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Why a melodeon?

Phil Edwards 22 Jul 08 - 07:28 PM
Les from Hull 22 Jul 08 - 07:53 PM
curmudgeon 22 Jul 08 - 08:28 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 Jul 08 - 09:26 PM
Piers Plowman 23 Jul 08 - 02:15 AM
GUEST,Woody 23 Jul 08 - 02:49 AM
Rowan 23 Jul 08 - 02:53 AM
Little Robyn 23 Jul 08 - 03:04 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 23 Jul 08 - 03:56 AM
GUEST 23 Jul 08 - 04:05 AM
melodeonboy 23 Jul 08 - 04:24 AM
treewind 23 Jul 08 - 04:41 AM
Phil Edwards 23 Jul 08 - 05:27 AM
Leadfingers 23 Jul 08 - 05:37 AM
greg stephens 23 Jul 08 - 05:49 AM
GUEST,martin ellison 23 Jul 08 - 06:10 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jul 08 - 06:26 AM
Dick The Box 23 Jul 08 - 06:28 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jul 08 - 06:32 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jul 08 - 06:40 AM
Phil Edwards 23 Jul 08 - 07:28 AM
pavane 23 Jul 08 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,martin ellison 23 Jul 08 - 07:46 AM
the button 23 Jul 08 - 08:19 AM
manitas_at_work 23 Jul 08 - 08:34 AM
treewind 23 Jul 08 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Jul 08 - 10:56 AM
bubblyrat 23 Jul 08 - 02:07 PM
Tattie Bogle 23 Jul 08 - 02:32 PM
GUEST,Greycap 23 Jul 08 - 02:40 PM
greg stephens 23 Jul 08 - 02:47 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Jul 08 - 03:56 PM
Crane Driver 23 Jul 08 - 04:51 PM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jul 08 - 06:44 PM
Rowan 23 Jul 08 - 07:14 PM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jul 08 - 07:19 PM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Jul 08 - 07:44 PM
Dick The Box 24 Jul 08 - 06:37 AM
treewind 24 Jul 08 - 06:51 AM
Tattie Bogle 24 Jul 08 - 09:09 AM
Marje 24 Jul 08 - 01:08 PM
Acorn4 24 Jul 08 - 01:38 PM
Phil Edwards 24 Jul 08 - 03:19 PM
Little Robyn 24 Jul 08 - 04:05 PM
oggie 24 Jul 08 - 05:20 PM
Phil Edwards 24 Jul 08 - 05:36 PM
Acorn4 24 Jul 08 - 06:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Jul 08 - 07:35 PM
Rowan 24 Jul 08 - 07:38 PM
Tattie Bogle 24 Jul 08 - 08:04 PM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Jul 08 - 12:48 AM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Jul 08 - 12:50 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Jul 08 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 25 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Jul 08 - 07:18 PM
Greg B 25 Jul 08 - 09:57 PM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Jul 08 - 10:41 PM
oggie 26 Jul 08 - 02:08 AM
GUEST,martin ellison 26 Jul 08 - 06:06 AM
pavane 26 Jul 08 - 08:01 AM
Marje 26 Jul 08 - 09:13 AM
The Fooles Troupe 27 Jul 08 - 05:38 AM
The Sandman 27 Jul 08 - 03:28 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jul 08 - 06:22 PM
The Sandman 28 Jul 08 - 08:47 AM
Marje 29 Jul 08 - 05:47 AM
The Sandman 29 Jul 08 - 05:55 AM
Terry McDonald 29 Jul 08 - 06:12 AM
pavane 29 Jul 08 - 06:22 AM
Tattie Bogle 29 Jul 08 - 10:38 AM
Tootler 29 Jul 08 - 11:19 AM
Rowan 29 Jul 08 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,Joe 30 Jul 08 - 05:18 AM
The Sandman 30 Jul 08 - 08:26 AM
manitas_at_work 30 Jul 08 - 08:54 AM
pavane 30 Jul 08 - 09:56 AM
The Sandman 30 Jul 08 - 10:04 AM
manitas_at_work 30 Jul 08 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,Joe 30 Jul 08 - 10:57 AM
Marje 30 Jul 08 - 11:02 AM
pavane 30 Jul 08 - 11:04 AM
manitas_at_work 30 Jul 08 - 11:12 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Jul 08 - 02:01 PM
Greg B 30 Jul 08 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,martin ellison 30 Jul 08 - 04:12 PM
The Sandman 30 Jul 08 - 05:36 PM
Tootler 30 Jul 08 - 06:07 PM
Tootler 30 Jul 08 - 06:15 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Jul 08 - 06:51 PM
Rowan 30 Jul 08 - 08:38 PM
Bob Bolton 31 Jul 08 - 01:48 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 31 Jul 08 - 06:15 AM
Rowan 31 Jul 08 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,pianissimomelodeonista 02 Sep 08 - 09:47 AM
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Subject: Why a melodeon?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 07:28 PM

On an old "what's the easiest instrument to learn?" thread, I noticed several people nominated the melodeon.

I sing & play the whistle, & I've been wondering for a while about learning an instrument I could actually accompany myself on. Guitar's the obvious choice, but if I were to go for some sort of squeezebox instead, would people specifically recommend the melodeon? Is melodeon particularly easy to learn, as opposed to concertina or piano accordion, and if so why?


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 07:53 PM

It's easy if you play the harmonica, but some people get confused by the different not for each direction of air flow. And there are a lot more melodeon players than the ones who use it to accompany songs. Although I do that, I find it's a lot easier to use my bouzouki for song accompaniment. Now that's a lot easier than guitar as well, and it doesn't hurt your fingers (a surprising number of would-be guitar players give up because of this!).


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 08:28 PM

A good quality beginners melodeon is a lot less expensive than an equivalent concertina.

I just did a quick perusal at "The Button Box" (USA) and noted that a decent me;odeon/button accordion can be had for less than $1000 USD, but a new Morse Anglo or English system concertina is around $1800 USD.

If you want more information, go to cconcertina.net- Tom


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 09:26 PM

I'd recommend reading the "Technique: Piano Accordion for The Recycled Muso" thread.

I don't want to repeat it all here - many of the techniques mentioned are transferable to the melodeon *** too.

The keyboard allows many useful skills, and if you learn that first, then the P/A is relatively easy to pick up.

A small 32 or 48 Bass one is sufficient for most Folk Music - though you are limited to the range of 'common' keys.

Small ones are lighter too.


Spell checker insists on 'melodrama' ... :-)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:15 AM

The sad truth is that no instrument is easy. The guitar would be a good choice. I love the sound of fixed-reed instruments, play the harmonica, and would love to buy an accordeon, melodeon, concertina, bandoneon, or anything similar. However, I think they are are generally rather loud and that might limit the kind of songs you can sing with them. Perhaps I'm just misinformed, in which case players of those instruments may feel free to set me straight.

A guitar with nylon strings shouldn't hurt your fingers too much. I didn't find the pain of learning to play a steel-string too bad, and that was before I bought a nylon-string guitar. I am now having pain in my hands, and it is connected with guitar-playing, but that's a different story. It seems that a lot of instruments are not particularly good for one's health, especially if played excessively.

One nice thing about the guitar is that one can play it and a (diatonic) harmonica at the same time. I'd love to find a chromatic one that could be played using a holder, but I've never seen one.

I just bought a penny-whistle the other day and have started learning the fingerings. I like it very much. Not sure how the neighbours feel about it.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,Woody
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:49 AM

The Tenor Guitar is a good choice. It has 4 strings rather than 6 giving it quite a different & IMHO more interesting sound than a standard Guitar, many chords only require 2 fingers, and you stand out from the crowd. It's also undergoing a revival at the moment.

In the UK the Ozark Tenor Guitar sells for £175 and is really nice (I've got one), there's also the Ashbury which is a similar price and looks to be good though I've not tried it.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Rowan
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:53 AM

I suspect one reason for the several suggestions that melodeons are "easy to learn" is that they are deceptively simple in layout and operation. In this context I'm using the Oz sense of "melodeon", which is a diatonic instrument with a single row of buttons for the right hand and a pair of "spoon valves" for the left hand. They have the reputation that they can be played by ear more easily than other instruments that are more chromatic; if that's how you learn music then they'll work for you.

You don't need to be forever tuning them, as you do for stringed instruments. This can be an advantage if you haven't yet taught your ear how to listen for when an instrument is 'correctly tuned'; many people don't realise that training your ear is part of the process.

A diatonic button accordion that has more than one row of buttons on the right hand is often called a "melodeon" by some UK users. These present more of a challenge, partly because they present a wider choice of possibilities but they can also be picked up by ear, apparently, with greater facility than for more "conventionally" chromatic instruments.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 03:04 AM

If you're wanting to play and sing at the same time, I would think you'd find a concertina a little easier.
I play piano accordion and have on occasion tried to sing with it but it takes a bit more ooommph than the little 'tina. I also think a 'tina sounds better with voice and you can put in chords or a harmony.
Guitar would be my instrument of choice to sing with but I've also sung and played Geordie pipes which is a bit trickier, especially if you want to play a harmony while singing the tune.
Probably the easiest would be an autoharp - it can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.
By the way, I find the melodeon diabolically hard - I need to concentrate like mad to get the right note and there's no way I could sing at the same time!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 03:56 AM

Because it's there:-))


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 04:05 AM

Why a melodeon?

A bit like saying why a bodhran, or a banjo?

Unfathomable question to which there is no sensible answer!!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 04:24 AM

I do remember some well-informed person saying that it was difficult to play a melodeon really badly or really well.

I think it's a relatively easy instrument to get "up and running" on. In my own experience, I was accompanying performers on the melodeon within weeks of getting one for the first time, punching above my weight, certainly, but I was able to contribute something useful, if very basic. I doubt that I would have been able to do that with many other instruments. I can't imagine that I would have been able to do it with a fiddle or with pipes, for example!

Unfortunately, time has not made me a real master of the instrument, so perhaps the proposition in my first sentence is true!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: treewind
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 04:41 AM

"difficult to play a melodeon really badly or really well."

Nice!
That's possibly the defining quality of any folk instrument.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 05:27 AM

Jimmy Shand ruined piano accordions for me; I don't really like the look or the sound. I'm thinking strictly buttons!

I suppose the real question is, if I wanted to produce a sound something like John Kelly's Polly Vaughan or Dick Miles's Willie o Winsbury (i.e. mostly chords, with the voice carrying the melody), are there good reasons for going for a melodeon rather than a concertina?

("Something like" is intentionally vague - I realise that John's playing harmonium on that song.)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 05:37 AM

One point to bear in mind with the basic Melodeon is the limited key range available ! If your natural singing voice is NOT G or D , a standard Melodeon would be a bit awkward ! Thats whu so many singing Melodeon players carry two or three around .


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 05:49 AM

If you want to play dance tunes(British/Irish) the piano accordion is easy to play the notes in the right order, but unbelievably dificult to play with any bounce or style. The number of people who have succeeded in this area is minuscule. Go for the button accordion/melodeon option any time. If you want to play Irish tunes with fiddlers, a B/C or a C#/D is the thing...which one depends on a lot of factors. Differwent people swear by different tunings. For English tune sessions, a D/G would be the easiest option.
If you want to sing with it you'd have to experiment before buying. A lot of singers would find a C/F provides easier keys than a D/G, but that's entirely down to the range of your voice. Basically what Leadfingers says above applies: for song accompaniment, you'd be lucky to get away with one melodeon.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 06:10 AM

That's the trouble with melodeons - once you buy one you almost instantly need another, a bit like Chinese food. I'm one of these crazy people who have DIFFERENT D/Gs because some tunes sound better on one than the other!!
I sometimes wish that English tunes weren't confined to G and D (yes I know about East Anglia and "C"). C and F are lovely keys to play in.

Pip Radish - am I reading you wrong or do you think Jimmy Shand was a piano accordion player? He was all buttons - definitely not to my taste either but undeniably brilliant.

martin


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 06:26 AM

"would love to buy an accordeon, melodeon, concertina, bandoneon, or anything similar. However, I think they are are generally rather loud"

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! Only when played by the untalented... :-)


"the piano accordion is easy to play the notes in the right order, but unbelievably difficult to play with any bounce or style"

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! Only for the untalented... :-(

"The number of people who have succeeded in this area is minuscule. "

As I just said... :-P - oh and the 3 secret words ...

Practice! Practice! Practice!



"Jimmy Shand ruined piano accordions for me; I don't really like the look or the sound. "

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! .... and I am not really impressed by the "Omm Pah Pah Piano Accordion School" players either!

... and this is said by a guy who was once mentioned by the MC (rich-joy) as "Piano Accordion - WITH subtlety!"... :-P


If you read the thread I mentioned, you may just find that P/As are playable in styles that you never dreamed of - all around the world in MANY cultures - an EXTREMELY versatile instrument - as are also guitars...


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Dick The Box
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 06:28 AM

Personally I would not recommend a melodeon for a beginner to accompany singing. Firstly (as mentioned above) the limited keys that one melodeon can play in means carrying multiple melodeons around which is expensive and a nuisance. Secondly, by the nature of how a melodeon works the sound is very bouncy (due to the constant changing in bellows direction) which is why it is great for dance music. It is possible to play smoothly but this requires skills such as playing across the rows and ditching the oompah bass in favour of a mixture of single notes, chords and gaps. As indicated, a good english concertina probably best (but expensive) as you can play in any key and it is subtle. Accordions are cheaper and also play in any key but you will have to fight against their natural volume (and size).

The advantage of a free reed instrument is that it requires no skill to form a note. You press a button and hey presto the note comes out. Most other instruments require some degree of skill in bowing, fingering, breathing or mouth shape to produce a note which makes the learning curve much steeper. However, a guitar, bouzouki or mandola will probably in the long term give a better accompaniment to a song. Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice......

Richard Ashe


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 06:32 AM

Dick The Box

I was once privileged to WATCH a button box player play music in the 'normal style' of a Piano Accordion - he just didn't know that it couldn't be done, you see, and if you closed your eyes, you could NOT tell the difference.... also he learned from his father...


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 06:40 AM

"Accordions are cheaper and also play in any key but you will have to fight against their natural volume (and size)"


AAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!   Bias again - caused by watching too many self taught untalented players.... (at least WAV hasn't yet taken up the Piano Accordion!)   :-P

AND - if you read that thread, you will see that I recommend small (32 & 48 Bass!) Piano Accordions for Folk Music...


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 07:28 AM

My apologies to Jimmy Shand!

Hmmm... what I'm after is definitely not bounce. Drone more than bounce, really. I've been knocked out by Dick Miles's stuff on Youtube and Sound Lantern; perhaps what that tells me is that the English concertina is the instrument for me. Or at least the instrument of my daydreams (I gather they're more expensive than Anglos or melodeons).


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: pavane
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 07:43 AM

Jimmy Shand was the guy who married an accordion bass with a melodeon keyboard. Three rows, fully chromatic if you can work out where all the notes actualls ARE.

John Kirkpatrick plays one, I think.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 07:46 AM

Pip - one of the most satisfying things about a melodeon is learning how to play it tastefully/quiet/inventively. I seem to want to play lots of slow, stately and chordal music at the moment. Of course it naturally leans towards "bounce" but just like the piano accordion players who can play with oomph, brio and rythmic panache, it takes practise and a little fight against its' initial tendency to chop the notes. I'm still learning but what a glorious sound when it works.
martin


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: the button
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 08:19 AM

Pip -- English concertinas are often cheaper than Anglos (30 key Anglos, anyway). This is because you aren't competing with hoardes of Americans whose great-grandmas once lived next door to someone who nearly drank a pint of Guinness buying up the world's reserve of decent Anglos to play Irish music on at 200 mph.

(Disgruntled Anglo player, who can't afford anything better than a Lachenal).


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 08:34 AM

"Jimmy Shand ruined piano accordions for me; I don't really like the look or the sound. "

I'm not sure how he could have done that without playing one! As pointed out above he played diatonic accordion and one of his nick--names was "King of the Melodeon-men".


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: treewind
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 09:31 AM

Indeed. Jimmy Shand used to play melodeon many years back, very well but not often recorded that I know of.

John K. does indeed play the "Shand" system, as did I once, a long time ago.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 10:56 AM

Pip, first you have to do Step 1. That is, determine whether you can sing and play an instrument at the same time. Some people can do it, some cannot. It seems to be something in the brain.

Before you spend money on an instrument for accompaniment, borrow a guitar or piano and see if you can sing and play at the same time. Obviously you will need a friendly person to show you a couple simple chords which you can try playing to a song you already know.

I can sing and play the guitar. I can't sing and play piano. On the piano, I get a few words out and then stop. I can't explain it - as I said, I think it's something about the brain.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:07 PM

Jimmy Shand was just about recorded to DEATH in the 1950s !! When I were a lad, you couldn't get away from him, The White Heather Club, and the (seemingly ) interminable strains of "The Blubell Polka " ( et al )----and very nice and pleasant it all was, too, I am glad to say, as it left me with an abiding love of all things melodeon and concertina ! I very much hope, Anahata, that Alison Fenner, the lady with the Duet concertina and Shirley Collins-like voice, whom you may remember from appearing at the " Seven Stars" (Maidenhead) venue ( ?), will be at our local (Marlow ) club venue tonight---I just LOVE her sound ! ( and yours and Mary's, of course !! ).
             Roger..


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:32 PM

Leeneia has it about right: when you are learning an instrument, you need ALL your powers of concentration on the instrument: only when you can play it AND carry on a conversation at the same time are you ready to sing with it as well. (This has echoes of other threads!)
I play B/C button box, but don't use it to sing with, as usually either the singing or the playing goes out the window if I try to do both at once! I play a number of instruments, and it is easily the most complicated, mainly because of the push and pull. I'm gradually finding my way around other keys than G,D,C,A majors(yes I have G sharp!), A,E and B minor: the notes are all in there, (unlike the G/D melodeon), it's just finding them on the hop!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,Greycap
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:40 PM

Why not? If you like 'em, buy one. If you want to hear a fine accordion player, Mr. Sam Pirt of Yorkshire is about as good as it gets.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:47 PM

Engl;ish concertinsa are defintiely the easy one if your aim is drones rather than bounce. But of course, there is a lot more drone to had out of the two sides of,say, a D/G box, because there is a much bigger range of reeds. They just takes a bit more finding!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 03:56 PM

Pip,
It's perfectly easy to make a reasonable song accompaniment with that easiest of instruments, the melodeon. Tony Hall has done this most of his life and I've never heard any complaints about him. It is very true as earlier stated that it is 'difficult to play it really badly or really well'. And there are melodeons in DGA. But as others have said if you want to play chords and drones then a cheap 48 button wooden ended quiet English concertina is perfect, and as Button said, button for button, or reed for reed, English concertinas are much cheaper than equivalent model Anglos simply because of supply and demand.

As a middle of the road player/singer I accompany my singing on both Anglo and melodeon and the different sounds they produce make for variety. But, as with any instrument you need to get the feel of the instrument, i.e., get to the stage where your fingers are playing the tune and not your conscious mind, before accompanying song successfully.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 04:51 PM

So many people ask "is the [whatever] an easy instrument to get started on ....?"

IMHO, the question should be "will the [whatever] be versatile enough for all the things I may want to do once I've got beyond being a beginner?"

Learning an instrument because it's 'easy to get started on' won't necessarily help you transfer to the instrument you will need later, if your 'simple' instrument doesn't cut it at higher musicianship levels. Decide what sort of instrument you want to be able to play eventually, and start on that. It may be harder to start with, but at least you won't have to start all over again once you reach the limitations of the instrument.

I am not saying that any of the instruments mentioned here are too limited, because I've heard excellent music from all of them. My own choice, of course, is duet concertina. I could never sing and play guitar at the same time. Something in the brain, quite right.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 06:44 PM

"it takes practise and a little fight against its' initial tendency to chop the notes"

"English concertinsa are defintiely the easy one if your aim is drones rather than bounce."


AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! again!

The INSTRUMENT has nothing to do with it.

The PLAYER...

Like the car doesn't drive fast and dangerously, it's the nut that holds the steering wheel....


If when YOU play an instrument, you get a 'bounce', then YOU are doing it!!!!!

I DON'T GET A BOUNCE! (unless I want to!)

But, then I had years of strict keyboard tuition on all sorts of keyboard instruments, including pipe organ (which CAN be made to 'bounce' quite nicely!) BEFORE picking up a Piano Accordion.

As I repeat, those who can only play any instrument 'with a bounce' simply DON'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY "LEGATO" !!!! - a skill 'hammered in' to all normal keyboard students who 'learn properly'!!! :-)

:-P


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Rowan
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 07:14 PM

Well, I thought the question was "Why a melodeon?" and I restricted myself to attempting to answer Pip's original query as to why so many had suggested one, as an easy instrument to learn, in the other thread. All the stuff about other free reed instruments is well and good, and most of it I can sympathise with.

To "declare my interest" I play Anglo, and sing with it, although I found it's breathing was so different to mine that it took me a while to get to the singing bit. I also play melodeon(s) as the term is used in the Hohner catalogue and in Oz. I have lovely old ones that have very fruity tones and I can play them loud, softly, as accompaniment to my singing and for dances. But, with limited space, I take only the Anglo when travelling.

Sure, the English and duet concers have attributes I admire, as do piano and various accordions (as defined by Hohner and the Oz usage of the term) but Robin is right in his assertions (and his frustrations); I've moaned at the sound of oiano accordions played by people with fingers that can't hit only one key at a time but must slur everything. I've also watched Mike Heagney (now passed on) go through every piano accordion in Lamberti Bros' shop in Melbourne, searching for one that had the lightness of touch that would enable him to articulate every grace note in high speed (strict tempo. mind) Scottish and Irish reels.

It's the player that makes the music and melodeons make great music in the hands of great players; it's just that I think they have been suggested so often because so many have been deceived into thinking of them as simple and easy to learn.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 07:19 PM

Crane Driver

"IMHO, the question should be "will the [whatever] be versatile enough for all the things I may want to do once I've got beyond being a beginner?"

Learning an instrument because it's 'easy to get started on' won't necessarily help you transfer to the instrument you will need later, if your 'simple' instrument doesn't cut it at higher musicianship levels."

"I am not saying that any of the instruments mentioned here are too limited, because I've heard excellent music from all of them"

You have said it so well!

I have a 'Hero' - a Chinese 8 Bass (about 15 key) Piano Accordion, and I can get things out of that little 'toy' that have surprised many 'experts'... as I said, it's got something to do with the nut that holds the steering wheel... :-)

Far too many punters believe that the instrument has something to do with making music... they do nothing when sitting on the shelf...

If you have ever watched Ted Eagan perform on his empty cardboard beer carton, you will understand... :-)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 07:44 PM

Thank You Rowan.

I used to be good once, but I'm out of practice now.... :-P

:-)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Dick The Box
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 06:37 AM

Foulestroupe

I am biased against accordions but only in as much they are one of the easiest instruments to play badly. I agree with your point that it's the player not the instrument - Karen Tweed for example blows my socks off. However, I still maintain that if you are not a good player, or new to the instrument, then you can cause a lot less aural damage with an english concertina compared to a piano accordion. Personally I would rather hear most songs accompanied on a concertina than an accordion, but then that is my choice. My original post reflects my personal tastes and the fact that I am an experienced melodeon player but in the end it's just advice and the reader can take it or leave it.

Richard Ashe


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: treewind
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 06:51 AM

Hello Bubblyrat/Roger
Yes, Jimmy Shand was recorded to death in the 1950's - he was a top-of-the-pops best seller - but was he playing plain diatonic melodeon or the B/C/C# button accordion at that time? The latter, I thought, but ICBW.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 09:09 AM

Other folk who sing while playing melodeon to great effect: Jim Bainbridge, Pete Shepheard, Pete Coe, John K (doesn't just play).

Does anyone remember Atarah Bentovim? She used to do these musical lecture/demonstrations for kids: she had this theory that everyone could play something, and if you didn't get on with playing your instrument, you were just learning the wrong one!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Marje
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 01:08 PM

I use melodeon to accompany songs sometimes, but it's a bit limiting because of only having 2 keys, which may not be suitable for all your songs. Oddly enough I find that I can sing + play, but can't talk + play at all.

Despite allegations to the contrary, it does have a natural punchiness that comes from the push/pull action (that's what makes it a good choice for dance music), but you can override this to some extent by using more chords and drones for accompaniment.

As to whether the melodeon is easy: I think it divides people more than any other instrument. You either take to it or you don't. Try to borrow one and see what you make of it. If you can soon play tunes by ear quite easily, you'll be fine. If you have to write the letter-names on the buttons and can't play without staff notation, it'll be a struggle.

If you really want an instrument mainly for song accompaniment, English concertina would give you the full range of keys and notes that a diatonic instrument doesn't have. Again, try to borrow one and see how it goes. I borrowed one and found I couldn't get on with it at all, whereas with a melodeon the basics all fell into place very quickly.

Good luck!
Marje


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 01:38 PM

Why a melodeon?

Because it's there!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 03:19 PM

You try to cross over there a concertina and you'll find out why-a-no-concertina.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 04:05 PM

As Marje said - "I borrowed one and found I couldn't get on with it at all, whereas with a melodeon the basics all fell into place very quickly."
The opposite was true for me. A 'tina was easy, the melodeon was almost impossible without even trying to think about song words!
I found a toy melodeon for a few dollars in a junk shop a couple of years back. I does work properly, it's just very small and basic. Even so, the *#+!!! thing frustrates me and it's now consigned to the music cupboard. I might just give it to my grandaughter (aged 2) to play with. If you lived closer, I'd give it to you!
The best advice is try before you buy.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: oggie
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 05:20 PM

"would love to buy an accordeon, melodeon, concertina, bandoneon, or anything similar. However, I think they are are generally rather loud"

Concerning the bandoneon part... Unless you have big hands and an illogical mind don't! There are parts of a bandoneon that resemble an Anglo but they are limited, you can play in any key BUT where the note will be may bear no relationship to it's neighbours. Also if you get an argentinian (ie tango tuned) bandoneon it will be tuned to A442.

Yes I do play one but I'm also a masochist! It also means that I can no longer play a melodeon or concertina because the fingerings are so totally different.

Steve

PS I have small hands so I only play a four row 126 tone box, the full 144 boxes are fearsome beasties.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 05:36 PM

All I know about the bandoneon is that Astor Piazzolla did wonderful things with it. But he was a virtuoso, which is something I'll never be on any instrument I take up now - probably not on the ones I already play, either...


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 06:42 PM

A friend of mine borrowed a melodeon recently but said:-

"The problem was I found myself breathing in and out with it"

I think he might have had a lucky escape!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 07:35 PM

"does have a natural punchiness that comes from the push/pull action"

I repeat - that's only because the player has NOT practised LEGATO.... :-) AND IS A SLOPPY PLAYER.... :-P


Pianos are a percussion instrument by design and construction, playing 'legato style' is also hard work.... :-P


Richard Ashe (and others!)

1) The spelling is "Foolestroupe" it comes from my "Troupe of Medieval Fooles" see my home webpage in my profile to understand! :-)

2) Actually I respect your opinions about 'badly trained unpractised half baked wannabe pseudo-musos' destroying the reputation of a worthy instrument.... :-) because they largely coincide with mine... :-)


"maintain that if you are not a good player, or new to the instrument, then you can cause a lot less aural damage with an english concertina compared to a piano accordion"

Actually, I can't disagree too much, but "if you are not a good player, or new to the instrument" then a 'tina can still be a WMAD...

(Weapon of Mass Aural Destruction).... :-) and I have a Duet as well .... :-)

which I DON'T play in public... :-P


Robin


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Rowan
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 07:38 PM

I use melodeon to accompany songs sometimes, but it's a bit limiting because of only having 2 keys, giving breath to potential confusions concerning what type of instrument is called a "melodeon".

Marje is using the definition common in the UK (which is why I specifically referred to the Hohner catalogue and Oz usage) but, following her usage, a two row B/C instrument (diatonic, and called a button accordion in Oz) would give all the keys, but I've not heard too many people sing while playing one; most players of them seemed more interested in Irish reels. Her usage could also apply to the three row B/C/C# instrument (each row diatonic, fitting it into the "melodeon" categorisation) that most of us on the thread have been referring to as the British Chromatic Accordion aka Shand model aka that thing wot John Kirkpatrick played.

In Oz, melodeons have only one row, potentially limiting Marje's range even more but it seems all diatonic squeezeboxes have the same effect on players' breathing and concentration. "The faraway look on the face of the accordion player" is a phrase in Shirley Andrews' book "Take your partners", a history of colonial and bush dances and dancing in Oz; the phrase comes from an item collected at a time when melodeons (single row) and button accordions (two or three row instruments, usually in C/F or G/C/F) were prominent music providers for such occasions.

While I can sing while playing a button box, I almost always have that same "faraway look" of concentration while playing and I've frequently noticed it on others who have even more experience than I.

And, as with Marje, I found the basics of the melodeon fell into place quite quickly once I'd started on the Anglo version of the leather ferret.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 08:04 PM

Ah, the faraway look............. My tutor's wife commented on this, once when I was playing; "Youre getting that look that X has when he's playing".
As Rowan has said, you've got it all there on a two-row B/C button accordion: apart from the keys I mentioned above (24th July 9.09am), tonight I was playing in E major (found the G# and the D#) and F (found the B flat). Have even been known to play in F#major when the singer couldn't quite reach G.
As for "punchy action", I was taught to use the bellows smoothly, almost imperceptibly, but then I don't use a lot of L hand, in common with many B/C players. My favourite tunes are nearly all slow airs, (maybe a reflection on how fast I can play!)often those originally written for fiddle.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 12:48 AM

"The other D9, the D9 Caterpillar, isn't musical at all"

Ah - but unlike the musical instruments played by some folkies, you CAN tune it... :-P


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 12:50 AM

Ooops - wrong thread - but it sorta fits anyway... :-)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 11:54 AM

Having played the Anglo and melodeon for about 40 years I've always fancied a decent Chemnitzer or Bandoneon. I have a tatty Arnold in the loft which I can knock a tune out on, probably the Argy tango system, but really fancy one of those splendid Chicago Chemnitzers.

Can anyone give a simple explanation of the basic different systems available on this family of squeeze boxes please?


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM

If you can get a bayan cheaply, do so. It a russian button accordion, ideal for accompanying song. The tone is fantastic. Gives you a really full sound.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 07:18 PM

"Can anyone give a simple explanation of the basic different systems available on this family of squeeze boxes please? "

No. Conflicting complex answers to your complex question, however, are out there on the web.... :-)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Greg B
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 09:57 PM

"I'm still learning but what a glorious sound when it works."

That's why a melodeon.

Right there.

There's a quote from one of the greatest English style
melodeon players, living or dead. Yes, our own Martin,
in case you didn't know.

And HE's still learning.

That's why we love the melodeon.

I guess really devoted guitar players find the same thing, but
for Martin, and yours truly, it's the silly, simple button box
that makes us feel that way.

Regarding song accompaniment, have a listen to his work
backing Waterson-Carthy (and I believe Eliza C. as well)
on any of a number of albums. Damned clever job of keeping
up with the various modalities and thirds-less ambiguities
of Martin C's arrangements.

I picked up the melodeon a couple of decades ago, being forced
to be "authentic" by a Dickens Faire event. No piano accordions
allowed.

Now, I can and do play piano, piano accordion (not any more),
English and Anglo concertinas, guitar, and banjo. But nothing,
absolutely nothing, has taken me like English melodeon, both
for song accompaniment and for tunes.

DO learn to cross rows as quickly as possible, and DO acquire
an instrument where the "crossed" row is as suitable to your
voice as possible in major and minor keys. So, if you like to
sing in D major and in E-minor, you want D/G. If you're happier
in G-major and A-minor, then you want a G/C. A/D/G three row
is a bit heavier, but gives you those three keys plus Bm and
Em conveniently. G/C/F gives you those plus Am and Dm.

Some folks, some of whom are even very popular and oft-recorded
never progress beyond pumping and droning away on three-button
chords.

Please don't be one of those.

Learning to play tunes on the box is a step towards learning
to play lyrical, violin-like accompaniments, something for which
you will be loved and admired.

Do not buy an absolute piece of junk--- a Hohner "Pokerwork"
(not the Chinese version) is the absolute minimum, and even at
that you should go to a quality supplier such as the Button
Box if you're in the US and have them do a tuning and "action
job" on it before delivery. You don't want an instrument with
a flat keyboard where the button plunges deeply into the abyss
when pressed.

Too many people treat the thing like it isn't a "real" musical
instrument.

Others reject it because they've saddled themselves with an
inferior instrument...a really skilled player can get some
serious music out of the 15-dollar Chinese one-row "Parrots"
that are sold as childrens' toys. A new player needs one that
doesn't waste its air (since new players do waste their air).

A new player will have trouble even with a great instrument like
a Castagnari Tommy (or Lilly) because they have relatively low
capacity bellows which require a disciplined approach to air
control. Best to stick with a medium (relative to the number
of reeds) instrument like the aforementioned "Pokerwork" or
an "Erica." Or if you want to get fancy, a Salterelle "Nuage."

I remember when I went from Pokerwork to my Tommy, even though
the reeds use very little air, I had to learn to make use of their
parsimonious nature; until then, my bellows were either stretched
out or slammed shut on occasion. Speaking of which, that air valve
is your friend but if you don't know when to use it you'll find
that by the time you really need it you'll wished you'd have
used it a few bars ago. The air valve must go from a big "gulp"
to a "controlled leak" in order to keep the press:draw ratio
nice and even.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 10:41 PM

Greg B

Pretty much everything you say - with the exception of the air button - applies (sometimes with a little translation) to Piano Accordions... :-)

especially

"Some folks, some of whom are even very popular and oft-recorded
never progress beyond pumping and droning away on three-button
chords.

Please don't be one of those."


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: oggie
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 02:08 AM

"Can anyone give a simple explanation of the basic different systems available on this family of squeeze boxes please? "

It will depend totally on what your box is, who made it, when it was made and how big it is. Efforts were made in Germany to standardise the two systems so later boxes are more standard.

Chemnitzers resemble anglo concertinas more closely BUT there are some which have a bass end like a melodeon. French bandoneons have the same note on both push and pull (as do the new Harry Guens bandos which are based on C or B chromatic accordion systems).

Your best bet is to sit down with your box and a piano and map your own box (it's what I did after failing to find a keyboard chart on the net). There are tutors, available from Argentina mainly, but they are mostly in Spanish and concentrate on tango.

Concerning Piazolla, if you watch film of him playing you realise that a lot of the time he "cheats" in that he'll playall the long tricky passages on the pull note only and then use the air button to push the bellows back in and start again. This simplifies things as there is almost no relationship between the position of the notes on a pull scale and a push scale. There's some good videos on Youtube.

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 06:06 AM

Greg B - you say the nicest (undeserved) things but . . .
It isn't me on Waterson:Carthy recordings it's usually one of those two young whippersnappers, Saul Rose or Tim van Eyken - both virtuosi on the melodeon (and occasionally my old mate Chris Parkinson pops up).
Yes I did record with Eliza on "Heat, Light & Sound" (although most people think that was Saul!) and I've done song accompaniment on other CDs.
I'm pretty sure I couldn't sing and play at the same time (can't really sing anyway) but have managed shortish undemanding songs with sparse accompaniment with varying degrees of success when drink has been taken.
It's all about control (with some thoughtful arrangement) you have to be able to make the blessed thing do what you want and not the other way around.
Many people talk about the melodeon's limitations and I do understand this stance, however, within these limitations there are so many permutations that it makes the limitations irrelevant - if that isn't a contradiction in terms.
Cheers
Martin


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: pavane
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 08:01 AM

Don't forget that my program HARMONY can do tablature for Melodeon, Anglo concertina, and similar instruments, and can be adjusted for different tunings (My early Erica doesn't have the accidentals on the lowest buttons, for example).

There is an option to give precedence to the direction of the bellows, which is good for showing how to play across the rows.

(The other option is to give precedence to the home row of the key)

You can also use it for picking out chords. Just make up a little tune with the notes of the chord you want, and it will show you all the buttons.

Download here


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Marje
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 09:13 AM

Just to pick up on a few points made higher up:

Yes of course a melodeon CAN be played legato, and an accordion can play with bounce, but the natural features of the instruments mean that the melodeon is more suitable for bouncy English dance tunes, whereas if you want a smooth, less rhythmic sound, it will be more achieveable on an English concertina or an accordion (although many accordions are difficult to sing with). It's not wrong to play in a punchy, bouncy way if that's the effect you want (listen to John Spiers!) You might was well choose the instrument best suited to your purpose.

And if you do choose a melodeon for singing, I'd suggest you choose one with a choice of "voices", especially on the right-hand side (a Salterelle Nuage, mentioned already, would be a good example)so that you can get different effects and see which ones suit both your voice and your song.

As for singing keys: it's misleading to suggest that a certain voice will suit particular keys. It depends entirely on the range of notes in a particular song, and how that matches up with the range of the voice. Anyone who says "I always like to sing in F" or whatever really doesn't understand what keys mean. If you have a two-row melodeon, no matter what the keys are, there will always be some songs that you just can't manage comfortably in any of the keys (two major, two minor)available. If you do want to join in tune sessions or play for dancing in England, a D/G is the way to go.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 05:38 AM

"whereas if you want a smooth, less rhythmic sound, it will be more achievable on an English concertina or an accordion"

You obviously haven't heard some of the self taught accordion players I have, with all respect. While you MAY be right...



Pavane

I really haven't done more than just fiddle with your program, but it sounds like it is developing many useful features.

Will it run in Linux under a DOS/Windows emulator, or should we start trying to nag you to put in a cross platform design?

:-)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 03:28 PM

Pip Radish,thankyou for the compliment. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 06:22 PM

Oggie/Steve,
Thanks for the tips/description,
Steve


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 08:47 AM

a few people find the meledoen disadvantageous for song accompaniment for the following reason,the push pull seems to interfere with their breathing while singing.
the instrument is a little bit restricted key wise[strictly speaking a melodeon is a one row button accordion].
English people erroneously keep calling two row button accordions melodeons.
one problem all accompanists of any instrument must learn is to be able to play quietly whilst singing loudly.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Marje
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 05:47 AM

English terminology isn't wrong, Cap'n, it's just different form Irish usage. The two-row or three-variety of diatonic box is almost always referred to as a "melodeon" in England, so that's its name.

There is an instrument that has a full set of accordion-style bases combined with a melodeon right hand keyboard, and John Kirkpatrick refers to this as a "button accordion" to distinguish it from the melodeons and the piano accordion that he also plays.

But you're right about the push-pull making it difficult for some singers by interfering with their breathing. I can sing while playing, but I can't speak, for some weird reason to do with breathing.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 05:55 AM

Marje,In france it is the accordion diatonique,neither is it called a melodeon in Germany and Italy.
a single row instrument,is called a Melodeon[in Ireland] when it comes to competitions, to differentiate it from the two row diatonic accordeon.personally I prefer the Irish name The Gadget.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 06:12 AM

Dick, to quote Lewis Carroll 'words mean what I say they mean' so if that particular instrument is called a melodeon in England, then it's a melodeon. What it's called in other countries is irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: pavane
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 06:22 AM

I think in the USA it can mean something like what we call a harmonium!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 10:38 AM

And there are accordions with black and white BUTTONS which correspond to the piano keyboard black and white notes and are NOT diatonic! (They are definitely NOT melodeons!)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 11:19 AM

"English people erroneously keep calling two row button accordions melodeons."

Dick, you're from England originally and know full well the English usage. So, admit it you are just being perverse. <grin>

Anyway why not just use the colloquial term "box" for whatever flavour of squeezie? Avoids all the pedantics <another grin>


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Rowan
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 07:13 PM

to quote Lewis Carroll 'words mean what I say they mean' so if that particular instrument is called a melodeon in England, then it's a melodeon. What it's called in other countries is irrelevant.

Possibly.

When I was in England, two row diatonic instruments that Marje wants to call "melodeons" were always referred to (in my hearing, anyway) as "button accordions"; in Ireland (again in my hearing) they were referred to as "button boxes". I found this usage familiar, as that was (and still is) the usage in Oz; it might (or might not) have been coincidental to my understanding of this usage that I had many dealings with Kurt Jacob, who was the Australian distributor for Hohner, and thus had exposure to the Hohner catalogue. As Hohner were the most frequently encountered button powered free reed instruments in Oz, that might explain why even the old bushies used the term "melodeon" to refer to only the single row instruments. Even then, the term applied only to the single row instruments that had the 'cotton reel' voice selectors; those without were referred to as "button accordions".

Because Mudcat is such an international forum it is probably helpful for posters to be aware of different usages of such terms so that confusions are minimised rather than multiplied. In a thread such as this one, which started with a question from someone who "appeared" to need explanatory information about an instrument type that was unfamiliar, I'd have thought that posters would go out of their way to be especially clear with their usage of terms. Which is why I (and others from Oz) have been careful to define our terms with reference to particular and known authorities.

Cheers, Rowan.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 05:18 AM

This idea of a D/G box being limited to 2 major and 2 minor keys is a bit misleading. With a bit of practise, the melodeon.net chord chart and a bit of imagination, a lot of chords are playable, and accompaniment in many keys!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 08:26 AM

the d/g button accordion is not fully chromatic.
you do not have an F natural,g# a# d#,you cant play fac f major chord,b flat d f, b flat chord,eg#b, e major chord,g#c d# g#major chord,c#fg# c#major chord.f#major chord f#a#c#.thats alot of chords you cant play.
you can of course play a and c,which fits the F major chord,but could also be part of an A MINOR CHORDbut sometimes you need that f root.
DickMiles


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 08:54 AM

"you do not have an F natural,g# a# d#,"

You do on mine, plus a low Cnat!! he,he


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: pavane
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 09:56 AM

There was also a 2 and 1/2 row model, which had a half row of accidentals (Hohner CLUB III). But mine is C/F


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 10:04 AM

GUEST joe was talking about 2 row buttounaccordions in dg,not customised versions.,or 2half row clubs or bc or c c#or cd .Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 10:37 AM

Apparently mine is the factory standard tuning for a Hohner Gaelic in D/G. At least that's the reed set they sent for it so it's not customised. Customised is when you go to the tuner and ask for the layout on the instrument you bought to be changed.

BTW, where does Joe indicate he is talking about a 'straight-up-and down' D/G box? On the melodeon.net website there are several 'standard' layouts for D/G boxes. He's still right, though, they're not as limited as some people think.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 10:57 AM

I was referring to a standard D/G layout, my point was that, although not all notes and chords are available, there is more potential than to just accompany songs in G D Am and Em. The lack of certain notes can be seen as a positive thing. it can a bit of a challenge, which encourages innovation & experimentation.

If you want a fully chromatic instrument, don't get a 2 row melodeon!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Marje
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 11:02 AM

Not all D/G boxes have accidentals; and even if they do, the standard D/G box has only the 8 basses, limiting the keys somewhat. Sure, you can find workarounds using chords on the right hand side, and/or simply leaving certain notes out of chords or phrases, or playing an almost-OK chord that more or less works, but it's not an obvious choice of instrument if you intend to stray from its basic keys.

Yes, Rowan, it's an international forum and usage does vary. We all learn to make allowances for this. In England, I've never ever heard a two- or three-row diatonic box referred to as a "button accordion". If you must have a "known authority" to support this usage, the big folk-music specialist shops (eg Hobgoblin and The Music Room) refer to these as "melodeons" and the ones with piano keys as "piano accordions". This may well be relatively recent terminology, and it wouldn't surprise me to discover that it only goes back 40 or 50 years, but that's certainly how the names are used by session players across the south of England today. If you go to a festival or event anywhere in England advertising a "melodeon" workshop, the standard instrument used will be a D/G box. Single-row boxes in C or G are still around some places, but they're a bit of a specialist, minority thing.

I made it clear enough how I was defining my terms, and I'm simply using the words as I hear them used consistently in England.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: pavane
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 11:04 AM

As manitas says, there is no such thing as a STANDARD D/G, there are several variants. Even one model can change over time. ERICA now has accidentals on the bass ends of the rows, but mine, from 1979, never did. So the newer version is a 'bit more' chromatic than mine.

(My ERICA is also RED, but they are all made BLACK now as far as I know)


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 11:12 AM

RED is soo 1970's


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 02:01 PM

Moving away from melodeons for a moment, has anyone played a Jack or Jackie concertina? All I know about them is they're cheap.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Greg B
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 03:25 PM

Martin, I was sure that it was your name I saw on the credits
on the Carthy/Waterson CD I purchased from himself at Mystic
Seaport when he was with us a few years back.

The 'Club' system boxes are almost always C/F tuned with that
half-row of accidentals and a perverse two-way button (usually
in a contrasting color) on one of the rows. Quite a popular system
in Blighty up through the 1950's, it would appear, as there are
quite a lot of them about from that era, usually in various states
of disrepair.

In more recent years, with more and more custom boxes around,
partial third rows in custom tunings seem the rage; I honestly
have yet to see one that wasn't a better idea on paper than in
practice.

We shouldn't fail to mention the Continental Chromatic button
system, which is a fully chromatic accordion with what arguably
is a much more rational keyboard layout than the piano keyboard,
in light of the space limitations inherent in a 'stomach Steinway.'
The magic of that system is that it plays the same note in and
out, and using four or five rows of buttons can play in any key
using identical fingering just by starting on a different button.
They usually have a stradella bass, and weigh in the range of a
lighter piano-accordion.

Many people call the 3-row B/C/C# (or C/C#/D) instruments
with Stradella bass "Shand style" accordions in honor of the
Great Scot. It's as different from the fourths-tuned diatonic
boxes as chalk and cheese. It's a testament to John Kirkpatrick's
talent that he is a virtuoso on 1- 2- and 3-row diatonic boxes,
the 'Shand' system, AND on Anglo concertina. All while singing
talking and/or dancing at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 04:12 PM

Well you never know Greg - maybe they were using my name to further their flagging popularity (I should bloody wish).
I'm sure it isn't me though but have another look - I might be proved wrong . . .
martin


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 05:36 PM

no I havent played a Jackie, Sorry.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Tootler
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 06:07 PM

Moving away from melodeons for a moment, has anyone played a Jack or Jackie concertina? All I know about them is they're cheap.

Go to Concertina.net and ask there. There have been a number of threads on the Jack/Jackie and their Anglo cousin the Rochelle. Nearly all have had positive things to say about them.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Tootler
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 06:15 PM

I have a Hohner Pokerwork which has this keyboard layout (with an accidental button at the bass end of each row). Some people have the thirds removed from the chords - or have a stop fitted to allow you to include or remove the thirds which gives the instrument a lot more scope.

My Pokerwork is currently gathering dust as not long after I got it I "discovered" the Anglo Concertina, which I found suited me much better.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 06:51 PM

"(My ERICA is also RED, but they are all made BLACK now as far as I know) "
"RED is soo 1970's "

Well I remember that red was a pretty popular colour among the choices offered in music shops in small towns in the 50s & 60s - red, red, red, ...

Personally black is far 'too cool', and nobody can see what you are playing red is a danger signal, lets people know you're coming

and anyway, as everybody knows...

RED ONES GO FASTER!


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Rowan
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 08:38 PM

RED is soo 1970's

Come to think of it, all the Ericas, Corona IIs and IIIs and Club model Hohners that I saw in both the UK and Oz in the 70s were red perloid unless they were relatively old. It used to be the case that, if it were black, the instrument was keyed for some combination of G/C/F and the onset of the folk revival, with its preference for B/C or C/C# (in the case of Ericas) or A/D/G (in the case of Coronas) brought on red perloid as a distinguishing characteristic. This may have been a particularly Oz phenomenon. In fact, the first grey perloid Hohner instrument I encountered was Jackie Daly's; from distant recollection it was probably an Erica.

Marje is obviously correct about how the name melodeon has taken over for diatonic instruments in the British Isles; "accordion" was what was used in both the south of England and Ireland but neither Hobgoblin nor The Music Room appeared (to me) to have their currrent influence when I was visiting. It's quite probable that the idiosyncracies of owners of such outlets can be very influential on the received terminology; Kurt Jacob in Sydney (while using Hohner catalogue terminology) would be a case in point, as Hohner instruments were the most frequently encountered as far as button boxes were concerned.

I'm not trying to change English usage of terminology (a rose by any other name..., after all) but I am trying to deal with potentially confusing terms in a clarifying way. Coincidentally, over the weekend, I was trying to clarify exactly the same confusions in a conversation with a couple of Swiss visitors who travel widely and are thus exposed to the same international scope as Mudcat, but from a different background. An intersting conversation.

Cheers, Rowan.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 01:48 AM

G'day Rowan,

The problem of terminology is not particularly helped by "Australian usage" ... it varies considerably state by state. My main exposures are to New South Wales (my home state) and Tasmania, to which I drifted by attraction ... but found myself back in NSW in order to learn and work in my preferred field.

My first button box was an East German melodeon ... of little worth - even the "cotton reel" stops turned out to be dummies! The Shop clerk, in Sydney, called it a "bush accordion" - and this matches the experience of collector the late John Meredith, brought up in Holbrook (NSW) who said the normal term to him was simply "accordion" - and the new fangle big, keyed, boxes were 'piano accordions'.

I bought a secondhand Erica (red perloid and in G/C) in Hobart, Tasmania in 1966 ... then picked up a black perloid Erica, (C/F) in Queanbeyan while I worked on the Snowy Mts Hydro Scheme. In Tasmania, in the late 1960s, I found many Tasmanians called the old, simple button accordions melodions (typical German / Hohner catalog usage) ... and some extended the term to the 2-rowers.

(I also picked up the rather Tasmanian habit of discarding the thumb-strap and using 2 shoulder straps to control the instrument, leaving my thumb free to operate the semitones at the bottom of the keyboard, which Kurt Jacob told me were standard on the Australian Hohner imports ... because: "... they were dropped off from the Hohner shipments on their way to Argentina ... where they needed the semitones for their music - particularly the Tango".)

To change the (breath?) direction ... I can finally sing to my button accordions (or my Anglos) ... after conquering the involuntary "mouth-relexes" that came from years of playing mouth organs! The fact that button accordions have a "push-pull" in time with the mouth organ's "blow-suck" did it present a problem ... but it would not have if I never played mouth organ. I had to get over it by re-focusing .. in my case I found I couldn't sing songs I already knew on the mouth organ ... but realised I could sight-read new song tunes ... and read / sing new song words. Once that broke the "tie" I don't have problems. (And ... the only person I could blame for playing too loud for my singing ... is me on box ... so I balance the two)!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 06:15 AM

My recollection is that the red Ericas weren't very popular in England. The red perloid finish wasn't considered very cool. I think it was Roger Watson who persuaded Hohner to produce them in black, and they immediately took off.


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: Rowan
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 06:55 PM

G'day Bob,
I'm pleased you've surfaced.
The problem of terminology is not particularly helped by "Australian usage" ... it varies considerably state by state.

That's true and, like you, I can only speak for what I actually saw and heard. My first exposure to a button box was a single row black Hohner button accordion in C, at Mawson. We had people from almost every Oz state, a couple of Poms and four Americans from different states. None of us could play it but it was called a button accordion by everyone.

The next one I saw was Dave De Hugard's three-row Corona (he was regarded as a Queenslander at the time) and my recollection is that he called it a button accordion. When I got to Nariel (then and now the home of single row Hohners in C) the locals called the single row black Hohners "button accordions" and the ones with the spoon valves and 'cotton-reel' voices "melodeons". Not long after that I got involved with the South Australians and the Canberrans, who all used the same terminology, as did those who joined us from Sydney.

With the exception of the Nariel locals, all of these were "folk revival" people; as your experienc shows, the older bushies (but not those from Nariel) tended to call anything with buttons a "squeezebox" and "accordion" was used for piano boxes.

Your experience with mouth organs seems a mirror image to mine. Over the years I had tried to get into playing various instruments with no success at all. I couldn't even get a note out of a schoolmate's flute, guitars and I have never been on speaking terms, even Tim Whelan's encouragement on a tine whistle had lamentable effect. While riding my pushbike to uni I'd found a mouth organ (Hohner G with slide) at the side of the road; I cleaned it up and it seemed to be perfectly operable but I couldn't make head nor tail out of it and put it away.

Willem Lankhourst (and his wife Jean) I had known from the very early days of the folk revival in Melbourne and, at one stage, we used to run classes in the same location. On a visit to their house I saw a black single row Hohner (in C, as it turned out) and commented that I had wanted to find a concertina so I could accompany my singing; I'd seen Graeme Smith's and been inspired. Willem took his box down and gave it to me saying, "Take this." When I asked him how much he wanted for it he said "Nothing! Just play me a couple of tunes on it when you've learned how to play it."

Talk about a millstone! All the tunes I had in my head were dance tunes and full of notes at what seemed to be breakneck speed. I gave up trying. Later, when I was in Canberra with Pageant (and thus Mike Jackson, who played mouth organ) and had picked up playing button accordion. Being a sales rep. he travelled widely and, one weekend, I came across an anglo concer he'd acquired. After a half hour's experimentation I thought I could get into this. Knowing he'd see me in a fortnight he suggested I take it back to Steiglitz with me and try it out.

When I got it home I found, after an hour or so, that I had got a tune down reasonably satisfactorily; I was so excited I rang Mike on the STD and played it to him. He commented that the reason he'd been able to get into the buton accordion and the concer so easily was that they used the same 'system' as the mouth organ. Well, when I put the phone down I retrieved the accordion and the mouth organ and, sure enough, I worked out how to play the same tune on them as I had played on the concer.

I've never looked back. I can knock out a tune on most diatonic free reed instruments but I prefer the Anglo (perhaps more properly known as the Anglo-German concertina) and, for their fruity timbre, a couple of old Hohner melodeons (my "Australian usage" again) although I do lust gently after one of Peter Hyde's two-row instruments.

And I did honour Willem's request; I played him a few tunes on both his box and my Anglo and then, according to his wishes, passed the box on to a young beginner. But it took me quite a while to get the hang of singing while playing, because of the difference between the instrument's breathing pattern and my own. It may have helped that, with both Higgins and Flying Pieman, I played while calling dances and, as servicing the dancers' needs always has priority, the instrument's breathing gradually fell into some accommodation with my voice's requirements.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Why a melodeon?
From: GUEST,pianissimomelodeonista
Date: 02 Sep 08 - 09:47 AM

Quote: "would love to buy an accordeon, melodeon, concertina, bandoneon, or anything similar. However, I think they are are generally rather loud"

C'mon! Guns don't kill people; people kill people. Same principle here...


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