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Greg Jowaisas

The Seductive Concertina

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I started off my musical life on the 5-string banjo (clawhammer-style) over thirty years ago-About 20 years ago, I was playing in a contra dance band, and tried playing jigs and other Irish tunes on the banjo but I didn't think it fit. Around this time, I met a person who was passing through town that played a Wheatstone English. I feel in love with that "sound". I was hooked on wanting to play the concertina. I bought a Bastari (accordian reeded EC). It was okay to start on but didn't have that "sound" I had fallen in love with. I then got a "vintage" Wheatstone EC. Which I still play and love. About 6-7 years ago I thought about getting a button accordian to play Irish music. But after going to a festival and hearing someone play a Jefferies Anglo-I bagged getting an accordian--because I was once again drawn to that "concertina sound" , so I bought a Herrington c/g. Although I have enjoyed the Herrington, it did not have that "sound". So, I ordered a Dipper, and it came, recently. (see my new post). I'm thrilled because it has that "sound", although it is quite different than the sound of my Wheatstone EC (no better or worse,just different). So, to stay to the subject at hand, I quess the issue for me is that what drew me and still draws me to the concertina is that "sound" of the

"traditional/english/vintage" reed instruments. The other allure of playing the concertina or any other bellowed free-reed instrument is how cool and fun they are to play--to quote an accordian player friend of mine: " Once you have gone bellows, there is no turning back"--Steven--

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I started off my musical life on the 5-string banjo (clawhammer-style) over thirty years ago-About 20 years ago, I was playing in a contra dance band, and tried playing jigs and other Irish tunes on the banjo but I didn't  think it fit...

Listen to the vinyl record, "Melodic Clawhammer Banjo" (KM 209, 1977) for another perspective. It's the record that got me started on banjo. (See the pic on my info page by clicking my name.)

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I mentioned at the start of this thread that I had played "around" with english for a number of years before finding an anglo and deciding to really work on Irish music.

 

I have fallen in love again with english concertina and am working harder than ever at it.  Marvelous, logical instrument!

 

But I must confess that I have really come to appreciate what a special instrument the anglo concertina can be.  In playing dance music the instrument and its bellows movement takes on a life of its own.  Almost like holding your heart in your hands and...yes, keeping the beat.

 

I remember the first six months of practice and how it was almost impossible to separate my own breathing from the bellows movement.  Now the challenge is to allow the instrument to pulse with the accents of the music in moving the dancers along.

 

Great instrument!  Why didn't I do more of this 20 years ago!

 

Greg

 

Greg,

 

I can identify with the breathing thing. I played the harmonica (still do) for 25+ years before buying my first anglo (now play English) and I thought I was going to explode at one point! Took me 3 weeks to break the connection, breathing in with the pull, and out with the push notes!

 

Charles

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I can identify with the breathing thing.  I played the harmonica (still do) for 25+ years before buying my first anglo (now play English) and I thought I was going to explode at one point! Took me 3 weeks to break the connection, breathing in with the pull, and out with the push notes!

Charles

 

That is why T-shirts depicting concertinas tend to show one end of an instrument on one side only :P

 

- John Wild

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Two things really "get me" about concertinas:

 

1. I am particularly gaga over what I consider the "classic" look (although it really isn't) which is black wood with silver ends. Seriously, a concertina that looks like that will *always* get my attention and desire to "try out" if not acquire.

 

2. The fact that my father, a lifetime director of (at various times) junior high, high school and college bands -- ergo he can play a LOT of instruments better than I EVER will -- , cannot get the hang of free reed instruments to save his life. :P

 

Freud would probably have a field day with item #2.

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I agree with you Rhomylly. The black/ebony and nickle/silver ends makes me boat float as well. First love I guess. Lord, that instrument had a voice!

Edited by Mark Evans

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In the end, it is that voice, that rich reedy sound that no other class of instruments has, that knocks me out. From the humble 10-hole diatonic harmonica (a vastly underrated instrument, IMHO), through all the imposing array of the free reed family, the voice is the thing that makes me put up with monkey jokes, accusations of "antiquarianism, and the typical leering comments about Myron Florin and Lawrence Welk from the uninformed.

Paul's got it right:"The concertina is the best and most fun instrument in the world."

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Frank, I am curious. Let's imagine for a moment that somebody was mass producing English reeds of quality, and that you as a maker could therefore offer English-reeded instruments for at or near the price of your accordion-reeded concertinas. After all, in an infinite universe... Anyway, what would you do? Would you continue to make accordion reeded concertinas, or would you change to English reeds? Or would you offer both? And what would you choose to play yourself?

I'm still curious :)

Will my curiosity remain forever unfulfilled?

 

Chris

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