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Im trying to figure out exactly what a drone key sounds like when played. Is backbeat tapping like Mary MacNamara's done with a drone in D for example, or is she just tapping an available D? Or is the drone only used for having a C or D as a bisonorous note? Im thinking that Noel Hill's playing of the Bucks of Oranmore on Music of Dreams is a good example of using a drone, (especially around 1:25) but I could be very wrong. Can someone direct me to a recording that is a good example? I have alot of Irish players, so anything along those lines im likely to have, or something on youtube even.

 

Thanks!

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I'm sure that's true in the Irish tradition Stephen; I don't know enough about it to comment.

 

If you want to hear a really good example of use of a drone key on an Anglo, Pgidley, listen to John Kirkpatrick's medley of The Queen's Delight and Room For The Cuckoo on the "Boxing Clever" compilation. I find I use the drone key on my G/D a lot, but then I like drones generally, not just on concertina :)

 

(Hello again to those that know me, by the way - I've had to create a new account as I somehow managed to break my old one! :rolleyes: )

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Twenty years ago, or thereabouts, I ordered a Dipper with a drone. With my piping background, I thought it would be a good idea. For me, it was a waste of money. At least with my playing style, I found some annoying drawbacks:

-the drone tends to overwhelm the melody. i.e. the volume of the drone is too much for the melody. "Drones" should be used sparingly, and the effect can usually be accomplished by using existing buttons with the little finger for short phrases.

-played in a continuous fashion (like the drone on a bagpipe), whenever you change direction (as happens quite often with an anglo) the drone sounds like a series of hiccoughs. Not the effect of pipes at all.

I know, I know, there will now be crowds telling me the virtues of concertina drones. For those who can do it effectively, good for you. But for the most part, drones are best left to the pipes.

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Im trying to figure out exactly what a drone key sounds like when played. Is backbeat tapping like Mary MacNamara's done with a drone in D for example, or is she just tapping an available D? Or is the drone only used for having a C or D as a bisonorous note? Im thinking that Noel Hill's playing of the Bucks of Oranmore on Music of Dreams is a good example of using a drone, (especially around 1:25) but I could be very wrong. Can someone direct me to a recording that is a good example? I have alot of Irish players, so anything along those lines im likely to have, or something on youtube even.

 

Thanks!

When Noel plays long passages with a drone note ( not a drone button ) he generally rearranges his fingering to allow all the melody notes on the draw,( like the place in the Bucks you mention ) and or alternates between the Press and Draw versions of the drone note. He most commonly does this on the Middle D (left hand ) and uses either the one on the Middle row, or the alternate he usually has ( depending on the concertina he is playing ) on the lowest button of the G row. The concertinas he commonly plays at concerts / classes etc, don't have drone keys. As for the back beat tapping, I don't know what Mary does, but Noel uses whichever note/ button is in the correct direction for the tune at hand. Again most commonly done with the draw and press middle D. It takes a bit of time to get to where this is automatic and doesn't have to be planned out in advance, but is worth taking the time to learn.

 

I had a C/G with a drone button converted from a C to a D, but found it no more effective than the above mentioned methods, and still involved needing to arrange the fingering in one direction to avoid the break in the note with a change in bellows direction which sounds a little clunky as compared to simply dispensing with the drone when the fingering doesn't work well with it. Some other style of playing might take advantage of a drone button better, but I found it a waste of a button on a concertina and don't offer them on mine.

 

I found that by learning to use any button for a drone effect opened up a lot of musical possibilities that I use all the time now ( always in moderation ) If you really want a good long drone throughout a tune for a special effect, you might try what Grey Larsen has done using one of those harmoniums for accompaniment. it has the advantage of being able to have the drone be a separate volume level from the melody for better balance. I can't quite remember, but I think Grey had it set up so he could operate the thing with his foot, and it was just set with one note open. Been to long since I saw him.

Dana

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What makes a drone a drone rather than one of the lower pitched buttons that you jam a finger on for a few bars? I'd assumed it was just a matter of useage of the existing buttons but it sounds like something special?

 

Is it an extra button or do you have to give up other notes to fit it in?

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Twenty years ago, or thereabouts, I ordered a Dipper with a drone. With my piping background, I thought it would be a good idea. For me, it was a waste of money. At least with my playing style, I found some annoying drawbacks:

-the drone tends to overwhelm the melody. i.e. the volume of the drone is too much for the melody. "Drones" should be used sparingly, and the effect can usually be accomplished by using existing buttons with the little finger for short phrases.

-played in a continuous fashion (like the drone on a bagpipe), whenever you change direction (as happens quite often with an anglo) the drone sounds like a series of hiccoughs. Not the effect of pipes at all.

I know, I know, there will now be crowds telling me the virtues of concertina drones. For those who can do it effectively, good for you. But for the most part, drones are best left to the pipes.

I wonder if that is why, on a lot of Jeffries the thumb button has different note, not a drone.

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What makes a drone a drone rather than one of the lower pitched buttons that you jam a finger on for a few bars? I'd assumed it was just a matter of useage of the existing buttons but it sounds like something special?

 

Is it an extra button or do you have to give up other notes to fit it in?

 

No, it's an additional button to a standard 30-button layout; the unusual thing about it for an Anglo is that it plays the same note in each direction.

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What makes a drone a drone rather than one of the lower pitched buttons that you jam a finger on for a few bars? I'd assumed it was just a matter of useage of the existing buttons but it sounds like something special?

 

Is it an extra button or do you have to give up other notes to fit it in?

No, it's an additional button to a standard 30-button layout; the unusual thing about it for an Anglo is that it plays the same note in each direction.

Perhaps I should explain, for those not familiar with drone keys on Anglos, that they are on the left-hand side of the instrument, placed in the corresponding position to the wind key on the right, and are played by the left thumb. Usually there is only one of them, but some instruments (especially by George Jones) are occasionally encountered with two.

 

However, I would find it more helpful to refer to this button as the "thumb key", especially as on many instruments by Jeffries and their ilk, it isn't a "drone" at all, but rather it plays different notes on press and draw to assist in chording... :unsure:

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Excellent... These are exactly the things I wanted to know. I was thinking that it was most likely a matter of tapping an available D (or other relative note) rather than needing a drone, but I had to ask you folk in your infinite concertina wisdom.

 

I love a strong backbeat, and playing the fiddle, I always catch myself either two-foot tapping or tapping the offbeats in a session. In fact, Mary Macnamara's strong backbeat playing is what initially drew me to the concertina. Im glad it can be accomplished without a special button!

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When playing a chordal style, the drone can be effective, but it's best used sparingly. I find it's best to use very light chords against a drone, usually only 2 or occasionally 3 notes, rather than "full" chords. To start off a tune this way and then move to full chording, or to use it briefly mid-tune, can be very effective.

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The late Peter Bellamy used the drone keys pretty consistently in song accompaniment.

 

From memory, and a lot of years ago, he had two small flat metal levers, each attached to an end bolts which he swung in to hold the drone buttons down. One was a conventional thumb key; the other I believe was at the low end of the row nearest the hand rest. (G row on a C/G box). Or was it the upper row? Can't remember.

 

Certainly gave him a few very unusual chords and effects.

 

MC

Edited by malcolm clapp
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I use the drone quite a lot on tunes and for several songs.

Because I play in the octave apart style it does not overpower the melody. On some tunes I will switch from using the drone button to using two alternate direction buttons to provide a different drone note in separate repetitions of the tune.

Nobody's plucked up courage to tell me not to do it yet:)

 

Robin Madge

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"Drone" is one of those words that has slightly different meanings in different contexts. Might be a good idea to sort them out by instrument type.

 

a) Musically speaking, a drone is a continuously sounding note.

 

B) With bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies, it's used in this sense. The drones of the pipes have no finger-holes, and the drones of the hurdy-gudy have no tangents to alter the note, and there's no way of stopping them while you're playing.

 

c) With fretted stringed instruments, a drone is a string that has no frets and always sounds the same note when plucked. With the sitar, these strings are used to provide a constant background note, much as under (B). The 5th string of the banjo is also referred to as a drone, but it is never played continuously, though in some styles it is played continually (e.g. once in each bar). In other banjo styles, it is just an open-string note that makes some fingerings easier. (BTW; the banjo's 5th dtring does have frets under it, but it is seldom stopped. In standard tuning, the fretted 5th string sounds the same note as the 1st string at the same fret, and the 1st is easier to fret.)

 

d) With bowed stringed instruments, a lower, open string is sometimes sounded continuously while the higher string is fingered. Here, the drone is a playing technique, not a separate piece of hardware.

 

So, angloists, take your pick.

 

If the left thumb button is bi-sonoric, like all the other buttons, I wouldn't call it a drone in any sense of the word.

 

If it is mono-sonoric, you could call it a drone in the sense of ( c ) above: its note cannot be altered in the way that the "normal" Anglo button's note can be, by reversing the bellows direction. You don't have to sound it continuously - you can just use it to facilitate some fingerings, as with the 5th string of the banjo.

 

You can, of course, hold a mono-sonoric button down to imitate a bagpipe - making it a drone in the sense of (a) and (B) above - but I quite believe the earlier poster who said that a drone that hiccoughs every time you change bellows direction doesn't make a very convincing drone!

 

So my concertina-relevant definition of "drone" would be: A mono-sonoric button on an otherwise bi-sonoric free-reed instrument.

 

The term would have no relevance to the English or duet concertinas. (Except in the sense of a playing technique akin to fiddle droning, where you hold one button down while playing a melody on the others. On an Anglo, this technique involves switching between two buttons at each change of bellows direction.)

 

Hope this helps!

 

Cheers,

John

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I quite believe the earlier poster who said that a drone that hiccoughs every time you change bellows direction doesn't make a very convincing drone!

 

Not if you're trying to imitate a bagpipe drone. However keeping the drone on while changing bellows direction can emphasise the rhythym quite effectively. Alternatively, play across the rows to minimise bellows reversals, and try to make them coincide with a phrase in the music to make the effect on the drone note less obvious.

 

Both ways give different effects.

 

I must admit to liking the drone and I have to resist the temptation to use it too often.

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I don't know whether this will help at all, but when a question about drones came up on this forum a year or two ago I recorded a few tunes in my kitchen by way of demonstration. They're still there on our Recorded Tunes page:

http://www.anglo-concertina.net/guests/bri...rses_branle.mp3

http://www.anglo-concertina.net/guests/brian/sellingers.mp3

(both using LH thumb C drone, with addtional chording gradually added)

http://www.anglo-concertina.net/guests/brian/nonsuch.mp3

(D drone created by moving from pull to push D, followed by C drone, then conventional chording).

Brian

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I don't know whether this will help at all, but when a question about drones came up on this forum a year or two ago I recorded a few tunes in my kitchen by way of demonstration. They're still there on our Recorded Tunes page:

http://www.anglo-concertina.net/guests/bri...rses_branle.mp3

http://www.anglo-concertina.net/guests/brian/sellingers.mp3

(both using LH thumb C drone, with addtional chording gradually added)

http://www.anglo-concertina.net/guests/brian/nonsuch.mp3

(D drone created by moving from pull to push D, followed by C drone, then conventional chording).

Brian

 

of course, brian can make us all look like dopes, making drones sound wonderufl.

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