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In Knocknagree


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yes. it is an "E-Flat" record, on so-called "E-flat" instruments. This is a flat tuning from faraway times in the back country. The tunes we think of as "D" tunes, are in E-flat/D#. The tunes we would think of as "G" tunes, are in "A-flat." Same with the relative minors of those keys.

 

Technically, it is a "sharp" session, a semitone or half-step sharp. But to the ears of many folks, it still sounds like a "flat" session, because those e-flats, a-flats, and b-flats, are ringing in your ears.

 

Tony would be playing on the "D# [i.e., E-flat] row" of a D/D# accordion (or a D#/D, can't remember which). Noel would be playing--what, you guys? An A-flat/E-flat Anglo concertina?

 

There is software you can download to copy those tunes to regular "D-session" pitch. I don't know how to do that. About ten years ago, I spent several years taking "practicing clare style" lessons with a master musician who played a different instrument from mine. He copied "Knocknagree" for me in concert pitch, and we spent almost a year learning the whole thing and practicing those tunes. It is in my top five, perhaps top three, favorite Irish traditional music records. You might also see the recording "Cooley," of the late great box player Joe Cooley. That record also is E-flat playing. Tony Macmahon has Joe Cooley's E-flat Paolo Soprani accordion, or one of them, anyhow.

 

The Mulcahy family's gorgeous records include lots of "E-flat" playing. Mick Mulcahy often plays his own grey E-flat Paolo. At least one of Edel Fox's concertina recordings is full of E-flat and A-flat tunes. I think Noel Hill has done this on other records as well.

Edited by ceemonster
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You'll find the same thing on Jack Talty and Cormac Begley's "Na Fir Bolg" anglo CD. A lot of flute players love playing on Eb flutes as well. If I want to learn tunes from such albums, I find an easy and inexpensive tool is a whistle in Eb.

Alternatively, as ceemonster says, software exists that lets you adjust speed and pitch independently - perfect for tune learning and playing along. I used to use "The Amazing Slow-Downer" (is that what you were using, Alan?), which did the job very easily. I even used it to make a concert pitch copy of a CD which had been speeded up slightly so that all the tunes played just a few cents sharp, making it impossible to play along with. In other words, you adjust the pitch on a sliding scale until you find the one you want. You can do the same thing now on some freeware - Audacity, I think.

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I use an iPad app called Anytune, which allows one to independently change the pitch and/or speed of anything in your iTunes library. Vocals sound pretty goofy, but the instrumentals work well enough for the purpose. The app has a variety of additional functions, for example, and equalizer that can be used to help bring a certain instrument to the fore in a mix.

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Noel did have an Ab/Eb instrument he favored for some time - Ross Schlabach or others would know more.

 

Noel told a story about that recording. He said everyone in the county showed up; it was so crowded they couldn't see the dancers. The owner cleared a tiny space big enough for the dancers and called out to the musicians (Noel and Tony couldn't see the dancers), "Now, boys!" You can hear it on the record, and the dancing and music start right up in perfect sync. IIRC Noel remembered it as a very exciting way to start the evening.

 

Ross may know more of that story also.

Ken

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I expect that Noel was playing his C#/G# which is what he normally plays in concerts even at NHICS events. So by playing D fingering across the rows, the music would come out in Eb. I asked him why he plays this instrument so much in concerts -- even at class which keeps us from practicing to recordings -- and he gave the answer I should have anticipated: the instrument sounds so good!?. So I couldn't talk him down!!

 

Having a couple of instruments myself that sound and play so well but aren't in the normal concert pitch, I can appreciate his position.

Now that he is having special Noel Hill model concertinas made by Wally Carroll, I wonder if he will transition to one of these for his concerts (if he hasn't already)? But even if he does, will it be in C/G?

 

Ross Schlabach

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You may the number of instruments carried traveling is part of this as well: I don't think he ever played other than concert pitch at the classes my son used to attend.

 

He also tends to switch between several concertinas at gigs here. I also think I remember him saying about at least one of his concertinas that he will never travel with it outside Ireland and that's where the Carroll concertinas come in. I also seem to recall one of the Carrolls is indeed a C#/g#.

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Peter is right about travel and the number of concertinas. IIRC I don't think I've ever seen Noel arrive at the NHICS class with more than two concertinas (not counting the miniature which frequently tags along). For all the class sessions, he plays a standard C/G. But when he transitions to concert mode on one or more evenings, all bets are off and many times it has been the C#/G#. Last year he used his new C/G Carroll in class, but I don't remember what he played at the concert he gave at Wally's house.

 

It will be good to see him again in about two weeks. This is year 18, I think , for me at NHICS, and it always gets my concertina batteries recharged!

 

Ross Schlabach

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mary macnamara also plays a c#/G# on some cuts of her firsrt concertina record....maybe on the second one too, can't recall...come to think of it her brother Andrew mac has also recorded box tracks in e-flat....there's a couple on that "maiden voyage" record that Peppers of Feakle put out....I think that is where I got on to the "cailte mountains," had to stumble around and find an a-minor version from somebody else...hasn't Jackie done some e-flat stuff??? I think Sharon Shannon has been known to play on her C# row in some of those keys...

Edited by ceemonster
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My recollection is the instrument Noel Hill reserves for special moments, a black 30 key Wheatstone Linota, is in E, making it a D/A. It is very worn, damaged ends and leaky bellows. He retired it a few years ago but brought it out for the concertina recital at Willie Clancy in 2012 which I was lucky to be able to attend. I listened to a recording of it a minute ago to check my recollection and many tunes usually played in D were in E. Leaving aside it is an exceptional instrument the higher key makes it overall much more responsive.

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I use an iPad app called Anytune, which allows one to independently change the pitch and/or speed of anything in your iTunes library. Vocals sound pretty goofy, but the instrumentals work well enough for the purpose. The app has a variety of additional functions, for example, and equalizer that can be used to help bring a certain instrument to the fore in a mix.

 

The upgrade to this app, Anytune Plus, meets the desciption here but the free version of Anytune didn't seem to do these things.

 

Additionally, you can record with Anytune Plus and then use the functions on that recording. Handy to have this all in one app.

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AnyTune - I've longed for an iTunes based pitch-change program for years!

 

Normally, I'll open the original iTunes file ("Show in Finder") in my audio editor, "Amadeus Pro", change the pitch (and speed, maybe) and save the result as a new file. I have albums where I have shifted every tune, e.g. "Edel Fox & Ronan O'Flaherty, -1 semitone".

 

AnyTune will not, I think, make this procedure redundant - Amadeus can change pitch with the resolution of 1 cent. This is often needed with older recordings or with Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh's old Bb/F which he keeps in its original, weird pitch. But if AnyTune Pro can do cents, we're in business!

 

Thanks for the pointer, Greg!

 

/Henrik

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Henrik,

 

As sidesqueeze notes, you do have to pay for thr "pro" version to get all the nice features. I just checked, and it appears that Anytune will in fact do cents adjustments. I have not, however, had occasion to use that function myself.

 

I also use Amadeus (on my Mac) for various audio chores and find it a very capable -- and relatively inexpensive -- application.

 

Greg

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