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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:34 pm 
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I'm sure this has been asked a thousand times, but I can't seem to find it on the forums (not sure what keywords to use to narrow it down).

Will a harmonica help one figure out if push/draw instruments are going to cause a mental block?

I've heard that many people have a dickens of a time with Anglo concertina because of that, while others love it, and was curious if the more readily available harmonica would give any insight?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:23 am 
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I'm not quite sure what you're asking. As a harmonica player I thought I'd try a D/G melodeon which kind of blows and sucks in a similar manner. I don't have trouble finding the notes, as I predicted, but I found that I was breathing in and out as though I was still playing the harmonica. It feels very unnatural. Maybe I'll dust it down and have another go some time.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:53 am 
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English concertina seems more intuitive to me, but that's partly because it was designed for western classical music, and the fingering pattern reflects that mindset.

Anglo was not designed for the classically trained musician, and has differing notes on pull and draw, as well as not following a regular pattern across the entire range (I'm speaking from ignorance here... since it doesn't go "push..draw..push...draw..push..draw" one each button, moving one button at a time, I'm calling it irregular).

I'm told the anglo is "like two harmonicas cut in half and laid next to each other". That made me curious if picking up the harmonica would make the anglo seem more intuitive later, or if it would be a complete waste of time.

I can see how the English layout compares to written notation, and relates to the piano keyboard. (English is like an interlaced piano keyboard in my mind).

I was wondering if Anglo relates to the harmonica in some similar way, and if a person can figure out if that system will be frustrating for them by picking up a harmonica and working with that first.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:27 am 
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When I told a box player friend I was thinking of taking up the button box he advised me to try the harmonica to see whether push-pull would fry my brain. I didn't get around to following the advice, and I'm glad I didn't. The same friend loaned me his accordions while he was away for a few days and I think this was much more useful: for a novice pushing buttons is easier than trying to form single notes on a harmonica.

In fact you need to know whether the entire ergonomics of the anglo will suit you, not just the push-pull concept. The feel of the buttons on your fingertips, the hand position, everything, I rather fancied the tina myself until I picked one up and tried it. :) So my advice would be to try to borrow one, or get an introductory lesson from someone so that you can spend a couple of hours trying an instrument. OTOH, harmonicas are cheap. It's just that they won't tell you much about the experience of playing concertina.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:38 pm 
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In my free-reed instrument studies I've concentrated on harmonica, Anglo concertina and English concertina (I'm now focusing on piano accordion). Of the three the one I found most musically satisfying was the English. The main reason is I really missed the 'missing' notes on harmonica, and was baffled by the insane nature of finding chromatics on an Anglo.

It really depends on what kind of music you want to play.

I like playing folk music (by written music or ear), but also enjoy reading through things like 'The Classical Fake Book' or hymnals or tune-books. So English concertina works the best for me.

If your goal is only to play a few tunes, harmonica will give you a small taste of what it's like for your brain to negotiate a diatonic free-reed instrument but the only way to really know is to spend time with each instrument.

As for my own learning curve, I started with harmonica, went to Anglo, then to English. I still love playing English, but have recently begun playing piano accordion. My brain gets the piano accordion!

Hope some of this helps!

Aldon

p.s. Oh! And I agree with the previous advice.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:41 am 
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LimuHead wrote:
The main reason is I really missed the 'missing' notes on harmonica, and was baffled by the insane nature of finding chromatics on an Anglo.

Missing diatonic notes on a harmonica can be fixed at one fell swoop by adopting the Paddy Richter tuning, which means raising the 3-blow reed by a whole tone. Do this with your G harp and 90% of Irish tunes are yours. I do it with all mine, but the G harp is the one that needs the fix the most. I know there are other missing notes in the bottom and top octaves but you hardly ever need these.

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He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:37 pm 
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SteveShaw wrote:
LimuHead wrote:
The main reason is I really missed the 'missing' notes on harmonica, and was baffled by the insane nature of finding chromatics on an Anglo.

Missing diatonic notes on a harmonica can be fixed at one fell swoop by adopting the Paddy Richter tuning, which means raising the 3-blow reed by a whole tone. Do this with your G harp and 90% of Irish tunes are yours. I do it with all mine, but the G harp is the one that needs the fix the most. I know there are other missing notes in the bottom and top octaves but you hardly ever need these.


The problem with the '90% rule' is that most of the most satisfying tunes are in the 10%, and they often require the lower notes... <provocative evil grin />


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:50 pm 
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Very few tunes I can think of need the only other missing note down below, the fourth of the scale. Tommy Bhetty's Waltz is one, as is the Ook Pik Waltz and the Dark Island. Put that sixth back with the Paddy tuning and the only tunes you can't have are the few that have awkward accidentals in them. You're exaggerating the problem!

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He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:25 pm 
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A melodeon is simply a big harmonica with a bellows attached instead of a human windbag! Each of the buttons correspond to a hole in the harmonica.
A two row accordion is like, as someone said above, like two harmonicas strapped together and attached to a bellows.
And an accordion like a B/C is like a chromatic harmonica, with the notes a half tone away on that second row. Although, for whatever reason, that second row is a half tone down from the root notes, instead of, like on a chromatic harmonica, half a tone up.
That being said, people have tried to show me how concertinas are set up, but I could never get the hang of which notes were on one side, and which were on the other, which is why I play the accordion.
But I do find that the harmonica playing helped me make sense of how the accordion was organized.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:10 pm 
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You could use a B chromatic harmonica, reverse the slide (so B row button in, C row button out) and pretend you have the equivalent of a B/C box. Not so, unfortunately. You simply haven't got the same possibilities for ornamentation. You are still pushing that button to get the notes of the tune and are therefore severely limiting your potential for ornamentation. I shall say this only one million more times. If you want to play chromatic harps in sessions you are going to need a G harp and a D harp. Unless you want to play reverse slide, in which case you need to get a C# and an F# harp and reverse both the slides. You really do have to be practical about this.

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He jested, quaff'd and swore."

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me -
I am the lord of the dance, said he!


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