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lstein

Will I Confuse Myself By Learning Cross-Row Keying On Anglo In Harmoni

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Intended subject line: Will I confuse myself by learning cross-row keying simultaneously with harmonic style?

 

Hi,

Newbie to both the concertina and the forum here. I'm self-teaching myself to play anglo 30b C/G for about a month now and it feels like I'm making good progress (at least my children no longer run from the room). I initially purchased the instrument with the intent of playing ITM, but Alan Day's audio tutor, the "faking it" brochure, and Frank Edgley's tutor all opened my eyes to the possibilities of harmonic playing in the "English" style. As someone who has previously played unisonoric instruments (trumpet, recorder, voice) it was a revelation to be able to harmonize, and I am having a blast figuring out chords for various favourite folk songs and dances. I'm amazed at how well-designed the Anglo is for that purpose -- despite all the quirks.

Ok, now for the question itself. I am studying both the cross-row keyed melodic Irish style and the harmonic style simultaneously, usually spending alternate nights working on songs typical of each. It may be my ignorance, but when I play in the harmonic style the way the tutors suggest, I am playing up and down the rows in push-pull style, and using cross-row keying for the more fluid Irish pieces. My attempts to use cross-row keying with left hand chords and harmonies have been unsuccessful -- I get way confused because of the push/pull constraints.

Have I discovered a "law" of the concertina that harmonic style equals push-pull along the rows, or do I just need to build up my level of skill and sophistication? Is there any downside to working with both styles simultaneously, like acquiring bad habits?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Lincoln

Edited by lstein

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Lincoln,

 

There's a harmonic style across the rows too. Finding my way to that took me closer to 5 years than one month, so you are ahead of my curve! Sounds to me like you see the multiple ways to employ the limitations (or advantages) you have. Others will chime in here about cross-row harmonics...until then, welcome to the madness.

 

Ken

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My attempts to use cross-row keying with left hand chords and harmonies have been unsuccessful -- I get way confused because of the push/pull constraints.

Have I discovered a "law" of the concertina that harmonic style equals push-pull along the rows, or do I just need to build up my level of skill and sophistication? Is there any downside to working with both styles simultaneously, like acquiring bad habits?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Lincoln

I think I'd concentrate for now on playing Irish tunes in the cross-row style, while at the same time learning the more harmonic material from Day, Edgley etc., in the along-the-rows harmonic style. If the repertoires are (mostly) different, you shouldn't get confused.

 

As time goes on, you'll make more and more connections, and the two styles will converge--as Ken says, it's perfectly possible to play harmonically across the rows, and for that matter, generations of Irish players worked mainly up and down the rows before the cross-row style was worked out. But there's no need to rush that process, or worry about it in the early going. Bit by bit the two approaches will reveal themselves as part of a larger pattern; in the meantime, you'll be mastering both, and learning lots of tunes.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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Personally, I think it would be a good idea to learn tunes in a variety of styles, and try not to think too much about the "home rows". I started and learned to play mostly English folk dance tunes in G & D on a G/D concertina, although I did use some cross row fingering when it worked for the tune. I am now learning to play in a more Irish style on a C/G box with the intention of doing a more convincing job playing Irish and Newfoundland repertoire, but also with a view to mastering the entire keyboard ( there are buttons in the 3rd row that i've never used :wacko: ) including playing in less convenient keys. Frequently I find myself wrestling with old muscle memory as i force myself not to fall back on old habits. I wish now that I had taken a more holistic approach to begin with. One of the most amazing Newfoundland button accordion players ever was a fellow named Art Stoyles. He knew every button on his box and seemed to be able to play any tune a dozen ways.

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Lincoln,

 

There is plenty of crossrowing going on in the harmonic style. Have a look at William Kimber's style for example; he jumped often between the two rows that he played. You might also look at the (few) harmonic tunes in Bertram Levy's original anglo tutor book (Anglo Concertina Demystified), where you'll also get a good idea of it. Finally, check out some of Gary Coover's books. The easy tunes in his books are on the rows, but the more complex ones waltz around the keyboard a bit. There are examples in his work of some of the key British proponents of that style, whose work can get quite complex across the rows. I think it safe to say that many of the more complex British players figure out what row on which to play a particular melody note only after they find the best way to play the chords....so they can bounce around all over the place. And then there are the South Africans, who play lush chords and give little more than a nod to along the row playing.

 

I don't think Irish cross-rowing will cause you any problems. The anglo is a puzzle-box, with lots of room for memory work!

 

Dan

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Thanks so much to everyone for the helpful advice! I'm greatly reassured that I'm not going to do my playing any lasting damage by pursuing both styles simultaneously. I will definitely check out William Kimber and the other players mentioned above. Coincidentally, Gary Coover's book arrived in the mail just last week; if I had read far enough ahead, I probably wouldn't have needed to ask about this.

 

Finally, I really liked this comment from Bob M.:

 

As time goes on, you'll make more and more connections, and the two styles will converge

 

 

 

Would you call this a "harmonic convergence?" Something to really look forward to.

 

Best,

 

Lincoln

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Interesting thread. I played English for a few months before I got my first Anglo (CG). I play Irish, cross row style on this. I then picked up a GD a few weeks later and I'm using this one for "melodeon" style playing - chords/ oom pah with the left and tunes with the right. Mostly I play up and down the row with the GD with the odd note on the "other" row. With the chords, of course, you have to do do some stuff crossrow. I almost treat the two concertinas as completely different types of instruments and thus I don't get confused.

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Interesting thread. I played English for a few months before I got my first Anglo (CG). I play Irish, cross row style on this. I then picked up a GD a few weeks later and I'm using this one for "melodeon" style playing - chords/ oom pah with the left and tunes with the right. Mostly I play up and down the row with the GD with the odd note on the "other" row. With the chords, of course, you have to do do some stuff crossrow. I almost treat the two concertinas as completely different types of instruments and thus I don't get confused.

Now that's the best argument for getting a second concertina that I've heard yet!

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Interesting thread. I played English for a few months before I got my first Anglo (CG). I play Irish, cross row style on this. I then picked up a GD a few weeks later and I'm using this one for "melodeon" style playing - chords/ oom pah with the left and tunes with the right. Mostly I play up and down the row with the GD with the odd note on the "other" row. With the chords, of course, you have to do do some stuff crossrow. I almost treat the two concertinas as completely different types of instruments and thus I don't get confused.

Now that's the best argument for getting a second concertina that I've heard yet!

 

...or you just stick with the EC! :D

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Interesting thread. I played English for a few months before I got my first Anglo (CG). I play Irish, cross row style on this. I then picked up a GD a few weeks later and I'm using this one for "melodeon" style playing - chords/ oom pah with the left and tunes with the right. Mostly I play up and down the row with the GD with the odd note on the "other" row. With the chords, of course, you have to do do some stuff crossrow. I almost treat the two concertinas as completely different types of instruments and thus I don't get confused.

Now that's the best argument for getting a second concertina that I've heard yet!
...or you just stick with the EC! :D

Yes it's weird. When I first started I thought that there was no way that I was going to take up the Anglo after five years of playing the melodeon. However, having bought a couple of cheapies just to dip my toe in the water, I really got into it and now it's my "weapon of choice". Having said that, I still love playing the EC which is far more straightforward than the Anglo (to me anyway).

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Daddy Long Les, I have to mention that your video blog has been a real inspiration to me!

 

Lincoln

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Daddy Long Les, I have to mention that your video blog has been a real inspiration to me!

 

Lincoln

Thank you very much. Means a lot!!

 

Les

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Interesting thread. I played English for a few months before I got my first Anglo (CG). I play Irish, cross row style on this. I then picked up a GD a few weeks later and I'm using this one for "melodeon" style playing - chords/ oom pah with the left and tunes with the right. Mostly I play up and down the row with the GD with the odd note on the "other" row. With the chords, of course, you have to do do some stuff crossrow. I almost treat the two concertinas as completely different types of instruments and thus I don't get confused.

Now that's the best argument for getting a second concertina that I've heard yet!
...or you just stick with the EC! :D

Yes it's weird. When I first started I thought that there was no way that I was going to take up the Anglo after five years of playing the melodeon. However, having bought a couple of cheapies just to dip my toe in the water, I really got into it and now it's my "weapon of choice". Having said that, I still love playing the EC which is far more straightforward than the Anglo (to me anyway).

 

 

 

I'm about a year down the road on my c/g anglo - and loving it. mainly cross rowing ITM ( or 'diddley diddley' as its known in our house :-) ) however i bought a cheap English on a whim and have to say the logic of its layout and the bisonoric-ness(is that even a word?) do appeal to me. I wonder if I'd started with an English.... well who knows?

 

I tend to learn tunes rather than any specific system. So I know a few tunes that go up and down the rows. a few that go across the row and some very basic (harmonica style?) harmonised pieces. I've had a couple of Gary Coovers book's for a while now but not really dipped into them as i had got used to the tab system from Dave Mallinsons books. I'm now looking at Gary's books again as I too would like to add some 'harmonic' style tunes to my repertoire. I must have learned something as the tab no longer seems too difficult and with all the practice i've had over the last year I can usually cobble something together straight from the stave then find some better fingering options later.

 

So i guess my 10p's worth would be to try a little bit of everything and see what works for you. :-)

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Followup: I continue to work on both styles using Mick Bramich's book "The Irish Concertina" for guidance on the ITM style and Gary Coover's tutor for the harmonic style. I'm having a great time and feel like the two approaches are more complementary than conflicting. I'm finding it great fun to figure out harmonies --don't laugh but I'm working on the "Lord of the Rings" theme now.

 

Lincoln

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Cross-rowing is an essential part of harmonic style, to avoid interrupting the chord because of a forced change of bellows direction. Most of the melody notes in the home keys are available in either direction, so you can hold down a chord and play a phrase in the same direction by cross-rowing. Working out a piece this way can require quite a bit of trial and error as you try out different combinations of chord and melody fingerings.

 

There are times when you want the choppiness of playing up and down the rows, and times when you want to play more smoothly. Playing across the rows allows you to base this on musical grounds rather than mechanical necessity.

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I find that Heather Greer's tutor book "Concertina Diaries" is an excellent tutor book/CD for the C/G. Cross rowing is discussed and the use of alternate fingerings is explained.

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I play mainly harmonic style. On a C/G that means I tend to play mainly in C, but across the rows. Without playing across the rows, you miss a lot of harmonic opportunities.

 

Playing harmonic style in the second key (G on a C/G) is trickier, but in some ways more rewarding. You get a more open, spare, sound with fewer big round chords.

 

As I understand it, "Irish style" across the rows would mainly be in G on a C/G - or even in other keys such as D or A using the accidental row.

 

In theory, the two styles shouldn't interfere with each other.

 

The only thing I'd warn against in any style is sticking rigidly to "along the row".

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As I understand it, "Irish style" across the rows would mainly be in G on a C/G - or even in other keys such as D or A using the accidental row.

 

The "first" key would be Dmaj then (there has been some discussing the nomenclature of calling a C/G Anglo a "D" concertina here...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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