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"inappropriate" Songs For The Concertina


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Over the years I have always really enjoyed playing tunes that people just don't expect to hear on a particular instrument [i.e. Metallica on my harp :P ].


I've recently started playing around with "unexpected" tunes on my Anglo, such as "Ava Maria" and "Bye Bye Blackbird" (both which actually sound quite good, the former especially with accompaniment).


Does anyone else enjoy this slightly bizarre past time? Any tune recommendations?


(Stuart: I love your "Anarchy in the Cotsworlds" Web site, and encourage everyone to check it out at: www.anarchyinthecotswolds.co.uk)


Someone else also posted their web address which contained some fabulous music, (I think it was Bach) on their Duet, but unfortuantely I can't remember who it was [i'm home with the flu, so please forgive my lack of recall :wacko: ]



Morgana :D

Edited by Morgana
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I'm not exactly sure why, but I've had a lot more fun with this idea on the concertina (Anglo) than on my other instruments, nylon string guitar and mandolin.


For example, I never thought I'd play an arrangement of a Beatles tune, but when I heard Ed Gerhard play "If I Fell", I thought that it would be a great exercise for practicing chromatic sections in my concertina playing. I've been pleased with playing it, even if it won't enter my repertoire. Similarly, I've found that playing as many measures as I can of "Tubular Bells" (theme from the Exorcist) is an absolutely great exercise.


I've started revisiting my classical guitar pieces. Some are absolutely atrocious (e.g., Sanz's famous "Canarios", recorded later by Emerson, Lake and Palmer). Some are pleasing. Just finding out is half the fun (but often makes me want a duet concertina).

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Does anyone else enjoy this slightly bizarre past time? Any tune recommendations?


Sure! Some of the local groups have a stranger pastime -- taking songs from other genres and rendering them as bluegrass tunes. : ) "Paradise City" being one of the big hits. That same band uses toy accordion on "I Wanna Be Sedated" to good effect. I want to try it on concertina! (Must buy one first!) My band has just begun 'grassifying "The Tide is High."


I think it's cool that you play Metallica on harp. "Enter Sandman"?


Lots of Beatles tunes would sound great. What about "Norwegian Wood"? It seems as if it would be great as a duet with two concertinas/accordions.



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I haven't tried too many oddities on the concertina. I do, however, experiment a bit with the melodeon, which has many anglo similarities. I find 'Wooden Heart' fits brilliantly, I play 'Ode to Joy' as part of a set to accompany a morris dance (the sequence goes British Grenadier, Ode to Joy, Rule Britannia). I am working on fitting a dance to Suppe's Light Cavalry - the main theme of which works OK on the box.


I have also found that by altering the rhythm of 'Rogues March' and 'Black Joke' you can get two fun Reggae versions.

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you must be psychic Morgana...i was going to post a similar message after seeing the anarchyinthecotswolds site. Unlike guitar or piano, you never know if a tune is going to tranlate well to concertina(30b G/D anglo in my case).But it's fun finding out. I use the tina for busking when i travel around Scotland and mainland Europe and can assure you that it is often "unexpected" tunes that generate most response from the public.What follows is a list of tunes i play to augment the folkier/trad stuff.

Theme from the Magnificent 7

Theme from the Godfather

Golden Brown (The Stranglers)

If I Was A Rich Man(Fiddler on the Roof)

In The Neighbourhood (Tom Waits)

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life (Monty Python)

Hi Ho It's off To work We go (Snow White)

Money (Pink Floyd)

Z-Cars Theme

The Stripper Theme

I Fought The Law(The Clash)

Swing Easy (Soul Vendors)


Great fun and something a wee bit different for the concertina. I'd be interested to see a few posts in the Tunes forum of other members' tried and tested versions of "unlikely" concertina tunes.

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you must be psychic Morgana...i was going to post a similar message after seeing the anarchyinthecotswolds site.

Thanks for your comments about the website, folks, it's encouraging me to do some more "arranging" - or vandalism, depending on how you look at it :)


I've just started learning MacCann duet, and have found that the synth parts from Gary Numan's "Cars" work rather well.


Other things that I've tried on Anglo normally involve accompanying myself singing:


- Neil Young's "After The Goldrush" works nicely with a drone key down


- I'll Be Your Mirror, Venus In Furs and I'm Waiting for the Man, by the Velvet Underground can all be done reasonably convincingly on a 30-key C/G - so long as you transpose Venus into D minor


I'd been talking with the guys in my band about doing a folky, concertina-led vocal version of Anarchy in The UK, but decided that after John Lydon being involved in the horror of that "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" on the telly it might look like we were jumping on a bandwagon. So we're working on a version of the Public Image Limited song "Poptones" instead, which should be, er, interesting :)




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I agree, it is nice to move "out of the box" and play something unexpected. With luck you can be playing for a while without the audience noticing.


Among my odd ones are:-

A jazz version of "Show me the way to go home" (they usually don't spot it until I start singing)

"Shine on you crazy diamond" and "Embryo" by Pink Floyd

"Yesterday" and "She's leaving home" by the Beatles.

"Hey Joe" from Jimi Hendrix (Query what is the origin of this song, I heard Roger Wilson do a version with different words?)

"Twenty-four hours from Tulsa" by Burt Bacharach

"Canarios" from ELP.

"The black seam" by Sting

Various Richard Thompson items.


Ones that I want to try when I have time include:-

"When the tigers broke free" Pink Floyd

"For the benefit of Mr Kite" Beatles

"Last train to Clarksville" Monkees

Anything by Ian Dury.


When you start collaborating with other muscians you'll find that there is nearly always a concertina part in there somewhere!


Robin Madge

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Just a thought on Morris tunes. We use the Welsh original version of "Deck the Halls" and "Ode to Joy" for one dance and "LIght cavalry" as part of another set.

We use part of "Liberty Bell" on occasions (the melodians can't handle some of it and it becomes an odd number of bars if you play all of it).


At Christmas we try to fit as many dances as possible to carols, which means truncating part of them at times as most carols don't seem to be 32 bars long.

"The seven joys of Mary" , "Oh little town of Bethlehem" and "Hark the Herald" have all appeared.


Robin Madge

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There was a wonderful item the Today Programme the other day (memo to overseas readers - this is a morning current affairs radio show that is compulsory listening for half the UK population, the other half still being in bed). featuring the revival of the ukelele. They included acts like The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain performing Anarchy In The UK and Miss Dynamite, and a truly bizarre rendition of Purple Haze by an American whose name escapes me. The contributors made the point that they were deliberately playing unexpected music for the instrument (in the UK the expected music for the instrument is exclusively George Formby).


I think there is a real lesson there for us, maybe. Didn't Lea Nicholson lead a concertina orchestra that did some very unusual pieces. I'm sure that I read about their version of Tubular Bells (with Viv Stanshall swooping around crying "Two slightly distorted concertinas"...). That must have been a sight, and sound!



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We use part of "Liberty Bell" on occasions (the melodians can't handle some of it and it becomes an odd number of bars if you play all of it).

The reason melodeons can't play it is because of the key change in the C music and most of the accidentals in the rest of the tune. This does not actually stop me playing it on melodeon but not to be listened too by anyone with musical taste. :D

Edited for yet more appalling speeling

Edited by Lester Bailey
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I purposefully put Mairzy Doats on my web because I thought is was a-typical, sort of iconoclastic concertina music -- but no one ever commented on it. It could be that nothing is truly inappropriate for the concertina.


I always have a queasy feeling about playing the National Anthem (USA) on 'tina, though it sounds pretty good. I might feel better if I had a foot ball to kick afterward. I've never played it in public, though it might be fun to cause everyone to stand.


Bach's arrangement of "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" makes my duet sound "organish" and is therefore unexpected. But musically, it might be my best shot.

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Maybe a little bit off topic, but...

Query what is the origin of this song, I heard Roger Wilson do a version with different words

As far as I know the origin of "Hey Joe" is the Tim Rose song Where Did The Good Times Go?. You can find more on the Tim Rose web site.

Next more or less off topic...

I'm sorry, but only slightly, for this attempt to hijack Morgana's effort under a new Topic name. I know she meant it in fun, but the word "inappropriate" rubs salt in a wound gouged by the very real prejudices and just plain ignorance of too many people, even other concertina players.

As the word "inappropriate" in the title of this thread is between quotes, it is for me an indication that the word should not be taken too serious. I can understand a lot of Jim's arguments, but I wonder if hijacking a topic is the right way..


Maybe a new topic "Why are we not seen as serious musicians?" ;)



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