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Do I Need Chords


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I play 20 button Anglo in folk group. I don't find it easy to sing and play melody but have never been used to chord accompaniment.

So I mainly revert to playing tune on whistle then sing, playing the melody again at the end.

Any tips for playing Anglo whilst singing.

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You might listen to some tracks by the great late Peter Bellamy and adapt his harmonica-like style of just pressing two or three adjacent buttons, played on the push and on the pull, and loosely following the directions of the melody, be it upwards or downwards... Can be used quite effectively... :)

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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The old cliché about riding a bicycle is applicable here. It's the most awkward, counterintuitive, frustrating thing in the world until, quite suddenly and without explanation, it's the most natural. When I took up the five-string banjo forty-some years ago it took me two solid years before I could make heads or tails of the clawhammer stroke. Then one day I picked up the banjo and it was as easy as walking. It's a mystery.

 

Start by working through a song or two very, very slowly, and keep at it. The same changes recur through much of traditional music, so you won't need to repeat that initial effort when you take on new material later. It's a steep ascent, but all at once you'll be at the top, wondering why singing and playing chords at the same time ever gave you any trouble.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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Thanks for all replies. I have looked and listened to some players of Youtube but I need to work at it painfully slowly just to know what notes the player is fingering, so, although I am impressed by their playing it leaves me standing at first base

Next I see that most of the music I play is by ear or I have only the melody line printed so I need to get, or work out, the chords.

I played "Leaving of Liverpool" with the chords I have and quickly ran out of air as most of the chords are push and I am probably holding them too long. I am also trying to use the full triad rather than 1 and 3 or 1 and 5. so I need to re-think.

 

I have some time tonight so I will devote some of it to getting a better feeling for the first four bars (measures).

My next meet is Thursday but I won't be trying anything new till I can do it without falling over.

The whistle is so easy except I can't sing and accompany myself.

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Conrad, albeit playing English myself, I know from playing just "Leaving of Liverpool" (thus making for a good example) on the melodeon that you will have to play phrases (including chords or harmony) on the pull without feeling the desire to do so, it will work and become rather natural after some amount of playing time...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Another Anglo player/singer to listen to (if you're not already overwhelmed) is John Roberts. You probably want to include the word "concertina" in your search (or "Tony Barrand") otherwise you'll get a million links referring to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

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I had a little practice last night, obviously not perfect, but I made a little progress and discovered some chords I hadn't thought about before.

As a wind instrument player - whistles, clarinet sax - I'm not used to chords, but I am familiar with arpeggios (arrpeggia?).

I also improvise with a little jazz so I am getting to grips with the concertina chord, but very slowly.

 

Thanks again for all suggestions.

Conrad

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Conrad,

If you're going to accompany your singing, you will need chords. Chording along is a lot easier than trying to play full melody and harmony while singing. Lots of guitarists do it all the time. The only prerequisite is knowing the "chord shapes" - C major is like THIS and G7 is like THAT, and so on. When you want a C major or a G7 is given in most tune books (for the benefit of guitarists), but after a while you'll learn to anticipate the chords.

 

All you have to do is learn the "chord shapes" for the left hand. This is no more difficult than learning guitar chords - you do have to learn which bellows direction to use, but on the other hand a bellows change often gives you the next chord without the bother of moving your fingers.

 

To get you started, I'm attaching a graphic showing the available chords for the left hand of a 20-button Anglo.

 

post-6581-0-58091900-1438691796_thumb.jpg

 

Cheers,

John

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Thanks, John. This is a great help. I worked out some chords last night but this chart extends my range.

I read somewhere that folk music doesn't use 7th chords -greatly favoured by jazz musicians - but now that you have told me where to find them I will see if they fit.

 

So I need to learn some more of the chord shapes and where to use them. I really feel I am making progress.

 

Conrad

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Glad you are getting into this. Chords can add a lot of fun to playing. For learning purposes, just to get the idea how they fit into the tunes, start simple, maybe a few major key tunes in the key of one of your rows. A huge number of folk tunes can be played with only three chords, some only two. The idea is to be able to hear where in the melody /song, the chord changes, then try out the three chords that are basic to the key the tune is in and see which one sounds best to you. On a concertina, two note ( leaving out the major or minor third ) are good starters because they will work for both major or minor chord accompaniment. And use less air. You can always add them in ( better with the middle notes not the low ones ) if you want to make sure people know you mean the major version later. For concertina, the short vamping style works well with not too much air, where the chords just mark the rhythm. If you start wth a song played in the key of a row, for major tunes like 99 bottles of beer on the wall etc. any or all the notes of that row played together on the press will give that rows key chord. Play two adjacent ones for the happy third feel, Pick pitch range that suits that part of the song. The draw version gives you the chord that usually sets you up for starting over. As in Shave and a haircut, Two Bits where the Two is the draw chord and Shave and Bits are the press. ( maybe these are americanisms, sorry ) A typical chord cycle in a simple G tune might be G,C,D7 and back to G. The same thing for the key of C would be C,F,G7,C. Key of D would be D,G,A7,D. Other keys follow the same pattern. You can get a lot more complicated, but if you start simple, it is easier to learn to hear where the chords should change. Remember, you can swap the pitches and still get the same chord. ( low D+ G above it, or G+ D above it). Sometimes you might like the sound of one better than the other. It is a good idea a lot of the time to include the melody note in your chord and sort of substitute that chord in the melody if it marks the rhythm. If you can find a copy of your song with chords written in, you don't need to use those chords, but you'll see where they attach to the lyrics. As other have said, listen and copy if you can. Learn the three basic chords for the keys you sing in, then add the minors later. (Em, Bm, and Am,) will get you a long way. Start simple , get complicated Shen the dimple stuff makes sense. Listen for what sounds good to you. A lot of songs can have very different but good feels when you change the chords you use. Often people will weigh down a tune with minors, when an occasional major will give it more life.

See if you can find some old Flanders and Swan recordings. They are both hilarious and great chordal you accompanied singing. Very clear with Swan on piano. My daughter's favorite is the Leggo version of "The Gas Man Cometh" on YouTube. Mine is " A Transport of Delight"

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The quirky arrangement of notes on an Anglo is specifically to make chords and part chords easier. Otherwise it could be a simple in out in out pattern all the way up the keyboard.

 

After a long tough day at work, there may be some errors or omissions in this, but on a CG 20 button:

 

On the C row push you have:

All of C major, 2 notes of E minor

 

On the C row pull you have:

All of G major, All of A7, all of D minor, 2 notes of D major, 2 notes of F major

 

On the G row push you have:

All of D major, 2 notes of F# minor

 

On the G row pull you have:

All of D major, all of D7, all of A minor, 2 notes of A major, 2 notes of C major

 

By combining notes from both rows, there are some better options.

 

The problem may be that your natural singing key is different from the key of your box.

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To get you started, I'm attaching a graphic showing the available chords for the left hand of a 20-button Anglo.

 

Thank you for those chords - there are a few there I can usefully add to my own

compilation!

 

OT, but Peter Bellamy was mentioned in an earlier reply. Anyone know what keys

his concertina was? Out of curiosity, I just tried playing along on his recording of

'Back to the Army Again', and couldn't get it to work...

 

Roger

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I am happy with the concept of chord progression, especially in jazz, but my difficulty was in turning theory into practice.

 

My initial thoughts were left hand keyboard for chords and right hand for melody but my anglo playing used the simple scale from button three on left to the appropriate one on the right. I was becoming frustrated with the as the chords on the left clashed with the melody also on the left and I thought of buying a piano accordion with keys I understand.But having read the posts in the past few days I am now practicing the tunes an octave higher and the more I play the easier it becomes.

 

The next stage is to get the chords to become second nature. so that I can make the playing more interesting and use them to accompany my singing. There are also lots of tunes - no singing needed - which will sound more interesting with a fuller sound.

 

I am now beginning to appreciate the "magic" of the anglo and if I make progress then a 30 button may be on the cards

 

Conrad

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