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Author Topic: Tangled fingers  (Read 4985 times)

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Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2015, 09:35:26 AM »

Drifting a little because it was just for illustration purposes, but my version is basically from Jamie Knowles' book 'A Northern Lass', though I've changed some of the chords, mainly to get the descending and then ascending bass line in on the C music.
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Bob Ellis

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2015, 04:14:51 PM »

Linking with Chris B's last post (but also heading back to the topic!), I have spent an hour or two playing around with Chris's version of Morgan Rattler and the one that I posted. I prefer Chris's version, but have altered the bass line somewhat. The biggest change I have made is to add a run of a bass fundamentals a third below the D, E, F#, G run in the fifth bar of the B music.

The attached PDF shows how I have used my fingering notation, complete with arrows, to avoid tying my fingers in a reef knot - or do I mean a grief knot?  ::) (Other knots are available.)

I hope that a couple of weeks of daily practice should enable me to start playing the tune in public.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 04:16:52 PM by Bob Ellis »
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Bob in beautiful Wensleydale, Les Panards Dansants, Crook Morris and the Loose Knit Band.
Clément Guais 3-row D/G/acc.; Karntnerland Steirische 3-row G/C/F; Ellis Pariselle 2.6-row D/G/acc.; Gabbanelli Compact 2-row D/G with lots of bling, Acadian one-row in D; Junior Martin one-row in C.

Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2015, 05:36:36 PM »

Bob, this is becoming fascinating!  We seem to have learned really quite different approaches to playing, probably both equally valid, and it will be very interesting to see how they pan out.  Studying your fingering, I notice that your approach, for the A and B music anyway, has been to use the G row notes as a base, taking other notes from other rows where necessary for playing with the chords.  Mine has been to play it mainly on the D row, picking notes from the other rows.  You perhaps have more legato passages than me - I tend to look for v^v and ^v^ patterns with jigs, though with many other tunes I like playing legato passages all pull or all push too.  It will be very interesting to compare the final results, but I'm guessing mine will sound choppy throughout, and yours more lyrical and varied in feel.

(Can I just apologise again for the poor resolution on my attachments - I've just updated to a newer eversion of MuseScore, and it seems not to be as easy to convert scores to pdf as it was with the earlier ones, so I'm having to scan, which is much less efficient.)
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Bob Ellis

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2015, 10:31:56 PM »

I agree, Chris, that our different approaches are very interesting and instructive. You are right that I tend to play jigs with each group of three quavers played in the same direct, where possible, rather than reversing the bellows for the middle note. However, there are exceptions to this. I play some tunes (e.g. The Sloe) entirely on one row and enjoy playing many tunes on my single row boxes, where there is no alternative to reversing the bellows.

You mentioned that my interpretation of Morgan Rattler is played mainly on the G row, drawing occasional notes from other rows, whereas yours focuses mainly on the D row. I hadn't even noticed this until you mentioned it. My approach is to choose notes from one row or the other either to facilitate the playing of the passage or to enable me to use particular basses. I don't go as far as Chris Ryall, who works out his bass line first and then fits the melody around it, but I do develop my bass line alongside my fingering for the melody, with each affecting the other.

I hope that my approach doesn't lead me to interpret jigs in too smooth and lyrical a manner. Although I cross rows a lot and play many sequences of three quavers without changing bass direction, I try to maintain the bounciness I associate with jigs.
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Bob in beautiful Wensleydale, Les Panards Dansants, Crook Morris and the Loose Knit Band.
Clément Guais 3-row D/G/acc.; Karntnerland Steirische 3-row G/C/F; Ellis Pariselle 2.6-row D/G/acc.; Gabbanelli Compact 2-row D/G with lots of bling, Acadian one-row in D; Junior Martin one-row in C.

Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2015, 09:53:29 AM »

Quote
I hadn't even noticed this until you mentioned it

And funnily enough, I hadn't noticed I was playing along the D row mainly until then, either!  I do go along with Chris R in that I start from the LH, because it's more direction-limited. In fact I now try to refuse to learn a tune until it's been decided by someone what the accompaniment is going to be, on the grounds that relearning takes much longer than learning!
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 05:30:08 PM by Chris Brimley »
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2015, 03:24:12 PM »

I managed to keep it together long enough to record this:  https://soundcloud.com/chrisbrimley/morgan-rattler

(I thought editing would be unfair given the context, so I avoided doing so - and so hopefully only took a few liberties with the tune as written!)
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Bob Ellis

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2015, 11:33:44 PM »

A nice jaunty interpretation, Chris. It will take me quite a bit longer to get to the stage when I can record a version, since I have only just begun to learn the tune and it takes me a while to internalise most tunes, but I will try to post a comparative video in a couple of weeks' time. It will be interesting to hear whether my greater use of cross-rowing affects the jauntiness of the tune.
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Bob in beautiful Wensleydale, Les Panards Dansants, Crook Morris and the Loose Knit Band.
Clément Guais 3-row D/G/acc.; Karntnerland Steirische 3-row G/C/F; Ellis Pariselle 2.6-row D/G/acc.; Gabbanelli Compact 2-row D/G with lots of bling, Acadian one-row in D; Junior Martin one-row in C.

Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2015, 10:39:25 AM »

I always find that it's what you learn after you've learned a tune that's the most important thing!  I've just realised I have a playing problem at around bars 6 and 7, and I'm fudging it.  The issue is that the last note of bar 7 is a C#, which I only have on the pull.  Since I'm trying to play that against a D chord, I either have to leave out the chord, or swap to a pull D chord for that phrase (which would ease transition to the next G chord).  The trub is, if I do that, I've got bars 6 and 7 mainly on the pull, and I'm going to lose bellows position without an easy way out.  One possibility might be to change the previous bar to A push, and use a few more third row note reversals.  This means quite a lot of unlearning and a few more mnemonics, so I think I'll just carry on with the fudge solution.

I looked at your version, Bob, and noticed you're also doing quite a bit of pulling around bars 6 and 7, and you've swapped to an A chord for that note - but are you finding the same problem as me with all the pulls?
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Mike Carney

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2015, 03:20:36 PM »

I always find that it's what you learn after you've learned a tune that's the most important thing!  I've just realised I have a playing problem at around bars 6 and 7, and I'm fudging it.  The issue is that the last note of bar 7 is a C#, which I only have on the pull.  Since I'm trying to play that against a D chord, I either have to leave out the chord, or swap to a pull D chord for that phrase (which would ease transition to the next G chord).  The trub is, if I do that, I've got bars 6 and 7 mainly on the pull, and I'm going to lose bellows position without an easy way out.  One possibility might be to change the previous bar to A push, and use a few more third row note reversals.  This means quite a lot of unlearning and a few more mnemonics, so I think I'll just carry on with the fudge solution.

I looked at your version, Bob, and noticed you're also doing quite a bit of pulling around bars 6 and 7, and you've swapped to an A chord for that note - but are you finding the same problem as me with all the pulls?
Don't know if I am setting myself up here, but it is fascinating to read the discussion between you two and this led me to have a look at the tune. Have played it in a band setting but on guitar. So I am working on it! Will prob take rather longer than Bob to produce it.  Chris, about your bars 6 and 7 issue, in bar 6 I am doing D bass and chord on the push until the last chord which becomes a pull A chord  for the C#. In bar 7 I am trying B bass, E chord,A bass, A chord. Both bars 4 and 8 I am using B bass and chord into the pull A. Hope I have reflected correctly what I am doing.
M
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2015, 03:35:11 PM »

I'm interested to know, what guitar chords were you using for this bit? 

I must say I've always tried to match the band accompaniment on the box, which tends to make it more complicated to learn, but hopefully makes for a sweeter sound.  So for a G chord for example, I'd want to find the push notes, rather than using an Em or Em7 substitute - mainly because the LH E notes introduce a different character to the chord the others will be playing, though the B would usually fit OK.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 03:41:36 PM by Chris Brimley »
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Mike Carney

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2015, 03:42:57 PM »

I agree about the consistency between chords but we still have to make the melodeon playable...
A/D/A/Bm
A/D/GA/Bm for the A part
These were written by someone else.

 For B part:
D/A/D/Bm
D/A/GA/Bm

C part broadens out a bit:
D/A/D/G
D/A/A/G. I like the way it saves the big G feel to the last part.

M
« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 03:46:39 PM by Oysterboy »
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2015, 04:09:12 PM »

Ah, I've just realised a simple and playable solution to my own question is to shift to the G chord position in bar 8 a quaver early, so as to get the pull D chord against the final C# in bar 7.  Hmm, may need a new mnemonic here!
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Bob Ellis

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2015, 08:29:50 PM »

I've just read (about half an hour ago) today's posts on this thread, having been too busy doing my day job to log onto melnet earlier.

Until you mentioned it, I wasn't aware of a problem around bars 6 and 7, even though most of those bars are played on the pull, so I have spent the last half hour playing the tune over and over again, paying particular attention to those passages. I can play the tune more or less up to speed now, although not without looking at the music to remind me of the bass line and not without making mistakes. I have not noticed any problem with regard to bars 6 and 7 or over-extending the bellows, although I am tending to use the air button only on the push notes in order to compensate for the preponderance of pull notes.

I prefer the sound of an A chord against the C# at the end of bar 7, rather than a D chord, but that is just personal preference. I have tried it using a pulled D chord, but it doesn't seem to make any difference to the playability of the phrase or the position of the bellows at the end of it.
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Bob in beautiful Wensleydale, Les Panards Dansants, Crook Morris and the Loose Knit Band.
Clément Guais 3-row D/G/acc.; Karntnerland Steirische 3-row G/C/F; Ellis Pariselle 2.6-row D/G/acc.; Gabbanelli Compact 2-row D/G with lots of bling, Acadian one-row in D; Junior Martin one-row in C.

Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #33 on: May 07, 2015, 11:29:36 AM »

I was about to make a comment that we seem to have all drifted a bit from the original intention of trying to find a way of remembering how to perform without tangling fingers, but then I thought about it a bit more, and realised that the sort of discussion we are now having, relating to ostensibly specific details of playing technique, is actually what it's all about.

I've long had hunches about the reasons for the often prominent place of a diato box in a dance band.  On the up side, it gives an efficient, fast, and bouncy way of playing melody, bass and chords together, and the bellows techniques available allow the dynamics of the sound produced to both follow and lead the natural movements of the dancers (as opposed to disco beat for example, which imposes strict rhythms on dancers).   On the down side, however, are the technical limitations of the instrument in terms of playable keys.  By using a three row with lots of basses, a player can overcome most of the limitations within the 'home' keys, and play almost anything the other chromatic instruments can.  But to do so, the player needs to know specifically how to play individual passages in advance, because of the often large number of possible ways of playing a sequence of notes and chords.  (Hence this thread).  So the second but less obvious disadvantage of the diato is that often they are not following what the rest of the band are doing accurately, and often clashes occur.  To some players, this is just part of the traditional sound of a folk dance band, but I'd rather avoid it if possible by focussing on each tune in detail and then remembering to play it that way.

I've noticed that many melody-only instrument players (and pianists, who have only one way of playing each note) can with a little training read quickly at sight - to them it's just a matter of reading, like text, and automatically translating that into learned finger motion.  But few box players can read that well, and I believe that actually it's much more difficult to do so on the box for the above reasons - it's not just because of player skill.  We are all taking some time to learn one tune here, because we are all doing this - trying to find optimum fingerings, and then commit them to muscle memory.

For me, my great interest in members' comments on this thread has been to try to understand the different approaches players adopt to the problem of learning to play a given piece reliably.  Bob's approach of using the G row as a 'home' row, and picking individual notes from other rows was a bit of a revelation for me - I'd simply never thought of it that way.  If a tune is in D, A, or Em, say, I would just use the D row as 'home'.  But I can see that Bob's approach could perhaps make sight reading easier, because it involves less switching of 'home' rows mid-piece.

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Bob Ellis

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2015, 02:59:30 PM »

You have expressed very clearly, Chris, my own thinking about the relationship between reading music and playing a three-row melodeon. I also agree with your observations about why it is more difficult to sight-read music for the melodeon than, say, the piano and why it takes so long to internalise a tune.

It was specifically because of the need to work out a suitable fingering pattern, from the many options available on a three-row instrument, commit it to muscle memory and have a means of recording it so that I have something to refer to if my brain or muscle memory fails me, that led me to devise a means of noting down my preferred fingering pattern. My system may seem over-fussy to some people, but it works for me and my students, which is all that I require of it.

However, I am not sure that I agree with your statement that I use the G row as the 'home' row when playing in D. In the case of Morgan Rattler, I have done so without realising it as a result of the bass line I have constructed and wanting to play the sequence of notes in the first bar and a half of the melody on the pull. However, I think a closer approximation to my default position would be to use the G row as the home row when playing in G, the D row when playing in D, but transferring to the G row for the first half of the upper octave, and to play the bottom half of the Em scale on the D row and the upper half on the G row. Having said this, my choice of rows is influenced heavily by my bass line, in which the options are increased by having reversals of C, C#, D and E on my accidental row.

As for my approach making sight-reading easier, I couldn't really comment because I don't do much of it. I work out my fingering and bass line and note it down on the sheet music and then try to commit it to memory. I use the sheet music as an aide-mémoire until I have learnt the tune properly and then leave it alone unless I forget how a passage goes. There is not much sight-reading in this process - just as well, since I am not very good at it.
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Clément Guais 3-row D/G/acc.; Karntnerland Steirische 3-row G/C/F; Ellis Pariselle 2.6-row D/G/acc.; Gabbanelli Compact 2-row D/G with lots of bling, Acadian one-row in D; Junior Martin one-row in C.

Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2015, 03:30:27 PM »

Quote
However, I am not sure that I agree with your statement that I use the G row as the 'home' row when playing in D.

OK, Bob, fair enough - but I have to say it's still a very interesting idea! 

I find there's a tendency for me to run out of push puff on simple tunes, and to run out of pull puff on more complicated ones, particularly jigs, because of the runs I tend to remember being mainly pull ones.  I think I ought to train myself to learn to select a few more all push runs, so I can lose a bit of air, because there's plenty available, even without a reverse C#.

Quote
transferring to the G row for the first half of the upper octave, and to play the bottom half of the Em scale on the D row and the upper half on the G row.

You lost me here - do you mean you'd look to play upper D E F# G from the G row, A B C# D from the D row?  And for Em:  E F# G A from the D row, B C(natural) D and E from the G row?  For that Em run I think I'd usually just swap to the D row for the C natural - unless of course I was trying to play the whole thing legato, which would probably result in me doing a lot of pull fingering across the three rows.
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Bob Ellis

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #36 on: May 07, 2015, 04:24:25 PM »

Sorry, Chris, that I didn't make myself clear over my default positions for the keys of D and Em.

In D, I would normally play most of the tune on the D row, if it doesn't go above the top D of the lower octave, picking just a few notes from the G row to smooth out a passage or to gain a reversal so that I can play basses that would not be available if I stayed on the D row. However, if the tune continues into the upper octave, I often transfer to the G row for the high D, E, F# and G notes because these feel more instinctive to me than the upper octave notes on the D row. For the top half of the upper octave, I might play the A on either row, but I usually play the B, C# and D on the D row.

However, I have reversals of C#, D and E on the accidental row and it is undoubtedly easier to reach notes on the accidental row from the G row than from the D row, so I will often play notes on the G row leading up to and following on from those I am playing on the accidental row that in other circumstances I would play in the D row.

In Em, my default position is to play E, F#, G and A on the D row and then change to the G row for the B, C, D and E notes, although the point at which I change rows can vary according to the requirements of each particular tune.

With regard to running out of air following long runs of pushes or pulls, I try to bear this in mind when working out my fingering. If I have miscalculated in this respect and can't easily rectify the situation using the air button, I revise my fingering to enable me to reverse the bellows for some of the offending notes.

I hope that makes what I do a bit clearer. I am not trying to suggest that this is necessarily the best way of doing it, merely that it feels natural to me, so tends to be my default position.

One other point: although playing a sequence of notes in the same direction by crossing the rows is the best way to play legato, I don't think it follows that a passage played like that has to be legato. It depends on how long you dwell on each note and whether you put gaps between the notes. If I want to play a passage staccato, I don't necessarily play it as a sequence of pushes and pulls all on the same row; I might choose to play it across the rows and achieve the staccato effect by brief stabs on each note with gaps between them.
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Clément Guais 3-row D/G/acc.; Karntnerland Steirische 3-row G/C/F; Ellis Pariselle 2.6-row D/G/acc.; Gabbanelli Compact 2-row D/G with lots of bling, Acadian one-row in D; Junior Martin one-row in C.

Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2015, 05:11:37 PM »

Thanks, Bob, for the explanation.

I also agree with you about the sound not necessarily being legato if all the notes are in the same direction - it's a different, and sometimes very useful, effect.
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Stiamh

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2015, 05:18:14 PM »

Ouf! You lads lead complicated musical lives. Even as a C#/D player (with only two reversals to choose from in each octave), I can understand the need to work carefully on a tune to find the optimum fingering. But does this really prevent you from sight-reading a tune, using "default" or basic fingering on one row or the other?

What about picking up a tune on the fly (a simple one that you've never heard, or a less simple one that you are familiar with but haven't tried) in a group setting? (Without worrying about a performance version with all the best basses etc.)

I know you have so many more choices on a quint box, but when reading or picking up a tune aurally there are certain passages or runs where I nearly always use the magic notes from the other row, and so I just do it without thinking. Does this not happen on D/G?
« Last Edit: May 07, 2015, 07:22:15 PM by Stiamh »
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Tangled fingers
« Reply #39 on: May 07, 2015, 08:16:56 PM »

Sure, it happens - I mentioned earlier that I've managed to recognise quite a few little runs, and yes, throw them in where the bellows direction requires.  I think you may be right that C#/D players may not have these choices so much, but perhaps they have more chord matching problems?

But I must admit that I am reluctant to learn to play even a simple tune in a group setting on the fly unless the chords are in front of me.  This is simply because if I learn the wrong thing, it takes such a stupidly long time to unlearn.  Things like playing either a G or D chord against a D note are of course easy on the fly, but even that can prove a mistake - for example the very simple tune Li'l Liza Jane in G, where bar 4 is just the note D played against as D chord.  I reverse it using the third row and play it on the pull, simply because it's the only chance you get to open the bellows, and until I learned (and mnemonicked) that, I had real difficulty playing the tune with any oomph.

You mentioned the 'magic notes from the other row', and yes it would be a cinch if that was all you had to bother about, but I want to plan to play the same LH chords as the rest of the band (so they don't kick me out), and I'm afraid that will often dictate row swapping elsewhere in the tune. 
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