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New to the forum - 20 button harmonic Anglo player who loves coming up with new tunes


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Hello everyone!  I hope here is a good place to put this - if not, let me know!

I've been on the anglo concertina Facebook page for a while and have now discovered this forum.

 

If I have videos to share, where is the best place to post them, please?

 

 

 

I took up anglo concertina back last April, at the height of lockdown and it's really been my go-to instrument ever since.    I have been a musician pretty much all my life and I found the impossibility of getting together with band mates or having gigs and (the worst) not being able to jam, improvise and work on material with others, live, in person and in the moment, really hard.  As a result, I strangely went off singing and playing anything I had been playing with others.  Luckily I'm getting some enthusiasm for those things back now somewhat - and I hope it will continue.  Also, on the upside, I'm writing lots and getting round to arranging music to perform all on my own.  I really havent gone for Zoom or similar at all, for some reason, although I realise it has been a godsend for some - possibly because I love playing with others live.  That said, collaborative videos have been a wonderful thing.

 

Anyway, I have found, right from the very start, that picking up my 20 button Lachenal has ended up with new tunes coming out of it.  I've recently started videoing them (as well as producing sheet music)

 

I love the harmonic way of playing, but also really like picking up tips from other styles, too - after all, it depends on the piece and what feel it has!  

 

I really enjoy working with different ways of arranging a melody such that it results in (hopefully) lots of nice variety!

 

Here's one of my recent tunes:

 

Edited by Kathryn Wheeler
remembered something else!
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Hi there Kathryn -

 

yes, very nice flawless playing, great piece, good arrangement -  one can tell you have a lifetime's experience in making music!

 

The only thing you really have to work on is your concertina face, there's lots of deficiencies there. You CAN NOT smile, you MUST look very tense and absent minded, you HAVE to gaze very concentrated into nothingness, NEVER face the audience or the camera - and if you've reached the master stage, you drool.

 

SCNR, but since there's really nothing to complain about musically, I need to revert to the last frontier of criticism... 🙃

 

Edited by RAc
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Thankyou, John and RAc!

 

Yes, lockdown has been an interesting mix, certainly all interesting and a definite learning curve.  I know a lot of people who haven’t touched instruments and others who have been playing for local clubs’ zoom nights. I hope you are still feeling like playing. 
 

RAc - on the subject of concertina face, I guess that was a particularly jolly tune - my latest one is more “deep and meaningful” so there’s probably plenty of interesting expressions there.

 

My standard piano accordion face (maybe it’s a thing with free reed players?) is one of whimsical “away with the faeries” expression

 

I must say the layout of the buttons on the Anglo and the push pullness of it and the fact there are not all the accidentals on a 20button is fascinating and leads to a whole new way of thinking about music

 

Im particularly enjoying how the alternatives with different buttons or on the push vs pull (even on a 20) are great for say playing one section legato vs dancey 

 

 

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  • Kathryn Wheeler changed the title to New to the forum - 20 button harmonic Anglo player who loves coming up with new tunes

Kathryn,

 

I enjoyed your piece, your style, and the way you are working harmonically with the 20 button. Layers of complexity encouraged by use of the additional buttons on the 30 or 38 key instruments fall away, leaving the essence of anglo playing, IMHO. For one thing, the oom-pah bass and chord thing is gone, and then there are the octave passages that you use instead to dress things up. Not that oom-pah is a bad thing, mind you - I very much enjoy hearing the modern English masters of the harmonic anglo just like everyone else - but it reveals a simpler way of looking at the anglo that has less in common with other chorded instruments like piano accordions and guitars and such. Your new playing is very different than old timers William Kimber or Scan Tester or Dooley Chapman of course, but shares those ingredients of harmonic and/or octave simplicity with them. Do keep at it!

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Thankyou!

 

Some really insightful and valuable comments, I really appreciate that.

 

Wunks - ah yes, I didn’t realise what exactly was going on there until I wrote what I’d played as sheet music! I just remember wanting to add bounce and dancing rhythm to it like I’ve felt dancing Morris.  I have definitely enjoyed those rhythms in some melodeon playing I’ve heard.  I haven’t quite got my head around what is involved playing it on the fiddle (I guess the bow is moved quicker to cause the accent?) but now you mention it I have noticed it in some players that play English fiddle tunes.  Can you recommend anyone to listen to? Do you play yourself?

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Dan - Thankyou, those are incredibly insightful and useful thoughts, which sum up a lot of what I’m starting to find out.  Honestly that would make an amazing quote for an album (not that I have one!) or website or gig promotion - there are some wonderful turns of phrase there!  Count me very encouraged to carry on enjoying tune arranging on this lovely instrument. 

 

I love the way the 20button encourages certain ways of thinking - in how to accompany oneself on it (and I am finding there is more and more to learn and more ideas a plenty to uncover .. right hand accompaniment of various sorts, playing unisons/same pitch using different buttons creating a lovely different timbre - those are what I’m thinking of just now). It’s like the Anglo has opened up a new compartment of how to look at making up melodies, how to approach rhythm and how to accompany.  I really don’t want to lose this way of thinking and am in no rush to do too much on more buttons. 
 

I have played piano accordion for a good few years now and come across so much oom pah, yes! (but to be honest I treat it like a portable synth/keyboard with lots of r hand chord stuff and very much value it as something I can accompany people in a wide variety of genres/styles and in any key.  I don’t really do straight folk on it)  

 

So,  I definitely want to explore how the Anglo is different - the rhythmic potential, the in-out ness of it, the alternative ways of playing the same pitch, just the way the pitches are so differently arranged.  It’s fascinating to find out what suits the instrument and what doesn’t. 
 

But honestly it’s made me look at the piano accordion differently - particularly the left hand side and combining chords and bass in interesting ways now.  Though I did have the disconcerting feeling of “should I play the next bit on in or out bellows...aargh”.  A sign ive been concertina-ing  a lot!

 

I keep thinking I should listen more to recordings (I have a bit - I’ve analysed and replicated a few - both old ones and more recent players I’ve really liked) but I’ve been mostly just noodling, finding out what it can do and coming up with ideas and then and working on arrangements.  

Edited by Kathryn Wheeler
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3 hours ago, Kathryn Wheeler said:

 

 

 

 

  I haven’t quite got my head around what is involved playing it on the fiddle (I guess the bow is moved quicker to cause the accent?) but now you mention it I have noticed it in some players that play English fiddle tunes.  

For goodness sake don't get your head involved!  You instinctively know how to "pulse" and drive the rhythm.  With fiddle, it's a little speed up and down pressure on the back beat and you can use it with a simple chord or drone to second almost anything...😊 

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welcome to the forums Kathryn, and I like your style and take too.

 

it appears to me that a question you raised has not been yet answered: where to share a video like this. Some people repeatedly chose the "Tunes/Songs" forum for that, but I think most (including myself) are posting their  resp. content in the "Concertina Videos & Music" forum.

 

best wishes - 🐺

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3 minutes ago, Kathryn Wheeler said:

Thankyou Wolf and Gregor!

 

Wolf - great, I’d hate to post in the wrong places.  I’ll check both locations out.  If it’s a brand new tune maybe there’s scope for putting it in the tune section but I like the idea of the dedicated Videos section a lot

 

it‘s absolutely up to you Kathryn, and I fully understand your reasons for preferring the „tunes“ section with this one

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Kathryn, I love your tune and the way you play.   Sorry about the next bit I'm a repairer and tuner.  On the video I'm hearing some rough sounds.  They could be artefacts of the processing that goes on between your playing and the sound emerging from my speakers.  It seems to be mostly when you are playing octaves.  I hear this sound at several places but the easiest to pinpoint is the final note, a C.  It might be octaves not perfectly in tune, but it's not quite what I expect an out of unison octave to sound like.  Are you aware of any beats between octaves?   If not it's probably an artefact of recording and uploading.

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Hi Theo - I recorded this on a phone, as a video, so nothing fancy and it’s possible the phone could have been too close and there was clipping maybe?  I’ll have to take a look/listen to see what sounds there might be.  It was my first “proper” video of me playing concertina and I guess it’s a surprisingly loud instrument and I haven’t done proper experimentation into distance etc yet.  So there’s that possibility I suppose.

 

As for tuning/set up of the instrument- I’ll do a careful listen.  I’m aware of the concept of beating from tuning fifths in violins but am not at all clued up about how concertinas are tuned (yet).  So, I assume octaves should ideally have no beats?  The instrument came from a dealer back in April and I haven’t had anyone look at it since. 
 

Will report back after investigation!  Whatever, it’s something to learn from!  Thanks for pointing it out

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On 1/11/2021 at 4:29 PM, Kathryn Wheeler said:

 

I keep thinking I should listen more to recordings (I have a bit - I’ve analysed and replicated a few - both old ones and more recent players I’ve really liked) but I’ve been mostly just noodling, finding out what it can do and coming up with ideas and then and working on arrangements.  

Kathryn,

 

Noodling is great and fun and necessary. So many places on the anglo, including the 20 button, though, have been explored by others,  so it is good when starting out to get a grounding on the classic era players....many of them working people from simple backgrounds who had a great feel for the music, without our modern tendency to over-technology the playing.

 

If I could make a suggestion, go to the Concertina Journal site (www.concertinajournal.org) and find the Current Chronicle section, post number 4 (ok, here is the direct link). That is a collection called "House Dance" that I made some years back of about 200 recordings of old time players of the anglo's late 19th century-early 20th century heyday, from all over the world. Download it (At $10, it is basically given away; we use the money to pay for the not-for-profit Journal's web costs), and have a listen, especially to William Kimber, Scan Tester, and Dooley Chapman. All are 20 button players. Also listen to some South African boermusiek, especially Kerrie Bornman, who played a simple two row German concertina with double reeds. Finally, listen to Faan Harris, one of the greatest players who ever lived. He used a 30 button, but still has that two row feel. Not an oom-pah in the pack of them. :)  Please let me know what you think of them!

 

You can read my text for free, but to link to the 200 recordings, you have to cough up $10 or equivalent; then you can download them. Good luck!

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