Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Lawrence Reeves

The Concertina, First Choice?

Recommended Posts

I am sitting practicing a set dance called Seán ÓDhuíbhir a Ghleanna, and wondering how many of us here on the list picked the concertina as a first instrument, or a second, third,etc. I am using uilleann piping techniques and chord choices on this tune and find them easy to apply. I have been listening to Willie Clancy's version of this tune, which appears very Clare in origin. Noting that Willie's piping was probably influenced by his parents concertina playing is almost ironic. Although I was around concertinas and their playing while growing up, it wasn't until I was 36 that I decided to tackle learning it. So what was everyone's first instrument of choice? I know many of todays players/ recording artists came to the instrument later. Examples would be Gearóid ÓhAllmhuráin ( All Ireland champion uilleann piper) Tim Collins ( button accordion ) Father Charlie Coen ( voice, flute, whistle) John Williams plays multiple instruments as well. I know that all of these players, like myself had family connections to the instrument, but just curious as I was sitting down with a pint.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started out on violin when I was eight, and switched to fiddle at about 11 or so (new teacher, new music). I have had a lap dulcimer a few years, but haven't really advanced much. I love to sing, but whether people like to hear me sing may be a different matter.

I fell in love with the concertina at age 10 and now I'm planning on getting one and learn to play it.

Edited by Fiddlehead Fern

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its interesting how the instrument you learn the music through shapes how you hear it. I play a few instruments, but when I learn a tune I still think of it as a fiddle tune in many ways. The concertina is a nice second instrument because playing styles are so individual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Its interesting how the instrument you learn the music through shapes how you hear it. I play a few instruments, but when I learn a tune I still think of it as a fiddle tune in many ways. The concertina is a nice second instrument because playing styles are so individual.

As a child, I learned piano, trombone, and pipe organ, and choral singing, and later taught myself to play sax. Also taught myself guitar in college.

I think these instruments taught me to like a steady, singing tone that you can express the melody thru, but at the same time the piano and organ got me used to being able to accompany myself. Guitar playing taught me to identify and make up chords.

 

So, after fooling with a few folk instruments lke mountain dulcimer and autoharp, I discovered the Duet Concertina. It was love at first sight. Song, bass, and chords -- an organ in your lap!

 

Now, to get away from that oom-pah style and do more complex playing ... Mike K.

Edited by ragtimer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I started out on the B/C button box. I still work the bellows on the concertina entirely with my left hand.

 

Jeff Myers

 

So do I Jeff, but for no other reason than that was how I taught myself!

 

Technically, my "main" instruments are the piano and the tuba - those are certainly the only two instruments I've ever had tuition on. Before I had to have a bit of a hiatus on tuba for dental reasons (which, indirectly, led me to learning concertina) I probably reached a technically higher standard, relatively, than I ever did on piano, but I've done more "serious" performing on piano. Having just gone back to the tuba with the determination to develop a non-damaging technique I must say I'd forgotten what a physically and mentally absorbing instrument it is to play. My lungs are in shocking shape though!

 

I rarely if ever play concertina for anything other song accompaniment (apart from interrupting sessions with morris tunes at the Swaledale Squeeze ;)), so I'd say that it's my first choice for that... at least for songs that don't need guitar or dulcimer accompaniment. Or autoharp. :lol:

 

I'm finding myself playing the Jeffries Duet pretty much exclusively now as well. Much as I love the Maccann and the anglo there's something mysterious and wonderful about the Jeffries - and not just the noise it makes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:P Started on the banjo (5 string) many years ago, the guitar and lap dulcimer and finally the Anglo. I now enjoy the concertina the most. Such a lovely instrument.

 

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Peter Laban
I am sitting practicing a set dance called Seán ÓDhuíbhir a Ghleanna, and wondering how many of us here on the list picked the concertina as a first instrument, or a second, third,etc. I am using uilleann piping techniques and chord choices on this tune and find them easy to apply. I have been listening to Willie Clancy's version of this tune, which appears very Clare in origin. Noting that Willie's piping was probably influenced by his parents concertina playing is almost ironic.

 

 

Some musical trivia: Seán Ó Dhuíbhir was, it is generally accepted, turned into the set dance by Elle nGalvin from who's fiddle plying Willie Clancy learned it. Willie visited Mrs Galvin in Moyasta on the West Clare Railroad (she lived beside the station in one of the railway cottages). He was particularly looking for Garret Barry's tunes, Galvin knew Barry when she was young. Willie's father was always talking about Barry who stayed at the Clancy house for longer spells during his travels.

I think the consensus is that WIllie was probably more formed by his father's flute playing. Reports are also he was handy enough on the concertina (as well as the fiddle). Mary Haren, as far as I know an aunt or grand-aunt of Willie's, was a magnificent concertina player (she was recorded in her eighties on an instrument borrowed for the occasion after years of not playing music at all, magnificently powerful music)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So what was everyone's first instrument of choice?

Putting "first" and "choice" together seems meaningless for me. Chronologically, my first "instrument" was my voice, and in both use and skill it probably still is "first", but I don't know that there was any choice involved. Discounting the voice, my first instrument was the trumpet, on which I took lessons at school, age 10. My parents expected each of their children to learn an instrument, though they themselves didn't play. (Actually, both could play piano well enough to sight-read four-part hymnal arrangements, but they only ever played to accompany Christmas carols at home.) And private lessons were something we couldn't afford. I partly "chose" the trumpet, but I was also not too subtly guided by the band director, who thought that my teeth were suited to it and not to reed instruments. Somehow, fiddles and the like never came into consideration, and the school didn't teach non-"band or orchestra" instruments like piano, guitar, and accordion.

 

Over the years I learned a bit how to play other instruments, but dropped them completely at university, where the band director had no musical sense. The glee club director was a genius, though, so I stayed with the singing. Then after university, as I was discovering folk music, a friend gave me a tin whistle. That was great fun, and still is.

 

But the concertina? I was more than 25 years old before I even knew concertinas existed. I heard a couple of performers -- on the English, with both song accompaniments and tunes -- and thought I would like one. The first time I had one in my hands (at a party, an English), I was playing a song in 2-part harmony within minutes and with no instruction at all. I was hooked!, though it took me a couple of years of pestering every new acquaintance before I found one for sale (at any price).

Choice? I think
it
chose
me
!
:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Choice? I think it chose me! :)[/indent]

 

 

That says it for me as well Jim. I've recounted on this site before having my father bring a German 20 button home after being on assignment with the Air Force. It was for my brother. He was unimpressed and I at age 10 was enthralled. Took lessons I did. Messed about with it for years mostly in frustration....until I heard a fellow playing Irish tunes on a brand new Crabb English Treble. Much like Jim I took to it right way. My fingers almost knew where to go. Unlike Jim I did not have to wait for an instrument, for the Crabb's owner had this wheezy, well thumbed Bastari he let go for a song....I loved that little bastari even with the sticking buttons.

Edited by Mark Evans

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started with mandolin when I was 16, since evrybody I knew played guitar, I wanted to be different. After two years I changed over to an Octave Mandolin, then in another 4 years Guitar (got more and more chordal and bassier).

 

I got a penny whistle and goofed around with it for a very short time when i first got turned onto Celtic and Irish music. It was many years of playign mostly Guitar (elctric and acoustic) and fading on mandolin before I decided to go with a concertina, but I really wish I had picked one up sooner - its a great instrument, but now I'm preaching to the choir.

 

I kind of wish I could go back in time, acquire a nice Crane duet, and proceed from there. But now that I'm older, music is not a career choice, but just for laughs.

 

In some respects, I'm always re-learning guitar, and expect to play it , my mandolin, and of course my Crane duet till I can't play anymore (regardless of how well I do it!)

Edited by Hooves

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×