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LoM

Concertina Progress.

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Hey folks! So its exactly 3 months(a quarter year) since I began learning concertina, and this thing is getting really really fun. The learning curve is proving to be really high, and as I take more lessons, things keep getting smoother and making a lot more sense.

 

It still feels like a Rubix-Cube a lot of the time, and Im having a few drawbacks that are hard to explain, but navigating it has become a game creating a flowing rhythmic contour.

 

The problem Im having is the availability of different fingerings. My fingers and brain get into some serious knots when learning a tune. Its like a constant musical tongue-twister. I figure out one fingering, then another fingering works better. Then the second fingering doesnt exactly work well with the next phrase, or Im not getting the "legatoness", bounce, or drive that Im looking for, and then again figure out a different fingering. When I find a fingering that truly works for the entire tune, Ive already learned fingerings I probably shouldnt have, and other fingerings I would do good to use. Its a mess! And dont even get me started on how crazy it gets when you mix in harmonics! Gah!

 

This first is a set of polkas that Ive been playing for a while and learned first on my other instruments.

 

https://youtu.be/6B5r6DLze5U

 

This 2nd is a set of two reels. The first is an old favorite, the 2nd, a new favorite.

 

https://youtu.be/0dLZXmMjbio

 

All forms of critique and advice welcome!

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Keep at it, you're doing fine. These tunes weren't written for concertina, so there may not be an ideal fingering (and even fiddlers have the same dilemmas). You have to just make your choices and see where they lead.

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Thanks David!

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Actually, pretty amazing progress for only 3 months, and with an instrument that's not really very quick for fast Irish tunes!

 

It's a continuous search for the best fingering and musical phrasing, and eventually you'll find something that you like the best. I wouldn't worry too much about the ornamentation at this early stage - get the basic tune down good and solid first and work the ornamentation in later as you continue to explore the tune. I know it's tempting to want to do it all at once, but basics are important, and ornaments should be treated like frosting on the cake.

 

Keep up the great playing and enjoy your voyage of discovery!

 

Gary

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Jerone,

You are doing fine. Keep up the good playing.

 

Noel Hill camp Midwest is happening just outside of St. Louis the first week of August this year. You may want to make plans to attend. "The Master" will answer all your default and alternate fingering questions while spurring you on to new concertina heights! Prepare to be challenged!

 

Greg

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This is fantastic progress, it really is, and I'm very much looking forward to hearing how your playing develops. Are you planning to focus entirely on Irish-style playing?

 

As far as fingerings go, I'd imagine that the "knotting" you describe is common to all of us anglo-botherers in our early stages. You've only been playing a very short time - I found that it took a while for things to become unconscious on the anglo. One thing I found helped in this regard was practising tunes while staring at the television, with the sound off.

Edited by StuartEstell

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Thanks for the tip Gary!

 

Thanks also to you Greg! Hopefully things are in order and I'll be able to go, this year has been crazy so far and I've barely been able to make it to sessions. It would sure be nice to go!

 

StuartEstell, I'll keep you posted ;-) As for the music, right now I'm exclusively interested in Irish music for concertina, but that's only because it's all I know. I have a full repertoire of tunes I'm transferring from my other instruments and newer tunes that I'm learning specifically from concertina recordings. Chris Droney, Noel Hill, Edel Fox, Caitlin Nic Gabhann and Mary Macnamara are in my collection and the more I listen, the more tunes I wanna learn on concertina.

 

I would very much like to hear some other styles, but I'm coming up dry... very dry. Not hearing a lot of versality unfortunately. My ears are always open to new styles though if you have anything you'd like to share :-)

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LoM, glad to see you've taken to the instrument so quickly. Do I recall right that you mentioned in an earlier thread that you play Old Time music as well? If so, once you get some of the more standardized Irish repertoire down, you can do some really interesting things crossing over to related Irish-influenced traditions of America. Jody Kruskal is the main professional musician known for doing this, worth checking out.

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You might find some inspiration in listening to John Kirkpatrick - his LP Plain Capers has some really exemplary playing of English tunes from the morris tradition as well as a few of his own composition. You might also enjoy the "Morris On" and "Son of Morris On" albums - the first features JK as sole concertina player, the latter includes John Watcham and others. You can learn an awful lot by listening to these guys, but it probably won't help in an Irish music context.

 

But really, the anglo can do anything you want it to, within reason - I used to play things like "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths on mine, although typically these days I tend to split my playing between dance tunes on anglo and song accompaniment on the Jeffries duet. There's no reason why you should only do what other people have already done, and I get the impression your musicianship is plenty strong enough for you to go off and explore some uncharted territories!

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Along the lines of musicianship allowing one to do a lot of out-of-ordinary things with an instrument, here's a neat clip that was posted here recently of a woman playing traditional Cajun music on an Anglo concertina: http://www.bayougunrunner.com/assets/images/upper_right_hand_side.jpg

 

Really neat how she's sort of imitating the 1-row Cajun accordion here, getting that really distinct style on a different type of instrument.

 

At the last part of the clip, she does a part-by-part slow walkthrough of the tune, so would be easy to add to your repertoire if you like it.

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Dropped a note YouTube, but I'll repeat it here. Nice work Jerone! First the fiddle and then 'tina! You come so very far! As to fingerlings: I don't play Anglo, but you run into similar problems on hammered dulcimer, and on occasion on EC. My sense about the problem is just learn the tune however. What you'll discover along the way is that the common patterns in the tunes will lead to common fingering solutions. Along the way you may have some "wrong," but those patterns will be useful someplace else. There is one other thing with Anglo though, and that is using the bellows change to help articulate the tune. I can't speak well to that, but I hope someone will!

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