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Discussions => Teaching and Learning => Topic started by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 18, 2017, 12:36:57 PM

Title: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 18, 2017, 12:36:57 PM
This came to mind from off topic remarks in a recent post.

When I first started learning to play (on a DG) I was totally up and down the rows.
After a while someone gave me Mr Squeezy's excellent tutor DVD on improving your technique. I began to understand what cross-row playing might do for me.

Naturally, I loved it-who wouldn't. I started using it everywhere the limitations of reversal permitted.

After a while, as I became more used to cross row playing, I started to find that, in itself, it didn't work for dance, especially if there was too much of it. At least, not for the sort of dance I'm involved in (morris). Frankly, I found it a bit boring. Too legato. 

So now my style is more hybrid.

Now, when I learn a new tune I tend to start by playing on the row in the simplest way, just to fix it in my head. Once I start getting it I find myself cross rowing, bringing it comfortably up to tempo.

Later, sometimes weeks or months later, I tend to find myself coming back to preferring playing the tune much more up and down. Just for the energy and bounce that you get. The time I spent playing it across the rows seems to make it easier to play it the way I really want to.

Am I alone in this this? It is almost like I'm reflecting my learning to play the instrument experience (so far) in my learning to play a tune experiences (at least with up beat dance tunes, in major keys). It's not a rule. Just something that tends to happen.

Maybe it's time I got a one row.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Winston Smith on August 18, 2017, 01:09:35 PM
I'm still a rank beginner, but love my 1-rows. I've been half-heartedly trying to get on with my 2-row D/G at our monthly get-togethers; but not having much success, I cheated and took my newly acquired 114 G to the last one, and enjoyed the session so much more!
I can see the value of  cross-rowing in order to have the bellows travelling in the right direction to accommodate the desired basses, but surely it would be a lot simpler to just have a set of unisonoric basses? Obviously this could add, possibly unwanted, weight, but to partially alleviate this, the chords could be left out and made manually with the bass buttons.
The only problem I have with my 1-rows is just having the two bass-end buttons. Although my skills haven't developed to make good use of them (yet) I would prefer more bass notes, even the extra 2 on the 1140 make a significant difference.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: 911377brian on August 18, 2017, 01:22:37 PM
Having only two spoons on my 114's is OK. with me, Edward. I am a bear of very little brain so the simpler the better...
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: JimmyM on August 18, 2017, 02:23:47 PM
I'm very much an up and down the row player probably 90% of the time. And i do see this as a limitation. I really only use my D/G box for Morris.If I'm not playing for Morris I much prefer to play my 1 rows. They almost seem to accompany themselves or else i'm playing alongside other instruments that provide accompanying chords. So i guess its easier for me

I do take your point that certain tunes sound better(? more authentic perhaps) played up and down the rows. Equally I can see advantages to cross rowing and making more/better use of the basses I just haven't put much time or effort into it yet.

Making more/better use of the basses  and more cross rowing melodies on my D/G is definitely on my ever lengthening list of practice goals (:)
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Sebastian on August 18, 2017, 02:39:18 PM
Am I alone in this this?
No. It's as if you'd put my vague impressions into words. (:)
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Lester on August 18, 2017, 02:48:34 PM
It's my view, and people can disagree if they wish, that the essence of a typical English dance tune can be more easily spoiled by cross rowing than the essence of a French cross row tune can be spoiled by an on the row rendition.

But I come from an English Ceilidh, Morris, English Session background and learned on a 1 row so like I said YMMV
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 18, 2017, 02:49:19 PM
I am more or less an on the row player when it comes to DG boxes  because so doing provided a lot of desirable 'freebies' when playing for dance eg ceilidhs, morris, stepping , old tyme or whatever.  However when playing waltzes in D I normally use  the pushG on the G row so I can pot the G bass. this I cconsider worthwhile if it is a long note and therefore heard by the punters. On the other hand if playing the same tune as a jig at a fair lick I don't usually bother as the individual notes are not round for long enough for anybody to notice!

There are a few tunes that , when played fast, eg morpath rant in D are much easier to finger aaccross rows  and I 'cross row' simply for that reason rather than to fit the bass better.

On the one row I treat the bass as slightly tuned percussion  and just leave them off where they are a bit 'iffy'

Another thought is that you don't have to use the basses  just because they exist!  eg I often play haunting slow aires without any bass  which can reduce the '' hauntingness!"  of the tune aand hide the wonderful dynamics aand phrasing that can be had from a simple DG box.  There are also occasions when I feel that leaving the bass out for the odd bar or two can enhance the proceedings  as a sort of reverse ornamentation or less is more!

So to sum up I think its good to  develop the skills required to be able to give yourself a choice  between on the row, crossing rows or treble only  as best suits the occasion.

There is another reason why I favour mostly on row on the DG and that is because I also play BC & BCC#  which involve constant row crossing and keeping on the row on the DG helps to prevent any nasty accidents !

george

Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Tufty on August 18, 2017, 03:53:45 PM
I wonder if this is a generational thing in England? Most younger players I see are playing three row 18 bass boxes, or at least aiming to do so when money allows. They are playing a cross row style coming from French music which they adapt to the D/G box. The technical skill shown is often of a high order but I do have a concern that we could lose the distinctly "English" style that developed back in the 60s-70s. I have noticed in recent years that the cross row style is being taught as the correct, or indeed the only valid style in some workshops. Perhaps we need to go back to recordings of the traditional players: Oscar Woods, Bob Cann, Dolly Curtis etc. just to remind ourselves of what would be lost if we became so dazzled by the continental style that we forgot just how good the old stuff can be!
 I started with one rows and still have "on the row" as my default setting but since starting to play French tunes on a G/C I have started to cross row rather more. In the end it is the outcome that counts, not how you get there and one of the pleasures of the melodeon is that there is no one right way of playing (whatever some people might tell you ;)).
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: GPS on August 18, 2017, 04:05:35 PM
I think you have a good point there, Tufty; I suppose there are fashions and fads in melodeon-playing just as there are in everything else. I totally concur that there's no "right" way to play our chosen instrument. Cross-rowing doesn't do it for me, mainly because it's specifically conceived to iron out the "bounce" that comes from on-the-row playing, but there are plenty of people who do like it, which is fine. I'm chiefly an "up & downer" because it suits my almost exclusively English - OK, British - repertoire, but like George, I'm happy to cross rows when it makes the tune easier to play: he quotes "Morpeth Rant" as an example, which I do play across the rows because it's damn near impossible otherwise, and a lot of other Northumbrian tunes are more accessible with a bit of row-crossing. Horse for courses.....

Graham
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 18, 2017, 05:07:01 PM
I wonder if this is a generational thing in England? Most younger players I see are playing three row 18 bass boxes, or at least aiming to do so when money allows. They are playing a cross row style coming from French music which they adapt to the D/G box.  . Perhaps we need to go back to recordings of the traditional players: Oscar Woods, Bob Cann, Dolly Curtis etc. just to remind ourselves of what would be lost if we became so dazzled by the continental style that we forgot just how good the old stuff can be!
 
the on the row style works well not only for 'English'  which actually has many 'styles'   in different parts of the country  but also for Scottish and  Irish and American stuff played at reasonable dance speed, indeed Bob Cann was a great fan of Jimmy Shand  and  Shands style  had a strong influence of  Bob's style of playing.

Perhaps some of the younger generation of players would benefit from listening to the old 'masters' not in a copy cat fashion  but to absorb the various highly rhythmic stiles they had.   After all for most dance music the tune is often merely a vehicle for the 'dunt' or rhythm and all too often an overdose of arty farty twiddles detracts rather than adds to the rhythm.

The late Will Atkinson master of the mouthie ( and a great Shand Morino player) once said to me  ''watch the feet of those  'sitting out'  if you havn't got those tapping you have got it badly wrong!".    That was one of Will's brilliant one liners and probably the most important 30 second lesson I have ever had, never to be forgotten.

george
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 18, 2017, 05:18:43 PM
My background is English concertina and I'm used to working in triangles on the EC keyboard so cross rowing from the start made perfect sense to me.
Over the years I've seen melodeon players frantically thrashing the bellows for all its worth and I really dislike that style of playing.
As any note is played either pushing or pulling, I really question if playing along the rows gives any more bounce.
Surely it is down to your phrasing of music and the emphasis of the beat that gives the bounce, not whether that note is pushed or pulled?
Q
Possibly Swimming against the flow!
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: pikey on August 18, 2017, 05:19:03 PM
Spot on Tufty . I soon tire of the smooth crossed row ( and C bass drone for tunes in G and D ) when used all the time . 

I suggest learning both styles , and as the original poster said , mix and match them .
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 18, 2017, 05:23:54 PM
Yes mix and match to give emphasis to the bounce and beat ....
Q
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Julian S on August 18, 2017, 05:53:09 PM
Spot on Tufty . I soon tire of the smooth crossed row ( and C bass drone for tunes in G and D ) when used all the time . 

I suggest learning both styles , and as the original poster said , mix and match them .

Exactly. I recall the words of a master - lots of melodeon players now seem to be trying to make them sound like piano accordeons, and vice versa.

I've become more of a 'cross-rower' through interest in French dance, and I reckon it's made me a better player with more tools in the play box, but knowing when to employ the tools is the thing. What works on a French mazurka isn't the same as what fits a lumpy hornpipe - my playing style is quite different when I play for the Bourrees as opposed to Border Morris and so it should be.

J




Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Rob2Hook on August 18, 2017, 06:11:31 PM
Not so sure about the vice versa...  There are few PA players indeed who can impart a lively bounce to their playing, so much so that when you do hear it you still look for the melodeon!  I suspect that the typical PA player in a morris side is happy enough to get the right notes and has never considered practicing the more advanced techniques of bellows dynamics and staccato playing - things which come naturally on a melodeon, indeed here the advanced techniques include smoothing out the above to achieve a legato style.

Sure, often a phrase is cross-rowed to match the available basses, but in addition some decorative runs, etc can be cross rowed to get more even tempo as they don't impinge on the overall rhythm of the piece.  If one tries to pay them somewhat staccato it still fits - just don't slur them Mantovani style (unless that suits your sense of humour)!

Rob.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Steve_freereeder on August 18, 2017, 07:27:58 PM
There are few PA players indeed who can impart a lively bounce to their playing, so much so that when you do hear it you still look for the melodeon! 
My son can do it. I am immensely proud of his musicianship.  (:)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVgocd3dSR8
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Howard Jones on August 18, 2017, 07:41:19 PM
It's not that one is right and the other is wrong, it's about picking the best fingering option for what you're trying to do. That may be to get the  chord you're after, cross-rowing to play faster or more smoothly, or up-and-down to (maybe) slow it down or to get some bounce. For me, working out a tune involves exploring as many options as possible to find what works best.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 18, 2017, 07:42:36 PM
I suspect that the typical PA player in a morris side is happy enough to get the right notes and has never considered practicing the more advanced techniques of bellows dynamics and staccato playing - things which come naturally on a melodeon, 
 Rob.

not to  all melodeon players  by any means!

george >:E ;)
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Stiamh on August 18, 2017, 07:45:21 PM
There are few PA players indeed who can impart a lively bounce to their playing, so much so that when you do hear it you still look for the melodeon! 
My son can do it. I am immensely proud of his musicianship.  (:)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVgocd3dSR8

Lovely stuff, Steve. Having just got my own son a decent working PA, this is inspiring.

As to row-crossing on diatonics - as a two-row semitone box player I have only two reversals. They are surprisingly handy for smoothing certain phrases and allowing certain chord choices, but reading the above debate I think I'm almost glad not to have more than two... saves time having to make decisions  (:)

(Actually I do have quite a few more on my 2½ row box but I practically never use them except for the odd right-hand chord.)
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 18, 2017, 08:15:54 PM
I'm with Howard here, its the way I work.
i work out a tune to the way I want to play it, without concern as to whether on row or cross rowing.
Q
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Katie Howson on August 18, 2017, 08:27:12 PM

<Lovely stuff, Steve. Having just got my own son a decent working PA, this is inspiring.>


Stiamh, get him (or you!) a copy of the Cat's Rambles by Michael Sheehy - Sliabh Luachra music on an old beat-up PA, masterful playing. (I might be a bit biased, but I think I have taste!)

Having recently started experimenting with a C#D after decades of playing one-row and D/G boxes I have been surprised to realise how little opportunity there is to change direction on it. Two very different beasts, it's really more like a one-row in D with all the accidentals. Enjoying the challenge anyway!

Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Phil B on August 18, 2017, 08:37:43 PM
"There are few PA players indeed who can impart a lively bounce to their playing, so much so that when you do hear it you still look for the melodeon!" Quote from Rob2Hook.
If you get the opportunity one day listen to Michael Sheehy , he has a published CD called "The Cats Rambles" a remarkable PA player.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Phil B on August 18, 2017, 08:41:19 PM
Katie beat me to it but I am happy to endorse her views PB
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: GPS on August 18, 2017, 09:02:14 PM
Over the years I've seen melodeon players frantically thrashing the bellows for all its worth and I really dislike that style of playing.


That drives me up the wall as well; it's nothing to do with on-the-row playing, it's to do with bellows control. I'm  an up-&-downer most of the time, and it's extremely rare for my bellows to be more than a third open - usually only about a quarter. Armfuls of bellows certainly don't add "bounce" - quite the reverse.  The lift (IMHO) comes from the inherently staccato style as a result of the rapid changes of bellows direction, and cross-rowing, by its nature, leads to a far more legato end result.  Feel free to disagree!!

Graham
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 18, 2017, 09:16:31 PM
Ah thanks Graham, it's not just me then that hates bellows thrashing!
I remember a couple of Sidmouths ago sat opposite Ed Rennie in a session, his bellows hardly moved at all but he delivered a tune with good volume and light and dark within the tune, really impressive with such tight bellows control.
Surely treating the buttons as if they're red hot can produce a staccato effect even if cross rowing?
It just means more conscious effort to clip the notes to gain the lift. Just another way to achieve the same end?
QW
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: GPS on August 18, 2017, 09:30:48 PM
Surely treating the buttons as if they're red hot can produce a staccato effect even if cross rowing?
It just means more conscious effort to clip the notes to gain the lift. Just another way to achieve the same end?
QW

Yes, I'm sure it can - though whether it will sound quite the same may be another matter, as the dynamics inside the box will be a little different!! I'm not qualified to judge..........  ;D

Graham
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 18, 2017, 09:44:16 PM
Over the years I've seen melodeon players frantically thrashing the bellows for all its worth and I really dislike that style of playing.


That drives me up the wall as well; it's nothing to do with on-the-row playing, it's to do with bellows control. I'm  an up-&-downer most of the time, and it's extremely rare for my bellows to be more than a third open - usually only about a quarter. Armfuls of bellows certainly don't add "bounce" - quite the reverse.  The lift (IMHO) comes from the inherently staccato style as a result of the rapid changes of bellows direction, and cross-rowing, by its nature, leads to a far more legato end result.  Feel free to disagree!!

Graham

absolutely spot on Graham.  I too always keep the bellows as near closed as possible for fine control  . Great armfuls of bellows and waving them around as if trying to take off removes all poosibility of fine control as pushing often results in the bellows taking on the form of a snake before they actually start to compress air!  Its the ability to instantly change the direction     and PRESSURE of the air,often for only a fraction of a second together with a  light touch on the buttons that provided a subtle but accurate  degree of bounce or dunt.

george

Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 19, 2017, 10:20:51 AM
Steve - Just caught up with your son's video.
I really like that, I can understand your pride!
Q
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: playandteach on August 19, 2017, 09:21:56 PM
Lovely playing from mini freereeder.
I play entirely cross row and wish I didn't. A retirement project perhaps. I do think that the bounce happens because of the need to change bellows direction  but that doesn't mean it can't be played dejust rately with bounce cross row. You just need to add it. And of course that means you can play a smooth left hand should you want to whilst playing cross row with bounce.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 20, 2017, 09:17:24 AM

...Surely it is down to your phrasing of music and the emphasis of the beat that gives the bounce, not whether that note is pushed or pulled?
Q
Possibly Swimming against the flow!

You are, of course , correct in saying this. It is quite a common and very valid point of view, and something beautifully demonstrated in Steve's lads playing. I suppose I am suggesting that there may be virtue in following the natural way.

It is possible to develop skill enough to play across the row with rhythms that emulate the "English style" (if I can call it that, in the hope that we mostly have a fairly common understanding of what that means) and other styles, such as, Cajun that start from a similar point, but why do that? Why not do what comes naturally on a melodeon when playing a melodeon?

I am not dissing cross-row "continental" styles, by the way. I love them, I just wish I could play them better. I'm just describing what seems to happen with me when I learn a tune to play for "British" dance.

I think it comes down to what happens with bellows control. I seem to have observed the opposite results with regard to bellows waving (as entertaining as that can be). One row playing allows me to keep the bellows fairly close together (not too close as you lose freedom for the tune to play). Playing across the rows I tend to keep the bellows going in one direction across a phrase, or, sometimes, collection of phrases. This can lead to the bellows being fully if extended or closed, if I'm not careful.

The thing about bellows reversals in quick phrases us that they work best when the movement is so subtle that you can't actually really see it. Just hear it as a sort of rhythmic pulse. It's something that I am only now starting to get an inkling of. I think it's something to do with why I find my self playing some phrases across the row, in the early days of playing a tune, that I later play up and down. I f I try to do that in the early days it just comes out as a mush. Bonnets O' Blue was the the tune I was playing when I first noticed this. The little diddle dee diddle dee diddle dee dah sequences in the B part.

Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Rob2Hook on August 20, 2017, 10:15:49 AM
Well, that set the cat among the pigeons!  I didn't mean to offend anyone playing PA (or melodeon) and the discussion has brought forward examples of those who have risen above the natural tendencies of each type.  I only meant to observe that a diatonic instrument tends to sound "lumpy", especially when the player is still learning what can be achieved and a PA has a natural tendency toward a legato sound.  Once a player has become comfortable with his instrument (s)he can go on to learn bellows dynamics and button/key control, extending the palette of sounds.

Whether it is fortunate or unfortunate is a matter of opinion, but free reed instruments are commonly seen being played by people who don't have the ability to discern the very differences we are discussing and so will never develop the necessary skills.  Such is the nature of amateur/folk music.  Many of the great blues guitar players had limited playing ability, but they played what they could with great feeling.  Likewise, some box players are limited to what the PA or melodeon naturally does - which is fine if they have the right instrument for the job!  Truly talented players can indeed get both sounds from either instrument.

Just for the record, I fell into playing melodeon by accident when I reached my limit morris dancing.  Having played only for dance, the above is as much a critique of my own limitations as anything else!

Rob.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 20, 2017, 11:50:32 AM
It is indeed true that  bounce or dunt can be added on any sort of accordion provided the player has the skills so to do   as can smooth /lagato playing including on one row boxes or 2 row boxes played on the row by deliberately smoothing the ins and outs with  refined bellows control and perhaps a touch of the air button as what I think of as a sort of 'air brake!'

However I think the built in and almost unique  bounce of diatonic playing , particularly on the row, comes from the entirely random ,in that it varies from tune to tune,  little in and out bumps which are in addition to the rhythm that is deliberately put in by the player.

The same apples to the semitone system including the 80 to 120 bass BCC#'s  as there is often a choice of doing an in and out or playing 2 notes the same direction.  Unless deliberately smoothed the compulsory ins and outs add that random bounce in addition to deliberately added bounce.

The main thing that makes most BC boxes not particularly suitable for so called English style is the lack of suitable bass to drive a steady rhythm ( aadditional to the essential rhythmic playing of the melody).  This is overcome with stradella bass and a BC Erica with 12 stradella is fine for English style  and is easy to play (with bass) in CGDA and with half decent bass in F and E

george

Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 20, 2017, 11:54:05 AM
I've just sat down with a cuppa after trying to get to grips with a very intricate tune, and read the latest posts and another thought has struck me.
Trying to sort this latest tune is really early days and it's a finger bender, all over the place, needing frequent chin end accidentals in some phrases.
Rather than thinking about whether a series of notes are along the row or crossed, I am having to think about how to get over to the next phrase of notes. That is dictating how I play the first series of notes. if that makes sense.
I need to play phrase 1 in such a way as to set me up for the next phrase, irrespective of on or cross rowed.
Another facet to the decision on which way to go!
Q

Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: GPS on August 20, 2017, 01:35:06 PM
I've just sat down with a cuppa after trying to get to grips with a very intricate tune, and read the latest posts and another thought has struck me.
Trying to sort this latest tune is really early days and it's a finger bender, all over the place, needing frequent chin end accidentals in some phrases.
Rather than thinking about whether a series of notes are along the row or crossed, I am having to think about how to get over to the next phrase of notes. That is dictating how I play the first series of notes. if that makes sense.
I need to play phrase 1 in such a way as to set me up for the next phrase, irrespective of on or cross rowed.
Another facet to the decision on which way to go!
Q

Funny you should say that - I've just been refreshing some Scottish &  Irish tunes that I'm going to need for a gig in October; although I know them all to hum along to and I've played them in bands where I've been the bass player they're not part of my normal repertoire and I'm finding exactly the same situation.  They just aren't built the same way as the tunes I usually play!

Graham
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 20, 2017, 02:23:50 PM

However I think the built in and almost unique  bounce of diatonic playing , particularly on the row, comes from the entirely random ,in that it varies from tune to tune,  little in and out bumps which are in addition to the rhythm that is deliberately put in by the player.

The same apples to the semitone system including the 80 to 120 bass BCC#'s  as there is often a choice of doing an in and out or playing 2 notes the same direction.  Unless deliberately smoothed the compulsory ins and outs add that random bounce in addition to deliberately added bounce.

The main thing that makes most BC boxes not particularly suitable for so called English style is the lack of suitable bass to drive a steady rhythm ( aadditional to the essential rhythmic playing of the melody).  This is overcome with stradella bass and a BC Erica with 12 stradella is fine for English style  and is easy to play (with bass) in CGDA and with half decent bass in F and E

george

I'm glad you said that George, because I just came to realise that a lot of the glory (and it does sound glorious to me, in the right hands) of English playing on a 5th apart (edit: just noticed I put 5th. I meant 4th  :|bl.  If I say 5th, please read it as 4th) or one row diatonic box is what happens with the basses. This is something that cannot really be emulated on an instrument with unisoric basses and, to my ear, is missing on most, if not all, expert playing in an up and down style on chromatic instruments.

The best bass accompaniments are not actually a simple stacato oompah, oompah. Not by a long shot. I think the usual 5th apart arrangement of 3 of the reed sets in a "simple"  5th apart, or single row, instrument is the source of a lot of the musical bounce I hear.

I'm not knocking unisoric basses, just making an observation and yes, I realise this will not apply to the unisoric C pair or "extra basses" on a 12 or more bass key instrument. And yes, instruments and styles can sound brilliant, but, to me, they sound different. I am sure there will exceptions to this and I would love to hear some.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: IanD on August 20, 2017, 04:55:30 PM
Whenever I've taught people to play -- either individually or at workshops -- I've always said that my preference is for up-an-down-the-row as the default with cross-row playing added only where it makes the tune more playable or fit better with the basses, and that this is the "English" style as opposed to the "continental" style where smoother cross-row playing is the default.

Both work well in the hands of players who know what they're doing, both suit their own genres of music -- but if you're playing in "English" sessions or bands (meaning, not Irish or French, but including Scottish/Welsh/Italian/etc) push-pull makes it easier to keep the bounce and avoid too much smoothing out of the tune, and also helps avoid the "faster is better" syndrome which seems to be making a bit of a reappearance recently :-(

I do agree that the trend for many younger players to play much bigger heavier 3-row 12-bass boxes does very often lead to a more "continental" style, and it would be a shame if this lead to the more staccato "English" style disappearing -- and yes I know that some players like the excellent Benammi Swift still manage to be punchy in spite of this, but having played with him in a couple of sessions I can't help feeling that he'd be punchier still (and not so fast sometimes...) on a lighter 2-row 8-bass ;-)
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 20, 2017, 07:57:58 PM
Both work well in the hands of players who know what they're doing, both suit their own genres of music -- but if you're playing in "English" sessions or bands (meaning, not Irish or French, but including Scottish/Welsh/Italian/etc) push-pull makes it easier to keep the bounce and avoid too much smoothing out of the tune, and also helps avoid the "faster is better" syndrome which seems to be making a bit of a reappearance recently :-(quote

quote

The trouble with the 'faster the better' syndrome is that those partaking thereof seem to forget all about dynamics rhythm and phrasing  and just race ahead with a jumble of notes as if trying to get it over aand done with as quickly as possible!  Nothing wrong with fast playing if it is the natural speed for a particular tune and retains  aformentioned ingredients!

I -- and yes I know that some players like the excellent Benammi Swift still manage to be punchy in spite of this, but having played with him in a couple of sessions I can't help feeling that he'd be punchier still (and not so fast sometimes...) on a lighter 2-row 8-bass ;-)


indeed!

george
 
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 21, 2017, 09:49:41 AM
reading again through the stack of interesting posts on this subject and  comments in particular about not being able to get exactly the same effect with unisonoric basses  it occurs to me that it could well be the imperfect harmony between bass and treble a standard 8 bass box  that somehow catches the ear and helps to provide the umpy bumpy ''english'' style.  eg when playing on the row in D and just um pa ing with only D & A bass being played.  Same on G row if the C bass are not   being used.

same of course goes for a one row with 2 bass

It should be possible to replicate this on same both directions,  eg stradella bass, but I  would certainly find it difficult as it would be totallycounter intuitive and require a great deal of concentration
 
just a thought!
george
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 21, 2017, 10:29:42 AM
As George says, sometimes simplicity is the best thing.
Ollie of this parish demonstrated it well during a spring time instructional down this way, playing Lemmie Brazzle's tune ( in D ) just using the D/A basses rather than a complex set of chords that sound plainly wrong.
Just using the simple D/A bass and chords give it the bounce that is necessary from what is a functional step dance tune.
....and yes I go along the row for this!
Q
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: george garside on August 21, 2017, 11:26:13 AM
bass as slightly tuned percussion!

george (:)
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on August 21, 2017, 11:27:37 AM
Yep!
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Gary Chapin on August 21, 2017, 05:02:42 PM
I cannot speak from an English background, because I don't have one, but I do have a coupla thoughts.

1) My process of learning a tune is almost exactly as you describe it. I try learning it from a number of angles. It's a way of immersing myself in the tune and figuring it out (especially if the basses are unclear). However I "end up" playing it, I don't consider this wasted time at all.

2) Even within a tradition, different tunes -- to me -- tend to call for an idiomatic approach. The old Auvergnat bourrees, I almost always play them up and down the row. Ditto with mazurkas (not counting Deliq mazurkas!) ... while waltzes I find I play more across rows because it sounds the way I want it to sound. Breton music, I tend to play more across the rows (if only to grab that Fnat while playing in A minor on a GC box).

None of this leads me to grand pronouncements, except to affirm you in your efforts.

Gary
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: boxer on August 24, 2017, 07:16:17 PM
surely the idea is to decide how you want the tune to sound, based on the range of options your instrument offers, and that you are capable of deploying, and then using whatever works best to meet your aim at each step in the tune.

to adhere exclusively to one or another type of fingering, just for the sake of stylistic orthodoxy, possibly at some cost to the tune, would seem a bit unwise to me. 

but what would I know?  I play B/C and don't have the luxury of multiple choices that the fifth-tuned chaps enjoy.
Title: Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 24, 2017, 10:57:48 PM
surely the idea is to decide how you want the tune to sound, based on the range of options your instrument offers, and that you are capable of deploying, and then using whatever works best to meet your aim at each step in the tune.

to adhere exclusively to one or another type of fingering, just for the sake of stylistic orthodoxy, possibly at some cost to the tune, would seem a bit unwise to me. 

but what would I know?  I play B/C and don't have the luxury of multiple choices that the fifth-tuned chaps enjoy.

Your right Boxer, it's a stylistic choice. And, from what I can work out, it's a choice not available on semitone apart boxes.

I can, and do, play tunes up and down the row. This is probably the closest to  the B/C approach. It's the way I originally learned to play to play for dance and I still quite like it
.
I can play across the rows in a "continental" fashion. This it what tends to happen if I am learning a tune that seems to need that approach. To be honest, it's not my strongest area, but I am working on it (still).

What I do mostly is play (sort of) in between the rows where I will sit, for a bar or few, as seems right, on the row that gives me the notes I need with the chords I need, in a convenient bellows direction.  A passage set against an Em chord will be based on pull notes on  the D row. A passage against a D chord can  be on the D row or the G row according to bellows optimisation. A passage based on a C chord will probably move between the rows. A minor will be pull notes based on the G row.  A passage based on G will be mostly push notes on the G row. Hopefully I didn't get too confused describing this. I've never actually thought it through before. Be aware that the row you are based on varies according to chord choice and air availability. 

This is a way of playing that, it seems to me,  is natural to the 5th apart tuning. A lot of players do it. When playing "between" the rows you may opt for a choice of up and down or across the row fingering. Or a mix. This is where it really becomes a stylistic choice and, as I said, that choice doesn't exist on a "chromatic" box. It's definitely not a matter of forcing a style on a tune at the tune's expense.

As I play I recall the wisdom of Lao Tzu immortalised in the Tau Te Ching, 2500 years ago:

"Is not the space between Heaven and Earth like a bellows?
It is empty, but lacks nothing.
The more it moves, the more comes out of it. "