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James Tween

Melodeon-Anglo Conversion Tips Please

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Everyone knows an Anglo is just like a melodeon as it's push-pull.

 

Hmm.  Yes and no.  Once you get much beyond that basic fact, they're very different.  Can someone walk me through the basics of understanding an Anglo form the perspective of a long-term DG melodoen player please?

 

Obvious questions are, well, I'd assume pretty basic:

- with the rows tuned as they are, you can't cross rows as you can on a melodeon, so do you cross at all, if so how?

- how does the left-hand get used?

 

I like the sound mostly, and I know I could go for the easy option and get a Franglo.

 

Thanks for any help you can offer.

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Others will be better prepared to answer, since I don't play Melodeon, just tried it a bit from time to time, but those brief tries have provided some clues to the difficulty, just looking at it from the other direction.

 

First of all, you are on the right track by admitting that the instruments are indeed different.   The basic push/pull for the scale along each row works in the same familiar pattern (with possible variations on the lowest buttons) so that part should be familiar.  The trick of crossing rows is really just to remember that it isn't a Melodeon, and training yourself on the new pattern.

 

Crossing rows on the Anglo is certainly done, but it is not the same as on the Melodeon, because the relationship of the rows is different.  On your DG Melodeon  the G row is a fourth higher than the D row, while on a Cg Anglo the g row is a fifth higher than the C row.  So as a result, the patterns for crossing rows are quite different, and the tunes you now play cross rows will have to be played in a different pattern on the Anglo.  Even if your Anglo is a Gd which seems as though it would be similar, this time the d row is a fifth higher than the G row instead of the G being the higher row by a fourth on the Melodeon, so the relationship is still different.

 

There are several answers on what to do with your left hand.

1) Part of what the left hand does is continue the melody, for notes that are lower than those provided on the right hand.  After all, on your Melodeon there will have been 10 buttons on each row, or thereabouts, and the right hand on the Anglo only has 5 buttons on each row.  These are likely equivalent to the top five buttons or so on the Melodeon, depending upon if yours is a 3 or 4 start.  So the lower part of the scale continues on the left hand, and will be needed for many tunes.  But there is more to it than just playing the lower notes along the rows.   Because of the two rows are different by a fifth on the Anglo, most of the two home scales can be played with just the first two fingers on each hand, by crossing rows, so this will often be part of what the left hand is doing.

2) But what about chords?   Well, the Melodeon provides the main chords more easily, since they can be a single button.  With the Anglo, you have to build chords up with several buttons.  But in the home keys, the buttons required are generally available in the same push pull direction as the melody notes which require those chords.  For example, on a Cg Anglo the F# is only available on the pull, but the most likely chord to play during that melody note would be a D major, and the required D, F#, and A for that are all available on the pull.   C, and G chords are largely available in either push or pull, although not in every inversion.  The F note is generally only on the pull again, but the A, F, and some version of the C for the F chord are also available. Finding all the notes in the desired chord gets trickier farther off the home keys, or when playing against a passing note in the melody, but most likely you won't want to play all three notes on the chord very often anyway.  I expect the same push/pull conflict between the available chords and passing notes happens with the Melodeon too?  At least with the Anglo you can likely find at least ONE note from the desired chord which will be in the same direction as the melody note, and perhaps two.

3) That chord option can be broken up into an alternating bass line, playing a low note, perhaps the root of the chord, followed by perhaps the fifth of the chord, then the low note again, and the third of the chord, or a similar pattern, iin a classic "Oom Pah" style.   Perhaps playing the root on the "Oom", followed by the third and fifth together on the "Pah".  You will want to play different inversions of the chords for variation, but also because there may not always be room below the melody line for the 1st position of the chord.  Generally it is best to keep these harmony notes short, not drawn out.

3) Another option for harmony is to play the melody note, and then another note in the same row, a bit lower as a harmony line. (occasionally, crossing rows for that harmony note)  This could mean playing the same melody an octave lower, or it could mean playing a harmony line made up of fifths, fourths, and thirds below the melody line. I happen to prefer this style, and it is fairly easy when playing along the rows, but can appropriate notes can also be worked out when crossing rows on the melody line, it just takes more planning.

 

When playing a harmony line or chords, this may influence your choice of when to cross rows on the melody line, in order to make your desired harmony line or chords available.  At times that will be countered by the practice of avoiding playing consecutive notes on different buttons with the same finger.  So it does get complicated.

 

Then there are the accidentals and reversals available on the outer row.  Of course the accidentals make more melody notes available, and the extra reversals can allow for a smoother melody line.  But the reversals also can open up more possibilities for what harmony notes are possible for a given melody line.

 

That is a lot from someone who says up front that he doesn't know what he is talking about, but I hope it helps!

 

 

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The 2 main rows of the Anglo are each like one row of a melodeon.

 

However, a DG melodeon has the D row (nearest to the hand) is LOWER in pitch than the G row (nearest to the finger tips).  On a GD Anglo, the D row (nearest to the hand) is higher than the G row (nearest to the finger tips).

 

So a DG melodeon is tuned a 4th apart, and a GD Anglo is tuned a 5th apart.

 

That means all the cross row fingering is different.

 

Now, take that two row (20 button) melodeon and cut it in half across the keyboard.  The high end becomes the right hand of an Anglo; the low end becomes the left hand of an Anglo.

 

Most people play a 2 row melodeon in the lower octave most of the time.  Most people play most of the melody on the right hand of an Anglo.

 

That means that playing along the row, most of your simple tunes on a a melodeon are on the octave that starts:

Push, pull, push the next, pull, push the next, pull.

 

Most of your simple tunes on an Anglo are on the octave that starts

Push, pull the next, push, pull the next, push.

 

That means that not only is the cross row fingering "inside out" but so is the along the row fingering.

 

Then there is how you play the two instruments:

 

Most people play a DG melodeon mainly in G or D, and the associated modes.

 

Many people play a GD concertina in A  (or, more commonly, a CG concertina in D) using the additional cross row options that the "accidental row" makes possible.

 

The similarities are misleading.  The differences are at least as important.

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Mike, just two considerations or remarks from my side:

 

1. Are you referring specifically to the D/G melodeon? I'm playing C/G and Bb/F myself, and I often play in the upper octave, but that may be just me of course...

 

2. OP would come from the D/G melodeon. Given that would he really be playing a G/D concertina in the key of A? I would rather think it would be G or D, with maybe a preference for G, in the harmonic style...

 

All the best - 🐺

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16 hours ago, Mikefule said:

 

The similarities are misleading.  The differences are at least as important.

 

As someone who plays both, I couldn't agree more.  There is a superficial similarity when playing up and down the rows which will at least get you started, and you will already be accustomed to thinking about use of bellows and the air button.  Other than that they're quite different, and thinking of either instrument in terms of the other will only confuse.  

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Agree with Howard near 100%.  Push-pull the same.  Aside from that they are so different.  In a good way.  To my mind, the melodeon is easily sorted: bass on the left, treble on the right.  When you get good, you can learn to play a little bass run on the left and some chords on the right.  

Anglo is treble on both sides, just lower on the left, allowing bass to be played there.  But you can play treble on both sides at once. You can on some tunes play it like a duet.  You can play chords on both sides. 

Accidentals are all over the place.  Reverses are all over the place. It can be crazy fun or no fun at all.

To the OP: Try before you buy.  It is an easy instrument to play badly, but a hard instrument to play well. IMO.

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Yes, Howard has it absolutely right. That was my experience too.

 

After 20 years or so on D/G melodeon for Morris and English session (and English Concertina) I started 30b C/G Anglo, then, thinking a G/D Anglo might be easier I tried that too (a very nice used Edgely). Wrong, it just really muddied the water and became very confusing at such an early stage. I reluctantly let the G/D go again, and pressed on with C/G (mainly for Irish these days) which is going reasonably well. However, I really like Anglo ( a Wolverton) now, and often wish I had chosen that route all those years ago.

 

Rob

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10 hours ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

Mike, just two considerations or remarks from my side:

 

1. Are you referring specifically to the D/G melodeon? I'm playing C/G and Bb/F myself, and I often play in the upper octave, but that may be just me of course...

 

2. OP would come from the D/G melodeon. Given that would he really be playing a G/D concertina in the key of A? I would rather think it would be G or D, with maybe a preference for G, in the harmonic style...

 

All the best - 🐺

 

Being a Morris man, I tend to default to G and D.  I learned music first on harmonica, which I often play in the higher octave to avoid the "missing notes".

 

Years ago, I could knock a reasonable Morris tune out of a DG melodeon, but mainly in the lower octave.

 

Then I got into Anglo, and the more committed I got to that, the harder I found it on melodeon.  For a while, however, I had a 1 row melodeon and I played that in the top octave for 2 reasons:

  1. To avoid the missing notes
  2. Because the fingering was more similar to the Anglo

Perhaps if I had played the melodeon more or had one in lower keys, I may have played it in the higher octave more.

 

As an Anglo player who prefers a harmonic style, I play GD Anglo mainly in G major and D major and almost never in A major.  However, as I understand it, those who play Anglo in the "mainly a single line of melody" style often play a CG in D and may therefore play a GD in A.

 

Apart from G and D major, of course, there are the related modes, and occasional bits where a tune modulates from D into A or from G into C.

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15 hours ago, Mikefule said:

However, as I understand it, those who play Anglo in the "mainly a single line of melody" style often play a CG in D and may therefore play a GD in A.

 

agreed - I was just musing about the preferences of a player who would be coming from the D/G melodeon - and hight might rather be inclined to prefer G und D like yourself, and should not be extra-discouraged by referring to the ITM single-melody style IMO...

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Like Wolf says, single line of melody isn't a stretch on the Anglo.  Harmonic style is where the Anglo becomes "fun".

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they're quite different, and thinking of either instrument in terms of the other will only confuse.

     I play 'em both as well, and Howard's thought is as concise as I've seen.

Robin

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7 hours ago, Devils' Dream said:

Like Wolf says, single line of melody isn't a stretch on the Anglo.  Harmonic style is where the Anglo becomes "fun".

 

I have only admiration for those who play the single line of melody style well.  Without all the fancy tools of bass, arpeggios, chords, counter melodies etc., they have to play that melody very well to give it lilt and lift. Less complex does not mean simpler.  I certainly can't do it well.

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