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I am constantly wrestling with these tricky tunes on C/G Anglo. Most tunes I fancy are in G or D off the C row, so it requires a lot of fiddling about.

 

The challenge is to get a smooth flow and put in embellishments. I have them all in my head as I diddle and whistle a lot as I'm gardening or doing building work.

 

 

The problem is transferring that to the conc. and noting them down in ABC to remind myself of the button and bellow positions and to allow analysis.

 

 

Recently I've been playing some tapes of dancers I made when i played melodeon for Irish dancers in the 80s doing slow set dances and hornpipes. They are pretty strict tempo phrases of 4x 4 8th notes per bar.

 

Anyway - I notice I'm waking up very early as the birds start singing and going through tricky reels in this strict format. Then later in the day I mess around and put in all the slurs and grace notes.

 

It helps to fix the tunes

 

Does anyone else have this 'Spring Fever'? It can stop you sleeping!

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I know what you mean. It's been like this since I got my Morse in January. I get to listen to a bit of Irish music when I work (mostly yesterday's show on Clarefm), and when I get home, I get to play for an hour or three. I am getting used to the cross-row playing, but there are a lot of decisions to be made (in what run to play inside/outside B etc.). For instance, I have spent the last hour on practicing crans on A and E.....

 

I am beginning to realize that I am driven by two things:

 

1. To be able to play in our session. I've played the fiddle there for years, so I have a lot of tunes, but I need them on the concertina!

 

2. I just booked a weekend in Ennis, with what might be 6 hours with a private tutor. This will be the first time I play my concertina with another Anglo. Ever. I am very excited by this.

 

But maybe you're right, spring is here. Only about 2 feet of wet snow left in downtown Oslo :lol:

 

S

 

cowardly edited etc..

Edited by Snorre
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Chances are you're both playing too fast. And you should take a look at my little disquisition on Playing Across the Rows It's been downloaded a bunch of times so a few people have found it useful. It's a handy way of approaching the instrument. It emphasizes the use of your strongest fingers as well as using reeds closest to the open part of the grillwork (rather than under your hand), to get the best sound from your concertina.

Remember- the best way to learn to play fast is not by playing fast. It is by playing slowly. Being a great player isn't about ornamentation. It's about rhythm and phrasing. Ornamentation is an adornment but it is not at the heart of the music.

Edited by David Levine
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David, I agree, tempo can be a problem. I am used to being able to play tunes in what I see to be a normal session tempo, and I do get in trouble for that on the concertina. Having said that, I find trying to keep up with the tempo my local session (where this is not frowned upon) is inspiring.

 

Ornamentation in concertina music, to me, is about style, some players use lots, some a little, some none at all. The players I listen a lot to at this stage, tend to use some ornamentation, and I like it, so I try to get that in as well.

 

As for the Noel Hill approach, I read your description of it, and tend to try to use that when applicable. I am partly using Niall Vallely's tutor, which would make more use of C and D/E on the R2, with cuts and triplets. At the moment I mix them.....trying to be able to make my way round the instrument in an easy a fashion as I can, given bellows, next note, ornament and all of it.

 

I started out on a two row with the R2 C tuned up to C#, so for some reason I would be drawn to use the B/C on L1.

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To me, the most fascinating thing about the concertina is that, it's indeed, the musical Rubik's cube.

 

I like a bouncier feeling for jigs, polkas and hornpipes. So I usually play them with more bellows changes - perhaps 3 or 4 notes slurred -.

 

But sometomes I don't know how to approach to reels. I mean, is very tempting to use the high A and B in the RH C row, but sometimes gives awkward fingerings, as well as using them in combination with the G in the RH ACC row for to play those notes in a bellows - I'm talking about Jeffries layout -. The more slurring you do the faster you can play, but I feel that you loose some rythm with it. I supose that, as Niall Vallely says in his tutor, the point is to keep it simple.

 

Also, I have a tendence to play more in the pull than in the push, and when the bellows goes totally stretched I begin to panic :blink: - is not nice to use the air button in the middle of a phrase - so i need to learn to use the notes in the LH G row for to get more pushed notes...

 

And thinking about all these things even when I'm working! It's really addictive :lol:

 

Cheers,

 

Fer

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Recently I've been playing some tapes of dancers I made when I played melodeon for Irish dancers in the 80s doing slow set dances and hornpipes. They are pretty strict tempo phrases of 4 x 4 8th notes per bar.

 

 

I've been looking at this again (Friday 13th whooooh!)

 

If you take a tune and get into it then try to ignore it as commonly played but stick to a 'strict tempo' / 1234 1234 / per bar it makes you analyse the potential for the skeleton of the tune and for variations and ornaments. I wish I knew enough about very basic computer programmes that did this in the 80s.

 

 

I have just applied myself to ' Come West Along the Road' and listened to Frank Edgley, Chris Droney, Tommy Mc Carthy, Aogan Lynch etc ---and I think I 'got it' within a few hours. It's one I've known and 'played along to' for years in sessions

 

Now allI need to do is to get into a session and try it out! Rember I'm mainly on my own as the local session scene has been in abeyance!

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Mike, these are just a few things I've been thinking about - especially after having played my concertina in a session last night.

It's easier - for me - to use the air button on a press than on a draw. So I worry more about not having enough air then I worry about the bellows being stretched too much.

The concertina makes its own sound so in that sense it's an easier instrument than the flute or the fiddle. But the fingering is inconsistent, unlike the flute. So it's handy to have a set fingering pattern that you nearly always go to as you're playing a tune. But not every time. To do this (using the same button for the same note) all the time would involve jumping from one button to another consecutively with the same finger. That can make the music awkward and choppy. So you have to learn to use other buttons that you use instead of the first choice. This is not a problem on an English concertina – but that instrument doesn’t have the jaunty bounce or the happy bark of the Anglo.

The fingering on the Anglo becomes tricky because it isn't always automatic. You have to map out many tunes on an individual basis, and then remember this at speed when things get noisy and some people are playing different settings of the same tune. You have to stick to what you have mapped out. Don't kid yourself, this isn't easy. But this is what the good guys do all the time. And the only way to do this is to play a lot. A lot lot. And for a while you will have trouble in sessions because you're playing faster than you would on your own, you can't always hear yourself clearly, and because you can't always remember the exceptions - like learning the irregular verbs in a foreign language.

As for who to listen to – I’d recommend starting with Larry Kinsella (The Barley Grain), Kate McNamara (Are You the Concertina Player?), and Dympna O’Sullivan (Bean Chairdin) – not necessarily in that order. Their style is very fluid and simple and their versions are accessible. Their music isn’t cluttered with a lot of ornamentation, which many people think is worth spending lots of time on - but which can get in the way of the smooth rhythm that is the first criterion of good music.

First get the basics. Slow down. Get a fluid rhythm going at a slow speed. Play deliberately. Then you’ll find that ornamentation becomes second nature.

Edited by David Levine
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I’d recommend starting with Larry Kinsella (The Barley Grain)

 

I just acquired this recently and it's grand music but if I recall correcly, he doesn't play much on a C/G. Most of the tracks are played on a Bflat and a Aminor instrument or something like that - so he could be playing in 'odd' keys.

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Yes, we are hearing the tunes in different keys. But I am referring here to the leisurely pace, the rock-solid rhythm, and to the spare ornamentation. His finger placement would be the same as if he were playing a C/G. The settings are lovely and very accessible. It's not easy to play along with unless you happen to have a Bb/F concertina or The Amazing Slow-downer, which you can get from http://www.ronimusic.com/ and which is worth every penny.

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After David's comments on 'thinking it out in advance' I've been thinking about my years as a rock climber. Particularly when you are bouldering or soloing complex routes you have to mentally figure out your moves in advance in a similar fashion , then go for it, without a 'safety net' or protection apart from a bit of chalk on your fingers!

 

In music sessions you just hope that all the fingerings you've tried and the practice you've put in will see you through, you need confidence and also an awareness of when to hold off .That's a bit like freestyling when you just get on the rock and go for it in an unrestricted fashion.

 

There is a similar buzz I get from traditioanl music that I always got in 'adventure sports'. The lack of any clearly defined rules and unexpected outcomes always appealed to me. When I had kids I decided that dangerous sports weren't really justifiable , but I found I got the same fellowship and was able to involve my family via Morris dancing and trad music festivals and camping in lovely environments ( my erstwhile , unmarried , tough mates thought I was sad!)! ' Morris - a Life with Balls-Ups'

 

Now most of them are divorced or pursuing business careers and limping about with bad knees , ( as I am , bleeding Morris!)

Edited by michael sam wild
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Marien,

Thanks for pointing that out. The link to Playing Across the Rows should be working fine now. Sorry for the error. I shouldn't be calling it Noel Hill's System because I'm using his name inappropriately.

 

Mike- free-style concertina-playing. Without safety. I love it.

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All a bit sad really. Why do people want to 'celebrate St Patrick's Day' when it's all silly hats, Guinness promotions and crap songs and racial stereotypes . In England it seemed to start with Dubliners' songs in the 60s or was it an American thing from a long way back in the 1920s , dyeing the river green in Chicago etc?.

 

They dragged out some Councillors and a few 'Irish' reps here in Sheffield for a 'march' of about 300 people ( apparently the only one in England, where sympathy with Ireland has gone down after the latest atrocities) and a reception at the Town Hall with a couple of dancers that must have cost a packet. The 'main' event was a commercial tent selling beer in the pedestrian area by a pub which never supportd anything normally with a landlord with no 'credentials'!

 

Why do musicians demean themselves for one day in the year to try to make a few bob!? Would any other ethnic group allow such an appropriation by the 'ex-dominant ' culture!? there was never a sizeable Irish community in Sheffield anyway.

 

Mike

Edited by michael sam wild
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Too bad, Mike. Over here it was a great day in the pubs. At least it was in the one I went to. In Kilfenora the session had from six to twelve musicians and we were all well fed and watered. The crowd was dense and lively ( a bit too loud at times) but appreciative of the music. Some funny hats and a few people got loaded but all in all it was very festive and lots of fun. I left at seven and after that things might have deteriorated - and I can't of course speak for all of Ireland - but things here in the neighborhood were fairly restrained and non-commercial.

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The St. Patrick's Day session was in Linnane's, in Kilenora. The session you're thinking of, the old Tuesday night session, was in Vaughan's. It hasn't been held for a couple of years now. You've been gone too long!

I haven't seen Josephine again. I don't remember her having come more than once or twice to that Tuesday night session. I did play with Sarah a couple of months ago and I still play regularly with Robert.

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