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Blues on the English Concertina

GUEST,gillymor 10 Aug 17 - 04:13 PM
EBarnacle 10 Aug 17 - 10:17 PM
gillymor 10 Aug 17 - 11:56 PM
FreddyHeadey 11 Aug 17 - 02:51 AM
Guran 11 Aug 17 - 04:19 AM
Guran 11 Aug 17 - 04:37 AM
The Sandman 11 Aug 17 - 05:25 AM
gillymor 11 Aug 17 - 07:41 AM
Guran 11 Aug 17 - 09:49 AM
EBarnacle 11 Aug 17 - 01:18 PM
Guran 11 Aug 17 - 03:14 PM
The Sandman 11 Aug 17 - 03:31 PM
EBarnacle 12 Aug 17 - 12:16 AM
Guran 12 Aug 17 - 12:52 AM
Guran 12 Aug 17 - 12:59 AM
The Sandman 12 Aug 17 - 09:12 AM
Guran 12 Aug 17 - 11:16 AM
The Sandman 12 Aug 17 - 12:46 PM
Guran 13 Aug 17 - 08:54 AM
gillymor 13 Aug 17 - 09:03 AM
EBarnacle 13 Aug 17 - 09:49 AM
gillymor 13 Aug 17 - 10:57 AM
Guran 13 Aug 17 - 12:19 PM
The Sandman 14 Aug 17 - 06:50 AM
EBarnacle 15 Aug 17 - 12:04 AM
Guran 15 Aug 17 - 02:50 AM
The Sandman 15 Aug 17 - 09:25 AM
EBarnacle 15 Aug 17 - 12:48 PM
The Sandman 16 Aug 17 - 06:08 AM
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Subject: Blues on the English Concertina
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 10 Aug 17 - 04:13 PM

Can you emulate the kind of blues ornaments that are commonly used on stringed instruments like slides, bends and vibrato on the E.C?


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: EBarnacle
Date: 10 Aug 17 - 10:17 PM

My previous response did not post.
Definitely. You have to forget "I can't" and "it's hard" and just do it. I have also played various forms of jazz and salsa. Go for it. It's just another skill.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: gillymor
Date: 10 Aug 17 - 11:56 PM

It's not for me, I play stringed instruments. I want to know if it's possible to emulate those particular techniques on the English concertina.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 02:51 AM

related thread
the concertina and the blues
thread.cfm?threadid=107996


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 04:19 AM

gillymor:
"Can you emulate the kind of blues ornaments that are commonly used on stringed instruments like slides, bends and vibrato on the E.C?"

gillymor,
Taking your words literally it IS impossible when you speak of *stringed* instruments.
"Slides" may be simulated with the same trick as with pianos.
"Vibrato" ( in the meaning of a continuous variation of pitch which may be performed with a violin or guitar for example is in principle impossible.
"Bending" ( as the term is used with harmonica playing which also is a variation of pitch "can" be done with concertinas but not as effectively as with a harmonica because the concertina reeds do not offer the same means regarding forced control of the wind as the harmonica reeds do. On top of that when bending on a harmonica there are several techniques, some involving use of tongue and lips and thus directing the air flow in the compartment formed by the mouth and the mouth may be used also for resonance. You miss all that with the squeezeboxes of course

BUT....nevertheless you *may* manage some "bending" also with concertinas !, but it IS quite difficult, and fewer reeds admit it than with the harmonicas. When learning the procedure you have to consider the risk damaging a number of reeds in the process...
The only player I have met who really masters the trick is Bertram Levy ( with the Anglo however) but there may be others too of course.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 04:37 AM

This is not a blues but Bertram does it (very delicately) in some places on this tune

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJhKrXdHY8g


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 05:25 AM

I played the blues Four until late on an English Concertina on my lp "playing for time".
I also recorded "sitting on top of the world£ on duet concertina, and fogyism and backwater blues on the concertina compilation boxing clever which is still available from my website www.dickmiles.com. the advantage of duet concertina for blues is that it can use piano blues techniquesfor a model.
the problem with concertina and blues is the inabilty to bend notes,the piano has the same problem, but certain piano techniques overcome that problem.
vibrato can be imitated by shaking bellows, or tapping on knee whilst sitting, glissandos IMO cannot because you are stuck with strict senitones.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: gillymor
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 07:41 AM

I really appreciate all your responses and the various links. Mr. Levy's bluesy runs makes me think that playing the blues on the E.C. can be done effectively.

Now taking it a step further, what about playing Cajun and Zydeco on the E.C? Can you get that rhythmic bounce?


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 09:49 AM

Sandman/Dick:
"the advantage of duet concertina for blues is that it can use piano blues techniques for a model".

What "piano blues techniques" do you refer to? Can you give some examples? The three available tune samples on your website sadly don't include some blues.Since the accidentals on an English are located directly beside the major scale notes it might seem pretty handy to make the similar kind of slides on the English like Bb/B or Eb/E as with the piano but as you actually can't really slide with the finger as on a piano keyboard I think it hardly matters for that particulr issue what kind of concertina keyboard is used. For walking bass or boogiewoogie piano style I have the impression that the choice of key may be more important than the choice of concertina type
Concerning *vibrato* and *tremolo* there are some common nomenclature problems but most often in encyclopedias and acoustic textbooks *vibrato* is a variation of pitch and *tremolo* a variation of amplitude. Thus with concertina ( and any squeezebox) shaking the bellows better be called a *tremolo* while a *vibrato* in that sence is impossible to achieve with a free reed.

gillymor,
Concerning "Rhythmic bounce" with an English the challenge lies firstly in bellows control - when playing energetically !- and THIS normally is much easier to do with the Anglo/Duet kind of handle than the traditional English thumbstrap and finger rest. IF wanting to play EC with much rhythmic energy the handle may be reformed to become more stable by adding a wide wrist support, a wide steady wrist strap and more stable thumbstraps than the trad ones.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 01:18 PM

"concertina reeds do not offer the same means regarding forced control of the wind as the harmonica reeds do." Try slowing or speeding your bellows movement--crude but effective.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 03:14 PM

EBarnacle:
before/above :"just do it. I have also played various forms of jazz and salsa. Go for it. It's just another skill"
Guran RE: A skill no doubt but as I said before I don't regard it as all that easy..

EB now: "Try slowing or speeding your bellows movement--crude but effective".
Guran RE: With the harmonica you may bend a half note down (or up) or even more, that is 100 cent or more. Just "slowing or speeding" a bit with the concertina bellows may "bend" = decrease the pitch for lower octave reeds or (possibly) increase the pitch for top range reeds about 10 cent or possibly 20 - but that is not even near as effective as on the harmonica. Keeping in mind that the "better" the concertina reed the more pitch stability it has, and the more difficult it is to get any effect at all. Harmonica players use to notice that low class harps often bend easier ( due to bad reeds, same of course with concertinas) but there are also top class blues harps that got reeds intentionally tempered to bend easily.
One way stressing the bending effect may be to manipulate the pad opening at the same time as the tone onset by staying with just a very slight lift for a short while. Do you practise that? Anyway - do you have any recorded sample to illustrate what you do?


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Aug 17 - 03:31 PM

guran if you bought boxing clever concertina compilation you would hear what duet playing of blues can soiund like and how it is related to boogie woogie piano walking bass.
"concertina reeds do not offer the same means regarding forced control of the wind as the harmonica reeds do." Try slowing or speeding your bellows movement--crude but effective.
concertina steel reeds are much thicker than harmonica reeds, and need excessive force, then if you do eventually manasge to bend the note you have to spend money getting it retuned, completely stupid idea
   please do not lecture me about controlling bellows movement, I know all about bellows manipulation i have been playing for 43 years


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: EBarnacle
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 12:16 AM

I have also been playing since the early 70's and have had no reed problems except some rust when I was living aboard my schooner in a salt water environment. That made retuning needful. Doing the same thing for 43 years makes you an expert in what you have done, not necessarily in what you can do.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 12:52 AM

Dick:
"...need excessive force, then if you do eventually manage to bend the note you have to spend money getting it retuned..."

Well...isn't that more or less what I said myself?? but not "excessive", it *can* be done, Bertram can do it with his Anglo and others maybe also as EB claims ( but I do want to hear the result...).
With accordions you find some instruction presentations here for example:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIsIhFemfdo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai_ZqU4LhI4

I have tried it for curiosity and the effect definitely may be achieved with the concertina too. How much stress you need is difficult to say and "good" concertina reeds definitely work against it. It is only in the lower range it may be done and like harmonica reeds it would be possible to profile and temper the concertina reeds to make it more practicable.With accordions and more space available some people have modified the design to get a more "bluesy" sound.
The "Blues Box" by Tom Toonon for example ( see concertina.net for presentation) Showed by another player here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amb3zrou5_g

When you learn to bend with the harmonica you also tend to use "excessive force" in the beginning until you got the hands, instrument,lips, tongue and throat ( and eventually the mike) all working together.I would not say bending is necessary to play blues on a concertina, there is so much more to it as you probably mean yourself.

But frankly, IF you want a bluesy sound with a squeezebox I think the trad cajun/zydeco melodeon style is the most impressive as is...


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 12:59 AM

EB,
Can't you describe your way to practise it a bit more? Do you think it is something like the two guys in the accordion presentations I mentioned above?


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 09:12 AM

"not necessarily in what you can do"
Interesting, I could attempt to emulate the horrible style of Rev K Loveless, in my opinion a cacophony of unmusical sounds, but I am not going to, because i do not like it. neither do i like the sound of the EC when players are trying to force notes, just for the record as someone who can play blues harmonica, let me say I find it much easier to bend notes on the suck, on the push using a cupped hand and opening the hand gives a vibrato but not such an effective bend.
I am not convinced by your suggestion of forcing notes, to me it sounds nothing like the bend achieved on the draw with a harmonica,My Advice to anyone reading this is not attempt to force notes on the concertina, but to achieve a bluesy sound by playing a duet and using piano type blues, or[on the EC] to use the right hand techniques of piano blues without the walking bass, in my opinion forcing reeds is an abuse of the instrument, but that is just my opinion. My version of FOUR UNTIL LATE uses counterpoint similiar to Blind Lemon Jefferson


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 11:16 AM

You may get a very bluesy sound with common accordions and melodeons as used in zydeco tunes for example but with *our* concertinas it IS quite tricky whatever method is used to get the weeping raw tone you mostly want with blues I am afraid. The singular concertina reed set gives a too clean or dry sound compared to the wet accordion/melodeon tuning .On Youtube you find quite a number of samples by melodeon or accordion players and there have been several successful recording artists but I haven't come across anything with a concertina. Someone who has?


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Aug 17 - 12:46 PM

ZYDECO Is not blues[ blues often have a 12 bar format], if you were to put your hand in your wallet Guran you could buy boxing clever and find examples of blues on concertina


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 13 Aug 17 - 08:54 AM

Dick, why not promote your material by a short clip on Youtube?

Anyway, I tried searching for squeezebox blues playing on YT and a number of accordion and melodeon players came up. Among the professionals in the cajun/zydeco field squeezeboxes are very common and mostly in wet tuning and blues or R&B tunes are quite common.Is it the comparably dry tone of concertinas that don't attract more blues players or is it firstly a simple matter of tradition? Like the choice of Irish tunes when playing Anglo (while the English ought to be even more suited for that...), polkas playing Chemnitzer and Tango playing Bandonion?
IF i were up to doing blues on the concertina I certainly would like to have a double-reeded wet tuned cheapish instrument ( with low quality unstable reeds, I have come across such Scholer models ) OR of course a specially made quality instrument ( with reeds designed to "bend" easily like some harmonicas - "Blues harps" )


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: gillymor
Date: 13 Aug 17 - 09:03 AM

Interesting stuff, you guys have cleared a few things up for me. Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: EBarnacle
Date: 13 Aug 17 - 09:49 AM

I can't be specific because, even though I recall doing it,I have not played in two years. My doctor has ordered me to stop playing until my shoulder gets replaced. Fortunately or otherwise, this hiatus has slowed the deterioration to the point that the surgery is at least a year or two off.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: gillymor
Date: 13 Aug 17 - 10:57 AM

I'm sorry to hear that, EB. I hope it turns out well for you.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 13 Aug 17 - 12:19 PM

EB: "My doctor has ordered me to stop playing until my shoulder gets replaced".

Not knowing the details I better not dispute against your doctor but (being a quack myself) there ought to be ways playing concertina safely just keeping one arm and shoulder passively in place. One attraction with the concertina in my view is that it may be played staying in bed...I actually took up concertina myself - and thus gave up the violin - in some despair when I got a paresis of the right arm for a year after a neck injury and fiddling with the left only became somewhat limited...


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Aug 17 - 06:50 AM

"Dick, why not promote your material by a short clip on Youtub"
Guran,you profess to be interested in blues on the concertina, they are available on my website on the concertina compilation boxing clever,at the present moment those blues on the concertina are not in my repertoire, for a relatively small amount you can purchase, boxing clever, it also has tim laycock, john kirkpatrick and harry scurfield.I rely on sales of cds to supplement my musical income, even if they werestill in my repertoire thay are not being given away free, there are plkenty of other concertina tutorials, and concertina songs etc on you tube dick miles music, that i have given away for free, put your hand in your pocket if you are genuinely interested


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: EBarnacle
Date: 15 Aug 17 - 12:04 AM

Guran, I considered a workaround as you described. For the past 30 years this doctor's advice has been good and I will follow it. In addition to not playing, I have also had to give up canoeing and kayaking even though I can still sail and row all day. Go figure.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: Guran
Date: 15 Aug 17 - 02:50 AM

EB, please excuse me but I can't control myself from another comment. Since you said "replaced" about your shoulder I guess it may have benn luxated or operated upon or will be operated. In such cases it is reasonable that canoeing and kayaking ( causing particular stress on the shoulder joint) is troublesome and rowing a little less so, but theoretically hazardous as well. Sailing with all the usual demands of fitness would scare myself off in greater degreee...but well, there are one-armed sailors who get along...
But again...not playing concertina?? My arm was paretic except some of the fingers and playing worked more or less. The possible *stress* on the shoulder joint may be completely eliminated.BUT playing the concertina in the normal way and maybe using energetic push-pull (Anglo-wise firstly) there are obvious risks for overuse troubles from the shoulder...BUT they ought to be avoidable.Why not speak to your doctor( with my respectful regards..) again. Maybe something can be worked out.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Aug 17 - 09:25 AM

And a one armed concertina player in Swan Arcade, and aone armed cyclist walter greaves, an olympic champion, and was known as the singing blacksmith


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: EBarnacle
Date: 15 Aug 17 - 12:48 PM

As he explained to me, with the nature of my problem(s) in the shoulder, the body mechanics would be made worse. As for the rowing and sailing, the stresses are different. When the issues first became painful, I got some relief simply by switching my wallet to the opposite side. At present, there is still some level of pain all of the time when I move the arm.


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Subject: RE: Blues on the English Concertina
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 17 - 06:08 AM

Ebarnacle hope you get better soon


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