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Author Topic: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys  (Read 6511 times)

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eric

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Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« on: November 08, 2012, 02:27:06 PM »

I've recently acquired a B/C melodeon, and can play tunes in B and C major. I would like to play Irish and other genres in D, G and A. Is there a book like D.G. Mallinson's excellent beginner's guide to the D/G melodeon - but for the B/C?  I bought Hanrahan's The Box, and though it has some excellent tunes it is pretty abysmal on instruction. It isnt really a Beginner's book at all. I want someone to tell me how many fingers I use, which buttons I put which fingers on, and how I move them around and shift my hand position, as the ace Mallinson's book instructs me.
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deltasalmon

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2012, 02:35:14 PM »

Congrats and welcome to the world of B/C!

B/C is great for playing in tunes in D, G and A. I have the Hanrahan's book but pretty much use it for the tunes.

For things like how many fingers to use that's sort of a split decision. i guess the more popular side being that you use three (index, middle, ring) but there are a lot of players that play with 4 fingers (adding the little finger).

I don't know of any book that tells you exactly what button to push and what finger to use. I would say to start play mostly along the C row and go to the B row for sharps and flats. Maybe try learning to play tunes that don't use many sharps or flats at first. The Kesh and the Lilting Banshee are two jigs in the key of G (or A dorian maybe for LB but I dont know much about modes) that use the F# very sparingly. That's sort of how I started but maybe it's not a good method for everybody.
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Sean McGinnis
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Gandy

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2012, 02:57:45 PM »

Not Irish, but here's an example of a simple tune in G walked through finger by finger ....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmzZbYeSFDU&feature=channel&list=UL
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eric

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2012, 03:21:10 PM »

Thanks for the encouragement, guys
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2012, 04:16:08 PM »

I'm not a B/C man m'self but ... only rarely have I seen it played in those keys.  Dm is a good one on the C row however - simply start on the second note and ... carry on. Chris
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Stiamh

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2012, 04:19:36 PM »

A quick reply (no time for anything else just now): get used to the fact that your right-hand fingers are going to be doing a lot of moving around. Don't attempt to keep your hand static or to look for a "home position".

One of the advantages of the B/C system for the keys you mention is that the cross-row fingering involved allows a lot of fluency, with passages of 3-4 notes (and often more) being possible without changing bellows direction. However the tradeoff for this advantage is that your fingers have to move around more. You will very often be using a different button for every new note - unlike "on-the-row" playing styles where as often as not you get two consecutive notes out of every button.

I would advise you, as you explore moving around the keyboard, to deliberately avoid using your little finger. Counter-intuitive, I grant you, but it will help you develop that crucial ability to move. And when things get too awkward with three fingers, try two. (I'm not joking.)

Another pithy tip given by the great John Whelan - I'm paraphrasing and possibly distorting the message - is to keep your fingers in a straight line, as it were. Don't tie your fingers up in knots crossing over each other. 

More later, maybe.
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george garside

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2012, 04:32:25 PM »

it will also help if you practice scales in CGDA so that it becomes second nature  when to take a note from the B row. C row = piano white notes, B row + black notes with a spare(opposite direction B & E thrown in)  in case they come in handy - which they do!

george
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deltasalmon

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2012, 04:36:59 PM »

A quick reply (no time for anything else just now): get used to the fact that your right-hand fingers are going to be doing a lot of moving around. Don't attempt to keep your hand static or to look for a "home position".

One of the advantages of the B/C system for the keys you mention is that the cross-row fingering involved allows a lot of fluency, with passages of 3-4 notes (and often more) being possible without changing bellows direction. However the tradeoff for this advantage is that your fingers have to move around more. You will very often be using a different button for every new note - unlike "on-the-row" playing styles where as often as not you get two consecutive notes out of every button.

I agree with this about moving around.

I would advise you, as you explore moving around the keyboard, to deliberately avoid using your little finger. Counter-intuitive, I grant you, but it will help you develop that crucial ability to move. And when things get too awkward with three fingers, try two. (I'm not joking.)

Another pithy tip given by the great John Whelan - I'm paraphrasing and possibly distorting the message - is to keep your fingers in a straight line, as it were. Don't tie your fingers up in knots crossing over each other. 

More later, maybe.

I think the above is worded really well. It's best to avoid using the little finger and not a strict rule that you mustn't ever use the little finger .

I usually learn a new tune trying to use mostly 2 or 3 fingers and when I see a place that would seem easier to use the little finger I use it.
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Sean McGinnis
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2012, 05:57:27 PM »

Same applies to fingering the "built in" blues scale on a D/G.  3 fingers works best and move the hand.
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deltasalmon

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2012, 06:08:35 PM »

That's a neat diagram. Looking at these makes me want to try a quint box.


And a good equivalent on the B/C would be to play a scale in D using only two fingers. I think practicing a scale like that you will really get the idea of what it means to use only a few fingers and move around.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 06:14:37 PM by deltasalmon »
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Sean McGinnis
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Mike Hirst

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2012, 06:45:51 PM »

And a good equivalent on the B/C would be to play a scale in D using only two fingers. I think practicing a scale like that you will really get the idea of what it means to use only a few fingers and move around.

I recall that when I was in Italy hanging out with du botte players they told me that you can always spot a musician from the Regione Abruzzo because they only ever use two fingers.

On returning to the UK I developed patterns for playing scales on the One Row using just two fingers. I practiced these using as many different combinations of two fingers as I could manage. Thus I was able to develop a very fluid style, allowing rapid scalar runs. When I finally managed to get a decent du botte instrument this technique could be extended across both the main row and the reversals.
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Gromit

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2012, 06:56:14 PM »

I started with the Hanrahan book with a tape and found it quite useful as it was all that was available. I then bought a video by John Williams which was good and ended up with The Irish Accordion Tutor for B/C (with DVD) by Damien Connolly which is the one I would recommend as it shows you fingering patterns.

I did an almost one to one day workshop (there were only two of us) with Luke Daniels which was great - he uses the little finger when required and suggested practising using it and I find it useful in some situations.

I find another useful thing is slowing down videos to a snails pace and analysing what's going on like these -

http://source.pipers.ie/Media.aspx?mediaId=21099&categoryId=754
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boxer

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2012, 11:56:20 PM »

Others may disagree, but...

as a general rule, use as few right hand fingers as possible and don't consider a tune learned just because you've got the first working fingering sorted.  Keep on reworking it with different fingering patterns until the dynamics of your right and left hands best assist the phrasing you want to apply to the tune.

forget the basses until you can play the treble side properly
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Gromit

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2012, 08:05:16 AM »

 
Quote
as a general rule, use as few right hand fingers as possible

I don't see this please could you explain why.

If piano players/guitarists/fiddlers use all their fingers then why not box players? I've been taught to play using four fingers - not using them all the time but having them all available if required - seems logical to me to use what you've got.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 06:46:07 PM by Gromit »
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george garside

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2012, 10:37:42 AM »

I agree   eg why use 2 ir 3 fingers to play the  A part of  Th duke of Perth in key of G when 4 fingers cover the 4 buttons needed thus avoiding any movement up or down the keyboard.  Soldiers Joy in D is facilitated by using the pinky  as is Babes in the wood in A.    Egan  polka in D   A paart fits nicely under 4 fingers with pinky resting on F#, pinky can also be useful for playing F# in ryans polka.  Baron rocks of aiden in D pinky for F#.

On the other hand rattling bog in G can be played quite easily using any one finger but I normally use  4 as it leaves a few 'spares' to put in some right hand chords.

Definately no right or wrong way of doing it and thats part of the fun of  living in diatonicland!

george
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Gromit

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2012, 07:05:40 PM »

The 1st waltz in this clip has appeggios in the 2nd part that are easier using the fourth finger on the B/C

DGB dBG DGB dBG EGB eBG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-kmSE0tOAk
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Owen Woods

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2012, 10:07:49 PM »

I have found that on a B/C, using the little finger gets you caught up. Learning things avoiding that finger is good practice and you can then put it in when you need it, not all the time. I found quite quickly on B/C that I tended to only use the first three fingers and sometimes less. On B/C/C# the little finger is a little more important, because you have more reversals using the C row.

All of that doesn't apply to a D/G, where I remain convinced that the little finger is essential.
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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2012, 12:27:00 AM »

@Gromit

I can play B/C with all 4 fingers but I choose not to because, for me, it doesn't deliver the goods when (as I am often called upon to do) playing reels at 112 bpm and jigs at 126, unaccompanied and without basses. 

Using only two or three fingers allows me to phrase and articulate the tune properly at such speeds, and to keep good time.  Using all four doesn't.  So what's the point of spoiling a good dance by using all 4 fingers?

I suppose I should explain why fewer is better, but my literary skills aren't equal to the task of describing the ergonomics, and doing so would only initiate pointless and interminable debate. 

Needless to say, those players who use all 4 fingers and achieve good results on B/C have my unreserved admiration and respect. 
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ceemonster

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2012, 12:55:30 AM »

it's long past time for bisonoric button box players to begin using the terms the concertina players use for different ways of playing in different keys on a bisonoric: viz, "on the row" for when you're playing in the home keys of that name row, which gives you the push-pull "back-and-forth" Joe Cooley sound that the turistas inaccurately call "the C#/D sound"; and "across the rows" for when you're playing in keys that use notes from both rows, thus giving you longer runs of notes in one direction and a more fluid phrasing, which the turistas inaccurately call "the B/C sound."

if you are in it for irish music, the great thing (or maddening thing, depending on how you see it, since "across the rows" fingering has a steeper learning curve) about B/C is, you are gonna learn to play "across the rows" whether you like it or not, because on B/C those are the "concert pitch" keys (with D as home key and G as the IV key, hence all those D and G tunes), and concert pitch is the default sesh paradigm in irish music, so you pretty much HAVE to learn to do it.  i spent three years in Clancy Week box classes, and i assure you, nobody mentioned playing flat on the C row as a default approach, or even taught a tune in C for that matter. 

i haven't seen what the earlier poster said, i.e., that few b/c players play in D, G, A.  au contraire---what i've seen is, everybody does it.  however, b/c folks certainly might often perform or record, in their "on-the-row" home keys because they like the joe cooley sound, or perhaps because the push-draw sound is very "in" and "PC" right now.  somebody like danny o'mahony often performs in C and F, but he can play concert-pitch in his sleep.

can't say the reverse is as true with C#/D players---certainly the good ones, would be fluent both on and off the rows--somebody like jackie daly, say, absolutely could play every which way ona dime, but one does see more of them losing interest when the sesh turns to C and F, or lugging around a second box to play "on the rows" when things go flat.

i strongly advise (as someone who DIDN"T do this initially, and wasted a lot of time consequently) learning your notes in both rows like your box is a fully chromatic instrument--that is exactly what it is. you want to think of your two-row as a fully chromatic accordion that fingers and articulates in some keys more "back-and-forth," and in others, fingers and articulates more fluid and flowing, and in others, fingers and articulates kinda half-and-half.  that is what separates the real players from the dabblers in bisonoric two-row-land. 

on the pinkie question: this is another issue that has a big "PC" contingent advising against it.  however, this contingent is not giving you the whole story.  it's schools of thought, not a consensus one way or the other.  you get to choose. there are tons of people who use and teach the use of all four digits.  one of them is John Whelan.  another one is Dan Gurney, who devillishly told me in a workshop to "tell Billy McComiskey [a famed no-pinkie advocate] I told you to use the little finger." 



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george garside

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Re: Playing B/C melodeon in other keys
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2012, 09:35:19 AM »


 
 
i strongly advise (as someone who DIDN"T do this initially, and wasted a lot of time consequently) learning your notes in both rows like your box is a fully chromatic instrument--that is exactly what it is. you want to think of your two-row as a fully chromatic accordion that fingers and articulates in some keys more "back-and-forth," and in others, fingers and articulates more fluid and flowing, and in others, fingers and articulates kinda half-and-half.  that is what separates the real players from the dabblers in bisonoric two-row-land. 

on the pinkie question: this is another issue that has a big "PC" contingent advising against it.  however, this contingent is not giving you the whole story.  it's schools of thought, not a consensus one way or the other.  you get to choose. there are tons of people who use and teach the use of all four digits.  one of them is John Whelan.  another one is Dan Gurney, who devillishly told me in a workshop to "tell Billy McComiskey [a famed no-pinkie advocate] I told you to use the little finger."


yes and yes!

george ;D
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