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Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?

DigiTrad:
SHOALS OF HERRING


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl) (117)
Tune Req: Harmonica notes for 'Shoals of Herring'? (24)
DT Corr: The Shoals of Herring (Ewan MacColl) (25)
Tune Req: Shoals of Herring (18)
Lyr Req: follow the shoals o' herring (7)


GUEST,Kipling 04 Jan 03 - 11:33 PM
Desert Dancer 05 Jan 03 - 12:54 AM
pavane 05 Jan 03 - 04:36 AM
Bob Bolton 05 Jan 03 - 10:02 PM
GUEST,Kipling 06 Jan 03 - 08:41 AM
Charley Noble 06 Jan 03 - 08:53 AM
Schantieman 06 Jan 03 - 12:31 PM
Bob Bolton 06 Jan 03 - 09:49 PM
Bob Bolton 07 Jan 03 - 05:42 PM
alanww 08 Jan 03 - 07:58 AM
curmudgeon 09 Jan 03 - 11:50 AM
Schantieman 09 Jan 03 - 02:32 PM
Bob Bolton 09 Jan 03 - 09:27 PM
ConcertinaChap 10 Jan 03 - 06:31 AM
jonm 10 Jan 03 - 07:25 AM
Bob Bolton 10 Jan 03 - 07:26 AM
Schantieman 10 Jan 03 - 07:40 AM
Bob Bolton 10 Jan 03 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,Kipling 11 Jan 03 - 12:22 AM
Bob Bolton 11 Jan 03 - 07:51 AM
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Subject: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: GUEST,Kipling
Date: 04 Jan 03 - 11:33 PM

Hello there,
I am just starting out with the Anglo Concertina and overwhelmed by tunes in my beginners book i'm not familiar with, i'd like to have a try at the 'shoals of Herring' by Ewan McColl. I heard a nice version on a C.D sung by Louis Killen, with Concertina accompaniment- i'm not sure what kind of cocertina it was, but if anyone can help me out with a playable tune i'd be really pleased to try and learn to play something I sing as well!

Kipling


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 05 Jan 03 - 12:54 AM

Killen plays English concertina, so it won't necessarily translate directly.

Others may be more helpful...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: pavane
Date: 05 Jan 03 - 04:36 AM

You may be interested in my program HARMONY, which creates tablature for Anglo concertina, from abc format files as well as simple MIDI files.

You can download it from my web site www.greenhedges.com


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 05 Jan 03 - 10:02 PM

G'day Kipling,

Then again, you could just play the tune ... and train your ear to find the natural harmonies implicit in the names of all the instruments using the Richter tuning scheme: concertina, harmonica, accordion (meaning, in this case, the German and Anglo concertinas, vamper mouthorgans and diatonic accordions).

These instruments were basic folk instruments and popular with those who didn't have money for music theory teachers. Kids started with a 3d mouthorgan and learned all the tricks long before they ever got their hands on Dad's or Mum's concertina or accordion. There is no classic style for the Anglo - if it works ... it works!

If you need a boost, I can notate down my playing on an Anglo and send you a PDF or a GIFF image of the 'dots' ... but it is best to find your own way and voice on an Anglo - the way the good old players did. I end up just notating the single notes for the left hand - but adding as I actually play, so there is really no fixed notation.

regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: GUEST,Kipling
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 08:41 AM

Thanks for the advice,
It's true- surprisingly after irregular and fairly short practices- i'm beginning to know when something sounds 'right' or not. I might just play about until something turns up.
Thanks
Kipling


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 08:53 AM

Kipling-

When I was first working with the Anglo concertina I had the most difficult time finding what button to begin the song on, much to the alarm of friends and animals nearby. It's easier now after a few years, and it's not because I've grown less sensitive to those who share my house with me. "Shoals of Herring" should prove accessible and satisfying. I now usually work the tune out by ear but earlier I did find "charting" notes useful.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Schantieman
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 12:31 PM

I've tried this on the Anglo but with limited success. Probably due, however to my lack of competence and the fact that the blasted thing's in Ab/Eb! Probably and old Salvation Army one.

I agree though - it's a good song for copncertina accompaniment.

Good luck!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 09:49 PM

G'day Schantieman,

That certainly sounds like a bandsman's instrument that you have there! If I had it, I would retune it to G/D ... not by filing away at the reeds, but by carefully moving each reed to one position higher in the instrument's scales.

Most of the reeds would fit into the adjacent slots, as there was only a half dozen, or so, reed shoe sizes used by any manufacturer. As the few that didn't fit would be tight (going into a smaller slot) a few slots would need opening out with a specially angled scraper (concertina repairer job ... unless you know your way round concertina innards ...?).

There would also be a few accidentals from the Ab/Eb keys that needed retuning (or, in my case, swapping ... or, at worst, re-reeding ... with/by my friendly concertina maker/repairer: Richards Evans, in the Blue Mts, New South Wales, Australia!) - especially if you have only a 2-row instrument. If it is a 3-row (30-plus keys) there should be a fairly complete set for the new arrangement ... maybe a need to find the lowest note on the G scale.

I do admit that I usually have a few loose reeds available in deceased or ailing instruments ... but my point is that it is probably not necessary to actually retune many reeds - even by a semitone - in moving to a much more amenable key set.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:42 PM

G'day aagin Kipling,

I had a look at the dots for Shoals of Herring in my old copy of the Ewan MacColl Peggy Seeger Songbook. This is a fairly simple tune, given here in the key of 'C', so it isn't difficult, even on a 20-key Anglo ... and the chords given in the book are just the simple C, G7 and F - the classic "3-chord trick" and nothing tricky for left-hand chording. This implies, of course, that you play as much as possible of the melody on the right hand so that the left hand has only to deal with the chords/bass/vamping/ whatever you use for accompaniment.

The one problem this tune presents, for the simplest Anglos, is the 4 instances of a high 'd' note, which isn't on the right-hand 'C' row of a 20-key model. You can grab it as 'push' on the third button on the 'G' row ... but it is on the push, so you need to find a 'G' chord on the 'G' row's left hand (the whole row, actually!).

Of course, if you have a 30-key Anglo-chromatic, you will probably have a high 'd' on the draw somewhere in the third row ... and, if you have a 34+ key model, you should have it on the far end of your 'C' row.

I have not heard Louis Killen's version, but I suspect that it goes well beyond the simple chording in the book - and, since he plays English System, it won't be a simple tune and chords approach. Because the English alternates notes from side to side, it is almost impossible for ordinary humans to play a separate chord bass - and the stage virtuosi of the concertina's heyday used techniques of playing in 'parallel intervals' ... having practiced scales of: 'thirds', 'fourths', 'fifths', 'sixths', 'octaves' ... 'tenths' ... etcetera! I don't know what Louis does on this tune. The best thing for you to do would be to listen to what you can do easily on your own instrument ... then go back and listen to Louis's version and see if you can do what you can hear him doing ... there is a lot of differnce between English and Anglo!

I think that Alf Edwards plays concertina on the Radio Ballad Shoals of Herring - but I don't remember anything too flash (OK: I should go back and listen to the CD ...). I think Alf just plays one line in an arrangement of the small BBC orchestra for the production.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: alanww
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:58 AM

Hello Kippling!
How are you getting in in your foreign jaunt?
As you may know, I am learning the English and am just starting to try to accompany myself (after 2 years of practice playing tunes) and I find it very hard. I've spoken to a lot of experienced singer /
accompanyists, eg Keith Kendrick (who plays both english and anglo) and Dave Webber (english), and they say how long it takes to learn to sing words and a tune and to play another tune!

To some extent, I think it depends how much musical training you have had and from what age. Unfortunately, I have none and am staring from absolute scratch aged 50+! So I find thinking of chordal or second part accompaniment unnatural, whereas people like Noreen, who has been musical from a very early age, find it second nature!

So I have decided to start by accompanying with the tune and a few chords or twiddles at the end of lines. As I get better (I hope!) I plan to make it a bit more elaborate or different, by playing chords or second parts. We will see.

You may find it easier than me but, either way, good luck to you and keep practicing - work your way through the frustation! See you later this year (or is it next?) I look forward to hearing the Shoal of Herring with accompaniment at the next shanty festival you manage to get to!

"And my real love, she was there ...!"
Alan


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:50 AM

Being an English concertina player, I' m not sure if I can help all that much, but...

I had been singing the Shoals of Herring before I took up the concertina some 30 years back. I began the transition by simply learning the tune (in C) and singing with it. The passage of time and the acquisition of a really good concertina has made me less reliant on playing the tune, aside from an interlude or two, and more comfortable with a chordal backup. This also makes it easier for the listener to comprehend the words.

Despite the notation in the EMPS Songbook, I would use a straight G rather than a G7. In the intro to "The Singing Island," Peggy Seeger advises avoiding the use of 7th chords as they are "too lush" for traditional music. Any complex or overly orchestrated accompaniments tend to detract from the song and do make it rather awkward for the listener.

Just some thoughts and opinions -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Schantieman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 02:32 PM

Thanks for the technical advice, Bob. I don't really play it that much, and it's not a good enough instrument to spend a lot of time/money on. Anyway, NSW is a long way to go from NW England. Old South Wales is far enough! I'll bear it in mind though, and when I have nothing to do.....

Steve


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:27 PM

G'day Schantieman,

Sorry, I might have gone a bit overboard with what was more of a rebuttal of the sort of cop-out that you get ... along the lines of "You can't change the key of a concertina ... the reeds won't retune far enough &c" when a sensible reshuffle means there is no need to do anything more than just put some 89% of the reeds into new spots ... fiddle with the fitting for about 15% more ... and maybe call on an expert for the 5% left.

Most professional repairers don't want to do that sort of job - because there is little for them to point to in the way of repair or alteration. It is an interesting exercise for a player that wants to know the way round their instrument ... as long as they have someone around to sort out any 'glitches'!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: ConcertinaChap
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 06:31 AM

Have to say, I wouldn't really advise shuffling reeds around. Apart from problems with the reeds not properly fitting in the pan (which could cause problems for years to come) there is the fact that the reed chambers have an effect on the tuning, and of course once you start shuffling you have reeds in chambers that no longer match. More than half the value of a concertina is in its reeds, so take *very* good care of them.

Have a look at my Concertina FAQ site at www.concertina.info, where there is a list of makers and repairers who could take on this sort of job if required.

A useful technique I've found for getting a song accompaniment started is: once you have worked out the basic tune try pressing neighbouring buttons on the right hand to play parallel thirds. Then put in the odd button on the left hand to produce quite a full sound. I tried this on Shoals of Herring myself a while back, and it sounds quite effective.

Chris


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: jonm
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 07:25 AM

To Bob Bolton -
you appear to have 109%of the reeds you require. Is it, therefore a 32.7 key anglo or a 52.32 key English?


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 07:26 AM

G'day Chris,

Ypu ought to have noticed that I was talking about shifting reeds by one semitone - to the next slot in the alternating positions ... at least six to one odds of being identical in size! As for the old tale of "tuned" chambers - it does not match up with facts - measurement, comparison of examples ... or real results. One of the finest sounding concertinas I had was retuned from G/C to D/G ... a full fourth.

In this case need steel reeds were fitted into shoes previouslu holding brass reeds - but the volume and voice were excellent (of course this had much to do with the the high quality of the new reeds, made by Richard Evans. This concertina was borrowed by Australian performer Dave de Hugard for his last CD - and led to his commissioning a similar re-reeded box from Richard.

Sadly, myconcertina was stolen, some years back - which led to my 'shuffle' job ... which has worked very well now, for several years.

Regards,

BobbBolton


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Schantieman
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 07:40 AM

Thread creep ?


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:25 PM

G'day Schantieman,

Yes - but it plays Shoals of Herring very well! (And the discussion of the actual instruments started around the particular needs of playing this tune.)

Regard(les)s,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: GUEST,Kipling
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 12:22 AM

Hi Alan,
I hope to be back in the UK around June this year- maybe in time for Alcester and Arden FF, or even Beverley.

Concertina- yes, i'll keep trying. I seem to be able to get the first few notes ok, then get horribly stuck. The good thing is that, I have no immediate neighbours, so I can practice and play around to my hearts content.

Chris
To the legions of the loved ones, to the cohort of the damned, to my brethren in their sorrows overseas.........


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Subject: RE: Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 07:51 AM

G'day again Kipling,

"... able to get the first few notes ok, then get horribly stuck ..."

Probably, if you are working on the right hand for the melody, when you hit the high "d" ... which is on the G scale ... or the 3rd row, if you are using a 30+-key Anglo chromatic. Harmonise it with the "G" note on the lower end of the "G" scale ... or the "G" on the "C" scale - whichever suits your playing. (I prefer to cross with both hands ... but that's just me being lazy!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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