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Jim2010

20-button Anglo Recordings

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I am wondering what a 20-button anglo concertina can sound like in very capable hands. I am especially interested in what styles of music are possible. If anyone could direct me to they consider exceptionally good 20-button anglo recordings I would greatly appreciate it.

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Hi Jim, I doubt these qualify as virtuoso performances, but all 60 tunes in the Civil War Concertina playlist on the "angloconc" YouTube channel are playable on a standard 20-button Anglo.

 

I used a 30-button Anglo for the recording (because that's what I have), but I never touched the top row on any of the tunes.

 

Gary

 

 

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Thank you, Gary. Very nice. That's a perfect example of what I am trying to find out. What types of music are possible on a 20-button anglo?

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William Kimber (foundational figure in modern Morris dancing) played a 20-button concertina, and there are plenty of old 78s and such that people have uploaded to YouTube. Here's a good one:

 

 

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Thank you. That is terrific. It's great to hear what the 20-button can do.

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Posted (edited)

Look up Scan Tester on Spotify.

 

Or (not comparing myself to Scan Tester) here's me on mine.

 

 

Edited by Mikefule
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8 minutes ago, Mikefule said:

Look up Scan Tester on Spotify.

 

Or (not comparing myself to Scan Tester) here's me on mine.

 

 

 

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Thank you. I enjoyed your playing. You make it seem easy to play, which I am sure it is not.

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Kimber is perhaps the best known example of someone playing a 20 button in a harmonic style, but in his day there were many more. By the way, he played a 30 button later in life (it was a gift) but remained basically a player who used only the bottom two rows. Some years ago I prepared a detailed analysis of both his music and his fingering of it that is sold by the EFDSS. I think they sold out of it at present but we are in discussion about preparing an updated and revised version this year. 

 

Until 40 years ago most Irish players essentially used a two row style on  what originally were German concertinas, with the exception of using a button or two on the top row when playing in D on a three row. Chris Droney is likely the greatest living proponent of that earlier way of along-the-row playing that is essentially two row.

 

Most of the old players in  Australia were somewhat similar to Chris Droney. My House Dance CDRom, available from Musical Traditions and also downloadable from the Concertina Journal site, features recordings of many of these earlier players. Many of them (and some in England, too) used an octave style played in C and G on two rows....a lovely early way of playing the instrument. I placed a little tutorial on that CDRom on playing in octaves. England's Scan Tester is perhaps the most famous of the octave players, though his playing is not only that. Chris Droney sometimes plays entire tunes in that octave style, though more frequently he plays octaves as simple ornaments. He seems to have gotten that way of playing from his father and grandfather; see the discussion on a CD called Tripping to the Well, which features a number of noted Irish women players of today playing an old German two row concertina.

 

Finally, the old South African style of playing the two row Boerkonsertina is a richly harmonic style that has been in somewhat of a revival, and new instruments are being made there. There is a lengthy discussion of that style, along with many historical recordings of it, on the House Dance CDRom. In the right hands it is complex and exciting. Most of today's players there use a 3 1/2 row Wheatstone 40 buttons and their fingering is all over the keyboard!

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Thank you Dan. You just opened up a world of new exploration for me. I really appreciate it. I also read some of your recent posts and hope to someday attend a concertina workshop like you described in Texas. I'm sorry that one needed to be cancelled.

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My newest concertina student from up in Edinburgh UK plays an old DDR 20 button. It's in G/D and also up an octave, playing above the standard C/G boxes. Sounds good!

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The 20 button layout is the heart of the Anglo.  It combines the Richter tuning (harmonica, 1 row melodeon) with the two rows being a fifth apart (opposite of the 2 row melodeon, which is a fourth apart).  Whether you have a 26, 30, or 40 button Anglo, it will be a 20 button plus the extra buttons.

 

The extra buttons help in 2 ways: extra notes (accidentals), and duplicates.

 

However, the duplicates can sometimes be a "two edged sword" tempting you to find easy solutions instead of working on technique.

 

I have found that practising on the 20 button occasionally has brought me on as a musician.  It has forced me to find solutions within its limitations.  It has made me more confident in the "second key" (G on a CG, for example) and forced me to work on parallel octaves and block chords, breaking up the monotonous "oom pah" accompaniment that I used to do.

 

My favourite remains my 30 button, but I am glad to own two 20 buttons and I love to to take them out for a thrash now and again.  There is an honest simplicity and folkiness to the 20 b.  It does not pretend to be more than it is.  It's a double barrelled pump action harmonica, capable of producing some exciting and danceable music.

 

Every Anglo player should have one in their "fleet".

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5 hours ago, Mikefule said:

The 20 button layout is the heart of the Anglo.  It combines the Richter tuning (harmonica, 1 row melodeon) with the two rows being a fifth apart (opposite of the 2 row melodeon, which is a fourth apart).  Whether you have a 26, 30, or 40 button Anglo, it will be a 20 button plus the extra buttons...<snip>

I have found that practising on the 20 button occasionally has brought me on as a musician.  It has forced me to find solutions within its limitations.  It has made me more confident in the "second key" (G on a CG, for example) and forced me to work on parallel octaves and block chords, breaking up the monotonous "oom pah" accompaniment that I used to do...<snip>

 

 

Thank you. You have really addressed the essence of my original enquiry, both the mechanical aspects (Richter, 20 button plus extras) and the musical aspects (yes, plenty of good music can be made with it, especially if put in the time/effort necessary).

 

I have studied other instruments (including the accordina) in a formal way, so my approach to an instrument will always be to try to master as much as possible the skills necessary to play well prior to playing tunes.

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7 hours ago, Jody Kruskal said:

My newest concertina student from up in Edinburgh UK plays an old DDR 20 button. It's in G/D and also up an octave, playing above the standard C/G boxes. Sounds good!

Thanks Jody. There seems to be an endless supply of different concertinas. I have seen a recording of you accompanying yourself singing (North-East Squeeze-In). You are a good ambassador for the instrument. In your travels, have you ever heard an anglo used in for music outside of the Irish/English/Scottish/American/Canadian/etc. traditions? For example, tango, klezmer, gypsy, and maybe types of music I've never even heard of.

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Jim,

You might be interested to read Dan Worrall's two-volume "The Anglo-German Concertina", available on archive.org at this link:

 

https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A"Worrall%2C+Dan+Michael"

 

That would answer all your questions about the history of the Anglo, and has fascinating chapters on the use of the instrument throughout the world, including African Zulu and Boer musical traditions. Here's some great concertina music that certainly falls outside the traditions you list, anyway:

 

 

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10 minutes ago, MJGray said:

Jim,

You might be interested to read Dan Worrall's two-volume "The Anglo-German Concertina", available on archive.org at this link:

 

https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A"Worrall%2C+Dan+Michael"

 

That would answer all your questions about the history of the Anglo, and has fascinating chapters on the use of the instrument throughout the world, including African Zulu and Boer musical traditions. Here's some great concertina music that certainly falls outside the traditions you list, anyway:

 

Thank you very much. The more I ask questions and look around the more I am amazed how much expertise, experience, generosity, and love for the instrument is floating around this forum.

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10 hours ago, Jim2010 said:

Thank you. You have really addressed the essence of my original enquiry, both the mechanical aspects (Richter, 20 button plus extras) and the musical aspects (yes, plenty of good music can be made with it, especially if put in the time/effort necessary).

 

I have studied other instruments (including the accordina) in a formal way, so my approach to an instrument will always be to try to master as much as possible the skills necessary to play well prior to playing tunes.

 

Are you still looking for 20b Anglo recordings?  If so, a bunch of them were posted on the thread below back in 2009.  Some of the links to the recordings still work and some don't.  The ones to my own recordings don't work anymore, but if you're interested, I can put them up somewhere else and post a link here.

.   

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Thank you Daniel. I listened to the links that still work and I am very impressed with what people can do on the 20-button anglo. If it is easy enough for you to do, it would be nice to hear your contributions to the "contest."

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