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when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?

GUEST,Adam Boyle 01 Sep 15 - 05:59 AM
Dave the Gnome 01 Sep 15 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,Selby 01 Sep 15 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,Lester 01 Sep 15 - 07:07 AM
Steve Shaw 01 Sep 15 - 07:08 AM
GUEST 01 Sep 15 - 02:00 PM
Mr Red 01 Sep 15 - 04:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Sep 15 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 02 Sep 15 - 04:21 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 02 Sep 15 - 04:37 AM
Tattie Bogle 02 Sep 15 - 04:37 AM
Richard Mellish 02 Sep 15 - 04:48 AM
Paul Burke 02 Sep 15 - 05:07 AM
Dave the Gnome 02 Sep 15 - 06:37 AM
Manitas_at_home 02 Sep 15 - 07:31 AM
Tattie Bogle 02 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM
Mr Red 03 Sep 15 - 04:08 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 03 Sep 15 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Sep 15 - 06:40 AM
GUEST 03 Sep 15 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Noreen at work 03 Sep 15 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 03 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 03 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 03 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM
The Sandman 03 Sep 15 - 04:40 PM
Tattie Bogle 03 Sep 15 - 08:26 PM
Les from Hull 04 Sep 15 - 08:35 AM
Paul Burke 05 Sep 15 - 07:08 AM
Green Man 06 Sep 15 - 06:10 AM
GUEST 06 Sep 15 - 09:29 AM
Tattie Bogle 06 Sep 15 - 07:24 PM
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Subject: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,Adam Boyle
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 05:59 AM

I started playing the box 40(!)years ago. It the time, I knew sweet FA about keys, etc, so I purchased a single row Hohner in C(not a Cajun box, I should hasten to add!)Like many beginners at the time,I found inspiration from Morris On and its various offshoots and eventually taught myself all the tunes.
Around the same time,English sessions didn't exist and my first exposure to spontaneous live music was at various Irish sessions in Manchester.I had by now bought my first DG from Harry Boardman,who was to eventually become a good friend. Harry's first love was naturally songs from his native Lancashire area, but he was also a huge fan of Irish music, which was by now taking over from English music as my chief source of inspiration.
In short, I wanted to try and play Irish stuff on the box, which I didn't know at the time, was almost exclusively played on the BC box.I found it challenging to say the least, but I did eventually learn a few tunes, largely jigs an polkas, although I did manage to play a few hornpipes and reels.At this particular time, a lot of Irish pubs kept a box behind the bar in case anyone fancied joining in a session. One such pub was The Exile Of Erin, just off Oldham Road. Because "The Exile" was near old Smithfield Market, and kept hours through the night to satisfy the thirsty market workers.
Emboldened by the consumption of God knows how much beer, I decided to ask if i could borrow the big Paolo Soprani behind the bar. I played what I considered to be a passable version of "The Scartaglen Polka". Immediately, an English banjo player asked : "What was that,the Scartaglen Morris?" That hurt! I resolved there and then to try and learn to play to play Irish music as it should be played.It wasn't easy, I don't mind telling you and it has taken me up until now to master triplets, grace notes and rolls, etc.The first master of the box i heard was the late Joe Cooley, but I subseqequently listened to Jackie Daly, Mairtin O'Connor, Tony Mc Mahon, Billy Mc Comiskey and other great Irish box players.
Anyone who plays the box will know that Irish players hardly use the bass at all and when they do,use in a way which "imitates" the regulators on the uillean pipes.
I have noticed that in recent years,a number of English players have started using huge Castagnaris, etc, with the bass miked up so it sounds like a cross between a beat box and a bass guitar, meanwhile throwing these monsters around as they they're Pete Townshend-
To finally get back to the point I was trying to make at the beginning. Has the melodeon (or as Sharon Shannon has said in the past "Melodeon or accordian, call it what you want !) been transformed from the ideal morris or country dance instrument into a weapon of push button warfare, capable of ruining a session in the hands of a player who shouldn't be allowed near the thing, yet has enough disposable income to buy a box costing 3 or 4 grand.
Light the blue touch and retire, I think !


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 06:18 AM

Wonderful story, well told, Adam. And very good question! Not a good musician myself so am not really qualified to say but I also notice that people play faster and faster nowadays, which is very off putting for some players and listeners alike! I do like English and Scottish stuff more than Irish and I occasionaly used to go to the The Peveril of the Peak where we were sometimes treated to Klezmer and East European tunes which I found wonderful. My friend John Snelson, no longer with us sadly, used to play anything that you can blow down there, including highland pipes and bombard, to great effect at times. Looking forward to some informed opinion :-)


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,Selby
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 07:02 AM

Call it what you like as long as you play it reasonably well. Saw Sharon Shannon at Shrewsbury this weekend already a great fan of hers she was brilliant.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,Lester
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 07:07 AM

I for one have not seen anyone at a session with a miked up box?? If someone is by consensus of the majority 'ruining a session' why not just talk to them? I for one, when starting a set of tunes, will just shout stop if someone is running away with the speed that i have set and then start again.

I tend to agree that people playing Castagnari wardrobes in the English up and down the row style are playing the wrong instrument as it's not what they are designed for.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 07:08 AM

I have a Hohner D/G Erica which hasn't been out of its case for ten years. As a harmonica player I thought the push-pull would be familiar as it's the same pattern as the blow-draw on the harp. Three things have deterred me from getting any good on it: missing notes at the bottom end (replaced by useless accidentals!), my elephantine technique with the bellows and, not least, the fact that I breathe in on every pull note and breathe out on every push note!!

Steve (ignoramus). :-(


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 02:00 PM

"I breathe in on every pull note and breathe out on every push note"

You learn not to do that, eventually.
After about twenty years...


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Mr Red
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 04:30 PM

well Cajuns call it an accodion, or accordien. It may be in C but I am told (trust me I am a drummer) that they play in G, which is why the music sounds like it does.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Sep 15 - 07:13 PM

People play fast to show off, because it sounds as if it's more difficult. In fact of course it's much easier, because a few mistakes can slip by, and it doesn't matter too much how tge correct notes are played, just how they are correct. Playing slow and getting it right is much more challenging. Like riding a bicycle really slow is really challenging.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 04:21 AM

All the things Steve Shaw complains about can be changed.

The D/G melodeon is quite highly pitched, which means it is best played in the lower octave so lacking the low notes can be a problem. Instruments in other keys are often played in the upper octave, which avoids this, but the upper octave on a D/G can be very high and squeaky, especially on the G row.

Some melodeons have low notes instead of accidentals (although these are not 'useless' once you become more advanced). Many D/G players now favour 4th button starts (where the scale starts on the 4th button rather than the 3rd) which allows both low notes and accidentals.

Bellows technique is a question of practice, and you stop breathing in sympathy with the bellows after a while.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 04:37 AM

To answer the OP's original question, any instrument played insensitively can ruin a session. It's not the instrument, it's the player. The melodeon can be very loud (although expensive boxes can usually be played more quietly than cheap ones because they have better reeds), but so can other instruments, and some which are relatively low in volume can be very penetrating. Guitarists who use inappropriate chord progressions or who don't understand the rhythm are my particular bugbear. And don't get me started on percussionists ... :)

To successfully join in a session means blending rather than dominating, understanding the genre being played, and listening to the players around you. You can do that on any instrument, including the melodeon. And it is true that many musicians fail to do these, including melodeon players. But it's not the fault of the instrument.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 04:37 AM

There have been previous exhaustingly long threads on nomenclature with the usual fall-outs over definitions, so I won't go into all that again, but happily agree with Sharon's summary!
I play a B/C but rarely play in either of those keys, especially not in B! (A misconception from a few that those are the only keys you can play in). I do use the left hand a bit, mainly in slower tunes in G or D, as I have both on the pull and the push. And I can play in ANY key in the right hand, provided I can find the notes, so in that sense less restrictive than the D/G.
But the speed thing: yes, it's the bellows along with tune which really determines how fast you can play. In The key of A, I can get long runs of notes all on the pull, but try tunes like e.g. Soldier's Joy (D), Flowers of Edinburgh (G) and you're talking a helluva lot of alternate pull and push, and tho my fingers may work fast enough, the bellows won't. And let's keep hornpipes as hornpipes, not turn them into reels, please!


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 04:48 AM

Steve said
> I breathe in on every pull note and breathe out on every push note!!

GUEST responded
> You learn not to do that, eventually.
After about twenty years...

and Howard agreed
> you stop breathing in sympathy with the bellows after a while.

Although I dabbled only very briefly with a mouth organ and have been playing Anglo for over 40 years, I still tend to breath with the bellows except when I am singing at the same time.

I'm bemused at Adam's image of miked-up bass. In the context of a session there's surely no place for an amplifier unless, just maybe, for an electric guitar.

If you do want a really rich farty bass, there's no substitute for a Helikon bass instrument. But not for Irish music.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 05:07 AM

Was that English banjo player Sully or Tony(?) Martin?

There has been a (very welcome) move in the last dozen years or so towards playing the DG box across the rows in English music. The movement is much freer, and gets rid of that humpty-dumpty effect inherent in the incessant pushpull. Having said which, if you listen to old (pre- 1960s) recordings of Irish box players, it's often straight up-and-down, particularly for Kerry polkas. So maybe you weren't as bad as you thought at the time.

The Exile was a great place to learn- with every level of skill from the sublime to me, you could always hear the next step available to you. It was there that Jimmy Taylor listened to me playing whistle, and said "You've got the tune well enough, but your style is very folkloric".

Miked up box? Carry a pair of wirecutters.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 06:37 AM

The wirecutter comment made me smile :-) I remember being in the Nags Head at Edale many many years ago when we were having a good sing late on one cold February evening and someone put the jukebox on. We asked the barman to turn it off again and when he declined one of our number pointed to the wire leading up to the speaker with a Bowie type knife (It was so long ago they were legal to go hiking with!) and very politely asked the barman if he wanted him to turn it off instead. The barman declined the offer and turned it off himself :-)


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 07:31 AM

We used to play in a pub that had speakers around the bar. If the barman 'forgot' to turn off the music (they weren't all as keen as the manager for what we played) we would just unplug the speakers. The barman would never notice as the speakers by the bar were still on. Eventually the management installed a switch for our convenience.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM

"Crossing the rows" is a D/G mystique: B/C players use both rows of a 2-row all the time. much as you would use black and white notes on the piano.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Mr Red
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 04:08 AM

never cross a row of cross melodeon players.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 06:00 AM

Having heard lots of arguing & hot air about various spellings of melodeon and accordion and their many variations, I think the West Cork blanket name for such things is by far the best..
when I used to walk into a pub, I was often asked
   'have ye got the gadget?'


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 06:40 AM

"Crossing the rows" is a D/G mystique"

Mystique? Not really. A fourth-apart box has most notes in either direction, which allows plenty of options to play with lots of push-pull, or to play phrases with no change of bellows direction, or a combination of both. How you choose to play depends partly on the style of music, partly on the character of the tune, and partly on technical playing considerations.

I doubt many players, other than beginners, play all on one row unless they have made a deliberate musical choice to do so. Even players of English music, for which push-pull is arguably characteristic, mix and match both techniques. To play properly in D it is essential to cross the row to play the G chord.

No mystique about it.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 08:14 AM

Well,

I have an e-melodeon which I have taken to quite a few session. Only one person ever spotted that it was electronic and that was because they wanted to buy one and had done their homework.

It looks like a melodeon, plays like a melodeon and sounds like one.

I can change key at the press of a button which is useful for accompaniment.

I was a morris muso for about 15 years and started on a pokerwork and eventually ended up with a Castagnari Lilly, finally after a two year wait my Streb was ready and I love it.

Its not a melodeon its a synth but as the saying goes.

If it quacks, and walks like a duck it probably is a duck.

Live long a keep on squeezing.

Dave


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,Noreen at work
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 11:19 AM

Off at a tangent:
The reason for the B/C box arrangement is that the key of C has all the naturals, and the key of B has 5 sharps, therefore providing plenty of accidentals for playing in all the other keys i.e. G, D, A and E as well as B.

I can't off hand think of any Irish tunes played in B. There was one I knew in E but can't remember what it was- and there are several tunes commonly played in A: the High Reel and the Mason's Apron, from memory.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM

About 1965, as a newcomer to the DG box, I was knocked out by some amazing Irish music played on the BC Paolo gadget.... I could not. like many DG players even now, understand what was happening on the left hand of such players. So I asked Tim Lyons & have never forgotten his reply...
'Don't know, I look the other way'    an honest man


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM

About 1965, as a newcomer to the DG box, I was knocked out by some amazing Irish music played on the BC Paolo gadget.... I could not. like many DG players even now, understand what was happening on the left hand of such players. So I asked Tim Lyons & have never forgotten his reply...
'Don't know, I look the other way'    an honest man


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM

About 1965, as a newcomer to the DG box, I was knocked out by some amazing Irish music played on the BC Paolo gadget.... I could not. like many DG players even now, understand what was happening on the left hand of such players. So I asked Tim Lyons & have never forgotten his reply...
'Don't know, I look the other way'    an honest man


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 04:40 PM

Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Tattie Bogle - PM
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 04:11 PM

"Crossing the rows" is a D/G mystique: B/C players use both rows of a 2-row all the time. much as you would use black and white notes on the piano..
yes, but when they are playing in d and g, their options for playing notes in different directions is more limited than the d g.
in my opinion the d g is best for playing in d and g, there are more options for playing the same notes in different directions. most of the tunes are in d, g and a, that is where the 2 and a half row dg is very useful.
to say crossing the rows is a dg mystique, is complete and utter poopycock.
however all systems have advantages and disadvantages, and great music is played on all systems it is down to the player


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 08:26 PM

You poop and I'll pop!
I based what I said on what I heard in a D/G melodeon workshop where the tutor gave this rather awestruck mystical half-whispered phrase "and then you'll be crossing the rows" - oh my gosh! A bit of tongue in cheek then.
In my very first lesson on the B/C, I learned the scales of C, G, D and A. Apart from C, they all require you to use the outer B row, but it was never referred to as "crossing the rows". So let's calm down and not get into another Mudcat row, please! Your final sentence GSS is fine: agreed.
And of course, I play tunes in whatever key the majority go for, which does mean a lot of D and G.

Re what Noreen said, the rare occasions on which I might play in the key of B major, is when a singer happens to choose that key, and then asks for an instrumental break between verses of a song - yes, quite rare indeed!


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 04 Sep 15 - 08:35 AM

I play a Streb emelodeon as well. As such it can play in D/G (or any key for that matter) or B/C or C/C#. Also the keyboard layout can be be altered to start on 3 or 4 with low notes or accidentals. As such it meets all the needs. Of course if you mainly play tunes in D or G most of these useful features will remain unused. But if, like me, you want something that can sound like a concertina in E or a cajun box in A (for song accompaniment) it's ideal.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 05 Sep 15 - 07:08 AM

From the sixties to now, Irish players have mostly ignored the left hand as most of the chords are useless in D/G or related minors. I often wondered why no one stitched a piano accordion left end on like the Jimmy Shand 3 row machine. B/C/C#, and back to the start of the thread, Mick Burke at the Exile played one occasionally as an alternative to his usual monster continental chromatic.


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Green Man
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 06:10 AM

Hi Les from Hull,

I am not alone.

Thought I'd been completely ignored, instead just generally ignored except for yourself.

Strebs are very cool. Considering the cost of a 2 1/2 row Salterelle very good value too.

Buy Ansmann batteries. They last for ages.

Dave


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 09:29 AM

looks like a melodeon, plays like a melodeon and sounds like one.

So Mr Streb has managed to get a melodeon ROM at last? When I last heard a Streb it sounded remarkably like the accordian the chip was intended for. Has he managed to fit Li-Ion batteries?


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Subject: RE: when is a melodeon not a melodeon ?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 07:24 PM

Re chords and basses on B/Cs (Paul Burke) - some have 2 Cs and only one D, (the older variant) some have 2 Ds (and only one C) - the so-called modern arrangement: with these it IS possible to play at least some chords in tunes in D and G. I also have a stop to take out the middle third of any chord, so can use all the chords as major or minor, and do indeed make use of both A and E in this way. The one that's missing is a Bm chord, and I do play quite a few tunes in Bm, but that has to be all right hand only.
And I have also seen some Hohner B/C boxes with stradella bass, which seem to be much liked by their owners as being more versatile.


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