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Bob Michel

The Impish Hornpipe

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I fell in love with this tune earlier this week. It was written by John Sheahan, the last surviving member of the original Dubliners lineup, and it just begs to be played on concertina.

 

https://youtu.be/sQCBpVeezhk

 

I'm a big fan of flat-key tunes on a C/G box generally, and this one (in F) definitely pushes the envelope. The B part in particular really puts the "chromatic" in "Anglo-chromatic."

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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Really impressive, Bob. Playing that in F on a CG Anglo is not for the faint hearted.

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Thanks, Jim. What's fun about it is that it's actually not that tough a tune to play. Having lower-octave Bb in both directions smooths out the phrasing a bit on this one, and the drone button comes in handy in two passages--but even on a 30-button C/G box, playing in F has to be less of a stretch than playing across the rows in D, which is home territory for Irish-style players. And Bb, once you get used to it, is surely less forbidding than A!

 

My signature guilty pleasure, and one of my very favorite tune books, is "Ryan's Mammoth Collection" (Boston, 1883), with its dozens of jaunty Gilded Age hornpipes, many in flat keys. Alas, very few session musicians I know share this enthusiasm, so I have to content myself with playing them solo (with the occasional foray into multitracking).

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

Edited by Bob Michel

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Bob. Perhaps the session musicians who may appear to not share your enthusiasm simply don't share your skill. Once again the banjo accompaniment is the icing on the cake.

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Not now so sure that the accompaniment was banjo !

Not on this one. Mandolin and 12-string guitar.

 

It's generous of you to speak of "skill," Rod, but I really do think that playing comfortably in (at least) F and Bb--or wherever 4 and flat 7 fall on one's particular Anglo--is more a matter of familiarity than of talent. Those keys are uncommon enough in the modern Irish session repertoire that one could get by in that style without really mastering them. But I also enjoy playing a lot of music from "Ryan's" and similar sources--dance tunes that were mainstream favorites in America in the decades around the turn of the last century--and a great many of those are in keys other than D, G and A. Happily, the sort of melody-oriented, cross-row playing one associates with Irish-style concertina isn't that much harder in one key than in another. If the repertoire of that genre were centered on the key of F rather than D, we C/G Anglo players wouldn't be any worse off than we are now!

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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Your multitracking has the edge over ensemble playing. It provides the ultimate in compatibility.

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