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dmk56
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Hi! This last weekend I purchased my first concertina - an English 30-key Jackie. Haven't found a teacher yet in the SF Bay area yet, so I'm learning by book and YouTube.

 

I have a few questions if someone could answer -

 

1. My concertina is new. I've been practicing scales but the effort to move the bellows means I can only go for a few minutes before cramping up from the effort. Is this normal? I am balancing the instrument on my knee and have the bellows about half way out. I'm not exactly a little guy and thought I had fairly strong hands.

 

2. Are there any charts out there that shows chords? Done a bit of searching and all I've found was chord theory. I just want to know what 3 keys to press for a G chord. A lot of the songs I'm interested in shows guitar chords to play with the melody and lot of them only have 3 to 4 chords. Seems it would be simpler to learn 3 chords then to learn the whole melody - or am I totally off here? BTW - I play fiddle and can read music pretty well.

 

Thanks!

 

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Chord charts are available on the Internet, just do a bit of searching.

 

The bellows of the Jackie might be a bit stiff when new, and being larger in crossection than a traditional treble English it might be a bit harder to push and pull.Muscles will get sore when begining any new instrument, remember the torture when you first began on the Fiddle ?

 

For the three basic chords to accompany melodies in G maj. you'll need G ( notes G-B-D), D7 ( D-F#-A and C) and C ( C-E-G) these can be inverted in any configuration or played as part chords or just one note to harmonise with your melody.

 

To work out the chords needed for any major key start with that key and add to it one key signature sharper and one flater; i.e. G has one sharp, so use one key sharper which is D (having two sharps) and one flater C which has no sharps or flats. This is the very very basic answer to your question.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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I did find a usefull, and simple, chart which gives the notes of the most used chords in every key:

 

try at www.michael-thomas.com

 

Good luck with your new venture... many people who play the English these days appear to use it for single melody line playing , which does appear to be a waste of the features of a keyboard instrument , so I like your initial approach of ' straight into self accompaniment'.

 

Geoff.

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G'day DKM?,

 

Welcome to Cnet and the world of concertinas, in your case the english.

 

Firstly, self taught is OK, you develop your own style. Take it easy with working the bellows, relax and hopefully the cramping will diminish and disappear.

 

It's great that you're into song accompaniment, exactly what I do and chording is a great start. Don't be scared of chord theory, it's really quite simple. Keep in mind that chords can be played in various inversions so there is choice regarding accompaniment. You might like to download this file.

 

pdf.gif Computer generated Chord Wheel v1.pdf 397.19KB 123 downloads

 

Stick it on some cardboard, cut out, pin together. There's intervals for major and minor chords, the others you have to work out but it's pretty easy. Rather than memorising chord shapes it's better, I think, to learn your scales and how chords are built from the scale. 1,3,5 for a major chord, 1,3b,5 for a minor chord, etc. The chord wheel should help.

 

Good luck (practice,practice,practice) with your journey an post some samples(soundcloud or youtube) before too long. It's great to share and good for your playing too.

 

Cheers Steve.

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Seems it would be simpler to learn 3 chords then to learn the whole melody - or am I totally off here?

Welcome to the world of concertinas. As others have said, don't worry too much about the cramps. You're asking your muscles to do something unfamiliar. Just don't overdo it, and they should pass quickly.

 

As for accompaniment styles, no; you're not totally off. It is indeed easier just to learn a few chords, and the "three chord trick" is a reasonable place for an accompanist to start.

 

But odds are you won't want to stay in that place. You can also use a concertina to play melodies and countermelodies, bass runs and bass/chord combinations. If you stick with it, you'll probably find yourself wanting to incorporate these techniques, too. There are lots of good players on YouTube to give you ideas. (Some are members of this forum as well; e.g., have a look at Steve Wilson's videos if you want a goal to aim at).

 

It's not an either/or proposition: scales, arpeggios and chords all work together, and learning how that happens is part of the fun. So by all means start wherever you're most comfortable, but with the realization that your comfort zone is about to get a lot bigger!

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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Sorry to spoil the party, but perhaps you should have bought a 30 Button Anglo if you you wish to play chord accompiments. A lot easier to play chords on than an English. IMHO. Also, on most Anglos the buttons are more widely spaced and laid out more naturally under the spread hand, so you might find less strain on the hand joints.

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Sorry to spoil the party, but perhaps you should have bought a 30 Button Anglo if you you wish to play chord accompiments. A lot easier to play chords on than an English. IMHO. Also, on most Anglos the buttons are more widely spaced and laid out more naturally under the spread hand, so you might find less strain on the hand joints.

dmk56: I suspect that the EC is the most commonly used type of concertina for vocal accompaniment and it has its own advantages for this type of playing: ability to play in most keys, the close spacing of the buttons makes it possible to hold two buttons down with the one finger and its unisonoric nature means that you can simply change bellows direction and not lose your chord fingering.

 

Anglos have their different advantages, as do Duets. The best type of concertina is the one that fits you.

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I only mention that because a few days ago I had the experience of trying to teach a group of EC players (some experienced tune players, some novices) how to play chords to accompany a tune. I was surprised how difficult they found it. Of course it makes a big difference if a novice EC player already knows music theory and knows what notes are in required chord and where those notes are on keyboard. Novice players often find music theory an added complication and simply need to learn shape of chord, which of course applies for any concertina. I just find EC buttons too small and too close together for my big old fingers.

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Sorry to spoil the party, but perhaps you should have bought a 30 Button Anglo if you you wish to play chord accompiments. A lot easier to play chords on than an English. IMHO..

Regarding chords: I disagree entirely. Chords, in and of themselves, are not only supremely simple on an English, they are that way in many more keys than on any anglo. What's more, complex chords that range from difficult to impossible (because of push-pull conflicts) on an anglo are also often simple on an English.

 

What can be difficult or even "impossible" on an English is to play a steady vamping chordal background at the same time as a melody. That can be very easy on an anglo, at least with simple melodies in particular keys.

 

But that's a whole different kettle of fish. And there are ways of adding harmonies or chords to melodies other than a background of steady, rhythmic chords... ways to which the English is well-suited.

 

Also, on most Anglos the buttons are more widely spaced...

 

On some, yes. E.g., on my Jones. On "most"? I'm not so sure, and especially not on the top-quality ones. Comparison is unclear, since anglos and Englishes don't have the same directional relationships between the buttons. FWIW, the "vertical" nearest-neighbor spacing on my Englishes is less than the nearest-neighbor spacing on my Jeffries anglo, but the "horizontal" spacing on the English is the same as that Jeffries spacing, and the "diagonal" spacing is greater than on the Jeffries, where all spacings are essentially diagonal.

 

...and laid out more naturally under the spread hand...

 

Well, yeah... because in playing the English the hand isn't spread the way it is when playing the anglo. Nor does it need to be, since the layout is only 4 columns wide. Also, the way of holding the English is more appropriate for the English's narrow-but-long layout, allowing a freedom of hand movement in the long "vertical" direction which is prevented by the bar-and-strap of the anglo (and duets).

 

...so you might find less strain on the hand joints.

He might. Or he might not. So much depends on the size and shape of the hands and on how that interacts with the details of the way a person holds the instrument. Because of differences in the size and shape of hands and fingers, what relieves pain for one person might actually cause pain for someone else.

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I only mention that because a few days ago I had the experience of trying to teach a group of EC players (some experienced tune players, some novices) how to play chords to accompany a tune. ... I just find EC buttons too small and too close together for my big old fingers.

Consider the possibility that the reason they had difficulty is that you conveyed to them your own feeling/belief that it is difficult. If you don't believe that it's simple, then it would be difficult for you to convey to them the simplicity of it. I've never had trouble getting someone to see that simplicity.

 

Of course it makes a big difference if a novice EC player already knows music theory and knows what notes are in required chord and where those notes are on keyboard.

The same is/should be true of novice anglo players... or "experienced" players of any instrument, for that matter.

 

Novice players often find music theory an added complication and simply need to learn shape of chord....

 

Exactly! Especially on the English, where chord shapes range from similar to actually identical across a number of keys (8 of the 12 possible standard key signatures).

Edited by JimLucas
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I only mention that because a few days ago I had the experience of trying to teach a group of EC players (some experienced tune players, some novices) how to play chords to accompany a tune. I was surprised how difficult they found it...

I don't want to pile on, but an analogy that struck me when I read this was that this was like a banjo player trying to teach a group of fiddlers how to play chords.

 

After all, they are both string instruments so they must be pretty much the same as each other. Apart from the fingering being different and bowing vs picking, and a different number of strings, how you hold the instruments and just the general sensibility of what you play on each instrument.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love banjos and fiddles and Anglos and ECs, but if the OP has already chosen to play EC then he should be encouraged to work with that instrument.

Edited by Don Taylor
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Anglos have their different advantages, as do Duets. The best type of concertina is the one that fits you.

 

 

And there in a nutshell is the best advice regarding anyone's choice of concertina system.

 

I don't play the English, as I find it totally counter-intuitive, but there is no objective reason for it to be more generally difficult to play chordal accompaniments on the English than on any of the others. The way the instrument is generally played -- as a single-line melody instrument -- certainly might influence how familiar players are with playing harmony, but I've experienced similar situations with e.g. classically-trained string players who have never really had to give much thought to harmony and chords.

 

dmk56: I'd recommend having a good crack at theory, but perhaps not just yet. Music theory often looks much more complex than it actually is because of the dry way in which it's often presented -- but if, once you've mastered some basics of chordal playing, you can then get to grips with how it works, it will expand the potential of your playing enormously.

Edited by StuartEstell
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Of course I could really upset the esteemed members of this forum and suggest that that OP changes to Melodeon. I'll get my hat.....

 

I don't get the impression that anyone's upset, merely in respectful disagreement (although as ever, tone is very difficult to judge on an internet forum) :)

 

I'd assume myself the the OP did some research into the concertina systems and decided that English was the right one for them -- so suggesting a change of instrument at this stage might not be feasible or desirable. I'm sure they'll get along just fine.

Edited by StuartEstell
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