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Anglo Cross Row and In Row Harmony Style


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I have been playing more than 10 years now and play Across Rows .Trying to improve my sound I notice some of my mentors reverse bellows playing in the same row .I think its what the Anglo is good for . It sometimes means playing two notes instead of  three eg F to C cord by reversing  the bellows .So often now I play in Row to achieve the effect.Ps hope you can understand  what I am trying to convey and would be interested in your comments .Bob

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In a way I started out reversing direction more than switching rows. While you can play, e.g., a scale in G all on the pull, doing that all the time seems to me to defeat the point of the anglo system. Why not just play English or Duet? But mixing the two ways of playing opens lots of possibilities, no doubt about it.

 

Ken

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15 hours ago, Ken_Coles said:

 doing that all the time seems to me to defeat the point of the anglo system. Why not just play English or Duet?

 It depends what you think is the point of the anglo system.  Surely because it can add natural bounce when played in certain way doesn't mean it should only be played that way?  Playing legato suits some tunes better, and the anglo is also capable of playing those, just as it is possible to play English with lift and bounce.

 

However, as you say, mixing both techniques opens up many possibilities, especially where it avoids disrupting the chords by forcing bellows changes at musically inappropriate points.

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I am really not sure, but I’d guess the point of the “ Anglo system “ was being able to increase  the number of notes available in a workable size.  Reeds are the most expensive part of a concertina and having each button/reed chamber play 2 different notes rather than one substantially increases what you can pack in a small package.  A 48 button treble English has 96 reeds while a 30 button c/g Anglo covering a slightly larger range only has 60 reeds.  Diatonic free reed instruments  have been around for quite awhile, and I expect that their adoption in folk music was driven by low price first and that playing styles evolved to turn it’s restrictions into advantages.

   The common Anglo with a center row in one key and the inner row a 5th higher, does have rows that make playing in those key easily accessible to beginners.  But that layout generates many duplicates in either the same direction or the opposite.  This allows you to choose  how to play a certain passage or organize your scales to provide better bellows control, ease of fingering, or my favorite, phrasing.  
   Having a “go to” basic scale fingering to start with be it cross row or along the row, gets you up and running, but it is important to get fluent in using the alternate buttons to make the most of the instrument.  There are hoards of tunes I play that I will use one button in the first go round of the A part, but use the opposite direction note the second part around because the ending note of the first time through phrases better with a different direction note to repeat.  Getting used to using alternates when they improve the music and being able to swap them out on the fly depending on your mood in the tune really can improve your playing.  
   Using alternates when looking for a particular harmony is a great thing to explore, and you shouldn’t consider any basic fingering as more than a starting point.  The instrument is remarkably versatile and working out how to best express the music is the path toward real musicianship.

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The point of Richter tuning (which is the basis of one row of an Anglo) is to make 2 chords readily available.

 

In C, it is C Major on the push, G on the pull, with D minor also available.

 

The development of 2 rows a 5th apart was initially to provide the equivalent of 2 parallel instruments in one box.

 

However, the use of 2 rows a 5th apart introduced a number of options for playing some of the same chords in different positions.

 

In particular (on a CG) the G major chord becomes available on the push as well as the pull.  This is the very first step to making choices about harmony: which of two chords to use to harmonise the note G.  One of the most important notes in the C major scale can now be harmonised with either of the two most important chords in the key, and what a difference it makes.

 

The addition of all or part of a third row made up of a selection of accidentals and duplicated notes further increases this versatility.

 

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to play solely along the rows.  You will still have several more accompaniment options than if you were playing a harmonica, and you will tend to get a robust, rhythmic, bouncy sound.

 

However, if you choose to do this, you are making a decision not to make use of the other things that the Anglo can do.  You will miss out on a variety of chords and part chords; you will miss out on alternative chords for certain note; and you will miss out on some options for playing in a smoother, legato, style — and in some cases, you may limit the speed at which you can play, if speed is important to you.

 

That's OK, because by choosing to play the Anglo at all, you are already choosing to miss out on the chromatic capabilities of the English concertina, the raucous glissandos available to the trombonist, and the ability to play up to 10 notes at a time that the pianist enjoys.  Similarly, the violinist misses out on playing chords, and the bassist tends to miss out on playing fast melodic passages.

 

Point is that the Anglo is an instrument of compromises.  I believe that the instrument's layout and limitations help to define its sound.

 

Sometimes, the octave note is the only appropriate harmony for the melody.  Often, you will have access to only 2 notes from the chord, or you may even allow a momentary discord to keep the percussive effect going.  These are the sort of things that make this instrument unique.

 

Enjoy playing it in the way that suits you.  Try different things.  It is better to know how to achieve as sound and choose not to, than to wish you could, without making the effort to find out how.

 

I had lessons with an excellent player for about 10 years.  I use a lot of what he taught me, but I feel that my sound has developed since I stopped lessons, because I am doing what suits me and the tunes I choose to play, rather than trying to imitate the master.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Dana Johnson said:

I am really not sure, but I’d guess the point of the “ Anglo system “ was being able to increase  the number of notes available in a workable size.  Reeds are the most expensive part of a concertina and having each button/reed chamber play 2 different notes rather than one substantially increases what you can pack in a small package.  A 48 button treble English has 96 reeds while a 30 button c/g Anglo covering a slightly larger range only has 60 reeds.  Diatonic free reed instruments  have been around for quite awhile, and I expect that their adoption in folk music was driven by low price first and that playing styles evolved to turn it’s restrictions into advantages.

   The common Anglo with a center row in one key and the inner row a 5th higher, does have rows that make playing in those key easily accessible to beginners.  But that layout generates many duplicates in either the same direction or the opposite.  This allows you to choose  how to play a certain passage or organize your scales to provide better bellows control, ease of fingering, or my favorite, phrasing.  
   Having a “go to” basic scale fingering to start with be it cross row or along the row, gets you up and running, but it is important to get fluent in using the alternate buttons to make the most of the instrument.  There are hoards of tunes I play that I will use one button in the first go round of the A part, but use the opposite direction note the second part around because the ending note of the first time through phrases better with a different direction note to repeat.  Getting used to using alternates when they improve the music and being able to swap them out on the fly depending on your mood in the tune really can improve your playing.  
   Using alternates when looking for a particular harmony is a great thing to explore, and you shouldn’t consider any basic fingering as more than a starting point.  The instrument is remarkably versatile and working out how to best express the music is the path toward real musicianship.

I go along with all that and would add one other virtue of the Anglo: that in each of its basic keys you have sixteen notes available without moving your fingers from a home position (four fingers on four buttons on each end). Of course there is more, but when in doubt there is always that home position.

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Posted (edited)

Oh yes, I love exploring the options wherever they are - across or within rows - trying out alternatives for phrases - to find out what suits the mood of the piece, right then. Or then there is repetition, choosing an alternative to add interest eg a more legato fingering vs one that leans into bellows changes.  Or choosing very different harmonies for a section, which become available when you choose an alternative 

 

I don’t really think if it as either playing along or across rows - rather more what options are available to play with, and you start to build up an arsenal of these options for commonly used arpeggios/runs etc.  But are always learning new ones too

 

It all reminds me of violin bowing choices and choice of which string and position to play a given note on - also whether to use plucking, double stopping etc.

Edited by Kathryn Wheeler
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On 5/9/2021 at 4:05 PM, Dana Johnson said:

I am really not sure, but I’d guess the point of the “ Anglo system “ was being able to increase  the number of notes available in a workable size.

I always assumed that this was the starting point for an anglo, especially at the 20 key end of the market. You get a good range of notes and the main chords for each key in a small compact instrument. 30 keys then make it fully chromatic in the middle of the range.

 

I does occur to me , however, that as you go above the 30 keys you start to move away from that initial idea, and whether you wouldn't be better if you'd started on a duet, especially as you get up to the 50+ key 'monsters', and any idea of saving reeds/weight/cost is gone.

 

The critical point though is what you started with. If you started with a 20 key anglo, then a 30 key, even a 40 key anglo the logical progression, rather than jumping ship to a duet. I play a 36 key Anglo, and if I wanted to 'upgrade' I would certainly be looking at a higher key count anglo rather than a duet!  If at the outset someone anticipates ending up with a 40+ key anglo then they might think 'hang on, should I be buying a duet instead?', but who plans that far ahead?

 

Then, of course, there is the 'unique' sound of an anglo. Obviously good players can play a duet to sound quite like an anglo (or an anglo like a duet), but with an anglo that style and sound is an inherent feature of the instrument (which I love).

 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

Obviously good players can play a duet to sound quite like an anglo (or an anglo like a duet)

Good players, perhaps!

But as a folk singer with adequate command of the 30-b Anglo for self-accompaniment, I took up a duet - the Crane. Right from the start, I played tunes on the Crane that I never had on the Anglo. Anglo more folky/nautical, Crane more Sally-Army/drawing-room.

But I did work up one of my Anglo-nautical pieces on the Crane: "The Greenland Whalers." Same key, same tempo, same general expression, same chord structure - but the two arrangements are subtly different. I'm a lazy so-and-so, so I let my instrument do at least 50% of the arranging. And the Anglo and the Crane have different ideas on some poinst!😉

Cheers,

John

Edited by Anglo-Irishman
Afterthought
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11 hours ago, wunks said:

75%for me.

 

My 50 button "monster" (6.5 " across the flats).

 

 

IMG_20190225_121019 (1).jpg

Just to point out that I didn't intend "Monster" in a derogatory way,  simply a reference to the number of buttons (and perhaps tbecause I find them a bit scary?)

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11 hours ago, Kathryn Wheeler said:

If the instrument does the arranging then you know it’s going to lie well under the fingers and sound idiomatic

Perfectly logical!

However ...

If all the arranging were left to instruments, all Anglo arrangerments would sound alike, all Maccann arrangements would sound alike - and for that metter, all banjo arrangements would sound alike. It is the illogicality of the human element in arrangement that makes the music idiosyncratic.

;)

Cheers,

John

 

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On 5/11/2021 at 6:56 PM, Anglo-Irishman said:

I let my instrument do at least 50% of the arranging. And the Anglo and the Crane have different ideas on some poinst!😉

I think you're onto something there. For some of the time I leave my left hand to do its own thing, with minimal input from my conscious mind, but what the hand does is of course heavily influenced by the instrument.

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I have 36 key Anglo and if necessary can play it like its an English concertina .To get an ( Anglo sound ) I am trying to play some pieces  more like the suck blow sound of a harmonica which you can easily do playing in rows .I have noticed in some arrangements players form for instance a chord using say two buttons anywhere on the keyboard that can immediately be reversed to form the next chord .This requires a well practised knowlage of the whole keyboard .I love my Anglo concertinas and do not want to play any other system I just want to study other methods of playing .Bob

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Posted (edited)

I love studying all the different ways - which can also vary from person to person and genre! Always something to learn and try out :) And yes it’s great for keyboard knowledge and finding out more options 

Edited by Kathryn Wheeler
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