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Accordion vs Melodian

GUEST 27 Dec 09 - 08:41 AM
The Sandman 26 Dec 09 - 02:54 PM
treewind 26 Dec 09 - 01:53 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Dec 09 - 12:48 PM
Rowan 31 May 07 - 04:03 AM
The Fooles Troupe 30 May 07 - 08:16 PM
Greg B 30 May 07 - 03:05 PM
The Sandman 30 May 07 - 10:08 AM
treewind 30 May 07 - 09:50 AM
manitas_at_work 30 May 07 - 09:38 AM
Marje 30 May 07 - 03:55 AM
Bob Bolton 30 May 07 - 02:36 AM
Rowan 29 May 07 - 11:40 PM
Bob Bolton 29 May 07 - 10:54 PM
Rowan 29 May 07 - 06:51 PM
Marje 29 May 07 - 11:05 AM
Greg B 29 May 07 - 11:01 AM
The Sandman 29 May 07 - 07:09 AM
treewind 29 May 07 - 06:56 AM
GUEST 29 May 07 - 05:06 AM
Bob Bolton 27 May 07 - 09:37 PM
Greg B 27 May 07 - 09:10 PM
Rowan 27 May 07 - 08:10 PM
The Fooles Troupe 27 May 07 - 11:36 AM
The Sandman 27 May 07 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,SueA 27 May 07 - 07:11 AM
Bob Bolton 27 May 07 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,Greg B 26 May 07 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,bellow 26 May 07 - 02:17 PM
The Sandman 26 May 07 - 07:22 AM
Barry Finn 26 May 07 - 01:40 AM
GUEST 25 May 07 - 04:02 PM
GUEST,martin ellison 25 May 07 - 10:51 AM
Barry Finn 25 May 07 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 25 May 07 - 04:52 AM
Barry Finn 24 May 07 - 10:15 PM
Tattie Bogle 24 May 07 - 08:34 PM
Bernard 24 May 07 - 07:36 PM
Steve Shaw 24 May 07 - 07:23 PM
Greg B 24 May 07 - 06:44 PM
oggie 24 May 07 - 05:41 PM
Schantieman 24 May 07 - 04:07 PM
Marje 24 May 07 - 03:57 PM
Greg B 24 May 07 - 03:48 PM
The Sandman 24 May 07 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,martin ellison 24 May 07 - 11:46 AM
GUEST 24 May 07 - 11:43 AM
GUEST 24 May 07 - 10:18 AM
Barry Finn 24 May 07 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 24 May 07 - 08:16 AM
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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Dec 09 - 08:41 AM

I think the other reason why fast old boxes are hard to find is that the quality and choice of instruments has improved so much in the last twenty five years. Even today if you compare a new Erica with (say) a Castagnari there is no comparison and for many years the Hohners were just about the only game in town.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Dec 09 - 02:54 PM

the other advantage of a D/G DIATONIC ACCORDION,is that there are more notes duplicated on each row,because d and g have so many notes in common,so you have five [i think],that are the same,but in the other direction,so if the player wants they can smooth out ,by cross rowing,on a BC therare only two B and E.
I believe the bc can be awkward in the key of d major even with basses retuned,hence some peoples preference for the c#d


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: treewind
Date: 26 Dec 09 - 01:53 PM

A melodeon is only "logical" if you start with a diatonic row or rows in the key you want to play in, and basses to match

You can't play a D major chord on *that* melodeon because it's got very weird basses!

And you can't play a right hand D chord on a B/C box either - but I'm sure a B/C box with the basses retuned for playing mostly in G and D does have a D bass.

A standard D/G with accidentals is good for D/G major, E dorian, A mixolydian and some tunes in C. I have learned a to play a tune in C minor on one but it was excruciatingly difficult and I couldn't do any proper chords or basses for half the tune.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Dec 09 - 12:48 PM

Basses on a C/C# or B/C box are not necessarily in G/D. On the Erica for example they are in the home keys and you have to get them retuned

Interesting! The 21-button B/C box I've been playing with (thanks Ged) has a standard layout apart from one of the basses - instead of

G | D   C | G
E | A   C | F

it's got

C#| B   C | G
E | A   C | F

I haven't yet found a use for a C# or B bass note, but I'll keep looking.

I'm interested by the contrast between English concertina ('logical') & melodeon ('intuitive'). Coming to it fresh (as a whistle-player) I find the push/pull system incredibly *un*intuitive - it seems to mean developing two separate bits of muscle memory for every note. I can't see myself learning many tunes that way. It's nice for chording, but in that respect its range is very limited - I was trying to work out how to play a D major chord for about five minutes this afternoon before I realised that it can't be done. I think an English concertina is going to be the box for me, when I can afford one!


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Rowan
Date: 31 May 07 - 04:03 AM

Greetings Bob,
Your "but I've now got .... a 48-key English" reminded me of the fact that I too have one that once belonged to Alan Marshall and which came into my ken in odd circumstances. One day I intend to get stuck into learning its intricacies, but I suspect my daughters may beat me to it. While trying desperately to avoid studying for assignments/exams/deadlines they both decided to have a crack at it; in only one afternoon they had worked out a couple of tunes from Begged, Borrowed and Stolen at respectable (if not dance) speed.

Sigh! The advantages of youth......

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 May 07 - 08:16 PM

"went through almost their entire stock, trying to find one that had a fast enough action"

I have this theorey why 'old instruments in good condition' are often so lousy to play - the good ones get played to death and scrapped - the lousy ones get shoved under the bed and brought out 50 years later 'when gran died' ...

:-)

Been lucky - most of the boxes I have acquired seem to be "good'uns" - have walked past many second hand boxes that just sound or feel crap... more Hohners than others... :-)

"wasn't a coronary but a cramp."

You MUST build that muscle - youwant speed and not just strength - so you need to develop both types of muscle fibre.

Of course, once the arthritus starts to kick in, you slow down...

"it's all about reed response, and instruments that are really good will nearly always feel really bad at first, because we're not up to them. "

I have a "Littel Black" tin whistle, it's a beast - cause it has the fastest 'note to note' action of all my whistles - it speaks so much faster than I can easily play that it sounds great on the very fast stuff, but a bugger to play 'soft & slowly' (you need to start and stop the notes cleanly and clearly with good technique, else it 'warbles') - as I've said elsewhere - that needs a better class of muso to work this instrument - as it's easier to play 'fast and loud'. Maybe it's my MMD that keeps frustrating me with this one.... :-)


Robin


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Greg B
Date: 30 May 07 - 03:05 PM

Seems like the bellows break-in on the Hohner 4-stop one-rows
has to be the toughest one going--- they nearly snap shut of
their own accord at first especially on their 'Cajun'
version which seems to feature 'heavy duty' bellows.
I've handled new ones in shops and they've been nearly
unplayable. Apparently some people actually hang the
instruments open for some time, to limber things up.

One time when Bob Webb was out in San Francisco giving a
concert, he played 'Donkey Riding' on a relatively new
Hohner one-row.

He said when he'd got the thing he'd been playing the hell
out of it (as most of us do when we get a new musical toy).

Woke up in the middle of the night with a cramp in his left
pectoral muscle, convinced he was having 'the big one,'
then realized it wasn't a coronary but a cramp.

I have a Cajun box (one row, of course) made for me by
Clarence 'Junior' Martin of Eunice, Louisiana. Quite
an amazing beast; I wish I was its equal!


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 07 - 10:08 AM

I too played the mouthorgan as a kid and still do ,am a Munster champion.I then found it very easy to go from the harmonica to the English Concertina.left to right instead of suck /blow.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: treewind
Date: 30 May 07 - 09:50 AM

Doug Bailey told me a story about a CD reviewer who commented on "understated percussion" - couldn't think what he meant as there was no percussion on the album in question, and finally worked out the reviewer was hearing key noise from a 1-row melodeon.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 30 May 07 - 09:38 AM

Anahata,

I played my one-row Hohner quite a lot in the Old Road Tavern at Chippenham over the weekend. As you say it is a glorious sound. I did a bit of work on it to raise the action and added felt pads to the tops of the pallets to reduce most of the extraneous noise from it.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Marje
Date: 30 May 07 - 03:55 AM

I, too, played the mouth organ as a kid - I taught myself - and thus, many years later, found that the diatonic melodeon seemed quite straightforward. In the UK, a few (not many) children played the mouth organ, but I never heard of it being taught in schools.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 30 May 07 - 02:36 AM

G'day again Rowan,

Well, times having changed by the time I came along (contrary to some other rumours you may have heard) I started after the demise of the "traditional" approach and I also got it all out of order:

1: 5th class (Primary School - 11 years of age) I had to learn recorder from the resident dragon/music mistress ... and that put me off all music for the next half decade!

2: I heard Australian "Bush" (traditional) music at the tag-end of its initial "revival" around Sydney ... and talked my parents into giving me an inexpensive melodion for Christmas (East German, brass reeds, key of A).

3: After lugging it around Tasmania, on top of hiking / hostelling / camping gear, I ran into a Pom at New Norfolk Youth Hostel - who suggested I should take up mouth organ, as it was the same tuning / didn't melt the reed wax when you left it too close to the campfire / and it was a damn site smaller and lighter. I bought a Boomerang Vamper model, for 6/6 (nominally 65˘) at Devonport on my way back to Sydney. I concentrated on mouthorgan, while still playing with the melodion. (I also bought

Back I Tassie, working on the Hydro-Electric Scheme, I bought a 2nd-hand Erica (red 'mother-of-toilet-seat', G/C)... for $12.50 in Hobart. (I also bought a 56-key Maccann Duet concertina, for $20 ... but never got my mind around any more than the sketchiest idea of the tuning scheme ... let alone actually playing it!).

Later, when I transferred to the Snowy Mts Scheme, I bought another 2nd-hand Erica (Black Perloid, C/F) in Queanbeyan and the two 'Richter' instruments started to talk to each other, via my head!

It's a pity that I didn't really explore the Maccan Duet ... and eventually sold it ... but I've now got a stack of Anglo and 'German' (well, in this case Italian!) concertinas ... as well as a 30-key Lachenal being refurbished at present - and a 48-key English ... needing me to become sufficiently motivated to have it refurbished to the point where I can learn another musical language!

(It's a good thing that the "How Long Will You Live" site linked on "the end of Clever" Thread reckons I should have another 33 years on this Earth ... I might have some chance to do all the things I've promised myself to try.)

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Rowan
Date: 29 May 07 - 11:40 PM

G'day Bob,
I gather Mike learned the mouthorgan when at school in Lincolnshire; I got the impression that it was then the default instrument for schoolkids the way recorders are (in Oz) now. From my own experience, the only instrument I ever got near when at primary school was a rather cheap type of fife that was probably in C and probably had the same fingering as a tin whistle; I can't really say because I never got even a note out of it.

I recall Arnold Dolmetsch arriving in Oz (~1958?) and barnstorming around the country flogging the notion that every schoolkid ought to be taught recorders (or, in his case, altblockflaut) and was thankful (being young and ignorant) that I had escaped.

While at Uni I was riding my pushbike to lectures and found a harmonica in the middle of the road, took it home and cleaned it up. All the notes worked (from memory it was a Hohner ~5" long diatonic in either D or G) but I couldn't get the hang of how to play it and put it away. When Mike told me that it, the box and the concer all worked on the same system I pulled it (and the box) out from the cupboard and checked his notion. I found I could play the same tune on all three instruments.

So you're right for the traditional approach but I got it the reverse way round. As you've noticed I am usually carrying the Anglo and that is the instrument I pick up when trying to get the hang of a novel tune, but I still carry the harmonica around in case I want its tone and I love the melodeons for theirs. I did support Kurt Jacob to the extent of getting a Corona III in A/D/G but I only use it occasionally and locally.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 29 May 07 - 10:54 PM

G'day Rowan,

Mike's comment" "... the reason he'd been able to get into the concer so quickly was that he'd played mouth organs for years and had easily transferred playing them to diatonic button accordions, which used the same system as that concertina..." is the heart of how youngsters traditionally learned tunes - then how to play the accordion or concertina. Most kids, in earlier days in Australia, got their hands (lips...?) onto a cheap mouthorgan and learned the 'local set' of tunes.

By the time Mum or Dad let them touch the family button accordion or (Anglo-) concertina, they had already mastered the a good number of tunes ... and only had to learn to transfer all this knowledge into hands and bellows. Many went on to be able to play for local dances on simple one (or -two) row squeezeboxes.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Rowan
Date: 29 May 07 - 06:51 PM

The first accordion I ever got close to was a black Hohner single row box in C at Mawson, Antarctica. I couldn't make head nor tail of the diatonic system. Some years later I saw one in a friend's house and commented that I'd wanted to play concertina. He immediately offered it to me as a gift, asking me to come back and play a couple of tunes on it for him. It was a millstone on my neck; the tunes I had in my head were too full of notes for me to deal with on such an instrument.

But a few years later on I was in Canberra for a Woolshed dance and Mike, one of the members of our singing group, had just found an Italian laminex concertina (2 row C/G Anglo) and I picked it up and found I could get a tune out of it. He suggested I borrow it until the next Woolshed and I took it home and finally 'nailed the tune'. [It has given me some pleasure over subsequent years to learn that the tune was apparently not written nor recorded until about 10 years after I learned it.] I got so excited about finally being able to play that I rang Mike up on the STD and played it to him.

He commented that the reason he'd been able to get into the concer so quickly was that he'd played mouth organs for years and had easily transferred playing them to diatonic button accordions, which used the same system as that concertina. I've played concertina ever since but for some dances I have found and played three old Hohner melodeons (one rowers in C, G, and D); I love them for their fruity (farty?) tone, just right for some of the old time dances.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Marje
Date: 29 May 07 - 11:05 AM

I see what you mean, Brian, about cross-row vs single-row playing; in fact I think the method you suggest is pretty close to what many people do anyway (i.e. learning as single-row and adding cross-row playing later), because picking out a tune on a single row is such fun and so satisfying for a beginner, I can't imagine many people not doing it as soon as they get their hands on a melodeon.

I just found it helpful to realise earlier rather than later that there are other ways of doing things, and keep an open mind about the alternatives. I do cross rows quite a bit, but I don't find it a problem to switch to a single-row method if that happens to work best, because in a sense you never abandon single-row playing - there are always phrases or tunes in which nothing else works.

Maybe it's not so much a question of learning and unlearning as learning two (or more) methods in parallel.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Greg B
Date: 29 May 07 - 11:01 AM

We're fortunate here in the US Northeast to have our share
of Quebecois musicians come down with their one-rows. Their
speed, precision, and ornamentation certainly rivals any
Irish player. And the quality of instruments made in Quebec
can be stunning.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 07 - 07:09 AM

there are certain restrictions with one rows,
howeverComhaltas have competitions for them.
lastyears winner who played[damien mullane]the new mown meadows,see comhaltas website,is worth a listen.however you will never play like that on a one row hohner[the action is not good enough]to play that fast.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: treewind
Date: 29 May 07 - 06:56 AM

Brian's remarks about playing up and down the row for English music reminds me of a thought that occurred while observing other performers at Chippenham this weekend:

Hardly anyone else is playing one-row melodeons anymore!

John Kirkpatrick does, and Katie Howson has specialised in the Suffolk "1-row" style, and there's some being used with Morris teams, but apart from that (and us) how often do you see one on a festival stage? The old Hohner 1-rows have a glorious sound that's not approachable by anything else, and that's also true of my Castagnari Max though it's a different sound. They are the epitome of the "less if more" approach to traditional music. Mary loves singing with them, and those songs really don't work on a two-row. I have three, in different keys of course.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 07 - 05:06 AM


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 27 May 07 - 09:37 PM

G'day Greg B,

It sounds like your "... wooden piece (as Button Box did to my Pokerwork,..." might be the same solution I came up with for a quick, adjustable, restricter on several Hohner #2915 boxes (their "Pokerwork" or 2-row Vienna model). I mounted 2 posts, screwed through from the in-side of the action board and attached a wooden bar, screwed on sturdy leather washers - so that removing the detachable grille allowed a quick screw tensioning adjustment to increase or decrease the key movement. The bar also has a strip of softer leather glued to its underside ... to soften contact and minmise key clatter.

I have also set up Hohner Ericas with the much more troublesome procedure of removing the plastic handpiece, gluing in a sheet of foam (or soft leather) then painstakingly reassembling the bugger - and hoping it's all right, since it's far too long a job to make small adjustments! If I need to do another Erica, I'll use the external bar method, this time.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Greg B
Date: 27 May 07 - 09:10 PM

Well, it's true that 'size matters.' The Hohners can be modified
to have either a wooden piece (as Button Box did to my Pokerwork,
note I didn't say to my 'weiner') or some closed-cell foam that
shortens the 'throw' and keeps it from getting stuck down the hole.
(Apologies to the ladies) That having been done, one finds immense
improvement. BUT, if you have the 'hard landing' option, it can cause
a flare of carpal tunnel until one learns not to pound the blazes
out of it. In all, I like the foam better than the hardwood choice.
Surgery is so damned expensive---

My Tommy is stepped, and small, and I just lucked out with the
reeds as the thing is insanely fast. St. Anne's Reel at full steam,
and all that. I discovered some time later that not all Tommies are
created equal, nor are all Castagnari reeds. I remember when I first
got it--- thought I had a problem, because it 'spoke' on every
little twitch and hesitation. I tell people it's like playing a box
full of nitro-glycerine. Or maybe like driving a Cobra 427 in
city traffic. But once you stop setting off the bombs, you're a
much better player.

However, my Saltarelle Nuage is nearly as quick, and far more
flexible, though the additional weight and size require considerably
more strength--- more than I could have mustered early in my playing,
when I acquired the Tommy. It has the advantage that I can make it
sound like a cheapie Hohner, or like an expensive Castagnari dry
tuned, just by messing with the stops, and more. I can get St. Anne's
nearly as quick as on the 'Tommy,' though playing so fast only dogs
can hear you isn't near so easy. Since I haven't played for a
rapper dance side for more than a decade, no matter.

I usually find that I HATE any box that I'm going to come to love
at first. Can't play it. True of the Tommy. True of the Nuage. I
played the Nuage at Button Box for a couple of hours, and flew
home (antique airplane pilot here) to NJ, having rejected it.

Two weeks later, I called back, and said I was coming back to
take it home. I realized that I had to tame it and make it mine.
No regrets.

The thing is--- it's all about reed response, and instruments
that are really good will nearly always feel really bad at first,
because we're not up to them.

Anyway, I don't find that the 'stepped vs. non-stepped' thing is a
big deal. I happily play both. I do not, however, like unmodified
Hohner-like actions that 'go deep.' When faced with one, I tend to
make sure I touch buttons off-center such that my finger-tip catches
on the edges, and keeps me from falling into the 'pit.' I just
flatten my touch--- which is contrary to the way I was taught to
play piano, with 'little hammers.'

Oh--- I have very small hands. A curse for a ragtime piano player---
I can make an octave and a third stretch on a piano but just, and
that by dint of YEARS of practice, can do so and manipulate the
notes in between. Maybe that makes squeeze boxes easier, as my fingers
just don't interfere with one another and act entirely independently.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Rowan
Date: 27 May 07 - 08:10 PM

Robyn's post about the size of the accordion affecting the 'drive' reminded me of Mike Heaney's playing. Mike was not much taller than the 120 bass piano accordion he played but he could get enormous drive out of it. He specialised in Scottish music but played widely and gave the lie to the story that piano accordions could not properly separate the decorations to the main melodic notes. I once accompanied him to the Melbourne distributors of a major maker and he went through almost their entire stock, trying to find one that had a fast enough action to allow him to 'play properly'. It's a real pity he's now playing harp; I guess wings and halo get in the way.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 May 07 - 11:36 AM

"if you want a chromatic instrument,with basses available there is one called the piano accordion [unfortunately the larger sizes are difficult to play with drive]"

Which is exactly why, Captain, I prefer the smaller boxes. Luck found me some 'smaller' (physically) boxes - designed for ladies and children - in which the keys and button spacings as physically smaller.

So called 'minatures' are apparently no longer made - I have a full 120 bass double treble reeder with a dual position bass register switch - which is physically smaller and much lighter than my 48 bass. You can get the same 'drive' with the bigger, heavier boxes, but you need to attend gym for a while - I'm not kidding about that! You do need to build up the left shoulder muscles,

I can get lots of 'drive' with the minatures, and it is much easier for the 'bellows flutter' technique - which I have found so useful for some styles that if there are other box players around, I usually leave it to them to demonstrate the 'traditional oom-pah-pah squueze box' style. :-P

The most 'drive' I can get is from my 32 bass double reeder - I call her 'Blondie', cause she's a real screamer... :-) actually plays louder (and more booming bass too!) than some of my full size 120 bass boxes...

~~~~~~~~~~
"The trick to know is that on the 'home' row for the currently active chord, there is no note that is wrong. "

Well, that's the 'trick' with all 'diatonic instruments'!!! Now it seems that we have to kill you... unless you put on a blindfold and roll up your left trouser leg...

The same comments for 'diatonic' tin whistles vs 'chromatic' recorders...


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 May 07 - 08:16 AM

GD diatonic accordions,if used for irish music,are often more suited to irish music,if they have a stepped keyboard,and are not hohners,hohners actions can be rather slow,.with the problem of buttons getting stuck down the holes.
with a Castagnari[the action is in my opinion better]allowing you to play faster,The stepped Keyboard allows one to slide one fingerfrom the inside row to the outer.,thus obtaining a more legato sound ,if so required.
.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST,SueA
Date: 27 May 07 - 07:11 AM

There's a very good article by Stuart Eydmann in the 1999 Folk Music Journal (Vol7 No5)entitled 'As Common as Blackberries: the First Hundred Years of the Accordion in Scotland, 1830 - 1930' which covers a lot of ground on the history of diatonic and chromatic instruments, on who preferred which and why - and which even covers the spelling of melodeon and accordion! (various manufacturers, retailers and players used different spellings at different times, in different places.

It's well worth reading - and available from the library at Cecil Sharp House. You can, I think,order and buy a photocopy of relevant article, if you haven't got the Journal and don't want to buy it.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 27 May 07 - 05:34 AM

G'day Greg B,

I'm not sure when the work of designing an accordion (... Buschmann, 1821 ... Damien, 1829 ... ) crossed over with the design of the tuning scheme, which is called the "Richter System" - named, presumably, for the German musicologist... not the later seismologist!

The Richter System is a marvellous scheme for a simple instument. In far past...) workshops on button accordion and Anglo (-German) concertina I have been inclined to say thay almost anything you can do confidently on this style of keyboard ... works!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST,Greg B
Date: 26 May 07 - 07:22 PM

At risk of giving away the secret--- when doing song accompaniment
on melodeon, you can just flog away on chords, both ends.

However, you also can take the place of a fiddle, and do so
very easily. The trick to know is that on the 'home' row for
the currently active chord, there is no note that is wrong.

That means you can play nicely around the melody. On the other
hand, the notes on the 'cross' row make the 'passing' tones.

So when choosing a note to 'dwell' on, do it on the 'home' row.
Pass through the other notes.

Everyone will think you a genius, when in fact it is the fellow
who designed the melodeon.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST,bellow
Date: 26 May 07 - 02:17 PM

I found the style of Garside's book profoundly irritating. Pity really.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 07 - 07:22 AM

GEORGE GARSIDES tutor is probably very good,but having a knowledge of music theory can be very useful,
so you start on one row as Brian advocates[that makes sense, no good running before you can walk] ,you get to a certain standard but cant get any further,this is where a little musical knowledge /theory is useful,youcan start improving your right hand by using octaves or thirds or other two note harmonys[if they sound good],if you have no musical knowledge you wont know about these possibilities, unless your naturally very musical .
music theory is not crap,knowledge is the key to understanding,understanding helps the pupil, to progress more rapidly, 99 percent of the time.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Barry Finn
Date: 26 May 07 - 01:40 AM

Thanks Guest for that additional book info

Barry


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 07 - 04:02 PM

George Garside's   tutor book 'DG Melodeon , a Crash Course for Beginners', subtitled 'A Without the Crap Book' avoids musical theory as much as possible and concentrates on getting players up & running in the shortest possible time, sticking to playing rhythmically on the row as advocated by Brian in his ecent posting. It is available as a'buy now' item on ebay.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 25 May 07 - 10:51 AM

Greg
Thank you for those kind words. Names of tunes near enough as to make no difference.
It's funny you should mention the bellows shake (although I'm often not aware of how or, indeed, why I do these things) - I'm often just doodling on the box for hours exploring tiny things. Maybe the way a note swells/fades with different bellows movements, maybe an unusual ornamentation, chord shapes, dynamics. I drive my family mad.
I often get sweaty-palmed excited about the tiniest twists and turns within someone's playing - listening to a few seconds of a recording ad infinitem.
Get a copy of "The Duck Race" by John Kirkpatrick and listen over and over again. Then put the headphones on and listen for another few days. We all know he's an inspiration but do most of us realise just how innovative he is? And it's usually the tinest nuance. He never leaves the tune but plays around within it as though it's his own private playground. You don't need the big flashy arrangement to create excitement.
Think small, deliver huge.
Martin (very guilty of thread-creep)
Shouldn't we be discussing this over on mel.net?


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 May 07 - 10:30 AM

Thanks Brian, I keep that in mind. I have a hard time learning, unlearning, if it's like forgetting comes to me naturally.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 25 May 07 - 04:52 AM

"I used the Mally books for a while (although I found the way the instructions were set out a bit clumsy) and was very glad to have the technique of cross-row playing explained to me at an early stage - I've seen too many players who can't manage it because the single-row style of playing has become so habitual that it's difficult to unlearn later. I liked being able to get the "right" chords more easily."

Far be it from me to knock Mally, who is a good guy and whose books have set many beginners on their way. Nor to knock cross-row playing, which is vital technique that any good player should master. However, it is not necessarily the most appropriate technique for punchy English dance playing, and my experience with a good many students is the converse of the above, namely, that having learned cross-row style, they find it difficult to unlearn in order to get the rhythm they want. A morris dance musician, for instance, doesn't need to sacrifice rhythmic drive in order to achieve the "right" chords.

I would also suggest that the process of unlearning one style in order to accommodate a different one is a vital part of understanding the instrument properly. Learning an alternative fingering for a particular passage enables you to choose the kind of phrasing you need, or which chords you have available. So my schedule with a student (unless they were irreversibly committed to continental music) would be: learn 'along-the-row' playing, get it sounding rhythmic, tight and musical, and then learn cross-row.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Barry Finn
Date: 24 May 07 - 10:15 PM

I should recieve Watson's & Mallinson books in a couple days fund both on Amazon for a good price. Thanks for the recommondations.
I can follow some of what's been explained above though I'm sure more will make sense as time goes by.Thanks for the invite & offer Greg I may take you up on that as the summer rolls around. Funny you mentioned Simon Spaulding, I seem to only run into him at 10year intervals, we're probably due to meet up again in a few years, I believe he somewhere along the mid Alantic coast last I heard from him.
Anyway I'm trying out all the suggestions.

Thanks again
Barry


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 May 07 - 08:34 PM

The book called "The Box" for B/C players is by David Hanrahan, not Williams. Books are Ok, but if you can afford it and find a good tutor, pay for some private tuition to kick-start you: I progressed much further with proper lessons than trying to learn from a book.
I must say, I'd never heard about "crossing the rows" until I went to a D/G workshop: it's something B/C players do all the time without thinking about it: you have to do it to play the basic scale of G or D on a 2-row anyway. As stated above there's usually not much left hand playing with a B/C, and often if there is, the chords won't match what, e.g. guitarists are playing in the same session.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Bernard
Date: 24 May 07 - 07:36 PM

The little portable reed organ thing popular in Asian music is more usually referred to as a 'Harmonium', and they certainly sound tonally more like their big brother of the same name.

Harmonium or American organ... the difference is one blows, the other sucks...! No, that's not a put down!! ;o)


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 May 07 - 07:23 PM

Apropos of spellings, and I think I got this from a Mally book, "accordion" is the piano thingie, "accordeon" is what the Irish call their semitone-apart boxes and "melodeon" is the English name for button boxes such as D/Gs and the like. "Accordian" just looks like a spelling mistake.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Greg B
Date: 24 May 07 - 06:44 PM

Thanks, Steve.

I took up the D/G box when I was living in the San Francisco
bay area. There were a couple of other players there, but they
pretty much played straight 'in-and-out' style on 'Pokerworks'
very much like your basic Morris dance accompanist.

I was playing piano accordion at the time, but was invited by
Simon Spalding to join his merry band at 'Paddy Wests School
For Sailors' at Dickens Faire. The piano accordion was declared
an anachronism, and I never could get 'round it very well-- the
12-bass was too inflexible, and the 48- and 120-bass too
cumbersome. This in spite of being a ragtime pianist. So I
forced myself over to a cheap button-box that I had, as my
English concertina was both too quiet and too difficult to
pick things up on spur-of-the-moment.

While struggling with 'Harvest Home' I discovered the row-cross;
promptly went out and 'upgraded' to a Pokerwork' from my 'faux
Pokerwork from E. Germany.' Tons of other 'discoveries' followed;
I learned minor keys by playing Brian Boru's March.

Shortly after that, a Castagnari 'Tommy' followed me home from a
business trip that took me past the Button Box when it was still in
Rich Morse's attic in Sunderland, MA.

There is a mathematical elegance to the tonal relationships
inherent in the D/G (or other fourths-tuned) box. I hadn't
really realized how magical the 'circle of fifths' was, in
spite of proper music-theory training, until seeing it at work
on this particular instrument. It's the very egalitarianism
of NOT having 'black keys and white keys' which helps this
realization along.

If you REALLY want inspiration, find a recording somewhere of
our Mr. Martin Ellison's medley of his own compositions, 'For
A Small Fee/Laughing Joan and Crying Jenny' (have I got that
right, Martin?). On it, he explores the three natural keys of
the D/G box, and all of its gaits, and tops the whole thing off
with a 'bellows shake.' It's a composition which is just as
charming on a 'basic' Pokerwork as on a Saltarelle Nuage, although
I think it sounds a bit sterile when I play it on my rather
dry 'Tommy.'

That was the piece that, when I'd got round all of the standard
stuff, from 'Harvest Home' to 'Road to Lisdoonvarna' sent me right
back to the old grind-stone, trying to figure out 'how he made
THAT noise.' I don't play it anywhere near as well as our Martin,
but I can play it, and it pleases me immensely to do so. And even
with my botch-job of it, folks are impressed, I think.

The recording I got it from was 'English Melodeon Players' on
the old Free Reed label. You must find a copy. Tony Hall is on
there as well, playing 'Flowers of Edinburgh' on an impossibly
clicky old box, and making it sound like a masterpiece. As is Roger
Watson, author of the above-mentioned text. A host of other
masters of the box, as well.

God I love this instrument!


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: oggie
Date: 24 May 07 - 05:41 PM

For a B/C or C/C# instruction book I would suggest "The Box" by I think David Williams but as my copy has gone AWOL I can't be sure of the author. Yes, it is totally different from playing a G/D box and a tutor for the latter won't really help except as a source of tunes.

All the best

Steve Ogden

PS you should try finding a tutor for my current box, a 66 keyed bandoneon, all the tutors are either German or Argentinian and relate to Bach or tangoes!


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Schantieman
Date: 24 May 07 - 04:07 PM

That was a really useful post, Greg (if you're the 10.18 one) I've been "playing" my melodeon (rather than melodeoon -thank you Martin) not very well for over thirty years and you might just have motivated me to practise what you've been preaching. Probably pretty basic but no-one's ever told me that before. Comes of being entirely self-'taught' I suppose.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Marje
Date: 24 May 07 - 03:57 PM

And I lost my cookie too (who's been stealing all our cookies?). I was the next GUEST in the list, and was not trying to be anonymous. I am now re-cookied.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Greg B
Date: 24 May 07 - 03:48 PM

Sorry, I lost my cookie. The longish post above was from
me, Greg Bullough, certifiable melodeon 'weenie'


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 May 07 - 11:49 AM

that was a very helpful post .
what i suggest you do is make a diagram of the right hand side of the instrument,then you can see allyour options.
Dave Mallinsons book is still available [try the music room].and it should help to start with. IthinkJohn Kirkpatrick has atutor video on the gd melodeon.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 24 May 07 - 11:46 AM

Blimey - that's the longest post I've ever seen!
You don't identify yourself except that you are from the U.S.
I hope and pray that you're not George W Bush - the melodeon has a bad enough name as it is.

I'm now happy to call myself a "Weiner" player.

We could always adopt the East Anglian tradition of calling it "my music".


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 07 - 11:43 AM

I used the Mally books for a while (although I found the way the instructions were set out a bit clumsy) and was very glad to have the technique of cross-row playing explained to me at an early stage - I've seen too many players who can't manage it because the single-row style of playing has become so habitual that it's difficult to unlearn later. I liked being able to get the "right" chords more easily.

A couple of your queries, Barry - if you learn on, say, a B/C box and then pick up a D/G one, you won't be able to play it unless you've stuck entirely to single-row playing and only used the bass buttons that "belong" with each row. You would, however, be able to switch from a D/G to a C/F, because the relationship between the rows is the same.

When it comes to singing, a melodeon's a bit limiting. It's not a case of one key suiting your voice - they key that suits you for one song will not be the same as for another song. Three rows is better than two in this respect (more choice), but if you really want it for singing, a fully chromatic instrument (piano accordion, English concertina)will be better. Even a B/C melodeon will have limited chords (although you can make up the chords with the right hand if you like). But overall, a melodeon's really a dance-music instrument. Having said that, I do sing with D/G melodeon, but only certain songs where they key is comfortable.

I agree with GUEST (above) about the "intuitive" bit - recently I had a go on and English concertina, and quickly remembered why I had never learnt to play one. Its owner said, "It's very logical, but not very intuitive". The melodeon is quite the opposite. Some people prefer logic, some intuition - the only way to find out which suits you is to have a go.

In fact GUEST's post is full of useful stuff - print it out and pin it up on the wall. Good luck!

Marje


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 07 - 10:18 AM

Hmmm... playing inside a bin liner--- some would just call that
a step towards efficiency.

I've given up on the naming as well, and just call it 'the box.'

My Indian friends call that little portable reed-organ thing
'a melodeon' and it's come to be an integral part of certain
(Asian) Indian folk genres.

Martin, note that the German Hohner catalogs give the instrument
we call 'The Pokerwork' it's proper trade-name, which is 'The Weiner.'
Here in the USofA, accordionists developed sufficient stigma during
the latter 1960's that I imagine nobody really wanted to be known
as an 'accordion weenie,' at least when making the purchase. Then
again, go to any gathering of squeezers and let's face it, the shoe
fits rather well, now doesn't it?

Barry, I think the box will suit your voice rather well. It will
also deflect all of the bodhran jokes. I switched from banjo to
button box specifically for that reason. Too bad we won't be at
Mystic this year, either of us; we could have a tutorial session
or two.

For absolute beginners, I suggest sticking to the inside row
on the treble and the bottom set of buttons on the left. Only
there is there a straightforward treble scale accompanied by
1 4 and 5 chords which fall 'readily to hand.' On your ADG
this will be the 'G' row. Learn something familiar, such as
perhaps 'Jolly Roving Tar' if you can sing that in G. You'll
find that even a 'wrong note' usually plays a suitable
accompaniment so long as you have the bellows moving in
the right direction.

Then carry on with something more challenging as soon as
possible.

If you want to play in the key of 'D,' you'll find that
when playing the portion of a 3-chord song which makes use
of the '4' or 'G' chord, you won't have the right accompaniment
chord available on the 'draw' where all the right notes are.
No worries, just move 'in' to the 'G' row on the 'press'. All
the right notes are there, and there's a G-chord on the left!

Now, this isn't really 'row' crossing, it's just getting around
the trade-off which they used to make room for the minor chords
and contra-bass chords on the left.

This 'row crossing' that everyone is bandying about is when you
'borrow' notes from a row other than the one you're currently
playing on as your primary in order to avoid bellows reversals
at an impossible rate, usually to knit the melody together with
the 'passing' tones.

The best example I can give here is the well-known Irish and
American tune 'The Harvest Home.' In the A part of the tune
there is that descending run of 'turns' where you'll rip your
shoulder out of joint trying to get all the notes. But---
say you're playing it in its proper key of D on the D row of
a D/G or A/D/G box. You can execute that run note-for-note with
only a couple of easy bellows reversals if you just catch
some of the passing notes on the adjacent G-row. This is a
particularly easy case, because the notes you need are in
very close proximity. That's the 'chune' I started row-crossing
on--- in fact, having no teacher, I 'discovered' it on my own
and never looked back, only because I couldn't play the tune
hardly at all without doing it.

Another example where you need a smooth run, and it's hard to
get it without crossing, is on the song 'Strike the Bell' (or
'Click go the Shears,' which is what Roger Watson uses in his
book, mentioned above.

Another case where row-crossing is indispensable is when playing
in the 'natural' minor keys of the instrument. For example, E-minor
music is played with the D row as its 'home' in spite of the fact
that the accidentals (sharps and flats) for the key of Em are the
same as for the key of G-major. The Em chord, however, sounds on
the draw, and the corresponding notes are available on the 'draw'
on the D-row. Usually an E-minor tune uses D as its 'other'
chord, and that too, is (of course) on the D row. Only, it's
the same notes as a 'G' scale, so you'll find that the 'right note'
is frequently on the 'G' row when in E-minor; frequently, but not
most of the time.

In your quest to find the 'right notes' and 'chords' don't forget
bellows control. Most newer players use a lot more air than need
be, and not just because they're playing slow. Even with a relatively
inexpensive instrument like yours, you'll still exceed the required
air--- ever notice how a really good player can get a lot of music
out of those little 10-dollar Chinese 'toys?' Bellows control.
It takes a little planning. If on the last phrase you nearly closed
the bellows, and on this phrase, you know you don't have a lot of
time to get them well-opened again (or vice-versa), there is a
real art to, rather than over-pressuring, use the air button to
create a little 'leak' which allows you to reposition for your
next direction...that's something piano-accordion players don't
fret about. If you get this wrong, you find out well after it's
too late to do anything about it. If you want a bellows-control
challenge, try 'South Australia' on the 'D' row. It has a lot
of 'D' and a lot of 'G' (on the press on the inner row) and
damned little 'A' in which you're on the draw on the 'D' row,
so when you are there, you'll find yourself full down on the
air button. The rest of the time, you'll be conserving air on
the press, and praying.

So, now, go out to the wood-shed and play. It's a very
intuitive instrument, much more like the banjo than the guitar
in this respect.

It's also the most fun-to-play instrument that I've ever put my
hands on.


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: Barry Finn
Date: 24 May 07 - 10:11 AM

With all this talk about b/c's, g/d's, c/c#'s, c#/d's, I'm guessing the fingering pattens are at least slighly different for each because of # & flats (how do you make a flat on the computer keyboard?) or are they totally different? I'm thinking of books & if a book teaches for, say b/c, is that gonna work when trying to learn on a d/g ?

Thanks again to you all,
Barry


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Subject: RE: Accordion vs Melodian
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 24 May 07 - 08:16 AM

You planning to blow me off the stage, Bernard??

Badby "Trunkles" would be a nice duet although I play it on concertina in C, which might not be your preference. I could probably adapt it though.


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