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Help on playing chords on the English concertina

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When looking at a piece of music and not wanting to just play the melody but to play chords much of my music has the chords above.  (As in the example below) I’m trying to understand this you’ll see a chord notated then you may have several bars of music until another cord is notated with lyrics. So you just can’t play the cord one time do you play the cord each time to the beat of the individual notes? How is this done? I hope this is not a stupid question but it won’t be the first one I would’ve askedI’m getting good at playing the melodic line but I really would like to be able to move away from that entirely and use the chord or Augument  but I don’t understand how you use the chord relative to the music. Thank you I look forward to hearing from this knowledge of a group. Stephentx


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I have the same question.  The answer is probably: practice.  I've been playing concertina for about 6 months, learned some nice songs playing the melody, but I haven't figured out how to play any songs using chords.


Concertina seems harder in that regard than other instruments.  Banjo for instance, I strum, pluck or frail the same pattern over and over with my right hand, make some chords with my left, and presto!  - there's nothing to even think about.   Easy as ringing a bell, and I can sing if I want to.  Concertina is a different story.  I'm sure part of my problem is that I don't read music very well.  Again, the answer is probably practice.

Edited by petey
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It  does appear  that  on   the  English Concertina  it  is  easy  to  play  chords  or  single line  melody  but  not at  all  easy to  play  both  together .  This  single  keyboard  divided  across  both  ends  makes it  very  different to  most ( any)  other    instrument.  My  own approach  is  to  add  harmonizing  notes  to  the  melody, mostly  by  ear,  usually,  but not always,  below  the  melody  notes.


One  approach  that  also  works for me,  with  written music , is  to  find  scores  for  piano,  simple ones are best,  which  give  the  melody  and harmony  and  tells  you when to  play  all the  notes.  There  is  a series  of  books  written  for  beginners  on piano ( and other instruments)  called   " The Joy of Piano  (and  lots of  other instruments  as well )"....from  Yorktown Music Press.  there are  quite a few  different  books in the series.  It is  very easy to  download  music  scores  from the internet  too  but the  one's  with  simple  melody line and  suggested chord  as letters ( as in Fake books)  are not that useful  for  the  English concertina player.


Books like  "Dancing with ma Baby"  and  scores  found on  www.concertina.com   will  show  what  is possible,  but  getting  around the keyboard  and  playing more than one  note  at  a time  using  simple  piano  scores  is  a good  start.  


Edited by Geoff Wooff
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The answer's 'yes'.  Yes, you could play one chord and hold it.  Yes, you could play one chord and let go.  Yes, you could play a chord every time there's a beat, or every time there's a note, or on some beats or notes but not others.


The important thing is to listen to what yoy play, and play what sounds best to you.  If someone suggests something different, try that too.


The main difficulty you will find with the English is that both hands are involved with playing the tune, so it's not always easy to play exactly what chord you want, although that comes with practice too.

Edited by maccannic
Some of this confirms what Geoff just posted while I was posting.
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Coming from duet rather than EC but helpful I hope;  Reverse your thinking.  Play the chord sequence first and derive the melody from the chord.  It's easier to locate the single note needed, which more than likely will be included in the chord, than to grope about for an appropriate cluster of harmony notes.  Start with a very sparse simplified version of the tune maybe even one note per bar.  Soon you'll be able to join both halves of your brain in the magnificent production of a glorious harmonic whole!....?

Edited by wunks
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I think @maccannic has answered your question pretty well.


The point is, the letters printed above the stave are not a complete notation. The merely form a basis for improvisation. It's up to the player to decide which harmonising notes to play, but in the first three bars of your example, the notes used should be part of the G major chord. Maybe G, B and D, or B, D and G, or maybe only G (I'd probably play a low G on the first beat of Bar 1, where the melody has an 1/8th rest, and then hold a G chord (G, B, D) for the whole of Bar 2.) Bar 4 uses the notes from the C major chord (all or any of C, E, G, in any squence), and so on. 


What makes this so easy for string players, as @petey points out, is that for instance, a banjoist's left hand forms the chord of (in your example)  G major, but doesn't sound the notes of the chord. It's the right hand that selects which of the prepared notes of the G major chord to actually sound, and in what sequence, and in what rhythmic relationship to each other.


I find that I can transfer the "banjo feeling" quite well to the duet concertina. I place the fingertips of my left hand over the buttons for the desired chord, but don't necessarily press all of them, or all of them at the same time. Meanwhile, my right hand is free to finger the melody.


I imagine that this kind of chordal accompaniment might be tricky on an EC, if one is playing the melody at the same time. But I know it's possible, from what I've heard on recordings.


I reckon we have to live with the fact that certain musical techniques work better, or are easier to master,  on one instument than on another. And the EC, Anglo and Duet concertinas are, for the purposes of fingering, three different instruments.




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