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Styles Of Music For Concertina?


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So far, Irish Traditional music is the only music I'm interested in learning on the Concertina. I'm currently saving up money for my first concertina, so before I actually get started, I'm taking this time to explore other styles of music. For the last few years, my life has revolved around Irish music, so I feel that this time is a better time than ever to learn about other cultures and musics. I've listened to some English concertina and I'm not really liking it(which isn't much of a shocker given I'm not much of a fan of classical music). One of my coworkers mentioned "Russian" and "Gypsy" music, but those terms are so open-ended I didn't really know where to start.


I found this video on YouTube to give an idea of what I think sounds good, but I don't know what style of music this would be called...




...Here's more examples of the kind of energy and feel I'm looking for.






I guess this would be called Medieval or Middle Ages inspired, but I'm not sure, I just know I like his(Jeremy Soule's) soundtracks.


So what kind of concertina music do you like to play/listen to? I don't mind if it's solo or for ensembles. Please share :)

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Have a listen to English Folk Dance tunes, especially English Morris music. Ideal music for Anglo Concertina or its cousin Diatonic Accordion. Listen to the playing of John Kirkpatrick amongst many others. English dance music generally played very punchy with a very strong emphasis on the beat.


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Judging from those samples (this first one is played on a Stagi Hayden duet concertina), you should find Breton and some slower Scandinavian folk appealing. Also, try searching under the term "Early Music" - it is used to describe all different kinds of western music before the common practice era (pre-baroque classical music).


Slavic, Gypsy, Balkan, Russian and Klezmer music are so deeply interleaved due to history fo eastern Europe throughout last few centuries, that they cannot be easily summed up as distinct styles. Instead, they they form something more like a continuum of different influences. But they have stronger or weaker tradition depending on region, so you might want to try some Gypsy, Balkan and Klezmer folk searches as a starting point, as well as Ukrainian and Belarusian. Just like Scandinavian and Irish/Celtic folk music, they have been played a lot in modern, folk-rock arrangements as well as in traditional forms.


One example of a gypsy tune that has it's variants and flavours in almost any eastern culture is "Two guitars": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLB_14jFJ68

This one is a Klezmer tune, but with strong balkan feel to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0N_mTKUPRQ

And this is an example of Balkan Gypsy tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFa5_1S2NQ8

Here is a sample of modern-written russian harmoszka tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-mUuCvNrp8


I have never heard anyone playing this kind of music on a concertina, mostly because concertinas were never a traditional folk instruments in eastern europe (with an exception of last years of Tsar Russia, when strong German influence had build up some popularity of 20b German Anglo).


Try also our TOTMs, they might be your anchoring point to some of the less popular (than ITM) but playable concertina genres.


And last but not least - anything can be "concertina music" if you can arrange it and play on our instrument. I do mostly modern rock and folk-rock tunes, and folks try all sort of different things from all around the world.

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This is one of this rare ocasions, when my answer won't be "a Hayden Duet" :)


Both Gypsy and Klezmer music use quite exotic, chromatic scales [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsy_scale]. On a Hayden it makes fingering spread all over the keyboard. Probably best would be Tona's Dipper Custom or Chromatiphone layout. From more popular types, a Crane duet seems to have the most accesible fingering of those scales. For melody only playing English should be more than enough.

And it should be a rather large box, because of wide pitch ranges within a tune.

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For melody only playing English should be more than enough.

The English can do a hell of a lot more than "melody only", as various of our members have demonstrated in their recordings.


And it should be a rather large box, because of wide pitch ranges within a tune.

More than 3½ octaves? Really?

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Jim, I didn't intend to insult English system players or the system itself. I do love English system recordings and capabilities of this system, nevertheless it is less capable than duets for playing complex polyphonic arrangements. Please bear in mind, that Maki asked about easiest concertina systems to play Eastern European music, and while some skilled players indeed can perform duet-like arrangements on English (not as complex as, for example, Tona's renditions, but indeed far from "melody only"), it is not an entry-level capability of English system.


As to required span: when I did my research on "how big my DIY Hayden should be" I marked all spans from my desired repertoire, including some Klezmer and Gypsy tunes, and I have landed with 66 buttons. When melody spans two octaves, then switches an octave higher for one part in tune and you want to put "always lower" accompaniment and some basses, then yes, 3 1/2 span for duets is a minimum. Especially when you have it divided between two hands. Most Klezmer accordionists use large CBAs for a reason.

Of course you can squeeze tunes into smaller spans and do a lot of different adjustments, but for me, Klezmer and Balkan feel comes from immense complexity.

Edited by Łukasz Martynowicz
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One of the most interesting players of Romanian,Russian tunes was a player from the Balkan region called Raphael.He worked in the American Music Halls.A fantastic player of the English System Concertina.He can be heard on English International


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  • 2 months later...

[[What would be the easist concertina to play Eastern Euro. music on?]] i would say, the unisonorics, but much can be done on anglo as well, so long as you don't mind playing mostly-melody in keys where anglo does not have good scope for chordal possibilities. mind, when i've played musette or eastern european melodies on anglo, i have played it "long bow," strokes, using cross-row fingering patterns to get long, fluid phrasing in one direction, and then switching directions. bertram levy has recorded a gorgeous "havah nagila" on anglo, if i recall, sounds great...though, playing this stuff on unisonoric is really fun. i must say, that many world genres sound as good and at times better, on accordion-reeded concertina....


regarding "complex polyphonic arrangements": you don't need to go there to sound ravishing playing world folk music on concertina.i'm well aware of how complex some Balkan genres can be, but much Balkan music is performed brilliantly without complicated harmonies, counterpoint, and all that stuff.



i most decidedly do not like morris or english, same with much of the american "contra" music. i gravitate to just about all world modal-minor genres, and they all sound great on concertina.


for swedish, try mark gilston's "Troll Road" CD, link to CDBaby page with clips, plus there are a number of Youtube clips of Mark Gilston playing Scandinavian trad out there...




here is a link to a page from jody kruskal's site containing three clips of lovely world genres by EC player Rachel Hall---A set of 3 Swedish tunes, an Eastern European offering, and some contra-ish American....




here is some wonderful Eastern European stuff on Duet from a site member here:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6mG7p2SAf0 (Klezmer)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmRrIaWN-rE (Ukrainian)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-25V6h9iNlQ (Polish Tango)


Here is wonderful tango melody on EC:



Edited by ceemonster
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Thanks for that! I didn't knew that there was any recording of this tune on concertina (there is a typo in the name of it on YT site, it should be "ostatnia niedziela" so search engine sadly doesn't return this recording). It is one of my "tunes to learn" when I'll finaly have an instrument with all necessary accidentals and range and one of my all time favourites. I have even suggested it a while ago as a TOTM material. It is very popular amongst polish accordeonists and a song with a long (and sad) tradition. It's telling a story of a break-up and it is said that this song has been often requested from bands by men (officers mostly) just before commiting suicide (because of a broken heart) in the interwar period.

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I have often played in a klezmer group which occasionally has a very good English concertina player, so it can certainly work on that.


Hungarian traditional music is entirely diatonic and for the most part pentatonic - its tonal system is not very different from the older and traddier kinds of Scottish music. It would probably work best on a D/G anglo, because it often needs quite dramatic punch. Some of the dance music is traditionally done by a string band - violin, rhythm viola and bass - so if you want to imitate that you'd need a duet and play with a lot of rhythmic independence between the hands. This about hard-core trad as Hungarian music gets, though the accordion is completely untraditional (the usual backing is four-course fretless lute, the "koboz", and a bass drum, "dob"):




You aren't likely to get very close to this on a concertina, though the scales are not very unusual:




The guy on the far left has a book of this kind music: Sándor Balogh (or the other way round in Hungarian), "Moldvai hangszeres dallamok". There are some good books of Eastern European and other music from far away published by Schott, like Pete Cooper's "Eastern European Fiddle Tunes". They come with a CD.

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  • 4 years later...
On 11/19/2014 at 4:30 AM, Alan Day said:

One of the most interesting players of Romanian,Russian tunes was a player from the Balkan region called Raphael.He worked in the American Music Halls.A fantastic player of the English System Concertina.He can be heard on English International


You probably already know about this, but I also found a  a copy of the Decca 78 recording from 1936 by Raphael of "Doena"  at archives.org.  https://archive.org/details/78_doena_raphael-worlds-greatest-artist-of-the-concertina-leo-lefleur_gbia0050199b

Edited by Dee746
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  • 6 months later...

I am switching/adding Anglo concertina from (solo, unaccompanied electric) guitar.

I love rhythmic single note pieces.

Irish Jigs, reels, hornpipes. . . (I greatly prefer Irish to Scottish/English/Breton), and also medieval dance tunes (saltarellos, tarantellas, Macedonian “oros”  . . . and even played Bach solo violin pieces such as his Partitas. . .)

I am slowly relearning these on Anglo concertina.

For learning straight forward versions of lots and lots of Irish tunes, I learn from Tomoyuki Koshi on YouTube.


But there is a YouTuber named Arany Zoltan (no relation to my username) who is Fantastic.

he is a multi instrumentalist who plays all sorts of European trad music (from Scandinavia to the Balkans). He plays lots of Early Music/Medieval pieces and seems to focus on Eastern European/Balkan/Mediterranean music.


here are two Hungarian pieces that I absolutely love:





I believe that most of the music I mentioned (in addition to Irish music) is achievable on an Anglo concertina.

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I don’t know why the YouTube links I included in my previous post can’t be clicked on.


I just went to “share” under the video and chose “copy link”- which I’ve done before and had worked fine.


Does anyone know why it doesn’t seem to be working on concertina.net?

Edited by Zoltan88
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