Jump to content

Another Newbie Needs Advice


Recommended Posts

Hello, beautiful concertina artists. I need your advice and assistance. I am completely new to the world of concertinas. I have been doing research, reading everything I can on the internet, including many topics on this forum regarding types of concertinas, makers, tutors, etc. I’m ready to find a real live artist in Houston, Texas, USA, who I can go to hear play, and who can guide me, or refer me on my journey to possibly learning to play the instrument myself.

 

I have a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and a Master of Arts in Music. I was an opera singer for over 20 years. I have taught music theory and music history and have conducted choirs. I play the piano and taught myself how to play the bassoon, the guitar, and the autoharp. (If you want to read my bio, you can go to my website at www.MasterChords.com, but I really only mention all this so you’ll know I’m not a musical beginner, only a concertina beginner.)

 

My husband has become very involved in Civil War reenactment. In order to go with him on events, I have to have something to do that would have been appropriate for a woman of my age at that time period. I don’t want to stand over a hot cook fire, or wash clothes on a washboard. What I do is sing. So I’ve been researching musical instruments of the time period on which I might accompany myself whilst singing popular songs of the time period, art songs, and operatic arias. It’s not practical to take a spinet into an army camp, I can’t sing while playing the fife or bugle, and the drums don’t give much in the way of harmony. That brings me to the concertina. I have to confess that I didn’t know anything about the instrument until I started this research. (I did sing in an Argentinean “tango” opera once that had a bandoneon. [sp?] It really sounded neat.)

 

That’s probably way more information than you need or want. I appreciate any and all responses. One topic on this forum had a response from Stephen Mills, member #442, from Houston, TX. Are you still there, Mr. Mills? Where can I go hear you play? Anyone else in Houston? Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don’t want to stand over a hot cook fire, or wash clothes on a washboard. What I do is sing.

Sounds eminently sensible. From a purely historical perspective I would say the English concertina would be more correct than an anglo (but then I'm English, so what should I know), though the number of onlookers, or even fellow participants who would notice the difference would probably be counted on the fingers of one elbow.

 

Best of luck, and welcome to the forum.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

See if Mike Voss is still playing in Houston. He played EC in the English COuntry Dance Band named Frogs in the Skillet. He was the first person I ever heard play a concertina, sparking the early embers of my interest. That was in 1993, so I don't know if he's still there and still playing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Master Chords

 

From the Mongomery County Historical Society of Crawfordsville, Indiana USA, here's an image of an anglo concertina from the US Civil War era.

http://www.lane-mchs.org/library/library-minnieball.JPG

 

A two row anglo looks like the way to go if this is accurate. It's usually the least costly way too. :lol:

 

The star shaped object is a type of minnieball fired in clusters from cannons back then. Fearsome!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i don't think i be much help since i just started to play but i lived in spring area. 25 min north of houston. i am very new to concertina and i'm working on punk since i'm a typical passionate college student, but if you just want to play around with one. i have the a rochelle and your more welcome to play around with it. i know it not much but at least you can try one out.

 

p.s.

i don't drive beacuse i'm poor and ecofriendly :D

Edited by nalzalk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bravo and welcome to our nutty little world. Civil War reenactment? Very cool indeed. We have several of those folks here at my college and this spring I will join them in a little presentation using period instruments...such fun (there will even be a Walt Whitman impersonator).

 

I would suggest given your musical background the English Concertina. Opera aria transcriptions were the rage, and I have found that building the chords and polyphonic inner lines for song accompanyment very natural on the instrument. It's tailor made Stephen Foster songs and most of the other literature from the period.

 

Some here may suggest a baritone English, but I would urge you to look also at a tenor-treble.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, THANK YOU, everyone for your replies. Your advice is invaluable!

 

Mike Voss is now with a band called Mockingbird, out of Austin TX. They will be in playing in Houston on Dec. 9.

 

The photo of the instrument from the Civil War era is great. It gives me a better idea of what to look for in the way of appearance in an instrument I purchase.

 

I'm looking forward to my concertina journey and am so happy to have found this forum to help map my way. Thanks, again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I live in the Houston area, and can bring you up to speed a bit on what is happening here.

 

I play both Anglo and English, and am greatly enamored of both. I know of only one other concertina player in town, a learner on the anglo.

 

However, there is much going on and many opportunities to learn. We have an English session every first and third Wednesday at the Black Labrador pub, Montrose near Richmond, starting at 7pm. Usually there are about a dozen or so musicians there. We play mostly English and American tunes (and a fair amount of Irish, though we usually suggest to any bodhran players that there is an Irish session at another pub not far from here!). I'd be happy to help get you started on either type of concertina...perhaps at the pub before the session starts, for example.

We also have a group practicing traditional English midwinter/Christmas carols for some charity performances in December....being a singer, you'd be quite welcome to join in if you wish (email me via this site). The period of many of these old songs is about right for your interests.

 

We also have a concertina workshop each April in Palestine Texas, within an Old Time music festival in the Piney Woods. OT music is perfect for nineteenth century aficianados, and there are some tremendous OT musicians who regularly come to that event. We have a very nice group of concertinists of all systems who show up; they come from Texas and several surrounding states. Watch this site for information early in the New Year; amongst other visitors we will be honored to have Jody Kruskal running a workshop on OT music for concertina there next year.

 

I would suggest you pick up the anglo, for several reasons. Firstly, the anglo is the only concertina I know which can be documented to have been played by troops and/or their associates in the War Between the States (we southerners don't use the term Civil War too often, although usage of the more in-your-face term "War of Northern Aggression" seems to be dying out! :rolleyes: ). Even that documentation is tenuous, but the attached civil war era photo of a black youth playing an early two row (square german) anglo is good evidence; note the "Union Now and Forever" slogan on the picture frame. There is also clear documentation of it being played in minstrel groups that were popular both before and after that war. Second, it is much easier IMHO for a beginner to play chording accompaniment for singing on the anglo...it is built for it....and it comes with its own peculiar rhythm. You can of course play chords with an English...it has been done very well by many...but playing a melody with an oom-pah type accompaniment is not so innately obvious as on the anglo (he says as he runs for cover). Finally, if you are going to be in a humble soldiers' camp setting, the anglo is your instrument, hands down. It was much more an instrument of the common folk both here and in England. The EC at that time was played mostly for polite parlour entertainment (I have many US news clippings of the time of these soirees). Polite, well-to-do people during that war often paid others to fight in their stead. The non-officer soldiers in the trenches on both sides were farmers, working class, and immigrants right off the boat. But then you know that already!

 

Whatever concertina system you choose, though, welcome to a very fine hobby and an equally fine website/forum.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, Kimberly (I presume) from MasterChords and welcome. Yes, I’m still here, although I don’t check in so often nowadays. A bit of insomnia tonight facilitated my catching your message before it drifted out of view. Dan Worrall is the only experienced player I know of this side of Austin and the organizer of both the English session and the Palestine workshop to which he referred. Settling on a system is the critical step at this time. I’m inclined to believe that choosing the system that best suits you vastly outweighs the period authenticity question.

 

I think you should get together with Dan and/or me and get the feel of the systems. We have anglo, English, and Hayden duet covered. I’ll PM you with some more details. If you haven’t been to Chris Timson’s FAQ site, it’s a good place to start thinking about your choices, also Ivan Viehoff’s duet article, if you are interested in duets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, Kimberly (I presume) from MasterChords and welcome. Yes, I’m still here, although I don’t check in so often nowadays. A bit of insomnia tonight facilitated my catching your message before it drifted out of view. Dan Worrall is the only experienced player I know of this side of Austin and the organizer of both the English session and the Palestine workshop to which he referred. Settling on a system is the critical step at this time. I’m inclined to believe that choosing the system that best suits you vastly outweighs the period authenticity question.

 

I think you should get together with Dan and/or me and get the feel of the systems. We have anglo, English, and Hayden duet covered. I’ll PM you with some more details. If you haven’t been to Chris Timson’s FAQ site, it’s a good place to start thinking about your choices, also Ivan Viehoff’s duet article, if you are interested in duets.

Stephen,

Good grief! [/i] :o How could I have forgotten you were in Houston when I listed the dearth of players here! Megapardons. It was late in the evening when I wrote that; I must have been half asleep. We need to get together more often than just Palestine. Come by the Black Lab some time...how about at 6 for a burger on Nov 1 before the session starts..."Master Chords" emailed me that she'll be there. You can do your best to sell the Hayden sytem.... :)

 

Nalzalk, if you search this forum for the word "Palestine" you'll find several threads describing past workshops there. Email me via this site if you wish to be added to the email list for announcements next spring.

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

×
×
  • Create New...