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I play Irish music, on a variety of instruments including accordion, and was curious about bellows changes on the concertina. Looking at fingering charts I see that you could play an awful lot of the scales all in one direction if you so desired; do players look for the fingering pattern that fits the tune the best, that accents the rhythm to its fullest? That's basically a rhetorical question, I suppose. Do you sometimes deliberately use a fingering with more bellows changes in it to punch things up? Have players always shied away from playing too smoothly, have there been players who were chastised for not being punchy enough?

 

Incidentally I tried the C#/D box at first as my favorite players used it, but gave it up after a while, it was irritating to have to change the bellows at such-and-such a point, when the tune seemed to want to keep going, if you know what I mean. To play the D scale on the D row it's push-pull-push-pull-push-pull-pull-push. A B-A-G triplet would be three bellows changes, and that's it - the C# row has no notes to help you out there. Looking at the usual C/G layout I see you can play such a triplet on the push or pull, with a few alternates for fingering too.

 

The B/C accordion is a bit more streamlined, but I just went my own way and bought an ADG box - which isn't an Irish music thing at all, but I just like to have fun, eh? There are no end of options for fingering on those, much like the concertina. When I first got into it I vaguely knew concertinas were a lot more flexible in re: bellows. Of course my box playing friends all look askance at my choice of instrument, but no one thinks concertina players are failing to get the job done, right?

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Since I can't comment that much regarding the Anglo, let me take on the Melodeon part (and finally come back to the Anglo from here). The ADG box will be as fine a squeeze as is my GCF one - "Have your fun!" would be sufficient then.

 

OTOH it seems that you are kind of "blaming" the (basic) scales (such as D major) "along the rows". IMO that's in fact what the melodeon is all about... I was quite delighted with my first one (a Hohner Pokerwork Single-Row just in C). The expanded options of the 2- and 3-row instruments haven't changed that at all. If these scales are really bothering you you might better chose the CBA or PA (and maybe not even just an Anglo concertina - our member Hendrik Müller from Sweden is doing eminently well with ITM on his [self-built] English Concertina).

 

I apologize in advance in case I should have misread what you are saying.

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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I play Irish music, on a variety of instruments including accordion, and was curious about bellows changes on the concertina. Looking at fingering charts I see that you could play an awful lot of the scales all in one direction if you so desired; do players look for the fingering pattern that fits the tune the best, that accents the rhythm to its fullest? That's basically a rhetorical question, I suppose. Do you sometimes deliberately use a fingering with more bellows changes in it to punch things up?

 

I don't know about others, but I'm trying to play completely cross row, with a few default buttons but flexible on alternate buttons when needed. I actually realised that there was too much push-pull in some tunes I was playing, and I'm trying now and then to use an alternate button to allow smoother phrases like two pushes or two pulls in a row, something like pull-pull-push, or push-push-pull, instead of push-pull-push etc..

 

I'm not sure about "an awful lot of scales in one direction" though. If you've got a standard 30 buttons C/G, for a D scale you need the E on the C row and the F# on the G row, there's only one each and they're not in the same direction. Same thing with the G scale, because the E is only on the push on the C row, and F# on the pull on the G row, you're in trouble right there. If you've got a 34+ buttons you could bypass those limits I guess, or a modified 30 buttons.

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Oh, I see that I was misled by this a bit:

 

mws_cg_color_octave.jpg

Which would let you play D-E-F all on the pull. But that contradicts this:

 

Anglo-FC-CG.jpg

Was the first layout also offered by Wheatstone? I see they had a couple of different Duet layouts. With either the D and E are on the push, at least, and that F# is the only bump in the road in the D scale. Or the G scale.

 

Doing a bit more reading I see that Paddy Murphy, who inspired or taught Noel Hill, picked up the C/G to try and keep up with William Mullaly's old 78s, he needed to cross the rows somehow to play at that speed. If I were to play 'tina I'd get a G/D - I don't like B/C accordion, pulling for the first note, ecch. G/C is the concertina equivalent. It just doesn't seem very "accordion," when you play on the row you can make the music much more thrashy and violent, or lively, or whatever you call it. It's a real kick! And of course no one wants G/D's, just like no one wants the French simple system flutes I play, because it isn't what Matt Molloy has, so I save a bundle as well.

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Oh, I see that I was misled by this a bit:

 

mws_cg_color_octave.jpg

Which would let you play D-E-F all on the pull. But that contradicts this:

 

What do you mean by D-E-F on the pull? A "D" scale requires F#, not F... and there's only one way to play the F#s and that's on the pull, and only one way to play E2 and that's on the push. So, unless I'm missing something, there is really no way to play the "D" scale in one direction, even based on your first diagram. I realise the "G" scale could be played on the pull, though, using that E3 on the pull.

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... Do you sometimes deliberately use a fingering with more bellows changes in it to punch things up? Have players always shied away from playing too smoothly, have there been players who were chastised for not being punchy enough?

 

Kevin, these are important questions. I've been chastised for not being punchy enough by other Irish anglo players, and yet I've sat through master classes where I was told that too many bellows changes will wear out your bellows! I didn't actually believe that, but the message from that player was to try to string more of the notes together.

 

After workshops with half a dozen great and well known players, I've cut my phrases back just a bit so that the bellows are not opening quite as wide.

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That's pretty funny, sidesqueeze. Reminds of a fiddling friend who takes the occasional lesson from Kevin Burke, on one occasion he says "Now really lean into the bow for that high G, it sounds grand that way." OK, lesson learned. Next time the student does the same thing in another tune. "Oh, never lean into the bow for the high G, that sounds awful!" :rolleyes: The student never got to the bottom of what Kevin was getting at here, maybe he thinks it sounds good in one tune and not the other? Teachers are musicians, which is to say odd ducks.

 

Azalin - I meant F# there, sorry about the confusion.

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... on one occasion he says "Now really lean into the bow for that high G, it sounds grand that way." OK, lesson learned. Next time the student does the same thing in another tune. "Oh, never lean into the bow for the high G, that sounds awful!"

 

Kevin,

 

Reminds me of my group's arrangement (in D major) of "Planxty Irwin", where I play the melody line on my C/G Anglo. Dear the end there's a phrase in which I just have to "lean into" the bellows on the middle G (LH inner row press) to get the right emphasis, but have to ease up on the same G in the following phrase, so as not to let it stick out like a sore thumb.

 

So it's not just "good in one tune and not the other" - it's a good thing in one phrase and not in another, like a lot of practical tips in music!

 

Another thing I'm reminded of in a Mecedes advertising slogan of some years back: "Know the rules. Break them."

 

Cheers,

John

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