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Are Concertina Players More Ugly Or More Self Conscious Than Melodeon


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I only ask because in the Tune/Theme of the Month postings on melodeon.net the posters use YouTube but here on concertina.net SoundCloud is the weapon of choice. :)

 

If you ask me, we're all a pretty sorry looking bunch. Concertina face and melodeon face are two sides of the same coin.

 

Interestingly, piano accordion players don't seem to get the same pinched, agonized look that afflicts concertinists.

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[[[interestingly, piano accordion players don't seem to get the same pinched, agonized look that affects concertinists.]]

 

That is because with bisonoric concertina and melodeon as well as the bilateral, non-sequential arrangement on EC, or the patterned but non-sequential arrangement on CBA, no matter how long you play and how much facility you gain, there is always a Rubik's cube between you and the expression and direct experience of the music. It lessens over time, and I find EC less of a Cube than the bisonorics, and CBA still less of a Cube than the bisonorics or EC, but the Cube is always there to some degree. My personal term for it is, "running the matrix," or "running the grid." That look that even lifelong master Anglo players get where their eyes roll upwards and over to one side and sometimes the head tilts a bit . . . They are Running the Grid or Watching the Matrix, as they play . . . Of course, this doesn't account for why melodeon players might wish to be visible on youtube. Perhaps it's the other way 'round from the OP's thesis. Perhaps melodeon.net players are gnarly old characters who crave affirmation and regard.

Edited by ceemonster
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Interestingly, piano accordion players don't seem to get the same pinched, agonized look that afflicts concertinists.

 

 

I've got a theory about this. It stems from a remark made by a Russian friend who is a bayan (Russian CBA) virtuoso and accordion teacher. He pointed out that the piano accordion is the cheapest way to start off, because many people who fancy taking up the accordion shy away from the arcane-looking rows of buttons and think it will be easier to learn an instrument with the keyboard that is familiar to them from their childhood piano lessons. When they discover that there's more to the accordion than playing keyboard with one hand, they give up, and their piano accordions flood the used market, lowering the prices. Buyers of CBAs, by contrast, tend to be really serious about the accordion, and want an instrument that will serve them better when they get into advanced, complex music. They stick with it, so there's a much smaller used market for the CBA.

 

Now, what I deduce from this is that a large percentage of piano-accordionists will be playing relatively simple music, with a melody on the right-hand keyboard and three chord buttons on the left - and with a bit of practice, you can do that on autopilot without any exertion that would make itself visible in your facial features. Let's face it, there's a "comfort zone" on the Anglo, too, where everything just lies under the fingers. Do any of you grimace when playing a slow melody with three chords as an accompaniment?

 

Grimacing is pretty common when you're approaching the limit of your technique - wherever that limit may be. Julian Bream, the classical guitarist and lutenist, comes to my mind. I've seen him perform live on both instruments, and whether it was Tarrega or Dowland, his playing was accompanied by much lip-biting, eyebrow-twitching, etc. Even my bayan-playing friend gets a faraway look on his face when he's playing a Bach toccata. And note the differnce in the facial expression of a pop e-guitarist when he's strumming rhythm chords or playing a solo!

 

Just a theory, FWIW!

 

Cheers,

John

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[[[They stick with it, so there's a much smaller used market for the CBA.]]] I'm not sure your friend's theory flies. The used market for CBAs including quality ones in France is abundant because culturally it's the unisonoric of choice there and has been for dogs' years. People taking up the accordion there don't start out on PA. At least not in any numbers. The Auvergne/folk type players want bisonoric diatos. The folks taking up unisonoric take up CBA, largely. The plentiful used CBA market there owes to a boom period in which accordion was a big deal, for musette and Django-swing. This cultural flush faded due to the accordion going out of fashion, way out. Those musical genres are thankfully and delightfully on the rise again, but there are still gobs of wonderful used CBAs knocking around in France to be had for pennies on the dollar of what newly-made ones now cost.

 

Same with used PAs in America, but not because people quit PA in any greater percentages than they quit anything else. Due to chance accidents of music-cultural history, CBA never made its way in any numbers to the US (though that may be just staaaaaaaarrrrrrting to change). PA was and remains the unisonoric of choice here. Due to the mid-century accordion boom here that fell off when the electric guitar came in and PA came to be seen as geeky, there remain gobs and gobs of quality PAs to be had on the used market in America, again for pennies compared to newly-made ones.

 

 

I'm bitter about this. I want a used CBA market in the States like the one in France. . . . :rolleyes:

 

I agree that there are people who take up unisonoric accordion and then quit when they find out how hard it is. I just don't agree that people are more likely to be serious about and stick with the one than the other.

People also quit bisonoric button accordion when they find out how hard THAT is. And it is very hard to play well.

Edited by ceemonster
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[[[They stick with it, so there's a much smaller used market for the CBA.]]] I'm not sure your friend's theory flies. The used market for CBAs including quality ones in France is abundant because culturally it's the unisonoric of choice there and has been for dogs' years. People taking up the accordion there don't start out on PA. At least not in any numbers.

ceemonster,

 

Ah, well, France always has to be different, doesn't it!

 

My friend and I live in Germany, where "Akkordion" means "piano accordion" by default. If you mean CBA, you have to say "Knopfakkordion" ("button accordion"), and the diatonics are "Handharmonika", unless you mean a specific, familiar model like the "Steyrische". My friend's observation was made in this environment.

 

Incidentally, the only French professional accordionist I know here in Germany plays a PA ...

 

Cheers,

John

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On melnet, a lot of people watch the videos because they want to see how other players approach a tune with regard to fingering, bellows etc. With the melodeon it is fairly easy to show both sides of the instrument together, and because everything is larger it is easier to see what's going on. Often the video is framed to show just the instrument and players' heads are out of shot.

 

With concertina it's much more difficult to see what a player is doing, unless a video is deliberately intended to be instructional. There's much less benefit from going to the trouble to set up and shoot a video when a sound file will do.

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[[[interestingly, piano accordion players don't seem to get the same pinched, agonized look that affects concertinists.]]

 

That is because with bisonoric concertina and melodeon as well as the bilateral, non-sequential arrangement on EC, or the patterned but non-sequential arrangement on CBA, no matter how long you play and how much facility you gain, there is always a Rubik's cube between you and the expression and direct experience of the music. It lessens over time, and I find EC less of a Cube than the bisonorics, and CBA still less of a Cube than the bisonorics or EC, but the Cube is always there to some degree.

 

Interesting. For me, it's a straight unisonoric-bisonoric thing: EC and duet have no effect whatsoever on my face but anglo and melodeon can both get me twitching. I had a quick play with one of Adrian's anglos after a Dapper's Delight concert on Sunday and noticed in seconds that the old push-pull face had started. In my case at any rate, it seems to be directly related to bellows direction changes. That's probably also why I've never successfully sung with an anglo or melodeon but can happily do so with EC or duet.

I agree with Howard. Unless you have two cameras and a split screen, videoing concertina-playing is less useful from an instructional point of view.

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On melnet, a lot of people watch the videos because they want to see how other players approach a tune with regard to fingering, bellows etc. With the melodeon it is fairly easy to show both sides of the instrument together, and because everything is larger it is easier to see what's going on. Often the video is framed to show just the instrument and players' heads are out of shot.

 

With concertina it's much more difficult to see what a player is doing, unless a video is deliberately intended to be instructional. There's much less benefit from going to the trouble to set up and shoot a video when a sound file will do.

 

This is the reason I use three cameras to shoot all my videos these days. The Go Pro camera that films the wide, front shot is set to "medium" so picks up a pretty large area and I have two other basic video cameras trained on the two sides of the concertina. Using Final Cut Pro X, it's really simple to dump the camera cards into the Mac, make a multi-cam clip, pick my shots on the fly and then "fine-tune" them afterwards. The software syncs all the clips together using the audio recordings from the various cameras, however, I use the sound of one camera for the final movie. It sounds like a bit of a palaver but once you're used to it, it's a piece of cake. I leave my cameras out all the time so I'm ready to go if and when the muse strikes. Apart from all that, it's great fun!!

Edited by Daddy Long Les
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