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Author Topic: How long did it take you to feel like you "got somewhere" with the melodeon?  (Read 5500 times)

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Lyra

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It's not a skill thing - it's "ahem" a German thing. She can play it fine without, but as soon as dots appear one must only play that which is written  ;)
Well probably, it's a "reverting to that which was originally drummed into her" thing, being classically educated and all.
The tyranny of little dabs of ink!!
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george garside

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whilst playing from the dots or by ear are both totally valid ways of playing   I think deep down many earists wish they could just put up a sheet of   paper and play a tune that they don't know  while many  dotists wish they could  just think a tune and play it.

Either  way becoming  realy good at both ways is difficult if not impossible for most of us.  There are of course exeptions to this.  For reasons I wont go into the lead violinist of a well known national orchestra came along to a pub session introduced himself and asked could he join in. We of course said yes but thought bloody hell!  He played each and every tune which were completely randon aand varied. He just listened to the first time through then came in and not only played perfectly++ but  with a very traditional 'fiddle' style.  And he thoroughly enjoyed 'not having to bother with the dots'as he put it.

I also had a classicaly trained violinist in a band and initialy he asked for the dots  and I said I haavn't got them for most tunes so just get on with it.  His eyes lit up and he said ''you mean I can improvise'' and I replied feel free.  He didn't realise until then that he was a good trad fiddler as well.

george
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Steve_freereeder

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It's not a skill thing - it's "ahem" a German thing. She can play it fine without, but as soon as dots appear one must only play that which is written  ;)
Well probably, it's a "reverting to that which was originally drummed into her" thing, being classically educated and all.
The tyranny of little dabs of ink!!

I was wondering if your friend insisting on that sort of approach! 'It's written down so that's how it must be played!'  :o
You will have to educate her to the concept that, in traditional music, any notation is always meant to be understood as the bare bones of the tune and is not to be taken pedantically as the only way to play it. If you need a bit of support from the classical world, you could always mention how baroque keyboard continuo players usually had just the hint of a bass line - perhaps with a figured bass - and good players were expected to improvise around that harmonic framework.

It's worth reading John Kirkpatrick's article 'Medley Mania' where, among other things, he argues for the freedom to find out all sorts of things which can be done with a tune.
Spontaneous improvisation over a set chordal sequence only comes after a tune has become absolutely automatic, and perhaps been played many, many times. It's wrong to try and force it by writing out contrived parts, even if they're only intended as a guide. You have to allow a tune time to sink in before you can open yourself up to its inherent possibilities. Then, gradually, you can find all sorts of turns and twiddles, all kinds of ways of bringing out the different aspects of a tune to best advantage.

Mind you, there was a somewhat opposite and prescribed approach taken by William Kimber (senior) when teaching morris tunes to his son William Kimber (junior) who became the famous Headington Morris anglo concertina player and Cecil Sharp's protegé. He (WK senior) said rather forcefully to WK junior: "These are the notes you play and you play no others!". But we won't dwell too much on that...  ;)
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Ebor_fiddler

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Yes, that was the Victorian understanding of music. Prior to that era, playing was much looser. Mozart and other composers expected their lead players, at least, to improvise on the theme given and some works had gaps in for the soloist to fill at his pleasure.
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TomBom

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It's not a skill thing - it's "ahem" a German thing. She can play it fine without, but as soon as dots appear one must only play that which is written  ;)
Well probably, it's a "reverting to that which was originally drummed into her" thing, being classically educated and all.
The tyranny of little dabs of ink!!
Not uncommon in Germany:
I've been a member of a band playing for a yearly "Irish pub event" in our local (German) church.
We had quite a few discussions about which version of a tune we'd play and our leader handed out the dots. He wanted us to learn the 'correct' version - while I preferred listening and making variations ...
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george garside

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A trombone player friend from a local brass band asked if he could come to our band practice nights  and  he being a good reader  asked for the dots.   Winster Gallop, cock of the north, Swedish masquerade or whatever sounded bloody awful on the trombone playing everynote to written length etc so I suggested he played it on the lines of a double bass sort of coming down the scale bum bum bum bum etc.  It sounded absolutely great and he admitted to having been a jazz trombone player way back before joining brass bands  . he was a great asset and  aadded another dimension to the ceilidh  band sound

george
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Thrupenny Bit

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and to continue Steve's JK comment, he also advocates playing a tune for an hour to 'really get to know it'.
I've never done this, but my Bedlam mates still start to glaze over when remembering when they were playing with JK in an impromptu band and played Sir Roger de Coverly for over an hour...in shifts to allow for breaks. Apparently utterly awesome.
Funny 'ol thing this traditional stuff  (:)
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Julian S

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and to continue Steve's JK comment, he also advocates playing a tune for an hour to 'really get to know it'.
I've never done this, but my Bedlam mates still start to glaze over when remembering when they were playing with JK in an impromptu band and played Sir Roger de Coverly for over an hour...in shifts to allow for breaks. Apparently utterly awesome.
Funny 'ol thing this traditional stuff  (:)
Q

From my memory, it was at least three hours ! It was for a very good charitable cause.
Speaking personally, as a Shropshire Bedlam at the time I did mix playing for most of the three hours, with a bit of dancing just to stretch the legs... ::)
It's one way of perfecting a tune...and making sure one never forgets it !
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Thrupenny Bit

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.....ah yes of course. forgot it was on your watch!
I knew it was a long time, just couldn't remember the exact details. I think it was Stu who told me, with a manic grin on his face and said people were on and off stage as  necessary for dancing, beer or just taking a break.
I certainly sounds a special event.

I remember someone ( Dave Townsend? ) talking about Thomas Hardy, who with his father would play at the Big House for events. The  normal thing would be to play one tune for the dance, often longway sets  and a dance lasted when the top couple ( the Master and Mistress of the house ) went all the way down the room and all the way back. Apparently 15-20 mins or more. Therefore the simple tune would have mutated by the end of the dance.
Another illustration of what JK was saying.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Melissa Sinclair

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This just gets more and more interesting.
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Thrupenny Bit

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We aim to please   8)
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Jonathan Arnett

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This just gets more and more interesting.

Agreed. I really must get a copy of Georges book to go with the Mally book I already have. I find I still need to listen to a tune even I have the music. Cock of the North sounds very different played by the pipes and drums of the Gordon Highlanders. They play it rather slower and the result is very different from many players who dash it off with little thought. Slow I like. Gives me a chance.
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Huw Adamson

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and to continue Steve's JK comment, he also advocates playing a tune for an hour to 'really get to know it'.
I've never done this, but my Bedlam mates still start to glaze over when remembering when they were playing with JK in an impromptu band and played Sir Roger de Coverly for over an hour...in shifts to allow for breaks. Apparently utterly awesome.
Funny 'ol thing this traditional stuff  (:)
Q

From my memory, it was at least three hours ! It was for a very good charitable cause.
Speaking personally, as a Shropshire Bedlam at the time I did mix playing for most of the three hours, with a bit of dancing just to stretch the legs... ::)
It's one way of perfecting a tune...and making sure one never forgets it !

There is an awful lot to be said for playing a tune for ages, although I would ideally tend to go in half hour slots, and make sure I split it at least between two days, to let the magical powers of sleep do their work...
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havaLaff

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This just gets more and more interesting.

Agreed. I really must get a copy of Georges book to go with the Mally book I already have. I find I still need to listen to a tune even I have the music. Cock of the North sounds very different played by the pipes and drums of the Gordon Highlanders. They play it rather slower and the result is very different from many players who dash it off with little thought. Slow I like. Gives me a chance.

 I also find it rather frustrating when I listen to 'march' on the bagpipes and try to learn that tune, only to hear it played as a reel or jig
on melodeon/accordion. IMO, the originality of the tune is destroyed.
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Tufty

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Mind you, there was a somewhat opposite and prescribed approach taken by William Kimber (senior) when teaching morris tunes to his son William Kimber (junior) who became the famous Headington Morris anglo concertina player and Cecil Sharp's protegé. He (WK senior) said rather forcefully to WK junior: "These are the notes you play and you play no others!". But we won't dwell too much on that...  ;)
Dan Worrall, in his book on the music of William Kimber makes a distinction between the melody which remained fixed and the accompaniment "Kimber rarely played any left hand part of the music exactly the same way twice". P.19.
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george garside

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This just gets more and more interesting.

   

 I also find it rather frustrating when I listen to 'march' on the bagpipes and try to learn that tune, only to hear it played as a reel or jig
on melodeon/accordion. IMO, the originality of the tune is destroyed.

as a pipe march cock of the north would be around 90bpm max whereas as a jig probably around 120.  However its not just a question of playing it faster as that will sound crap, the phrasing and dynamics need to be aadjusted on the hoof  and in that respect playing to the feet of the dancers has a lot to be said for it

george
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Guy

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That and the chorus director I work with has already gotten all excited because there is this solstice piece she has that she needs a squeeze box player. I better get that piece quick if I want any chance in being able to play it by December (basically not kidding!  ;D )

Going back to this point, I think it's quite important to have a goal to aim for, and this seems like a good place to start.
To illustrate this, I was playing guitar in a band and had learned a few tunes on the melodeon very badly to help out a Morris side.  The band's melodeon player decided to leave, but would fulfil all the current bookings. Being a democratic outfit, we had a vote-get a new musician, or make me practice a lot and take over. The vote was 4-1 in favour of me practicing. I'll let you guess who the lazy person who didn't want to practice was.
Anyway, I started practicing for at least an hour a day, just on the tunes that our box player used. I hated it for several weeks, at least. I didn't think that I had the concentration or dedication any more to do this much focussed practice. But I had to do it, as I didn't want to let the others down, and we had professional obligations to fulfil.

Then I tried one of the Morris tunes again and found it was much easier and sounded better. After that, I started to enjoy practicing, and carried on. The rest of the band haven't found out I'm faking yet...

So, my feeling is, if you have something to aim for, go or it! It will give you a focus...

Cheers,
Guy

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MarioP

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I like the advise here as always.. Pick up and go!

Since i'm a drummer by nature i'm normally satisfied with improvisation with music.

but i've picked up a quest for clarification on the two voice and three voice instruments I like what I found here in the forum but wanted to see some other samples I came across this PDF.

can someone clarify if this applies to melodeons as well??

http://myweb.fsu.edu/nrogers/Handouts/Diatonic_Sequence_Handout.pdf

Also did not mean to high-jack this thread just felt it was the most appropriate do Advice if must be repost or place else where?
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What an interesting thread! I am about 8 months into my melodeon journey, having played guitar for about 45 years. I can read the dots if I really have to , but learning by ear via CDs and you tube is far better for me. I found it helpful to play at my local, vey tolerant, folk groups from about week two! Must have been a bit painful for them.   I listen to Mally's brilliant CDs, especially the Morris ones that accompany his books, when driving.  This helps get the tunes in my head.  Playing to an audience is very very different, and gives me a real incentive to produce something more accurate and polished. Mally's books are good and are helping me add useful techniques like row crossing, creative bass lines etc. 
One other thing...I have played harmonica for many years and the in out sequencing was helpful to me from day 1.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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I listen to Mally's brilliant CDs, especially the Morris ones that accompany his books, when driving. 


Useful as Mally's books are, can I recommend Ashley Hutchins Morris On series of cds  (plenty of examples to be found on youtube)  to you. They'll broaden your view of what is possible in the world of Morris music. Plenty of more recent stuff there, as well. You might even think it's worth buying the cds. They make great music to drive to (IMHO, of course).
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