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peter bellamy song accompaniment

13 Dec 07 - 05:59 AM (#2214345)
Subject: Peter Bellamy song accompaniment
From: The Sandman

I have been asked by Free Reed to consider putting a few lines together on this very subject for their projected release of an extended reissue of The Transports. I knew Peter well and was very fond of him. Let's say that playing the Anglo was not his strongest suit .
Thus spoke Roger Digby on concertina net.
I have to disagree strongly with this statement,Peter Bellamy in my opinion was a very good accompanist on the Anglo Concertina,he had been a member of Young Tradition harmony group ,and he brought his knowledge of harmony to good use on the anglo.
As someone who has gone into song accompaniment in some depth [on the English concertina]I would advise budding concertina accompanists to give Peter Bellamy a listen,I would also advise studying chords,harmony ,chord substitution etc,much as a guitarist might do.
as regards song accompaniment, anglo playing was his strong suit,he accompanied himself very well,I notice that Brian Peters[an excellent anglo player had the following to say
Being a new member I missed this thread first time around, and am not quite sure how come it's suddenly been revived after going way off topic. However, for what it's worth, here's what I think:

Bellamy was technically a relatively limited player. As far as I know he never played instrumentals, only song accompaniments. His approach to anglo was very much "along the rows", ignoring the top row and the reversed duplicates so that when he picked out a melody, it was in a very jerky, in-and-out style. He also didn't go in much for sustained chords behind the vocal line, so his accompaniments tend to sound pretty busy.
Having said that, while they could a little clunky on some songs, on others they were devastatingly effective. Whether through musical theory or (more likely) trial and error, Bellamy could conjure up the most haunting, often dissonant chords which added whole new layers to songs like his version of "The Housecarpenter" (originally on Both Sides Then) or "My Boy Jack" (on one of the Kipling albums). Chris Timson was right about his use of drones, but the clever bit was in holding part-chords down at the same time as the drone, resulting in interesting clashes. My memory is that it was Peter himself, not just his imitators, who had clips fitted to the instrument to hold down the drones, at least one of which was located on the left hand top row, not the usual thumb button.

I could go on at greater length but won't for now. Stirrings magazine ( published a Bellamy special issue a few months ago, which is worth reading if you want to know more about an enormous but controversial and fragile talent.

13 Dec 07 - 03:55 PM (#2214739)
Subject: RE: peter bellamy song accompaniment
From: Herga Kitty

I remember hearing from John Holman (restorer and repairer of concertinas) that Peter's playing style was hard on the bellows. Dave Webber might have a view, because IIRC he has a concertina that belonged to Peter.


14 Dec 07 - 05:16 AM (#2215093)
Subject: RE: peter bellamy song accompaniment
From: Jack Blandiver

Yet another extended release of the Transports? When you think how much Bellamy presently languishes unreleased in the Topic vaults, and others too... ho-hum...

For some choice Bellamy concertina check out The Fox Jumps Over the Parson's Gate - which even incldes a wee anglo solo by way of conclusion!

14 Dec 07 - 06:39 AM (#2215128)
Subject: RE: peter bellamy song accompaniment
From: Ross Campbell

I remember Peter tramping round folk clubs and festivasls with a sheaf of papers which eventually turned into The Transports. At Rhyl Folk Festival (a one-off, rained-on marquee-in-a-muddy-field festival, 1972 or 1973?) he performed a one-man workshop version of the show, explaining the story as he went.

As an anglo learner from the mid-seventies, I was keen to listen to any player and as I always admired Peter's singing with the Young Tradition and solo, I would try to figure out how he worked an accompaniment any chance I got. When I started off, I would play up and down the rows on the right (as you do) and vamp chords with the left hand. While this appeared to be Peter's way of playing, I could never duplicate the effects he produced. Great clutches of notes would include the required chord, but also passing notes to run against whatever the voice was doing. He would also use the breathing effect of pushing and pulling the bellows while holding the same exteded chord to drive the rhythm along (try a mouthful of notes on your nearest harmonica - suck and blow rapidly in succession to get the effect). I guess he learned how to work a concertina by trial and error - drop the bits that acvtually sound awful, keep the bits that work. The thing with Peter was that he knew enough about music to keep some of the wilder combinations that less adventurous souls would have avoided - which might explain why some people find listening to his recordings "difficult". All I can say is "Stick with it", there's a lot of good stuff there.

When The Transports first appeared, and for a while after that, festivals would present the show, sometimes with some of the artists from the recorded production, sometimes with local singers and musicians taking the parts. I haven't seen this done for a while. Could be time for a revival?


14 Dec 07 - 09:28 AM (#2215202)
Subject: RE: peter bellamy song accompaniment
From: Jack Blandiver

A production of The Transports was forever on the cards for the Durham Folk Party; one of those projects we always talked about but never quite got round to, for whatever reason, though I did go so far as to learn 'Abe Carmen (The Robber's Song)' in its second, more melanchony incarnation as it appears on Bellamy's 1985 EFDSS album 'Second Wind' - almost sang it last night actually, but opted for 'The Way Through the Woods' instead.

Might this, one wonders, be a possibilty for a future Fylde? A Steamer Production indeed - something to seriously consider...

Shortly before we moved down to LSA, the gaffer of the Durham Folk Club (Ian McCulloch) gifted me his original vinyl of The Transports, signed by the great man himself, who'd also added the 'Quantas' flag to the mast of the transport ship illustrated in the booklet. A treasure to be sure.

Does anyone have the (1987?) Radio 2 recording featuring Jim Eldon as The Street Singer?

14 Dec 07 - 11:22 AM (#2215275)
Subject: RE: peter bellamy song accompaniment
From: Bill D

Well, it is obvious even to me, a non-concertina player, that Peter didn't do complex tune playing that required moving the fingers rapidly among the buttons. (Even that 'solo' at the end of " The Fox Jumps Over the Parson's Gate" is more in & out on the bellows than playing a tune)...but, that said, it IS effective, musically showy, and fits the way he did the song.
   It is not necessary to be an Alistair Anderson to produce a melodic and relevant accompaniment! (I know someone who plays guitar largely with thumb & one finger, yet it sounds fine as a melodic backing to songs.)

   I can't see why it's even relevant to suggest that a 'style' is somehow a 'flaw'. Peter was not trying to play jigs & reels, but merely to help the song along...and he did so pretty well.