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McDouglas

Why are there more anglo players than english?

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Good morning concertina-philes,

 

My query today is - why are there more anglo players than english?

 

I am starting from an assumption that there are indeed more anglos based on the number of posts I read here generally and especially, the number of instruments I see for sale.

I also see more teaching workshops for anglos than english.

 

So, first question - do you think my assumption is correct?

And second, if this is true, why is it true?

 

Curiously,

Doug

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My guess would be that you are right, and that it's because of the huge popularity of Irish music vs . . . . . whatever it is that English concertina naturally does. . . .

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The question then becomes why is Anglo concertina used for Irish music?

 

The historical availability of more affordable Anglo instruments early on, meant it became the traditional choice.  There have been many discussions about whether the English concertina is appropriate for Irish traditional music, often mentioning how the bisonoric nature of the Anglo provides bounce or drive.   (The melodeon does the same, although the relative arrangment between the rows is different.)  But really, there isn't any reason why the English concertina couldn't serve the rhythm of the music perfectly well; after all, a skilled musician can produce that same drive on a fiddle, whistle, or pipes, so there is no reason the English concertina can't do so too, and there are some great examples of players who do it well.  BUT because of the history, the Anlgo has become the tradition, and we are accustomed to the particular sound and bounce of the Anglo in Irish music now.

 

That historical difference in price has reversed a bit by the way.   At least a few years ago vintage Anglo instruments had become more expensive than vintage English instruments of similar quality, because of the higher demand for the Anglo.  More recently though, that demand seems to have driven more availability of new Anglo instruments than new English instruments.

 

The bisonoric pattern of the Anglo can also be helpful when playing by ear, at least for traditional tunes, particularly when played in the home keys, because appropriate notes and harmonies just tend to fall under the next finger more easily.  That doesn't quite explain why the C/g instrument it traditionally used to play in D, but then perhaps we are back to intrument availability.

 

Personally, I theoretically would make a perfect candidate for the English, because I read music and prefer to learn that way rather than learn a tune by ear, and I like playing a variety of musical styles, and to accompany singing, I would like to more readily play in different keys - which is what the English naturally does.  I covet the ability to play any note or combination of notes in either direction.  I borrowed an English concertina before I learned the Anglo, but I found the alternating left-right button pattern baffling in practice, even if in theory it correlates to the lines and spaces on the musical staff.

 

Edited by Tradewinds Ted

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Perhaps I ought to add I've been playing English concertina since last Christmas and I'm loving it.  

 

I'm heading to England in a couple of weeks and looking forward to sitting in on some sessions there thanks to Paul Hardy.

I plan to ask the players I meet this same question.

 

Cheers,

Doug 

Edited by McDouglas

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3 hours ago, Tradewinds Ted said:

The question then becomes why is Anglo concertina used for Irish music?

 

The historical availability of more affordable Anglo instruments early on, meant it became the traditional choice.  T

I think that this observation is the most accurate. The same can be said of the tin-whistle, which is an affordable flageolet, and came around the same time in the mid 19th century

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I concur with all of the above, regarding reasons for the perceived “majority” of Anglo concertinas.  And, most of my few years’ experience is in Irish music settings, where there is but the rare English.  OTOH....I returned Sunday from the annual squeeze-box pilgrimage (NESI Squeeze-In in Becket, MA) and the opposite was apparent.  Most concertinas were English, with a few Anglos and small smattering of Duets.  Not surprisingly, the musical genres showcased and shared were mostly not Irish.  While I might (and do, sometimes) wish I had started with English (or one of the Duets) for the chromaticity/versatility, the operative  fact for me was that the Anglo is a double handful of harmonicas, which I could already play some, when I got the bellows urge.  I’m glad I amn’t looking for a top-end Anglo, for sure.  6 or 8 KiloDollars US is above my discretionary hobby budget.  But they sure sound great!

 

Regards to all,

 

David

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8 hours ago, Tradewinds Ted said:

 

 

Personally, I theoretically would make a perfect candidate for the English, because I read music and prefer to learn that way rather than learn a tune by ear, and I like playing a variety of musical styles, and to accompany singing, I would like to more readily play in different keys - which is what the English naturally does.  I covet the ability to play any note or combination of notes in either direction.  I borrowed an English concertina before I learned the Anglo, but I found the alternating left-right button pattern baffling in practice, even if in theory it correlates to the lines and spaces on the musical staff.

 

Yes, I also read music as a pianist and choral director.  After doing a bit of research I decided it would be easier to learn the English - though I'll admit the alternating button pattern almost defeated me in the early weeks.  It's a bit less daunting now but I assure you I make plenty of mistakes.  Although I started by learning tunes from Paul Hardy's tune books (great resources, if you don't know about them), I also found myself trying to play various tunes by ear - and consistently doing better at this.

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I'm not sure you can take concertina.net as faithfully representing the entire concertina community.  Its members appear to come largely from the folk music community, and it originally had a very strong bias towards Irish music although this seems to have widened out in more recent years.  That would account for the large numbers of Anglo players here.  There is, or used to be a separate (and probably older) community who preferred to play classical and other forms, and they played mostly EC and duet.  They had little to do with the folk community, and vice versa, and I suspect only a few have found there way onto here.  Also, the non-anglophone communities hardly feature at all here, unless someone posts a video.  The distribution of instruments you find on here may not be typical of concertina players world-wide.

 

 

 

 

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Just to confuse the issue a bit, one genre of traditonal music in which the concertina figures prominently is the South African Boeremuziek. And from what one reads and sees on YouTube, the concertinas used may be German, Anglo, English or Duet. Which one the concertinist in a group uses doesn't seem to affect the character of the music to any great extent.

 

Cheers,

John

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The Anglo is the natural progression for a melodeon player who wants to become a musician.

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21 hours ago, hjcjones said:

I'm not sure you can take concertina.net as faithfully representing the entire concertina community.  Its members appear to come largely from the folk music community, and it originally had a very strong bias towards Irish music although this seems to have widened out in more recent years.  That would account for the large numbers of Anglo players here.  There is, or used to be a separate (and probably older) community who preferred to play classical and other forms, and they played mostly EC and duet.  They had little to do with the folk community, and vice versa, and I suspect only a few have found there way onto here.  Also, the non-anglophone communities hardly feature at all here, unless someone posts a video.  The distribution of instruments you find on here may not be typical of concertina players world-wide.

 

 

 

 

Thank you for that perspective.  Two questions: 1. Is there another website that focuses on classical and other forms (although I really enjoy the folk tradition that seems to represented here); and, 2. Even if concertina.net doesn't quite represent the global concertina community, is it the most active or largest forum of this sort?

 

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On 9/26/2018 at 9:37 PM, Mikefule said:

The Anglo is the natural progression for a melodeon player who wants to become a musician.

That's a bit harsh!

The English concertina (and its cousin the Duet) used to be played in all sorts of musical contexts and was a recognised performance instrument (I am currently working on a Wheatstone Duet that was played in performances in the Royal Albert Hall in London, back in the day). Of course it (the Englis) is fully chromatic, with consistent fingering patterns in all keys, unlike the Anglo, which gets harder the further away from home keys you get. And probably the Anglo is a bit easier to play than an English. But I personally struggle with old recordings of concertina music, unless it’s from the folk genre. The English concertina is really a parlor instrument and doesn’t cut it when played along side a big band or orchestra, unlike, say, the Bandoneon, which when all’s said and done, is a big concertina, with octave reeds, for volume and timbre. And in the folk sessions i occasionally attend, you can’t really hear a concertina among the fiddles, guitars, mandolins. And if somebody has an accordion (i.e with 2 or more voices, designed to be heard and to stand out) then an English concertina is completely lost. Anglo players tend to knock out LH chords and make more of an impression, but the English doesn’t invite you to do that. Well, that’s what I think anyway...

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You should get in touch with the - International Concertina Association - (ICA), they have a web site .  Most of their members are English Concertina players, who are mostly classical rather than folk orientated players.

When I first started playing concertina,  in the sixties, (Anglo, coming from Melodeon),  I  asked Father Kenneth Loveless, (the then President of the ICA); who I knew through  meetings of Morris Ring,  EFDSS courses, and Sidmouth Festival; about the ICA, should I join ?  However he told me that  practically all the members were classical music reading English Concertina players, and as an ear playing Anglo player, I might not have much in common with them. 

It wasn't until many years later when I had taken up a duet concertina,  that I finally joined the ICA.  I am not decrying the ICA who are now much more open to all different kinds of music, and have many more Anglo and Duet players than they ever used to, but I think that you (McDouglas) might enjoy the meetings or weekends of one their associated groups. 

 

Inventor.

 

P.S. On playing at the Albert Hall:-  At the Tango Concert, the penultimate night of this seasons Albert Hall Proms, I was disappointed that the Bandoneon players were practically drowned out by the totally unneeded full orchestra behind them.

Inventor.              

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12 hours ago, RogerT said:

Anglo players tend to knock out LH chords and make more of an impression, but the English doesn’t invite you to do that.

 

well, of course not LH chords... 😎

 

but you'd be able to make an awful lot of noise with the English, believe me!

 

(just take a good model 24 or similar, you would be heard even with just one note at a time, which however is not obligatory either)

 

best wishes - 🐺

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14 hours ago, RogerT said:

That's a bit harsh!

The English concertina (and its cousin the Duet) used to be played in all sorts of musical contexts and was a recognised performance instrument (I am currently working on a Wheatstone Duet that was played in performances in the Royal Albert Hall in London, back in the day). Of course it (the Englis) is fully chromatic, with consistent fingering patterns in all keys, unlike the Anglo, which gets harder the further away from home keys you get. And probably the Anglo is a bit easier to play than an English. But I personally struggle with old recordings of concertina music, unless it’s from the folk genre. The English concertina is really a parlor instrument and doesn’t cut it when played along side a big band or orchestra, unlike, say, the Bandoneon, which when all’s said and done, is a big concertina, with octave reeds, for volume and timbre. And in the folk sessions i occasionally attend, you can’t really hear a concertina among the fiddles, guitars, mandolins. And if somebody has an accordion (i.e with 2 or more voices, designed to be heard and to stand out) then an English concertina is completely lost. Anglo players tend to knock out LH chords and make more of an impression, but the English doesn’t invite you to do that. Well, that’s what I think anyway...

 

You appear to have interpreted my quip as either "bigging up"Anglos or somehow "knocking down" non-Anglos.  It was just a standard Morris dancer's poke at melodeon players, many of whom are actually fine musicians — but don't tell them I said so.  I used to play melodeon.  I personally found it uninspiring and mechanical, whereas I find the Anglo — which is superficially similar — a fantastic instrument capable of producing interesting and complex music.

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Mikefule... "I personally found it uninspiring and mechanical, whereas I find the Anglo — which is superficially similar — a fantastic instrument capable of producing interesting and complex music."

Don't tell anyone, but I’m inclined to agree. 

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