Jump to content

New Member


Recommended Posts

A lot of hornpipes are in F and Bb. Some even in Eb. Not something easily done on C/G and G/D anglos.
Maybe true in the American repertoire. Far less true in Irish.
Yes, but Mike said that he was particularly drawn toward Northumbrian tunes which (like American) have a considerably larger percentage of F and Bb hornpipes than does Irish the repertoire.

Hmm. Could you point me to some sources? The few Northumbrian tune books I have seem to have nearly all tunes written in G and D, with a few in A. Of course, when they're played on a set of pipes in traditional pitch they'll sound in F, C, and G, but many modern sets are made to sound the as-written notes in modern (A440) pitch, specifically so they can play along with other instruments without anybody having to transpose.

 

Come to think of it, what do Northumbrian fiddlers do when they play with old-pitch pipes? Do they play a step lower than written with the fiddle in standard tuning, or do they tune down a step and then play "as written"?

 

Anyway, if you have examples of Northumbrian tunes that would be written in Bb and F, I'd like to see them. I like those keys. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 44
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

The Nothumbrian Minstrelsy, which I picked up an abc file for at some time in the distant past, has 2 tunes in F and 2 in Bb. Most of the collection is in G but there are also tunes in D and C. There are 79 tunes in the collection. I think I got these from a link to the University of Bath which no longer works. The book itself seems to be for sale through at least two sources I found by Googling "Northumbrian Minstrelsy" A reasonably informative current page on Northumbrian small pipes tunes is

 

http://www.nspipes.co.uk/nsp/ww8music.htm

 

Larry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Nothumbrian Minstrelsy, which I picked up an abc file for at some time in the distant past, has 2 tunes in F and 2 in Bb. Most of the collection is in G but there are also tunes in D and C.

Right. I have a copy of that book, but I haven't seen it since I moved to Denmark. I wonder which box it's in. :unsure: But as I recall, it's a 19th-century collection, so I don't know how well it represents the contemporary tradition.

 

A reasonably informative current page on Northumbrian small pipes tunes is NSPIPES: MUSIC FOR THE PIPES

Good. My references for what I said were the first five of the tune books listed there under, "Aimed specifically at pipers". I guess I should check out a few more of those.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The traditional pitch of the Northumbrian smallpipes is 'F' (but usually between 10 & 20 cents sharp). On a standard 7 key chanter this makes the "home" keys 'F' & 'C'. In addition, although the majority of the music for NSP tunes is written in keys of 'G' & 'D' the notes are played as seen. For example, the bottom note 'D' on the written page when played on the NSP (traditional pitch) is played using the bottom key on the chanter and that comes out at 'C' (but may be 10 - 20 cents sharp of concert 'C').

 

The majority of NSP chanters are in this traditional pitch. However, 'G' chanters are available but are about as rare as rocking horse poo. Not all makers will produce a 'G' chanter. They are more tempremental and in any event large hands and 'G' chanters don't make a good match. In addition the pitch is often considered too shrill.That said, makers such as Ross and Evans seemed to have conquered the tempermental nature of the 'G' pitch problem and good sets are now being produced.

 

Personally, I like the 'G' and I am fortunate enough to own a Colin Ross set of pipes (as well as a traditional pitched set made by the late John Addison). However, for the aspiring 'G' set player getting onto Colin's list is very difficult.

 

I hope this has helped to clarify any points on "traditionl" pitched NSP's.

 

BTW, back to my original thread and my desire to purchase a concertina, I have listened to a few recordings today and I am slowly forming an opinion of what system may suit me. I'll keep you posted on what transpires. However, what's the bet that my opinion will change with the coming days! :unsure:

Thanks.

mike delta

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The traditional pitch of the Northumbrian smallpipes is 'F' (snip)

 

The majority of NSP chanters are in this traditional pitch. However, 'G' chanters are available but are about as rare as rocking horse poo. Not all makers will produce a 'G' chanter. They are more tempremental and in any event large hands and 'G' chanters don't make a good match. In addition the pitch is often considered too shrill.That said, makers such as Ross and Evans seemed to have conquered the tempermental nature of the 'G' pitch problem and good sets are now being produced.

 

Personally, I like the 'G' and I am fortunate enough to own a Colin Ross set of pipes (as well as a traditional pitched set made by the late John Addison). However, for the aspiring 'G' set player getting onto Colin's list is very difficult.

 

I hope this has helped to clarify any points on "traditionl" pitched NSP's.

 

Dave Shaw the pipemaker lives a few miles from me and I play with him regularly in sessions, he is just one of the pipers I know who regularly play NSPs with a G chanter. They are commonly used by the pipers who mix with players of other instruments and are readily available. Yes they are rather too small for comfort (I'm told) and to my ear the tradition F blunt chanter is easier on the ear, but in Northeast England G chanters are in common use. Another approach used by the best pipers is that they use a keyed chanter in concert F and transpose into G, D etc. I'm told Kathryn Tickell does this.

 

On the subject of Northumbrian tunes in other keys it is important to remember that the Northumbrian pipe tradition is just one strand of Northumbrian music. Fiddle music is at least as important. One of the great Tynside tune writers, James Hill, was a virtuoso fiddler. Many of his tunes were probably originally composed by him in flat keys. Most were published in The Lads Like Beer which is sadly out of print. I saw a copy a few years ago and recollect that several tunes which nowadays are usually played in D G or A are given there in Eb Bb and F.

 

An amusing piping anecdote: I saw this happen at Alnwick Gathering about 5 or 6 years ago. I went in to an early evening session in one of the pubs and found a session in full swing, 8 or 9 pipers playing F chanters. A few fiddle players joining them. Quite a few fixed pitch instruments listening quite happily. In a break in the piping a whistle started a tune in D and as it was playing the pipers all stood up and walked out! Now maybe it was supper time I don't know, but there is a hint of a rumour that pipers have stuck with the F chanter because they prefer to play only with other pipers!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Still on topic re what type of concertina. I visited an English concertina player the other day for some advice. To the point, he advocated an English concertina (48b). His wife however plays Anglo (some of you may know them: Lynn & Steve Wood of Haworth) so it's plain what their respective opinions were as I had previously spoken to Lynn Wood on the 'phone before my visit and she is an ardent Anglo fan for anything Irish. Anyhow, after my visit I had more idea about the respective instruments in terms of Anglo v English systems but still came away confused.

 

One thing someone may be able to help me with: Steve had a concert pitch (A=440) concertina but also an old Lachenal that was in (his words) "...old pitch". By comparison to his concert pitched concertina the one with the old pitch was sharper. I would have thought old pitch would have been flatter. And the point? Well, should I decide to go for a private sale somewhere then I think I would be wise to take an electronic tuner along. Is "old pitch" common?

 

Finally, what has become apparent since I began this interest in the concertina is the fact that I don't particularly like single line melodies be it on English or Anglo. To me, playing a single line melody on concertina is like playing a chanter without the drones playing or regulators on Uilleann pipes. Basically, when I hear single line playing it seems to lack "soul" or body. However, I don't wish to ruffle any feathers here but if I have then please put it down to my ignorance where concertina's are concerned. However, is someone going to tell me that a single line melody player can produce harmony at will.

 

Thanks,

Mike Delta.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Mike, and welcome :)

 

I'm an Anglo player, partly because it was the first one I ever tried and it didn't take long for the push-pull of the different notes to make sense. Last year I also had the chance at the Arran Concertina Event to try and a duet and I really like it. So that might one day be in the hands too! :P

 

I haven't tried an English yet, and I confess it's the lack of wrist straps that put me off. I have very small hands and have been prone to a few musical-related injuries over the years, and don't like the idea of using my smallest finger to stablise the instrument. However this is just me, and don't let put you off. :)

 

I agree that if you get a chance to try all three systems, go for it! You'll know which one feels right for you. And whilst it is more common for Irish music to be played on an Anglo, there are certainly many fine players all systems, playing whatever music moves them. In fact one of the most amazing players of Irish music I've ever had the pleasure to hear first hand was playing an English concertina. (Hi Nils! :) )

 

I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of the awesome CD compilation "Anglo International", which has a wealth of tunes from many musical traditions, showcasing just what a versitile instrument the concertina is. A follow-up companion "English and Duet International" is also in the works, and there are also many other fine recordings around celebrating the concertina.

 

Anyway enough of my ramblings, and again welcome :)

 

Cheers

Morgana

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't tried an English yet, and I confess it's the lack of wrist straps that put me off. I have very small hands...

And apparently wrists in strange places. :D Those "wrist" straps are actually "hand" straps, no? (Some English concertinas do have wrist straps, but they're mounted in a very different place and used very differently.)

 

OK, the language police will now return to their barracks. :ph34r:

 

I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of the awesome CD compilation "Anglo International", which has a wealth of tunes from many musical traditions, showcasing just what a versitile instrument the concertina is. A follow-up companion "English and Duet International" is also in the works,...

I believe that's "companions". I.e., not "English and Duet International", but separate "English International" and "Duet International". I'm very much looking forward to both. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally, what has become apparent since I began this interest in the concertina is the fact that I don't particularly like single line melodies be it on English or Anglo. To me, playing a single line melody on concertina is like playing a chanter without the drones playing or regulators on Uilleann pipes. Basically, when I hear single line playing it seems to lack "soul" or body. However, I don't wish to ruffle any feathers here but if I have then please put it down to my ignorance where concertina's are concerned. However, is someone going to tell me that a single line melody player can produce harmony at will.

 

Thanks,

Mike Delta.

Mike,

 

Just take some time to look (& listen) to some sound samples.

 

Are you looking for this? (David Barnert on his Hayden Duet)

Or maybe Kurt Braun on his Crane Duet?

 

It's not completely "harmony at will" but chording with an Anglo can be done, like:

Alan Day is doing with Planxty Irwin, or Jody Kruskal is doing with the Quaker's Wife.

There are a lot more examples to find on this page.

 

From my own experience: the more you know the more the confusion grows. So at a certain moment let your heart speak! :wub:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally, what has become apparent since I began this interest in the concertina is the fact that I don't particularly like single line melodies be it on English or Anglo (snip) Basically, when I hear single line playing it seems to lack "soul" or body. (snip) is someone going to tell me that a single line melody player can produce harmony at will.

 

Mike,

In my opinion, "soul" and "body" are not the same thing. It's certainly possible for an Anglo player to harmonize a melody "at will" providing that they are playing most of the melody notes on the right hand side of the instrument, leaving the left hand free for chording, as has been discussed at length here on threads such as "The English style of Anglo playing". What an Anglo player can't always do easily is to choose chord patterns outside the basic 1,4 and 5 plus relative minor. The more buttons on your instrument, and the more experience you have, the better your chances of doing something more complicated.

 

Harmony can certainly add body and colour to a bare melody. "Soul", however, rests to a significant extent in dynamics, and since volume variations in the concertina family are produced by bellows pressure, not finger pressure, it follows that any notes played simultaneously are subject to the same dynamic variation. You can't easily do what the pianist does, and play a quiet accompaniment while producing crescendos in the melody (my musical training is basic and rusty, and my acoustics training non-existant, so please excuse any incorrect jargon). Playing single notes allows you to express wide dynamic range without submerging the melody beneath full-volume harmony. Which is partly why, having for years played an exclusively chorded style of Anglo, I recently got interested in playing some tunes as bare melodies instead.

 

Otherwise I though Jody's summary of the relative strengths of the different systems put it well.

Brian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi again,

Still on topic re the type/system of concertina and hopefully a related question:

When I visited a player of the English system the other day, it was explained to me that a brass reeded instrument gives a more muted/mellow sound in comparison to steel. In addition, I was also informed that if I prefered the sound of brass then I would need to be aware that the longevity of it remaining in tune, especially if one played with "gusto" would not be all that great. Steel on the other hand is more robust both in timbre and its ability to remain in tune for longer.

Any opinions on this?

Mike Delta.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...it was explained to me that a brass reeded instrument gives a more muted/mellow sound in comparison to steel. In addition, I was also informed that if I prefered the sound of brass then I would need to be aware that the longevity of it remaining in tune, especially if one played with "gusto" would not be all that great. Steel on the other hand is more robust both in timbre and its ability to remain in tune for longer.

Any opinions on this?

It is true, but there are also different grades of steel, usually correlated with the original quality of the instrument. Though there are exceptions, brass-reeded instruments were generally the less expensive models, and the toughest steel in the most expensive models. There are also many other subtle differences among different models and even individual instruments.

 

As for playing with "gusto", would you be likely to do that if what you wanted was "a more muted/mellow sound"?

 

By the way, "longer" is itself a relative term. Noone today makes a standard model concertina with brass reeds. Most of those to be found are at least 80 and more likely 100 or more years old. Some steel reed instruments have been in use more than a century without being retuned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stereotypes are made to be contradicted, but often have a kernel of truth in them. Of course, you can play any way you like on either instrument. However, to my ear, Anglo/English stereotypes go something like this:

 

punchy / lyrical

wild / dignified

working class / upper class

folk / classical

foot stompin’ / toe tappin’

very wide dynamic range/ narrower dynamic range

upper body / fingers

visceral / intellectual

good for dancing / good for listening

harmonic / single line

idiosyncratic / logical

harder for reading notation / easier for reading notation

comfortable in fewer keys / comfortable in more keys

(key, as in F# major)

 

Have I offended anyone yet?

 

Jody

http://cdbaby.com/cd/jodykruskal

 

Love the enthusiasm Jody, very found of your playing, not so down the the stereotypes. Offended? No, for I realize it was not meant so. Dissapointed, a wee bit. Absolutes give one very little wiggle room when confronted with a contradiction :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer Mike's question a bit more directly: an Anglo has two "home" keys, most often C and G. In those keys (and in their "parallel" minor keys Dm and Am) basic harmonizing is very easy--if you play a note of the melody line and an adjacent button on the same row you will most likely get an acceptable harmony note, usually a third. Fuller chords in those keys are just as easy--any button when you press in the bellows on the G row, for example, will be within the G chord. But as you move away from the home keys it gets more difficult and non-intuitive.

 

I only play Anglo, so I won't try to comment on chording on English or the Duet systems.

 

Daniel

 

 

 

Mike,

In my opinion, "soul" and "body" are not the same thing. It's certainly possible for an Anglo player to harmonize a melody "at will" providing that they are playing most of the melody notes on the right hand side of the instrument, leaving the left hand free for chording, as has been discussed at length here on threads such as "The English style of Anglo playing". What an Anglo player can't always do easily is to choose chord patterns outside the basic 1,4 and 5 plus relative minor. The more buttons on your instrument, and the more experience you have, the better your chances of doing something more complicated.

 

Harmony can certainly add body and colour to a bare melody. "Soul", however, rests to a significant extent in dynamics, and since volume variations in the concertina family are produced by bellows pressure, not finger pressure, it follows that any notes played simultaneously are subject to the same dynamic variation. You can't easily do what the pianist does, and play a quiet accompaniment while producing crescendos in the melody (my musical training is basic and rusty, and my acoustics training non-existant, so please excuse any incorrect jargon). Playing single notes allows you to express wide dynamic range without submerging the melody beneath full-volume harmony. Which is partly why, having for years played an exclusively chorded style of Anglo, I recently got interested in playing some tunes as bare melodies instead.

 

Otherwise I though Jody's summary of the relative strengths of the different systems put it well.

Brian

Edited by Daniel Hersh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


Make a Donation


×
×
  • Create New...