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Why are there more anglo players than english?


McDouglas
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I picked up EC because of the ability to play classical music in a variety of keys. I was initially an enthusiastic and tone-deaf cellist. Discouraged with my progress on that instrument, I switched to a baritone English concertina. 

 

I play a lot of folk music from the Isles and from Scandanavia, but also the classical music that I love to play. I'm quite happy with the instrument and am beginning to compose some arrangements with a countermelody in the lower register as well. 

 

I'm also working on playing a melodeon, and learning some of the joys and challenges of a diatonic instrument. I'm using the Milleret and Pignol tutors for that, so lots of crossing rows.

 

With respect to those posts about the initial steepness of learning the English keyboard, I wholeheartedly agree. Just learning my first scale, I could also hear all kinds of humming and scratching sounds while my brain tried to format itself. But the effort paid off, and now playing isn't painful to my brain. :)

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When the subject of the EC keyboard quirk, I always mention alternating bass notes in guitar playing. At first it seems impossible to keep the thumb alternating while other things are going on, and then one day you realize you haven't thought about that in a while. It's the same with zig-zag-alternate-side concertina scales: impossible at first, then completely natural. As with learning every new and unfamiliar thing you ever learned, if your first response is "I can't do that" then you can't do it.

Edited by mdarnton
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Are there more Anglo players than English players? I don't know, but I suspect yes.

 

There were a lot more Anglo's made than English system instruments, I personally find the Anglo lighter and more intuitive to play but so very limiting. Whereas the English (for me) does so much more but is heavier.

 

Over the years I find that many English players can play off dots , whereas the balance is opposite on Anglos, this is a personal observation. So are there more Anglo players than English players?

 

I see a ratio of 3 to 1 English to Anglo for restoration, perhaps that is because I play English more myself. The Anglos were cheaper to make, are lighter in weight, intuitive and rhythmic to play. The demand for Anglos seems to be driven by their attractiveness to session players, an Irish Cultural thing, and the Irish cultural influence on American society. Not all Irish music is frenetic 'diddly - diddly - dance it if you can'. The Celtic slow airs are superb which I like to play on my English. There are more Americans than we Brits, another consideration.

 

There is also the resurgence in the UK of concertina band playing, always off dots, using Bass, Baritone, Treble and piccolo instruments, often in more than 6 parts. These groups can meet in 15 to 35 or more sized groups, formal music played predominantly on English 'tinas, some Duets, and a few Anglos. Anglos struggle with music set in 5 sharps through to as many flats, and key changes to cope with. I guess it all revolves around an individual's geographical location, interests, culture and skill sets as to what they end ip wanting to play, plus of course availability and affordability too.

 

Dave

 

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On 9/29/2018 at 8:52 AM, Podzol said:

 

 

With respect to those posts about the initial steepness of learning the English keyboard, I wholeheartedly agree. Just learning my first scale, I could also hear all kinds of humming and scratching sounds while my brain tried to format itself. But the effort paid off, and now playing isn't painful to my brain. :)

I've heard neuroscientists report the best ways to cultivate connections between brain cells (synapses? not sure if this is the correct term) are to learn a new language or a musical instrument.  Let's hope the brain pain gives way to brain gain!

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Riverdance and hybrids.   No, really.   I started playing Irish Trad in the early 90s. I had been looking around for instruction in the 80s and not finding much.  Even here in Chicago, if you weren't part of a certain generation of families who immigrated at just the right moment and ended up in the same neighborhoods, there was no guaranty that you'd find players or teachers.  Sessions in pubs around town were just on the cusp of starting and being noticed.  Earlier here were some social associations that kept up the music and raised a young generation of great players, most of whom you've heard of.  But even with Liz Carrol's All Ireland title in '75, Jimmy Keane, Seamus Egan, Michael Flatley and John Williams earning titles and the Bothy Band and Chieftains touring with reeded instruments,  Irish trad was an oddity you had to really look for.   Then came Riverdance and Bam!  kids were bugging their parents to take them to dance classes and music lessons. Cds were being sold.  Sessions popped up everywhere, but concertina's were still pretty hard to find. Stagis and old Lachenals were the beginner's options.  Then Bob Tedrow started making hybrids.   (Was he the first?  I don't know)  But the availability of playable concertinas and pop culture finding Irish dance through Riverdance set up an appetite for anglos.  Riverdance brought Irish music so deeply into the entertainment psyche, Third Rock-- I have a clear memory of John Lithgow with a necktie around his head doing his Flatley imiitation, The Simpsons- protestant heaven vs. Catholic heaven, Family Guy (I think) and others I can't remember.  Then there was Mike Meyer's playing Flatley on the MTV movie awards.  But I digress... Irish music became a movement.  What has this to do with anglo vs. english concertinas you ask... Visability. 

Edited by LateToTheGame
typo
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The first hybrid I saw (and I'll guess this was true for some of the other people with me at the time, which includes Paul Schwarz) was at the 1998 Noel Hill school in Massachusetts in September. It was one of the first Herringtons (square, IIRC) brought by its owner, whose name escapes me. I missed 1999, from which Ross Schlabach reported to me that the Button Box production prototype for what is now the Ceili was passed around. I had most of the dates of my first observations of all these brands in an article on the vanished static side of C.net. Some day I'll have to fish around on the server and see if the info is there, as I'd like to archive it somewhere.

 

Mark Tamsula, a local fiddler, told me a funny story that ties in here. He was the office manager three decades ago for the local folk music society (Calliope, yes namesake of the tune Calliope House, home of one of the founders, piper George Balderose). As such he fielded all the phone calls from hopeful acts that wanted to book a concert in Pittsburgh. He said there were all kinds of offers. One day a caller said he was the "world's fastest tapdancer," but Mark finally convinced him they weren't interested and the tapdancer hung up/rang off. Who was it? Michael Flatley, not long before he hit on the Riverdance idea (give credit for persistence where it is due).

 

Ken

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On 10/4/2018 at 6:26 PM, Ken_Coles said:

The first hybrid I saw (and I'll guess this was true for some of the other people with me at the time, which includes Paul Schwarz) was at the 1998 Noel Hill school in Massachusetts in September. It was one of the first Herringtons (square, IIRC) brought by its owner, whose name escapes me. I missed 1999, from which Ross Schlabach reported to me that the Button Box production prototype for what is now the Ceili was passed around. I had most of the dates of my first observations of all these brands in an article on the vanished static side of C.net. Some day I'll have to fish around on the server and see if the info is there, as I'd like to archive it somewhere.

 

Mark Tamsula, a local fiddler, told me a funny story that ties in here. He was the office manager three decades ago for the local folk music society (Calliope, yes namesake of the tune Calliope House, home of one of the founders, piper George Balderose). As such he fielded all the phone calls from hopeful acts that wanted to book a concert in Pittsburgh. He said there were all kinds of offers. One day a caller said he was the "world's fastest tapdancer," but Mark finally convinced him they weren't interested and the tapdancer hung up/rang off. Who was it? Michael Flatley, not long before he hit on the Riverdance idea (give credit for persistence where it is due).

 

Ken

I was in Chicago, but not in the Irish Music scene when a 16 year old Michael Flatley danced alone on stage with an accordion. I assume it was Jimmy Keane but I didn't know him yet so I didn't focus on that detail. It was the University of Chicago's Folk Festival, a random group of folk and world music (before that was a term) fans who'd get together every year to listen acts that were old time Americana, immigrants celebrating their heritage players or non commercially known international acts.  Getting Michael Flatley's "fastest feet in the world" at 16 just squeaked into that "not commercial" window of time. 

 

 

Edited by LateToTheGame
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  • 2 weeks later...

Personally I prefer (although I don't own a English) the anglo because of the layout as well as this I play piano accordion and am looking for something bisonoric which I can play the same songs on eg katyush. (I'm talking about a 40 button anglo) that being said the English does look like a nice instrument and will one day buy one. 

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On 10/5/2018 at 5:28 PM, Jake Middleton-Metcalfe said:

I have a small theory on this initial question - I think a lot of people find the Anglo easier to hold. 

 

Not everyone of course.

I've never played a English. Are they difficult to Hold? It looks like you have to grip it with your little finger. 

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6 hours ago, accordian said:

I've never played a English. Are they difficult to Hold? It looks like you have to grip it with your little finger. 

 

I play English, and I don't find it difficult to hold. I keep the thumb loops tight, so they take most of the weight and force of bellows pressing. Although the little finger remains in the pinky rest, its primary role is to provide stability and a reference point, with bellows pressure being a secondary role, and taking weight as tertiary. So there isn't a lot of force applied through it. I usually keep one end of the tina on my left knee (I'm right handed), which also helps reduce weight stress on thumb and pinky.

 

There are some tunes however that I can't play unless I'm holding the tina in the air and moving it in time to the music for expression - not to Alistair Anderson level, but significant motion!

 

I do think that some people (particularly beginners) get problems with the English because they tend to grip the instrument too tightly - my little fingers are pretty relaxed during play.

 

Regards,

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English seemed perfectly natural to me as soon as I picked one up.

 

I still can't make sense of the whole Anglo "two different notes depending on which way the bellows are moving" concept---my brain simply can't process it. What's strange is that I've played the harmonica since I was a little kid and never problem with that. 

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27 minutes ago, JayMiller said:

English seemed perfectly natural to me as soon as I picked one up.

 

I still can't make sense of the whole Anglo "two different notes depending on which way the bellows are moving" concept---my brain simply can't process it. What's strange is that I've played the harmonica since I was a little kid and never problem with that. 

 

Jay, as much as I wholeheartedly agree with your first sentence, I still couldn’t back up the second paragraph as for me.

 

I have not just been playing the mouth harp too and later melodeon myself, I very recently took up the 20b Anglo too - and I can say that as long as it is related to LH harmony and the „logic“ of the two basic rows, I‘m finding this keyboard most intuitive as well.

 

And since these two instruments are to be approached so very differently I‘m not subject to any confusion here... I‘m simply loving the new challenge and sounds!

 

Best wishes - ?

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin
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