2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Hello:

Does anyone know the predominant accordion tunings used on a 2 row box in Newfoundland. I like listening to a Minnie White and Harry Hibbs cd(s), and am interested in learning some Newfoundland tunes. I believe a quint tuned box is used (G/C?) Anyone from Newfoundland here who would have THE definitive answer?

Thanks,

Don

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

I’m From NFLD, don’t play box but have friends/family who do. I’ll pass it on.

Ken

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

A friend, Gary Carol from Newfoundland but lives here in Hamilton plays an assortment of tunings in one-row style. Mainly plays D/G but if the tune is A major he plays a box with an A row, all hohner’s. He does some cross row stuff, so its not really pure single row style, its very newfy in its own way. Good stuff

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

A friend of mine from Gull Island tells me that GC and AD are most common also. A Call to O’Briens music(StJohns) might be useful. Ray Johnson (of Buddy Wassis Name and the other Fellers) plays these plus a C#D. I don’t know how seriously these guys are taken for Traditional music(I think they are great), but Ray is an excellent player of Newfoundland box music. He is very approachable if you can find his email.

Rob

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

I seem to recall being told that C#/D was the most common chromatic 2-row tuning there, though Graham Wells plays B/C. And D is the most common one-row tuning. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the impression there is a "most common" non-chromatic 2-row tuning.

If you just want to pick up Minnie White tunes (a worthwhile goal), wouldn’t it be pretty easy to just listen and figure out what keys the tunes are in?

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Single row or melodian style playing has been popular in Newfoundland for a long time. Graham actually plays C#D(I have it on good authority), he introduced this tuning to the newfoundland tradition about ten years ago. It’s now gaining popularity, and most of the young, promising players are now learning this style. Minnie played hohner ericas in A/D and G/C. Most of Ray Johnston’s recordings are on a red Paolo Soprani tuned F/Bflat

Posted by .

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Buck, are you sure about C#/D? Not only does that not gibe with my memory of my discussions on the subject, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense — if you play a one-row and you want to play a chromatic two-row in the key of D, a C#/D is the natural choice to make. Unless you’re trying to say Graham was more or less the first person there to play a chromatic box?

I’m 100% sure I’ve been told Graham plays B/C — I can remember how disappointed I was to hear that (as a C#/D partisan). But I’m not sure the source (which I cannot remember now) was reliable.

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

(BTW, shouldn’t someone out there know what Corey Clarke plays?)

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

I’m positive on the C#/D. Graham was the first in Newfoundland to use this tuning. He still uses it. Corey also plays C#/D, a lovely litle Cairdin.

Posted by .

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

To answer part of my own question, I played along with the Minnie White cd THE HILLS of HOME, and EVERY tune is either in the key of D or A, or at least these are the notes the tunes end on. I believe it is safe to say she was using either a A/D or D/G box rather than a G/C. I also don’t believe she was playing a C#/D box, but could be wrong.
Art Stoyles uses a 3 row Hohner Corona. Maybe a ADG box?

Don

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

The fellow I mentioned who lives here in Hamilton was messing around with my girlfriends box in C#D (dirty!!) and had not too much trouble figuring out where to put the accidentals. It sounded much the same as when he plays the A/D or whatever box. This guy has every key box ive ever seen.

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

I first learned to play button accordeon on a D melodeon and a bit later on an A/D Hohner Erica, playing Québecois tunes but without the swing and style.

After a fantastic trip to Newfoundland I came home determined to learn tunes from Minnie White’s wonderful playing on her CD, Hills of Home.

Don is right. All the tunes are in A or D. I’m pretty sure she was playing an A/D instrument as I was able to learn a number of the easier tunes after *much* listening.

I’ve since learned to play C#/D for Irish tunes. I still play Minnie’s D tunes but not the A ones which are now no longer easily playable on a single row on my C#/D Cairdin. I’ll have to relearn them in A on the D row

For what it’s worth, *pro* Québecois musicians play Irish tunes on 3 row ADG boxes and Québec *trad* tunes on D, ‘cajun’ style boxes.

Posted by .

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Actually, Cajuns play a Quebecois style box, but in C instead of D.

As to Newfie players, what about the 2-row red Hohner Harry Hibbs played?

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

I checked with Jim Payne (who produced "Hills of Home") and he confirms that Minnie played an A/D (A outside row) on that album. He adds that SingSong is planning on publishing a book of her tunes, "hopefully in time for the summer".

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

I have seen Newfoundland band Great Big Sea in concert a few times, I am pretty sure their box player is using a boxes that are tuned melodeon-style.

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Speaking from experience, the vast bulk of older accordions in Newfoundland are either C/G or A/D. Single row accordions are either D, G or A, with the odd C turning up as well.

Graham Wells and a few other younger guys who are into emulating Irish players are moving into C#/D, but that is a very recent phenomena. Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea plays two-row Hohners, as does Mark Hiscock of Shanneyganock. Their wet-tuned sound would probably be considered ‘Newfoundland style’ by most locals who have any interest in this.

I was in O’Brien’s Music Store, who supply almost all accordions in Newfoundland, the other day. They had about 20 accordions in stock; most were two rows in the usual keys; no sign of an Eflat or anything else exotic. There were a couple of three-rows and a few single rows as well. There was one C#/D, that has been there for months. That will tell you something.

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Is it the Saltarelle Greg walsh is trying to sell?

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Yes, Hibbs. The only thing it tells anyone is that trying to sell a used accordion for more than it costs new is a mistake. By the way, st.john’sman. The number of players learning or switching to C#D or B/C is a a lot higher than you seem to know. These players are not emulating Irish players, they are playing Newfoundland music. The box is evolving in Newfoundland my friend. The capabilites of the Irish tuned boxes are a tremendous advantage and are in my opinion better suited to Newfoundland dance music. Also, dry or wet tunings do not constitute a style of playing. It is just the tone of an instrument. Get with it will ya?

Posted by .

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

Hey buck - it’s not a mistake if someone will pay the money for it! Ha!

Also, don’t be so hard on hibbs21. In terms of the "box evolving in Newfoundland" or who is switching to what keys, simply put - who really cares??? a nd what difference does it make???

The accordion in Newfoundland is only one instrument in a very small part of a big world of larger traditional music.

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

I remember meeting Graham Wells about 10 yrs ago just after he had bought his Saltarelle and it was C#/D. I was amazed at his playing and wondered just how difficult it is to change from the D/G that I play now. Most tunes at sessions will be ADG but if there is any singing other keys are often chosen. I just can’t persuade myself to fork out for an instrument that I will just despair over. Has anyone got a sense of just how much work this is?

btw if anyone knows anybody who plays the box in the Burlington Hamilton area I would really appreciate a contact name & email.
Thanks

Anthony

Re: 2 row accordion tunings for Newfoundland Traditional music

The Majority of Newfoundland accordion music has been recorded/played on 4th note boxes for years. It is true, Graham wells was the first, if not, one of the first players to introduce the ‘irish style’ accordion playing on a semi tone box (c#/D) especially on the East Coast of the island. On the west coast of newfoundland, you would find more of a french/acadian style playing, such as the benoits and turretts. But for the most part, any accordions passed down through families in newfoundland are mainly 4th note accordions.