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John_D

Where to start with a 20 Button C/G Anglo

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On 3/15/2020 at 8:58 PM, Mikefule said:

...Always try to release the button and press it again when playing two notes on the same button,

whether in the same bellows direction or not...

Good advice is always worth following, so I've been 'consciously' trying this for the last couple of days.

I'm hearing the tunes popping out in a very staccato style - which ain't always what is wanted. Any idea

what I'm doing wrong, and how to fix it?

 

Ta.

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Have you tried alternating fingers on the button? 

 

It takes some practice to get it fluid but it should give you a more legato sound to repeated notes.

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7 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

Good advice is always worth following, so I've been 'consciously' trying this for the last couple of days.

I'm hearing the tunes popping out in a very staccato style - which ain't always what is wanted. Any idea

what I'm doing wrong, and how to fix it?

 

Ta.

First of all, if a musician is able to do either of two techniques, they can choose, whereas if they only know the "leave your finger on and use the bellows" technique, they can't choose.

 

It may sound disconcertingly staccato to you now because it isn't what you're used to.  However, a wise man once told me that "the music is in the gaps between the notes."

 

What the "finger off and back on" technique gives you is a clear start to the note.  If you hold a button down and pump the bellows in and out, you'll hear each note tail off as the bellows slow down to stop, and each note start slowly and change in volume and pitch as the bellows start and speed up in the new direction.  If you lift your finger off the button and put it back on, you are using the bellows to provide the pressure, and the valve to define the start and end of the note.

 

The finger only needs to leave the button by a few millimetres.  The perfect technique would keep your finger in contact with the button, even though the button was being released and pressed again.  (For a deliberate staccato, of course, you can chose to stab down onto the buttons from some distance.  Keith Kendrick once told me it may help to think of the accompaniment as "tuned percussion" by which he meant mainly a series of short crisp notes that don't overwhelm the melody.

 

Ways to improve your technique:

  • Practise it.
  • Look for places where you can use duplicates.  I sometimes play the same note consecutively on different buttons, sometimes in opposite bellow directions, depending on context.
  • Some people alternate between two (or more?) fingers on the same button.  I do this only rarely.
  • Play quietly, practise slowly, keep the tension out of your fingers and arms as much as possible.  Only expend the energy that you need to expend, and don't fight yourself or the instrument.

I am not a guru, merely a keen player who is constantly striving to play as well as possible.  Others may have better ideas than mine.

 

 

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10 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

I'm hearing the tunes popping out in a very staccato style - which ain't always what is wanted.

What we perceive depends to a great extent on what we expect.

Related to musical expression, there are three ways of playing a phrase:

1. Normally, whatever that is. No particular marking in the score.

2. Staccato, which is indicated in the score by a dot above or below the note

3. Legato, which is indicated in the score by ties across notes of different pitch.

 

Now, if I'm expecting a staccato, and the player plays normally, I'll perceive it as "plodding".

If, on the other hand, I'm expecting legato, and the player plays normally, I'll perceive it as "choppy".

 

I think the best plan is to realise that we have these three possibilities, and differentiate between them - even in one tune. If we alternate between staccato and legato (in an artistically acceptable way), then our "normal" expression will not be dismissed as "plodding", but regarded as just as another, valid possibility between staccato and legato!

 

Staccato on the Anglo? It is not without reason that the bellows of Anglo concertinas are of robust construction, and the handstraps offer a firm grip. If your arm and shoulder muscles are in good nick, you can play a series of staccatos on one note, one button, one bellows direction without releasing the button, and without breaking anything. Anglo playing is all about bellows control, and bellows control is all about strength and speed - specifically, speed in switching from press to draw and back.

 

Cheers,

John

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Thank you folks - I'll try those suggestions. I'm a bit apprehensive about using different fingers on t'same button though.

We shall see...

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6 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

Thank you folks - I'll try those suggestions. I'm a bit apprehensive about using different fingers on t'same button though.

We shall see...

A good place to start that particular discipline is playing the scale along the row.

 

Playing C on the C row right hand, you'd play

C push, 1st finger, button 1

D pull, 2nd finger, button 2

E push, 2nd finger, button 2

F pull, 3rd finger, button 3 then change finger to:

G push, 2nd finger button 3

A pull , 3rd finger, button 4

B pull, little finger, button 5

C push, 3rd finger, button 4

 

This gives you a specific reason to change fingers on consecutive notes on button 3.  It makes playing the scale easier and more fluid.

 

Coming back down the scale the fingering is the opposite, but still changing on button 3.

 

A useful technique for pushing one button repeated with the SAME finger is to keep the finger still in relation to the hand, and move the whole hand to tap the rhythm. 

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So I've been playing for a couple days and squeeze some basic tunes of this box, although some challenges arise from the poor quality of my instrument. I was wondering how to begin training myself to play in octaves for simple songs like Oh Susanna. Do I just memorize both hands to the point where I don't need to focus and just play them together? I'm wonder because coming from trumpet it's a very different experience. Also all your advice has been very helpful, thank you! 

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I'd say, just practise the scale on the right hand, then practise it on the left hand, and then practise both hands together. Start slowly, and speed up as you get the feel of it.

 

Having said that, I personally don't care for long phrases in octaves. Phrases in thirds are more to my liking. But it is a good thing to be able to find the note an octave below your melody note whenever you want it.

 

Cheers,

John

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18 hours ago, John_D said:

So I've been playing for a couple days and squeeze some basic tunes of this box, although some challenges arise from the poor quality of my instrument. I was wondering how to begin training myself to play in octaves for simple songs like Oh Susanna. Do I just memorize both hands to the point where I don't need to focus and just play them together? I'm wonder because coming from trumpet it's a very different experience. Also all your advice has been very helpful, thank you! 

 

Playing in octaves is a useful technique.  If you want a simple harmony, an octave will never be wrong.  It won't always be the best or most imaginative, but it will not be wrong.  Sometimes for an isolated note part way through a tune the octave is the only reasonable option if you want the accompaniment to keep going.

 

A short run of notes "in octaves" can be powerful — say 1 or possibly 2 bars where the tune runs up or down the scale.

 

A long section of parallel octaves can be boring and sound plodding.  If you literally play every note the same on both hands, it will sound dry and tedious.

 

However, if you play the tune on the right hand, and use octave accompaniment on selected notes (mainly on beats 1 and 3 of a 4/4 tune, for example) it can add drive to the tune.

 

How to learn?  In small steps.

 

For a CG Anglo, in parallel, so both hands working:

 

Try playing on the push CEGECEGEC etc.  That's buttons 3, 4, 5 on the left hand and 1, 2, 3 on the right hand on the same row.  All push.

 

Now try C D E D C.  That's buttons 3 and 4 on the left hand, buttons 1 and 2 on the right.

 

Notice that the two hands are out of synch.  The bellows direction is always the same (obviously!) but either the left hand changes button or the right hand does.  The change of button alternates from hand to hand.  This takes some getting used to.

 

Now try C D E F G.   Buttons 3, 4, 5 on the left, 1, 2, 3 on the right.

 

Now try C D E F G F E D C.  Same buttons but going up and back down.

 

Now try this: C D E F G A G F E D C B C     That B is button 2 on the left hand (pull) and button 1 on the right hand.

 

After this you hit a snag.  If you just carry on up the row, the left hand runs out of notes.  You would be playing two Bs an octave apart on the right hand, and that is clumsy.  There are two alternatives:

 

1)  Drop the left hand an octave.  So if you play the full scale, C D E F G A B C, the left hand drops down to buttons 2 then 3 for the final B C of the scale.   This is a perfectly valid technique when playing a tune, and may sound more interesting than parallel octaves.

 

2)  Cross rows.  So you play C D E F G on the C row, then find A B C on the G row.

 

There are other routes to cross the rows, but this version makes the scale a nice simple push pull push pull all the way up.

 

Using this cross row approach, you can get all of the following in octaves with one button on each hand: B, C D E F G A B C, D E, so that's a full octave scale of C, with one extra note below, and 2 extra notes above.

 

Here is a brilliant tutorial for playing in octaves: https://www.concertinajournal.org/House_Dance_Text/ch_12.htm

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Lovely advice MikeFule, thank you. I'll try those exercises. I'm trying figure out what I need to hit in order to be ready to move onto higher level stuff. I'm not close right now but I think it'd be helpful to have a plan. 

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10 hours ago, John_D said:

Lovely advice MikeFule, thank you. I'll try those exercises. I'm trying figure out what I need to hit in order to be ready to move onto higher level stuff. I'm not close right now but I think it'd be helpful to have a plan. 

I'd start by searching the instrument for tunes you can already whistle.  Go for simple tunes with a narrow range.  Don't try to run before you can walk.  (No, I don't mean play Duane Eddy's "Walk Don't Run"!)

 

Tunes like When the Saints, Oh Susannah, Donkey Riding, Red River Valley, and simple nursery rhyme tunes.  These will help you to develop an intuition for how the keyboard layout works.  If it's easy to sing, it generally has a narrow range and is fairly easy to play.

 

Practise for 10 minutes at a time.  10 minutes twice a day, 7 days a week is better than one long practice every few days.

 

Try to play smoothly and fairly quietly.  You should be as relaxed as possible..  Any tension in your shoulders, arms or hands will work against you.

 

If you keep making the same mistake in a tune, take a break from it and try something else.  Repeating the same mistake will teach your muscle memory to make that mistake consistently.

 

When you have 2 minutes free and you're not able to practise, try visualising how the tune goes: which bellows direction, which buttons?

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