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Anglo Notation Systems


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Hello Concertina Community,

 

I'm a frequent lurker about these pages, and have been reading the commentary about Alan Lochhead's new book (which I have on order at a local store). I've been struggling with similar quandaries this past year, as I've been working on a book of original tunes.

 

One thing that's come up on these pages is the value of peer review, somewhat for the benefit of the community as a whole. As my system is different than Mr. Lochhead's, I thought I would post it here. If anyone has the interest to page though, I would greatly appreciate any feedback or ideas.

 

This essay gives an overview (.pdf):

Notation System

 

and there are two examples of tunes:

Don't You Want to Go to Heaven, Uncle Sam?

Muddy Heart

 

with a recording of each:

Don't You Want to Go to Heaven, Uncle Sam?

Muddy Heart

 

Thanks very much in advance to anyone who cares to have a look/listen, and apologies in advance if any of the links are broken (I'm somewhat bad at Internetting)!

 

Best,

Steven Arntson

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Thanks very much in advance to anyone who cares to have a look/listen, and apologies in advance if any of the links are broken (I'm somewhat bad at Internetting)!

 

Steven,

Since you've thanked us in advance, let's do something to justify that! :rolleyes:

 

To be quite ( er... brutally?) honest, the document you linked to rather disappointed me after reading the title of your thread.

 

What you write about is not so much a notation system as an ANnotarion system. You still base your notation on the standard staff - even if you transpose it an octave to make the compass of the instrument fit the stave better, as gutarists and others do. This leaves me as an Angloist really no wiser than if I had some standard staff songbook with those tunes in it.

I'm not a fluent staff reader, but I can imagine that those who are might be put off by the lack of key signature (you seem treat all sharps and flats as "accidentals", even the F# in the key of G major - or did I read that wrongly?)

 

What I feel your "notation" lacks is the specific Anglo-orientation. The special thing about the Anglo is that a lot of notes are duplicated on two buttons, sometimes in the opposite bellows direction, sometimes in the same direction. This makes bare staff notation ambiguous. Any Anglo notation (or even annotation) should clear up this ambiguity. And that can only be done by identifying the button to be pressed. This you do not even atttempt to do!

 

There is, in fact, a very old-established way of identifying the buttons. On older German 20k concertinas, the buttons had numbers on them: the outer row of each hand numbered 1 - 5, the inner row 6 - 10. This can be used to annotate a staff score, placing the right-hand numbers above and the left-hand numbers below the stave. The outer row of a 30k anglo can be numbered 1a - 5a on each side (as in my old Anglo tutor!)

As far as publishing is concerned, music publishers have always printed numbers in piano scores for the fingerings.

And the bellows direction has been conventionally conveyed by putting a "V" over the button number for the draw, the press being default (we call it a "squeezebox", not a "stretchbox", don't we?) This character is also much used in music publishing, as a bowing instruction for violinists.

 

Your indicators for "initial bellows state" could be quite useful, but again, that's not notation, it's annotation (the kind of thing orchestral violinists pencil in on their sheet music at rehearsals).

 

I'm attaching an example from my tutor (never done this before - let's see if it works!)

 

Cheers,

John

post-6581-1212686675_thumb.jpg

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In another thread I kind of came up with and ad-hoc notation system that may be useful with ABC tunes:

I would number the keys similar to the above, but it would be 1-5 for the C row, 6-0 for the G row and A-E for the accidental row. The reason for this would be to be able to include the button notation in a row underneath the ABC notation, and since most of the notes in ABC are only one character wide, the button notation should be as well.

 

example:

K: EMin
Button:				  1 5  5B   6B5 5 2   121	
Note:	 B, | EFG 2FE | Bef 2ga | bag fed | BdB afD ....
Button:   6	47D  74	0			 0		577
Bellows:  P	PDD  DP   DDD  PP   PPP DDD   DDD DDP

Or for the bellows line you could just use V on the draw. I left out some of the header stuff from the ABC, though; I'm pretty new at it. I'd match up the button with the name of the note, not with anything that modifies the note (like commas, accents or whatever).

Note that the example above only works on a Lachenal layout.

Maybe it's pointless; just tossing my two pence in the mix.

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I had made some years ago a notation system that I used only twice, that was mainly for remembering chords positions.

It was for 30 buttons concertina buttons and was similar to

In a concertina in c/g, I put the note c, d, e, etc. and under the number and 30, and pulling indicated by __ under the number, as is usual in button accordion notations.

left hand right hand

row accidentals 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

row C 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

row G 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

 

 

Félix

 

 

 

In another thread I kind of came up with and ad-hoc notation system that may be useful with ABC tunes:

I would number the keys similar to the above, but it would be 1-5 for the C row, 6-0 for the G row and A-E for the accidental row. The reason for this would be to be able to include the button notation in a row underneath the ABC notation, and since most of the notes in ABC are only one character wide, the button notation should be as well.

 

example:

K: EMin
Button:				  1 5  5B   6B5 5 2   121	
Note:	 B, | EFG 2FE | Bef 2ga | bag fed | BdB afD ....
Button:   6	47D  74	0			 0		577
Bellows:  P	PDD  DP   DDD  PP   PPP DDD   DDD DDP

Or for the bellows line you could just use V on the draw. I left out some of the header stuff from the ABC, though; I'm pretty new at it. I'd match up the button with the name of the note, not with anything that modifies the note (like commas, accents or whatever).

Note that the example above only works on a Lachenal layout.

Maybe it's pointless; just tossing my two pence in the mix.

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row accidentals 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

row C 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

row G 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

 

Ingenious in itself, but without application.

I don't understand why you guys are still chewing on the tablature/notation for Anglo, when it's been done by the French for their 3 row semi-chromatic accordions, and the music they play is pretty thoroughly arranged.

Just look at Bernard Loffet site. Simple, easy to read, one learns to read the stave as well as his own instrument, and in case you have several concertinas in different keys, easy to play from the score on instrument in any tuning.

The only variation is the push/pull vs. row.

I prefer the system where it's like this:

The stave, where fingers are indicated by numbers next to notes,

G row, where push is indicated by the "." or "/\" above or next to the number of button

C row, .........the same as above

Bass row, where basses are indicated by letters.

There is really not much else you can do. Berthram Levy used to indicate the push/pull with up/down stems, but it's a compromise and there is no need for it.

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John & all,

 

Thanks for your responses, and the information on other sources. I've been working on my own, in comparative isolation, and had wondered if there were pre-established strategies for the things I was struggling with. You've given me a lot to think about.

 

Best,

Steven

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STEVEN: you might enjoy reading the following:

 

Maria Dunkel, "Buttons and Codes: Ideographies for Bandoneon and Concertina as Examples of

Alternative Notational systems in Nineteenth-Century Germany," THE FREE-REED JOURNAL, 2

(2000), 5 - 18.

 

 

it deals with notational systems that dispense with the staff entirely. . . .and tell the performer where

to put his or her fingers. . . . . .

 

 

as for what you describe as a "vibrato". . . .it is NOT a vibrato. . . .a real vibrato of the kind that one

gets on a string instrument involves a slight change of pitch in the note being played. . . . .one can

no more get a vibrato on the concertina than one can on the piano. . . . . .to be sure, lots of

concertinists use it. . . . .personally, i find it rather annoying unless it's used very very very sparingly

as an "ornament" of sorts...........Allan

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Um, you can get a vibrato out of a concertina by changing the pressure rapidly, which does change the pitch somewhat. Noel Hill does it, and Mr. Edgley taught it at the Button Box Workshops a month or so back.

 

You can get a vibrato out of a piano, too, if you have a wrench and if you don't mind paying someone a lot of money to retune and possibly repair the thing afterwards. Most players eschew such a technique, though.

 

(I just wanted to use the word 'eschew' today. It's a good word, sadly underutilized.)

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CHRIS AND FOLKS: it's not quite that either. . . . . .a real tremelo is when, for instance, a pianist alternately plays two notes -- let's say an octave apart -- as quickly as possible and in a basically unmeasured way. . . . . . .or when a string player plays the same note rapidly in an unmeasured way. . . . . .

 

what we concertinists do is annoy people................and Regondi pleaded with players not to do it. . . . .his pleas went unheeded. . . . .the Matusewitches did it a lot, thinking that they were producing a quasi-vibrato. . . . .you will hear Ernest Rutterford do it on English International at the beginning of this century. . . . . . .

 

again, i think one can get away with it if it's used very sparingly as an ORNAMENT of sorts. . . . . . . .allan

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. . .a real tremelo is when, for instance ... when a string player plays the same note rapidly in an unmeasured way. . . . . .

 

With one reservation. On the mandolin - where tremolo is more than just a decoration - we distinguish beween unmeasured and measured tremolo. Often, the tremolo consists of the same, even number of up and down strokes for each beat of the bar. The slower the tempo, the more strokes per beat. This imparts a sort of "micro-rhythm" to an already rhythmic tune. If, on the other hand, I'm playing a slow tune very rubato, the tremolo will usually be unmeasured.

 

Can you do that on a concertina? On an English or duet, I suppose you could hold down one button and move the bellows rapidly in and out. On an anglo, this would only work on the notes that have alternate fingerings (same note on press and draw), and these are by definition on different buttons, so it would be difficult to get the repetitions fast enough to qualify as a tremolo, and a whole phrase with tremolo would be impossible. (If that's what I want, I take use my mandolin!)

 

With the concertina, you can shake the bellows, or you can waggle an unused finger, both of which "pulse" the tone heavily or lightly, respectively. If this isn't vibrato (whether you like it or not), what is it? The effect is very similar to a violin vibrato, at any rate

 

Cheers,

John

 

PS: Do the accordionists call that very "wet" tuning with clear beats "tremolo" or "vibrato"? Or something entirely different, like "musette"?

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Wet or musette tuning does lead to one kind 'tremolo' effect, which is a kind of beat in the tone which is caused by the frequency of the sound sometimes reinforcing itself or sometimes cancelling itself out. The overall frequency of the sound doesn't change, the amplitude changes.

A vibrato, by contrast, is supposed to be a rapid change in the frequency of the sound, but not the amplitude.

In a wind instrument the player would produce a tremolo with breathing and a vibrato with embrouchure.

With a concertina (or a accordion) by changing the pressure applied to the bellows rapidly what is being done is going to affect both amplitude and frequency.

 

Tremolo is an imprecise word with several applications, depending on the instrument.

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I have been interested to read the comments relating to 'vibrato' and 'tremolo'. As I play by ear, entirely for my own amusement I receive no critical feedback from an audience or fellow musicians and I can therefore play purely for my own satisfaction. My dictionary suggests that 'tremolo' is an intrinsic quality of certain (musical) instruments, and the human voice, over which the performer presumably has little if any personal control...' a tremulous or vibrating effect'. I would expect singers would probably challenge this definition. The same dictionary describes 'vibrato' as 'a pulsating effect....a variation of emphasis on some tone. A throb. A wobble'. The general effect is, I reckon, very much the same whatever we choose to call it. I make frequent use of one or other of these techniques, with appropriate discretion, when and where I feel it enhances the music. I find it a simple and very satisfying technique to apply on my Anglo. I am happy to describe what I do as a 'throb' or a 'wobble' It cannot be directly compared to the not dissimilar effect produced by players of violins and related instruments who have to 'wobble' the string whereas I have to 'wobble' the bellows, and pianists can presumable only rely upon 'tremolo' as defined above. This is obviously a far more complex subject than I have suggested and I shall now wait to be told that I am talking nonsense !

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Back onto the tablature discussion.

This has been discussed at length in the last 10 years (some suggestions even using colours) and concensus usually ended up that it is not that easy to create a "catch-all" tab for anglo.

The suggestions generally involved < and > for bellows direction, L and R for which hand and we had long arguments about what to call the rows. Front, Back, Accidental, F,B,A, were thought to be very confusing C,G,X (extra) were thought confusing to G/D players, and no tab could cope with people who had oddity anglos with more than 3 rows.

An individual may have their own version of tab which is only specific to their concertina as someone elses Jeffries may have a different key layout. Many people have more than one concertina - which are not identical in layout.

 

You can invent your own, but it may not be relevant to anyone else.

 

What can you use tab for? I have sometimes thought tab may be useful for scales in one direction, but for learning tunes or different fingerings, spend 2 weeks practising - you will eventually remember them.

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What can you use tab for? I have sometimes thought tab may be useful for scales in one direction, but for learning tunes or different fingerings, spend 2 weeks practising - you will eventually remember them.

 

Very astute thinking!

 

Let's face it: one plays the anglo because one wants to be able to play by ear, and by-ear players learn faster because they understand what they're playing.

 

:lol:

 

Cheers,

John

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I find it difficult to learn a tune from tab, although it can be helpful to work out fingerings for particular passages. Where I find it most useful is a a reminder: having worked out how to play a difficult passage, I can make a note in tab so that when I come back to the tune at some future date I won't struggle to remember how I played it.

 

When I use tab at all, which is seldom, it is as an aide memoire rather than a detailed transcription of a whole tune

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What can you use tab for? I have sometimes thought tab may be useful for scales in one direction, but for learning tunes or different fingerings, spend 2 weeks practising - you will eventually remember them.

 

Very astute thinking!

 

Let's face it: one plays the anglo because one wants to be able to play by ear, and by-ear players learn faster because they understand what they're playing.

 

:lol:

 

Cheers,

John

This is off subject, but why do you think it true about learning faster with respect to playing by ear?

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