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Which is best for meloody and chords? Anglo or English?


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I'd like to buy and learn concertina, and I'd like to know which type between Anglo and English is better if I want to play a melody and some chords to accompany it.  Note: I tried a duet concertina years ago and I found it too difficult for me.

Thanks. 

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As Jody says; Anglo may be a good choice, but there again I have Anglo system ( so maybe I am more bound to say this).. Often when a tune wonders onto right side of Anglo system,( as some music moves up the scale).. it leaves left hand side free to add loads of interesting options in harmonizing, or adding chords.. and other effects.. which is great to learn to do.

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You had better ask an English concertina person for their view, on their system.. but Anglo can play chords, for example generally pressing two buttons together( next to each other) creates a third. Depending upon type ( 20 or 30 button variety)..there's other combinations available ( theory far beyond my own).. but yes chords are playable, within compass of a few fingers.

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It really depends on what you are looking to do.

 

and also what your idea of chords are. If all the chords you want to do are octave roots, 1 and 3, 1 and 5. Or complex 7-1-3-5-7-8.

 

 

you can absolutely play chords of an English. And in many respects the English is far superior.  Because you are not dealing with different notes on the push and pull and you have 8 fingers. You can play far more complex chords than you can on an Anglo ( generally).  
 

playing chords AND melody on English… gets more difficult, depending on the chord and the melody.

 

anglo lends itself to playing some chords on the left. While playing some melody on the right. BUT… depending on the chord. You might not be able to do complex chords as some needed notes may only be in one direction.  And if you have a c/g Anglo, a chord like Ab9 may not be possible at all.
 

adding melody to the chord.. you may need to stop playing the chord if the melody requires a bellows direction change. So (imo) it gets wonky.

 

if you are talking about Irish music, the idiom is Anglo. And playing “chords” with the melody is kind of baked in. 
 

but, the best solution really is a duet. They really are made specifically to play chords on the left and melody on the right. Yes. It IS more difficult to get up to speed. But, you are really learning two different things. I think the best way to approach this, depending on what you are looking at doing. On a duet, would be learn the melody on the right. And the work up the left. Play a root note only, as you get it, (depending on the system) add a second note ( could be a 3rd, 5th, 7th). And work it up.

 

Edited by seanc
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12 hours ago, gerardo1000 said:

I tried a duet concertina years ago and I found it too difficult for me.

 

Playing melody-plus-harmony on the Anglo is fairly similar to playing it on a duet, but with the added complication that for each note or phrase you have to work out whether the best combination of notes is available on the push or the pull. So if you found the duet too difficult you might find the Anglo even more difficult.

 

But it depends to some extent on what aspect of playing the duet you found difficult. If it was co-ordinating the two hands that's likely to apply to the Anglo too. If it was the button layout (say Maccann or Jeffries) then you might be better trying the Crane or Hayden instead. (You don't say which system you tried.)

 

12 hours ago, gerardo1000 said:

So, both Anglo and English can play chords?

 

Yes. But the English is rather like a guitar. It's easy to play chords and it's easy to play melody but putting them together is ten times harder than either on its own. It you learn the melody first you have to change all the fingering to accommodate the chords; and vice versa.

 

At the end of the day, SEANC is right:

 

3 hours ago, seanc said:

but, the best solution really is a duet. They really are made specifically to play chords on the left and melody on the right.

 

You can learn each hand independently then put them together without any fingering issues. As with all systems, it's best to get melody and chords working together as soon as possible.

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There is also an additional reason why I am not looking to a Duet concertina, even if in theory it is the ideal one for playing melody on one side and chords on the other side. It is expensive, out of my budget, and finding used ones here in US is very difficult. The only affordable one is the Concertina Connection Elise, and this is the one that I tried years ago. I didn't like it a lot,  the bellows were hard and the buttons not very smooth. I think that I will go with the anglo...

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I can't comment on the respective prices and virtues of new instruments, but old Duets can be cheaper than old Anglos of comparable range and quality. If what put you off a Duet was the feel of one particular instrument, rather than the layout of the buttons, that alone is no reason to reject Duets.

 

As ever, I would strongly recommend finding somewhere where you can have a brief go on as many different concertinas as possible (different findering systems, classic and hybrid, old and new) before deciding which system to commit to.

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A little extra hint here is, at least I have found, if you want to see what chords are possible on Anglo ( and what is not feasible also).. is to look at a book with music in where there are instrumental pieces for more than one instrument, and with keyboard part.. see what chords work on instrument by noting them down.  I have myself a lot of music books with melody line, and then keyboard accompanying part, so I can see if chords work on my Anglo system. Sometimes a chord is possible and other times not, due to bellows or button use, but if you keep it simple, it can often work.

I actually find books transcribed for recorder instrument, where there is accompanying keyboard part added too, very useful to see what harmony will work; and they can be useful on Anglo sometimes too.

Also, go by instinct, and ear too, listen yourself to what works, or not, you can soon tell by grating discord, which button to use! And how to correct it!

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To tag off of what little John said..

 

I would say that a duet is much more like a keyboard than a guitar as far as chord options.  Again depending in the system.. you can get much more complex, closed voice chords than is generally possible on a guitar. 
 

and cost. I agree here.

the CC Elise, while limited in buttons is the same price as a new Anglo or English. And in terms of vintage, are FAR less than an equivalent quality Anglo. I would look at Greg Jowaisas for current offerings (I picked up my 55b crane from him).

 

 also, right now, the estate of Dave Cornell is up for sale with tons of mccanns. I am waiting on the arrival of a 57 Button Wheatstone McCann that I bought for 2000!



Crane and McCann as platforms have long fallen out of favor. So, they are dirt cheap for what you get. Hayden is new has picked up traction so there are new offerings. But offerings are still very limited and expensive. There really are no vintage offerings.
 

But, while Hayden is becoming the current “standard” this does not negate the viability of either of the others. I would expect that as Haydens get more popular, this will make all duets more popular. And at some point. It is likely that the others will be “rediscovered” and shoot up in price and value. 
 

 

Edited by seanc
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I agree generally with seanc and Little John regarding duets, however I find it easier fingering and faster/smoother with a more balanced sound to play the melody with the left hand in the overlap zone when possible, using the right overlap zone to avoid fingering difficulties.   

Edited by wunks
clarity
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19 hours ago, gerardo1000 said:

I'd like to buy and learn concertina, and I'd like to know which type between Anglo and English is better if I want to play a melody and some chords to accompany it.  Note: I tried a duet concertina years ago and I found it too difficult for me.

Thanks. 

 

"Best" depends on the kind of music you want to play and the way your brain is wired. You can play melody and chords on both, but they are very different animals.

 

If you want to play jazz or classical music, English is clearly superior because of the almost unlimited potential for chording. As an Anglo player,  I've played for years with Randy Stein, a top-tier jazz and classical player, and when we do jazz pieces i have to do a lot of chord faking because I just can't replicate his rich chording.

 

I agree with Jody that an Anglo is probably easier to learn, but a lot depends on how your brain works. I know people who have tried and failed at Anglo, but learned English ease. And I know players who have experienced exactly the reverse.

 

If you want to play rhythmic dance music, the Anglo has huge advantages.  Ditto for Irish trad and probably American oldtime.  Jazz or classical - English would probably be a better choice.

 

The easy part of your question: yes, you can play chords+melody on both.

 

The hard part: neither is 'better.' It depends on what you want to play and the mysteries of your neurological makeup.

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I think all of the above have a lot of validity.

 

It would be really helpful if the OP were able to give us a few examples of what he is it trying to achieve. And generally, what type of music.

 


 

 

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You have received so much good advice from people on here; now think it through, and make your decision as you believe is best for yourself, as the free reed family of instruments is vast, in mechanism, and choice.. so best of luck and I hope you will soon be acquainted with your concertina; whichever type you get.

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G--

Watch some youtubes and get whatever box most of the players use that suit your interest.  Try some of the folks listed in this thread for starters (Jody, Jim, etc.) also Gary Coover.  Others.  Also, are you going to sing?  IM (not very experienced) O, you are going to want an Anglo. 

Remember, only takes 2 notes to make a chord to your ear, when you are singing and playing melody.

--DD

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10 hours ago, Devils' Dream said:

G--

Watch some youtubes and get whatever box most of the players use that suit your interest.  Try some of the folks listed in this thread for starters (Jody, Jim, etc.) also Gary Coover.  Others.  Also, are you going to sing?  IM (not very experienced) O, you are going to want an Anglo. 

Remember, only takes 2 notes to make a chord to your ear, when you are singing and playing melody.

--DD


 

to really be a chord needs to at least 3 notes. Two notes, is really a double stop.

if you take 1 +5. Say G and D.. in some circumstances that could be a “power chord” of a G.. or it could also be implying a D sus 4. Maybe Bm6, C9. And many others I am not thinking of. 
 

sonically.. this tends to sound really thin. And incomplete.  On. A guitar, a power chord of root, 5, octave can sound ok. But strings, especially with adding distortion tend to give off a bunch of over tones making it sound much more full. And as you have gotten so used to hearing it voiced that way, it sounds “normal”.


In the above example… adding the B.. making a GBD.. is unambiguously a G major. It could imply an Emin7. But, sonically, it is strong. And definite.

 

Edited by seanc
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5 hours ago, seanc said:


 

to really be a chord needs to at least 3 notes.

 

Musically of course you are correct.  When it comes to actual playing, it's not so clear-cut.  If you're playing melody as well, the third note might be in the tune, or implied by it.    "Power chords" are so-called because they sound powerful, and this isn't just limited to guitars.  However, sometimes only the full chord will do.  The problem anglo players face is that sometimes an unresolved chord is unavoidable because the defining note isn't available.

 

Whether you think two-note "chords" sound thin is a matter of opinion.  You refer to the overtones generated by strings which make the sound more full, however the overtones generated by free reeds can sometimes clash and make the sound muddy, especially in equal temperament.  Leaving out the third may sweeten the sound.

 

Of course it depends on the style of music you want to play, and ideally all chords should be considered musical choices.  However, speaking as an anglo player, sometimes compromises have to be made.  My own approach is often to start with a two-note chord (which may include doubling up the octaves) and then decide whether to add more notes.

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