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LoM

What Brought You To The Concertina World?

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Sorry for the long post, but I don't think there's a better place for me to express this.

 

My interest in concertina is by far the most peculiar interest I've ever had in an instrument. I wasn't originally interested in music. My great grandmother bought me a piano when I was about 7 years old. I became fascinated with it when I realized I could learn music by ear. That fascination drove me for almost 10 years before I fell in love with music.

 

Within' that 10 years, I became interested in violin, mostly cause I didn't like my singing voice and there was a handful of classical pieces I wanted to learn. It was almost a year from the day I decided to get one that I received one. Some friends found out I was interested and gave me one Christmas. I wrestled with the instrument for about a year before I realized I didn't wanna play classical, or rock, or jazz...

 

One day I realized that there was Irish music. A wild, fun, beautiful, and free style of music. A kind of music I had never played on piano. Since then, it's been all tunes, and lovely songs. Learning more about a music and culture that had fascinated me for quite some time before.

 

Living in Austin, Tx. for 3 and a half years, I developed an interest in more music, many of the people I associated with being musicians, or enthusiasts. I had a very short-lived interest in bass guitar and ukulele after finding out how easy they were. I would've gotten a uke, but a delayed shipment that continued to get delayed caused me to refund my order. I had a bass for a while, was keeping it for someone. But it didn't grab me. So I decided it was just infatuation and moved on.

 

With concertina, it was none of that. First off, and I may get flogged for saying this here, but I don't particularly like free reeds(I'm a string man). Just like woodwinds and horns/brass, I'm very indifferent towards them. But concertina(along with the Uilleann and small pipes) is definitely the exception. Instruments like these, their tone is so unique. I don't even know how to describe the energy, the magic I feel. Not to sound childish but they leave me at a loss for words.

 

I feel so happy and easy going when I hear a concertina especially. And I mean, from the first time I ever heard one http://youtu.be/7Igvp6Aw66I I've been seriously considering taking it up. I mean really? http://youtu.be/MWosPa3SuNM after witnessing something like that, who wouldn't consider it!? Over the last 3 and a half years, I've heard this instrument in sessions, on cd's, in videos and slowly but surely it's worked it's way in. I finally cracked when I heard Caitlin Nic Gabhann's album, recommended by a peer from thesession.org. It's official. The decision has been made.

 

I already have a session, teachers, even a repertoire. And thanks to resources like this, I'm already learning. The hard part is getting the instrument. But when I get mine in my hands.... Sphew, I can barely contain my excitement.

 

Thanks for allowing me to get that off my chest. No one else understands lol. So what's your story? What brought you to the concertina world?

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Well done to your great-grandmother for getting you that piano; she must be very proud of you. :)

 

For me the idea grew out of a love of traditional English folk music and dance, and seeing and enjoying the sound of musicians within that tradition playing concertinas. As an engineer and fan of old machinery I was also fascinated with the way such a complex mechanism is crammed efficiently into such a small, portable instrument. Instruments in the guitar family don't hold much appeal for me (partly because they are so ubiquitous). I love the fiddle sound and would love to be able to play one well, but as a musical numpty and a late starter I suspect it would be beyond me.

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Being a player of stringed instruments I liked the idea of having something that came out of a neat little box, ready for playing and not (by and large) needing tuning. As a long-time tin sandwich (harmonica) player, I found the anglo surprisingly easy to get a tune out of although, as I later found, playing across the rows in the Irish fashion was a bit more problematic. I persist in my quest to master these appealing little beasts though and thoroughly enjoy playing ITM and morris tunes, two different approaches needed I find. Enjoy your journey Jerome.

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Because the flute, which I love, cripples my hands.

Cause my wife hates the sound of the Uillean Pipes, at least when

I was wrestling that octopus.

Cause I stink on a tin whistle, even when I owned a world class whistle.

I never tried the fiddle, it's lovely of course, but notoriously difficult.

 

The concertina has been very kind to my high milage blue collar hands.

It is lovely on the ears even when played by a scrub like myself.

Probably would've got here sooner but for the high initial cost

for a decent instrument.

If I knew then what I know now I'd have started here. Oh well.

Life and music is a journey.

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LoM,

 

As with you, it was the timbre of the concertina that captured me. This happened at a very early age - about 6 or 7 - at the Salvation Army. Spiritual music can be very intense - just think of Bach's chorales - and the concertina had that intensity. Magic!

Later, I listened to shanty prgrammes on BBC Radio, and the timbre of the concertina went so well with the wind in the rigging and all that.

So I finally got a concertina, but it was an East German hybrid. Fun to play, but lacking that evocative timbre (which is why I'd warn you against the Rochelle!)

Much later, I got a Stagi metal-ended hybrid 30-b Anglo, which comes close to the desired timbre. I still play it a lot. It blends very well with the fiddle, guitars and double-bass of my folk group.

 

Through CNet, I learned that that first S.A. concertina must have been a Crane (or, in Army parlance, Triumph) duet. So I invested some liquid capital in a ex-S.A., 48-b, wooden-ended Lachenal Crane. After almost 6 decades, I finally got what I was looking for in the first place!

 

In the meantime I've played the mandolin, the fiddle (for a few years), the 5-string banjo, the autoharp and whistles - preferably those instruments that I can sing to. Both the Anglo and the Crane go well with my voice. I mostly play accompaniments to songs, or instrumental arrangements of song tunes (Irish, Scottish, music-hall, Gospel, light classical, general folk ...).

If I'd wanted to play jigs and reels, I'd have stuck with the fiddle, which is so much easier than the Anglo for that kind of thing. But the fiddle is not really a singer's instrument, and singing has always been my main form of music-making. The beauty of either concertina system is that you can accompany a few songs with it, and then switch into instrumental mode and play a fantasy over some traditional air for a bit of variety.

 

I wish you much joy of all your instruments. Mine are a bit like children: all different, but I love each of them equally!

 

Cheers,

John

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I have fond memories of my first real encounter with the concertina world. Back in August 2001 I was nearing the end of a three months cycling trip to Ireland. Back then, I had only been playing Irish Music (on whistle) for about a year or two.

 

One morning in Ennis I randomly decided to go to a camp site near Kilrush. When I arrived there I cycled through dozens of concertina players. I did not know but the Mrs Crotty concertina festival was happening. The seed was planted and two years later I decided it was time to evolve from whistle. I tried flute for a while but I did not have enough motivation for it. The fingering was not different enough from whistle and I was still limited with the range of possible notes. It would have taken years of practice to get a good embouchure. I needed something very new, and concertina seemed to be like a perfect match. I ordered an Edgley anglo concertina and started playing it in 2004.

 

I really had a hard time learning the instrument as I would stubbornly always play the same note with the same button. I was so used to whistle that the idea of having two different buttons play the same note was so intimidating I would not let go of my "conditioning". This means that some tunes were unplayable, and many of the playable ones did not sound great because of the impossible contortion of the fingers and gymnastic required to play a few phrases. In 2007 I had a few classes with Edel Fox and Tim Collins and it opened my eyes to the fact that if I wanted to achieve what I wanted, I needed to let go and use the whole darn keyboard. I pretty much had to throw away all the tunes I knew and relearn them, like a total reformat of your computer :lol:

 

Today I'm always amazed when I realize it's as easy or easier for me to learn a tune on concertina than it is on whistle. I used to learn a tune on whistle first, then try to learn it on concertina. It's getting harder and harder to find the time to practice (I used to practice whistle three hours and day and after that concertina one hour a day) but still try to manage to practice half hour a day, it's not so bad. I love the instrument and I know I made the right choice.

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Yes Alex, she is very proud :) And she is still alive to this day to see me pursue the passion :)

 

Andy, yea it's also made me a little more excited realizing that this will be the first "wind" instrument I learn, and the fact that it is wind gives it it's special tone. I guess the reason why it's the exception is because it's not "airy", like flutes are, but smooth and full of tone.

 

Maki, you're a true champion man, sticking with the music until you found the right instrument! Most people give up on the "right" instrument!

 

John, isn't it lovely? I consider my instruments my friends.

Piano = Child-hood friend turned best friend

Fiddle = Long lost friend

Concertina = The lovely stranger

 

Ruediger, glad you made it! If it wasn't for the wonderful and generous people that have walked into my life, this music thing would've never happened...

 

Azalin, that's an awesome story! I would've fallen off my bike and had a heart-attack from that kind of culture-shock. That's great you've gotten to go to workshops with the pros! I've been to two fiddle workshops and they really changed things for me!

 

Thanks for sharing!

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Father Charlie Coen

Care to elaborate? I suspect a great story in there.

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Although I'm only a beginner and have only recently purchased my Lachenal anglo, I have loved the sound and looks of concertinas more or less my whole life. Its quirkiness, versatility, liveliness, full sound, rich tone, and compact design, make it (in my opinion) an ideal instrument to play just about any type of music on. Let's not forget its stunning looks and pleasing feel in the hands … such a delightful, little instrument. After spending many years playing single line melodies on the flute and tin whistle, I'm so impressed with the concertina's ability to, not only manage and cope with so many different styles of music, but also its ability to be actually played in so many different ways… I have the feeling that one can throw just about anything at it (so to speak) and it will do its very best to turn one's efforts into something beautiful...

 

Like many people, I wish I had taken up the concertina a lot earlier but, I'm so happy that I have found it now. Who knows, maybe I wasn't ready for it before, I like to think that my little Lachenal was just waiting for me to come along. In any case, I'm looking forward to a lot of enjoyable and rewarding playing as I progress with learning to play this modest and delightful instrument.

 

Good luck with finding your concertina… it's waiting for you somewhere!

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I played piano in college, but when I graduated I no longer had access to one. I went through a diagnostic to determine what kind of instrument would best met my needs. It must be:

 

1) Portable (I wanted to be able to take it to the park, or to shows)

2) Chromatic (I like to modulate)

3) Allow for singing (because I like to sing!)

4) Have fixed pitches (I have a middling sense of intonation)

 

There weren't many instrument that met all of the creteria. I thought about ukulele, but it seemed kind of trendy in my surroundings, and that set me against it. I saw a cheap Anglo for sale in a local music shop, bought it ... the rest is history.

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I played piano in college, but when I graduated I no longer had access to one. I went through a diagnostic to determine what kind of instrument would best met my needs. It must be:

 

1) Portable (I wanted to be able to take it to the park, or to shows)

2) Chromatic (I like to modulate)

3) Allow for singing (because I like to sing!)

4) Have fixed pitches (I have a middling sense of intonation)

 

There weren't many instrument that met all of the creteria. I thought about ukulele, but it seemed kind of trendy in my surroundings, and that set me against it. I saw a cheap Anglo for sale in a local music shop, bought it ... the rest is history.

 

Steven,just wondering how you go singing with the anglo? Of course it's often used for song accompaniment but can be a bit tricky managing the push/pull aspect. And you didn't quite end up with a chromatic instrument.

 

My entry came when I saw someone playing concer and singing. I knew instantly it was for me, much more portable than a guitar and could be used for song accompaniment. I made inquires and was advised english was best for singing...the rest is history.

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Father Charlie Coen

Care to elaborate? I suspect a great story in there.

 

 

Well, since Doug have not responded yet I just wanted to make sure you knew Father Coen is a great concertina player and I guess Doug heard him play somewhere since they seem to be from the same area. That's just a guess ;-)

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In all honesty it was a bad back. I was playing a hulking great 120-bass piano accordion for Foxs Border Morris, and simply couldn't cope with the weight of the thing. I researched concertinas, became convinced that I needed an English, went to the Birmingham Accordion Centre, got my hands on one, and... found I couldn't make head nor tail of it. So I started off with a Hohner (Stagi) 30 button anglo, which as a pianist made far more sense to me. The rest, as they say, is bankruptcy.

 

 

I played piano in college, but when I graduated I no longer had access to one. I went through a diagnostic to determine what kind of instrument would best met my needs. It must be:

 

1) Portable (I wanted to be able to take it to the park, or to shows)

2) Chromatic (I like to modulate)

3) Allow for singing (because I like to sing!)

4) Have fixed pitches (I have a middling sense of intonation)

 

There weren't many instrument that met all of the creteria. I thought about ukulele, but it seemed kind of trendy in my surroundings, and that set me against it. I saw a cheap Anglo for sale in a local music shop, bought it ... the rest is history.

 

Steven,just wondering how you go singing with the anglo? Of course it's often used for song accompaniment but can be a bit tricky managing the push/pull aspect. And you didn't quite end up with a chromatic instrument.

 

I can't speak for Steven, of course, but personally I don't find singing with anglo any more or less of a challenge than singing with Maccann duet or Jeffries duet. After a while, I found that the change of bellows direction on bisonoric instruments just becomes part of the fingering, really.

Edited by StuartEstell

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Seeing Mr Gladstone's Bag perform at Godalming Town Hall when I was a spotty teenage morris dancer. I tried for many years to escape its clutches, but JW's anglo playing just reeled me in...

 

Adrian

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I started playing after I joined a morris side (relatively thick on the ground in the Boston area). After briefly considering a melodeon (neither the fiddle nor the pipe and tabor appealed), I bought a 20-button Hohner, quickly ran up against its limitations and took a drive out to the Button Box, where I found a used Morse Ceili G/D that has served me well ever since (and am slowly increasing my use of the 40-button Wheatstone I obtained from Ben of this forum).

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"Morris On", "Son of Morris On", "The Prospect Before Us" - featuring the brilliant playing of John Kirkpatrick, John Watcham and John Rodd.

 

Coming from a background of piano and organ, the whole "push a button, make a sound" thing made far more sense than trying to find a note somewhere on a little string. So my first concertina was a Bastari 20-button, quickly switched to Wheatstone EC for many years, back to Anglo now and thoroughly enjoying playing tunes I've wanted to play for years, and fascinated by the challenges of its eccentricities. Even if my name isn't John.

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