Jump to content

Recommended Posts

When you're overwhelmed, sometimes things stay in your subconscious for a while before resurfacing.

This happened to me at the recent Noel Hill concertina school in Cincinnati, and what just bubbled up from my unconscious turns out to be something I"ll probably value the rest of my concertina playing life.

This is what is bubbling up now. At some point, Noel corrected the way I was holding the instrument...on my right thigh. He suggested I change it to my left thigh, because the air-button hand -- the right hand -- is the "bowing hand" of the instrument. He made several comparisons between the fiddle and the concertina during the school, this was one that I'm really glad is coming back to me.

Keeping this in mind is helping my bellows and air button work a lot, simply by giving it a frame or concept to hook it to. A simple and powerful concept.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a fiddler learning concertina,  I find the left knee plant works well.  If you're standing,  try a walking stick with a crook.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another way to put this;  both hands play melody, but only one hand plays rhythm. 

Edited by Chris Ghent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to differ on this Chris.  the fiddle being a single note instrument for the most part,  we learn to drive the rhythm with the melody.  The oom is redundant for me on the concertina.  Accenting the down beat melody note and just playing pah frees things up  and works with a wide range of music. 

Edited by wunks
spelling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Give the fiddler a dram!

 

Wunks, I would be very interested to hear more about how, as a fiddler, you approach the concertina and how fiddling techniques can be adapted to the concertina.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be happy to have that discussion Don but I don't want to hijack bogheathen's thread.  I have to step out for a bit but I'll post a new one later, or send you a PM of you prefer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, wunks said:

I'd be happy to have that discussion Don but I don't want to hijack bogheathen's thread.  I have to step out for a bit but I'll post a new one later, or send you a PM of you prefer.

 

Let's have a new thread then... :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a fiddle (40 years experience) the left hand and right do very different jobs.  Of course they always work together, but the bow controls the dynamics while the left controls the pitch.  On an Anglo concertina while both hands select the pitch, it is left to the unfixed ( not on the knee) end to control the dynamics.  Theoretically either hand could accomplish this, but for students who have started out using the button pressing hand to be the one that moves, a loss of bellows control by reverse flexing limits them compared to players who hold one end fixed and control the bellows flex with the other.  The analogy to the bow arm with the air button end is a good one, if only because it is easier to coordinate the press of the air button with the dynamic movement of the bellows since they are done simultaneously for combined effect.  This matters to some players more than others,  I have seen very good players who never used more than half their bellows over their knees, (and repaired bellows damaged that way ) because they never needed the whole bellows for their style of play.  They had very good bellows control, mostly from the wrist and I wouldn’t consider telling them they were wrong.  Noel’s analogy is one that works well.  Anyone who would switch knees could likely do as well given 40 years, but the basic principle of one hand controlling the dynamics is one resulting from a whole lot of years of experience.

Dana

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/14/2018 at 9:29 AM, Don Taylor said:

I would be very interested to hear more about how, ... fiddling techniques can be adapted to the concertina.

 

I once took a workshop at Ashokan with George Marshall, the (English) concertina player with Swallowtail and Wild Asparagus. He taught us (Rich Morse and I were the only ones taking the workshop, and we were both playing Haydens) how to incorporate shuffle bowing into our bellows work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Dana Johnson said:

On a fiddle (40 years experience) the left hand and right do very different jobs.  Of course they always work together, but the bow controls the dynamics while the left controls the pitch.  On an Anglo concertina while both hands select the pitch, it is left to the unfixed ( not on the knee) end to control the dynamics.  Theoretically either hand could accomplish this, but for students who have started out using the button pressing hand to be the one that moves, a loss of bellows control by reverse flexing limits them compared to players who hold one end fixed and control the bellows flex with the other.  The analogy to the bow arm with the air button end is a good one, if only because it is easier to coordinate the press of the air button with the dynamic movement of the bellows since they are done simultaneously for combined effect.  This matters to some players more than others,  I have seen very good players who never used more than half their bellows over their knees, (and repaired bellows damaged that way ) because they never needed the whole bellows for their style of play.  They had very good bellows control, mostly from the wrist and I wouldn’t consider telling them they were wrong.  Noel’s analogy is one that works well.  Anyone who would switch knees could likely do as well given 40 years, but the basic principle of one hand controlling the dynamics is one resulting from a whole lot of years of experience.

Dana

Ashley MacIsaac has some fascinating insights into this as a left-handed fiddler, playing a fiddle strung for right handed players. His teacher never corrected this idiosyncrasy , but for a very practical reason, in that he could pick up any fiddle and play it without having to re-string. As far as influencing his playing, his power is in the low end, being that the fiddle is turned upside down. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bertram Levy addresses his approach to incorporating bow techniques in his second concertina tutor, “American Fiddle Styles for the Anglo Concertina.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Bruce McCaskey said:

Bertram Levy addresses his approach to incorporating bow techniques in his second concertina tutor, “American Fiddle Styles for the Anglo Concertina.”

Hi Bruce, 

Where can I find this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Button Box has it listed on their site but it appears to be out of stock.

Bertram Levy has a link on his own site    bertramlevy.com/concertina-tutor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always taken it for granted that the knee that the concertina is rested on is an indication of which handed you are?? Those who are left handed and "drive" the bellows with that hand will usually rest the instrument on the right knee and visa versa.The having to use the air button on the right then being one of those things that left handed people deal with.Not sure if there is any science to this belief but there you go!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I either keep the entire instrument up off my knees either when standing or when seated but close to a table.  (not just for snacks, I like to practice my sight-reading, and can't be bothered to drag out the music stand.)  When my chair is pushed back from the table, I most often rest the right end on one knee.  But even when playing standing, I find I do more of the bellows work with my left hand, and I suppose that means I brace my right elbow slightly against my side to keep it stable.

 

I am right handed, so that breaks the pattern that Ann has suggested.  But I do find I prefer to play more in the lower register, and therefore much of the time I play a greater portion of the tune with the left hand.  Not sure how that plays into the right knee preference, as I would have expected that keeping the busy hand stable might have proven more useful, but that isn't what I do.  Since I control the bellows with the left hand, maybe I should take up the Melodeon?!

 

I'm not at all clear why Noel Hill would consider that the location of the air button on the right end should mean that the right hand is therefore the bowing hand for the concertina, although I've heard some people mention that he has made a pretty good show of playing the instrument! ;) 

Edited by Tradewinds Ted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Noel’s style of play, one end of the concertina is held in a way that eliminates most movement.  The other hand then is under complete control of bellows variation / reversals.  By giving the air button hand the job of bellows control, all the air jobs are in one hand.  The job of backstop to the bellows to the left hand, simplifies the work your brain has to do.  Brains being what they are, they will accommodate just about any circumstance, but I have had students who  push or pull the bellows with whatever finger is pressing a button at the time.  (Anglo’s only).  They never develop the bellows control of the ones who choose a fixed side.  Noel has taught a generation of concertina players, and is not a stupid person.  My much more limited teaching experience has taught me that bellows control is very important and habits that don’t support that limits what you can get out of this amazing instrument.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting stuff, albeit limited to the Ango system (with the need to permanently include the air button...).

 

Re  the English, I'm very much used to rest the instrument's right end on my right knee/thigh albeit being right-handed to the best of my knowledge. Switching to the left feels awkward (and I actually am including some fiddle style to my playing...). Several ideas as to why come up, but nothing conclusive...

 

Best wishes - 🐺

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

×