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Discussions => General Discussion => Topic started by: PhilD on February 14, 2019, 05:21:21 PM

Title: Blank Slate
Post by: PhilD on February 14, 2019, 05:21:21 PM
If you could restart your Melodeon journey again, fresh, with a blank slate, what would you do differently?

I'm just about to start out, I know I'll make mistakes, and I'll embrace them and learn from them, but I'd like hear about the potholes you would have preferred to avoid when you started.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Pat McInnis on February 14, 2019, 05:51:22 PM
Oooh good one. I'm in the same boat as you, so I'll be eagerly watching this thread.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Theo on February 14, 2019, 05:56:08 PM
My biggest mistake was ignoring good advice to stick with my very nice black Hohner Erica.  After about 6 months I traded it for a lovely looking wooden bodied Italian box in the belief that it would improve my playing.  It didn’t. If I’d waited a couple of years till I’d developed some competence I would have been able to tell from a few minutes playing that the Italian box was no easier to play than the Erica,  and I could have saved myself several hundred pounds.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Rees on February 14, 2019, 05:59:39 PM
I'd start building them at 25 not 55!
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Lester on February 14, 2019, 05:59:50 PM
I would not have started on a one row four stop.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: John MacKenzie (Cugiok) on February 14, 2019, 06:03:29 PM
I would not have become friends with Greg Dunn.  >:E


SJ
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Fred on February 14, 2019, 06:24:30 PM
I would not do anything differently. It's my journey and I enjoy having experienced it.
Learning a new instrument is wonderful and developing your own style is just as important as making steps in the wrong direction.
Do whatever is fun to you and don't stop practising.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Martin P on February 14, 2019, 07:42:25 PM
Learn with 4 fingers on LH. I can’t kick the 3 finger LH habit, despite having 12 bass buttons to operate. Seems my little finger on LH just not flexible enough to reach the C bass note (on a D/G).
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Guy on February 14, 2019, 07:45:23 PM
I’d have started playing aged 5 not 35!

Cheers,
Guy
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 14, 2019, 08:03:11 PM
I sometimes wonder whether I would start on a DG box  if I was starting over again in 2019.  I started on  a BC in the '50s  and progressed to BCC# and still get  a lot of pleasure playing the semitone boxes.  DG etc boxes didn't exist when I started  and it was a long time after when I added a DG pokerwork because I had been roped in by a morris side  and the DG with its rhythmic bass was for more suitable than the BC with fairly useless bass for driving a rhythm. I also  as part of the bargain became involed in 'English' sessions  for which the light but powerful DG was ideal cos nearly everything was /is in D or G  and if needs must A is quite easy ( more or less the same as playing in G on a BC!


For what its worth I feel that starting on a semitone box has stood me in good stead  and making the journey the way I did  was perhaps easier than starting on a DG and later throwing in a BC or BCC#  as me the similarities are far greater  than the differences.

george

Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Alan Pittwood on February 14, 2019, 08:35:14 PM
Concentrated solely on Erica-sized [and smaller] instruments and bought other key combinations.

Realised that many of the older players were alive and and could have been heard in sessions/performances in the 1970s [though I still would have bought all the Topic LPs]

Otherwise no changes.  And thanks to all the dancers who let me practice while playing for them.



Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 14, 2019, 09:22:45 PM
If you could restart your Melodeon journey again, fresh, with a blank slate, what would you do differently?

I'd probably have got an anglo  >:E (and about 25 years earlier).
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: playandteach on February 14, 2019, 10:40:31 PM
I would probably have bought the same 2 boxes I have now, but I would also have bought the first box I borrowed - an old Hohner Bb/Eb  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6qOpYpMEv8)with very long bellows.
I might have invested more time playing on the row, as my bellows use for changing note is very poor. May still try to borrow a one row (Vienna style) to see if it isn't too late to develop that skill.
I could complain about not being able to remember tunes at all, but that isn't a bad choice that I made, just a problem with the way my brain works.
I might have taken more opportunities to play with others though (getting over my embarrassment is still an issue).
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Tufty on February 14, 2019, 11:18:39 PM
Where to begin! 1. Start with a two row, not a 4 stop one row 2. Travel to meet the remaining traditional players 3. Start using more than 2 fingers for the left hand 4. Learn some basics of "dots". 5. Not drop out of the folk scene for the whole of the 1990s. Having said all this I have rather enjoyed the last 40 years of squeezing!
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Eshed on February 14, 2019, 11:19:00 PM
I would not do anything differently. It's my journey and I enjoy having experienced it.
Learning a new instrument is wonderful and developing your own style is just as important as making steps in the wrong direction.
Do whatever is fun to you and don't stop practising.
Good on you! I'm rather satisfied myself as well at the moment!
One thing that others said before me - meet and play with other players as soon as possible. You don't have to be "good enough"; even the best players weren't always best and most people are incredibly friendly.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: arty on February 15, 2019, 07:27:50 AM
I agree entirely with Fred, I have enjoyed my journey very much indeed and, through necessity, I have done it my way. There are no teachers where I live, so it is just me and You Tube.
The only thing I would change if I were to start again, is that I would not buy any old Hohners. I seem to have developed a huge dislike for the typical wet sound of Hohners - it is too rich for my ears. Like chocolate, the first taste is lovely but, if I eat the whole bar I feel sick!
I feel, in this company, I need to apologize for that  :(
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: xgx on February 15, 2019, 10:58:21 AM
If only...

... been playing for umptynine years and now struggling (!) to learn the Bass side and playing across the rows to get the 'correct' combination  (Old dog, new tricks  ;D )

...  having to change most of my fingering (!) that's the price of taking the easy route up and down the rows, ignoring the basses when I started :(


Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Jesse Smith on February 15, 2019, 02:02:22 PM
I don't feel that I've made too many regrettable mistakes in the year or so that I've been playing. I have good teachers in the tutor book I am using (Dave Mallinson's D/G Melodeon Beginner book) and in all of the very helpful people on this forum. It's a great resource, and one can learn a lot simply by trawling through old threads.

The one regret I do have is letting a schedule change over the summer result in me not really practicing much from August until just this January. I wish I hadn't lost that time.

I know the original poster was looking for suggestions of beginner pitfalls or "bad habits" to avoid. xgx has a good one - introduce the bass side fairly early and don't get in the habit of ignoring the basses (assuming you want to use them at some point). The reason for this is that what chords you play with the left hand determine the bellow direction, which will in turn determine which row you play your melody notes on with the right hand. If you learn a tune without giving any thought to the basses, then you will need to completely rework the fingering in order to add the left hand in later.

Best suggestion I can offer is listen obsessively to the kind of music you want to play and think about what the player is doing to get that sound. The more you listen, the more you will internalize the typical rhythms and dynamics of the music.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 15, 2019, 03:07:18 PM
I know the original poster was looking for suggestions of beginner pitfalls or "bad habits" to avoid. xgx has a good one - introduce the bass side fairly early and don't get in the habit of ignoring the basses (assuming you want to use them at some point). The reason for this is that what chords you play with the left hand determine the bellow direction, which will in turn determine which row you play your melody notes on with the right hand. If you learn a tune without giving any thought to the basses, then you will need to completely rework the fingering in order to add the left hand in later.

I both agree and disagree with this.

Agree:
That it is good to learn to use both hands together right from the start, even though it might seem slow going at first. But in my experience of teaching, it is far harder to learn the basses/chords subsequently, having had students who have gone through a thought process of "I'll get the right-hand techniques sorted first and then when I am more fluent, I'll tackle the left hand." That's usually a big mistake and difficult to break the habit of playing melody only.

Disagree, at least in part:
Quote
what chords you play with the left hand determine the bellow direction, which will in turn determine which row you play your melody notes on with the right hand. If you learn a tune without giving any thought to the basses, then you will need to completely rework the fingering in order to add the left hand in later.

Yes - I understand the logic in this, and for playing cross-row fluid style, it's a good approach to sort the basses/chords out first and fit the bellows directions and rows around the harmonies. It's the way in which many European players learn. BUT...

...it somewhat disregards the fantastic rhythmic drive which you can achieve by playing up-and-down on the rows and treating the basses/chords as a rhythmic, almost percussive accompaniment not necessarily using the 'correct harmonies', and which suits so much traditional English music. One-row four-stop boxes are superb for this sort of music. I know (again from teaching experience) that 'on the row' players can fairly readily adapt to cross-row technique and harmonically correct left-hand chords when needed. In contrast, many cross-row players brought up on a continental technique can really struggle when trying to 'unlearn' their nice correct playing (;)) and switch to something far more earthy and driven. Don't eschew one-row technique - it's good valid stuff. 
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: xgx on February 15, 2019, 03:17:56 PM
(... the fantastic rhythmic drive which you can achieve by playing up-and-down on the rows and treating the basses/chords as a rhythmic, almost percussive accompaniment not necessarily using the 'correct harmonies', and which suits so much traditional English music. (...)

I knew that   (:)  (yeah, right ... ;D )
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 15, 2019, 03:35:40 PM
I  I both agree and disagree with this.

 Disagree, at least in part:
 
...it somewhat disregards the fantastic rhythmic drive which you can achieve by playing up-and-down on the rows and treating the basses/chords as a rhythmic, almost percussive accompaniment not necessarily using the 'correct harmonies', and which suits so much traditional English music. One-row four-stop boxes are superb for this sort of music. I know (again from teaching experience) that 'on the row' players can fairly readily adapt to cross-row technique and harmonically correct left-hand chords when needed. In contrast, many cross-row players brought up on a continental technique can really struggle when trying to 'unlearn' their nice correct playing (;)) and switch to something far more earthy and driven. Don't eschew one-row technique - it's good valid stuff.


There does seem to be a fashion in some quarters that 'cross rowing' so as to get ?better  bass harmony is the bees knees  and the 'proper' way to play a melodeon.  I totally agree with what Steve has just said on the matter and sometimes wonder why those who want to go totally arty farty  sstick with a melodeon rather than a pino or continental box  which has the wherewithall to be as arty farty as you like


george >:E ;)
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: PhilD on February 15, 2019, 05:18:04 PM
Thanks everyone for your replays so far, this is really good stuff to hear, keep it coming!   
It is really helping me to distill down exactly why I want to tackle the melodeon, and for me it is the rhythmic quality of the English tradition that is the draw :||:.  I have tried to imitate the sound on my piano box, but it is the push pull nature of the melodeon that seems intrinsic to the creating the rhythm.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Theo on February 15, 2019, 05:24:48 PM
It can be done on a piano box,  but you have to use the bellows for dynamics much more than most PA players do.  Even then it’s not quite the same because the way the bass is built means that, other things being equal, a Stradella bass will always sound a bit muffled compared with the honky clarity you can get from a melodeon bass.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Howard Jones on February 15, 2019, 05:27:55 PM
Whilst I agree with much of what Steve says, playing across the rows doesn't mean you have to lose that drive.  There is a half-way house between up-and-down-the-rows and continental style, where you use cross-rowing selectively.  However once you start to think about the harmonic possibilities of the left hand, rather than simply as percussion, then that affects how you play the tune on the right hand.  The most obvious example is when playing in D, when in order to play a G chord you will have to play that phrase of the melody on the G row.  There's no reason why that should affect the rhythmic drive though. Similarly when substituting an Em chord for a G, all you are doing is changing how you play the tune on the right, it needn't affect the drive.  Sometimes playing a short phrase smoothly across the rows can avoid disrupting the rhythmic groove, which might occur if you had to change bellows direction at an awkward point.

I strongly take issue with George when he complains about "arty-farty" playing.  This is after all a musical instrument, albeit one with some limitations, so why on earth shouldn't we try to explore what it can do within, or despite, those limitations?  Whether it is appropriate to the music being played is a different matter, and there I have some sympathy with what he is saying, although it depends to an extent on personal taste and perhaps context - what works in a concert setting may not work for dancing or when playing in a session.

One of the wonderful things about melodeon is that there are so many possible ways to play it.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Eshed on February 15, 2019, 05:28:32 PM
There does seem to be a fashion in some quarters that 'cross rowing' so as to get ?better  bass harmony is the bees knees  and the 'proper' way to play a melodeon.  I totally agree with what Steve has just said on the matter and sometimes wonder why those who want to go totally arty farty  sstick with a melodeon rather than a pino or continental box  which has the wherewithall to be as arty farty as you like


george >:E ;)
Rather simple. I can do with the diatonic 2-row things I haven't managed to do with a PA (never tried a CBA, but I suspect it will be similar).
I like the smaller weight and the better control on dynamics it gives me.
I like how fingering comes so intuitively for me.
I like the challenge of working with the bass constraints rather than giving up every time I encounter them and doing 2-finger bass with entire disregard for the tune I'm playing.
I hope that explains why I stick with the melodeon.

You may call this arty farty, but I wouldn't want to play a tune without a decent bass harmony. Wouldn't enjoy listening to one either. If you do enjoy that, I'm genuinely happy for you, but you can't assume that is the case with everyone else.

Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Jesse Smith on February 15, 2019, 05:44:16 PM
I think Howard Jones gets at what I was trying to say. I'm not necessarily talking about crossrowing for "fluid" playing that avoids bellow reversals, nor in "arty farty", but just basic chords. If you're playing in D and you want a G chord you're going to be pushing and if you need a G or a B note you're going to have to play it on the G row. Likewise if you want an A chord you're going to be pulling and if you want to play an A note to go with it you're going to have to pull it on the G row again. This is just the "three chord trick", not elaborate Continental-style chording.

If you learned that tune without any chords and played it all on the D row you will need to do some relearning if you want to add basses unless you are content to play it like a one-row with the D and A chords played somewhat arbitrarily. Which is a fine sound in its own right, but I think in that case just get a four stop box and embrace it fully.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Jesse Smith on February 15, 2019, 05:48:43 PM
And I am also a big fan of the inherent push-pull rhythm of the melodeon and I don't usually crossrow to reduce that. That brings to mind a quote from John Kirkpatrick about the B/C/C# where he recommended intentionally choosing fingerings that *maximize* bellows reversals. I imagine that probably seems quite perverse in some quarters of the accordion world.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 15, 2019, 06:24:38 PM
... If you're playing in D and you want a G chord you're going to be pushing and if you need a G or a B note you're going to have to play it on the G row. Likewise if you want an A chord you're going to be pulling and if you want to play an A note to go with it you're going to have to pull it on the G row again. This is just the "three chord trick", not elaborate Continental-style chording.
Just to clarify, yes - I agree with, and do this, too. Also I teach my students to chord this way.
I think the point I was trying to make in my earlier post was not to stick exclusively to cross-row styles of playing to the detriment of the on-the-row style.

And I think it's easier to pick up cross-row style subsequently, having first learned on-the-row style, than to do it the other way round. I remember Brian Peters telling an anecdote about when he went to teach English tunes in a workshop in the Netherlands. The participants found it hard to unlearn their hard-wired cross-row style.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Eshed on February 15, 2019, 07:42:08 PM
And I think it's easier to pick up cross-row style subsequently, having first learned on-the-row style, than to do it the other way round. I remember Brian Peters telling an anecdote about when he went to teach English tunes in a workshop in the Netherlands. The participants found it hard to unlearn their hard-wired cross-row style.
I suspect that it's hard to unlearn any style that was learned by-ear. Every time you play a certain sequence of notes in a certain way it ingrains the muscle memory in your brain. For me most sequences of notes come intuitively in a cross-row way when chorded, but there are some that automatically come to me on-the-row, even though there's a straightforward no-reversal alternative available.
The fact that you have workshops specifically for learning cross-rowing tells me that no direction is as straightforward as advertised.
Amusingly, If I try to only play the RH of a tune, I often find myself using a different fingering than when I'm playing it with the LH. Brains are weird.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 15, 2019, 07:55:39 PM
We've been here before - "Cross-rowing is not a superior skill" as I recall.  It wasn't very productive that time. I don't expect it will be this time either.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 15, 2019, 08:07:10 PM
apologies to anyone who I have offended by using the phrase ''arty farty'' which where I come from simply means something a bit on the fancy side.

 As to  playing G on the G row to go with PUsh G bass when playing in  key D  I have really never considered that to be cross rowing  and I always use it when playing waltzes or other slow tunes where it does make  longer notes sound better. However when playing fast tunes I don't always bother to use the G on the G row (in key of D)  as the notes are often so short nobody will notice the difference and I find a steady but fast rhythmic effect is usually better achieved by staying 'on the row' 

There is however one notable exeption and that is morpeth rant  which   I find truly difficult to play at speed on the row but relatively easy crossing the rows.

george
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Clive Williams on February 15, 2019, 11:34:28 PM
I don't expect I'd do a lot differently. I kind of like my playing style, which is very much influenced by a unisonoric bass setup and I would keep that, as well as being to play a normal 8 bass setup as I do. I greatly admire the continental bal style of playing; Naragonia, Aurelien Clarenbaux, Cyrille Brotto, and with infinite time and resources at my disposal, I guess seeping myself in that music early on while developing would have been pretty great. I do like the CBA though; am trying to teach myself that too at the moment, and it's fun, but extremely frustrating, rather feeling like the notes have been sneezed on the keyboard. I know it's a logical layout, but it certainly doesn't feel it! So, I'll go to french jazz accordion college and be able to play like Richard Galliano please.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Sebastian on February 16, 2019, 08:54:05 AM
There does seem to be a fashion in some quarters that 'cross rowing' so as to get ?better  bass harmony is the bees knees  and the 'proper' way to play a melodeon.
I think it is -- but not for all kind of music. When I play, lets say, the Elizabethan Serenade, yes, I do want 'better bass harmony'.

But when I try to play in a more 'folky mood' I still struggle not to use to many 'correct' chords. In an ideal world I should be able to do both styles equally well and to switch between them easily and at will. But hey, playing is a personal thing. Preferences differ between different persons, and even change over time in one person. (Not to speak of differences in regional traditions.) It's nice that the melodeon can adapt itself to all of them (even if not every player can do). 8)
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 16, 2019, 10:12:39 AM
I think its interesting that it all started in c1829 with the simple one row ?2 bass box.  At some point somebody with a bit of sense must have said something on the lines of 'sod this suck and blow lark  lets do it like a piano with bellows and have one note per key on both push and pull of the bellows'. Later or was it earlier another lot said 'lets have buttons in a funny order but with the same note on push and pull''

Meanwhile  us lot quietly got on with  adding  illogicality to the simple one row by adding rows, putting more bass buttons in peculiar layouts  discovering that other keys than the home keys can be sometimes/more or less be played by   by pinching notes from other rows where the rows are a 4th apart - but some thought it more sensible to put the rorws a semitone aprt so that in theory  any key could be played , but some with great difficulty!  But then they found 8 bass could not match all those wonderful keys so many just wasted money on bass they never use!   .  Then another 'division' of us lot thought bugger it lets stick stradella (piano accordion) bass on a two row semitone box  --------- then a third row  and anything up to 120  bass

Where will it all end :-\


george ( in musing mode)

Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Alyn Iorwerth on February 16, 2019, 10:43:40 AM
To all the good advice that so many have provided I would add:
Spend some of your practice time just experimenting with your instrument to see what sounds you can make together. Forget about tunes, technique etc  - just run your hands over the keys and listen to the sounds that emerge.
It's rather like escaping from the tour guide and enjoying wandering around an unfamiliar city going where your instinct takes you.
Alyn
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: baz parkes on February 16, 2019, 11:20:45 AM
.  I have tried to imitate the sound on my piano box, but it is the push pull nature of the melodeon that seems intrinsic to the creating the rhythm.

It can be possible on a piano box IMHO...probably the best example is Jason Rice of the Dartmoor Pixie Band...(other players are available and I'm sure others will disagree...)
As to your original question I'd work on left hand technique...

Enjoy the journey.... :|glug
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Peadar on February 16, 2019, 02:28:00 PM
Quote
May still try to borrow a one row (Vienna style) to see if it isn't too late to develop that skill.

Just out of curiousity: What is a "Vienna style" one row?
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 16, 2019, 02:37:16 PM
Quote
May still try to borrow a one row (Vienna style) to see if it isn't too late to develop that skill.

Just out of curiousity: What is a "Vienna style" one row?

type of hohner like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXDh0GHyyMY
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: baz parkes on February 16, 2019, 04:12:36 PM
Quote
May still try to borrow a one row (Vienna style) to see if it isn't too late to develop that skill.

Just out of curiousity: What is a "Vienna style" one row?

Half a standard Pokerwork... >:E :|glug
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Sebastian on February 17, 2019, 08:36:01 AM
Just out of curiousity: What is a "Vienna style" one row?
Vienna or Italian style means a box with pallets hidden under a grille on the right hand side, opposed to German style with visible pallets and without a grille.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: playandteach on February 17, 2019, 09:39:22 AM
The reasons I'd get a Vienna style is that (having only held a one row 4 voice once) I found it difficult to hold as the bass end has a growl box (I believe it's called) which is a different shape to the 'normal' box left hand end, and only has 2 basses (but in both directions changing pitch). These tend to be used percussively rather than having the ability to suit several chord choices.
Others, of course, use this style of box to great effect. But it doesn't currently appeal to me. I also don't like the weight of 4 voices.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: butimba on February 17, 2019, 09:59:58 AM
Re the cross-rowing & rhythm debate, I confess to being a hard-wired cross-rowing player, but part of the reason I do it is so I can add the rhythm back into a tune how I want it to be, not so it's dictated by bellows changes. I think this allows me to add rhythm where I like, e.g. by playing staccato or by using Andy Cutting's 'pulsing' technique, and the idea that you 'lose the rhythm' when you cross-row a lot is a fallacy.

However, I appreciate that push-pull playing gives a different type of rhythmic effect, which is arguably more pronounced, and I might just be saying all this because my push-pull playing sucks.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: butimba on February 17, 2019, 10:03:20 AM
Back on topic - I'm not sure there's anything I'd do differently but one thing I'm really glad I did do is go to workshops and summer schools. They were useful for little bits of technique but more than that they really helped to inspire me and motivate me to keep playing.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 17, 2019, 10:17:22 AM
The reasons I'd get a Vienna style is that (having only held a one row 4 voice once) I found it difficult to hold as the bass end has a growl box (I believe it's called) which is a different shape to the 'normal' box left hand end, and only has 2 basses (but in both directions changing pitch). These tend to be used percussively rather than having the ability to suit several chord choices.
Others, of course, use this style of box to great effect. But it doesn't currently appeal to me. I also don't like the weight of 4 voices.

as any combinations of buttons on the push harmonises and all exept one pair on the pull will harmonise so there is scope for both right hand chords and/ or beating extra rhythm with a spare finger.  With 4 voices in play a 3 note chord will in effect be 12 voices in play with air consumption to match!

george
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 17, 2019, 10:22:17 AM
I might just be saying all this because my push-pull playing sucks.
No, it definitely does not. I've heard you play.  (:)
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: richard.fleming on February 17, 2019, 11:14:20 AM
Thanks everyone for your replays so far, this is really good stuff to hear, keep it coming!   
It is really helping me to distill down exactly why I want to tackle the melodeon, and for me it is the rhythmic quality of the English tradition that is the draw :||:.  I have tried to imitate the sound on my piano box, but it is the push pull nature of the melodeon that seems intrinsic to the creating the rhythm.
I think it depends on whether you want to derive the rhythm from the way you play the tune with your right hand (ie, rhythmically) or you try to get the rhythm by waggling the bellows. No prizes for guessing where I stand on that!
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 17, 2019, 12:32:17 PM
I think it depends on whether you want to derive the rhythm from the way you play the tune with your right hand (ie, rhythmically) or you try to get the rhythm by waggling the bellows. No prizes for guessing where I stand on that!
I think it is perfectly feasible to do both. And yes, I can guess where you stand on the matter  ;)
But ultimately it is always the melody which drives the rhythm; basses and chords are supplementary. I think that holds true whether you are playing a fluid Irish reel or a lumpy Lincolnshire hornpipe. It's how you play the melody which brings rhythm to the music.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Julian S on February 17, 2019, 12:52:02 PM
Well said Steve. Yep, bass and chords can add so much(or subtract!), but getting rhythm into the melody is crucial.

If I had my time over again, I reckon I should have forked out on a metronome along with my first pokerwork. Leaving it for 35 years was a mistake - I have never learned not to play too fast and avoid speeding up. Ho hum.

J
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 17, 2019, 12:54:40 PM
I think it depends on whether you want to derive the rhythm from the way you play the tune with your right hand (ie, rhythmically) or you try to get the rhythm by waggling the bellows. No prizes for guessing where I stand on that!
I think it is perfectly feasible to do both. And yes, I can guess where you stand on the matter  ;)
But ultimately it is always the melody which drives the rhythm; basses and chords are supplementary. I think that holds true whether you are playing a fluid Irish reel or a lumpy Lincolnshire hornpipe. It's how you play the melody which brings rhythm to the music.

I will probably sound dim, here, but I don't see how you can play anything rhythmically, without using the bellows rhythmically. Anything else is just a sequence of notes on a single level.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 17, 2019, 01:20:06 PM
I will probably sound dim, here, but I don't see how you can play anything rhythmically, without using the bellows rhythmically. Anything else is just a sequence of notes on a single level.
OK here's an example:

Try playing the E minor section of Rochdale Coconut Dance (see attached). Ignoring the LH chords, it is possible to play it all in one bellows direction on the pull. Just because it is all on the pull direction, it doesn't mean that you have to smear all the notes one into the other. Use your fingers to play the notes differently while under a constant bellows pull. Some might say to treat the buttons as if they are red-hot, but that simply produces a uniform staccato sound which can also get boring.

Think of these 'made-up' words to the tune: "|: taya ta-ta tah ta | taya ta-ta tah ta | taya ta-te taya ta-te | taya ta-te tah tah :|" 
Having thought of those words in your head, then sing them, and then, finally play them. Hopefully you will then be playing rhythmically without waggling the bellows and you will understand how it is indeed possible to play NOT "just a sequence of notes on a single level".

Hope this helps...

Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 17, 2019, 05:16:19 PM
I will probably sound dim, here, but I don't see how you can play anything rhythmically, without using the bellows rhythmically. Anything else is just a sequence of notes on a single level.
...Hopefully you will then be playing rhythmically without waggling the bellows and you will understand how it is indeed possible to play NOT "just a sequence of notes on a single level".

Hope this helps...

Well, yes, but it dosn't become rhythmical until you start varying the bellows pressure. "Waggle the bellows" seems a very dismissive way to describe using them to play with subtlety and control.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 17, 2019, 06:41:33 PM
rhythm can be applied in 'layers'  which if done well can add to the proceedings and which if done badly can  detract from the proceedings.  As others have said the way the buttons are pressed AND released  can add an inherent sense of rhythm to a tune.  Tapping a 'non tune' harmonising button(s) can add another layer of rhythm and a very fine 'pulsing' of the bellwos when playing a series of notes in one direction can add yet another. Somebody has mentioned Andy Cutting doing this  , Dir Jimmy Shand also used it as and where it added something.


Good rhythm on its own whilst improving (?considerably) the way a tune sounds  is not a stand alone method of  making a tune sound good.

 There ae two other 'ingredents' - Dynamics ( variations in volume controlled by bellows pressure variation and not by how a button is pressed)  and phrasing (the musical equivelent of punctuation  - minute pauses  orf gaps  maade by trimming a tiny bit off a note at the end or beginning of a phrase ( or both) to creat a tiny gap (full stop or comma) that does not interfere with the timing of the music  but works in much the same way as an orator works the spoken word.


to me the bellows are to the box player what the bow is to the fidler  and good 'bellowing' is an art form

Rhythm - Dynamics - Phrasing  turn the right notes in the right order into interesting music

george



Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: richard.fleming on February 17, 2019, 07:43:27 PM
I think it depends on whether you want to derive the rhythm from the way you play the tune with your right hand (ie, rhythmically) or you try to get the rhythm by waggling the bellows. No prizes for guessing where I stand on that!
I think it is perfectly feasible to do both. And yes, I can guess where you stand on the matter  ;)
But ultimately it is always the melody which drives the rhythm; basses and chords are supplementary. I think that holds true whether you are playing a fluid Irish reel or a lumpy Lincolnshire hornpipe. It's how you play the melody which brings rhythm to the music.
I will probably sound dim, here, but I don't see how you can play anything rhythmically, without using the bellows rhythmically. Anything else is just a sequence of notes on a single level.
If you're not playing the tune rhythmically with your right hand, no amount of bass or bellows rhythm will improve the situation. If you can't do rhythm on the right hand I'm sure you can't do it on your left either. And yes, you can play rhythmically on just the right hand just as you can play rhythmically on the tin whistle without bass or chords being available.  Apart from that, what George says above seems to me to make very good sense because he mentions some of the many subtleties that make a tune sound better.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 17, 2019, 07:52:33 PM
Well, yes, but it dosn't become rhythmical until you start varying the bellows pressure.
I think we are starting to split hairs here, but yes - varying the bellows pressure is a good skill to develop and use, and of course it is a way of bringing further refinement to the music. But my previous point was that it is perfectly possible to play rhythmically on a single bellows direction, even with no pressure pulsing or variation. It doesn't have to be merely a 'sequence of notes on a single level', to quote your earlier phrase.

Think of a spinet or harpsichord. The design and construction of the instrument means it is impossible to vary the loudness or softness of the notes or the atack. Pressing a key on the keyboard causes a string to be plucked at a constant strength, regardless of how hard or fast the key is depressed. The player can only vary the note lengths and the gaps in between. Yet a good player can play very rhythmically and sensitively even with these restrictions, even on a single line melody.
The opening aria here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AtOPiG5jyk), is mostly just two lines of music going on and every note is the same degree of loudness. No bellows control available here, yet the player - the musician - plays rhythmically and superbly.

And just to bring the thread back on topic - if I had my time over again I would learn to play a proper keyboard instrument (I never had access to a piano when I was a child) so that I could play this sort of music by the baroque and earlier renaissance composers, which I never tire of hearing.

Edit:
Agree with what Richard posted too!  (:)
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: playandteach on February 17, 2019, 08:42:02 PM
Steve
If I can take up the melodeon at 50, then you can take up the keyboard / piano.
Sure I haven't even scratched the surface on the melodeon of what I could do on the instruments I learnt formally, but I still make progress and get enjoyment.
I think you'd love it.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 17, 2019, 10:33:39 PM
Well, yes, but it dosn't become rhythmical until you start varying the bellows pressure.

...I think we are starting to split hairs here...

...but yes - varying the bellows pressure is a good skill to develop and use, and of course it is a way of bringing further refinement to the music...

Think of a spinet or harpsichord.

I don't want to labour the point, or split hairs,  but, in essence, I think I'm saying much the same as George, but I think that dynamics and their timing are an essential part of rhythm, not just an adjunct to it. I'm not talking about airy fairy special effects. Just the things that all decent players do, even if they don't realise.


 I did play  harpsichord and I believe that the lack of control over the dynamics was probably their biggest weakness and the reason why they lost out to the pianoforte.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: playandteach on February 17, 2019, 11:19:36 PM
One of the most important aspects in wind instrument playing is to feed the instrument with air. Without the right air delivery even the fingers suffer in execution.
The things in the way of the air (such as the tongue) are what give the character to the attack of each note and can be hugely varied. In some ways the tongue and even fingers on some instruments are like taps in a water supply. They can all allow a certain amount through, creating - as we know with hose pipes, very different results depending on aperture etc.
I think that with some players on melodeon, the fingers can also create the rhythm and bounce because of the way they allow air through. That doesn't mean that the bellows aren't providing just the right amount of air, but that the air can be controlled at both ends of the system: the supply of air and the release of air.
None of this disagrees with what's been said already, but I think it is one reason why players can appear to do things subtly and intuitively with air.
Back on thread:
On my melodeon journey part of me wishes I'd taken it more seriously at the start, but the whole reason in taking it up was to do something without the pressure of achieving the standards I had been used to. I have to remind myself of that from time to time.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 17, 2019, 11:30:13 PM
I think, if I could make one change, I would make a point of recording myself playing from the start. When I started doing this I found the  feedback a complete eyeopener. It was excruciating at first, but I have got used to it.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 18, 2019, 12:41:13 AM
I don't want to labour the point, or split hairs,  but, in essence, I think I'm saying much the same as George, but I think that dynamics and their timing are an essential part of rhythm, not just an adjunct to it. I'm not talking about airy fairy special effects. Just the things that all decent players do, even if they don't realise.
I think we are all saying much the same thing really; perhaps I'm being over-analytical.  :Ph
Quote
Just the things that all decent players do, even if they don't realise.
Yes - agree with this completely.

Quote
I did play harpsichord...
Now you're making me jealous.

Steve
If I can take up the melodeon at 50, then you can take up the keyboard / piano.
Sure I haven't even scratched the surface on the melodeon of what I could do on the instruments I learnt formally, but I still make progress and get enjoyment.
I think you'd love it.
Believe me, I have tried, but never could really get the hang of reading two staves at once and coordinating my hands together.
I am in awe of pianists who can just plonk a piece of music in front of them and sight read it. I remember the accompanist I had for grade 8 clarinet (too many years ago :o); who just sight-read the piano part for the Brahms 2nd sonata, just like that. As for organists who have three staves to read and have to do things with their feet as well as both hands...
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Eshed on February 18, 2019, 02:58:34 AM
Believe me, I have tried, but never could really get the hang of reading two staves at once and coordinating my hands together.
Just saying that without context that sounds like excuses for giving up on the melodeon.  >:E
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 18, 2019, 09:56:23 AM
. That doesn't mean that the bellows aren't providing just the right amount of air, but that the air can be controlled at both ends of the system: the supply of air and the release of air.
 

that  hits the nail right on the head!  on any type of ''accordion'' its how the buttons/keys are released that is important whereas on a piano its how the they are pressed that matters and there is a world of difference between the two techniques


george
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: Squeaky Pete on February 18, 2019, 10:59:18 AM
I played Northumbrian Small Pipes for years before I picked up a melodeon. There you have no chance of varying the volume or adding rhythm as the bag is at a constant pressure. Even the bellows inflation seems to have no relation to the music.
Everything depends on the finger technique. Short notes, long notes, grace notes and, well that's about it.
It doesn't stop anyone playing with an astonishingly danceable beat.
Melodeonistas have it easy. We have bellows for the pulse
and we can vary the volume. We can play legato across the rows and play chords.
Mind with a blank slate I'd probably play the fiddle.
Title: Re: Blank Slate
Post by: george garside on February 18, 2019, 01:24:30 PM
or even legato along the rows!

george ;)