Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Doug Barr

Bb/f Anglo ?

Recommended Posts

Not sure if you "need" one, but from personal experience, it's a beautiful, deep, rich variant, and suits the average male singing voice very well. And the left hand has a nice growl if you play in the harmonic or English style. I'm also finding both archival recordings, and some of the new young players like Cormac Begley and Edel Fox, laying down some delightful tracks on Bb/F boxes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Irish music circles people use a Bb/F concertina for playing 'C' sessions... ie with other instruments that are tuned a whole tone flat, like the 'C' set of pipes in my avatar picture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

do you even play anglo? or should that be assumed from the topic?

 

depends on how many keys you wish to play in on Anglo with full cross-row capability. technically speaking, one "can" play in C, F, B-flat, and their relative minors on a c/g. I have heard Claire keville doing so with beautiful results but....many melody players find it frustrating, because in these keys, a c/g is missing some main notes in more than one direction, so you are limited to playing old-school, one-row style, aka, "on the rows." everybody gives lip service to how "authentic" the push-pull style sounds, but for some of us, it gets pretty expressively limiting. maddeningly so, one might argue. additionally---a few notes in these keys, c/g doesn't have, at all.

 

I can't speak to song accompaniment because that is not anything i'm doing on concertina. but if you want big chord choices in these keys, certainly, it's gonna be limited on c/g.

 

the idea of having to purchase another 6K to 10K instrument just to be able to play in a wider spectrum of keys annoyed me enough that i'm now playing an accordion-reeded tenor ec, and having a ball with it. imho it articulates, phrases, and swings, totally to the standard of traditional irish music as played by non-push-pull instruments such as pipes, flute, & whistle, and does so almost indistinguishably from an anglo played in the smoother, "on the rows" fingerings. the only reason I would switch back now is if I can't eventually find or have made, a metal-ended tenor or tt ec with a fat, brassy, loud, "anglo-ish" set of lungs for seshes & ceilis...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doug,

You might need a Bb/F Anglo if you intend to play a lot with brass or woodwind players in their favoured keys, without having to stray too far from your Anglo's home keys.

 

Before the Salvation Army adopted the Crane/Triumph duet as their standard concertina, what they mainly used was an Ab/Eb Anglo. The reason for this is given expressly in the S.A. concertina tutor: it is so as to be able to play the majority of Salvation Army songs as printed - i.e. arranged with the brass band in mind and therefore set in flat keys, frequently Ab.

The tutor in question deals exclusively with the chords you need to accompany singing, and obviously, the nearer the key of the song is to the home keys of your Anglo, the easier and more satisfying the harmonies.

 

Bb/F is not quite so amenable to hard-core brass keys as Ab/Eb is, but nevertheless its central keys are offset in that direction, compared to the standard C/G or popular G/D, which are closer the keys favoured by string-players like fiddlers and guitarists.

 

Perhaps one could regard the Bb/F as a sort of compromise: one foot in the string camp and one foot in the wind camp.

 

Another reason - a more personal one - might be that you want to accompany yourself singing, and the keys of Bb and F happen to optimally suit the range of your voice. (Though, on second thoughts, they're only a semitone lower than the standard C and G, so why bother! The real reason is probably the wish to play together with "flat-key" people.)

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bb/F IMHO is the perfect sounding key for the anglo concertina. Although only one whole tone lower It does not seem to have the screechy edge of a C/G and the low note reeds are still responsive. For whatever reason it is just a great range and gorgeous sound to show off what a concertina can do.

 

In my conversations with Noel Hill and Chris Algar and Paul Groff they have all said that Bb concertinas have a special sound.

 

For session keys, and playing Irish Trad and Morris music as written (is that an oxymoron?) a Bb can't compare to the usefulness of a C/G which has been the available concertina of choice to incorporate into those traditions.

 

But for solo playing or having a second concertina with a different tone color a good Bb/F would certainly get some of my attention.

 

My two (hundred cents from C to Bb) worth. ;)

 

Greg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't speak to song accompaniment because that is not anything i'm doing on concertina. but if you want big chord choices in these keys, certainly, it's gonna be limited on c/g.

 

Well, song accompaniment is a strong suit of the Anglo, so let's address that. Single-note playing is not much good here, because accompaniment is all about harmonies, and the richness of the harmonies decreases as you move farther away from your home keys. So the main keys have to be suitable for the voice or voices you're accompanying.

The most critical situation is self-accompaniment. With whatever instrument you use, the accompaniment must be relatively easy to play, because you're dividing your attention between singing and playing. Given that the arrangement should also be harmonically satisfying, this means that you're pretty tied to your main row - although, or rather because, satisfying harmonies frequently demand cross-row fingerings!

 

I can sing most songs comfortably in C, so the C/G Anglo is ideal. And what I can't sing in C, I can sing in G, which is also quite good on the C/G. If you have a much higher or lower voice, an Anglo in a different key may be the way to go for your self-accompanied singing. If you're thinking of acquiring an Anglo specifically for this role, it would be a good idea to sing through your repertoire, trying each song in different keys, and marking the "comfortable" keys for each song. You'll probably find a statistical bulge centred on one specific key, with a minor bulge centred a fifth higher or lower. Those are the keys you need on your "singing Anglo"!

 

Cheers,

John

 

Edited to add: Any other key combination will be just as limited as C/G, but you won't notice the limitations if the keys are right for your voice!

John

Edited by Anglo-Irishman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

duet concertinas are also very well-suited to song accompaniment. and you don't need more than one for different keys, so long as your duet has enough buttons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

duet concertinas are also very well-suited to song accompaniment. and you don't need more than one for different keys, so long as your duet has enough buttons.

 

And the same can be said of the English.

 

In fact, I'd say that all sorts of concertina -- with the possible exception of the Jedcertina* -- are well suited. It's individual players who are limited, more than any particular type of concertina**... and that can be overcome.

 

* Personal experience, here. :(

** I started to say, "any particular type of instrument", but then thought of trying to accompany myself on the trumpet. :o ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

duet concertinas are also very well-suited to song accompaniment. and you don't need more than one for different keys, so long as your duet has enough buttons.

ceemonster,

What do you mean by "enough buttons"?

As I see it, the smallest Crane, with 35 buttons, could accompany you in any key. The left hand and right hand side are both fully chromatic. The statements that 35-b Cranes and 46-b Maccanns are "too small" usually refer to elaborate instrumental arrangements. I think your proviso applies only to the Hayden, which is not fully chromatic in smaller configurations like the Elise.

 

True, one duet does for all keys, but that isn't the point here.

 

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[[True, one duet does for all keys, but that isn't the point here.]]

 

It might be. I have no clue if the OP is asking about b-flat/f due to wanting those keys for song accompaniment. i'm pointing out, there are other systems that give you all the keys so you only need one instrument. my input on this point might be completely unnecessary if the OP is all about Anglo. but since i don't know, it never hurts to throw info out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I generally bring my Bb/F when playing Playford dances (or as we say here in the USA, English Country Dance). Some of those tunes are in Bb or F and there are lots in Gm, Cm and Dm. The Bb/F works well in these for me.

 

Doug - the last I heard though, you were playing exclusively Irish trad... right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes Jody... Just Irish trad, but always looking for a quality box......If I get to Ireland and find a "flat" session I will be ready, or team up with a piper. Since I don't play heavy, full fisted chords but mainly single note melody Gm, Dm, F are not a problem on the C/G Box....What I really would like to find is a strong, great sounding, great playing, C/G Jeffries, but I have pretty high standard. I must be equal to or better than my Suttner( I have a really great playing box) and that will be hard to find....no rush.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes Jody... Just Irish trad, but always looking for a quality box......If I get to Ireland and find a "flat" session I will be ready, or team up with a piper. Since I don't play heavy, full fisted chords but mainly single note melody Gm, Dm, F are not a problem on the C/G Box....What I really would like to find is a strong, great sounding, great playing, C/G Jeffries, but I have pretty high standard. I must be equal to or better than my Suttner( I have a really great playing box) and that will be hard to find....no rush.

 

You must have tried the 45 buttons Jeffries at the Button Box, what did you think of that one?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do vaguely remember that. If they bring it to the squeeze-in I'll give it another listen and let you know. I do not favor the Jefferies 45 button format. 37 buttons is my standard and it's good enough for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do vaguely remember that. If they bring it to the squeeze-in I'll give it another listen and let you know. I do not favor the Jefferies 45 button format. 37 buttons is my standard and it's good enough for me.

Is that a size or wieght issue?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, a personal general preference for 38 over 45 button Jeffries is neither a size nor weight issue. It's three other issues ... and these same issues figure into my preference for a 38 over a 30 or 31 button instrument.

 

1) Sound. More reeds in an instrument of similar size (and there really isn't any size difference from a 30 button Jeffries to a 38 to a 45) means a combination of either smaller chambers for some of the reeds, more chambers in the middle of the reedpan (instead of around the edges), or both. These lead to tone quality differences -- "inboard" reeds sound different than reeds on the edge of the padpan, and there have been threads about this (and how some at-home tinkering might minimize this difference).

 

2) Button spacing. The buttons are often closer together or smaller on instruments with more buttons.

 

3) Are those notes really necessary for your repertoire? The more buttons, the more design compromises (inboard reeds, closer buttons, etc); the more buttons, the more intricate the action (more parts moving closer to each other in a confined space); and the more buttons, the more parts that might need repair someday. Those are the real or potential downsides; are there upsides for you personally?

 

4) Weight is a fourth issue, and it scales the exact same way: the more buttons, the more weight. For some players, this is a really important issue! For me personally, it's not, so I don't really consider this an issue -- that's why it's #4 in a list of 3 issues! (Maybe that will change when I'm older. But for now, I can play a Jeffries 38 standing just as well as I can play a Morse standing.)

 

Everybody's got their own preferences, with concertinas, and thankfully, there are a gazillion varieties of concertina out there :)

 

For me, a 38 button instrument offers tremendous upside over a 30 or 31 button instrument -- I want those extra buttons quite often. So do Jody and Adrian and other players who like to play arrangements with lots of chords, moving bass lines, contrapunctal voices, and so on. I'm willing to accept a few nasal notes and buttons that are a bit closer together, in order to get what I feel is a tremendous upside.

 

But a 45 button instrument ... I just don't feel like I need those additional notes for what I want to do, so the downside outweighs the upside for my personal calculation. 38 buttons is the sweet spot for me! I suspect for Jody it's a similar calculation.

 

And for many, many Irish players (and others), their repertoire and style just doesn't require more than 30 or 31 buttons. So for them, they might regard the downsides of a 38 as outweighing the upside. And for them a 30 or 31 button instrument thus has a lot of upsides compared to the others.

 

It's not that any of 30, 38, or 45 are strictly "better" in an absolute sense; it's mostly a matter of preference and that's largely though not entirely related to your style and repertoire.

Edited by wayman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...