box layouts dg

box layouts dg

Can anyone tell me what key I would be playing in if I was to use standard b/c fingering on a dg box? (for instance the key of d transulates to the key of ?) also what key would it be if I used csharpd fingering on a dg box..Thanks for any help in explaining this!

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Re: box layouts dg

I don’t think you can use B/C or C#/D fingering on a D/G box. There is a larger gap of semitones between the rows of a D/G box. There is only one semitone difference between the rows on both other systems.

Thats just what I think, but I’m not a box player so may be wrong.

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If you mean playing a D/G box as if it was a B/C, it wouldn´t work. You can play any box in G/C, D/G, C/F etc. with the same fingering, but you cant carry that fingering over to a box with the rows tuned a semitone apart.

Re: box layouts dg

thanks for that lads..very speedy response!

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Re: box layouts dg

does anyone use D/G or C/F boxes anymore? I vaguely remember reading that johnny o’leary played a D/G box untlil he got his prized B/C. anyone know about using these D/G boxes used in irish music then or now?

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D/G is the most common melodeon for English music and English musicians who play Irish often use the same box for both. The workshops at Witney in Oxfordshire teach some Irish music classes, and these use the D/G box.

A quick search of the videos turns up some Irish music on D/G boxes, for instance http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mutw-D5Vltk.


I imagine most Irish, and, increasingly, most Scottish, players prefer B/C because they can play more smoothly. D/G players usually go for a strong rhythm. I don’t really understand why people who want to play very smoothly don’t just get an accordion.

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You can’t "play in a different key" if you use the same fingering for bc onto dg. It simply doesn’t work like that. I play dg (with limited success) and have tried bc. Totally different.
The only person I’ve seen doing this successfully is the Connemara maestro Sean McDonnagh. it goes like this. We were in a pub in Camberwell, playing away. The bould Sean was having a quiet drink with his friends and so on. After some persuasion he borrowed someones BC box. Lovely playing - the maestro at work. So after a wee blether about him and his good friend Finnbar Dwyer, and other great players, for example Mulkere and Paul Gallagher, he borrows my DG box. After about 2 minutes f@rting about, sussing where the notes were, he launched into set after set of tunes. Possibly one of the most remarkable displays of virtuosity I’ve ever seen - 20 out of 10 for Sean. Remember, these systems are just so totally different.

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Tim Edey ,plays D G BOX,so does Tony Hall,and CathyCook plays irish music on hers.

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The D/G melodeon is fine for Irish music, provided that:

(1) You get a box whose action and reeds allow you to play at normal (fastish) reel speeds and sound good while doing so,

(2) You are content to play in one or two sharps without semitones, or with those (if any) that your machine provides.

I’ll expand. My first D/G was the Hohner Pokerwork that was the standard English melodeon of the 70s and after. Its action was poor, making it difficult to play a succession of notes at speed; in addition, it just had two treble reeds per note, tuned rather wet, that meant that in the higher octave the notes came out as forlorn squeaks that one had to squeeze the instrument quite hard to get at all, as the air-gaps around these reeds were so small.

This instrument could be customised to play fast Irish or Scottish music, however: I saw Chris Parkinson, an expert player and much better than me, playing this music very well on a Pokerwork whose action had obviously been improved and whose reeds had been dry-tuned and thus (I reckon) made more responsive in the upper register, as well as having that attractive "bendy" sound. (They were still the two trebles, as far as I could make out.)

As regards semitones, some Pokerworks had none, others had a small number available at the top of the right-hand rows (that is, below the *bottom* notes of the actual D/G scales.) I don’t know if they also had these up above the top notes of D/G, i.e. at the bottom of the rows seen from the player’s permission. My own Pokerwork had no semitones, and I’ve never played one that had these, so I don’t know how easy or convenient it was to use them for, e.g., a G# or F Natural passing note.

I now play a 2 1/2-row D/G Saltarelle Connemara - one of them - which has very good action and two treble reeds and one bass reed per note on the right-hand side (if all the stops are open). The presence of a bass reed makes all the difference here, especially in playing the upper octave, in ease of playing and in giving body to the sound of the notes played.

The semitones on this, on the half-row and below the D/G stuff on the other two rows, are great for passing notes of tunes in the D/G/A Major range and its minor / modal offshoots. But you’d have to put a lot of practice into playing in other scales entirely, such as F or the flat keys, even assuming all the notes are there somewhere, and I admit I haven’t done this.

There are gaps in the notes provided - e.g., there is no low G, or Middle C. The latter is one I’d find particularly useful, but I’m not going to rush out and get one put in right now, I’ve enough to be getting on with at the moment.

So - if someone wants a box that’s quite readily playable in literally any key, a BC or other box with rows tuned a semitone apart is probably a better bet - but a piano-accordion might be better still, or some three-row arrangement like B/C/C#.

The chords you can get on a D/G, across the right-hand rows and on the basses, are a definite plus. You can do what you like with them - vamp, play sonorous stuff, put in Irish-style long notes or regulator imitations, or leave them out.

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(…"player’s *position* ", I meant above, not "permission"…)

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With the exception of Tim Edey I would disagree with the statement that the D/G box fine for Irish music. If it was, wouldn´t there be more Irish players using it? That fact of the matter is that it takes a huge amount of talent to make Irish tunes sound "Irish" on a box that´s not tuned a semitone apart. There´s tons of evidence on Youtube to back this up. French/Breton/English players playing Irish tunes that don´t sound the least bit Irish….

The same also applies to those that say that the English concertina is useful in playing Irish music.

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Bjorn - You do have a point - the D/G can’t on the whole do those semitone slides up into notes (just two, F# - G and C -C#).

But neither could the original one-row melodeons, which were very definitely part of the Irish tradition and still sometimes appear.

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I agree, but the in the clips I’ve seen the problem is not sliding into notes, but not being able to play rolls (unless of course you only play triplets on the same note), and using the basses in the same way you would if you were playing English/Breton/French/Swedish music.

The one-row is of course absolutely fine for Irish music.

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Playing a D/G box you won’t get to sound like old Paddy O’Brien or Joe Burke, but I reckon if you’re handy enough on the D/G you can do alright on a lot of irish tunes. Keeping your fingers away from the bass notes is a good idea for irish tunes, but often I just can’t stop myself.

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Bjorn you can play rolls on a d g box,
you can do proper fiddle rolls.
note, note above, note, note below ,
note.
check out Cathy Cooks you tube ,and listen.
the notes are all there,but it is easier to do rolls on a stepped keyboard

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check out her playing on the Legacy jig.

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Bjorn,here is how you make the english have the same bounce as the anglo.
you take how an Irish anglo player,might play a g scale,Gpush a pull, b pull, c push, d push or pull,e pull,f sharppull g push,you then play those notes on the english reversing in the same way an anglo player does.
hey presto you are making the same bellows movements as the anglo.
this is not the best thing to do for airs,to which flowing bellows movements are suited.
if you dont think irish music is suited to the English concertina listen to Dows sound track on sound lantern.
finally there is another alternative option for english concertina players, that is to follow fiddlers bowing and reverse at the beginning and end of a slur,this is in my opinion even better than copying anglo players reversing.
youare now fiitting in with fiddlers bowing.
your statement about the one row being suitable for irish music and the two row dg not being so, is ridiculous,
the two row dg,is in effect two one rows side by side.

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Please don’t use Cathy Cook’s youtube recordings as exemplars of irish tunes being played in ‘irish style’ on a D/G box. She clearly enjoys playing the tunes and I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but I think its unfair (and misleading) to put her up on a pedestal.

I am not criticising her, and since I don’t have any of my D/G box playing to share with you, I’m not in any position to sit in judgement on anyone else. But someone needed to say it.

BTW, I heartily agree with Dickens’ recommendation of Dow’s english concertina playing. But does Dow really "follow fiddlers bowing…" when he plays?

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no one is putting her on a pedestal,but she is playing rolls,listen to the legacy jig.
bjorn said that it is impossible to play rolls on a d g box,
I mentioned her playing because if Bjorn listened to her he will hear rolls.
I did not say that dow did anything.
I suggested that if aplayer wants to sound like an anglo.they reverse the bellows in the same place.,or alternatively to get bounce in playing to reverse wher a fiddler starts and ends a slur.
Cathy Cook plays in a style that RoseMurphy used to play in,except that she has developed it further,by using more cross rowing.she is a very competent player.
trying to define styles as irish is a load of crap,since the bc has only been in use since1960,and since c sharp d players sound different again,as far as I am concerned the more variety of styles there are the better.
I wish people would read posts properly,Inever said that Cathy Cook played in an irish style ,Isaid she played rolls.
but for what its worth,it is a style that is well received in this part of Ireland,it is very useful when playing in pubs to have loud basses,to play along to.
for what it is worth both Finbar dwyer and bobby gardner have said complimentary things about her playing.
[whether you think it is an Irish style is irrelevant]because that was not what I said.

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Dogbox,Ihave lived in Ireland for 20 years,l,et me tell you about irish style box playing
.there are many different styles,including a style which I have heard round here,where players use their basses,sometimes they play a b c,but play it in c,rather like a one row but they are playing a two row ,this enables them,to play the sub dominant chord in the bass,which are not always available ,on a one row
this produces a sound similiar to Cathy Cook.
these are irish people playing in Ireland therefore it is an irish style,in fact this wasone of the styles used before THE POPULARITY OF THE B C.
so it could be argued it is more traditional.[does it matter?]
most people in Ireland are not so precious about style ,the attitude is play: enjoy,and if its good enough for dancing its good enough.
traditional music is not something to be preserved in aspic,styles change,but there is never one definitive irish style.

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I play a D/C# or C#/D or G/C. Today, I took ownership of a fine old Hohner Poker D/G. Classic Morris box, I think it was.
Cheap. Light. Sounds like pre-1940s accordion. This one is made in Germany, but has the plastic fingerboard. Inside (it had a flat reed inner row 3rd from the top, so I de-rusted it and tuned it) it was pretty pristine. I’m happy with it.

I’d been looking for one for a few years, but they don’t come up in Ireland all that often. I tried playing some of the tunes I’d play on my D/C# and it worked out just fine. If I had to go cross-row, there was some adjustment—I think I had to use one button closer to my chin than I was used to on the D/C# box. Other than that, I’m good with it. I really want to tape off the 3rds on the bass side chords so I can do more minor key work.

If you want to get a sense of what it was like playing music in the 1920s, try playing a really old instrument. You’d see immediately why they sounded like they did and why the players played like they did. It’s tough. You really have to wrestle with it. I think you’d be too busy to notice the fine points of how far the button goes down before it stops. You’d be worried about the sweat dripping into your eyes if you were playing reels. ;-)
These West Clare boys were farmers and their families who worked their butts off and played their butts off too. When it’s blowing 80 knots across the burren on a December night and you’re up against a peat fire in a warm cozy pub and the Jameson is glowing in you, you can help keep yourself warm by playing that difficult melodeon. Good enough is good enough.
What I like about it is it doesn’t sound anything like a concertina. So many "newer" style irish boxes sound like a concertina. I’d rather play a concertina if I wanted to sound like one. It sounds like an old school melodeon, which is what a lot of the old-school musicians played. Didn’t matter what key back then. B. C. D. A. all one row for the most part. That’s how you get that funky old-school Irish melodeon sound. Which I love. It’s like for example, Bobby Casey. the man can play the crap out of a fiddle but his sound is unpolished, unrefined, like sugar in a sugar cane. Not processed.
That’s the sound I like and the old Hohner melodeon (or if you prefer, D/G box) really does it for me.