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Concertina & Fiddle together

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I don't know if this is an issue unique to my ears. I've noticed that whenever I'm listening to a tune with concertina and fiddle I have a difficult time picking out the concertina, until the concertina player adds some ornament or chord to the mix. But as soon as he or she is back to more-or-less straight melody, I can no longer hear the instrument. It is, to my ears, totally covered up by or blended-in with the fiddle. I've noticed this on CDs from very fine players. The two instruments don't conflict with each other, in fact, their voices seem to blend so much that I really have trouble picking out the concertina though I can hear what the fiddle is doing pretty well. I find I have to avoid these duets when I'm looking for a piece to listen to when I want to figure out what the concertina player is doing. Do fiddles inhabit the same harmonic frequencies (not sure if that is the correct term) as the anglo concertina? Or, are my ears just not trained enough, or is it possible they have lost their ability to discriminate between certain frequencies? My hearing is generally quite good, but loss of ability to hear higher frequencies sometimes increases with age. Anyone else notice this about the two instruments? If so, what is going on acoustically? Thanks

Acoustically what is going on is that not only are both concertinas and violins harmonically rich as opposed to a flute for instance, but their harmonic structure is quite similar. That they don't sound completely the same is due more to the fact that the levels of the different harmonics are not identical, something that gets almost completely lost when played together. The harmonic structure of the different double and single reed pipes is also similar( depending on the kind of bore ). Unlike many instruments, the sound of each of these instruments is created in each by the shutting off of air or string motion at a point in the cycle. While what happens next is different in each case, it is the strongest influence on the sound character.

The more strikingly unique the concertinas sound when played with a good quality violin, the better it may be heard. Also, live performances can make it much more easy to distinguish them, so don't write the combo off altogether.

You'll get the best contrast ( which reading the other comments tells me isn't always what is desired ) with flutes/ whistles, plucked or hammered string instruments ( piano , hammer dulcimer ) or any of the purer sounding instruments. ( and obviously instruments in lower ).

I find in a small group (4 or 5 ) playing fiddle and concertina together works very well for the players. Perhaps for performance where the audience doesn't benefit from the instrument being right near your ear, separating the instruments on stage may help them to stay independently audible.


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I was playing with a fiddler the other night and on certain notes I couldn't hear the concertina at all. I kept thinking

my concertina was malfunctioning, but that was not the case. It did make it more difficult to play, like trying to play

a tune with some of the reeds not making any sound.

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Fiddle and concertina is my favourite combo, seconded by button accordion and concertina, or fiddle and button accordion. I I guess I'm lucky to play concertina and fiddle, and my girlfriend plays the box!


Can't argue with

or this


What I particularly like is the blending of the melody, but the subtle differences in phrasing and articulation (ornamentation) of the melody between the two instruments.

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Fiddle and concertina is my favourite combo


What I particularly like is the blending of the melody, but the subtle differences in phrasing and articulation (ornamentation) of the melody between the two instruments.


Yes, very nice samples! Perfect blending is nice, too - richer than just one instrument - but these little "deviations" add life to it.


Stylistically, my group is located somewhere between The Dubliners and The Chieftains (definitely Irish music, definitely not ITM :lol: ) and we do some Carolan pieces. Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor and Planxty Irwin are two of our favourites, and we do them with fiddle, Anglo, guitar and double bass. Carolan was, after all, baroque (an older contemporary of J.S. Bach), so two solo instruments with basso continuo suits him well.


We alternate between fiddle and Anglo in unison, and Anglo melody with fiddle second line, and when the bass comes in, it is bowed. I really enjoy getting a good, smooth legato out of the Anglo. We play these pieces in D, and I have a C/G accordion-reeded Anglo, which blends very well with the fiddle and the bowed bass. The cross-row fingering I use for the scale of D simply reverses the press/draw pattern of the home keys.


When we perform these pieces, I can really feel the audience's attention, so it must sound OK :lol:




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I'm very comfortable that what you say is correct. What I wonder is whether it's also from a 21st century prespective. Today, anyone can play into a computer and do all sorts of harmonic and tonal analysis. Wheatstone wouldn't have had any of the electronic tools that let us do that. I suspect he would have been able to match the range and then experiment with reeds, bellows, action etc. and used his ear to refine his product. I wonder is he thought he had succeeded or even what he considered sucess. Maybe one of the historians knows.

21st century? Euler, Lagrange, and Fourier were all picking apart the mathematics of vibrating media 50 years before Wheatstone's work on the concertina. Being the polymath that he was, I have no doubt that he was aware of it.

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