piano accordion vs. concertina

piano accordion vs. concertina

Hello there,

I was advised to see what the session players of the Session.org had to say regarding picking up either the piano accordion or the concertina.

Right now I’m leaning toward the concertina, mainly because it’s more portable, and the venue the session I want to join plays at is small and an accordion would probably sound unbalanced and awkward.

Also, the session I want to join plays a lot of music in D. Because of this, if I do end up getting a concertina, should I get a G/D concertina or a C/G concertina? (From what I’ve heard, most of the tutorial books are written for C/G concertinas)

Thank you for all the input in advance.

Re: piano accordion vs. concertina

I´ve nothing against the piano accordeon, ladybyrd, but if I were you, I´d keep leaning towards the concertina.
As you say, it´s mobility is easier than the PA.
You can play tunes in D on the C/G Anglo concertina quite easily. The fingering I use for the key of D only involves leaving the G row twice: for E and for C#, and both of them are on the push.
Good luck.
Mike.

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No surprise at my recommendation - have you considered the B/C box? It’s also a doddle to play D on. I prefer the sound to the piano accordion (although I’m sure not everyone will agree), and it’s smoother than the concertina (depending on who’s playing it of course)…

Eno

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I take both to sessions. A lot of the time, I play PA on a single reed stop and make it sound like an anglo. This is particularly effective with pipes (and I hope Cameron agrees).

There are, however, complaints when I play PA with multi-reed stops. I only do this when it is already a noisy session. Honest !.

There are also complaints when I let rip with anglo concertina as it is allegedly so loud. (It is as loud as everyone elses, it is what you do with it that matters).
I can’t win.

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Hi Ladybyrd,

I recently started learning the concertina and am having lots of fun with it.

If you want portable, then I’d go with the concertina. Accordians are heavy to drag around. Especially if you have to walk any length.

A C/G concertina is the standard. Playing in D is not a problem, once you get used to cross-fingering.

Helen.

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Anyone who squeezes their PA near me with any button otheer than the single oboe reed gets short shrift indeed

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I thought this was like duelling banjos when I saw the thread title! 🙂

2 row or concertina will be much favoured by other musicians. Although there are some tasteful players using nice quiet PA boxes, these appear to be few and far between. Most of the musicans around here will cringe upon sight of a PA until you prove their natural fears to be unfounded.

Playing the piano keyed accordeon could be counstrued as counter intelligence work!! 😉

Best of luck.

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PA’s are way more nerdy looking than concertinas.

That’s all I have to say.

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😀 God know’s we can’t have any nerds playing diddley music - lol

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I’m just saying - it’s tough to find a person aesthetically pleasing with one of those glittery monstrosities strapped across their chest. Concertina’s are much easier on the eyes.

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Thank you for all your insights.

Well, I am majoring in Software Engineering, so I think it’s justified to call me a nerd!!! (I can even wear the glasses to prove it!) However, I do agree that concertinas are much easier on the eyes.

I think I’ll end up ordering a C/G concertina from the Button Box today. With some books on how to play it. Any recommendations on books?

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By the way, Michael, about the single oboe reed on the accordion - do you mean you don’t like too much volume or do you mean you don’t like warbly tremolo? Or both?

Jim

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Have you considered English concertina as a possibility ‘Ladybird’?

I’ve heard some great Irish music played on this instrument over the years, and you can play in any key you like (I think).

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I would recommend an English Concertina, then playing in any key is not a problem and far more portable than a moth box (aka accordion)

Re: piano accordion vs. concertina

concertina, definately

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English concertina is much less expensive. You should hurry and buy one before you realize the an Anglo is much better suited for ITM. Try to ignore anyone that tells you about this, only listen to the English system advocates — you’ll save money in the long run. Only rich people can afford to play ITM properly on concertina these days.

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www.concertina.net is an excellent resource for info on concertinas (Anglo and English!) :D

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"I think it’s justified to call me a nerd!!! "

Naaaaah! Yer just a geek. Yer not a nerd until your glasses are held togther with surgical tape and you wear a pocket protector.

Take Colin Powell as an example. His undergraduate degree is in geology, an even geekier field than software engineering, and he wears glasses, but he’s not a nerd.

KFG

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You’re not a geek till you’ve majored in sedimentology. Or composed a tune by that name. 🙂

Jim

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‘English concertina is much less expensive’ Don’t think so Jack.
A good English concertina by the likes of Wheatstone or Lacheanol (or however you spell it) is no cheap option. If you can manage to get hold of one that is.
I have to say though, I don’t know what the modern equivelants are like in price or quality.
But as I’ve said, I’ve heard some cracking players playing Irish music on an English Tina.

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Yeah they’re pretty expensive. More sophisticated than the anglo ones too, which have like 2 keys on each side like a kiddies’ toy. They also have wrist straps so you look as though you’re exercising with a chest expander while you’re playing. Takes about the same amount of brain power I guess. Mind you, at least you get muscles as a result of using a chest expander. With an anglo you just get a headache.

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’..till you’ve majored in sedimentology"
What’s that? would it have something to do with not having said-[what]-I-meant.
Obviously geeks don’t write enough tunes or there would be lots of tunes ending in -ology.
Rearrange slightly, the letters of piano accordion = Pain-o’ Accordion.
Now I’ll just go and take my tablets and have a lie down…….

Re: piano accordion vs. concertina

If I had the choice, I would be playing concertina. I plumped for the piano accordion long ago, through accident more than by design; while I love it to bits I prefer the sound of button boxes or concertinas. Syaying that, if you find your patience wearing thin, the PA is always a good stand-by, especially since you play piano already.

Good luck!

C

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Forget the PA and the English, go for the anglo concertina. Don’t listen to those half hearted people who masquerade as musicians pretending that an English concertina is OK to play ITM. It isn’t. There is a reason why it is so cheap of course ….just think about it. English concertinas are a very simple system where you just go in/out, in/out regardless of the tune, rhythm, regional styles, what anyone else is playing etc. Advocates will go on about the English as being the "best" system because it is so simple and that is all they can understand. On the contrary, Anglo style concertinas require a certain "Je ne sais quoi" that reeks of sophistication, intelligence, courage and a deeper more healthy respect of traditional styles. There really is no alternative to an anglo.
This will get the English concertina players very upset, Ladybyrd but do not worry. Buy an anglo and you will be in a very special club of serious and honest musicians.
Do check out the concertina.net website,
Do spend some money and get yourself a good quality concertina
Don’t go for the cheap option of an English
Best of luck
Love
another anglo concertina player

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Having read you bio Ladybyrd and as you are considering a career in counter-inteligence go for the concertina as they are much easier to hide when working deep undercover. PAs are hopeless to conceal although you could hide behind it if it came to that. I know I did…

Concertinas could also be adapted an air pump if you ever had to tunnel your way out of some foreign jail (see Great Escape et al).

What about a whistle? Very small and you could poke someone’s eye out with it. A low D could easily double as a small mortar.

OK ! I’m going now.

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Kiwi, I don’t agree about the "healthy respect for the tradition" etc. I think we concertina players do have a lot in common as far as that’s concerned. The only difference between English and anglo players is that anglo players *think* they’re better, we *know* we are.

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Shand Morino - all black with just a bit of silver.
Jeffries anglo - shiny metal ends - embossed leather - fancy bellows paper.
"Glittery monstrosities" indeed!

To be honest, I can’t stand PAs covered in rhinestones - they look a bit girlie.

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Anglo - just listen to any decent recording of diddley dee and it will be on the anglo. English is all right for accompanying songs but that’s about it.

[as he runs and hides from the hordes of english players bellows at full straetch……]

🙂

It’s not by accident that the http://www.concertina.net/guide.html purchasing guide starts off by saying ‘mostly for anglos’ !

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People who play ITM on English system concertinas usually get defensive when they realize they picked the wrong system. We, as Anglo players, should be as compassionate as possible when we encounter them anywhere — including Internet message boards. When they rage against the obviously superior Anglo, we should just smile and nod so as not to further incite them. Just think about how you might feel if you spent years trying to make one of those Brit-boxes sound like the real thing when you play ITM. It would be both frustrating and depressing, just look what happened to Dow… sad… tsk tsk tsk. It’s like realizing you entered a donkey into a Thoroughbred horse race by mistake.

😀 hahahahahahahahaha

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I think it very much depends on who is playing the instrument Breanden.

English concertina is more than ‘just suitable for accompanying songs’, although that is probably what a number of players use it for.

Try and catch a tune with Andrew Knight (IOM) sometime (he goes to Girvan) and I think you’ll change your mind about the instruments possibilities and the capabilities of some players.

I like to hear Irish music played on Anglo or English concertina, I don’t care, as long as it’s played well.

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I’m curious…in all the banter I’ve never heard it explained how the difference between English and Anglo really effects your playing. I assume (being an eejit fiddle player) that the Anglo gives you more options for phrasing since you get different notes on push vs. pull. But I’d like to hear this explained (in case I find a concertina in my lap some day).

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Run away! Run away!

🙂

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Actually it already happened, once. An anglo G/D. I put my fiddle down and the concertina player challenged me to try getting a tune out of his box. So I did. It was surprisingly easy—Silver Spear played itself, at about 40 bpm, and without any ornamentation, but more or less intact. That’s what got me interested.

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Actually, Will, all kidding aside, it’s more like the difference between a piano accordion and a button one. You can get the tune to sound good on either one, but the differences are there… subtle, but there.

Certain limitations in the button accordion and Anglo concertina lend a character to the sound that is technically overcome with the piano keyboard and English system layout of the concertina. If ITM were established on English system concertinas and piano accordions — then this argument might be the other way round. We have become accustomed to hearing the characteristics of the button accordion and Anglo concertinas that we now associate with Irish music.

Also, some folks say, (me included) that the Anglo concertina can emulate the sounds of the pipes better. I think it’s because of the solutions for embellishing the melody on a limited keyboard system tend to sound more like crans and such. The English system sounds more like a piano keyboard with all of the problems for embellishments being solved more consistently and logically. A more "even" sound I suppose.

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Now that just makes me mad, Will. I can torture a tune out of several instruments, but my pride was dashed to crumbs when I tried to play the concertina. After several hours, I couldn’t even play a scale. At any tempo. I must be brain-hemispherically challenged.

What I ended up getting …

I just bought a C/G Anglo Stagi from the Button Box. (With books)

So I apologize to all those English players who were hoping to dupe me into getting an English.

I did a lot of my research on Concertina.net. I just didn’t have the money to afford a better instrument right now.

But, I will stick to my claim that I’m a nerd. At least at my school (Montana Tech), where 50% of the majors are some form of engineering and the rest are nursing/business derivatives. I’m fairly certain that the Computer Science department has the largest selection of working Linux boxes to play with, and that no one ever goes to our building, because it’s stuck in the corner with the Math people.

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Congrats Di! Let us know how you get on with it.

Bob, I figured I missed my calling because even after 25 years on fiddle, I still can’t get Silver Spear to play itself…. 🙂

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😲 @ Jack. I never meant for you ever to give in and actually agree with me!

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Ladybird, I’m pleased you have made a choice (hoping to dupe indeed, humph) now go play it, and good luck.

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Congratulations are in order Ladybyrd for treading the challenging but ultimately more rewarding path of learning to play an anglo. Please contact me anytime you want any help. I am only a learner of course and am nearing my initial five year commitment to seeing if I like the concertina. And I think I will commit to another five years now to learning to play tunes on it. As I think it was Willie Clancy said something along the lines of "five years to learn your instrument, five years to learn your tunes, you should have it after about ten years!" Hope to hear from you sometime.
Jack, well said. I completely agree with everything you have said. I hope Dow has taken his calming and honesty medicine tonight.

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"The solutions for embellishing the melody on a limited keyboard system tend to sound more like crans and such"— don’t really get this. You can do all sorts with EC ornamentation, and this includes rolls and crans. Don’t see why you can’t get a pipey sound out of an English. In fact, because you get a more constant one-way airflow with the English, I’d say you can get it to sound more pipey or flutey than an anglo ever could, especially if you keep your cuts nice and short and popping and squeaky. An anglo just sounds like an anglo to me. Bouncy, honky, a little bit morris-y, sea-shanty-y. I’d rather have a chest expander - at least after using it I’d have something to show for it.

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GO ‘Dow’ tell em how it is.

Re: piano accordion vs. concertina

sea-shanty-y?

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Dow, listening to English system concertina players trying to emulate crans and piping technique is like listening to a white geek trying to do hip-hop or rap. What comes naturally on one would be artificial and forced on the other. You can play ITM fine on an English system, but the Anglo lends itself to the character of the music better. This is an obvious quality in the Anglo that is proven by its’ popularity among ITM players.

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…Nevermind the fact that at one time the box (whether melodion in it’s day, or butotn box, or concertina) forced it’s own set of changes on the music that weren’t welcome at the time. Tradition moves forward, it’s not stagnant, and refusal to accept other things because they don’t fit your world view of "how it always was and will be" is plain shortsighted and wrong. Yes, the current ITM trend in reeds is largely B/C boxes and Ango tina’s, but it wasn’t always so, and won’t always necessarily be… it’s a living tradition.

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If the English system concertinas ever surpass the Anglo in popularity for ITM in Ireland — I’ll eat my beret.

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That’s unlikely. People are lazy by nature so are more likely to choose the simpler and less sophisticated instrument.

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Or the one that sounds right.

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…or the one they are told over and over is the right one (based on person prejudices perhaps, shortsighted reading of history, or even simple personal preferences by the people who long and hard have fought the battle to master the difficult beasts), and are chided for should they dare chose the dreaded beast… In the end, it matters little anyway, since the opinions are likely formed, and only the next generation of musicians (not by chronological age, but by age in the tradition) has a chance of changing the direction the wind is blowing, or even honestly asking the question, has it always blown so?

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Re: Concertina vs. Concertina

I have always found this Jack/Dow English/Anglo thing very mystifying because to me the words ‘Brit, Anglo and English’ all mean the same thing.

Re: piano accordion vs. concertina

Donough wrote: "to me the words ‘Brit, Anglo and English’ all mean the same thing." What do you know — you play guitar.

😀 hahahahaha

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Hey Jack have you noticed how I’m gaining support here? I can gang up on you now. Nobody wants to support your stick-in-the-mud illogical cause anymore. You’re just bitter!

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Yeah Jack I know, you may think you push all the right buttons but I know what strings to pull!! 🙂

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Donough, it’s not hard for him to learn which buttons to press since he only has about 2 on each side.

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I think I’ll just leave you two to bellow on and I’ll butt-on outa here.

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I knew Donough was to woosy for this debate. Typical guitar player.

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If that day ever comes ‘Jack’ and you can eat my beret too, I reckon you’ve got room for it.

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I play both, and like the EC better. More lyrical, which is the effect I’m after. EC’s also appear to be a better investment, if you’re into that kind of thing.