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Author Topic: Melodeons paired with other instruments?  (Read 715 times)

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Melissa Sinclair

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Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« on: February 03, 2017, 03:59:49 PM »

Excuse me if this has been asked ad nauseam, but I couldn't find the info with a simple search. Currently while I'm working I'm listening in the background to a mix of melodeon music from various YouTube uploads. Some are just melodeon, but many of them are paired with instruments. So, that got me curious. I know I've read here that X instrument for cajun, Y instrument for French, etc, but... what are the pairings? Instrument/type?

Say I was a professional melodeon player (like some of you are). What key(s) melodeon do you need to play the easiest (without the other players needing to transpose) For say... these instruments/voices?

Fiddle or violin? - or does it matter what style of music that fiddle is playing?
What about guitar?
Choral music?
Banjo?
flute?, etc

Or is not instrument driven, but what key styles of music tend to be written in? Is most Calypso the same key(s)? American Folk? French? I guess I would like to see some sort of chart that lists - playing calypso? Get a BLANK melodeon. Playing French - get GC. Playing German - get a CF... etc. Then it makes me wonder why I see some of these other keys. Last night I was snooping around and say a melodeon in the keys Bb and F. And there is A and D. Where/when is BbEb used?

If there is such a chart, can someone point it to me?
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Jack Campin

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2017, 04:39:45 PM »

A lot of the time the other instrument is the one to adjust - guitars can use capos, Boehm flutes can play equally easily in any key.

Cajun music is mostly in C but the fiddle sometimes retunes down.

Scottish music centres around a ten-note range of second-line G to first-leger-line B, in two sharps.  But it extends beyond that.  Hungarian music is tonally very similar but nobody uses melodeons for it.

French bal folk is mostly in white notes or one sharp (hence G/C).

Klezmer (which you probably won't be doing at first) centres around a range from C below the staff to G above it, in two flats and a sharp.

Irish and English music mostly use the tin whistle's effective range - D below the staff to B above it, one or two sharps.  Hence D/G.  Except in Suffolk where they play a tone down in C and places in Ireland where they play a semitone up in E flat.

Arabic music tends to focus somewhere around C dorian, Turkish music around D dorian, and Greek music around E dorian, but all have far too many commonly played variations beyond that for any melodeon to cope with.

Chinese music is most often in F, with excursions to Bb or C.
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deltasalmon

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2017, 04:41:39 PM »

Fiddle or violin? - or does it matter what style of music that fiddle is playing?
What about guitar?
Choral music?
Banjo?
flute?, etc

All of the above are chromatic instruments that are capable of playing in every key (aside from maybe flute depending on what kind of flute it is) so it really depends on the genre of music.

A lot of trad/folk music is in A/D/G which are considered "fiddle friendly" keys (I'm pretty terrible at playing the fiddle though so none of them really seem friendly to me).
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Jack Campin

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2017, 04:51:10 PM »

The 5-string banjo is so difficult to retune that nearly all old-time/bluegrass/country/Americana where it features is in G.

Tenor banjo is an entirely different beast.  I've never met a tenor banjo player who complained about odd keys.
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playandteach

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2017, 04:52:50 PM »

Some people think that Bb/Eb gives a good range to accompany voices. I like it because many of the pieces I play are in A minor for the G/C box. If I were to finger that key on a Bb/Eb then it would come out in C minor. Often the lowest common bass reed is a C, so that means the lowest note for my favourite tunes is the key note.
As far as pairings, clarinet and soprano sax are common mates - especially for French, but they can comfortably play in whatever key you fancy. They add 2 sharps to your key, so if you play in D, they are in E.
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Melissa Sinclair

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2017, 04:54:55 PM »


All of the above are chromatic instruments that are capable of playing in every key (aside from maybe flute depending on what kind of flute it is) so it really depends on the genre of music.

A lot of trad/folk music is in A/D/G which are considered "fiddle friendly" keys (I'm pretty terrible at playing the fiddle though so none of them really seem friendly to me).

Yes, of course, but I know when I was playing horn that I rather hated when a piece would come along where it had either a bazillion flats or sharps. When you're used to mostly playing with Bb and then all of a sudden playing 3 sharps! It doesn't fly as easily (of course, you learn it, but it's a slower learn than in a typical key)
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Melissa Sinclair

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2017, 04:56:33 PM »

Some people think that Bb/Eb gives a good range to accompany voices. I like it because many of the pieces I play are in A minor for the G/C box. If I were to finger that key on a Bb/Eb then it would come out in C minor. Often the lowest common bass reed is a C, so that means the lowest note for my favourite tunes is the key note.
As far as pairings, clarinet and soprano sax are common mates - especially for French, but they can comfortably play in whatever key you fancy. They add 2 sharps to your key, so if you play in D, they are in E.

That is good to know. I love the sound of the BbEb.
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GPS

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2017, 07:33:15 PM »

The 5-string banjo is so difficult to retune


No, I won't say it, tempting as it is...............
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melodeon

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2017, 10:06:01 PM »

"The 5-string banjo is so difficult to retune that nearly all old-time/bluegrass/country/Americana where it features is in G"

POC....    Most clawhammer players (such as I) retune regularly as many tunes are "tuning specific". Not at all uncommon nor difficult.

Banjo and single row accordeons make a great team.
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gettabettabox

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2017, 12:17:11 AM »

Banjo and single row accordeons make a great team.

Staccato rules for dance!   (:)
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Ebor_fiddler

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2017, 12:58:08 AM »

Has a 5 String Banjo ever successfully been tuned?  >:E  :|glug
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boxcall

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2017, 02:11:58 AM »

"The 5-string banjo is so difficult to retune that nearly all old-time/bluegrass/country/Americana where it features is in G"

POC....    Most clawhammer players (such as I) retune regularly as many tunes are "tuning specific". Not at all uncommon nor difficult.

Banjo and single row accordeons make a great team.
I agree, It's a good paring.
I know some players that tune on the fly mid tune for effect of course (:) I think Earl Scruggs did this a bit.
I like the guitar or piano as a pair as well, when played well I think these instruments make the box sound better.IMO
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Pete Dunk

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2017, 11:32:52 AM »

Has a 5 String Banjo ever successfully been tuned?  >:E :|glug

It's easier to use a mute.
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The Blues Viking

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2017, 11:48:01 AM »

Cajun music is mostly in C but the fiddle sometimes retunes down.

What Cajun music I have encountered (and it's not all that common here in Michigan) has been (mostly) in G but most Cajun boxes are in C; Cajun accordion players get creative about getting around the missing 7th.

TBV
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The Blues Viking

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2017, 12:04:04 PM »

To better address the OP's question, my own experience involves playing around a campfire at large Medieval camping events, where one is likely to find oneself playing with all types of instruments, plucked, strummed, blown, or bowed. I found early on that I wasn't going to play well with everyone as long as I was playing a diatonic, so I decided to concentrate on playing with fiddles, guitars and the occasional Highland bagpipes. An A/D seems to work best for me.

TBV

EDIT: BTW, I find A/D excellent for American folk.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2017, 12:06:14 PM by The Blues Viking »
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Jack Campin

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2017, 01:00:39 PM »

Highland bagpipes usually play about a semitone above written pitch, so you want Bb/Eb rather than A/D.  But their scale is so weirdly tuned (and variable, every band has its own tuning) that it's unlikely ever to sound good with a melodeon of any pitch.  (Fiddles can do better, since they can adjust intonation on the fly).
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Andrew Wigglesworth

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2017, 09:00:51 PM »

If you play melodeon in a session with a set of Highland bagpipes it doesn't matter what key you play in   :P

playandteach

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2017, 09:22:14 PM »

There was a harpist whom I shouldn't name, who was asked how she prepared for playing the Mozart Flute and Harp concerto. She was married to a flute player too.
She joked that when she played it with Jimmy (Galway) she tuned a bit sharp, when she played it with Wibb (Bennett) she tuned a bit flat, and that when she played it with her husband, she didn't tune at all.
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Melissa Sinclair

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2017, 09:25:31 PM »

There was a harpist whom I shouldn't name, who was asked how she prepared for playing the Mozart Flute and Harp concerto. She was married to a flute player too.
She joked that when she played it with Jimmy (Galway) she tuned a bit sharp, when she played it with Wibb (Bennett) she tuned a bit flat, and that when she played it with her husband, she didn't tune at all.

That is so funny. ;D ;D
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Sage Herb

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Re: Melodeons paired with other instruments?
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2017, 10:26:18 PM »

"The 5-string banjo is so difficult to retune that nearly all old-time/bluegrass/country/Americana where it features is in G"

POC....    Most clawhammer players (such as I) retune regularly as many tunes are "tuning specific". Not at all uncommon nor difficult.

Banjo and single row accordeons make a great team.
True that many bluegrass banjoists stick to open G tuning but, as melodeon says, most frailers in the old time style use several tunings. I use four, but some use many more. The late Rufus Crisp of Allen, Kentucky reputedly used eighteen.
Cheers
Steve
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