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Author Topic: Melodeon Key and Regional culture  (Read 9956 times)

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gurdypad3

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2015, 04:25:14 PM »

C, or 'the peoples' key', as we say in East Anglia, is very nice to sing with. IMHO.
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Gary Chapin

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2015, 04:48:35 PM »

Funny. In Maine, D is called "the people's key." C might be nice to sing in, but Eb is my sweet spot.  :|glug
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KLR

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2015, 05:13:51 PM »

For the record, the early Irish boxes were in C#D, then they suddenly disappeared in the early twenties and were replaced by the B/C instruments, to be rediscovered only in the seventies.

C#/D is a pretty rare pitch in old boxes, Stephen Chambers has written about that here, it seems to have been a rare entry in company catalogs.  A few players in the old days used C#/D or D/D# - Joe Cooley, John Clifford, Johnny O'Leary - Jackie Daly and Tony MacMahon were disciples of the 1st and 3rd here who popularized boxes with D rows in the 70s.  B/C has been used by Irish players since the 30s, again Stephen documented that very well - Irish Button Boxes - Concertina History - Concertina.net Discussion Forums.  And there's the Irish American setup, D/C#.  That started with players grudgingly having an extra button added on an inner row of their one row melodeons, to play waltzes, foxtrots, quicksteps, et al, all that ballroom rubbish, in between sets of the Irish music per se.  More and more buttons were added until it became a full row in its own right.  I was interested to find out recently that Joe Derrane and his teacher just played one rows until a 2 row player showed up, this fellow Tom Seiner. 

Quote
The three row instruments in three keys tuned in fifths are popular where the two row boxes where “high pitched”. Santiago Jimenez played a C/F box (I dare say obviously, since the instrument and the music were both borrowed from the German immigrants), and so his son Flaco naturally moved to the G/C/F. No G/C player would move to a G/C/F box, having to relearn about half of the tunes he has learned on the two row instrument!

Sorry, I'm not sure why they would have trouble here?  I read somewhere that Flaco seemed almost overcome with gratitude that the 3 rows came along, it made things so much more versatile.  Also that musicians occasionally took a crack at the piano accordion, and were met with howls of derision from the audience, who insisted that the conjunto have the punch that you only get from a push pull box.  Pity they didn't have that kind of attitude in Scotland...
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Sebastian

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2015, 10:46:24 PM »

C, or 'the peoples' key', as we say in East Anglia, is very nice to sing with. IMHO.
It depends, I think, on the prefered melodic structure, which may differ from region to region (and from time to time). Most of our melodies are plagal and therefore F or G is better suited.
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Rob2Hook

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2015, 12:02:53 AM »

There are many links between East Anglia and the Low Countries.  Families often set up their offspring each side of the Channel to acilitate trading without the middle man and houses on the coast can still be seen with Dutch style lifting beams and hipped rooflines.  I wonder whether that accounts for instruments in C/F being common in the area?

Rob.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2015, 12:21:32 AM »

All that. in Bourbonnais (Fred Paris land, low Auvergne) mass of repertoire in D, be that D major or minor. Reason the D gurdy, and long, pewter  or German silver inlaid Bourbonnaise D bagpipe.
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Gary Chapin

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2015, 12:24:53 AM »

All that. in Bourbonnais (Fred Paris land, low Auvergne) mass of repertoire in D, be that D major or minor. Reason the D gurdy, and long, pewter  or German silver inlaid Bourbonnaise D bagpipe.
My gurdy playing friend was thrilled when I had a C/F for a short while because D minor suddenly became an "easy" key. D minor repertoire for months.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2015, 01:04:28 AM »

I'd say that Dutch melodeon stuff at present is not uncommonly C/F, though they do have a classic 1row C spoon bass tradition in the East. Cue Wouter "Cooper" ;)
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GBbox

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2015, 09:27:08 AM »

A few sparse considerations.

I fear we all forgot that I. K. Dairo introduced the one row four stop melodeon in jùjú music, in the late forties or maybe the early fifties. Not sure if the key was C, D or G...

According to the sleeve notes of the “English Country Music from East Anglia” Topic LP, Percy Brown played an Honer Erica in two keys, mainly on the C row. Then a C/F melodeon, not a button accordion. The Hohner chromatic boxes were the Double Ray, like the one Dolly Curtis was portraied with on the back cover of the “Who Owns the Game?” home Made Music LP, although John Howson in the sleeve notes didn't tell if it was her own instrument, or just one that she had borrowed.

C#/D is a pretty rare pitch in old boxes, Stephen Chambers has written about that here, it seems to have been a rare entry in company catalogs.  A few players in the old days used C#/D or D/D# - Joe Cooley, John Clifford, Johnny O'Leary - Jackie Daly and Tony MacMahon were disciples of the 1st and 3rd here who popularized boxes with D rows in the 70s.  B/C has been used by Irish players since the 30s, again Stephen documented that very well -

Irish Button Boxes - Concertina History - Concertina.net Discussion Forums.  And there's the Irish American setup, D/C#.  That started with players grudgingly having an extra button added on an inner row of their one row melodeons, to play waltzes, foxtrots, quicksteps, et al, all that ballroom rubbish, in between sets of the Irish music per se.  More and more buttons were added until it became a full row in its own right.  I was interested to find out recently that Joe Derrane and his teacher just played one rows until a 2 row player showed up, this fellow Tom Seiner. 

The first Irish button accordion star was John J. Kimmel, an American-German emigrant who recorded  a number of successful titles for the American record companies in the twenties. Kimmel was a B/C player, an actually a master in the cross row style that's required on it to play in the fiddle keys (well, D and G and related modal scales, since to play in A it's too challenging).

According to what I have read so far, to quote Breandán Breathnach about the accordions,  “those in C/C#, C#/D and D/D# were in favor among traditional players, but they were quickly ousted by the B and C instruments, which lends itself better to the style of playing favored by the  young players”.

It was the style that Sean O'Riada reacted to, in particular  the chromatic ornamentation, depicting the accordion players  as a menace to the integrity of the Irish musical tradition.

When exactly the old players like Cooley had acquired their instruments I don't know, but if this is the picture – and all the sources agree about it -, that must have been before the B/C accordions become popular.

Sorry, I'm not sure why they would have trouble here?  I read somewhere that Flaco seemed almost overcome with gratitude that the 3 rows came along, it made things so much more versatile.  Also that musicians occasionally took a crack at the piano accordion, and were met with howls of derision from the audience, who insisted that the conjunto have the punch that you only get from a push pull box.  Pity they didn't have that kind of attitude in Scotland...

What I meant – and Gary Chapin got it right –  is that the problem wasn't for the players using an “high pitched” box, but for those using a “low pitched box” On the C/F box the bass/chord couple available both  pushing and pulling the bellows  is Bb, and that's available in the same position, on a side of the F/C couple, on the G/C/F box. On the G/C box the fixed chord is F, and it's mainly played pulling the bellows, while on the G/C/F box the F chord is below the C/G couple, not on its side, and is push only. Flaco Jimenez, who had started on th C/F, obviously found that the G/C/F 
 offered him more possibilities. For a G/C players, the G/C/F offers “only” some different possibilities – and leaves them with an awful lot of tunes to relearn with a different fingering!

Finally, about C being the East Anglian key, I remember Tufty Swift stating in his “Hints on Playing One Row Melodeon” that Oscar Wood, that I dare say was the archetypal East Anglian melodeon player, had bot a C and a D instruments.

In the end, I think is worth quoting what Tufty wrote:

“To play in a country dance band will probably put you under pressure to get melodeons in D and G to make it convenient to play with other used to playing in those keys. Do so if you wish, nut most instruments can accomodate C very well – particularly concertina, Banjo, Dulcimer, Fiddle and all the brass instruments. In the past all the other players must have fitted in with the melodeon whatever key it was in.”

To me, it sound as pure wisdom!
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #29 on: August 08, 2015, 09:57:40 AM »

Melodeon traditions in East Anglia

Just to remind people who don't yet know about it - there is a lot of information in Before the Night Was Out published by the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust. It's much more than just a tunebook; there are lots of biographical details about the traditional musicians, particularly from Norfolk and Suffolk, which is based on painstaking research, interviews, archive recordings, etc. mostly undertaken by John and Katie Howson, but others too.

It's well worth getting if you haven't already got a copy. Available from EATMT here:

(Yes I know I'm biased; I did all the tune transcriptions  :|bl - but as I said, it's much more than just the tunes)
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sammypenn

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #30 on: August 08, 2015, 10:24:35 AM »

  As I understand it, possibly it was Peter Kennedy and the travelling morrise in the 40's/50's who in promoting the morris thought that they needed more music than just a fiddle player, He choose the D/G keys as suitable to fit in well with the fiddles easy keys. He got Hohner to make up a couple of dozen in those keys, It is said that Hohner :( had not made any in D/G before. My self I like C/F, Bb/Eb, and my favourite of the moment is G/C, the low G row has a very nice tone, but then what do I know I just mend and tune them for the 3 players in the family, I play real instruments, drums guitar and tenor banjo, so there....
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Bob Michel

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #31 on: August 08, 2015, 01:45:37 PM »

The first Irish button accordion star was John J. Kimmel, an American-German emigrant who recorded  a number of successful titles for the American record companies in the twenties. Kimmel was a B/C player, an actually a master in the cross row style that's required on it to play in the fiddle keys (well, D and G and related modal scales, since to play in A it's too challenging).

To the best of my knowledge, Kimmel played a one-row exclusively. Certainly all his recordings that I've heard are on that instrument.

Bob Michel
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diatosoldo

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #32 on: August 08, 2015, 02:37:03 PM »

A/D seems very fiddle friendly. I'm actually curious especially about that one. It seems not as popular as many others. Maybe someone can confirm, I seem to recall hearing it was played somewhere in Scandinavia? Or maybe someone can tell me where else it is popular?

Delta salmon, A/D tuning is very common in Vendée (France), much more than G/C. Probably because the "veuze" (local bagpipe) plays mostly in A.
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Anahata

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #33 on: August 08, 2015, 03:18:31 PM »

Quote from: Gbox
Quote from: tufty
In the past all the other players must have fitted in with the melodeon whatever key it was in.

From other postings here, it seems in many places they have to fit in with whatever key the bagpipe was in.
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KLR

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #34 on: August 08, 2015, 04:29:26 PM »

Quote from: Gbox
Quote from: tufty
In the past all the other players must have fitted in with the melodeon whatever key it was in.

From other postings here, it seems in many places they have to fit in with whatever key the bagpipe was in.

What keys are Italian boxes in?  And does it have anything to do with the pitch of the local zampogna?

In Irish music players sometimes had to do a bit of investigative work to be in concert pitch, to play in groups.  This meant playing in G/D/A, which we can ultimately chalk up to the local bagpipe tradition, not that there were many pipers still around to be an influence.  But there were many more flute players, with a similar inflexible pitch.
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GBbox

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #35 on: August 08, 2015, 05:21:11 PM »

The first Irish button accordion star was John J. Kimmel, an American-German emigrant who recorded  a number of successful titles for the American record companies in the twenties. Kimmel was a B/C player, an actually a master in the cross row style that's required on it to play in the fiddle keys (well, D and G and related modal scales, since to play in A it's too challenging).

To the best of my knowledge, Kimmel played a one-row exclusively. Certainly all his recordings that I've heard are on that instrument.


"Photographs  show him posed with posed with a ten-key, single-row melodeon, but the key changes  and accidental in some of his material and his liking for triplets point to his use, at least sometimes, of a two row model, though whether this was a diatonic or chromatic instrument isn't easy to determnine".

This from the sleeve notes of the Kimmel compilation released on the Leader label back in 1977, relying on the originalv recordings owned by Reg Hall, so I suppose he was the author of the notes too. Most of the Irish players I have met gave for granted the instrument was a B/C,
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diatosoldo

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #36 on: August 08, 2015, 05:26:03 PM »

Quote from: Gbox
Quote from: tufty
In the past all the other players must have fitted in with the melodeon whatever key it was in.

From other postings here, it seems in many places they have to fit in with whatever key the bagpipe was in.
i agree .. but you have the other way round argument :

Some people accuse melodeon to have killed traditonnal instruments because they say traditional instruments used to play in  non tempered scales whiche were impossible to play for a melodeon' or even  in modal scales (I'm not a specialist .. I've only heard about that).

They also say that, as a single  melodeon could make people dance without any other instrument, it was cheaper to pay one melodeonist and nobody else .. so bagpipers and hurdy gurdiers were no longer asked for ..
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #37 on: August 08, 2015, 05:54:33 PM »

My friend Pierre (Ile Grande, Brittany) plays in his local Baggad (band) for Fest Noz (evening dances) and his melodeons are in Bb, and Bb/Eb. He has to cope with breton bagpipes, and bombardes. Melodeons there are quite new … like Britain, essentially post 1945
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Bob Michel

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #38 on: August 08, 2015, 06:11:04 PM »

"the key changes  and accidental in some of his material and his liking for triplets point to his use, at least sometimes, of a two row model, though whether this was a diatonic or chromatic instrument isn't easy to determnine".

This from the sleeve notes of the Kimmel compilation released on the Leader label back in 1977, relying on the originalv recordings owned by Reg Hall, so I suppose he was the author of the notes too. Most of the Irish players I have met gave for granted the instrument was a B/C,

I'd be fascinated to see or hear actual evidence that Kimmel used a two-row in any configuration. And a B/C box in particular, in the New York of his era, would have been highly unusual if not unheard of. An expert on accordion history might want to set me straight here, but it seems to me that a more likely suspect would be a D/C# instrument (with either a half or a full helper row) of the sort associated with Joe Derrane, which was popular in midcentury Irish-American circles.

It's worth remembering, though, that Kimmel was an absolute wizard--maybe the best ever--at faking on a one-row, and many of his arrangements seem downright impossible until you slow them down and realize that he's fooled you once again. Moving through multiple keys was a signature trick of his. Whether or not he eventually incorporated some two-row playing into his repertoire, his fame and influence rest squarely on what he accomplished with ten buttons and a single diatonic scale.

Bob Michel
Near Philly
« Last Edit: August 08, 2015, 06:13:40 PM by Bob Michel »
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GBbox

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Re: Melodeon Key and Regional culture
« Reply #39 on: August 09, 2015, 10:05:12 AM »

"the key changes  and accidental in some of his material and his liking for triplets point to his use, at least sometimes, of a two row model, though whether this was a diatonic or chromatic instrument isn't easy to determnine".

This from the sleeve notes of the Kimmel compilation released on the Leader label back in 1977, relying on the originalv recordings owned by Reg Hall, so I suppose he was the author of the notes too. Most of the Irish players I have met gave for granted the instrument was a B/C,

I'd be fascinated to see or hear actual evidence that Kimmel used a two-row in any configuration. And a B/C box in particular, in the New York of his era, would have been highly unusual if not unheard of. An expert on accordion history might want to set me straight here, but it seems to me that a more likely suspect would be a D/C# instrument (with either a half or a full helper row) of the sort associated with Joe Derrane, which was popular in midcentury Irish-American circles.

It's worth remembering, though, that Kimmel was an absolute wizard--maybe the best ever--at faking on a one-row, and many of his arrangements seem downright impossible until you slow them down and realize that he's fooled you once again. Moving through multiple keys was a signature trick of his. Whether or not he eventually incorporated some two-row playing into his repertoire, his fame and influence rest squarely on what he accomplished with ten buttons and a single diatonic scale.

Bob Michel
Near Philly

We are not discussing the stature of Kimmel as a player, that remains unchallenged. Yet, while faking  a key change on a one row box is possible, especially whit a backing instrument playing full chords like a piano or a guitar, the use of accidentals that are outside the instrument scale is a different matter.

Since the words I quoted, I can confirm it, were written by Reg Hall, I dare say that if he made such a clear statement, being aware of the difference, he had good reasons to.

Of course only the faithful transcription of some of the Kimmel's recordings could tell if for sure. Too bad, the software tools that would make it a breeze are too expensive for my budget. Anyway, I am in touch with a few Spectralayer and a few Melodyne users, so after the Summer I will ask a couple of them to give me an hand for the purpose.

Beyond that, if we wish to rely on facts, it should be noted that there were a number of tunes that were recorded by all the early accordionists on both sides of the Ocean. Too many to suggest it just happened by chance. It's likely that each of them - Kimmel, the Wyper Brothers or Hannah, just to make the obvious names -, was aware of the recordings released by the others, and that they had entered in a sort of competition at the distance to show who actually was the best among them. And if Kimmel had heard the recordings of Peter Wyper, and he surely had, what could have prevented him to adopt a B/C box? And, according to what we can read about Kimmel the man, what could have prevented him from cheating using a two row instrument in the studio?

I am not sure about a D/C# instrument, since I don't know when they came in use among the Irish American players. In Ireland they were an oddity nobody was aware of until they take, so to say, Joe Derrane out of the refrigerator. Yet, the obvious technical approach to a D/C# shouldn't be different from that used by the C#/D players: They should be mainly played press and draw on the D row, resorting to the other for the accidentals and the occasional reverse. The fluidity of the phrasing and the use of the triplets that Kimmel showed were anyway closer to the technical cross row approach that's associated with the B/C box.

All this discussion, in the end, has taken us far from the topic this thread was about: instruments in different key may lead to different technical approaches, and that's reflected in the way the music is played!



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