style (several notes at once) rather than just playing melody, this can affect your volume (you'll run out of air much more rapidly, playing at full punch on a G/D as compared with a C/G ... and thus you'll want to pull back a notch or else use the air button more heavily to compensate). This won't be so much of an issue if you're primarily playing melody.

 

I'm very fond of my C/G's sound, though every now and again when I pull out my G/D the variety is delightful ... and much of my fondness could be that when I play my C/G, I remember Roger (from whom I inherited it). But then again ... if I were choosing solely based on "how do the main few keys sound, to my ears (and also with my voice ... which could be part of why they sound sweeter to my ears?)", and not based on any other criteria ... I might go with Bb/F, given the few I've played! I guess that suggests, you really just have to get your hands on several instruments -- and let your ears hear several instruments -- for a real comparison, which perhaps isn't very helpful at all in the end :-/

Edited by wayman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have enjoyed this discussion, especially the thoughts of the above wayman note. As I see it, choosing a system really comes down to how you want to approach the instrument. You can use the folk approach – learn a few chords on the left and the patterns for the melody on the right. For this approach choosing C/G or G/D becomes a question of your singing range or the idiom you wish to play. Your experience with the melodeon is probably similar.

The other approach is to study it as you would any other musical instrument, learning all the notes, the scales and the arpeggios. I prefer the latter approach as you can see alternative fingerings, unique counterpoint applications and the great potential that an instrument capable of playing melody, harmony and two independent voices can offer. For some reason however there is a general resistance to learning in the latter approach even though the instrument has only 15 buttons on each side. If you really study the instrument you can do it with both systems though I think the C/G has more options for playing old time and irish music. As far as the home key, the key of C (middle row C/G) is the most limited because the C’s E’s and F’s are all in one direction on the left as discussed in a different section of this forum The same would hold for the key of G on the G/D box. G and D major are the most versitile keys in the C/G box .

 

Bertram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...