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greenferry

Chords -- English

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Oh, wow! I just got my Roger Watson tutor for English in the mail today. This is exactly what I needed (although I could still use more!).

 

He has two full pages (p. 12-13) of "Pattern of Chords," with the following chords fully displayed in nice, big diagrams, so you can see them clearly:

 

A/A7, C/C7, D/D7, F/F7, G/G7

 

Bflat/Bflat7

Eflat/Eflat7

 

And the following minors: A, B, D, E, G

 

Not only that, but Roger Watson also has a couple of decent songs to play including Jockey to the Fair, Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy, Lord Franklin, Off She Goes, and John Barleycorn.

 

I've just started reading it -- it's just 24 pages total including the songs. His tone is encouraging: "the easiest of all are the two finger chords" -- this is great for a beginner!

 

One thing I noticed -- Watson says that covering two buttons with one finger is "not so reliable" (page 11), and appears to be recommending the use of three fingers for chords. Whereas in Richard Carlin's tutor, he doesn't offer any caution (page 15: "It's fairly easy to play two keys with one finger."), and he gets into a complicated explanation of finger gymnastics (page 17-18). -- Does anybody have any comment on the three-finger versus two-finger chord technique? Am I better off learning chords using the two-finger (covering three buttons) method right at the beginning, or is it "not so reliable"? -- I have small fingers -- can that make a difference?

 

I have three English tutors now -- Roger Watson, Alistair Anderson, and Richard Carlin.

 

Anderson's print is so tiny that it feels less friendly -- and he doesn't have any schematics for the chords or discussion of the fingering or when to use them -- although he DOES mention the "three chord trick" (page 32). His book has tunes, but no songs. He does have "Keel Row" with one sharp on page 7, but the exercises before that are boring.

 

Carlin's has four photographs of some chords being played, but they aren't as crystal clear as they could be (in terms of which keys are being covered with which fingers), the discussion is very confusing for a beginner, and he doesn't give the configuration for other chords. His book has a number of tunes, mostly jigs and reels, and just a couple of quaint songs (e.g. The Cherry Tree Carol, which has the advantage of being entirely in the Key of C). He has some nice photos of old guys playing in the days of yore, along with one really cool 1900s photograph of four lace-bedecked ladies (The Fayre Four), playing concertinas in pairs, one over their heads, and one below waist level. You have to see it to believe it (page 39). Richard Carlin's article is here.

 

Only Watson's has some decent songs (although they require use of sharps and flats), and a better description of chords.

 

Watsons's also has the chords annotated on the music (guitar fashion) -- as does Carlin's (Anderson's does not).

 

I am surprised that all three books seem to give attention to really basic things like how to read musical notes on a stave ("notes go up or down" !!), but when it comes to chords, only Watson's gives a two-page set of schematics for them and a nice encouraging part about the two-finger chords being easy to play. All of them could benefit from better attention to how to play chords.

Edited by greenferry

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Saw Alister Anderson in a concert tonight

 

Chords & chords, and flicks and yipps, and slow airs , and reels and , and and.....

 

Who want to buy my instruments??? Its time to give up.

 

Dave

 

ps I've changed my mind, I shall continue to torture the family a bit longer

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I guess how you react to these tutors depends on what you are looking for. I was an anglo player who knew a lot about the notes in chords and reading music already from my years of playing jazz and classical trumper. For me, Ali Anderson's book was exactly right, and those first exercises before Keel Row were essential for me - they were what made everything about English concertina work in my head. But then again, all I need is a fingering chart to work out chords.

 

Folks have written in to the C.net admins for years about the Watson book (I need to revise a Learning section about all the EC tutors). I found some useful info in it, others tell me it did them no good at all.

 

Horses for courses, as Chris Timson says. Learners' needs vary, so when folks write in and say "What is the best book for me?" I always need to know more about their musical interests and experience to suggest books for any instrument.

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I believe Alistair Anderson's tutor is out of print, though second hand copies can be found. I also believe that in recent years, Alistair has been known to say that if he was reissuing a tutor, he would want it much revised as his own playing has developed since the original was issued.

 

- John Wild

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Writing a tutor is an art form. Here you go.

If you have an English, with all chords possible, I'd recommend contacting Gary Dahl (net) and ordering his book called "Application of harmony". He's teaching a corresponding course for PA, but I'm sure you can take lessons from him with the English. He's an open minded guy. As far as you can play full chords in three inversions (and with the English you can), you're fine.

Other than Gary, I haven't heard about any harmony tutor, employing common sence.

You probably will not be able to learn harmony from Watson's book. Chords can't be learned from charts, just like walking can't be learned from charts. The best yoiu can do is to write three chord "tricks" in common keys and lean them (major and relative minor). Perhabs this "may" work. Just playing the chords from the chart will probably take you nowhere.

Most tutors (in any field) begin with "music is written with notes" sentence on page 1 and "here's the Brams' symphony" on page 10.

The key is excercises that expand your abilities step by step, keeping you on your toes, but without overwelming.

Most of the tutors I had are redundant.

I learned from Mally's melodeon method. While I appreciate the effort, overall impression - pitiful. Endless tunes of similar composition, in same keys, only notes are in different order. There is no learning curve involved, safe for the very beginning. But that's what we have.

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Richard Carlin's article is here.

 

thanks for the link to the article on the Fayre Four Sisters - there were some amazing people around in those days. And if you follow the Folkways link from the article, you can actually listen to the Fayre Four Sister's playing a bit of Greig's "Morning".

 

Tom

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Alistair has been known to say that if he was reissuing a tutor, he would want it much revised as his own playing has developed since the original was issued.

 

Ah, if only he would. I learned to play English from his tutor back in the 1970s and it has a great range of tunes in it, including the wonderful Sir Sidney Smith's March. I found it a very helpful book - particularly for melodic playing - but it did not contain much about harmony and song accompaniment.

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Horses for courses, as Chris Timson says. Learners' needs vary, so when folks write in and say "What is the best book for me?" I always need to know more about their musical interests and experience to suggest books for any instrument.

 

I agree. Personally, no one book has everything for me and I like to use a number of different tutors. Currently like Regondi's (?1857) "New Method for the Concertina" but that would not suit a lot of people since it has lots of exercises and is probably not easy to get hold of.

 

Have you checked out Dick Miles' (2003) "Song Accompaniment for English Concertina"?

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In my own defense, I do discuss using both 3 fingers and 2 fingers to play chords (I'm sorry if the reader/commenter found this discussion confusing). The fact is that sometimes it is easier to play, for example, C-G using just ONE finger (covering two keys with one finger) and sometimes, for reasons that have to do with where you're gonig NEXT, you might want to use TWO FINGERS.

 

I'm working on a revision of my tutor -- remember, I wrote this 30 years ago and some things have changed in my oiwn playing! -- which has a much extended discussion of arranging plus more songs.

 

The problem with giving chord charts and saying "This is the way you should ALWAYS finger these chords" is that there are a million exceptions to always.

 

Richard Carlin

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I fully agree that the Watson presentation of chords was very helpful and in fact absolutely indispensable for me in learning chords. As I have indicated several times on this site, the question of exactly how to proceed with accompaniment from the point of gross chords to less bland adaptation is the big mystery. I have recently learned how to use and substitute the minor chords in the diatonic scale, and of course for ease one can use just two notes of the chord. With time it seems quite possible to work out arrangements for individual songs, but I am sure that there must be some general routines for taking any song and playing an accompaniment that changes notes on basically every word but which is not exactly following the melody. But maybe I am just looking at this whole thing from the wrong perspective.

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I guess how you react to these tutors depends on what you are looking for.

Ken, that's very true. Seems as though many people on here already play two or more instruments, and already have some ideas about chords. It's too bad there isn't one book that "has it all."

 

I believe Alistair Anderson's tutor is out of print, though second hand copies can be found.

John, you're right -- I got mine at The Button Box just a few months ago, and I believe they still have some copies, reasonably priced.

 

I'd recommend contacting Gary Dahl (net) and ordering his book called "Application of harmony". Chords can't be learned from charts, just like walking can't be learned from charts. The best yoiu can do is to write three chord "tricks" in common keys and lean them (major and relative minor).

m3838, that's a great recommendation, Gary Dahl's book -- harmony is something else I'm interested in getting a handle on. It seems that "chords" is a fine art that's learned naturally. But it seems like a good thing to have someplace to get started, some charts or something, or at least a rundown on which notes go with which chords, for beginners like myself.

 

Richard Carlin's article is here.

And if you follow the Folkways link from the article, you can actually listen to the Fayre Four Sister's playing a bit of Greig's "Morning".

Tom, thanks for the connection to the recording, I missed that one!

 

Personally, no one book has everything for me and I like to use a number of different tutors. Currently like Regondi's (?1857) "New Method for the Concertina" but that would not suit a lot of people since it has lots of exercises and is probably not easy to get hold of. Have you checked out Dick Miles' (2003) "Song Accompaniment for English Concertina"?

Poaceae, thanks for two more tutor recommendations! I'll have to save my money up!

 

dear co ncertinist,iwould generally advise sparate fingers for each button for chord work,although very occasinally i use two fingers for each button.it depends to some extent onthe size of your fingers

if you have skinny fingers as i do its advantageous to use separatefingers for amore flowing sound .my two books have two different versions of adieu sweet nancy, some twenty songs. available from the button box or from me.best wishes dick miles

Dick, thanks for the advice on using separate fingers. Sounds like it will work better for me, too.

 

In my own defense, I do discuss using both 3 fingers and 2 fingers to play chords (I'm sorry if the reader/commenter found this discussion confusing). The fact is that sometimes it is easier to play, for example, C-G using just ONE finger (covering two keys with one finger) and sometimes, for reasons that have to do with where you're gonig NEXT, you might want to use TWO FINGERS. I'm working on a revision of my tutor -- remember, I wrote this 30 years ago and some things have changed in my oiwn playing! -- which has a much extended discussion of arranging plus more songs. The problem with giving chord charts and saying "This is the way you should ALWAYS finger these chords" is that there are a million exceptions to always. Richard Carlin

Richard, Thanks for the clarification. The discussion on fingering was confusing to me because I'm new to concertinas and haven't figured it out yet. Perhaps it would be good to have two sections -- one with the basic chord layouts just to get started, and an "advanced" section to discuss the finer techniques of fingering. Beginners who don't already play other instruments and who don't know about chords need a schematic of some sort and some simple beginner's guidelines, perhaps one finger for each button. I think it will be awhile before I can begin to comprehend the possibilities for the alternate fingerings.

 

I fully agree that the Watson presentation of chords was very helpful and in fact absolutely indispensable for me in learning chords. As I have indicated several times on this site, the question of exactly how to proceed with accompaniment from the point of gross chords to less bland adaptation is the big mystery. I have recently learned how to use and substitute the minor chords in the diatonic scale, and of course for ease one can use just two notes of the chord. With time it seems quite possible to work out arrangements for individual songs, but I am sure that there must be some general routines for taking any song and playing an accompaniment that changes notes on basically every word but which is not exactly following the melody. But maybe I am just looking at this whole thing from the wrong perspective.

JGGunn, I agree, the schematics in Watson provide a basic template that's indispensable for me, too. From the discussions so far, it appears that a player begins to learn about alternate means gradually, over a period of time, and not at the beginning.

 

yes, maybe try a single line harmony,after having worked out the chords,bear in mind you mayhave passing notes in the melody,which on first glance would appearnot to be in the chord .you may have to experiment a little by ear.the occassional melody note in aharmony line is acceptable.try using contrary motion as much as you can,when the melody goes up try to go down or stay in the same place .remember that often a harmony line taken out of context can sound uninteresting but when played with the melodycan be great .

keep it simple,and try and use the pentatonic major or minor ,that is notes 1 2 3 5 6related to the chord

if its folk music.good luck dick miles

Dick, this sounds like really great advice. There are some things I'm not familiar with, such as "passing notes in the melody, which on first glance would appear not to be in the chord." I'm a little confused -- melody, harmony, chords, I understand, but "passing notes" in the melody? I understood the next sentence "the occassional melody note in a harmony line is acceptable" -- I can see how that would work out well. I didn't understand the last part "try and use the pentatonic major or minor, that is notes 1 2 3 5 6 related to the chord" because I don't have enough music theory skills. Maybe there is some other way to express it? I have been reading the discussions on here, and feel as though I should just put the concertina aside, and take a music theory course first. There are really valuable things in there, but not all of us beginners have music theory down yet. Thanks for taking the time to write back and offer your advice.

Edited by greenferry

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One thing I noticed -- Watson says that covering two buttons with one finger is "not so reliable" (page 11), and appears to be recommending the use of three fingers for chords. Whereas in Richard Carlin's tutor, he doesn't offer any caution (page 15: "It's fairly easy to play two keys with one finger."), and he gets into a complicated explanation of finger gymnastics (page 17-18). -- Does anybody have any comment on the three-finger versus two-finger chord technique? Am I better off learning chords using the two-finger (covering three buttons) method right at the beginning, or is it "not so reliable"? -- I have small fingers -- can that make a difference?

 

Yes it can make a difference but so can practice. If you ever get a chance to ask Rob Harbron to demonstrate his ideas on this, take it.

 

If you have fingers like Tony Rose, you may be able to press three buttons at once with reasonable repeatablility. For most of us, two is the limit. You want to keep the finger parallel to the travel of the buttons and catch one button just below the nail and the other on the fleshy part of the fingertip. Like many things in this world, this is a idea that I understand perfectly but do not often put into effect very well.

 

Try it and revert to one finger per button if it does not work for you. There are plenty of excellent players in both camps.

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If you have fingers like Tony Rose, you may be able to press three buttons at once with reasonable repeatablility. For most of us, two is the limit. You want to keep the finger parallel to the travel of the buttons and catch one button just below the nail and the other on the fleshy part of the fingertip. Like many things in this world, this is a idea that I understand perfectly but do not often put into effect very well.

 

Try it and revert to one finger per button if it does not work for you. There are plenty of excellent players in both camps.

Hi Roger,

 

Thanks for the details on the one finger covering two buttons method. I will continue to try it out, but haven't had much luck so far. The distal phalanges on my fingers are not long enough to make the span of two buttons and hold them down together, so I may find it easier to go with the flow and follow Dick's advice on the one finger per button method. I'm glad to have the detailed description of how to do it, though, and thank you for writing back and describing the method. That was an excellent description!

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Gary Dahl ... order ... his book called "Application of harmony"

Michael,

 

Thanks once again for your recommendation. I looked for a book called "Application of Harmony," but all I was able to find was his "Chord Melody Method for Accordion and Other Keyboard Instruments." I just received it in the mail and took a look, and I can see that it is clearly meant for piano keyboard type instruments and I should have clarified this before ordering it. It has lots of tunes in it with very complicated chords. I am wondering if this is the book that you were thinking of, or if perhaps there is some other book that I should look for, perhaps by a different author? Has anybody on C.net used this particular book with either a two-row melodeon or a concertina? I am wondering how I can use this with my concertina? Perhaps I am missing something that would be clear to any concertina player. Any suggestions?

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I thought you have English Concertina?

If so, please do not get put off by your first impression of the book.

Yes, this is the book, I just didn't remember it's name correctly.

I was taking lessons from Gary with Chromatic B system accordion, that had only 72 bass buttons and 2/5 octaves on the keyboard. I had to wrap the chords alot, however it did help me with understanding of the harmony and got me going more, than my other lessons, with live teacher.

Secondly, this book is intended as a tutoring material IN ADDITION to lessons.

I'd contact Gary, describe your instrument, the range, and ask for correspondence lessons. I'm sure he'd be interested to try. He really knows harmony.

His chords are explained fairly well, and he surely takes off much of the "complexity" from his chords.

All the diminished, augmented, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, etc. are very easy to understand on EC. Basically any chord is 1-3-5-7-9-11, and if 11 is flatted, it's, say Gmaj11b etc. Gary is very good at it.

The only thing that will be missing is the left hand chords, but the right hand chords are big and intricate in Gary's arrangements, and are very substantial on their own. I'd give it a try. Considering my past experience, if a book (teahcer/lessons/instruments) match too well with your needs, it's a bad news down the road.

Besides, there is no separate harmony for PA, EC, or anything else. Harmony is harmony.

The repertoire was another thing, it's mostly jazzy compositions from the 50es-60es, but well arranged and interesting to play. I only got to "Come back to Sorrento" and had to choose between teachers due to lack of time.

If you'll go with Gary, man, you'll be playing!

Edited by m3838

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Michael,

 

Thanks for writing back. I did call Gary. He was astonished that I'd bought the book to use with a concertina. I told him I'm also trying to learn two-row button melodeon. He was more interested in that, but said I'd do better to go with piano accordion because there are greater possibilities. Then I told him I was interested in folk music. He said, okay, I understand now. However, he said, using that book for either a concertina or a melodeon would be a real "slide up." Also, he doesn't play concertina or two-row, so how would his lessons help? Besides, I live in Massachusetts, and he lives in Washington; it's hard to understand how online lessons from someone who's thinking in terms of piano accordion would help me get a grip on the concertina. He suggested that I would be better off with the tutors for concertina or melodeon, but not that book. Now that you've told me you took lessons with him on a piano accordion, it all makes sense.

 

On the other hand, I can kind of understand your point about harmony being harmony. It's just that this book is way too advanced for me to begin with, plus it's confusing because it's written for piano accordion. The chords in it are extremely complicated; it doesn't appear to be a book for a beginner.

 

Anyhow, thanks for trying to help out.

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Hey, sorry it didn't go smooth.

No1 qustion, do you have an EC or AC? I think you stated it's the English, that you have.

I'd be pushy and explain to Gary that EC is fully chromatic, just like a PA, even more so, as it has flats AND sharps. It's only basses that are missing. Then I would not even mention DBB, as Gary has no idea of what they are.

Now his course is a correspondence course, you record a tape of your playing and send it to him. He reviews the tape, gives feedback and records new lesson for you, sends the tape. etc. Works very well. It's not online.

Sure with EC you can't play, say, ragtime, because you don't have bass countermelody, but that's details.

May be I should email him and explain things. Who knows, may be he'd be an asset for EC players.

As for the book, I have the book and don't find it to be so complicated.

Have you reviewed first pages, where he gives a scale in chords?

Do you read?

I'd just go over the book without thinking much. The book has very interesting system:

First you learn all the chords in a given key, with their inversions.

Then you learn a melody (skip the left hand). Then you play that melody with the chords, going by letters above the stave, keeping in mind that you have to play the correct inversion, based on the note of the melody.

I haven't noticed too complex chords in the beginning. Just iversions.

Now Gary has no idea of what an English concertina is, and probably thinks it's that red Chinese 20 button.

I'd give it a go. He was very confused when I described my B system, but it worked out very well.

(no, I didn't take lessons with Piano Accordion, but with a Button Chromatic, B system)

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greenferry would be better off going to aguitarist who uses open tunings or who uses modal chords in standard tuningand learning how to compose chords from someone who understands trad music and related modes.why not buy my books.best wishes dick miles

Thanks, Dick, I certainly will! I believe they have them at The Button Box right nere in Massachusetts, and I'll be there in just three weeks, so will pick up a copy!

Edited by greenferry

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