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Nabio

Beginner looking for your stepping stone

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Posted (edited)

Good day all,

 

I'm new to the concertina world and looking for a reasonably priced English or anglo for a beginner.  I've contacted several shops on several continents and the entry level used inventory is very low.  It was recommended I check here, so I've taken that advice!

 

Not knowing if I will enjoy the instrument, I can't justify buying a better quality concertina, so please feel free to offer even what you might consider sub-par.

 

Does anyone have a concertina that they've learnt on, which they're willing to part with?

 

Thank you

 

(Edit: I'm in the Eastern Ontario, Canada, region)

Edited by Nabio

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Do you know what type of music you want to play.  It it is traditional Irish you will  want to go anglo C/G.  But for other types of music English could be best.   Good Luck.

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53 minutes ago, LateToTheGame said:

Do you know what type of music you want to play.  It it is traditional Irish you will  want to go anglo C/G.  But for other types of music English could be best.   Good Luck.

 

Hi there, thanks for the reply!

 

I would like to play sea shanties, which I believe would be inline with the anglo.  However, I am uncertain if a 20 or 30 button would be best.  I have a tenors voice, though I don't necessarily intend to sing all the time.  My background is in strings (violin, guitar) which makes me melody-centric, and for this reason, I thought an English would be best.  But, again, sea shanties are what I expect to play.

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Arrrgh maties, Sea Shanties!  Thems 'as dies, they be the lucky ones!

 

Listen to some Louis Killen (EC) and John Roberts(Anglo) usually with Tony Barrand singing and decide which style you like best.  Very different vibe, both really good.   Lots of tracks on Spotify and on YouTube too.

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Something to consider is that Gary Coover's "Pirate Songs for Concertina" exists, and is written for the 30-button Anglo. It's a very nice collection of sea shanties and related tunes.

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28 minutes ago, MJGray said:

Something to consider is that Gary Coover's "Pirate Songs for Concertina" exists, and is written for the 30-button Anglo. It's a very nice collection of sea shanties and related tunes.

 

1 hour ago, Don Taylor said:

Arrrgh maties, Sea Shanties!  Thems 'as dies, they be the lucky ones!

 

Listen to some Louis Killen (EC) and John Roberts(Anglo) usually with Tony Barrand singing and decide which style you like best.  Very different vibe, both really good.   Lots of tracks on Spotify and on YouTube too.

 

It's definitely going to be an anglo.  My uncertainty was nestled in the thought that I would lack the flexibility to play different types of music.  Finding the three performers you recommended led me to Adrian Brown.  His arrangements are beyond what I thought the anglo was capable of, including early music and baroque.  He was performing his arrangements on a 30 button anglo and they sounded amazing.

 

The three recommendations:

Louis Killen's music is exceptionally clean and precise.  His music tends to follow his voice in unison, which I appreciate, however, the 'bounciness' of the anglo when accompanying John Roberts voice serves as very pleasant harmony.  I am currently listening to Gary Coover, and this is the music I'm expecting I'll start with!

 

Thanks again for the recommendations!

 

        

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1 minute ago, Nabio said:

He was performing his arrangements on a 30 button anglo and they sounded amazing.

I think that Adrian plays a 38 button Jeffries tuned to quarter comma mean-tone.  You are talking serious dollars and serious musicianship here. 

 

Way beyond sea shanty song accompaniment.  Something to strive for but, in the mean time start on a 30 button Anglo then you will soon have CAS (Concertina Acquisition Syndrome) just like the rest of us...

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38 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

I think that Adrian plays a 38 button Jeffries tuned to quarter comma mean-tone.  You are talking serious dollars and serious musicianship here. 

 

Way beyond sea shanty song accompaniment.  Something to strive for but, in the mean time start on a 30 button Anglo then you will soon have CAS (Concertina Acquisition Syndrome) just like the rest of us...

 

Don, you're absolutely right.  Does that mean I've come down with CAS already??

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If you are trying to accompany your own singing you may want  to find the keys setup that works best for your voice. Though I suppose that your could play in any key on any anglo the button combinations and octave you play in may be off. Check out Barleycorn concertinas for examples of some of the less than common keys available.  If you know the key your voice prefers you could ask them what they have in stock that fits you.   The Button Box in the US also occasionally has odder keys in their used stock if your voice is not a good fit with the C/G or D/G instruments that are most available.   If you can spend some money you can get an instrument that will last you for the rest of your life.

 

I remember going to a Roberts and Barrand concert years ago and at least 2 concertinas were used. It was before I learned to play so I didn't ask what keys or what type.

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9 hours ago, LateToTheGame said:

If you are trying to accompany your own singing you may want  to find the keys setup that works best for your voice. Though I suppose that your could play in any key on any anglo the button combinations and octave you play in may be off. Check out Barleycorn concertinas for examples of some of the less than common keys available.  If you know the key your voice prefers you could ask them what they have in stock that fits you.   The Button Box in the US also occasionally has odder keys in their used stock if your voice is not a good fit with the C/G or D/G instruments that are most available.   If you can spend some money you can get an instrument that will last you for the rest of your life.

 

I remember going to a Roberts and Barrand concert years ago and at least 2 concertinas were used. It was before I learned to play so I didn't ask what keys or what type.

 

I saw John Roberts perform solo several years ago and as I recall he had three Anglos with him: a C/G, a G/D and a Bb/F, all Jeffries.  

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Hi, Nabio,

As you've meanwhile ascertained, the Anglo is the concertina of choice for accompanying shanties and forebitters and sea songs generally, and you can play dance music on it. as well. Not to mention Baroque!

The fact that the Anglo is "in" a particular "key" (or keys) has been mentioned. This means that there are two keys, a fifth apart, that are intuitive and easy to play, and that offer quite sophisticated harmonies. The farther you get from the two "home keys," the more difficult it gets to play melodies, and the fewer harmonies are available (regardless of your competence).

So a singer should approach the choice of Anglo from the vocal point of view

I'm a baritone, not a tenor, so my experience may not help you directly, but you can go by the same principle. I've discovered that I can sing most folk-songs - and that includes sailors' songs - in the key of C, and the most of the rest in G. As you can guess, I have a standard C/G Anglo, and am very happy with it! For example, I sing "The Greenland Whalers" in C and "Tom Bowling" in G, each with a solo concertina version in the respective key.

For you, as a tenor, it might work the other way round - "Whalers" in G and "Tom Bowling" in C. Or perhaps Bb/F or G/D would be better for you.

 

My tip would be to review the keys you sing your familiar songs in, and see if there's a statistical peak around a certain key. Then try how many of your songs you can sing in this one key. Try the ones you can't quite manage in the key a fifth up or a fourth down - e.g. if G were your main key, try the" leftovers" in D.

Or, the other way round: if you find an Anglo you like (or can afford), ascertain its home keys, and try singing each song in your repertoire in one of those keys. If that's comfortable, buy!

 

Good luck!

John

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17 hours ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

Hi, Nabio,

As you've meanwhile ascertained, the Anglo is the concertina of choice for accompanying shanties and forebitters and sea songs generally, and you can play dance music on it. as well. Not to mention Baroque!

The fact that the Anglo is "in" a particular "key" (or keys) has been mentioned. This means that there are two keys, a fifth apart, that are intuitive and easy to play, and that offer quite sophisticated harmonies. The farther you get from the two "home keys," the more difficult it gets to play melodies, and the fewer harmonies are available (regardless of your competence).

So a singer should approach the choice of Anglo from the vocal point of view

I'm a baritone, not a tenor, so my experience may not help you directly, but you can go by the same principle. I've discovered that I can sing most folk-songs - and that includes sailors' songs - in the key of C, and the most of the rest in G. As you can guess, I have a standard C/G Anglo, and am very happy with it! For example, I sing "The Greenland Whalers" in C and "Tom Bowling" in G, each with a solo concertina version in the respective key.

For you, as a tenor, it might work the other way round - "Whalers" in G and "Tom Bowling" in C. Or perhaps Bb/F or G/D would be better for you.

 

My tip would be to review the keys you sing your familiar songs in, and see if there's a statistical peak around a certain key. Then try how many of your songs you can sing in this one key. Try the ones you can't quite manage in the key a fifth up or a fourth down - e.g. if G were your main key, try the" leftovers" in D.

Or, the other way round: if you find an Anglo you like (or can afford), ascertain its home keys, and try singing each song in your repertoire in one of those keys. If that's comfortable, buy!

 

Good luck!

John

Thanks John, all of that is very helpful.  

 

I am very pleased with the thought of playing baroque music on the anglo.  And I can see how the English concertina would provide that wider range of keys to work with, but again, my intention is to focus on the sea shanties.  Also, while this might be unorthodox (I'm not sure), I could improvise the melody (vocal) with something that might be outside of my range.  But, for now I need to get the hang of the instrument first.  With that said, a community member was so very kind in helping me locate a concertina to try (C/G tuning); what a great community!

 

After recording myself play a melody and harmony (separately for now), I was able to comfortably sing the melody during the playback (GMaj).  So far so good!  With my very limited experience and exposure to the instrument, I feel this is something I can work with and enjoy going forward.  Though, I'm sure I'll pick up on the nuances as I go.

 

A big thanks to everyone who replied!  I suppose I will take the conversation elsewhere on the forums, as I have a lot of questions related to technique and style!!  I'm sure someone has asked these questions before, so I will certainly look there first.

 

Thanks again to everyone!

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I've been paying classical music on anglo concertina for several years, and I've found that sheet music written for guitar works quite well since it's in roughly the same range. There are limitations of course; you can't do many bass runs because you don't have all the notes, and you don't always have the key combinations you want, but you can't let that stop you. And there's tons of material on the net, with IMSLP and free scores.com, Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, whatever. I also enjoy playing things like milongas, gatos and rancheras.  Why isn't there more time? (rhetorical question, no need to reply.)

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5 hours ago, Nabio said:

I'm sure I'll pick up on the nuances as I go.

I bet you will! From your first reports, it seems like you're one of the ones who take to the Anglo like ducks to water, because they find it all so obvious. There are others, who claim to perceive the Anglo as an impenetrable musical Rubik's Cube!

Cheers,

John

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4 hours ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

I bet you will! From your first reports, it seems like you're one of the ones who take to the Anglo like ducks to water, because they find it all so obvious. There are others, who claim to perceive the Anglo as an impenetrable musical Rubik's Cube!

Cheers,

John

Thanks John!  To be sure, I'm still wrapping my head around the accidentals and their placement.  The layout would surely have been deliberate, so there should be some logic behind them.

 

Good tip on the classical guitar music for accompanying chords!  

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13 hours ago, Nabio said:

Thanks John!  To be sure, I'm still wrapping my head around the accidentals and their placement.  The layout would surely have been deliberate, so there should be some logic behind them.

Some logic certainly, but some of it far from obvious, and not the same between Wheatstone and Jeffries layouts.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/25/2020 at 6:29 PM, Daniel Hersh said:

 

I saw John Roberts perform solo several years ago and as I recall he had three Anglos with him: a C/G, a G/D and a Bb/F, all Jeffries.  

This might be a stupid question but it won’t be the first one I’ve ever asked. I have English concertinas (too many) after having a couple of hand surgeries I’m back to the form and back to studying to play again. The question I have is the comment that was made relative to the Anglo and what key you sing it. Is the angle similar to the English where you will have a bass and treble extended travel etc. to determine what key Or what range is the most comfortable for you as with the English as you all know you can play in multiple keys. Thanks you StephenTx 

Edited by StephenTx

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