Melodeon.net Forums

Discussions => Teaching and Learning => Topic started by: Walter Häuschen on April 29, 2015, 04:08:19 PM

Title: Club system from scratch
Post by: Walter Häuschen on April 29, 2015, 04:08:19 PM
Hi everyone,

I am new to the melodeon, but, after a lot of listening to various kinds of melodeon music and immersing myself in the forum, I have decided to give it a go.

For a wide range of reasons (price, size and availability of instruments, type of music I'd like to play, sound, 'logic' of different systems, opinions on the forum) I have decided to start on a Club System melodeon. I managed to pick up a lovely small club system melodeon (four-buttons on the accidental-row) and am currently having it repaired, set up and tuned featuring a 'dry' sound by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic repairman.

However, I do have a problem: there don't seem to be a lot of tutorials, books and CDs out there to help you get started on the club system. All I have been able to find is this website (http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/pedagogy/club/) and a German tutor from the 1960s (Holzschuh, Neue Holzschuh Schule, vols 1 &2).

Do any of you have any tips for a beginner on the melodeon on how to best get started on the club system? Do you know of any CDs/ tutorials?

Thanks in advance for your help,

Alan
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Matthew B on April 29, 2015, 05:33:30 PM
Welcome Alan. 

I started out on the club system over 40 years ago, purely by chance (the box was cheap, and I liked the sound).  Most of the instructional materials are on paper and in German.  They tend towards the oom-pah "Apline" sound, with the occasional sacred tune and "light classical" party piece thrown in.  There are a few other odds and ends out there on the web, but most people seem to pick tunes up on the melodeon by using a combination of learning by ear, regular manuscript, and the odd (sometimes extremely odd) workshop.  The list of teachers here http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/page,teachers.html (http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/page,teachers.html) may have someone on it whose musical interests match yours.  The slight oddities of the club system should not be beyond any of these talented individuals.  Its worth investing a bit of time and a few quid to spend a little time with someone who can get you started, particularly if they are conveniently located near your home.   

Good luck!
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Sebastian on April 29, 2015, 06:52:41 PM
Do any of you have any tips for a beginner on the melodeon on how to best get started on the club system? Do you know of any CDs/ tutorials?
I play almost exclusively club (at the moment). Anahata provides three PDF copies of tutors for the club system accordion on a separat web-page (http://www.treewind.co.uk/melnet/). All three are in German and a bit 'aged'. So you won't find modern music in them (like French balfolk music or Scandinavian tunes). They were discussed here (http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,3516.0.html).

Four helper buttons are a good compromise, I think.

I started (on a normal two row box) by plaing nursery rhymes and such things, without any tutor. Put the four fingers of your right hand on the middle row (F-row), the ring finger on the marked gleichton button. On the bass side put four fingers on the outer row. You want to use your little finger, ring finger and middle finger. And then go exploring.

(The club box forces you to leave the row and play 'cross-row style' at least if you have to play the sixth above the fundamental note [i. e. d']. Normally you want to play it on the pull with your little finger on the outer row.)
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Walter Häuschen on April 30, 2015, 09:00:39 AM
Thank you so much, Mathew and Sebastian. Those are exactly the kind of tips I needed. Personally, I prefer learning tunes by ear anyway, so help in getting started is most important. Those two German tutors from the 1930s will be very useful. I like the idea of being taught by a dapper man in a tuxedo as is the case in the Mahr book.

And yes, I will go and look for a teacher. I moved to France two weeks ago, so there shouldn't really be much of a problem finding someone who can give me a few lessons.

Can't wait to get the box!
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: robotmay on April 30, 2015, 10:10:43 AM
Not that it's much help if you're in France but I know Pete Coe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC3Dn5ParEE) plays club boxes exclusively (well the 3 of his I've seen are all club boxes), something a few of us discovered at Melodeons at Witney when he was describing what basses to play ;D
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Theo on April 30, 2015, 10:21:25 AM
And Bob Fox as Songman (http://macbirmingham.co.uk/event/bob-fox-songman-tour/) in Warhorse plays club system.  He learned to play the box in about six months in order to audition for Warhorse, and got the part.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Theo on April 30, 2015, 10:22:28 AM
Not that it's much help if you're in France but I know Pete Coe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC3Dn5ParEE) plays club boxes exclusively (well the 3 of his I've seen are all club boxes), something a few of us discovered at Melodeons at Witney when he was describing what basses to play ;D

Pete's boxes are have Club bass, but not club treble.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: robotmay on April 30, 2015, 10:37:40 AM
Not that it's much help if you're in France but I know Pete Coe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC3Dn5ParEE) plays club boxes exclusively (well the 3 of his I've seen are all club boxes), something a few of us discovered at Melodeons at Witney when he was describing what basses to play ;D

Pete's boxes are have Club bass, but not club treble.

Ah ha, interesting, that would make sense.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Matthew B on April 30, 2015, 04:27:31 PM
Just to keep it complicated I believe Ollie King, one of our resident hotshots, often plays modified club boxes retaining the gleichton on the second row and adding various innovations and tweaks elsewhere.  Given the amount of time and thought he's given to the instrument he probably has some useful insights on the system.  He offers individual and group classes, but the link to his website in the teacher's list seems to be misdirected.  The correct link is  here http://www.olliekingmusic.com/ (http://www.olliekingmusic.com/). 
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Walter Häuschen on May 01, 2015, 06:03:09 PM
All of this is super-interesting. Obviously, the possibilities are endless, especially when one starts fiddling with the layout and combining boxes. I will see how I get on with the box I get.

Bob Fox's example is very encouraging, though I very much doubt my progress will be as swift as his.

Who knows, maybe I can spend some time in Sheffield at some stage, I will be sure to look up Ollie King when I do.

Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Sebastian on May 01, 2015, 08:05:14 PM
I will be sure to look up Ollie King when I do.
It is always good to listen to Ollie King, but I'm not shure all this will help you with your club-box.

There are only two differences to normal two-row melodeons, wich matter:

1. The gleichton (which has benefits and some drawbacks).

2. The Bb-chord (C-chord in D/G-speak) on push is replaced by an Eb-chord (to do the 3-chord-trick in Bb major, which is the subdominant tonality to the box's main tonality F major).
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: The Blues Viking on May 06, 2015, 03:13:11 AM
I found this link today, and as I hadn't seen it previously on Melnet (though I haven't been paying attention to Clubish matters, as I don't play one) and since I didn't see it on the "General Resources" page, I thought I'd post it here.

http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/pedagogy/club/toc.html

Hope this is of use.

TBV

(EDITED: link changed to the "Musician's Guide..." table of contents page, as opposed to the introduction)
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Nick Hudis on May 11, 2015, 11:21:45 AM
I started out on the Club system and although I now play the Loffet 3 row layout, I have a lot of respect and liking for the Club layout. Most Club boxes were built to a high standard and the mighty Club Morino is as good as any modern artisan made box, if rather heavy.

My Clubs had seven buttons on the half row.  Like many folk on Melnet, i just sort of figured it out for myself, although the Delaguerre website was helpful.  Key things to bear in mind are the gletchon, the extra bass/chord note and the fact (dependent on how long the half row is) that Clubs were envisaged to be chromatic on the pull through a useful part of the range.  The idea was, I think, to be able to play largely on the pull. Consequently Clubs have lovely big air buttons so you can close the bellows in an instant.  I miss that on my Loffet.

To me the Club system is somewhat let down by the bass. You would need a 12, 18 or stradella bass to take full advantage of the versatility of the treble end. That was one reason why I transferred to a 3 row 18 bass. I'd jump at a Club Morino if I had the funds though.

I may be wrong here but I believe that the chromatic scope and the lack of bass development reflect the fact that historically a big market for Clubs was accordion orchestras where music might be played in a variety of keys and there would be special bass accordions to provide the harmonic underpinning, these bass Clubs have occasionally been discussed or advertised on Melnet.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Sebastian on May 11, 2015, 05:03:09 PM
Clubs were envisaged to be chromatic on the pull through a useful part of the range. [...]

[...] that the chromatic scope and the lack of bass development [...]
This is the view of Delaguerre. I think both postulates are somewhat misleading. To understand the rationale of the Club-layout you have to depart from the bass side and from the music that was actually played on those boxes.

Why did they add an Eb-chord on push? -- Because 1) they needed one and 2) there was no need for a Bb-chord on the push.

The Eb-chord filled the gap to be able to play contemporary dance music and songs. This music did often use three tonalities in certain relations to the first tonality. It often modulates into the dominant tonality and afterwards into the subdominant tonality. Even the Blue Bell Polka does it.

Let the main tonality be F major (as is the case for moste Club boxes [and for most german folk songs]. Than the other two are C major and Bb major.

For playing in F major you need three chords: F, C, Bb. They are all there.
For playing in C major you need three chords: C, G, F. They are all present.
For playing in Bb major you need three chords: Bb, F and --: Eb.

That is the music the club layout was devised for.

On the Gleichton: Alpine melodies are often arpeggios of chords. Usually of I and V7, that is in the box's main tonality: F and C7. You play F on the push and C7 on the pull. But on normal tworows there is no C on the pull. It is a real nuisance. Playing is so much easier and smoother if you would have a C on the pull. You know the 'dutch' solution to swich the reed plate. But then you have to switch to the outer row to play C on the push. That's better, but still not really good for playing these type of melodies. A C on push and pull on the same row would be much better (like in the lower octave). So they came up with the Gleichton. The drawback, that now you have to switch to the outer row to play D is small in comparison to what you gain from the Gleichton (at least for the type of tunes, people used the accordions for).

The "helper row": -- will fill that in later, am in a hurry now. Some days ago I wrote a bit about this here (https://einundzwanzigknoepfe.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/gedanken-zu-einigen-eigenheiten-des-club-systems/).

Shortly: Neither was the Club layout made with the aim to be "chromatic on the pull" nor was there a "lack of bass development". The Club layout matched exactly what people in those times wanted to play.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Matthew B on May 11, 2015, 06:14:13 PM
Sebastian,
Thanks for the insights.  My German skills being somewhat lacking, I read your post using Google translate with some excellent results, including: "D / G tuning did not exist, because the G-series but is then too high and squeaky. The have only the crazy Englishman introduced in the 1960s".  Sums it up precisely, I think!

Its worth noting that the club system still seems to be evolving in some places.  I think the re-purposing of club boxes for "crazy English" players is part of this process.  And the development of different bass ends and home keys for Brazilian music is also significant.  This is nicely illustrated by a young player called Thaís Ferreira here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--E63-LRDB4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--E63-LRDB4).  It looks like she's playing a standard club box, but with a Stradella bass similar to the ones used by Renato Borghetti.  These have a gleichton, and the standard array of 4, 7, 8 or 10 extra buttons. 

Perhaps Brazil Box has some insights on these instruments?
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Walter Häuschen on May 13, 2015, 02:47:25 PM
Thanks so much for all of these comments, especially to Sebastian for his extremely insightful perspective on the music theory behind the setup of the club system. This really helps! It also underlines what had initially attracted me to the club system, that is the possibility of being able to play long melodic lines more fluently.

When the box arrives (can't wait!) I will see how I get on, and will hopefully soon find out how much a hindrance the limitations of the bass side are, or whether the harmonic possibilities mentioned by Sebastian in fact outweigh them.

Btw, the Holzschuh Verlag published a large collection of music for the club melodeon, of which quite a lot is closer in style to the German 'Lied' (think Schubert) than to 'oompah' type music. It is often available on German ebay and might be of interest to some of you: 

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Holzschuh-MEIN-LIEDERBUCH-Schone-bekannte-Volkslieder-Akkordeon-Noten-1949-/141647840074?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_77&hash=item20fade834a
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Sebastian on May 19, 2015, 09:43:34 PM
It also underlines what had initially attracted me to the club system, that is the possibility of being able to play long melodic lines more fluently.
Therein lies, of course, the danger of going to far into the direction of those piano accordions and chromatic button accordions. You can loose to much of the distinct melodeon sound.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Walter Häuschen on May 23, 2015, 05:59:26 PM
Just to get some more ideas on the stylistic possibilities of the club system I have followed Sebastian's links and had a look at his blog, too. Super-informative!

Just a brief Q, Sebastian: you have kept your cream-coloured Hohner Preciosa (on which you play a wide range of different styles and fun things like the Star Wars theme) as a club instrument?

Thanks again for all the tips and ideas!
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Sebastian on May 23, 2015, 09:28:16 PM
Sebastian: you have kept your cream-coloured Hohner Preciosa (on which you play a wide range of different styles and fun things like the Star Wars theme) as a club instrument?
Yes.  (For the Star Wars theme I use the additional Eb chord and the Gleichton of the Club system. It could be done without, but wouldn't sound as good.)
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Alistair Bone on January 20, 2019, 09:05:58 AM
Hi alan and members.
I am also new to this amazing collection of helpfull information.
I am a green begineer but have been tinkering for many years at the melodeon with no great success .
My intrest now lies with the club system as i own a lilliput C/F and a Hohner club 11B IN G/C.
Living in FRANCE for the last 38 years i have now lots of time to learn.
My music intrest is in slow irish airs playing by ear. (in the future).
Alistair
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Andrew Kennedy on February 09, 2019, 07:25:23 AM
Hohner Club IIB Victoria is a lovely box with a gorgeous sound and a satisfying feel to play. They can be had for very reasonable prices. I got a Bb/EB in very good condition for 75 Euros from German EBay, and a C/F for 50 which did need some work, and which Mike Rowbotham converted to D/G. Lush, as they say down his way.
Theo is working on a Club IB in C/F (70 Euros) which I hope to be able to comment on before long.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: baz parkes on February 09, 2019, 06:57:31 PM

Who knows, maybe I can spend some time in Sheffield at some stage, I will be sure to look up Ollie King when I do.

There's no shortage of good box players in Sheffield, but Ollie is no longer among them...he recently moved to London... :|glug
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Eshed on February 09, 2019, 07:42:26 PM
There's no shortage of good box players in Sheffield, but Ollie is no longer among them...he recently moved to London... :|glug
Note the date.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: baz parkes on February 10, 2019, 11:42:10 AM
There's no shortage of good box players in Sheffield, but Ollie is no longer among them...he recently moved to London... :|glug
Note the date.

Duly noted.... :|bl
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Dennis Steckley on January 11, 2020, 03:55:15 PM
I decided to get back into accordions after a hiatus of several years.  Back then I had piano accordions (actually owned 13 at one time!), but after doing a lot of research, I decided a club system was the route to go for me.  I picked up an inexpensive Hohner Club, and a very nice Hohner Ouverture.  Also have a Liliput ordered that will need work and would love to find a Preciosa (obviously, when I go into something, I go whole hog).  I am disappointed in the lack of instructional materials, but I've found a few things.

Dennis Steckley
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Anahata on January 12, 2020, 08:44:38 AM
I'm hosting a couple of PDFs of Club tutors at https://treewind.co.uk/melnet/
They are both in German.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: alexalexander on January 13, 2020, 04:41:15 PM
Those tutorials are both interesting and amusing, but also quite scary how formal it can all seem - I wonder how many people were put off by these?  I guess the formality is typical for the time and place of printing but there are some things which seem a bit random and surely didn't add to the learning process.  They all begin with basic music notation but the first one then invents its own clef system and doesn't introduce normal clefs nor note names until the very end,  and the other two  insist on using full staff notation for the bass and chords left hand (overkill for notating an 8 bass/chord button diatonic system, and then they don't explain why some chords are root position and others first inversion).  I'm glad I didn't start on the instrument with this sort of introduction.  Thanks for posting them - I found them interesting.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: smiley on January 14, 2020, 03:25:57 AM
This reinvigorated thread is interesting to me, as I've only recently discovered an appreciation of my C/F Hohner Club IIB.
It sat unused in its case for years until I was accompanying a french singer for a recent gig and needed to play La Vie en Rose in Bb, and other songs in Cm, Fm etc.
Suddenly the club button layout made sense (and I wished I hadn't changed the original gleichton). Playing chords on the treble side using the helper row of accidentals has opened up a whole new range of possibilities. Looks like I might be spending a bit more time exploring the Club system ...
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Jon Stapleton on January 23, 2020, 05:02:52 PM
I am a closet Club nut  i have a 3BS which i use mainly for playing some of the tunes you find in the old booklets.  When you start to play the kind of music these things were made for they suddenly make sense.  i bought one out of curiosity originally and started playing english tunes on it but they didn't seem to fit, the treble was brazen and the bass sounded a bit weird to my ear.  But then i started to learn some waltz tunes from a dusty old pre war german booklet,  and the Club monster was unleashed! As Smiley pointed out a lot of the french tunes fit perfectly and come out with a totally different vibe.   As has been said before    it is a case of horses for courses and given the quality and price of these old Club boxes it has got to be worth giving them a go.  It is good to see a bit of club conversation on the board
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Dennis Steckley on January 30, 2020, 05:33:49 AM
As one who learned to read music as a child with piano lessons, I must admit I find all the strange diagrams and tablatures so endlessly complicated and weird when one could simply look at traditional music.  But perhaps it's a matter of what one is familiar with.
Dennis Steckley (:)
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: alexalexander on February 12, 2020, 12:05:30 PM
A while back there was a comment and reply:-

"It also underlines what had initially attracted me to the club system, that is the possibility of being able to play long melodic lines more fluently."
"Therein lies, of course, the danger of going to far into the direction of those piano accordions and chromatic button accordions. You can loose to much of the distinct melodeon sound."

But it isn't all or nothing.  The club system doesn't stop you playing in the style that gives you the distinct melodeon sound.  You can still play up and down the rows (allowing for the alternative option(s)for the pull on the gleichton), play across the rows, and adapt the RH for the required basses. Every technique that works on a non club box works on a club one.   But, in addition, you gain the option to play (some) long melodic lines more fluently when you want.  I find it gives you more choice.
Title: Re: Club system from scratch
Post by: Andrew Kennedy on February 12, 2020, 03:08:37 PM
I agree with pretty well all of this: waltzes seem to flow very naturally, but it can also be possible to play English tunes very satisfactorily.

What I would add is that, as with any system, it depends on the instrument.  Mike R converted a Club Victoria 2B to D/G for me and it makes a great Morris box - not as loud as my Erica but gorgeous to handle.  On the other hand, Theo overhauled a C/F 1B and it makes some French tunes sound lovely.  For the waltzes, and especially those that stray into the higher notes it's the Bb/Eb Victoria or, for truly lush, the 256.  Part of the pleasure is taking a tune and seeing where it fits best.  I'm now trying to get to know a c/f Club III and saving up to have the Bb/Eb Lilliput overhauled....
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal