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Turloughsgirl

Learning "across The Rows,"or The "cross Row Technique&#34

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Hello,

 

I just purchased my first Anglo 30b Rochelle Concertina, and my goal is to play Irish music and participate in sessions one day. I am being taught to play across the rows, however, I understand this is not the preferred way for learning Irish music.

 

I would really appreciate any thoughts, comments, suggestions, or insights about this. Thanks in advance!

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Welcome to the world of Irish-style concertina playing!

 

If you aim to play Irish dance tunes with other musicians, you'll want to achieve some fluency in the keys of D and A, which are decidedly not "home keys" for a C/G Anglo. So playing "across the rows" in one way or another is pretty much a given. And in fact Noel Hill, probably the most influential living teacher of the Irish style, is the quintessential across-the-rows player.

 

That said, some older players (and some younger players who emulate them) preserve an approach influenced by the old German two-row instruments, and incorporate much more straightforward up-and-down-the-C-and-G-rows playing into their styles. This often involves transposing D tunes (say) a whole step down (listen, for example, to many of Mary MacNamara's settings). It's also possible, however, to play in D (and even in A) this way: if I see and hear what he's doing correctly, Chris Droney's wonderful bouncy rhythm seems to derive in part from playing as much of a given tune as possible up and down the G row, visiting the other rows only when necessary.

 

Still, playing across the rows is indeed the preferred approach for most Irish musicians nowadays, and I encourage my students to learn the necessary scales, weird, wandering and counterintuitive as they are, almost from day one. Mick Bramich's "The Irish Concertina" is a good starting point: his diagrams and explanations are quite lucid, and I like his selection of tunes for practicing them.

 

There's no single Right Way to go about this; I'm constantly working out new fingering alternatives for old chestnuts that I've known for years. But playing across the rows, whether you use Noel Hill's carefully developed patterns or some other variation, will most likely be a big part of the personal style you eventually develop. In any case, good luck with it: you've embarked on a long, strange trip!

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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Playing ' across the rows ' , if I understand the expression correctly, is esential for all but the very simplest single note melodies, in whatever key.

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Perhaps the bigger difference in playing style for ITM is that one is generally only playing melody, often at great speed. Whereas other styles of music, especially English and American will be played harmonically with a bass accompament, when cross row playing and use of alternative buttons becomes essential.

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Perhaps the bigger difference in playing style for ITM is that one is generally only playing melody, often at great speed. Whereas other styles of music, especially English and American will be played harmonically with a bass accompament, when cross row playing and use of alternative buttons becomes essential.

 

I'd guess that for a more harmonic style you would chose an instrument in your commonest home keys, i.e. G/D for Morris, and maybe even D/A for sort of an Irish "harmonic" style (if you will), in order to get along with playing chords not just erratically at all...

 

OTOH, playing "across the rows" appears to be primarily a technique of fast playing the melody (with the occasional chord when available)...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Hi Wolfe,

Are you saying that an Anglo 30b Rochelle C/G is not the preferred instrument to play in Irish Sessions? It may be some time before I actually join a session. I don't intend to play fast paced Irish dance music all the time, but to accompany my harpist friends with slower paced Celtic tunes.

 

Thanks!

Nancy

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Hi Wolfe,

Are you saying that an Anglo 30b Rochelle C/G is not the preferred instrument to play in Irish Sessions? It may be some time before I actually join a session. I don't intend to play fast paced Irish dance music all the time, but to accompany my harpist friends with slower paced Celtic tunes.

 

Thanks!

Nancy

 

Hi Nancy,

 

this may be easily mistakable - be assured that apart from the brand (which is of course a matter of personal preference and funds) you have in fact purchased the preferred instrument to play in Irish sessions!

 

I know this is a bit confusing as this music would be more easily to learn on a D/A ord G/D instrument, but then you wouldn't learn to play in the commonly preferred style as made so popular by Noel Hill and the likes.

 

This "modern" style may be historically understood from the availability of cheap German C/G instruments but results in a particular bouncy style which derives from the necessity of frequent changing the bellows direction. Chosing this style includes the eschewal of playing chords on a regular basis (at least on a 20b or 30b instrument).

 

Again, if you want to play "ITM" in sessions you'll do perfectly well with a 30b C/G anglo...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Face to face lesson are probably the best way to learn, follwed by

Skype.

 

I really like the Online Academy of Irish Music.

Free lessons and info here:

http://www.oaim.ie/free-lessons/concertina

 

I have "A Tutor for the Anglo Concertina in the Irish Style by Mick Bramich".

Which is good, and has some really wonderful tunes, I much prefer

"The Concertina Diaries".

http://www.irishtunebook.com/the-concertina-diaries.php

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I've been using the Online Academy of Irish Music lessons for a while now and I really enjoy them. The Mick Bramich book is an excellent resource. I just ordered the Concertina Diaries and I'm looking forward to trying it out - I hear nothing but good things regarding it.

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For me, making the jump to playing "across the rows" became a lot easier when I stopped thinking of them as rows at all, just as places where the buttons happened to be located. Clearing my head of that linear mindset advanced made ssense out of skipping around.

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LHMark, that's the right mindset. Think of it like a typewriter (oops, they're called keyboards now). The notes you need could be almost anywhere, and in several places, just look for fingering options that have that magical combination of ease of fingering, musical phrasing, and speed.

 

Gary

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Face to face lesson are probably the best way to learn, follwed by

 

 

I have "A Tutor for the Anglo Concertina in the Irish Style by Mick Bramich".

Which is good, and has some really wonderful tunes, I much prefer

"The Concertina Diaries".

http://www.irishtunebook.com/the-concertina-diaries.php

 

 

Absolutely.I found that 'Concertina Diaries' accurately reflected the common difficulties that learners experience and offers sound advice and guidance.

I have made fantastic progress using this book. and cd.

 

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This is the nearest thread I could find to help perhaps with some confusions I have.

 

Having played English Treble for many years, as well as D/G Melodeon and Accordion, all mainly for traditional English Folk and French dance music, I am currently having a go at Anglo on a 30b Lachenal C/G. The tutor books I am using are the three excellent ones by Gary Coover, Mick Bramich, and Chris Sherburn/Dave Mallinson.

 

Playing melody up and down the rows is not too much ( … ish ..!!) of a problem, either using the dots, or by ear and 'intuition'.

 

BUT …. it seems from the experts that the emphasis should be on playing everything based more or less on the C row, crossing to the 'other' rows for: 1) sharpened notes 2) to avoid finger hopping and for greater use of the stronger fingers 3) greater fluidity or speed 4) air economy and 5) obtaining chordal fills.

 

As a D/G Melodeon player I find this completely counter-intuitive and very difficult to do. A familiar tune in G on the C row …. help, so many notes the 'wrong way round'.

 

Most, if not all Anglo workshops are also based on C/G as are all (?) the Tutor books.

 

When so many Irish traditional tunes are in the keys of D and G why is the favoured Anglo configuration C/G ? That seems a nonsense.

 

I'm ok with much of Irish music, but I rather prefer traditional English, Ceilidh, Morris etc. Much of that is also in the keys of G and D !

 

How come we are not all playing G/D Anglos and not C/G ?

 

Can someone please enlighten me as to this apparent contradiction ? ……. and thanks in advance.

 

Advancing age asks for less weighty boxes but for ones with plenty of push/pull lift, hence starting Anglo. (yes all you lovely English players about to pounce, I know, but you will appreciate what I mean, no offence intended)

 

Rob

Edited by Robin Tims

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Rob,

It took me a while to get into cross-row playing, too. I approached the Anglo from the mouth organ, which has the same Richter scale as the Anglo's two main rows, so I was soon playing all the tunes I knew, either in C on the C row, or in G on the G row. Intuitively, without dots. There are a lot of tunes that can be satisfactoily harmonised this way.

 

However, a very pragmatic form of cross-rowing gradually sneaked into my technique. This happened when I was playing fully harmonised pieces (usually in C on the C row) and found that the note I needed for the melody wasn't available on the C row in the same direction as I needed for the underlying chord - but it was available in the G row or the accidentals row.

 

Then, at some point, circumstances forced me to play plain melody in D major. I discovered that I could get the scale of D major as a sort of mirror-image of the Richter scale: not "press, draw, press, draw, press, draw, draw, press" but rather "draw, press, draw, press, draw, press, press, draw" - if I wandered back and forth over all three rows! This is "quasi-intuitive," and offers the same harmonies for D as the main rows offer for C and G - but along a zig-zag, not along a row.

 

Playing everything along the C row but taking the sharps and flats from the other rows may be OK when you're playing plain melody, or may be easier to sight-read for people who need the dots. But it wouldn't occur to me to do that!

 

Cheers,

John

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Then, at some point, circumstances forced me to play plain melody in D major. I discovered that I could get the scale of D major as a sort of mirror-image of the Richter scale: not "press, draw, press, draw, press, draw, draw, press" but rather "draw, press, draw, press, draw, press, press, draw" - if I wandered back and forth over all three rows! This is "quasi-intuitive," and offers the same harmonies for D as the main rows offer for C and G - but along a zig-zag, not along a row.

 

 

 

Cheers,

John

 

Thanks John, that's an interesting concept (especially to a long-time melodeon player) and I kept awake thinking about it in the early hours, mentally going through the buttons…… neat stuff. I puzzled a while about the push B until I realised you were nipping over to the G row for that. Will give it a go this morning !

 

Rob

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