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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 11:20 am 
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The concertina plays a prominent part in Irish, English, Australian and South African traditional musics. Is there any American folk style in which it plays such a role? I assume it would once have been quite popular, but I can't think of any style which features it.

I've asked this question before and got no response. Perhaps now we have our own board someone who knows will notice and answer.


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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 11:38 am 
A thread on concertina.net asked the same question, not a large response but you may find something there. Some interesting old pics from the US came up:

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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 12:09 pm 
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Thanks a lot, Peter. I'll check that out tomorrow.


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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 2:03 pm 
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I can't think of any American musical tradition featuring the anglo. If it ever was popular somewhere, there doesn't seem to be any lingering evidence.

But then again, most Americans have seen a concertina in animated cartoons, where it is a standard comedy anachronism akin to an anvil or a steam whistle. Maybe that is some evidence that America has some cultural memory of the instrument.

I think it's interesting to ask where the concertina can fit today. For instance, is there any room for the concertina in bluegrass music?

I've read that Cajun music was more harmonically diverse before the Cajun accordion (1-row melodeon in C major) became popular. I suspect that bluegrass is also a bit too harmonically diverse, seeing as how it's so string-centric.

Caj


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 12:15 am 
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Now I've read that link, Peter, thanks again. I knew, or had guessed, most of the general information there, but that in itself is illuminating because it suggests that very little is known at all.

Concertinas, including trick concertinas, were a musical hall staple in Britain, but English rather than Anglos might have predominated. I'd hazard a guess that they might have been used in 1850-70 minstrel shows but I have no evidence for this. Another possibility is that they were used by real, as opposed to Hollywood, cowboys. They would have been much more easily transported than guitars and banjos and probably more sturdy than fiddles. But probably harmonicas were the instrument of choice there.

If they never caught on in the backwoods it's a bit odd really. They were certainly promoted. Even a 20 button Anglo, if well played in the old-fashioned, two fisted, press and draw method, is like an easily transportable organ.


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 12:25 am 
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Caj wrote:

I think it's interesting to ask where the concertina can fit today. For instance, is there any room for the concertina in bluegrass music?


I've thought about this a lot too. Apart from Irish I play South African jive and the standard repertoire of hymns, Morris dances and sea shantys. I reckon that old timey would be the best bet. I think a concertina playing fiddle parts would fit just fine.

Caj wrote:
I've read that Cajun music was more harmonically diverse before the Cajun accordion (1-row melodeon in C major) became popular. I suspect that bluegrass is also a bit too harmonically diverse, seeing as how it's so string-centric.

Caj


That shouldn't be a problem for 3-row anglo players although, since I have a 32 button instrument, I tend to think of it as more chromatic than it really is for most players. I'm pretty comfortable in about half a dozen major keys at least and can play obligatos to singers in any key, although I have to practice up for remote keys. Basic boom chuck accompaniment isn't very easy in distant keys.


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 8:16 am 
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There's an old American song that speaks of a "concertina that opens up a mile...as wide as a lady's smile" (I played my concertina live on the radio a few years ago. The DJ told me that one)


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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 2:53 pm 
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If anybody would know, I bet it would be Bertram Levy, who played mando for the Hollow Rock String Band, one of the most influential US folk revival ensembles, (http://redclayramblers.tripod.com/hrsb.htm) then switched to concertina and published "The Anglo Concertina Demystified." A web search, though, turned up the news that he switched again, some time ago, to the tango: http://www.tangoheart.com/.

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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 4:24 pm 
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The only musician I can think of is expat Brit Ian Robb, from Finest Kind and The Friends of Fiddler's Green.

Finest Kind has recorded some american trad and ersatz trad tunes with Robb's concertina well to the fore.

Ian Robb had a column in Sing out for a number of years, which had the brilliant (if obscure) title [i]The British North America Act[/b]. This, of course, is the name of the bill passed in 1867 which created Canada and served as our constitution for a number of years, but it's also the perfect title for a column by a british expat musician. I've always wondered if many non-canadians got the reference.

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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 9:31 am 
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Lorenzo wrote:
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There's an old American song that speaks of a "concertina that opens up a mile...as wide as a lady's smile" (I played my concertina live on the radio a few years ago. The DJ told me that one)


The instrument in that picture looks more like a bandoneon (or Bandonion !) to me.

Image

http://www.bandoneon-maker.com/harrygeuns.htm

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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 12:15 am 
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JS wrote:
If anybody would know, I bet it would be Bertram Levy, who played mando for the Hollow Rock String Band, one of the most influential US folk revival ensembles, (http://redclayramblers.tripod.com/hrsb.htm) then switched to concertina and published "The Anglo Concertina Demystified." A web search, though, turned up the news that he switched again, some time ago, to the tango: http://www.tangoheart.com/.


It's pure coincidence but a copy of Levy's book arrived a weeek ago. Even though it starts at a very elementary level, the techniques he teaches are not those you would acquire learning to play in an across-the-rows modern Irish style so I think that even fairly experienced players might find it valuable. For anybody who wants to know what a concertina is capable of, even if they don't want to actually play in other styles, it is very illuminating. If you were to work through this book, you would develop a very high degree of two hand rhythmic independence.


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