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Concertina

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mandolinznfiddlez 10 May 04 - 11:40 AM
IanC 10 May 04 - 11:49 AM
pavane 10 May 04 - 11:57 AM
The Villan 10 May 04 - 11:58 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 10 May 04 - 12:31 PM
treewind 10 May 04 - 01:31 PM
sian, west wales 10 May 04 - 05:52 PM
treewind 11 May 04 - 05:17 PM
sian, west wales 11 May 04 - 05:46 PM
davidkiddnet 28 Jun 04 - 03:48 PM
Leadfingers 28 Jun 04 - 05:59 PM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Jul 04 - 07:56 AM
Bob Bolton 02 Jul 04 - 08:33 AM
Dave Bryant 02 Jul 04 - 10:22 AM
Zhenya 02 Jul 04 - 02:02 PM
GUEST 02 Jul 04 - 02:09 PM
treewind 02 Jul 04 - 05:11 PM
Bob Bolton 03 Jul 04 - 08:23 AM
Guy Wolff 03 Jul 04 - 10:13 PM
The Fooles Troupe 03 Jul 04 - 11:43 PM
Zhenya 06 Jul 04 - 01:38 PM
Bob Bolton 07 Jul 04 - 12:20 AM
Zhenya 08 Jul 04 - 04:46 PM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Jul 04 - 09:17 PM
JWB 08 Jul 04 - 10:02 PM
Zhenya 09 Jul 04 - 04:40 PM
Doug Chadwick 10 Jul 04 - 03:48 AM
Bob Bolton 10 Jul 04 - 09:25 AM
Doug Chadwick 11 Jul 04 - 03:54 PM
Bob Bolton 11 Jul 04 - 07:30 PM
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Subject: Concertina
From: mandolinznfiddlez
Date: 10 May 04 - 11:40 AM

Can any one just tell me in genaral about the concertina and what it is like to play.


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: IanC
Date: 10 May 04 - 11:49 AM

Well, mandolinznfiddlez

It might depend on which of the three (quite different) main types of concertina you are playing. I play the Anglo-German, which is like a mouth organ (or a melodeon) in that the notes when pushing are different from the notes when pulling.

More info here.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: pavane
Date: 10 May 04 - 11:57 AM

There are already threads on this.

Be careful - there are THREE main types, all different to play, and suited to different styles of music.

English - Fully chromatic. The same note on Push & Pull, notes are arranged so that to play a scale you alternate between left and right hands.

Anglo - Just like a harmonica (or melodeon). Different note depending on whether you push or pull. Bass notes on left and treble on right
Diatonic, not usually fully chromatic. They come with varying numbers of buttons, 20, 30, 33, 26 and so on.

Duet - same note on push & pull, but arranged differently to the English, in that they have Bass on the left and treble on the right. There are several different Duet systems.


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: The Villan
Date: 10 May 04 - 11:58 AM

A good bit of suck and blow there then IanC :-)


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 10 May 04 - 12:31 PM

You can learn all you need to know at Concertina.net

Allison


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: treewind
Date: 10 May 04 - 01:31 PM

And Here (www.concertina.info), home of the concertina FAQ and probably as good a place as any to start.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: sian, west wales
Date: 10 May 04 - 05:52 PM

So what is meant by 'continental' system? (I saw it in an advert.)

sian


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: treewind
Date: 11 May 04 - 05:17 PM

I've only seem that term applied to accordions - the continental chromatic system is usually 5 rows of buttons but can be just 3, going up in semitones diagonally across the row.... but nothing to do with concertinas.

The only continental contributions to concertina design are the German part of the Anglo system - which is short for Anglo-German - and possibly the Chemnitzer concertina, which is an instrument with square or rectangular cross section instead of the usual 6/8/12 sides and which otherwise looks a bit like a large Anglo. (and plays a bit like one, I believe)

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: sian, west wales
Date: 11 May 04 - 05:46 PM

Thanks, Anahata. I'll have to remember where I saw the reference ...

sian


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: davidkiddnet
Date: 28 Jun 04 - 03:48 PM

Year ago someone lent me an antique "Anglo" Concertina to see if any of the Morris dancers wanted to buy it. But no, they played accordians and couldn't handle the change. But messing around with it I discovered that the function of a different note on push and pull may be an influence on the music that was played on it: For example I found you could play this whole dance tune on just two buttons!


X:MOTC
T:morris on the Anglo concertina
Z:David Kidd
L:1/8
M:2/4
K:Cmaj
G,2 C2 |G,2 C2 |B,2 A,2 |B,2 A,2 |\
G,2 C2 |G,2 C2 |B,2 C2 |D4


Imagine a sailor trying to play whilst pitching on the high sea: This simpification of fingering could be a big advantage in such an environment


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Jun 04 - 05:59 PM

And dont forge the dreaded Bandoneon as played by the Argentinian Tango orchestras among others . Thats a whole new religion for you .


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Jul 04 - 07:56 AM

Sailors would hardly be playing steel reeds, they must have been brass reeds.


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 02 Jul 04 - 08:33 AM

G'day Foolestroupe,

There's a lot of argument about whether or not sailors of the sail era played concertinas. There aren't any photographs ... and no first hand survivors - but cheap German (or otherwise European) concertinas ... usually 20-key, push-pull German system boxes, typically with brass reeds, were available all over European ports. English-made instruments were also available with brass reeds as an option in the cheaper ranges.

German concertinas certainly (vide Holtermann Collection photographs, Turon Goldfields, NSW - 1872-3) reached the Australian Goldfields ... obviously by sail. Maybe they didn't last long at sea - but they probably cost less than what was most on the mind of sailors grabbing a bit of shore leave! (And, as least a concertina was something they could carry away ... reference to old sailors' refrain:

Hey! Hey! Why should we pay ...
For what we can't carry away!

Regard(les)s,

Bob

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 02 Jul 04 - 10:22 AM

They always used to say that while the army enjoyed "Wine, Women, and Song",
the poor old navy had to make do with "Rum. Bum, and Concertina".

I suppose that a concertina is a very compact melody instrument and is relatively robust especially kept in a wooden case, even compared to a fiddle. Sailors are often shown playing both fiddles and whistles, and in later times, I gather that harmonicas were also very popular.


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Zhenya
Date: 02 Jul 04 - 02:02 PM

I have a question about singing with the concertina. I borrowed an English concertina to try out a few years ago, and since it was fully chromatic, I could easily find any chord I needed to back up songs, even if I sang in unusual keys.

However, I mainly play Irish music, and most people seem to use the Anglo for that, in terms of tunes. What about singing with the Anglo? Are you limited in terms of the chords you can get, and what keys you can sing in?

At least at the beginning, I was hoping to use the same instrument for both songs and tunes, but I'm not sure which one to get.

Thanks for any info,
Zhenya


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jul 04 - 02:09 PM

Yes, but are they easy to play (compared with a harmonica or tin whistle)? Also what are the normal raneg of prices (in Pounds Sterling) and are they readily available second hand, etc?


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: treewind
Date: 02 Jul 04 - 05:11 PM

Zhenya - the anglo is easy to play in about two keys. Singing with it is certainly possible, but unless you can get an anglo in keys compatible with your songs it won't be much use. A chromatic anglo can be played in more keys, but it gets harder which may be a distraction from singing at the same time.

There is a tradition of using anglos for Irish music that goes back to a time when anglos were cheap - there's no reason not to play Irish tunes on an English concertina and it's really a more sensible instrument for that. If you've found it a good instrument to sing with then maybe you should stay with it.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 03 Jul 04 - 08:23 AM

G'day Zhenya,

The situation with singing to Anglos is roughly the same as singing to button accordions or (~) along with harmonicas: You have to sing in the keys and/or modes available on the one you have ... or get one you can sing to. I am working on singing to my Anglos - so I have a choice of G major / E minor / A Dorian on one row of my G/C and C major / A minor / D Dorian on the other ... and my D/G adds D major / B minor and E Dorian.

That covers a bit, but is by no means ideal - but my current problems are more related to my mis-spent youth playing mouthorgan: As soon as I manipulate a push/pull bellows instrument I have to suppress the blow/suck reflexes sneaking into my mouth!

I now have an English system concertina that I have to apply myself to restoring ... then I'm intending to work at the lovely accompaniment style of Danny Spooner, who starts by playing accompaniment chords on his English system ... then picking up extra melody notes from within the chord, or its environs. I think he does well at what I used to think was impossible - producing melody on an English at the same time as a chordal accompaniment.

(Don't hold your breath waiting for me to get good at it ... but listen long and hard to Danny Spooner ... if and when he tours about your parts of the world!)

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 03 Jul 04 - 10:13 PM

Hello I cant do blue thingys but up in Mudcat links you will also find


                                 Concertina and accordion         at    http://www.buttonbox.com
All the best , Guy


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Jul 04 - 11:43 PM

If you just look UNDER the text input box on this page, you will find a link that will make the "Blue clicky things" - called HTML links - for you if you right click on it.


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Zhenya
Date: 06 Jul 04 - 01:38 PM

Thanks Anahata and Bob for your comments on my question about singing with the concertina. It sounds like I should get an English concertina since, at least at the beginning, I will probably want to do more songs than tunes.

I did have the impression the Anglos were limited to certain keys, but I wasn't sure how limited they were. Your descriptions help a lot. I find with singing that I'm sometimes most comfortable with a sharp or flat key (Eb seems to come up a lot with my voice) which would be difficult on some instruments. Although sometimes it works to just sing up or down a half step - not ideal but passable.

Bob, I did get to hear Danny Spooner last year. He performed at the 2003 Old Songs Festival here in New York State. I enjoyed him a lot, but I'm afraid I was listening in an overall sense, and didn't pick up the specific concertina style he was using. Perhaps I'll get to hear him again at some point.

Thanks much!
Zhenya


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 07 Jul 04 - 12:20 AM

G'day again Zhenya,

I probably should have added that my first Anglo concertina was in Bb/F. This got a lot of work accompanying the singers in The Selectors - a bush band I worked with in the 1980s/'90s. Most of the songs were done in either of those major keys because our singer /songwrite /guitarist played a 12-stringer that was tunes a tone low to ease the string load ... and that put the simple chords (nominally C and G chords) into Bb and F.

Sadly, that concertina was stolen a decade back - but it had its alternate G/D reed pans in it ... and I am also reminding myself to finish renovating another Anglo body to house the Bb/F reed pans ... so I will have concertinas to accompany (myself or others) in the major keys of: Bb, C, D, F and G - plus their related modes.

Since I arrange a lot of music for my Workshop groups, most of it is set in the commonly played keys ... mostly C, G and D (and their modes) ... for the benefit of instruments and instrumentalists ... and I used to having to fit my rather lugubrious vocal tonalities in with others ... but I find a lot of songs that I'm happy with in those keys (and the Bb / F will let me sing happily in those items others would prefer in C or G!).

In theory, the chromatic English System would let me play with equal facility in any key ... but I have grown up with the great fun and harmonic joys of playing diatonic instruments - and playing the English will just be plain hard slog for a long time.

Hell ... if the only criterion was total chromaticity ... I might as well play a piano accordion (pace Foolestroupe) ... but I'm in this for fun!

Regard(les)s,

Bob Bolton

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Zhenya
Date: 08 Jul 04 - 04:46 PM

Hi Bob,
I've just read your additional note. In fact, I just printed out the whole thread to look over, since there's a lot of good detail here.
Well, maybe I have to consider the Anglos too! But at least now I have more of an idea about what direction to go. Thanks again!
Zhenya


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Jul 04 - 09:17 PM

Finally, Bob, I think you are starting to see the light.... ;-0


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: JWB
Date: 08 Jul 04 - 10:02 PM

Zhenya,

I'd like to add to the case for singing to the Anglo. I've been accompanying song with a C/G Anglo for 25 years, and though I've gotten to the point of being able to do a lot of what I want, I'm still discovering new capabilities all the time.

I accompany songs in these keys on my Anglo: C, G, D, F, Dm, Am, and Cm. I'm working on Bb and A. I find the trick is adapting the accompaniment to the key; in most of the keys I can play chords on the left hand and melody on the right. But for some of the more esoteric keys I use a melodic or harmonic line instead of chords.

The Anglo is pretty versatile, and once I learned to use all 33 buttons on my box I was able to produce a broad range of chords and notes (in fact, I use many of the same notes that Beethoven did :0) sorry, got carried away there). I can play in the "English style" -- chords on the left, melody on the right and the "Irish style" -- straight, smooth, rapid melody. So I have a choice of the bouncy in-out in-out feel of a diatonic instrument as well as the long legato passages (within reason, of course) one can achieve on the English concertina.

So for my lights it's Anglo all the way.

Comprimere in aeternum,

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Zhenya
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 04:40 PM

Hmm Jerry.....This seems to be why I keep procrastinating...every time I think I've decided which type to get, someone points out a new angl(o)...

Seriously, thanks for your input. It sounds like I could get a fair amount of keys on the Anglo. (Perhaps it's sometimes like faking a key on the mountain dulcimer. There's a way to play an F chord, for example, even if you have modal tuning with no F natural anywhere on the fretboard. Basically involves playing other notes that would be in the chord. )

Well more food for thought...

Zhenya


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 03:48 AM

I used to have a C/G anglo concertina but only ever played it for my own amusement so the key wasn't that important. I have started going to local folk sessions and am considering buying a G/D instrument. Could anyone give me information on the comparison between the two.

For simplicity, let's consider 20 button instruments only. On the C/G, the outer row of buttons is in C and the inner row is in G, a 5th above row 1.

My questions are:
On the G/D, is the outer row G and the inner row D ?

Does the G row on the G/D give the same notes as the G (row 2) on the C/G ?

Is D row 2 on the G/D a 5th above the G row or is it between the C and G of the C/G ?


I hope you understood that because it has confused me !



Doug C


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 09:25 AM

G'day Doug,

Generally, the G row of a D/G Anglo would be the lower row of the instrument ... and an octave lower than the G row of a D/G Anglo (confusingly, that's the opposite of the way pitch varies between a G/C and a D/G button accordion!

It's one of the quirks of how the different instruments developed.

Regard,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 03:54 PM

.. . the G row of a D/G Anglo would be the lower row of the instrument ... and an octave lower than the G row of a D/G Anglo...

Bob, I told you I was easily confused. I assume you meant ... and an octave lower than the G row of a C/G Anglo...

Doug


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Subject: RE: Concertina
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 11 Jul 04 - 07:30 PM

G'day Doug,

Errrr ... yes - I meant so say: "... an octave lower than the G row of a G/C Anglo ... "! (That's the problem of responding on my very dodgy home dial-up ... it falls over so often that I don't spend enough time reading my own messages - and that sort of thing slips through!)

It is one of the oddities that a player of both button accordion and (Anglo-)German concertina has to absorb: a 2-row button accordion (other than semitone-spaced chromatic types) has the inside row a fourth higher than the outside row: say, c above G. A 2-row (Anglo-)German concertina has the inside row a fifth below the outside one: say, C below g!

I suppose the original reason may have had something to do with the size of reeds that could be crammed into a little concertina body (or maybe not ... perhaps German concertina makers were at a different end of the Klingenthal to the accordion makers ... ?). When the English picked up the instrument, they kept the German tuning scheme ... and players of both instruments had to learn to mentally change gears when they changed instruments. As long as you just played within single rows, there was no problem, but any 'cross-row' techniques you picked up on one type of box ... didn't work on the other kind!

BTW: One of the nice things about a D/G (at least, to my taste) is that it is a fourth lower in pitch than the more usual G/C. I built my own (with concertina maker Richard Evans looking over my shoulder) from a surplus G/C ... switching reeds were possible ... drawing on Richard's stock of lower reeds where necessary ... opening out reed slots where the reed shoes were now too big for that position. The result is very nice - if not as sonorous as my previous D/G, for which Richard made up new steel reeds, utilising the reed shoes of an old set of brass reeds. Unfortunately that one was stolen from my car when I foolishly left gear in the back during a music workshop ... so I had to build another!

I like lower instruments, especially when accompanying others - on stage or at my workshops. I have an older Italian Bastari G/C (now called Stagi) in "Organ Tuning" - two reeds per note: standard pitch plus one octave lower. This doesn't have the "sweetness" of the best English solo instruments ... but it adds a lovely low-end 'grunt' to ensemble playing - and rattles out some lovely European polkas and mazurkas!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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