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Cliff Ermatinger

O'carolan's Fairy Queen

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This is my first post. I can't say I'm a newby since I haven't even begun yet.

 

My only exposure to the concertina was seeing Liam Clancy play a few introductory notes to The Leaving of Liverpool or something (can't quite remember, I was 15, had a few Guinness in me and, besides, I played the Highland pipes, tin whistle, bohdran and wasn't interested).

 

Nearly 40 years later, a shoulder injury put an end to my piping, so I began to learn the violin. I wanted to concentrate on Baroque since I'd always loved it since I was a child. I was not interested in Scottish or Irish fiddle music - although, I thought I'd make an exception and learn Carolan's Concerto. While looking for some examples on youtube to help me I came across David Hansen's version of The Fairy Queen:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jRTtVLdDPA

 

Such beauty and simplicity.

 

I listened to it several times. I hadn't been so moved by a tune in along time. A few more times listening to it and I knew I had to learn this piece, but not on the violin. I ordered a Rochelle Anglo which ought to arrive tomorrow.

 

I'd be happy if that were the only tune I learned on the concertina.

 

In an ideal world (I haven't quite located it yet), there would be a beginner's instructional book and dvd focusing on this tune. If anyone knows of anything approaching this I'd be most appreciative.

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Cliff

 

I love David's playing too.

 

My reaction, when I read your post, is that you might have ordered the wrong type of concertina. David plays in a smooth legato style on a best of class Wheatstone Aeola English concertina.

 

Setting aside the difference in tone between an Aeola and a Rochelle (and the Rochelle sounds OK but the bellows are stiff and David uses his bellows to great effect) the Rochelle is an Anglo concertina that excells in a more bouncy, rhythmic style than David plays on his EC.

 

I think that a legato style can be achieved on an Anglo, but that would require a high level of skill, so it is going to take a lot longer to get there.

 

You might want to consider changing your order from a Rochelle to a Jack or a Jackie EC. However, if you really want to sound like David then you need to start saving for that Aeola...

 

Other folks may disagree with my POV.

 

Don.

 

PS. I have often wondered how much post-processing David does to his audio - all of his instruments sound so sweet.

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Thanks so much for your kind response, Don. Very helpful. This is all new to me.

 

I'm trusting switching out the Anglo for one you propose won't prove too cumbersome for the dealer. I'll enter into direct contact wth him today, God willing, and see what can be done and which will serve my purposes. I'd be happy if I could just play a few O'Carolan tunes well, that's all.

 

Have a blessed new year, Don.

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I've just listened to the video and looked up a version of the written melody. While it is true that the video arrangement was played on the English, there is no reason at all that this couldn't be readily played on an Anglo, both smoothly and sweetly.

 

So choose the instrument you most want to learn to play, whichever that might be.

 

Good luck

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Cliff

If your dealer is the Button Box then they have a rental program that you might want to investigate. You can rent and exchange various types of concertinas from them and then, when you decide on what you like, part of the rental fees are applied against the purchase price.

As far as EC vs. Anglo is concerned then one consideration might be that as a piper maybe you would not be troubled by the melody alternating between the left and right hand. This is something that some folks cannot abide, other folks have trouble with the notes on an Anglo alternating on the press and the draw. Me, I am struggling with right and left hand independence on a Hayden duet.

It is not that I am an EC player myself, just that I think that the style of music that you like seems to fit an EC nicely.

Don.

 

PS. I think that you will also like Mike Pierceall's playing:

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIoE8OMmHm_uu8x_ZmYgs6A

and

https://soundcloud.com/michael-pierceall-387454622

 

Mike frequents these forums.

 

PPS. As Ted points out, it will be possible to play Fairy Queen on a 30 button Anglo so if you do finish up taking the Rochelle then that will be OK. I think that you will need to choose your teacher or tutorial material carefully and that is probably the subject of another topic once you have your concertina in hand.

Edited by Don Taylor

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My only exposure to the concertina was seeing Liam Clancy play a few introductory notes to The Leaving of Liverpool....

My reaction, when I read your post, is that you might have ordered the wrong type of concertina. David plays in a smooth legato style on a best of class Wheatstone Aeola English concertina.

 

For what it's worth -- probably not much, at least not in the overall context here, -- I believe Liam Clancy also played the English, and not the anglo.

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Thanks to all of you for your time, attention, and counsel.

 

I had a good conversation with Wim this morning which helped clear up a lot for me. He's fine with me sending the Rochelle and replacing it with a Jackie. To your point, Ted, Wim helped me see better which one I ought to opt for given my goals, both long term and short.

 

And yes, Jim, Liam played an EC. In a moment of insomnia last night I saw some videos on youtube and could confirm this.

 

Thank you, Don for the link to Mike's fine example on youtube - delightful. His sound and Frank Hansen's are really what I'm after.

 

Withe GHB in my rearview mirror and being new to the violin, this concertina venture comes as quite a surprise to me. I never expected to be taken with it but look forward to playing some simple tunes soon.

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Cliff,

 

If you just want to play Carolan tunes in a group setting like the one you linked to, the Anglo is at least as suitable as the English. In fact, I feel that the clearer articulation of the Anglo does something to bring out the Baroque vogour of the music. I've recorded two Carolan pieces on the Anglo concertina with my group (double bass, guitar, whistle, violin and Anglo). Have a listen:

 

Planxty irwin (Concertina carries the melody in the verses, violin in the intro and bridge)

 

and Sheebeg, sheemore (Concertina comes in somewhere after half way through, and carries the melody to the finish)

 

BTW, the Anglo is not a high-end vintage instrument, but a Stagi hybrid with a good bellows retro-fitted by Concertina Connection. It's a 30-button in C/G, and the above tunes are played in D.

 

I have one Carolan piece, Lord Inchiquin, in my solo-concertina repertoire, and this is of course harmonised. Works quite well. My other Carolan pieces are arranged for the 5-string banjo, which has the great advantage of being a plucked stringed instrument, so it lends itself to what was originally harp music.

 

Cheers,

John

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Danke fürs Kompliment, Cliff!

 

We were actually an Irish Folk band, but when we did Carolan pieces we shifted up a gear from the usual ballads and hornpipes. Part of the secret was having a good guitarist - that is, one who, when he sees a 3/4 time signature, does NOT automatically make a waltz of it! Irwin and Sheebeg are both in 3/4 time, but the guiitar makes them take off by putting 6/8ths under it, or moves them along smoothly by just playing "1, 2, 3" arpeggios.

 

Fairy Queen is also in 3/4, but the guitarist in the video you linked to (to my ear) takes all the lightness out of it with his "oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah". It's good to remember that Carolan was a Baroque-period musician - just 15 years older than J.S. Bach - and the waltz hadn't emerged at that time!

 

Weiterhin viel Spass mit Carolan!

 

Cheers,

John

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