English Concertinas

English Concertinas

I want to play concertina I think English would be eaiser for me to learn is there anyone who plays ITM on an English is this completly unheard of or is it something that happens all the time? I need to know. Also I could get an English (begginner model) for less than an Anglo.

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No, it’s not completely unheard of to play Irish music on an English Concertina; however both the English and the Anglo model have querks all there own, and it’s helpful to have as much info as you can before you take the plunge :)

I highly recommend a visit to www.concertina.net - they’re a friendly bunch and very helpful! :)

Cheers :)

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I know quite abit already I do in deepth reasearch before buying any instrument (well most of the time I bought my first whistle as an "impulse" buy) but I’m sure there is a lot I don’t know. I probably will go with an English (I keep going back and forth as usual that is what I do best it seems well besides play music) the thing is the push pull which leads me to English the way I learn insturments is better suited for the English way (same note on push and pull) well that is what it seems to me.

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Oooh Dubg! I know you’re reading this!

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I decided on the English concertina last Christmas since the idea of being able to play every note in a scale and not having to push and pull all the time appealed, also the fact that Anglo’s are reputedly much more expensive because they are more common (all the good ones are bought up already) Although I’ve only been playing for just over three months I have no problem playing Irish tunes and since no one else plays the concertina in the same places I do I haven’t been frowned upon yet :-) The English is supposedly faster since you just press another button instead of having to change directions with your forearms. When I first bought mine I had to figure out what note corresponded to which button but quickly decided not to do that and simply go by ear which has been working better so far. It’s easier to pick up a new tune and play along if I’m not always thinking, now is that an F#.

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LOL @ Em, yes and I’m not saying *anything*. I’m just waiting for all the people who’ve never heard Irish music played on an English in their lives to write in saying "if you want to play Irish, get an Anglo" :-)
Dubg

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Ok, I

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If you want to play concertina in the *accurate pure drop Irish style* (Noel Hill, John Williams, Michael O’Riall…) get an anglo.

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Another way of saying it would be:

"The C/G Anglo will lend itself to a pattern of bellows reverses and ornaments that are identified with Irish Concertina playing."

Which has nothing to do with whether or not you can play Irish music on an English.

It will tend towards less bounce (since you don’t *have* to reverse the bellows until you run out of air), but you can put in bellows reverses for emphasis if you want to.

It will lend itself to different ornamentation than an Anglo — but that has nothing to do with playing Irish music either, since all instruments lend themselves to different sorts of ornaments.

The key is the music, not the fingering system.

—Dave

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Go for an anglo.

Irish music played on an English concertina won’t achieve the rhythm needed to make Irish music sound good - instead you’ll end up with all tunes having a "boring" Morris Band tone to them.

As Dave says the push pull is crucial to maintaining the lilt and bounce it also leads to different tones depending on whether you play certain notes on the push or the pull.

You can pick up excellent Anglos direct from Marcus Concertinas in Wales (http://www.marcusmusic.co.uk/concertinas.html) - it’s best to invest in a good one, because if you play a lot you’ll very quickly grow out of the lower end Stagis etc. (these are cumbersome for playing ornamentation and the air gets used up quicker than the better made instruments).

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Actually, I didn’t say that at all.

I said you’d have to choose to reverse the bellows, if you wanted to get a bouncier playing that sounds more like an anglo.

I play a very very non-standard Anglo… I can go long stretches without a bellows reverse, and that lets me choose when and how to reverse (for emphasis, for air maintenance over the course of the piece, or simply because that is the best fingering option).

It isn’t going to sound like a C/G, because where I reverse the bellows and what ornaments I choose are going to vary because the layouts are so different.

After all, whistle players don’t have to inhale for some tones, but no one is arguing that whistle isn’t a viable instrument for Irish music.

—Dave

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Guitar was not origanaly used in ITM and now it is so if you play in a session with a guitar player even on an anglo you are *not* playing pure traditional style.

As Dave really said "The key is the music, not the fingerig system"

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The key is the music - in my view it will sound crap on an English.

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I’ve had the pleasure of listening to (and playing with) English players who play great Irish music on their concertinas.

So, in my experience, it doesn’t "sound like crap on an English".

—Dave

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I had this same question when I started playing concertina. At that time there were a lot of people around who played English, and only a couple Anglo players. My inspiration to play was after hearing Noel Hill and Tony Linanne’s 1978 landmark recording. I stuck with my hunch, against the crowd, and decided Anglo was the way I would go. It turned out to be a wise choice. Joel Bernstein is one of the best English system players I’ve heard for ITM

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Certainly the C/G Anglo is the norm for Irish music.

The question though, was can you play Irish music on an English. The answer to that is yes.

—Dave

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I agree with Dave. There

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Dave — Of course ITM can be played on the English system, read the original question of this thread again. unseen122 was asking for advice on which system they should choose to play ITM, not whether it can be done or not. I was trying to provide evidence and personal experience to facilitate unseen122’s decision.

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My reading of the question was different than yours.

I took the question as "I like the English system, does anyone play Irish music with it?" (to which the answer is "Yes"), rather than "What system should be used for Irish music?".

Some people just don’t like bisonoric instruments.

—Dave

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What I was asking was really are English concertinas used in ITM I know Anglos are the norm I like the English system more and think it would be easier for me to learn on. It is not that I don’t like bisonoric instruments (I plan to learn B/C Box sometime in the future) it is the way a Concertina is setup that I think the English system would be easier (using both hands for melody as opposed to one for chords and harmonies and the other for melody).

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unseen122, I know very little about concertinas, but my humble advice would be to choose the one that you feel sounds better to *you*. Never choose something ‘cause it’s easier. Listen to how both sound on different recordings and in sessions and then decide which one you like better.

I hope someday (in 10 or so years) to learn a second instrument. I love both the B/C and C#/D button accordion. I hear the C#/D is a bitter harder to learn, but I do prefer it over the B/C. Honestly, I adore the C#/D box and all those old guys who play it ; ) Just kidding about the "old guys"….but I’m not going to shy away from it just because it may be bit harder in the beginning. Every instrument is *hard* and has its issues, especially in the beginning. So just pick the concertina you prefer and enjoy listening to…..just my 2 Euro

Joyce

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You also use both hands for melody when playing an anglo - this is key to getting good ornamentation (and playing the lower notes).

Jack (who is a great player incidentially) has hit the nail on the head by pointing out that nobody in Ireland dares to play Irish music on an English - it just doesn’t sound right.

Of course it can be done as Dave says - in the same way it’s possible to ragtime piano tunes on a cello (though not many people do it - I wonder why?).

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I’d argue slightly differently. If you find one style or another comes naturally to you, and you find yourself able to pick up tunes more easily on it, go with that one.

Time not spent fighting with the instrument is time that can be spent getting the tunes to sound right, and not just "ok".

—Dave

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I still read unseen122’s original question being more about making up their mind about which one to invest the time into learning rather than "is it possible." But after reading their subsequent post, the original intent is clearer now. But some of the details mentioned in the subsequent posting raise new issues. If unseen122 is thinking of taking up the box, an Anglo is much more closely related in it’s fingering system than the English is. If you took an Anglo apart and stacked one end on top of the other, you’d just about have a box. If you start learning tunes on the English system you might create more confusion for yourself if you

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When I say I’m thinking of it I mean it could be a while but I was thinking right after Concertina the thing is I have no problem learning new instruments it all has to do with the way I read music and that type of stuff and I have a really hard time memorizing tunes same reason. I already play (and read music/play tunes on multiple instruments). The chord and harmony thing was meant as box verses concertina in general on both types I would assume you use melody for both hands that is what I meant. I’m still undecided about which to get though now I am completly in the middle I can’t decide.

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Go for the anglo.

The english system does not lend itself ‘easily’ to emulate the modern concertina style (typical to Noel Hill, Williams, O’Riallegeigh.. sp?).

I’ve heard several times recently that someone knows many english system players that play *great* Irish music. I’d like to know who they are (names please) and where I can get a recording of them.

Joel Bernstein is the only english system player I’ve heard that does a really good job of emulating the modern ITM concertina style on an english system. Are there others?? Don’t say Simon Thoumire, he’s not playing Irish music (Tho he may play a few Irish tunes). And don’t say Alistair Anderson for the same reason.

If you want to play rock guitar like Jimi Hendrix you wouldn’t try and learn it on a classical guitar, you’d get a Stratocaster and big amplifier.

Oh, BTW, I play english system concertina.

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I agree with Conertina Player about the Anglo thing - I’ve heard good Irish music palyed on an Anglo, but the Irish music I’ve heard on an English sounds terrible - it lacks punch, dynamics, volume…..and I keep getting the feeling there’s a sea-shanty in it just waiting to burst out….

Yes of course the player matters …. but there’s a big difference between what you can do and what you *do* do on an instrument.

Why don’t they just call it an Irish instead of an Anglo?

Jim

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Tusong200 you make a good point with the Jimi Hendrix analogy that has pushed me over the *edge* to go with Anglo. Jim the reason they call it Anglo (short for Anglo-German) is where it was invented I guess that would be in Germany (well where else).

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I agree, the English does not lend itself easily to emulating the cadences and ornaments particular to the C/G Anglo concertina when playing Irish music.

Neither does the flute nor the fiddle. Each instrument has its own characteristics of intonation, ornaments, and emphasis.

—Dave

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Oh here we go again!!

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Dave, what is your intent with the second paragraph of your last post?? I don’t see what it has to do with concertinas or concertina music/styles.

If we were discussing flutes we’d be discussing entirely different points. Keyless, 5-key, 8-key, wooden, delrin, Boehm system, Rudall, all sorts of things. But none of them would apply to a discussion of the merits of english vs. anglo concertina.

I don’t know any fiddlers or flute players who make it a point to imitate or emulate modern concertina style.

Please expound, as I know you will :-) (If we keep this thread going long enough our Scandanavian friends may show up:-)

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My point was that not being able to emulate the cadences and ornaments of an Anglo concertina is not a bar to playing Irish music.

If we consider the English concertina on its own, then not being able to sound like an Anglo is no more of a bar to it than it is to a Fiddle or a Flute.

I would say that if you are playing an English concertina for Irish music, rather than trying to emulate the style of an Anglo, instead you should be listening to the music and expressing the lilt and ornamentation in ways which are native to the English.

After all, when my wife is playing a tune on the whistle, I don’t consider at a fault of my Anglo that it can’t slide from one note to another, just because her whistle can.

—Dave

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A good Anglo concertina for $1000.00 or less? hahahahahahaha…. sorry *ahem*

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Unseen, I was in your shoes a year ago.

You can get a good vintage 20 button C/G for under $1000. It will keep value, and the skills you learn on it will translate to a larger instrument later. But you will be unable to play in D or related keys, and you will have a relative lack of alternate fingerings.

You can get a good vintage 20 button G/D for under $1000. It will keep value, but you would have to learn all new fingerings to move to a C/G. And you still don’t have many alternate fingerings.

You can get a 30 button C/G, which is the most common setup for Irish music, but a good one (vintage or modern mid-range) will cost you more than $1000.

I chose to get a 20 button G/D, and having already left the main part of the Irish playing concertina community, ended up commissioning a G/D 31 button with the D row dropped an octave (a "Drop D" configuration, if you will) and a completely non-standard accidental row.

I’m delighted with it, but I am off in the far wilds, as I have the only instrument with this layout currently in existence, and so finding ornaments, cadences, and many nuances of technique is sheer exploration.

What you might want to consider is contacting The Button Box about renting one or more concertinas, and see which one you take to.

Regards,
—Dave

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Hmmm, well Dow, it seems to be quite heated in here. Maybe you should just lay low.

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I’m trying… very hard…

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Oh it’s no good I’m going to explode, here goes.

Just a question: if it were anything to do with the push-pull mechanism then what about piano accordions versus boxes?

I’m with Dave. Why do people think that English concertina players should try and make their instruments sound like Anglos anyway?

I bought an English system because it felt right and I liked its sweet sound. Speaking for my own playing: it sounds nothing like an Anglo, but then I’m not trying to make it sound like one - it’s not as bouncy of course, I never play same-note triplets unless I can "catch" the bellows on the push, and rarely put bass notes in (although that’s not because it’s not possible). I try and emulate the flute (and to a lesser extent the pipes) as much as possible, and play in long phrases. This is because my bellows are slightly leaky and I can’t afford a replacement, so it’s not very responsive when changing bellows direction. I decided to use this to its advantage and I actually "take a breath" at each bellows direction to aid phrasing. It’s possible to emulate flute ornamentation on the English very accurately, and you can articulate rolls and cuts nicely. This is what potentially makes the English danceable and decidedly un-morris-like and un-seashanty-like - the different ornamentation you can do that you can’t do on an Anglo, and long phrases punctuated by staccato notes just before you let the instrument breathe, just like on a flute or whistle. If you do funny stuff with the bellows and articulate a cut after you breathe, you can even make it "cough" or "yelp" wildly like flutes do sometimes!

So most of my biggest influences are flute players, NOT concertina players, although I have a few much-loved recordings of Anglo players in my collection. I’m learning from our local session flutist how to ornament the flute way, and when to "breathe" the flute way, and when we have tunes, the two sounds combine nicely.

The English is a totally different animal from the Anglo - it’s like comparing a fiddle to a guitar just ‘cause they both have strings. They do look similar and that’s why people seem to think that they should sound the same. But there’s no reason at all why they should. So unseen122, go with your instincts, but if you pick English, be prepared for the sort of comments that have predictably appeared on this thread.

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Ah, that wasn’t that bad! You sucked up to flute players pretty good there, overall, 9/10! Well done!

Now for the day shift…..

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Yeah and I’ve jsut realised he’s already made his choice. Another potential convert jumps on the Anglo bandwagon (he said with his tongue firmly lodged in his cheek before anyone leapt down his throat) :-)

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Dow, as of right now, you are my hero and champion for the English Concertina. Been waiting for you to say something. I could not have said it better myself. Squeeze on dude!!!

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I was sorry I couldn’t meet up in Japan. I wanted to get over to the mainland from Okinawa but I ran out of money and time. I’ll look you up next time tho’.

I want to make it clear that I’m not dissing Anglos in any way. I love the sound of the Anglo. I guess my point is if you want to emulate Micheal O’Raiiiiiighghghghglaighgh… or Terry Bingham or whoever, then great, get an Anglo. Just for me personally I love the flute, but I don’t play the flute. Playing English concertina was a good way of sounding vaguely flute-like with a different tone.

Another advantage of the English is that it’s easy to play in any key. If you have a normal tune that you think would sound nice transposed to G# mixolydian then you can play it just as easily. Just don’t do that in a session or you’ll get some funny looks!

English systems are fantastic for playing hornpipes on. You can get the triplets to sound nice and flowing and not disjointed, and you can punch out staccato notes that can give the tune extra life, and, dare I say: "bounce".

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LOL! "Oh it’s no good I’m going to explode, here goes."

Now THAT’S the Mark we know and love… !

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I play in a good few tunes in Gmix. *shrug* Anyway… it’s interesting to see what this thread has produced. The obvious things seem to be that in Ireland, the choice is clear and probably unanimous — Anglo system. If you’re outside of Ireland, you might end up playing the English system. One reason for this could be that if you’re living in Ireland your example is going to be an Anglo player. If you’re outside of Ireland you might not have a living, breathing example, and you end up guessing, or being influenced by someone else that guessed. Either way you’ll be able to play ITM just fine, but the fact that all the players in Ireland play Anglo is going to make the English players of ITM a bit more defensive when the topic comes up. Having said that, I guessed Anglo

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I said G#mix, Jack. I don’t suppose you play many tunes in G#mix. I plucked that out of the air to make a point, but of course all Anglo players have deaf ears for my points to fall on (he said with a friendly smile, and tongue shoved firmly in cheek so as not to provoke anyone inappropriately).

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I have to say that not playing a particular instrument because there aren’t many people that do so in Ireland is a pretty lame reason if it’s one that wouldn’t sound out of place in a session. Ireland is full of Anglo players for the reasons that Jack describes, i.e. that you’re far more likely to hear an Anglo player and be influenced by them and want to pick up the instrument yourself. But that’s just the way things have gone historically-speaking. Neither was originally an Irish instrument, and there’s no reason why either should be considered somehow more innately "cut out for Irish music" than the other IMO. Oh God, somebody please switch me off at the wall. Em? Zina?

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What I want to know is…was there a group of people that got together way back when to decide on which Concertina was to be used for Irish music?? Or was it the cost factor that the Anglo was cheaper and more avalible to the masses, and not because it was more "bouncy"?

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Ahhh… G#… never mind :-) I wasn’t saying that one shouldn’t play ITM on the English system because no one in Ireland does. I was just pointing out a possible explanation of why Anglos are more prevalent. An Anglo would naturally produce the characteristic sound that has become associated with ITM. This doesn’t mean it’s better — it’s just the way it is. Ok Dow? Now get that tongue out of your cheek before it gets stuck or something. ;-)

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Mmmshmmshck!

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A friend of mine who plays ITM on the English system and I were talking and standing nearby a bench where our concertinas were resting. Someone was miss-stepping over the bench and knocked both of them to the floor. I would just like to say, for the record, that mine bounced further. :-)

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That’s because the English player gave the Anglo an extra little kick as it fell ;-)

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He didn’t have to — the Anglo system already has more of a kick. touch

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Gosh, you Anglo players are quicker than I thought :-)

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Dow - do I really need to say anything here? Except, maybe you should take up the flute as well:)

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No don’t you bloody start.

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Put it this way I’ve never seen English Concertina at high level Irish sessions in Nicaragua, Tibet or Botswana.
PP

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OK Dow, now that you & Jack have made nice (very impressive bridge building on both sides, may I say), you are cut off. You are at least one person’s hero & champion, no need to go martyr. Beebs can abuse you one on one on behalf of the Anglo contingent. No worries, lads, your sentiments will be expressed with vim, vigor & physical enthusiasm!

PS, I’m pretty sure English system dominates the high level Irish sessions in SE Asia, esp Japan. *tongue partially in cheek*

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Hehe. It’s okay I knew exactly what she would say, and she knows she doesn’t even have to say it :-) I’ve just spoken to her on the phone and she tells me Canberra was great fun. Em is that you being cheeky about English systems after I was so nice about flute players?! Funnily enough, I had a couple of sessions in Japan. It was nice finding the music in such an out-of-the-way place. The musos where I was don’t have much access to sessions and other musos though. They sometimes use this website, so if they’re reading: hi from me!

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No, I wasn’t actually. If you & fuzzy are/were both playing English in Japan, well that should count for some statistical significance? Are there any Anglo players in Japan?

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I still think that Mr. unseen122 needs to do his homework and decide what style of concertina playing *he* prefers. Unseen122, I read in your bio that you live in New Jersey. Are you familiar with Fr. Charlie Coen who now lives in the NYC area. He’s from Galway and is a legend concertina player. He teaches at a lot of workshops. He might be a great person to contact and talk about learning the concertina and the different styles.(check out the 1978 re-issue on CD with Charlie and his brother Jack called the Branch Line)

This message board is a good resource, but also talk to some musicians in the sessions where you live. Concertinas are not cheap so do the research before investing the money.

Also just to let you know, Michael Rooney will be teaching concertina at the Catskills. He’s a gorgeous anglo style concertina player. He might be worth the drive up to East Durham.

But really, figure out what *you* prefer. I do enjoy hearing everybody’s opinion though. I like heated debates…. I now know a little more about concertinas : )

Joyce

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Joyce, you bring up another point not mentioned thus far, the lack of teachers capable of teaching real ITM on the english system. You’ll find no workshops, no instructional videos. No nuthin’!!

Dow, you say "If you have a normal tune that you think would sound nice transposed to G# mixolydian then you can play it just as easily". Really?? For one thing G# is a non-existent key, as G# mix would also be. The proper ‘spelling’ would be A flat or A flat mix (please, no F double sharps, F natural sharps or B#’s). If you can play as ‘easily’ in A flat mix (actually d flat, 5 flats) as you can in A mix, then you are a *much* better player than I. I’d love to hear a recording. Have you submitted anything to the Mighty Craic List?? How about "Gravel Walks" in A flat mix, or "Maids of Mt. Cisco"??

You and I both know that indeed A flat mix (5 flats) is *not* a relatively easy key to play on an english system concertina. Please don’t mislead beginners when they ask for advice.

About 30+ posts ago I asked for names of "English players who play great Irish music on their concertinas" (quoting Dave). Who are they?? Where are they??

I have two reasons for asking that question. First, because I am basically a curmudgeon and knew that there would be no players offered. But more importantly, as an english system player I’d love to hear recordings of english system players playing *great* ITM. Other than the few tracks available of Joel Bernstein all those other players are conspicuous by their absence.

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*sigh* Anybody saving this thread in case it gets deleted when Dow wakes up?

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A solution to my problem buy the cheapest 30 they have on shark in the morning learn then buy a good one (like a Tedrow or something).

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LOL — I at least know that I want to be there when Jack and Mark appear in the same room. I think there might be some kind of explosion when they shake hands. *grin*

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Probably.

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Who’s Mark?

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Mark is Dow, or maybe that’s Dow is Mark. Either way, the two of you had me on the floor! (But Jack has the more luxuriant of MBs, I’m thinking, unless Mark has grown his in a bit…)

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We had you on the floor? Wow! I didn’t realize this was that kind of discussion forum. How come I don’t remember anything about it? s’not fair. You have a beard fetish or something, Zina? (raises eyebrows)

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Not me! I’ve always been partial to a clean-shaven chin, myself. Not that that’s stopped Pete from having a beard.

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Unseen, If you’re willing to spend $1000 don’t settle for "the cheapest 30 they have on shark in the morning". The cheapest anglos (and english) are really junk and they don’t sound anything like a real concertina. Look around. Check the buy and sell at http://www.concertina.net. Go to Barleycorn Concertinas on the web (do a Google search). You won’t find many good 30 key anglos for $1000 but you’ll be able to find good vintage (read ‘real") 20 key instruments in that range. A 20 key G/C anglo will play in G, C, G mix, D mix, A dorian, D dorian, A minor, E minor . The biggest drawback is no C# key, you can usually substitute another note. Chris Algar at Barleycorn is a very reputable dealer, so don’t worry about buying sight unseen from him.

Get a copy of John Williams video (partially taught on a 20 key instrument) and start playing. Good luck.

Zina, I hope you’re not laying my sins at the feet of Jack??

Squeezingly, Sandy (How’s that Craic List comin’??)

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Oh brilliant.. NOW you mention the husband. *smirk* hahaha

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Nah, nah. Anyway, I’ve no idea how the Mighty Craic progresses — has everyone sent in their tracks to Max? c’mon, don’t make me come out after you…

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Emily asked if there are there any Anglo players in Japan? Well, very few that I have seen. And I seem to be the only one around with an English in the Tokyo area. Fiddle and flute players abound with lots of whistles though.
Dow, you and I both know the streangths of the English. Its always fun reading the verbal sword play back and forth. This is a great site. There have been times Ive had tears rolling down my checks with laughter. If I ever make a
trip down under I’ll have to look some of you folks up. And then Dow and I can show you all some smooth as a flute playing on the English. Oh yeah I must say, that last month for the Irish festival they had in the Tokyo area that
Tim Collins among others from Ireland came here. I was amazed at his playing skill. Almost makes me wish I played an Anglo….what am I saying??? Strike that from the record. I must continue saying my mantra. English,English,English…..

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You guys are gonna be in soooo much trouble when Dow gets up:) It wasnt me Dow - i swear I didnt say a word.

Having said that - very good point about learning the English concertina - its going to be so much easier to get an Anglo Concertina teacher/learning videos etc. Unless you were thinking of joining a morris band and then you’d probably be able to find some good English concertina teachers.

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There is a fellow named Stuart that bought a concertina from me. He lives in or near Tokyo. He married a Japanese girl who plays in one of the symphony orchestras there.

I have never met him but he sounds like a nice enough fellow. I know that he goes to some of the local ITM sessions. I just sent him a 17 fret tenor banjo as well.

He is an anglo player.

Bob Tedrow

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Actually, Tusong is correct, sort of. I plucked G#mix out of the air to make a point like I said. I meant that playing in G#mix theoretically wouldn’t require any more physical effort because your fingers don’t have to move any further (the buttons are all there underneath the palm of your hand), whereas with a fiddle (say) it would require a bit of stretching and cause hardship perhaps with intonation. In real life, I’d find it difficult at first to play in G#mix because I’m not used to the scale since I don’t know any tunes in that mode (which was the point I was trying to make but never mind, forget it). Secondly, Tusong, if you really want to nitpick the theory: I agree that usually you’d express G#mix as Abmix, but you’ll find that in true theoretical terms, G# and Ab are at different pitches. I happen to be able to play both on my English concertina because of the way it’s tuned. Anyway, I won’t rabbit on in case someone accuses of me of being academically pedantic or whatever :-)

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Hello Bob, Hahaha yeah I know Stuart and his wife. He is a nice guy and his wife is an amazing fiddle/violin player that comes from a family of classically trained musicians. Stuart and his wife along with a few others did a gig on St. Patricks day here at Yokota Air Base. The crowd loved it.
Its amazing how many people have never heard ITM before.

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PS I think I probably left it too late for Mighty Craic. Anyway, I can’t think of anything that goes against my whole way of thinking more than recording myself in response to someone who is basically asking me to prove I can play my instrument. Yeughh no!

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Yeah, Dow, that’s why. We don’t believe you can play, you big old faker. :-\

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Hey Dow, how do you play a C#?? On the pull or the push?? : )

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Hey Fuzzy, we can do BOTH! Hehe

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Well Em that’s what it sounds like to me. I mean, does "How about "Gravel Walks" in Abmix, or "Maids Of Mt Cisco"?" sound like a challenge or what? Yeughh..

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Oh please, the Mighty Craic SO pre-dates this thread.

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There you go Tusong, you heard it from Em ;-)

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Yeah, you know what? We don’t believe Irish music can sound good on an ENGLISH system anyway. I mean, please. What joke! What kind of loser would sit around & play Irish trad on an ENGLISH concertina! That’s ridiculous! What a larff! hahahahaha

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I totally agree. Unseen122, get an Anglo!

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Grrrr…….

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Well, I I dont have an L on my forhead that says Im a LOSER. I dont SIT AROUND and play ITM on my English, because I can stand and play at the same time. How many Ango players can STAND and PLAY at the same time. Humpfff!!!!

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Apologies fuzzy, I was merely trying to goad Our Friend into recording a track. Take everything I said for a grain of salt!

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Dow I was aready planing to. This is blown way out of proportion it is just another instrument for me to teach myself (with some kind of a book anyway) whatever I play I will play it well. I know this whole thread was not about *me* but just had to throw that in. Why all the violence a Concertina is a Concertina regardless of where it came from.

PS Larf I have never heard that before but I will use it. Go around in school going up to people saying ha ha what a larf.

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I have a C# in both directions on the same button. :-)

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Fuzzy don’t worry Em’s just being her silly self. FWIW, by the time I’m drunk enough to get Tina out at a session and let Basil have a rest, I am not physically able to stand. Or play concertina for that matter.

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Oh no, Emily Its all good, everything I read on this site I take with a grain or two of salt. No need to apologize. Its all in fun.

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Phew! Can I resume my position as Undersecretary for English System Rotary Club?

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Fuzzy, anything someone called bb says to you, you should also take with a sackful of the old NaCl. She will say in the same breath: "I like piano accordions - like who would kick Mirella Murray out of their session?" and "What are you doing playing trad on an English concertina - get an Anglo", despite the fact that they are 1) both free reed instruments, and 2) both unisonoric or whatever the word is (you do learn some incredibly academically pedantic stuff on this dumb yellow board eh?)

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Yeah I think I remember bb from some months ago, subject title was " I luv tina" I think.

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Dow, you lie in your teeth - I’ve seen you and Tina perform Concertina Contortions together without missing a beat and you were jober as a sudge :o)

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No really, I’m not lying. Tish come to Durty Nelly’s on Sundays - you’re missing a treat. The last one was fantastic. I only broke 1 string!

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I keep trying to, Dow, and life keeps getting in the way 8>(

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Hi All….nice to see all the activity on this thread ; )

Mark, are you and Bridie still planning a trip out to the US anytime in the near future?

Hey Emily, I love the 2nd Na Connery CD! Just got it today

Joye

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Wow, I know I’m tired, but when I can’t even type my name, well it’s time to say good night

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Dow, My request for you to send something in to the Mighty Craic was only partially a challenge, just being my curmudgeonly self :-) But as I mention above I would truly love to hear english players that play in a modern irish (read anglo) style. In any key, and hopefully in the ‘standard’ key. If ‘you’ are out there, get your recordings into Max quickly. The deadline is very near.

I love what Joel Bernstein does. Have you heard him?? The only recording I have is "Pigtown Fling" with Randal Bays. He does a few tunes on his english system that sound very much like an anglo. Most of the CD is him on harmonica and Randal on fiddle. Great sound. There’s also one or two of Randal’s solo guitar things on it.

There was post on Concertina.net that was a basic tutorial for anglo. It had a very useful section on ornamentation. Real nuts and bolts type stuff. Some of the quirky ornaments used frequently by anglo players can be played relatively easily on the english system. I’ll see if I can retrieve that link and post it here.

P.s.

Mark, I’m counting on you to pester bb into recording something with you for the Mighty Crack, fer cat’s sake. C’mon, be a doll and talk her into it. *grin*

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I don’t see why they can’t just hit ‘record’ during one of their pub sessions & send in the best set. Isn’t that legal?

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Speaking of which, Ms. Zina, have you sent in a track? Are you up for recording something this weekend with me & Will or whomever?

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Yup, that’s what I’m planning on, Em. As for Mark and bb, that’s something of a joke — bb is positively allergic to recording herself…

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Oh groovy. I’m extremely sympathetic to bb. I’ve decided the only way I’ll do it is to have youse guys covering me up. Then I can always say that was Will on the flute. *wicked grin*

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Dow someone on concertina.net is in need of your help they play English system and think that they should switch to Anglo to play Irish music this is in the fourm section quick.

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This is in the General concertina question part.

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Tusong, I’m afraid that a recording of me isn’t going to help at all. My playing sounds *nothing* like an Anglo, honestly. I hunted down your homepage and listened to some of your mp3s, in particular your setting of "Sally Gardens". Is that an English you’re playing? If it is, the ornamentation sounds Anglo. Anyway I realised that we’ve *totally* been talking cross-purposes on this thread. We’re talking about 2 *completely* different playing styles. So I’m really interested to read this stuff on Anglo ornamentation. Unseen122 - you could always post a link to this discussion. It’s probably all in here by now!

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I’ve read the concertina.net thread. It seems that they’ve been reading this as well which is a bit weird - kind of like being spied upon… Hello concertina.net people! [One day I’ll get round to registering for your forum…] Someone on that thread says that you have to "let the English find its own voice" which I quite liked. It sounds as though Lawrence needs to switch to Anglo since his priorities seem to be to have his instrument "accepted at Irish sessions" and to make sounds "like an Anglo". For me personally they are low on my list of priorities. Some people at my session diss English concertinas just ‘cause they’re English concertinas, (like bb for one) but I don’t care and completely ignore them :-)

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As for you, Zina and Emily: there is not a herd of wild horses that will convince Beebs to record. I’m not going to have time I don’t think between now and the 30th, although the idea of swapping playing ideas has grown on me over the last few months (it takes me a while to get used to things!) especially with being about to get stuck into learning some Anglo ornamentation despite my crappy leaky bellows.

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Dow, did you see my thread called ‘website crossovers’ a few pages back? Hello Chaffing Nipple ppl!

I just started a discussion about recording ourselves, interested to hear your opinions. :)

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No I didn’t. I must’ve been completely ignoring you :-) LOL @ Chafing Nipple I know it’s an old one but it makes me larf.

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unseen wrote: PS Larf I have never heard that before but I will use it. Go around in school going up to people saying ha ha what a larf.

See? Cool ppl say ‘larf’ all the time. You’ll be the most popular kid at school! Sort of like Dave saying he’s the only gay in the village, it will go over great with average American teenagers!

PS Men really seem to find Chafing Nipples funnier than do women. I’m sticking with Chaffing.

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Dow, I’d still like to hear your stuff, just as a fellow english system player. See my ‘technical instructions’ on the current Mighty Craic thread:-)

Yes, all the concertina tunes at my website are played on an english system instrument. The style is my *attempt* to sound like an anglo.

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Well acutaly people will probably just look at me like I am insane (not that I am not) when I call them a larf I have yet to try it yet. My friend would get a kick out of Chaffing Nipples since he finds things like that overly hilarious.

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Unseen122, thanks for putting that link on concertina.net. This looks like a nice useful site.
There are a couple of points about English or Anglo concertina for ITM that I would like to mention.
First of all, my background: I chose the English for several reasons. ITM was not one of them at the time (13 years ago now). I wanted to play the kind of stuff Alistair Anderson plays, i.e. Irish, Northumbrian, Shetland, Scottish. Since I play or have played various kinds of bagpipes, I have an air supply control module hardwired somewhere in my subconscious, totally separate from the tune memory section that my fingers are connected to, so the English would be more compatible with my brain than the Anglo. And finally, I had tried a 20-key Hohner Anglo some years before and hadn’t got on with it very well.
Just as I was getting the hang of it, Irish sessions started popping up in our area, and I started learning more Irish tunes and listening to more ITM recordings, trying to emulate the styles I was hearing from all kinds of instruments. I’ve been doing that for ten years now, and last month an uilleann piper from Wexford, whom I’ve played with at sessions several times, invited me to play at a session at his forthcoming wedding. So I must be doing something right.
So what is the secret? How am I putting this "built-in Anglo bounce and rhythm" into my English? Answer: I’m not. because Anglos don’t have any "built-in bounce and rhythm". Any bounce or rhythm is in the player and nowhere else.
Then what is going on here? Why does ITM consistently nearly always sound better on an Anglo tham on an English? It can’t be that Anglo players all have rhythm, and English players don’t. Or are people imagining things? No; but in my view they are drawing the wrong conclusions.
I contend that the following is happening. Firstly, English concertina players of ITM are rare compared to Anglo players, good to top-class ones even rarer, and those who have made recordings rarer still. So when people get to hear an English, it’s very often some poor beginner in a session who makes a pig’s ear of it. Their skills on the English are not likely to improve if everyone then tells them that they should play the Anglo instead. And if people never hear good ITM on the English, they form the opinion that it doesn’t exist.
Secondly, if the English player sounds bad because of being a beginner, why does the Anglo beginner, at a similar level, sound OK? This is what happens:
On an instrument like the English concertina it’s important to keep the notes distinct and separate, otherwise they run into one another and you end up with a continuous amorphous mush, with no clear rhythm, emphasis or structure, and completely lacking punch. On the English you can do this for bar after bar nonstop until you run out of air, and obviously, ITM played this way sounds like utter crap. I have often heard beginners do this, especially when nervous. Now the Anglo beginner will tend to make exactly the same mistake, but will forced to separate the notes at least some of the time by the bellows reversals, which will also provide emphasis. Better players of either system can (and do) put in emphasis and punch at will, of course, without needing to rely on reversals. Which means that at that level, English players can produce much the same effects as Anglo players.
So: in my opinion, ITM can be played on the English, very effectively, and the English is just as suited to ITM as the Anglo. Also, in my experience, Ireland is the last place where people will look down their noses at you for playing the "wrong" box. If you play good music on it, it will be appreciated.

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Mark, here’s the link to that online tutor I mentioned. Not much use to us english system players except for the ornamentation section.

http://users.tpg.com.au/cghent/tutor.doc

Jonathan, you sound like you could be my evil (or not so evil) twin. I started along the same path as you (about 6-8 years ahead of you). Played Northumbrian pipes (lessons with Lance Robson and Joe Hutton). Switched over to anglo for about 6 months, then picked up an English system. Basically tried to mimic Alistair Anderson’s style, became involved with the Irish session scene in Chicago and gradually started (or attempted) to play in a more Irish style. I’m lucky enough (or cursed enough) to do 2 sessions a week with John Williams. Over the years I’ve had several very useful tutoring sessions with him, discussing at length the differences in approach and the intrinsic positives and negatives of both systems.

I agree with everything you have said, especially the constant *red herring* that the anglo has some sort of built in bounce because of the push/pull. Rubbish. As you say, it’s the player not the instrument.

There is one technique used on the anglo that I believe is very difficult, occasionally impossible, to duplicate on the english. That is the use of low tones (say low D) in the left hand (anglo) for a certain type of *punch* while playing the melody continuously on ‘top’. Sometimes the fingers just aren’t available to execute this ‘easily’ on the english sytem (without very weird contortions). Of course ‘similar’ effects can be reproduced on the english, but not the ‘exact’ effect. Just a very minor point.

Are you sending a track/tracks to the Mighty Craic?? Please do.

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Sandy, we might be talking about the same thing, but for me the Anglo technique that’s an absolute killer on the English is playing in octaves — the tune both with the right hand AND an octave lower with the left. Ties your brain in knots instantly. You would need two extra hands to do it.

I’ll think about the Might Craic thing but life’s a bit hectic at the office at the moment and we’re off to the Scandinavian Squeeze-In next week.

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I hope this whole mighty craic thing comes out good it probably will. By the way I have decided on my tunes: The Kesh, The Tenpenny Bit, The Irish Washerwoman, and Havest Home recorded and ready to be sent off to Max. The last two are on Fiddle, The Kesh is on my Low Whistle and The Tenpenny Bit is on my High Whistle.

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Punch-in bass notes are harder on the English. There was some guy here in Sydney who picked up my concertina and managed it nicely, but I don’t know who he was and I’ve never seen him since. Tusong, you had lessons from Joe Hutton? Wow! I’m also interested to know what Northumbrian connections you and Jonathan have if you’re familiar with Alistair Anderson.

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Hello gang. Ive been gone for days and youve practically written a novel about me! Dow - saying all things like that when you know I am sick in bed and cannot defend myself:(

The mighty craic sounds great fun - but Z, Em, Dow - y’know me…just canna do it. Not unless I ever want to play out in public again. Trust me - I doing it for you guys…its in your best interests that you dont hear me on a tape for a least another 10 years.

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Didn

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Yes, that was an English concertina that Robin Morton played on a few early BOL albums, and I guess it did sound "good" but most definitely not at all like modern Irish concertina style.

Dow, I don’t really have any Northumbrian connections other than in 1985 I bought my pipes directly from David Burleigh in Longframlington, Northumberland, and picked them up at his shop. He arranged lessons for me with Lance Robson and Joe Hutton. I was there for a few weeks, then went over to the continent and came back to Northumberland about a month later and had a few more lessons. I also spent a morning at Stephen Sobell’s shop, and had lunch with him and his family at his house. I was shuttling some legal ivory "scraps" from David Burleigh over to Sobell’s. Small world.

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Yes, Longfram and Whitley Chapel are worlds apart. No wonder they wanted a long-distance courier :-)

A surprise Wheatstone

My wife has just been gifted with an old Wheatstone English concertina (from a brother who never plays it). Should I tell her to give it back and ask for an Anglo? :-)

Are there good tutorials available? Are Wheatstones still made?

I’ve found the references to concertina.net, but I thought I’d start with familiar company.

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"Should I tell her to give it back and ask for an Anglo? "

As quickly as you can before it’s too late. ;-)

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Ring, ring…..ring,ring………" G’day, could I speak to "Dow", please….?

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Hi you’ve reached Dow, sorry I’m not available to take your call at the moment, but you can leave a message after the beep :-)

English it is

She’ll most likely play only song accompaniments and slow tunes anyway. So, are there any good tutorial materials for English ‘tina?

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If she isn’t planning on learning Irish dance tunes the English will be fine actually. Give Dow a ring and leave a message on his machine — he’ll explain the whole thing to you.

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Beeeep. Hello? Mr. Dow? Bobmyself, er, Bobhimself here. So you got any advice for my wife’s concertina adventure?

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I’m reeling with jealousy over the Wheatstone! I’m afraid if she’s looking for tutorials she’s out of luck. The best thing is to do lots of listening to recordings and just try to imitate it, and experiment until you find a style that feels right for you. Get Simon Thoumire’s new CD - it’s useful to know just what *can* be done with an instrument if what you need is inspiration. Don’t listen to Sandy who says Simon Thoumire doesn’t play Irish tunes - Simon can and does play Irish stuff, and plays it much better than probably anyone on this website. Also don’t listen to Jack. He’s full of sh*te :-)

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You could also try getting hold of some of the old recordings of Alistair Anderson, or if you like, contact me through the site. I think I still have some recordings of him playing in Aberdeen in the 1970s.

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If you decide to play Irish music, don’t listen to any good recordings of anglo players or else you’ll get depressed about being stuck with a brit-box. You might also find yourself whinging all the time about it too… pathetic really.

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See? So full of it it’s squirting out of his ears!

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Hahaha, Good one Jack!

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Whose side are you on? Just cuz I was taking the p*ss out of you with Conan…

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"See? So full of it it’s squirting out of his ears!"

Oh, I thought he just sneezed too hard.

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So the poor woman is on her on. I had a peek at concertina.net and saw links to advice on things like how to hold and wrestle the little beast. When I tried to play years ago, I never found a grip that didn’t feel like Tendinitis City. Was it just me, or is that a common problem?

Just out of curiosity, what are old Wheatstones worth? I was with my brother-in-law when he bought it fifteen years ago and I know he only paid a few hundred bucks.

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"I never found a grip that didn’t feel like Tendinitis City. Was it just me, or is that a common problem?"

Be careful about this. If you endeavor to play make sure you practice relaxing your hands. At first it will seem counter-intuitive because the natural tendency is to treat the keyboard as though striking the buttons is related to the strength of the sound. Get your fingers to stay low and just above the buttons, press lightly, you don’t have to push the buttons all the way to the floorboard. Practice playing quietly and take frequent breaks and practice relaxation visualization. After a while you will naturally play relaxed, but your initial approach will set the stage for your acclimation to it.

(Amazing how I’m capable of offering some actual advice instead of taking the opportunity to slag the brit-box… isn’t it?)

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Only cuz you couldn’t think of anything witty to say :-)

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Thanks for the help, guys. One more question. Is this instrument user-tunable, or do we have to send it off to a specialist if it needs tuning?

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Tusong - If you’re still following this thread, much of which (on my computer) has become overlaid and illegible - I can name someone who was indeed very good at ITM on the English: a chap called Andrew Knight who used to come down from Tyneside to play at sessions in Durham (England, that is) in the late ‘70’s. His playing had a very steady rhythm and used chords a lot, if I remember rightly. I don’t know if he was ever recorded.