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Playing In The Key Of A


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I've been playing in G using the fingering pattern taught by Noel Hill. I learned this from a guy (not local) who was fortunate enough to attend of of Noels workshops.

 

I think I'm ready to move on to another key, and a lot of my local fiddle friends play in A. Do I need another instrument, or do I need to cross over rows to play in A on my c/g? Any thoughts on this?

 

I tried the search engine for the forum, but no luck.

 

Ciao,

 

Chris

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If you're talking about playing in A minor then it's very suited to a c/g concertina. A major is a bit more challenging but it's perfectly possible. I like to play in A major a lot but it definitely helps to have a 38 key instrument, or at least two different G-sharp options in opposite directions on the left, ditto on the right but up an octave, and also (and possibly more importantly) 2 x C#'s on the RHS of the instrument. Without those options, it's much more of a chore.

 

A great help for A major or minor chords is is if you have a low A on the pull (last note, inside row, LHS). On lachenals that tends to be a useless third D, but on Jeffries it should be a low A. And finally, on a 38 key you'll often have an extra E on an additional button about half way down, inside the inside row (if you get what I mean).

 

IMO A minor is possibly the key MOST suited to a C/G concertina. It's slap bang right in the middle of the register, equal use of either hand, loads of alternative fingering option... it's deadly. :)

 

Best of luck anyway. :)

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I've been playing in G using the fingering pattern taught by Noel Hill. I learned this from a guy (not local) who was fortunate enough to attend of of Noels workshops.

 

I think I'm ready to move on to another key, and a lot of my local fiddle friends play in A. Do I need another instrument, or do I need to cross over rows to play in A on my c/g? Any thoughts on this?

 

I tried the search engine for the forum, but no luck.

 

Ciao,

 

Chris

D and A are the next keys Noel teaches folks. He plays most A minor and C tunes as a mix between the middle row on the left hand and except for the F natural , the notes you are already used to on the right hand G row, using the middle row notes only for fingering alternates if needed by phrasing or to make a difficult finger jump easier. Send me your e-mail, and I'll send you the charts for D and A that I use with my students. These are consistent with what you learned in G. You don't need a new concertina. or even a 38 key. I comfortably play in most of the keys commonly used in Irish music. Some are more difficult to learn than others, but are worth the extra effort. once you are used to them, they are not a real problem.

Also, once you learn G,D and A, you have the basis to figure out the rest.

Reach me at :dana@kensingtonconcertinas.com

Dana

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I wasn't clear..sorry about that. I meant A-major. D would be great too, of course, as the fiddle players love this key. The A-modal is another highly used key by local players. I'm actually glad for the confusion in my first posting because it reminds me that I could pick up a few of the modal tunes played in sessions around here. I guess Im simply playing a C-major scale beginning on the A, LH middle row index finger, and work my way up the scale for the A-modal??

 

I sent you an email Dana.

Thanks to you both for replying.

 

Chris

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I wasn't clear..sorry about that. I meant A-major. D would be great too, of course, as the fiddle players love this key. The A-modal is another highly used key by local players. I'm actually glad for the confusion in my first posting because it reminds me that I could pick up a few of the modal tunes played in sessions around here. I guess Im simply playing a C-major scale beginning on the A, LH middle row index finger, and work my way up the scale for the A-modal??

 

I sent you an email Dana.

Thanks to you both for replying.

 

Chris

 

i made a video on youtube, showing you how to play in the key of A major. i had a nice reply typed up here but my computer killed it. let me know if you want demonstrations on wheatstone layout, or if you want deomonstrations of the D scale or any other tunes in A.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r1-9cHoRdk

 

i just noticed i cut it at the wrong point... i sit down twice!

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wonderful! thanks so much. i just watched the video. i will use that as well as the fingering charts dana so generously provided.

 

yes, i do have a wheatstone layout, but i think between your video and the chart i can make a lot of headway.

 

foxhunter sounds like a nice tune, ill scrounge up the transcription and perhaps use it to practice this key.

 

thanks again for taking the time david.

 

chris

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The A-modal is another highly used key by local players. I'm actually glad for the confusion in my first posting because it reminds me that I could pick up a few of the modal tunes played in sessions around here.

I sent you an email Dana.

Thanks to you both for replying.

 

Chris

Forgive my ignorance, but is A modal the same as A minor? I have come across the term modal in Mick Bramich's book, but have no idea what it means. Thanks

By the way, I thought David's reply was fantastic - taking the time to record a video to post on youtube was very generous. It was fascinating to watch, especially using the A button on the G row.

 

Nigel

Edited by Nigel
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Forgive my ignorance, but is A modal the same as A minor? I have come across the term modal in Mick Bramich's book, but have no idea what it means. Thanks

By the way, I thought David's reply was fantastic - taking the time to record a video to post on youtube was very generous. It was fascinating to watch, especially using the A button on the G row.

 

Nigel

There are a fairly large number of "modes" with names that don't mean much to most people, but I like to think of most of the Irish or Scottish tunes that people call "modal" as varying between two adjacent keys like A and G. or D and C Part of the tune is really centered around one key, but the next part uses the notes of the lower key. Most of these keys leave out the note below the named key like the G# in the key of A and the C# in tne key of D. This change gives something that doesn't sound either quite major or quite minor and provides an interesting ambiguity that is so characteristic of this kind of music. Many people just call them Minor keys which while not technically accurate does help you orient yourself. A tune written in the key of one sharp, but centered on D is a modal tune as is a tune written with no sharps or flats but centered on G Tunes written in two sharps but are centered on A are what I call the A modal ones.

Dana

Edited by Dana Johnson
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This page may help. Modal scales are all naturals, no accidentals. The note you start the scale on determines the main mode you are in, some of the modes like Phrygian sound very odd.

 

You may have heard guitarists saying they are tuned to D modal (DADGAD), this is the Dorian mode, but mostly the chord shapes put the accidentals back in, it just doesn't take as many fingers!

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I was surprised that once I started investigating playing in F and Dm, the number of modal Irish tunes that are written in F with no Bb in them so fall automatically on the C row.

IMO, you might need to get your D major scale second-nature across the rows before you tackle A major.

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Guest Old Leaky

Noel who? Ah! that Noel! He taught the keys of G and D (both Major for the avoidance of doubt) on the first course of his I attended, in Nova Scotia in October 2005. As for A, or even C (presumably not up and down the C row), I haven't been exposed to those yet. Presumably I'll have to sign up for another course or two. And why not? Not that his methods are "patented" but as an important source of income, as well as artistic integrity, for him, I wouldn't be so liberal with them here.

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A truly modal tune, as I understand it, avoids the third. It's neither major nor minor. So play a tune in A and stay away from the C#, or play in D avoiding the F#. These are more common in American Appalachian (old time) tunes than Irish. In fact, I don't think I know any modal tunes in the irish tradition. I think most folks confuse Dorian and Aeolian modes with "modal". But then again, I have learned my music theory through necessity and curiosity and not through any school, so maybe I'm the one that's wrong here.

 

In any case, I play a lot of old time tunes on concertina, and I like to play "in the rows". I find it much more intuitive. I have been working on my cross fingering, but it's a slow cerebral exercise for me. Sometimes I just want to play music. My solution to the A question (and the D question) was to take a 20 button C/G lachenal and tune all the reeds up a full step, so I now have a D/A. I love it. And, bonus, 20 button Lachenals are relatively inexpensive... I know there are many on this board who advise against this. All I can say is that tunes in A and D (and their relative modes) are now as easy for me as tunes in C and G. I've worked on a few Lachenals now. If anyone is interested in a D/A of their own, let me know.

Edited by John Sylte
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In much of the folk world, an "A modal" tune is a tune with an A scale that includes C# and F# (as in A major) and G natural (as in A minor). Based on the chart linked in an earlier message, I believe that this would be called "A Mixolydian" in the classical world, but I've never heard a folkie call it that.

 

Daniel

 

A truly modal tune, as I understand it, avoids the third. It's neither major nor minor. So play a tune in A and stay away from the C#, or play in D avoiding the F#. These are more common in American Appalachian (old time) tunes than Irish. In fact, I don't think I know any modal tunes in the irish tradition. I think most folks confuse Dorian and Aeolian modes with "modal". But then again, I have learned my music theory through necessity and curiosity and not through any school, so maybe I'm the one that's wrong here.

 

In any case, I play a lot of old time tunes on concertina, and I like to play "in the rows". I find it much more intuitive. I have been working on my cross fingering, but it's a slow cerebral exercise for me. Sometimes I just want to play music. My solution to the A question (and the D question) was to take a 20 button C/G lachenal and tune all the reeds up a full step, so I now have a D/A. I love it. And, bonus, 20 button Lachenals are relatively inexpensive... I know there are many on this board who advise against this. All I can say is that tunes in A and D (and their relative modes) are now as easy for me as tunes in C and G. I've worked on a few Lachenals now. If anyone is interested in a D/A of their own, let me know.

Edited by Daniel Hersh
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Hi Chris

 

I think that this old mail might be useful for you.

To "steal" a part of the mail, the A major scale is shown below:

 

scale_A.gif

 

 

wow...how cool is that B) ! thanks Mick. ill need to spend some time with these...what a great old mail. it will be fun to compare these with the other info sent.

 

once again i used a term loosly...modal. there are several old time tunes we play locally here that are referred to as modal; kitchen girl, cold frosty morning, cluck old hen. they are played with out any sharps or flats but centered around A. so, an A-scale with all naturals. is this not the "relative minor" of C...? probably is not truly a modal tune.

 

john...now thats tempting. i have a couple fiddles that are all tuned differently. a banjo player friend of mine now has 4-banjos he has tuned in different keys.

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Noel who? Ah! that Noel! He taught the keys of G and D (both Major for the avoidance of doubt) on the first course of his I attended, in Nova Scotia in October 2005. As for A, or even C (presumably not up and down the C row), I haven't been exposed to those yet. Presumably I'll have to sign up for another course or two. And why not? Not that his methods are "patented" but as an important source of income, as well as artistic integrity, for him, I wouldn't be so liberal with them here.

I don't share Noel's fingering charts. I do have my own that I use with my own students. Rather than reducing Noel's income, I prefer to be a feeder for his classes. What Noel has to offer isn't his fingering, which is an excellent system, but his knowledge of what it takes to bring out the most in the music. I've been to his classes for thirteen years, and sadly won't be able to make it this summer. I have always found more to learn every year (often things I didn't ever realize existed at first). I always leave the class with more respect for Noel's efforts and commitment to the music. Noel has been gracious enough to pass along what he has learned. His students will teach others, and that is as it should be.

Dana

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i use the jeffries layout. on my right-hand side, the top, "accidental" row has a high "a" on the push near the far right end. i use this baby whenever a high "a" occurs as a long "rest" note. it is great for bellows control, and greatly reduces the stress of playing in a-major, where so many notes occur on the pull. i also use it for long high "a" notes in other keys as well. couldn't live without it.

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