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Learning The Buttons(Notes)


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Anyone have a good way to learn the placement of the notes on the Concertina?

How do you remember the notes and when to pull and push?

I know it might sound gravy, but there has to be a way...right?

Liz

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Anyone have a good way to learn the placement of the notes on the Concertina?

How do you remember the notes and when to pull and push?

I know it might sound gravy, but there has to be a way...right?

 

Are you trying to learn where the notes are by name, or by sound?

 

For the former, there are numerous tutor books and online sources giving layout diagrams. They probably differ on that one button in the G row that you asked about, but if you get the rest it should be easy enough to learn the difference for that one button.

 

For the latter, I suggest you learn by experimenting. I believe your concertina is a 20-button in C and G. That means that the row closest to the rails (hand bars) contains the notes of the G scale, while the other row contains the notes of the C scale. And the rows of the right (higher sounding) end are continuations of those on the left (lower sounding) end, as if the ends were laid side by side. (In fact, many of the diagrams mentioned above picture the ends in just that way.)

 

Now start with the button at the left hand end of either of those rows, first pushing and then pulling, and then do the same on the next button and continue with each subsequent button, and (lo and behold) you should start to hear a scale. When you continue by crossing over onto the right hand end there's one change, i.e., that on each button you first pull the bellows and then push. There's also an apparent irregularity with the rightmost two buttons, but by the time you get there you should be able to figure out what's where (and maybe even understand why).

 

What's more, if you hold down any three adjacent buttons in either row on either end, you'll get some sort of chord regardless of whether you push or pull on the bellows. (Again, those rightmost two buttons in each right hand row are an exception, but even for them the exception is only on the pull.)

 

Once you're comfortable with the two scales, you can try different sequences of buttons and bellows directions. Most folks find it easiest to start by playing tunes "along the rows", i.e., staying entirely within either the C row or the G row for an entire tune, but once you're comfortable with that you can also experiment with crossing between the rows. Some notes are found in both rows but in opposite bellows directions, and you can take advantage of "cross row" playing to get a smoother feel to some melody lines or to avoid running out of air (from too many notes in the same bellows direction). "Cross row" can also be used to get some chords that aren't available in either individual row. And finally, sometimes cross row is simply necessary, as in the key of E minor, where the low E is found only in the C row, while the F# right above it in the scale is found only in the G row.

 

Have fun experimenting. :)

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Hi Liz,

I've only been playing 6 weeks or so, so I'm having to do the same, but making good progress with that.

 

The first thing I did was to draw an empty concertina button layout on a piece of paper, then filled it in with all the push/pull notes (something like http://concertutor.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/anglo-concertina-chart.gif, but hand drawn). You can probably print one off too, but having a physical copy means it's always around for reference.

 

I can already read music, so the next thing I did was to play some very simple tunes (in C or G) from sheet music, and slowly learned where notes from those scales were.

 

I've still got the trickier top row to learn though, so have a long way ahead of me still!

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I've still got the trickier top row to learn though, so have a long way ahead of me still!

 

Note to Liz (Jude): lxnx has a 30-button (3 row) anglo. Your 20-button concertina doesn't have that third, "trickier top row" that he mentioned, so don't let his comment set you to worrying.

 

And by the way, your profile says you're in California, but not where in California. There are a number of anglo-playing concertina.net members in various parts of California, so if you're near any of them it would probably be worth your while to get in touch. (An inquiry here would be a good start. :))

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So Jim, I guess the best thing to do is just remember where they are . I will remember. I am so far playing thy "ear" as I do the piano. I have had my concertina for 3 weeks. I am playing "Danny Boy" the " Isle of Innisfree,which is the theme from Theme From The Man","When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "If You Ever Cross The Sea To Ireland" I am playing them by ear but at times I do forget when to push and when to pull.lol I will follow your help,Jim and use your suggestions.

Thanks so much again.

Lynx, I will do as you suggest and make my own diagram to follow . Good idea!

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It is very helpful to have the diagram to refer to when you get stuck, and particularly helpful if you write it out yourself, since that process can help set it into your memory.

 

But the really helpful thing to do is to try playing new tunes. Of course it is easier if they are in C or G major, or A or E minor so you have the necessary notes if you are on a 20 button C/G. If you read music, then trying to sight read will be frustrating at first, but after a while it really builds the memory of where each note can be found. Another very useful practice is to pay attention to where the notes are duplicated on the other row, and play through tunes several times trying to make use of these alternate fingerings. This makes it even more frustrating at first because often a note on the push in one row will be in on the pull in the other row, and it is easy to get the bellows going wrong when trying the alternative. But again it pays off later because you will eventually be comfortable using either option, so you can choose which fits into the phrasing and fingering of a tune. It just takes a while. I'm nothing like comfortable with some combinations yet, but I've already seen some benefit from trying this.

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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This is apropos of leaning the English concertina, but I would think the same applies. One big advantage of learning the concertina I've discovered is that you absolutely can't look at your hands while playing! To start with, I did keep a button diagram pinned to the music stand, but with a combination of scales, sight-reading lots of tunes that I knew (so I could hear if I hit the wrong note) and trying to work out simple tunes by ear has more or less taught my fingers where to go, albeit slowly. Because you can't cheat by looking, it is actually a lot of relative positions your fingers have to learn, not just an absolute position for each note. Eg, sequences like Gbd or f#ed or ace occur and reoccur through tunes and your fingers get used to them.

 

Darsonval, est ce que vous disez comment savoir si un chanson est C ou G, ou si un concertina est C/G? Si vous voulez dire le chanson, c'est G quand la musique a un # au commencement et C quand il n'y aucun #.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello Guys, I am new in this forum, I recently bought a Alfred Arnold Bandoneon-Concertina 128 tones. I am a beginner in this instrument . I am interested in tango music. I was told that 142 tones were appropriated , but 128 tones are " studio bandoneon" .....instructors in america will be difficult to find, I wonder where can I find material to study 128 concertina layout?....I will really appreciated your help.

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Except for the accidentals, you have the notes in rising fifths, whereas sidesways you find thirds.

 

Another way of looking upon it would be playing a scale in Cmaj. You'd start with the "lowest" button on the left side, then the "lowest" on the right, then switch to the left side again, but use the center row, a.s.f.; you will find yourself playing in constant alternation between left and right as long as there are notes left in these (four) rows (nearly two octaves in the case of Valentina).

 

Feel free to ask further on! Best wishes - Wolf

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