Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I just joined this forum. I have never been within five feet of a concertina. I just ordered a brand new Rochelle; should be here well before the weekend. I play harmonica, keyboards, sax, and drums as a hobby, so I am going to be serious about this new friend, but I don't want to start off on the wrong foot. Any tips would be appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am responding to my own message, because I am the village idiot in a very large village.  I am having second thoughts about the Anglo-Rochelle as opposed to a Jackie English, so I just cancelled the Rochelle. I am never going to play Irish music or jigs. I am hoping to play blues and slow ballads. It sounds like I should get an English. Please push me in the right direction so I can place a new order and go fishing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cap'n

 

This is one of those eternal questions and there is no right answer.  It depends upon the person - what is right for one person is wrong for another.

 

An Anglo is not limited to Irish music and jigs - not at all, although it does seem to be the best option for a bouncy, dance style of playing.

 

You already play keyboards then maybe you should consider an Elise duet?

 

Since you live in the US then have you considered the Button Box's rental option.? 

 

You can rent by the month and try different instruments until you find something that suits you.  Then, IIRC, they will credit some of your rental charges against a purchase.  Another nice thing that the BB does is have a trade up system, not only to a better Concertina Connection box, but to one of their own boxes.  Plus they are good people who have worked hard for the Concertina community.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never thought about a duet so I just investigated. It seems to me to be easier to learn.  It looks like you can place a melody with your right hand and play chords with your left. Is this generally a good choice for a beginner - a duet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, TheCapt said:

Never thought about a duet so I just investigated. It seems to me to be easier to learn.  It looks like you can place a melody with your right hand and play chords with your left. Is this generally a good choice for a beginner - a duet?

Yes, generally melody on the right hand and harmony on the left. 

 

There are several different versions of the duet layout, you can read up on this to figure it out.  The Hayden system is a modern system invented by Brian Hayden who occasionally posts here.  It is a logical layout that is easy to learn and to play but it does have limitations. 

 

First is the availability of instruments.  This is much improved over what it was a few years ago, but the choice is still limited.  The Elise is available as an entry-level instrument and the Peacock and Beaumont are available as mid-level accordion reeded instruments.  AFAIK, the only concertina reeded versions are made by Wim Wakker and they are expensive and on a long waiting list.  There were a few concertina reeded instruments made by Steve Dickinson that very occasionally come up for sale (maybe one every 5 years or so).  So, if you go the Hayden duet route then you are probably going to be limited to the Elise, the Peacock and the Beaumont.  The Concertina Connection have, for some time, been promising to bring out a new model priced between the Elise and the Peacock, but it is not available yet.  I think that the Peacock and the Beaumont are good mid-range instruments.  I have a Beaumont, and once owned a Peacock, and I doubt that I will ever need (as opposed to want) to upgrade to a Wakker Hayden.

 

Second is that there are no teachers and very little written material (tutors) available for the Hayden system.  The Concertina Connection provide a tutor with the Elise and Brian Hayden published a tutor for duet concertinas, including the Hayden system, that is available online.  But that is about it.

 

Third is key limitations.  The Elise is not fully chromatic - there just are not enough buttons available for every accidental.  The Peacock and the Beaumont are fully chromatic.  Even where they are fully chromatic the choice of keys falls into two camps: 'easy-peasy' keys that all follow the same patterns on the keyboards and not so easy keys because the accidentals are out of postion and usually located in hard to reach places.  Easy-peasy keys on the Elise would be C, D,  F and G, on the Peacock they are C, D, E, F, G and A and on the Beaumont they are Bb, C, D, E, F, G, and A.  By keys I really mean key signatures so C includes C major , A minor and all of the modes of C.  These keys are fine for most folk and pop music, but not so fine for some classical and jazz music.  OTOH, transposing between the easy-peasy keys is really easy - it is just a matter of shifting the fingers over to a new starting position and then using the same fingering patterns in the new key.  I usually learn a new tune in G because it is in the middle of the keyboards and then shift it to another key once I have got it under my fingers.  It is also the 'English' key and I like mostly English traditional music.

 

That is about all I have to say, more experienced Hayden players can correct my errors and maybe add to my points.

 

Don.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don-

Thank you so much for the helping me begin this journey. Between posts I have done nothing but absorb what I can on the internet and this forum. I am fairly certain I'm going for the Elise, since the learning curve will be less given the fact that I also played the accordion long ago. I am disappointed that there is no E flat  as I can't play a blues scale in C or A or chord in C minor. My people are used to hardships, however, and there are several thousand songs that don't require either. I can always play a blues scale in G.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Capt

 

Thiinking a bit more about what you want to play.

 

The concertina is not a great instrument for the blues, you cannot (well most people cannot) bend notes on it and (in my opinion) 7th chords do not sound that good because of the stong overtones produced by the reeds.  I have vaguely wondered if a Hammond organ sound could be accomplished on a concertina.

 

Having said that, here are some examples of blues-like music on the concertina:

 

First, the Zulu Squashbox sound which reminds me a bit of the sound of the Mali bluesmen who were the antecedents to the black US bluesmen.  I find this sound really exciting:

and here is a 'white Zulu', Johnny Clegg playing in the same style with a band:

This sound is being done a cheap double (or maybe triple?) reed German concertina and I understand that the reeds have been swapped around.

 

Here is another Johnny Clegg video where he explains how you get a Zulu Squashbox and the philosophy behind the style:

 

Next up is Musik Bohmer:

 

and

I think that he is playing a Macann duet.

 

And that is about all there is for concertina blues.

 

Finally, have a listen to Leadbelly playing a melodeon (!):

Not a million miles from that Zulu sound.

 

Don.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Check out the playing of Harry Scurfield. He plays some blues on Anglo.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! I wish I had these videos in 1994. There was a roomful of people from every corner of the U.S. , mostly from the east coast. We were all about to work on a several-month project closely together. Each of us gave a brief bio to the group, and one of my colleagues from Minnesota told the group that her father played in a rock and roll band in Minnesota. When asked what he played, she proudly said, "the accordion."  Many of the people looked at their feet. I even chuckled a little, but these videos demonstrate that concertinas aren't just for the Irish or for sailors.

 

I can't wait. Having digested all this, at 7:40 am this morning I ordered a Jackie. Don and all, thanks again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, TheCapt said:

I can't wait. Having digested all this, at 7:40 am this morning I ordered a Jackie. Don and all, thanks again.

 

So welcome to the EC club!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, TheCapt said:

one of my colleagues from Minnesota

It had occurred to me to ask if you had considered a Chemnitzer...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that is powerful stuff. I love it. I have never heard of a Chemnitzer. It sounds great but looks expensive and not as portable as a Jackie. Thanks again for opening up a new world for me.  I'm saving these YouTube songs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chemnitzers are a Midwest specialty.  You should be able to find one of them hiding somewhere in your neck of the woods.

 

Part bandoneon , part concertina and part accordion.  Mostly played in polka bands, but 16 Horsepower (and later Woven Hand) shows what can be done with them.  Good work-out too!

 

Not especially expensive compared to a vintage concertina, they show up on eBay quite frequently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, John Wild said:

Check out the playing of Harry Scurfield. He plays some blues on Anglo.

 

 

Well, it's learned from the playing of Harry Scurfield - who does a much better job than this guy in the video (me)!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so  looking forward to Fed Ex showing up at my house where not too much happens as I live in the woods with three goats.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×