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I just took out some old time fiddle instruction books, trying to play tunes on the EC. I used to play fiddle years ago before having neck problems so I do understand the techniques. I was intrigued by the idea of duplicating shuffle bowing on EC by alternating pull and preess. I remember being told that this can wear out the bellows. A few years ago I was at NESI and there was a workshop on jigs with a technique of changing bellows direction on certain notes (can't remember details) Does anyone have experience with this? Just fooling around with it for a few minutes, it seems to have some promise. Also I seem to naturally change bellows direction for empasis. (I play Anglo shanty style). Comments and helpful links welcome.

 

Bob Lusk

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Shuffle bowing , using the EC ( or Duet) bellows is a technique that provides a similar emphasis to Fiddle bowing. Some call it 'Bellowsing' and you might try a search for that word here on Cnet.

 

I use this in Irish and other dance musics to emulate the bowing capabilities of the fiddle though I can see that the heavy end of shuffle bowing used in American Old Time fiddling could be tiring for an EC player and the bellows.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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I certainly sometimes use alternating bellows direction instead of repeated presses on the same button - e.g. in Captain Pugwash.

 

However, as I used to play cello, more often I use the bellows as if it were the cello bow, changing direction to mark beginning of phrases in the music.

 

I've never tried using the bellows to mark regular strong rhythm patterns, which would be the equivalent of a Georgia Shuffle.

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George Marshall, of the Pioneer Valley (Massachusetts) contradance bands Swallowtail and Wild Asparagus taught a workshop at Ashokan years (decades) ago on applying fiddle bowing techniques (shuffles, etc.) to concertina playing. He plays English concertina, but Rich Morse and I both attended the workshop with Haydens.

The Wild Asparagus page linked above identifies George as webmaster and links to his e-mail address at the bottom of the page. You might get in touch. Maybe he has some workshop materials as pdfs.

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I've found EC not a great match for constant, or super-frequent shuffling, a la American folk "sawstroke" fiddling or literal one-row melodeon. However, that's not to say EC isn't great for bellowsing and direction changes. You can introduce more than enough "movement" into EC playing for the "lift" of oldtime music. The key is to do it in spots compatible with the folk idiom you're playing in. I often change directions on consecutive same notes like the poster mentioned above. I also often change on "long" notes, got that one from Gearoid O'Hallmhurain in an Anglo class. And often change at the end of an "A" part or a "B" part, sections which do often feature "long" notes. I do the same on unisonoric accordion (CBA), but don't switch directions as often as on EC, which loans itself to more switching than the much bigger accordion. For switching during running phrases of fast notes which are different notes rather than the same note repeated: In Irsh or oldtime reels, I've found that implementing the direction switch on an "off" note or beat gives to the ear, the sound of landing on the "on" note or beat. Trying to switch right on the "on" note or beat, sounds weird in reels. I do it on the previous note, and that needs to be an "off" note.

 

At least as important as bellows switches to getting the folk dance-music sound you want, is taking your fingers off the button and breaking the air flow, frequently enough to give your playing a folk, rather than classical, sound. Again, this is an issue not only of doing it frequently enough, but of learning by listening, WHERE in the tune it "fits" the idiom for you to do it.

 

Many EC players attempting to play folk-dance music forms do not grasp this. They slur entire tunes, changing directions only when they run out of bellow, and never breaking the air flow between notes so it is too smooth. This is what has given the EC a stigma in many trad folk genres. An undeserved stigma.

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I play old-time and other American styles on the Anglo and use an almost constant background rhythm created by the bellows, regardless of direction. While not exactly designed to emulate shuffle bowing stroke for stroke, it does have that effect, even (especially?) on longer notes. Unlike English or Duets, I'm not able to create rhythm by consistent in/out patterns as in the excellent Dust My Broom by Stephan, (link above).

 

Instead, I take as my model the sort of constant bellows energy (regardless of bellows direction) that you can see and hear in the exciting playing of PA expert Laurie Andres. Check out how he bounces his bellows. I think this could be done on the English Concertina to great effect, esp. with the addition of wrist straps.

 

Laurie Anders

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHYphsyRlaE - Good view from :39 - :58 and at 2:10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoBF-lWfVlI - Good view at the start.

 

On these examples, you can both hear and see Laurie's bellows working away to keep that tune-motor running.

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Thanks guys - Lots of great ideas here - I'm sure it will keep me going for awhile - ya, got wriststraps.

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