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I am an absolute beginner english concertina player. With a lot of extra time due to the corona lockdowns, I started a month ago. And I love it! Although quite difficult. While improvising on the somewhat unruly instrument, a little tune was created. Made by my fingers and a little by my ears. I call it "Jense's Reel" (Jense is my last name). I don't know whether it is really a reel. Coming from The Netherlands, I am not a great connoisseur of Scottish, Irish, English traditional music. Maybe someone likes to play it once. In that case: have fun with it!

Jense's Reel.pdf

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2 hours ago, Maarten said:

I don't know whether it is really a reel.

 

Please consider this not as criticism, simply an answer to your question.

 

The “cut time” (2/2) time signature is a good start.

 

You can call it whatever you want, but the word “reel” usually implies a dance form. Most reels have 32 bars (measures), arranged in two 8-bar phrases (an “A” part and a “B” part), each repeated:

 

(A)
||: ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ :||
(B)
||: ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ | ~~~~ :||

 

Some reels have different numbers of bars, but they are usually multiples of 4 (for the convenience of the dancers). Yours has 41 bars (repeated). 41 is a prime number. Not many dance forms have prime numbers of bars. You seem to have a grasp of the importance of the 4-bar structure until bar 41 throws it all off.

 

Keep at it! Learn some music theory, particularly the expectations that are set up when you have, for instance, a C and an F# (or a B natural and an F natural) in the same bar. Throughout much of this tune you resolve them correctly, but adding comments like “Oops, surprise” and “Hold on now” doesn’t change the fact that you’ve left a tritone unresolved.

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Thanks for the expert comment. I will immerse myself in the traditional music forms that belong to my new instrument. Any good tips in terms of books etc. about this?

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Hi there Marteen,

 

my advice as someone who HAS taken the wrong road:

 

Do not primarily rely on books, that won't get you anywhere. First thing you *should* do (of course not a very valid option in a world under the C spell) is get involved personally with the scene, most of all:

 

DANCE!

 

If dance music is what you are interested in, you should really know the dances (as David rightly pointed out), ideally as a dancer yourself, second best as a member of a ceilidh band. I'm sure there are (under regular circumstances, of course) dance and session groups you can join, even if it takes some riding (I live in a rural area in Germany, and the closest I can get to is a session group a 45 min drive away which normally meets once a month).

 

Again, this is not a good time to try to get involved due to Corona limitations. So your plan C (no pun intended) is to study dances via youtube and the respective portals. For example, if Scottish is what appeals to you, you might start here and go down the rabbit hole:

 

Eightsome Reel

 

Do try to get a feel for what happens on the dance floor and what the role of the musician is, then try as best as you can to play along (tough call initially; you can try chomping chords as long as you can't play the melodies yet). Grow into the "real thing" as close as you can. Use books only for the theory and reference.

 

Edited by RAc
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Thanks RAc,  Your enthusiasm absolutely inspires me to continue on the concertina road. And your dance video makes me long for cozy, crowded cafes again. Those were the "pre corona days". Music and dance groups are a bit harder to find here in the Netherlands. Unless it is Dutch folklore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVkrGJxdhuI

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1 hour ago, Maarten said:

Thanks RAc,  Your enthusiasm absolutely inspires me to continue on the concertina road. And your dance video makes me long for cozy, crowded cafes again. Those were the "pre corona days". Music and dance groups are a bit harder to find here in the Netherlands. Unless it is Dutch folklore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVkrGJxdhuI

 

Hi Marteen,

 

there is nothing wrong with Dutch folklore! Similarly, there is nothing wrong with German Volkstanzmusik by itself, it's only that one certain horror clown has soiled it with blood and hatred (like everything he ever touched), so I could never relate to it.

 

Anyways, if you're located in the north of France, you should have access to a rich bal folk scene (in fact, my session group is mostly playing bal folk which is very popular in Germany as well). I personally relate more to English and Scottish music, but being able to interact with musicians is so valuable  that I happily dive into the french tradition (with the additional benefit that it forces me to go beyond the D/G - English - and A/D - scottish - major domains that cover the most part of those musical folk traditions).

 

You may also want to get in touch with Henrik Müller, Adrian Brown or other Dutch or Netherland based concertina enthusiasts who (in my understanding) are deeply rooted in Irish and English music traditions. 

 

edit: I just received notification that Henrik is not Netherland based, sorry and thanks for the. correction! Nevertheless, there are some very good and seasoned English/Irish folk dance musicians in the Netherlands!

Edited by RAc
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