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Author Topic: Club system from scratch  (Read 4854 times)

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Walter Häuschen

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Club system from scratch
« on: April 29, 2015, 04:08:19 PM »

Hi everyone,

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

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

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

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

Thanks in advance for your help,

Alan
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Matthew B

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2015, 05:33:30 PM »

Welcome Alan. 

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

Good luck!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2015, 04:10:24 PM by Matthew B »
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Sebastian

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2015, 06:52:41 PM »

Do any of you have any tips for a beginner on the melodeon on how to best get started on the club system? Do you know of any CDs/ tutorials?
I play almost exclusively club (at the moment). Anahata provides three PDF copies of tutors for the club system accordion on a separat web-page. All three are in German and a bit 'aged'. So you won't find modern music in them (like French balfolk music or Scandinavian tunes). They were discussed here.

Four helper buttons are a good compromise, I think.

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

(The club box forces you to leave the row and play 'cross-row style' at least if you have to play the sixth above the fundamental note [i. e. d']. Normally you want to play it on the pull with your little finger on the outer row.)
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 08:05:11 PM by Sebastian »
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Walter Häuschen

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2015, 09:00:39 AM »

Thank you so much, Mathew and Sebastian. Those are exactly the kind of tips I needed. Personally, I prefer learning tunes by ear anyway, so help in getting started is most important. Those two German tutors from the 1930s will be very useful. I like the idea of being taught by a dapper man in a tuxedo as is the case in the Mahr book.

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

Can't wait to get the box!
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robotmay

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2015, 10:10:43 AM »

Not that it's much help if you're in France but I know Pete Coe plays club boxes exclusively (well the 3 of his I've seen are all club boxes), something a few of us discovered at Melodeons at Witney when he was describing what basses to play ;D

Theo

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2015, 10:21:25 AM »

And Bob Fox as Songman in Warhorse plays club system.  He learned to play the box in about six months in order to audition for Warhorse, and got the part.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Theo

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2015, 10:22:28 AM »

Not that it's much help if you're in France but I know Pete Coe plays club boxes exclusively (well the 3 of his I've seen are all club boxes), something a few of us discovered at Melodeons at Witney when he was describing what basses to play ;D

Pete's boxes are have Club bass, but not club treble.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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robotmay

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2015, 10:37:40 AM »

Not that it's much help if you're in France but I know Pete Coe plays club boxes exclusively (well the 3 of his I've seen are all club boxes), something a few of us discovered at Melodeons at Witney when he was describing what basses to play ;D

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

Ah ha, interesting, that would make sense.

Matthew B

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2015, 04:27:31 PM »

Just to keep it complicated I believe Ollie King, one of our resident hotshots, often plays modified club boxes retaining the gleichton on the second row and adding various innovations and tweaks elsewhere.  Given the amount of time and thought he's given to the instrument he probably has some useful insights on the system.  He offers individual and group classes, but the link to his website in the teacher's list seems to be misdirected.  The correct link is  here http://www.olliekingmusic.com/
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Walter Häuschen

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2015, 06:03:09 PM »

All of this is super-interesting. Obviously, the possibilities are endless, especially when one starts fiddling with the layout and combining boxes. I will see how I get on with the box I get.

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

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

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Sebastian

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2015, 08:05:14 PM »

I will be sure to look up Ollie King when I do.
It is always good to listen to Ollie King, but I'm not shure all this will help you with your club-box.

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

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

2. The Bb-chord (C-chord in D/G-speak) on push is replaced by an Eb-chord (to do the 3-chord-trick in Bb major, which is the subdominant tonality to the box's main tonality F major).
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 09:27:38 AM by Sebastian »
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The Blues Viking

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 03:13:11 AM »

I found this link today, and as I hadn't seen it previously on Melnet (though I haven't been paying attention to Clubish matters, as I don't play one) and since I didn't see it on the "General Resources" page, I thought I'd post it here.

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

Hope this is of use.

TBV

(EDITED: link changed to the "Musician's Guide..." table of contents page, as opposed to the introduction)
« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 03:25:19 AM by The Blues Viking »
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Nick Hudis

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2015, 11:21:45 AM »

I started out on the Club system and although I now play the Loffet 3 row layout, I have a lot of respect and liking for the Club layout. Most Club boxes were built to a high standard and the mighty Club Morino is as good as any modern artisan made box, if rather heavy.

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

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

I may be wrong here but I believe that the chromatic scope and the lack of bass development reflect the fact that historically a big market for Clubs was accordion orchestras where music might be played in a variety of keys and there would be special bass accordions to provide the harmonic underpinning, these bass Clubs have occasionally been discussed or advertised on Melnet.
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Sebastian

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2015, 05:03:09 PM »

Clubs were envisaged to be chromatic on the pull through a useful part of the range. [...]

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

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

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

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

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

That is the music the club layout was devised for.

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

The "helper row": -- will fill that in later, am in a hurry now. Some days ago I wrote a bit about this here.

Shortly: Neither was the Club layout made with the aim to be "chromatic on the pull" nor was there a "lack of bass development". The Club layout matched exactly what people in those times wanted to play.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2015, 05:04:45 PM by Sebastian »
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Matthew B

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2015, 06:14:13 PM »

Sebastian,
Thanks for the insights.  My German skills being somewhat lacking, I read your post using Google translate with some excellent results, including: "D / G tuning did not exist, because the G-series but is then too high and squeaky. The have only the crazy Englishman introduced in the 1960s".  Sums it up precisely, I think!

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

Perhaps Brazil Box has some insights on these instruments?
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Walter Häuschen

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2015, 02:47:25 PM »

Thanks so much for all of these comments, especially to Sebastian for his extremely insightful perspective on the music theory behind the setup of the club system. This really helps! It also underlines what had initially attracted me to the club system, that is the possibility of being able to play long melodic lines more fluently.

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

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

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Holzschuh-MEIN-LIEDERBUCH-Schone-bekannte-Volkslieder-Akkordeon-Noten-1949-/141647840074?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_77&hash=item20fade834a
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Sebastian

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2015, 09:43:34 PM »

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

Walter Häuschen

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2015, 05:59:26 PM »

Just to get some more ideas on the stylistic possibilities of the club system I have followed Sebastian's links and had a look at his blog, too. Super-informative!

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

Thanks again for all the tips and ideas!
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Sebastian

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2015, 09:28:16 PM »

Sebastian: you have kept your cream-coloured Hohner Preciosa (on which you play a wide range of different styles and fun things like the Star Wars theme) as a club instrument?
Yes.  (For the Star Wars theme I use the additional Eb chord and the Gleichton of the Club system. It could be done without, but wouldn't sound as good.)

Alistair Bone

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Re: Club system from scratch
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2019, 09:05:58 AM »

Hi alan and members.
I am also new to this amazing collection of helpfull information.
I am a green begineer but have been tinkering for many years at the melodeon with no great success .
My intrest now lies with the club system as i own a lilliput C/F and a Hohner club 11B IN G/C.
Living in FRANCE for the last 38 years i have now lots of time to learn.
My music intrest is in slow irish airs playing by ear. (in the future).
Alistair
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