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The Purpose Of C Drone


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Personally, I'm not a big fan of drones on an anglo. Because the action tends to be in and out the drone, instead of being a steady note (which is what a drone should be) it becomes a series of hiccoughs---to my ears, at least. No doubt there are those who can make it sound good. If you have a choice at this stage of the order change the C drone to a G. Very little Irish music is played in C.

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I would regard it as an anachronism, dating back to the early days of the Anglo. Three-row Jeffries always had one, Wheatstones and Lachenals more rarely. George Jones even made some novelty instruments with two drones, C and G, plus "whistles and squeaks", like this one :

 

post-436-1111634421.jpg

 

However, some players do find a use for them and there has already been some discussion of the subject here.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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I see no reason for a C Drone to me it is a wasted note.

I have retained the C on the pull, but changed the push note to F ,both of which are really useful.If I should want a C drone then I have a C already on the push and use the C drone button on the pull.The F is really usefull for base runs or chords on the push.

Al

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It can be useful for forming chords on the left hand while playing melody on the right. This style is rarely used in Irish music, which is why you will find most players of Irish music regard the drone as a waste of reeds. As already mentioned, Peter Bellamy used it all the time, as does the Guv'nor, John Kirkpatrick (well, perhaps not quite as much!).

 

Chris

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As Stephen points out I've already written on this subject, but since it keeps coming up, let's revisit a couple of related subjects.

 

When referring to the button itself (rather than to any particular tuning for it), I don't usually call it a "drone button." I think it's better to speak of the "left hand thumb" button or buttons. If the notes are not the same on the press and draw, it would be especially misleading to call it a drone button (as in the example of F press, C draw). Though any NOTE on the anglo can be held as a drone until you change bellows directions, to my way of thinking a BUTTON will only be a drone if tuned the same both directions.

 

If the notes are the same, well the button can be played as a drone and might as well be called such, though it's worth pointing out that this button might be used in many ways that have nothing to do with a drone sound.

 

Frank, my general argument against putting the notes G/G on this button is the same as for D/D. A good player can find G's on both press and draw (and the lowest ones on a C/G can both be played with the little finger, leaving all other fingers free to play above this). So if you want a G drone there is no need to devote an extra button to it. Just move your LH pinky from one button to the other every time you need to reverse bellows direction. Very easy to learn. (See my comments on the thread Stephen referenced for how to add a "D drone sound" when playing any C/G anglo, even a 20 key with no LH thumb button).

 

However, Paul Read does make an excellent point when he notes that, if you want a drone sound, giving the same notes push/pull to the thumb may make fingering easier. This could be used as an argument in favor of assigning a G drone (as suggested by Frank) or a D drone to the LH thumb button. However my view is that in both these cases, BOTH the press and draw notes are redundant - they exist in both directions as part of the standard 30 key scheme. At least with the C drone you are getting one note not otherwise normally available (middle C draw).

 

And, gee, I like Irish music in C. So do many pipers and whistlers I know. At many tionols there are C sessions. Kitty Hayes plays many of her tunes in "C pitch." And with a C/G anglo, if you learn "C pitch" fingering (actually the same fingering used by players of D/A concertinas who play in concert pitch), it's like having 2 anglos for the price of one. No reason except time and effort not to learn to play "the Trip to Durrow" in C (as I have heard lovely Clare concertinists do) as well as in D, all on your own 3 row C/G. The tune may have a different bounce and phrasing in the two keys (even if you learn it well in both keys), and vive la difference.

 

So in sum, why not C/C or F/C (press/draw) as so many of the old ones had? Or whatever you choose instead, if it suits you! Any could be useful if you make the effort to use them.

 

Stephen, the 3 or 4 Jones anglos I have seen with double LH drones have usually had the 2 notes middle C and a D in the higher octave (for a C/G; or the 2 drones Bb and C for a Bb/F instrument). It's interesting that some C/Gs were made with C and G drones, as you state.

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff
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I use the drone (C or G depending on box being played) when singing about half of my songs. I also pop it in on the odd occasion where it can help give a fuller sound in a tune at a critical place.

When I play "The Munster Cloak" on the G/D I use two buttons on the left hand to generate a D drone during the second time through the tune then switch to the G drone as I bring in the chords etc. for the third and subsequent times.

 

Robin Madge

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Stephen, the 3 or 4  Jones anglos I have seen with double LH drones have usually had the 2 notes middle C and a D in the higher octave (for a C/G; or the 2 drones Bb and C for a Bb/F instrument).  It's interesting that some C/Gs were made with C and G drones, as you state.

Paul,

 

It's probably twenty years since I last had a playable Jones of that model in my hands, they aren't too popular here in Ireland, so I may have remembered it wrongly, or maybe it was tuned like that ?

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  • 3 weeks later...
George Jones even made some novelty instruments with two drones, ... plus "whistles and squeaks", like this one :

 

post-436-1111634421.jpg

And I just came across a photocopy of a George Jones catalogue, from the late 1880's, that describes and explains this model :

 

Thirty-four Keys: the extra four produce imitation of bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, bird, and chanticleer*. This instrument is made with the greatest care, of the best materials, G.S. studs ... £5 5 0

 

*Chanticleer is an old name for a cock, or rooster.

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Hi Stephen,

 

Yes, that's the Jones model of which I've seen a couple in rosewood, and at the moment I have a metal-ended, bone-button Jones Bb/F with slightly different fretwork but the same button layout. As you know, the two buttons for the left hand thumb are "same note both ways" (with reference to your catalog, one of these must be the bagpipe and the other the hurdy-gurdy effect, I guess) and the two buttons in the LH inside row are the cock crow and whistle.

 

On the Bb/F the higher LH thumb button is Bb just below middle C, both ways, and the lower LH thumb button is the C an octave and a tone higher, again both ways.

 

Paul

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