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Fane

Anglo playing guidance needed

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I am a great fan of the Online Academy of Irish Music for their systematic approach to learning all the detailed ornamentation to play Irish Trad.  Those skills would carry nicely into American fiddle tunes as well.  They build skills starting with very simple tunes and giving you the opportunity to read music and also learn to play by ear.  There are 4 extremely good teachers who build on each others teaching in the concertina courses.   It is about $20 a month, which may seem pricey, but you can take as many lessons a month as you have time for, cancel for a while and go back at it later.  A private teacher once a week would cost far more than that.  

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That is very reasonable actually, I'll certainly look into that! I've got quite a bit of time off work at once at the end of March/early April which would probably be productively spent woodshedding on the concertina and getting through a load of those lessons! A few years ago I got signed off for 2 weeks and used the time to learn clawhammer banjo...

 

The translation of the Irish style into American tunes is an interesting point too, I've noticed a lot of little runs/scales from the Irish tunes I've been learning from Mick Bramich's book appear in the fiddle tunes I've been trying to work out by ear, which has been a bit of a 'Eureka' moment and I'm finding American tunes are starting to fall quite easily to hand now. In fact, when I was at a session a couple of weeks ago me and a friend had a slightly drunken and slightly tongue-in-cheek discussion about how similar so many American fiddle tunes are (particularly how one B section can be substituted for another without anyone really noticing) and I'd wager this is true of a lot of Irish tunes too! Just a case of stringing the same sequences of notes together in a different order.

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On 1/2/2019 at 1:09 PM, Don Taylor said:

Ted (or anybody else who owns the book):

 

How Anglo-oriented is the  "American Fiddle Styles" book?

 

I am intrigued by the idea of American fiddle styles on the concertina but I play Hayden duet, not Anglo.

 

Don.

 

When Bertram did a workshop years ago based on the book, he announced it here and I asked if I should attend with a Hayden. Bertram didn’t answer (although he started the thread), and someone else (a Crane player) said he had learned a great deal, and I should go for it. So I went. Complete waste of time. Bertram insisted on lending me an anglo rather than have me work through it on a Hayden. What I learned was strictly anglo-oriented, and I haven’t picked up an anglo since.

 

Edited to add: I just reviewed the thread in question. It was 7 years ago. Sorry, Bertram DID answer. But his answer wasn’t much help (he didn’t say he’d rather lend me an anglo than let me do the workshop on a Hayden).

Edited by David Barnert

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Hi Fane,

 

I'm also a broke millennial anglo player who likes oldtime tunes! Nice to meet you!

I play mostly Irish music but I love playing at oldtime jams too. Do you have a jam where you live? I feel like I got most of my tunes and oldtime tune "sense" from jamming with fiddle/banjo players but obviously this is not workable if you don't have other oldtime players in your area.

I'm not a music reader so unfortunately I don't have any book suggestions of my own but lots of people I have talked with love the Gary Coover books. Do you like learning by ear too or would you prefer a book?

 

ConcertinaFace

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On 3/4/2019 at 9:37 PM, ConcertinaFace said:

I'm also a broke millennial anglo player who likes oldtime tunes! Nice to meet you!

It's a tough existence! Guess we shouldn't have spent all our money on avocado toast...

 

There is a local old-time jam that I go to but I'm not quite at concertina level yet, they all tend to play pretty fast - I can keep up on banjo which is my main instrument... I've learned quite a few tunes from going and get what you mean about 'tune sense', as I said earlier in the thread I'm beginning to find fingering patterns for common note sequences that appear in a lot of tunes. Maybe one day when I'm a bit better (and have saved up for a concertina with fast enough action, ie not a Scarlatti) I'll take it along because they're a pretty encouraging bunch.

 

I learn by a combination of books and ears. My current method involves a book I found second-hand for £1.40 called 303 More Fiddle Tunes - less than half a penny a fiddle tune! I've found a good practice/training method is to just open it at a random page and sight-read some of the tunes.

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Regarding the old time jam that goes too fast for you to play concertina. I'm in a similar situation.  Learn to play chords on the off beat (usually works for most tunes, you'll know when to change it).  Most are 2 or 3 chord tunes.   Not the same as playing melody but it's better than not playing. 

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Posted (edited)

you will probably get a lot from going to some local sessions, hopefully there might be an american one in Brighton. Probably there will be English and Irish sessions, its a great way to get inspiration for tunes and playing techniques. If you ever get the chance to see Brighton morris men dance they have a very good anglo player.

Edited by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

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12 hours ago, Breve said:

Learn to play chords on the off beat (usually works for most tunes, you'll know when to change it)

Why the off beat (2, 4) and not the on beat (1, 3)? 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

Why the off beat (2, 4) and not the on beat (1, 3)? 

 

 

I favor the off beat also.  Breve gives one reason:  It gives you some time to adjust.  Even if the tune is familiar the phrasing may vary.  There's lots of improv. in old timey stuff.  If you play chords for the on beat the lead gets buried and the lead drives the rhythm.  Even if you're doing oom pah the bass line is generally low enough to avoid tripping up the lead and the chord falls on the off beat.  Additionally you can make subtle changes in harmony on the off beat with out throwing everything off.

 

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Wunks explained it better than I can. To me playing on the off beats help drive the tune. But sometimes the chord should be on a different beat to emphasize the end of a phrase or a section.  Try playing off beat chords to Saint Anne's Reel and you'll know where you should change the chord pattern for emphasis. 

 

The time signature suggests where the chords are played - 3/4 time - classic oom pah pah  so chords are on beats 2 & 3. The "oom"  on beat 1 is optional. But not every 3/4 tune works with that pattern - e.g. Southwind for me should be more delicate -  but it's all personal preference of course.  Do 6/8 time jigs want the chords on each quarter beat or just the 1st beat of each measure?  What about marches? Beats 1 & 3 ?  Or downbeat only ?  How would you treat Scotland the Brave?  Sometimes the tune wants a long sustained chord. It's very subjective of course. Whatever works!

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10 hours ago, Breve said:

Wunks explained it better than I can. To me playing on the off beats help drive the tune. But sometimes the chord should be on a different beat to emphasize the end of a phrase or a section.  Try playing off beat chords to Saint Anne's Reel and you'll know where you should change the chord pattern for emphasis. 

 

The time signature suggests where the chords are played - 3/4 time - classic oom pah pah  so chords are on beats 2 & 3. The "oom"  on beat 1 is optional. But not every 3/4 tune works with that pattern - e.g. Southwind for me should be more delicate -  but it's all personal preference of course.  Do 6/8 time jigs want the chords on each quarter beat or just the 1st beat of each measure?  What about marches? Beats 1 & 3 ?  Or downbeat only ?  How would you treat Scotland the Brave?  Sometimes the tune wants a long sustained chord. It's very subjective of course. Whatever works!

 

Right.  There's no hard hard and fast rule.  Even in 3/4 there are Mazurka's, Redowa's, Swedish, and Cajun style waltzes with different accents and flavors.

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22 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Why the off beat (2, 4) and not the on beat (1, 3)? 

 

 

 

For a lively dance rhythm on Anglo, common choices are:

  • Bass note on the on beat, chord or part chord on the off beat:  Oom-PAH  Oom-PAH  Oom-PAH  Oom-PAH  
  • Silence on the off beat, chord or part chord on the off beat: ( — ) Pah  ( — ) Pah  ( — ) Pah  ( — ) Pah 
  • Bass notes on the on beat, silence on the off beat   Oom ( —  )  Oom  ( — ) Oom ( —  )  Oom  ( — ) 

 

These are only common choices.  They have the benefits of being easy and obviously rhythmical.  The bass notes on the on beats drive the tune forwards, and the chords/part chords on the off beat give it lift.

 

However, if you do these things all the time all the way through every tune, it can become bland and repetitive, especially as many folk tunes have the same 5 chords (for any given key).

 

The first simple change to make is not always using the root of the chord as the bass note.  Oom (pah) etc. can become C (eg) E (eg) C (eg) C (eg) etc.

 

The next change is to think about what chord is coming next, so that the bass walks in the right direction to get there.  Fr example, if the tune has the chord C major followed by F major, you may play an oom (pah) accompaniment:

C (eg) E (eg) F (ac), because the F is on the same button as the E, and the bass sound is moving upwards C, E F.

 

Another nice change for a short passage of music is full or part chords on the beat, especially if there is a run of chords: play "chunk chunk chunk chunk" rather than simply "oom-pah oom-pah".

 

Other options include playing the open fifth for the on beat, then filling in the missing third on the off beat.

 

Another is to find the pedal points: notes that are common to two consecutive chords, and ether hold them down or repeat them as the chord changes.

 

There should be no artificial limits to what you try, and no limits to your invention, but it is usually a good idea to have something consistent and simple happening (chords on the off beats) that you can then choose to vary for effect.

 

The combination of bass note on the on beat, chord or part chord on the off beat, is a good foundation to build on, and the first thing to learn if you want to play harmonic style.

 

Of the two, I certainly found it easier to get the chords on the off beats working before I managed to get the bass notes on the on beat working — but perhaps that's just me.

 

Now I find that, whatever I'm playing, and however well I know the tune, nearly all my thought and expression goes into the left hand (accompaniment) and I accompany each tune slightly differently each time, sometimes changing the finger of the melody to get a different accompaniment.

 

 

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On 3/23/2019 at 2:56 PM, Don Taylor said:

Why the off beat (2, 4) and not the on beat (1, 3)? 

 

2 hours ago, Mikefule said:

For a lively dance rhythm on Anglo, common choices are: ...

 

That’s the key point that I think a lot of others have missed. Like it or not, most of the music played on concertinas is dance music, and a strong back-beat really gets the dancers’ feet off the ground (and/or makes those sitting in the audience wish they were dancing). I like to think of the puff of air from a good squeeze of the bellows actually lifting the feet into the air.

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That's the right way to think of it Dave.  Although I'm just starting to add the accompaniment to my playing, I'm finding a brief sparse chord on the off beat with an extra puff and quick lift off from the buttons at the very end really add the bounce!

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My rather off-hand question seems to be yielding some golden answers.  Thanks to all.

 

How about extending your thoughts to other accompaniment patterns besides oom-pah? 

 

Arpeggiation or 'strumming' patterns that work for non-dance music or for accompanying singers.  I can work out a melody and some suitable chords but I struggle with what to do rhythmically for the accompaniment.

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54 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

My rather off-hand question seems to be yielding some golden answers.  Thanks to all.

 

How about extending your thoughts to other accompaniment patterns besides oom-pah? 

 

Arpeggiation or 'strumming' patterns that work for non-dance music or for accompanying singers.  I can work out a melody and some suitable chords but I struggle with what to do rhythmically for the accompaniment.

 

Because you can "drive the rhythm" with just the bellows you can do without oom pah or just pah or any of the above really.  I like to do something similar to Mikefule's pedal points above.  If you're moving up the scale, be a snail and leave a trail.  hold or dwell on previous notes that are in harmony.  From high to low, rock the bow.  After bowing the melody note old time fiddlers will dip down ( sometimes up) to catch harmonies on the adjacent strings. 

Because I like playing in the lower register,  especially for singing , I'll hold a high drone note (and move it around a bit) when coming over from the left to the right hand.  Works great when playing duet because of the overlap ( you're playing a Hayden I think).

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a „high drone“ would be a fiddlish thing, wouldn’t it? i like that to

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1 hour ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

a „high drone“ would be a fiddlish thing, wouldn’t it? i like that to

 

Yes, although you can play the melody above or below the drone of course and combine that with "rocking the bow" for a nice deconstructed chord effect.  Interestingly, some fiddlers flatten the bridge and "cross-tune" to play triple stops.  

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