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30 Button Anglo Tool Box, C/g Or D/g Or Both? What To Do?

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I am getting very very confused! I now see Anglo players turn up at sessions with both C/G and D/G Anglo Concertinas.


I can appreciate the need to use the D/G for some tunes in D, Irish tunes are often a little tricky on the C/G, but is this a common strategy?


Are players now using both boxes because playing D tunes on a C/G is too hard to do, or taking too much time to learn? I see some old timers out here galloping away on harder Irish reels, Wise Maid and similar, on the D/G.


Is this a trend? Should I stop learning the cross row method and go back to push and draw Melodion style for harder Irish tunes in D and so on?


Thank you in advance.





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As for Irish sessions, I rarely play them... though I often play Irish jigs for English rapper dancers and Irish tunes for American contra dancers. I do play something like that melodion style you mention, though I am also crossing rows all over the place. The G/D is my main squeeze. Not so much because it is easier but because when playing melody right, other stuff left... the range of the instrument works so much better. The highest right hand note is a D, just outside of common fiddle tune range, so that's covered, leaving lots of bottom notes for additional accompaniment. On the C/G there are so many wasted buttons being just too high for my ears and forcing me to play melody on the left hand and getting by with octave transpositions (not such a bad thing, but... I would rather not).


On the other hand, Clair style on the C/G makes great use of left hand melody playing, as I understand it. I have heard that Irish players even call the C/G Anglo a "D" instrument because it works so well for them in that key. When I go out, I'm usually going to an Old-Time session and I bring my C/G (as well as the G/D) to American sessions because sometimes we get into several hours of C tunes and trying to play them on my G/D would not be much fun but the C/G works great for C tunes... big surprise there!


For me, in my style of harmonic Anglo, D on the C/G or A on the G/D is not so hard, but going the other way around the cycle of 5ths to Bb or C is something I really find restrictive. I know it can be done, but life is short. If I know I will have to play in Bb or Gm (for an English Playford dance for instance), I bring my Bb/F making three concertinas in my kit. These pesky machines are small, so it's not really such a problem.


My playing is very much like the diatonic harmonica and harmonica players often bring more than a dozen instruments to a session or gig.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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Like Jody, when I play anglo I tend to play G/D most of the time - I find the pitch of the instrument better for singing. Before I took up the duet systems, I would play in C, F, Dm and Am on the C/G and G / D / Am / Em on the G/D. I think with diatonic instruments it's worth keeping your options open but it often depends on the style you're playing in. I can't really comment on Irish traditional music as I don't play it.

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Thank you all for the replies.


As for the irish Stuff, I do fair bit of it but I love Morris dance music just as much. I guess I like all Concertina music.


Now I will be looking for a D/G which is not too expensive :0)

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a huge amount of Irish repertoire in D, and most of the people I know who play mostly Irish have C/Gs. Cross row or along the row, playing in D is hardly different than playing in G except for needing the C# and getting used to a different note of the scale being Do. Playing in A ( also a lot of tunes especially if you play with fiddlers or a lot of Donegal music) is a bit more of a challenge, but only takes a bit more practice before it feels as easy as D and G. Buying a second concertina because you like the sound, or because you like another style of playing like Jody's or Morris makes perfect sense. There are even people who get one in a special pitch set like Bb/F or C#/G# because they play in sessions or with others that have a "flat set of pipes in C or with button accordion players that play up for an Eb session, and want to keep the same fingering. ( all the tunes are transposed in those sessions) Any concertina worth playing or even capable of keeping up in anything but a really slow beginners session just cost too much to have one for every key you want to play in. Learning something new is always a little difficult, but it takes only a little practice before it becomes second nature. D is probably the easiest key after G unless you want to play like a melodeon. Take an easy G tune and shift it down to D. Then take another one. Then go for the tunes that are normally in D. You will be up to speed ( whatever speed you normally play) before you know it. Then do the same thing in A, then F and G minor etc. The Anglo is basically a chromatic instrument. The key ie. C/G, Ab/Eb D/A etc. is as much about the pitch range as anything. Some Keys are initially easier to learn, but in East Clare, they play a lot of tunes in F and Bb and use C/G concertinas to do it. (Also quite easy to learn)

Also, most? Anglos usually list the middle row key first and inner second. (See above) some European concertinas have the middle row to inner row reversed so the low pitch is the inner row, but I've only ever run across one myself. Bob Tedrow plays ( played?) a G/C of his own making that he said he copied from a German guy he knew when he was starting out I think. Unless requested though, he makes them the more common way around for his customers. It was weird to play, but he got on just fine with the rows reversed. Quite happily in D I might add. It is likely the concertina you refer to in your posts is more commonly referred to as G/D. They are quite common, where a true D/G is likely much less so. Middle row D is usually paired with A for the inner row.


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