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What Modern Pop Tunes Are You Arranging For The Concertina?


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Inspired by Stuart's awesome Dire Straits cover, I've been getting more serious about the many pop tunes (1950s-present) that I've been casually playing on the Hayden ever since I got one.

 

Optimally I'd just be posting amazing YouTube clips of me doing great things, but while I'm still building confidence (and skill), I thought it fun to share a few of the tunes I've had at least initial success arranging, found to suit concertina well, etc. Maybe a few of these suggestions will inspire other players to interpret these tunes, or maybe someone will point out a great pop tune that hasn't become concertina canon yet. Here are a few of my key ones; note that I wasn't even driving yet when Kurt Cobain died, so plenty of these tunes are "before my time":

 

 

  • "
    " by Dead or Alive (1984): kind of dark and snappy New Wave song from this Liverpool quartet, with relatively minimal tune over the drum machine, but a lively vocal part with some good high notes for either singing or for interpreting on the high keys. Really easy F#m-A-B-D progression, which I do mostly as either just tonic notes, or occasional root-fifth, to keep the accompaniment from getting too crowded.
  • "
    " by Imogen Heap (2005): slow and atmospheric, really pressy synth with vocoder, good distinctness between A/B/C parts. Reasonably recognizable, but it's the hook that kicks off with "Mmmm, watcha say, that you only meant well?" that's famous. Partly because it was prominently used in the TV program The OC's edgy season finale (5:46 in), and then referenced heavily in the morbid Saturday Night Live parody thereof.
  • "
    " by La Bionda (1980): I'm not clear why this cheesy bit of Italian disco reemerged in the last few years, but it's really infectious. The chord progression is extremely simple, mostly Bb-Gm, but there are a lot of high keyboard fiddlings that (if I can nail them right by slowing the track down to hear precisely) are nice and nimble.
  • "
    " by Iyaz: A catchy reggae-tinged R&B piece by singer Iyaz out of the British Virgin Islands. This song got constant radio airplay throughout the 2009-2010 period, a relatively clean little love song with some cute similes woven in. It has a basic F#m-D-A-E (or transpose to Em-C-G-D for folky ease), reminiscent of many old doo-wop standards. Of the various pop covers I muck with, this is the one my musician buddies insist we incorporate into our next pub gig, but starting off with a slightly reconfigured intro to awaken that "hey I dimly know that chord progression, but it couldn't be..." kind of gimmick.

 

These are the bits I'm working on, and now I feel compelled to actually get one or two polished up so I can share at least some really basic interpretations. What modern pop are other folks working on?

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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though i will defend to the death your inalienable right to use a concertina to play pop songs, i personally favor a telecaster, a danelectric, or an epiphone casino.

Well spoken in the true spirit of musical enlightenment! :D

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I've been working on a couple of Aussie classics for a while now. My versions on concer are... well, quite different you might say but they actually stand up on their own. Haven't recorded yet. Here are the originals.

 

Working Class Man

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erSJGrpfnOI

 

Dumb Things

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RonQBpFm9EI

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I'm assuming that by pop songs you mean anything modern in character :) Pop/rock covers are my main repertoire and the sole reason why I chose Hayden over an Anglo, so my full list of links would be rather long. I don't have enough time on my hands recently to record anything new, but some of those I have practiced long enough to record as soon as the opportunity arises:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfH1hxvAN30 "Jest super" by T.Love, this is a sad song about polish reality, which is true even after 20 years after original release. It is interesting enough to play on concertina, mostly because of 3-4 different parts, with some interesting solo
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvDKuRP8vRE "Czarny chleb i czarna kawa" by Strachy Na Lachy - a punk rock song about a convict traveling to a prison. A simple piece, consisting almost entirely of one progression, but the intermission on harmonica adds a nice flavour to it, and played with double chords (6 reeds speaking at once for a large portion of the song) gives it enough power to sound like a true concertina punk.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqBuIaa2-_s "Baranek" by Kult - this have an interesting story, because it is a song from 1960, performed by a son of a composer - it became probably the most popular, cult song of entire generations (two already). It has a very nice solo on a french horn and accordion, which sounds great on a concertina. It have proven for me, that songs with a brass section in them are an ideal material for a duet concertina.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdjm-PiiDPw "Dwie panny w jednych spodniach" by Disparates. It is very straightforward, as it has accordion in it, but the chorus is quite chalenging because of the tempo of arpeggios.

This is an excerpt only, I have about 1h of rock/punk/indie repertoire now, but I'm only begining to feel confident with singing to my own accompaniment.

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Rüdiger, I guess you're right. Albeit your cover's sounding quite nice and tasteful it's not what one would choose to listen to with the choice of having a sung version. As to me there are few tunes that are so distinctive and / or commonly known that I find an instrumental cover fitting, such as "Yesterday", it being the only pop song I just play on the concertina.

Apart from that, my personal ambitions coincide with ceemonster's, which is why my Knopfler cover is just following the great folk song as meant to me.

 

Besides, I'm just discovering the world of blues and jazz for my concertina playing in making the first steps with "St. James Infirmary". My contribution will be a sung one however - and this leads me to encouraging you to take up singing: it's pretty much a matter of conficence and practising! Just give it at try!

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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...note that I wasn't even driving yet when Kurt Cobain died, so plenty of these tunes are "before my time":

 

On the other end, I graduated high school before he was born. (And went to high school with Jimi Hendrix.)

 

Edited to correct spelling of "Jimi". How embarrassing! :o

Edited by JimLucas
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...note that I wasn't even driving yet when Kurt Cobain died, so plenty of these tunes are "before my time":

 

On the other end, I graduated high school before he was born. (And went to high school with Jimmy Hendrix.)

No "Jimi" back then? :D
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though i will defend to the death your inalienable right to use a concertina to play pop songs, i personally favor a telecaster, a danelectric, or an epiphone casino.

 

... however, note that nary a one of my abovementioned involves a guitar in the original track. :P All of them are heavily synth-based, so a concertina is actually a pretty reasonable acoustic substitute, being a polyphonic instrument with (semi)-infinite sustain, dynamics can be varied even mid note (what's the musicology term for that trait?), etc.

 

 

 

 

One thing I'd like to point out, though, is this: I don't think I'm ever going to attempt instrumental covers on songs again, for the following reasons

 

You raise some really good points about how a great song does not necessarily a great instrumental make. The dilemma is that modern Western/Anglo/American popular music is so heavily lyrical, there's just not a huge body of widely-recognized instrumental tracks. I mean, looking over the Top 40 charts for the last few decades, how many of those are 90%+ non-vocal tracks? Some initial googling shows that such tracks are vanishingly small in the charts, you have to go back to the 1970s to really find many. It vaguely appeared a few of the post-1980s chart-toppers were from film/TV scores, like "Miami Vice Theme"/"Axel F", etc. Coincidentally, that's another one of the tunes I started working on a few weeks ago, though I'm probably going to end up buying the score so I can get the intricate parts right, and/or using editing software to piece apart the track.

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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Telstar... :D

 

Have you recorded it? I'd like to hear that. :)

Not yet, but I realized that I might have to now as soon as having hit the "post" button... :)

 

The tune only just sprang to my mind..., no idea as to why.

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(...went to high school with Jimmy Hendrix.)

 

No "Jimi" back then? :D

 

Ouch! No, you're right. Embarrassing, but thanks for pointing out the error. I've now corrected my post that you quoted. :)

 

My only excuse is that it's been a long and busy day, involving (among other things) slow internet, inches of new snow, twin newborn lambs, and more. Not all negative, by any means, but I was somewhat distracted when I was at the keyboard earlier. B)

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[however, note that nary a one of my abovementioned involves a guitar in the original track.]

 

i'm not the one who opened this thread with a reference to kurt cobain..... :wub: gimme a jazzmaster....a Les Paul Junior... a duesenberg...and crank up that distortion, for god's sake... :rolleyes:

Edited by ceemonster
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so you mean "pop:" in the true sense rather than the Kurt Cobain/Nirvaina sense, which was, monster, shredding punk rock but with pop melodies and chordal structures?

 

yeah, guess i can see the appeal of concertina for serge gainsbourg, or the current pop-style singer/songwriter stuff...surprised thinking about it that there isn't concertina on some of the beatles' more pop/music-hall stuff...perhaps there is? i'm not encyclopedic on the beatles....gimme the MC-5...

Edited by ceemonster
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