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McDouglas

An advantage of the English Concertina: multiple keys

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Over several months I have read a number of threads advocating for Anglo or Duet or English concertinas with great interest.  I had wondered after playing the EC for a year whether I ought to have chosen a different system.  

 

It has occurred to me recently that the chromatic nature of the English makes it ideal to play a wide range of keys and a broad range of music.

 

Yes, I can play folk tunes in G and D easily.  

But when at Christmas the mandolin player of a group I played with wanted to play "Red Haired Boy" in A , well, no problem - I just made the adjustment.

When I want to play in the mode of E minor and I want that raised 7th (D#), no problem - it's just a note away.

When I decided to learn Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" for fun this past month, no problem - the EC plays both diatonic lines in C and can move into the wonderful secondary harmonies that require Bb, Eb and Ab with no trouble.

And now I'm learning a tango I found somewhere online: see attached file.

 

Now I understand that there are tradeoffs.  I can't "accompany myself" with as much facility as other systems seem to.  But I am beginning to appreciate the EC is a remarkably flexible and adaptable instrument.  Perhaps the lesson here is the journey of hard work to just begin to master an instrument is worth the time and patience required.  I'm not there but I"m on the way.

 

Your thoughts?

 

 

Tango Argentin pdf.pdf

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I look on mine as a mini piano, but with but with both hands playing the melody. That halves the work and helps my crackly fingers keep up.

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Depends how weird you want to get. My "best" is Miss McDermott - the version in  O'Sullivan's Carolan biography is in F Minor  (4 flats) - that certainly exercises the fingers even though it is a slow air.

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Thanks for the Tango I have been working from the Django Fake Book that someone recommended

Ron 

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I've been trying to practice scales on my English. Eventually I have the idea of playing some jazz, which is often in [many] flats, and I the jazzer idea of being able to play everything in any key equally well appeals to me, so. . .

Though the EC will do anything,  as you add flats the runs turn evil pretty fast. I'm considering it all just being a matter of habit/learning at this point. :-)

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Posted (edited)
On 1/8/2019 at 2:05 PM, McDouglas said:

I can't "accompany myself" with as much facility as other systems seem to

 

Well, in fact you'd simply have to "think" different. Multipart polyphony is not an easy thing with any concertina (including Duets), albeit it can to an amazing degree be managed even with the Anglo (as @cohen, @adrian brown and others are proving).

 

Coming back to the EC, this type of instrument is very well-suited for counterpoint polyphony (masterful examples to be heard on Dave Townsend's Portrait of a Concertina), and self-accompanied playing (including the melody line) in any case. Regarding the piano an approach with LH accompaniment vs. RH melody might transfer itself more (or most) easily to the Duet. However, having been a pianist myself for decades I can assure you that as long as you're making use of the (piano) keyboard with both hands in a more balanced and joined-up way, the EC is of the same kind.

 

As to the circle of fifths it's the same as well: The more you progress away from the center (Cmaj/Amin asf.), the less natural may the accompaniment fall under the fingers. A range from Bbmaj to Amaj (and including subdominant, dominant and, if required, secondary dominant harmonies, resp. their respective parallel modes) is what I'm capable of without too much practising (single line playing would include some more keys then) at the moment.

 

The English Concertina is a fantastic musical instrument, which very few of us (if any at all) might be able to explore in its entire capacities in a musical lifetime, but is onwardly disclosing itself to the player... Keep it up, trust yourself and the instrument!

 

Best wishes - 🐺

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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6 hours ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

 

The English Concertina is a fantastic musical instrument, which very few of us (if any at all) might be able to explore in its entire capacities in a musical lifetime

 

May I say you, yourself Wolf do very well in exploring the capabilities of the EC.  If only I could have my musical lifetime over...it's a bit of a problem not having enough lifetimes!  But we all poke along to the best of our abilities and sometimes gain inspiration from others more gifted. 

 

On 1/9/2019 at 12:05 AM, McDouglas said:

Now I understand there are tradeoffs.

 

There certainly are trade offs with the EC but I don't find this too much of an issue and for what I do, mostly song accompaniment, the EC is perfect for me.  I can play in whatever key a song requires for my vocal range.  Over the past year or so I've dabbled with both duet and anglo and enjoy using them.  The anglo in particular can be fun but my 64 button McCann is a handful.  I can't stand and play with it whereas stand up playing is what do in performance and the English Concertina fits the bill.  There are those who can stand with the anglo, well done, I still need a neck strap.

 

On 1/9/2019 at 12:05 AM, McDouglas said:

 Perhaps the lesson here is the journey of hard work to just begin to master an instrument is worth the time and patience required.  I'm not there but I"m on the way.

 

Do we ever arrive?  Enjoy the journey.

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Hi Steve,

 

good to "hear" from you again (as to really hear, and watch, I still recall your splendid Dick van Dyke video in front of the fireplace! springs to my mind whenever your name or profile occurs). Your amiable mention

 

10 hours ago, Steve Wilson said:

May I say you, yourself Wolf do very well in exploring the capabilities of the EC

 

came in due time so to speak yesterday, together with unpleasant (also concertina-related) news, which you were sort of balancing out. We can all use inspiration and encouragement I reckon. Feedback and communication is important, to learn that playing, recording, sharing is not just in vain...

 

10 hours ago, Steve Wilson said:

If only I could have my musical lifetime over...it's a bit of a problem not having enough lifetimes!

 

That's exactly what I'm thinking myself too, and the reason why I recently acquired my Crabb Crane (facing the unlikelihood of satisfactory advances with the EC in certain directions within foreseeable time).

 

11 hours ago, Steve Wilson said:

but my 64 button McCann is a handful

 

and so is my 61b Crane (which has the size of a smaller BT EC). Even my TT feels so handy since then! 😎

 

I'm aware of my drifting away from the topic, but let me just add that I would love to listen to your playing the MacCann - anything available Steve? Oh, let me just come back to the topic here: It's always interesting to listen to fellow musicians who are playing more than one sort of instrument, expressing themselves (partly!) differently and thus casting a light on the character and capabilities of the EC in this case.

 

All the very best - 🐺

 

 

 

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