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Miniature Concertinas - Playing English and Anglo


Dowright
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12-key English miniature is a bit of a misnomer withe respect to "English." An Anglo player can rightly say: "I do not play English concertina," if referring to English concertinas with 48 keys, 55 keys, etc. But  the only features that a 12-key "English" and a full-size English have in common are (1) same note on the  push and draw and (2) alternating sides to play a scale. Learning to deal with 12 notes is not comparable to the 48 notes of a full-size English. Since we alternate sides to play most tunes on an Anglo concertina, alternating sides to play a scale should be no big deal for an Anglo player.

Therefore, Anglo players are encouraged to consider an "English" miniature, especially since managing the air supply is facilitated by having the same note on the push and draw. Sure, a 12-key "English" miniature has only 12 notes, but the highland pipes have only 9 notes, and there are plenty of pipe tunes. Choose your tunes, pipe or other, to fit your instrument. 

 

Edited by Dowright
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'd be happy if this discussion could continue. I suspect that quit a lot of Members have miniature (7cm diam.) concertinas but don't play them because of the difficulties involved. I'm just starting out and I'd like to share 'tips and tricks' and learn from others. 

 

I don't think it matters what system - English, Anglo or Maccann - is used, the issues are the same: shortage of breath. My system is English, 12 buttons, g'' to b''' pus a c-sharp and f-sharp. 

 

First observation: it's worth spending time practicing how long you can hold a note by bellows control. e.g. at 60 bpm, can I hold for two or even three beats? If I can't, are there leakage problems? Or is it just inadequate bellows control?

 

Second: no point in developing a style which copies chording on bigger instruments. My personal feeling is that I should emulate mouth-whistling of pretty tunes by people who can do it well. With practice, I can get a bit of vibrato in.

 

Third: there are masses of tunes within one octave: not just Scottish pipe tunes but also English fiddle tunes and Northumbrian tunes. I have to transpose many of them.

 

I'd like to hear opinions and recordings from anyone who would like to share techniques.

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I suspect this discussion need to be in a different forum, however you may be interested to know that yesterday at SqueezEast Concertina Band Day in Stamford UK, I played my 12 button English as a piccolo in a Handel piece.  There were three treble players with me who could read the ledger lines, as well.  When I bought mine I thought I was buying a curio or a toy, but it has turned out to be a serious and useful instrument.  I use it quite a bit in our concertina band, to play descant lines.  If you go to the SqueezEast Concertinas website you can hear it on a number of the recordings.  It is in The William Giles Quadrille on this page http://squeezeast.org.uk/sq18.php    

 

Mine, a metal ended, bone button, Wheatstone, has been fully serviced by Steve Dickinson, so is in tip top playing condition.  I find it makes my hands ache if I play it for too long though.  It has no thumb straps, so we attached a mobile phone wrist strap, just in case I were to drop it.  

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Stephen

I think that this is the right forum. I plan to advertise a number of miniature concertinas--English, Anglo, and Duet--and wold like for prospective buyers to have this backgound on playing miniatures readily available.

Secbp,

You ar right; they are not toys. Just listen to Tommy Eiliot on English miniature, and Noel Hill on Anglo miniature.

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On 5/24/2019 at 9:14 PM, Dowright said:

Since we alternate sides to play most tunes on an Anglo concertina, alternating sides to play a scale should be no big deal for an Anglo player.

 

That may be true for players in the Irish style, not for those who play in a harmonic style where the melody is mostly in the right hand, only occasionally dropping onto the left to get low notes.

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  • 5 months later...
On 5/24/2019 at 10:14 PM, Dowright said:

12-key English miniature is a bit of a misnomer withe respect to "English."

 

I disagree.

 

On 5/24/2019 at 10:14 PM, Dowright said:

...the only features that a 12-key "English" and a full-size English have in common are (1) same note on the  push and draw and (2) alternating sides to play a scale.

 

Learning to deal with 12 notes is not comparable to the 48 notes of a full-size English.

 

Maybe so if starting from scratch, but not if one already plays a larger English.  The spatial relationships among the notes which are found on the 12-key are exactly the same as for those same notes on Englishes with 18, 24, 48, 56, etc. keys.

 

I recently had the opportunity to try both 12-key and 18-key miniature Englishes.  For tunes which stayed within the compass of notes on the instrument, I already had "muscle memory" for the tunes as I played them.

 

On 5/24/2019 at 10:14 PM, Dowright said:

Since we alternate sides to play most tunes on an Anglo concertina, alternating sides to play a scale should be no big deal for an Anglo player.

 

I'm neither an expert anglo player nor an "along-the-rows" player, but that doesn't describe the way I -- or my more accomplished anglo-playing friends -- relate to the anglo.  In a tune, some notes may be on one end of the instrument and some on the other end, but I/we rarely alternate sides in playing a scale.

 

On 5/24/2019 at 10:14 PM, Dowright said:

Therefore, Anglo players are encouraged to consider an "English" miniature, especially since managing the air supply is facilitated by having the same note on the push and draw.

 

I wouldn't say "therefore" to your earlier arguments, but I would agree with what you say about controlling the air supply.  Also the ease of learning from scratch if one only has 12 (or 18) notes to learn.  And FWIW, I know one Danish circus performer who plays a standard anglo, but uses a miniature English for special bits in his act.

Edited by JimLucas
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48 minutes ago, JimLucas said:

but I/we rarely alternate sides in playing a scale.


well I might (and often would) when it comes to playing the first five notes of a scale upward from the root note of the middle row on the RHS - it’s the alternative to only alternate bellows directions...

 

(one example being „Young Collins“)

 

best wishes - ?

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2 hours ago, JimLucas said:

...but I/we rarely alternate sides in playing a scale.

 

1 hour ago, Wolf Molkentin said:


well I might (and often would) when it comes to playing the first five notes of a scale upward from the root note of the middle row on the RHS - it’s the alternative to only alternate bellows directions...

 

Well, yeah, but that's only a subset of the notes in the scale in a subset of the tunes in a subset of keys, not a general principle like the alternation on the English or the in-out alternation in playing along the rows on an anglo.  I also wonder how many of those who play only anglo use that pattern as much as you do.

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