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frogspawn

Marcus G/d Anglo Questions

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I've been taking a rest from the concertina to strum a stringed instrument. As and when I return to it I hope to have improved both my timing and my feel for chords. In the meantime I did take my Crane duet out on May Day with Fowler's Troop in Greenwich, and very enjoyable it was too. As the procession was fairly 'free-form' I had enough space to hear myself without being drowned out and I was more-or-less able to keep up despite the novelty of playing whilst walking.

 

Anyway, the experience has to some extent rekindled my interest in playing English country dance tunes on a concertina, but not with the Crane. I am now seriously considering the acquisition of a Marcus G/D Anglo. Although it's a controversial issue, I do believe that it is easier to play an Anglo at the required speed (more fingers, less travel). I also know that Anglos tend to be louder. But I have two questions.

 

(1) Do most players of English country dance tunes prefer the G/D to the C/G?

 

(2) Will a Marcus Anglo be significantly louder than my Crane? It's not that I want to drown other people out, just that I want to be able to hear myself in a session. If it's not going to be appreciably louder I will dust off my melodeon instead.

 

Rik

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Although I'm trying to concentrate on other systems at the moment, here's my two pennorth, for what it's worth:

I had a G/D anglo by Andrew Norman, very similar in many ways to an equivalent metal-ended Marcus. It could be played really loud if required. I loved it. Unfortunately, I got into playing Irish music and decided it didn't suit - I'm left-handed and there was too much right-hand work for fast Irish reels in G. So I sold it (through this site) quite a few years back. Having gone back to playing a bit of English and other non-frantic music, I kind of miss it. I'd say for playing English music such a box would suit very well, especially if you're planning on adopting the so-called "English style", i.e. William Kimber-type right-hand melody and left-hand chords/basses. Great for playing in octaves too, (Scan Tester style?) once your muscle-memory grasps the fact that left and right hands don't change buttons simultaneously.

Mind you, I now use Crane duet or melodeon for English music (and stick to English concertina for Irish music).

As for volume, much depends on how loud your current Crane is.

I hope that's useful. Plenty of current G/D players here to give you advice based on more recent experience!

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The problem with playing concertina in a session is that the sound is always going sideways. You'll be hearing more of whatever's either side of you, whereas they'll be getting loads of you... in Motorhead terms, it can end up with an "Everything Louder than Everything Else" scenario! Someone on here suggested a while ago that sitting in a corner is a good way for concertina players to hear themselves better at sessions.

 

I have a G/D Norman, which is a similar melodeon-reeded instrument. It's a great box but it's not a particularly loud one - it's quite accordion-y and doesn't feel nearly as punchy as my C/G Norman. If I play dance tunes on anglo, I tend to play them in C on the C/G, which is more penetrating and feels more punchy to me. But while C might be "the people's key" for C/G anglo players, it isn't for anyone else ;)

 

I would just say that there's no real reason you couldn't play any music that interests you on Crane - the anglo certainly gives you chords "for free" along the rows but whether that benefit outweighs the significant effort required to then learn alternate fingerings / more interesting voicings of chords etc. is open for debate. Having learned anglo before either Maccann or Jeffries duet I'm not able to offer any insight there.

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I have a Marcus D/G.

 

Don't know for sure, but I don't think it would be louder than a Crane.

It is a gorgeous instrument though.

I try playing it outside for Morris, but it really isn't loud enough for that.

Does well in sessions though.

Fast and responsive except down the bottom end of the G row.

 

I'm convinced that playing the Anglo concertina pushes Alzheimer's syndrome five years further down the road.

Phil

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I can add that I heard quite a few players of G/D concertinas playing Morris tunes (mainly in G) - resulting in a really punchy sound, however all on Wheatstones I seem to recall...

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I play mostly English music, and I have both a C/G and a G/D. I use both, but I find the G/D generally more useful. Most English tune sessions are built around those keys because of the dominance of D/G melodeons.

 

The Anglo works best for harmonic playing in its 'home keys'. The C/G is perfectly capable of playing in D and G, but it's more difficult to fit in bass runs and passing notes. If you're playing in G you either have to go up into the range of dogs and bats, or drop an octave. Perhaps that's just laziness on my part, there are players who do very well on a C/G.

 

The C/G comes into its own when I want a brighter sound, or for minor tunes. Am or Em are equally playable on G/D but have a different feel, while Dm is best on a C/G. Then of course there are East Anglian sessions which are usually in C.

 

On balance though, if I had to choose a single concertina to play this kind of music my choice would be G/D. Although I take my melodeon as well :)

 

On the question of volume, Stuart is quite right when he warns that the concertina is always more audible to the audience than to the player. One problem with G/D is that you are occupying the same tonal space as the melodeons and it can be harder to separate your sound from theirs (accordion reeds may exacerbate this). This could result in you playing louder than necessary simply in order to hear yourself. The C/G, being higher pitched, tends to cut through better without necessarily being louder (but may seem so to the audience). Whatever you play, you need to train your ears to pick out your own sound, rather than just play louder.

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For me, (I also play melodeon) the G/D concertina is a much more obvious and intuitive choice, but I have met players in English sessions using C/G instruments very effectively. To be honest I think due to cost and the lack of availability of a really cheap (under £500) G/D the Anglo is a bit of a marginal instrument in English tune playing, at least compared to the fiddle and melodeon.

 

I own a G/D Marcus deluxe, which I think is fantastic instrument and with a really beautiful tone. It is certainly capable of being loud, but I don't know that it is louder than the average melodeon. The single reeded tone of a concertina probably cuts though a bit better. I guess if everyone else around you is playing melodeons, you will be able to hear yourself better on concertina and vice versa!

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.. in Motorhead terms, it can end up with an "Everything Louder than Everything Else" scenario!

 

Wayhay! Someone cited Motörhead in a discussion on Concertina net. My life is complete. Anglo players: born to raise Hell and we do it real well!

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(1) Do most players of English country dance tunes prefer the G/D to the C/G?

 

(2) Will a Marcus Anglo be significantly louder than my Crane? It's not that I want to drown other people out, just that I want to be able to hear myself in a session. If it's not going to be appreciably louder I will dust off my melodeon instead.

 

 

1: I have played concertina for morris quite a bit and would say that a C/G will carry a bit more than a G/D though players of ECD tunes would favour a G/D due to the fact most of the material is commonly played in these keys. I had a c/g which I played for morris for a while but just got frustrated as it only really worked when I was the only musician (rarely) because playing in C gives the best range of chords, so I would end up playing on the G row but not sounding quite as good. I would recommend a G/D though if you were playing to a huge crowd - say a ceilidh spot at a festival it might sound a bit quiet whereas say a melodeon would be fine. For the average pub morris tour the volume of a marcus G/D would not be a problem (though quieter than the average hohner). The biggest problem I would say is playing while standing, it does take some practice (or put your case on the floor and rest the tina on your knee, way easier)

 

2: A marcus is a great instrument though I would say that I am not too sure the volume of a typical crane - all I can compare it to is my melodeon, although my melodeon uses the same reeds as the marcus (voci armoniche) The marcus concertinas I have played are not as loud. As I said above - might prove a problem if you are playing in a big open space with the crowd far away but not so much in a pub car park or town centre.

 

Finally there is a good marcus concertina G/D on ebay at the moment at a good deal, if I was buying my first G/D tina now I would buy it. They are great.

Edited by Jake of Hertford

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(2) Will a Marcus Anglo be significantly louder than my Crane?

I would expect that to depend on how loud your Crane is. What sort do you have? Basic mahogany-ended Lachenal, or "Crane & Sons" (made by Lachenal)? Ebony-ended New Model or Edeophone, or an equivalent Wheatstone? Metal-ended Crabb or Jeffries?

 

I might guess that a standard Marcus anglo would be louder than my Crane & Sons Crane, but not as loud as my Jeffries Crane.

 

 

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...rekindled my interest in playing English country dance tunes on a concertina, but not with the Crane. ... I do believe that it is easier to play an Anglo at the required speed (more fingers, less travel).

 

Huh? How much experience do you have with each?

  • What are you considering to be "the required speed"? My experience with English country dance is that the playing of even the quickest tunes isn't especially fast.
  • My own impression is that speed on both the anglo and duet (Crane, Maccann, Hayden, etc.) should be about equal if the instruments are of equal quality (including condition). And I personally still have some difficulty on the anglo coordinating bellows reversals with button presses at any great speed, though I know not everyone has that difficulty.
  • Which are you saying has (uses?) "more fingers"? As far as I know, they both have the same number available for use in each hand.
  • "Less travel"? By that, do you mean that the button array on the Crane is larger? Well, even the smallest Crane configuration has more than 30 buttons, but it also has all notes in both directions. Have fun playing some of those Playford tunes in their original keys on either a C/G or G/D anglo... especially if you want to include harmonies or chords.

On the other hand, I don't think anyone is making Cranes in the same price/quality class as Marcus' anglos.

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Frogspawn, no disrespect to Marcus, but have you considered a Morse Ceili in G/D? Certainly more (perceived) volume and better dynamics than any other hybrid I've played, and can hold its own in a session, leaving my Wheatstone Aeola Crane for dead in that respect.

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Frogspawn, no disrespect to Marcus, but have you considered a Morse Ceili in G/D? Certainly more (perceived) volume and better dynamics than any other hybrid I've played, and can hold its own in a session, leaving my Wheatstone Aeola Crane for dead in that respect.

Hi Malcolm

 

I asked specifically about a Marcus because of the one currently on eBay, but thanks to all the responses here I will probably hold off for now.

 

Rik

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Thanks to everyone for their responses.

 

My beefs about using the Crane in an English session are and always have been about speed and volume, and I've contributed to the discussion about these in other threads before. There are lots of strategies for overcoming these difficulties but it's not a level playing field. During my recent May Day processing I was able to cope with the volume issue, but a fellow participant with an English concertina had to hold it up to his head to hear himself play!

 

In my experience, English sessions are dominated by bisonoric instruments. This says something.

 

Rik

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I agree, Rik - it says that that's what's currently popular. One could say that if viewed objectively [ALERT: HERESY KLAXON :lol: ], in many ways the anglo is inherently unsuited to Irish traditional music, yet - at the moment at least - it seems to have a secure place in the Irish tradition. But instruments come and go in the various traditions. Who in, say, 1950, would have predicted the rise of the bouzouki, or that the mandolin would find a place in the Indian classical music tradition?

 

Additionally, I suspect that in the case of the popularity of D/G melodeons and anglos in playing English dance tunes, their bisonoric character is incidental to the fact that they're diatonic.

Edited by StuartEstell

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Stuart

 

Yes, a lot of instrument ownership is purely accidental, but readers of this forum have the privilege of making informed choices. All concertinas are compromises. All have their advantages and disadvantages. I personally wouldn't choose an Anglo for song accompaniment.

 

Your point about diatonic instruments reinforces the advantage of Anglos and melodeons for English dance music.

 

Rik

 

 

 

 

I agree, Rik - it says that that's what's currently popular. One could say that if viewed objectively [ALERT: HERESY KLAXON :lol: ], in many ways the anglo is inherently unsuited to Irish traditional music, yet - at the moment at least - it seems to have a secure place in the Irish tradition. But instruments come and go in the various traditions. Who in, say, 1950, would have predicted the rise of the bouzouki, or that the mandolin would find a place in the Indian classical music tradition?

 

Additionally, I suspect that in the case of the popularity of D/G melodeons and anglos in playing English dance tunes, their bisonoric character is incidental to the fact that they're diatonic.

Edited by frogspawn

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Your point about diatonic instruments reinforces the advantage of Anglos and melodeons for English dance music.

 

Despite being an anglo player I'd respectfully disagree, as I think it's possible to do whatever one wants with most instruments - but then difference makes the world go round :)

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In my experience, English sessions are dominated by bisonoric instruments. This says something.

 

If it's true, then I agree with Stuart, that it's still just an observation of current popularity, something that could change... and has changed in the past. (As far as I know, even the concept of "English sessions" seems to be something rather newer than the "folk club".) Which is not to say that you're wrong, since it seems that it's those sessions you want to fit into.

 

For what it's worth, the bisonoric dominance isn't universal, not even among free reeds. (I have yet to see a "bisonoric" fiddle, flute, or guitar. ;)) Others have reported here that their local sessions have more Englishes than anglos, maybe even no anglos at all.* And duets, much less common in general, still are found in sessions here and there. But once again, that probably doesn't matter to you, if those aren't the sessions you'll be attending.

 

More important, I would think, is the relative proportions among those "bisonorics" of anglos and melodeons (and maybe even mouth harps). Melodeons in general tend to be louder than anglos. Are the anglo players in the sessions you're familiar with audible in the way you want to be able to hear yourself? Does that depend on how many melodeons there are? What kinds of anglos do they have?

 

At least, if I remember correctly, you have experience with the anglo. Yes? So if you go that route you won't be starting completely fresh just on the theory that you personally will be faster and louder than on your Crane. If you can afford to buy an anglo in order to test your belief, why not? With a decent instrument, you're not likely to lose much if you decide to resell it in the future.

 

* Probably not relevant to your local situation, but at the monthly English session in Stockholm there are usually at least two players of the English and only one anglo. Also 3 to 5 melodeons, a few fiddles, recorders, whistles, and ukuleles, maybe one or two guitars or mandolins, and occasionally a hurdy gurdy. Add another English (also whistle and bones) when I'm there. And the songs vs. dance tunes tend to be equally balanced.

I hope that two more concertinas, recently refurbished by Jürgen Suttner, will soon be joining us. One is an English belonging to one of the fiddlers; the other is a Crane belonging to our anglo player. Meanwhile, after several years of inactivity, I'm starting once again to practice both anglo and Crane (most of my time has gone to the English), so maybe I can occasionally borrow those in the session. (There's a limit to how many instruments I can carry with me on an intercity train. :() I don't worry about being heard.

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