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frogspawn

Balance of C/G vs G/D Anglos in English sessions?

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I am revisiting the technical arguments but I also want to know the view of the herd!

 

So, in English tune sessions, what is the balance between C/G and G/D Anglos?

 

Richard

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Posted (edited)

I can only speak for sessions local me in the East Midlands (UK) but also the recent Bradfield Weekend. 

 

It does depend on the playing style and repertoire of the participants. I’m sure you’re aware that English tune sessions often have wide repertoires including Scottish, Welsh, Irish, American and Europeans tunes. 

 

Those that favour the Irish style of playing mostly play C/G and those who play English style (tune on the right, accompaniment on the left) favour G/D. 

 

At Bradfield I would estimate that there were 8 Anglo players. Again just estimating, I’d say 4 had both keys and swapped as appropriate, 2 had C/G and 2 G/D. 

 

Hope this helps! 

Edited by Howard Mitchell

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5 hours ago, frogspawn said:

I am revisiting the technical arguments but I also want to know the view of the herd!

 

So, in English tune sessions, what is the balance between C/G and G/D Anglos?

 

Richard

 

In most of the English sessions I've attended, GDs predominate.  I've always brought both CG and GD to English sessions, but rarely take out the CG.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jim Besser said:

...I've always brought both CG and GD to English sessions, but rarely take out the CG.

I don't even bother to take the C/G to the fortnightly session I attend: 75/77 tunes are in G or D.

The recalcitrant duo (both in C) are easy enough on a G/D...

 

I was curious about this, so I did a very quick and unscientific head-count of the tunes in some

of my books, and in a few ABC files of 'session tunebooks'. I specifically didn't include material

which would be likely to be biassed towards G/D tunes (eg: LB's Tune-a-day).

 

I used 11 printed books/ABC files, and of the 1321 tunes therein, 962 were in G/D (or rather 1 or

2 sharps). The remaining 359 were mostly in C/A/F/Bb.

 

The largest proportion of G/D tunes was 100% (in a fairly small ABC file). The smallest proportion of

G/D tunes was about two-thirds (in two large-ish books/files). 

 

So, is it self-perpetuating? We go along to sessions in which the predominant keys are G/D. We learn

tunes from books in which the predominant keys are G/D, and then (the more talented of us) go on to

write tune books in which the predominant keys are - G/D...

 

I did notice that the two books which had the highest proportion of non G/D tunes were both selections

of tunes from the North of England - maybe we're just awkward buggers Oop North...

 

The preponderance (or otherwise) of G/D tunes is of interest to me at the moment because I'm in

the middle of a project to write a program which automagically adds concertina tabs to ABC files.

I'm currently at a cross-roads - I have it working (more or less) for G/D tunes 🙂, so, which way do I

go next: (1) refine/improve the handling of tunes in the keys of G/D, or (2) try and add the other

common concertina key combinations of C/G and Bb/F, or (3) worry about non-concertina keys... 🙁

Edited by lachenal74693

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In English music, the GD melodeon often dominates the session and most tunes are in G or D or the associated minors and modes.  A GD is simplest if you want to play a full harmonic accompaniment.

 

It is of course possible to pay in G on a CG, but t is a touch on the squeaky side.  I have a baritone CG that sounds nice in G.  However, doing harmonic arrangements in D is more of a struggle on a CG.

 

If you are playing it like a mini piano, go for the keys you will play in most often.  If you are playing it like a fiddle, as the Irish tend to, a CG will also work.

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"a CG will also work." .... LOL. A bit condescending and understated.

I haven't ever been to a traditional Irish session, anywhere in the world, where a DG concertina is played with the phrasing, tempo, and dynamics of a CG.

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46 minutes ago, David Levine said:

"a CG will also work." .... LOL. A bit condescending and understated.

I haven't ever been to a traditional Irish session, anywhere in the world, where a DG concertina is played with the phrasing, tempo, and dynamics of a CG.

 

I'm sorry if you think that my answer to a specific question about playing in an English session was inadvertently condescending towards the way that the instrument is played in an Irish session.

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I don't know the numbers, but historically most anglos were made in C/G (also large numbers in the flat keys for brass band music) and I would say the majority of concertinas you see in sessions are C/G.  However G/D is becoming increasingly common in order to play in the preferred session keys, and of my instruments that is the one which gets used most in sessions.

 

The issue of keys is a thorny one.  We have become locked into G and D, and this is usually blamed on melodeons, with some justification.  However the D/G melodeon is a relatively recent introduction, from the 1950s or 60s, and was introduced in order to play alongside fiddles, who favour D, G and A to make best use of the open strings.  The D/G is the highest-pitched of the melodeon family, and most players think the lower-pitched boxes sound better.  If melodeonists really did dominate, we'd have you all playing in Bb/Eb.  So it's really all the fault of the fiddlers :)

 

Tunes in old fiddlers' manuscripts were in all keys.  Modern collections tend to transpose them into session-friendly keys, so they can't be treated as truly representative.  However we are where we are, and in the world where D G and A are the predominant keys then a G/D anglo makes more sense than the traditional C/G.

 

This is of course in the context of playing English music.  The Irish have found a different solution to using the C/G to play in fiddle keys.  There is no reason not to use this approach for English music as well, but most players seem to want to play in the harmonic style so an instrument based on those keys  works best for that.

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I was thinking about the possibility of playing Irish-style in English sessions. A C/G would then do for both. However, the appeal of the Anglo in English sessions is I believe the punchiness and I assume that would be lost to some extent.

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2 minutes ago, frogspawn said:

I was thinking about the possibility of playing Irish-style in English sessions. A C/G would then do for both. However, the appeal of the Anglo in English sessions is I believe the punchiness and I assume that would be lost to some extent.

 

There's some sense to playing a single line of melody in an English session.  I learn tunes on Anglo with carefully worked out arrangements, often only to find that some melodeon players pump out a I, IV, V  (or even I, V) accompaniment to nearly everything, while the better melodeon players have worked out different arrangements.  You can end up with clashes of chords as each musician has chosen different underlying harmonies.  Also, where one musician leaves a gap for expression, someone else fills it with a cascade of decoration, and where one musician dots the rhythm, another plays a blurry legato.  Sometimes, just playing the tune means you are highlighting the core of the music, without adding to the cacophony that surrounds it.

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46 minutes ago, hjcjones said:

...most players seem to want to play in the harmonic style so an instrument based on those keys  works best for that.

 

This is admittedly a digression, but... calling it "the harmonic style" has always seemed strange to me.  I consider myself to be first and foremost a singer, and my instrumental career was for many years limited to wind instruments.  I sing, and on the concertina often play harmony lines.  To me, chords as a rhythmic background are not "harmony", but an entirely different concept.

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39 minutes ago, JimLucas said:

To me, chords as a rhythmic background are not "harmony", but an entirely different concept.

 

I would tend to agree, Jim - but „the harmonic style“ is not at all necessarily restricted to the use of chord, is it?

 

Best wishes - 🐺 

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49 minutes ago, Mikefule said:

 

There's some sense to playing a single line of melody in an English session.  I learn tunes on Anglo with carefully worked out arrangements, often only to find that some melodeon players pump out a I, IV, V  (or even I, V) accompaniment to nearly everything, while the better melodeon players have worked out different arrangements.  You can end up with clashes of chords as each musician has chosen different underlying harmonies.  Also, where one musician leaves a gap for expression, someone else fills it with a cascade of decoration, and where one musician dots the rhythm, another plays a blurry legato.  Sometimes, just playing the tune means you are highlighting the core of the music, without adding to the cacophony that surrounds it.

Yah, too many cooks spoil the broth.  One might suggest a round robin style session where a tune is played around the group and accompaniment is limited to the musician just finishing up the melody and/or instruments other than the current lead.

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"...a G/D anglo makes more sense than the traditional C/G."

I agree in the sense that the G/D is more intuitive. More logical.

But to me the C/G makes more sense musically.... though I'm not sure what "sense" means in this context.  

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Mikefule said:

There's some sense to playing a single line of melody in an English session...Sometimes, just playing the

tune means you are highlighting the core of the music, without adding to the cacophony(*) that surrounds it.

Jolly good - I'm doing something right(-ish) then :). I wish I had expressed it so succinctly. Maybe I'll have your

well-observed remarks printed off, and discreetly left lying around at the next session I attend...

 

(*) My italics...

Edited by lachenal74693

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In regular English sessions I used to play only melody on the Crane and thought myself lucky if I could (a) hear myself and (b) keep up. (I fared better at festival sessions.)

 

I also used to play in a small, resident folk club band. There I should have made more use of chords as it would have given me something to do even if I hadn't yet learnt the melody or couldn't keep up with it.

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6 hours ago, David Levine said:

"...a G/D anglo makes more sense than the traditional C/G."

I agree in the sense that the G/D is more intuitive. More logical.

But to me the C/G makes more sense musically.... though I'm not sure what "sense" means in this context.  

 

As I have developed as a player, I have come to find more satisfaction and sometimes more musicality, in playing in D on the GD.  It's harder work, but it introduces some harmonic options and a different way of thinking about a tune.  I don't just mean transferring the same fingering across from the outer row to the inner.  I mean reconfiguring the fingering to make the most of the cross row options.

 

It follows from this that playing in in G on a CG is similarly more satisfying.

 

However, moving one key further round (A on an GD, or D on a CG) is a tad trickier in the major keys if you play harmonically.  It's far from impossible, but you're moving further from what the Richter tuning system was devised for.

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6 hours ago, David Levine said:

"...a G/D anglo makes more sense than the traditional C/G."

I agree in the sense that the G/D is more intuitive. More logical.

But to me the C/G makes more sense musically.... though I'm not sure what "sense" means in this context.  

What I meant by this  was that playing in the instrument's home keys allows easier playing of accompanying chords and runs in those keys than when playing in G or D on a C/G anglo.   If you want to play English music in the harmonic style (or whatever you may wish to call it), which for many is the preferred style for this music, it makes more sense to choose a G/D rather than a C/G.  

 

I'm not sure what you mean by the C/D making more sense musically - the instruments are identical to play, they are simply in different pitches.  The context is of course the playing of English music in sessions, which for reasons already explained tend to be mostly in the keys of G and D.

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