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Author Topic: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.  (Read 1316 times)

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Tone Dumb Greg

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Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« on: August 18, 2017, 12:36:57 PM »

This came to mind from off topic remarks in a recent post.

When I first started learning to play (on a DG) I was totally up and down the rows.
After a while someone gave me Mr Squeezy's excellent tutor DVD on improving your technique. I began to understand what cross-row playing might do for me.

Naturally, I loved it-who wouldn't. I started using it everywhere the limitations of reversal permitted.

After a while, as I became more used to cross row playing, I started to find that, in itself, it didn't work for dance, especially if there was too much of it. At least, not for the sort of dance I'm involved in (morris). Frankly, I found it a bit boring. Too legato. 

So now my style is more hybrid.

Now, when I learn a new tune I tend to start by playing on the row in the simplest way, just to fix it in my head. Once I start getting it I find myself cross rowing, bringing it comfortably up to tempo.

Later, sometimes weeks or months later, I tend to find myself coming back to preferring playing the tune much more up and down. Just for the energy and bounce that you get. The time I spent playing it across the rows seems to make it easier to play it the way I really want to.

Am I alone in this this? It is almost like I'm reflecting my learning to play the instrument experience (so far) in my learning to play a tune experiences (at least with up beat dance tunes, in major keys). It's not a rule. Just something that tends to happen.

Maybe it's time I got a one row.
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Edward Jennings

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 01:09:35 PM »

I'm still a rank beginner, but love my 1-rows. I've been half-heartedly trying to get on with my 2-row D/G at our monthly get-togethers; but not having much success, I cheated and took my newly acquired 114 G to the last one, and enjoyed the session so much more!
I can see the value of  cross-rowing in order to have the bellows travelling in the right direction to accommodate the desired basses, but surely it would be a lot simpler to just have a set of unisonoric basses? Obviously this could add, possibly unwanted, weight, but to partially alleviate this, the chords could be left out and made manually with the bass buttons.
The only problem I have with my 1-rows is just having the two bass-end buttons. Although my skills haven't developed to make good use of them (yet) I would prefer more bass notes, even the extra 2 on the 1140 make a significant difference.
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911377brian

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2017, 01:22:37 PM »

Having only two spoons on my 114's is OK. with me, Edward. I am a bear of very little brain so the simpler the better...
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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2017, 02:23:47 PM »

I'm very much an up and down the row player probably 90% of the time. And i do see this as a limitation. I really only use my D/G box for Morris.If I'm not playing for Morris I much prefer to play my 1 rows. They almost seem to accompany themselves or else i'm playing alongside other instruments that provide accompanying chords. So i guess its easier for me

I do take your point that certain tunes sound better(? more authentic perhaps) played up and down the rows. Equally I can see advantages to cross rowing and making more/better use of the basses I just haven't put much time or effort into it yet.

Making more/better use of the basses  and more cross rowing melodies on my D/G is definitely on my ever lengthening list of practice goals (:)
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Sebastian

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2017, 02:39:18 PM »

Am I alone in this this?
No. It's as if you'd put my vague impressions into words. (:)
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Lester

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 02:48:34 PM »

It's my view, and people can disagree if they wish, that the essence of a typical English dance tune can be more easily spoiled by cross rowing than the essence of a French cross row tune can be spoiled by an on the row rendition.

But I come from an English Ceilidh, Morris, English Session background and learned on a 1 row so like I said YMMV
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george garside

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2017, 02:49:19 PM »

I am more or less an on the row player when it comes to DG boxes  because so doing provided a lot of desirable 'freebies' when playing for dance eg ceilidhs, morris, stepping , old tyme or whatever.  However when playing waltzes in D I normally use  the pushG on the G row so I can pot the G bass. this I cconsider worthwhile if it is a long note and therefore heard by the punters. On the other hand if playing the same tune as a jig at a fair lick I don't usually bother as the individual notes are not round for long enough for anybody to notice!

There are a few tunes that , when played fast, eg morpath rant in D are much easier to finger aaccross rows  and I 'cross row' simply for that reason rather than to fit the bass better.

On the one row I treat the bass as slightly tuned percussion  and just leave them off where they are a bit 'iffy'

Another thought is that you don't have to use the basses  just because they exist!  eg I often play haunting slow aires without any bass  which can reduce the '' hauntingness!"  of the tune aand hide the wonderful dynamics aand phrasing that can be had from a simple DG box.  There are also occasions when I feel that leaving the bass out for the odd bar or two can enhance the proceedings  as a sort of reverse ornamentation or less is more!

So to sum up I think its good to  develop the skills required to be able to give yourself a choice  between on the row, crossing rows or treble only  as best suits the occasion.

There is another reason why I favour mostly on row on the DG and that is because I also play BC & BCC#  which involve constant row crossing and keeping on the row on the DG helps to prevent any nasty accidents !

george

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Tufty

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2017, 03:53:45 PM »

I wonder if this is a generational thing in England? Most younger players I see are playing three row 18 bass boxes, or at least aiming to do so when money allows. They are playing a cross row style coming from French music which they adapt to the D/G box. The technical skill shown is often of a high order but I do have a concern that we could lose the distinctly "English" style that developed back in the 60s-70s. I have noticed in recent years that the cross row style is being taught as the correct, or indeed the only valid style in some workshops. Perhaps we need to go back to recordings of the traditional players: Oscar Woods, Bob Cann, Dolly Curtis etc. just to remind ourselves of what would be lost if we became so dazzled by the continental style that we forgot just how good the old stuff can be!
 I started with one rows and still have "on the row" as my default setting but since starting to play French tunes on a G/C I have started to cross row rather more. In the end it is the outcome that counts, not how you get there and one of the pleasures of the melodeon is that there is no one right way of playing (whatever some people might tell you ;)).
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GPS

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2017, 04:05:35 PM »

I think you have a good point there, Tufty; I suppose there are fashions and fads in melodeon-playing just as there are in everything else. I totally concur that there's no "right" way to play our chosen instrument. Cross-rowing doesn't do it for me, mainly because it's specifically conceived to iron out the "bounce" that comes from on-the-row playing, but there are plenty of people who do like it, which is fine. I'm chiefly an "up & downer" because it suits my almost exclusively English - OK, British - repertoire, but like George, I'm happy to cross rows when it makes the tune easier to play: he quotes "Morpeth Rant" as an example, which I do play across the rows because it's damn near impossible otherwise, and a lot of other Northumbrian tunes are more accessible with a bit of row-crossing. Horse for courses.....

Graham
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george garside

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2017, 05:07:01 PM »

I wonder if this is a generational thing in England? Most younger players I see are playing three row 18 bass boxes, or at least aiming to do so when money allows. They are playing a cross row style coming from French music which they adapt to the D/G box.  . Perhaps we need to go back to recordings of the traditional players: Oscar Woods, Bob Cann, Dolly Curtis etc. just to remind ourselves of what would be lost if we became so dazzled by the continental style that we forgot just how good the old stuff can be!
 
the on the row style works well not only for 'English'  which actually has many 'styles'   in different parts of the country  but also for Scottish and  Irish and American stuff played at reasonable dance speed, indeed Bob Cann was a great fan of Jimmy Shand  and  Shands style  had a strong influence of  Bob's style of playing.

Perhaps some of the younger generation of players would benefit from listening to the old 'masters' not in a copy cat fashion  but to absorb the various highly rhythmic stiles they had.   After all for most dance music the tune is often merely a vehicle for the 'dunt' or rhythm and all too often an overdose of arty farty twiddles detracts rather than adds to the rhythm.

The late Will Atkinson master of the mouthie ( and a great Shand Morino player) once said to me  ''watch the feet of those  'sitting out'  if you havn't got those tapping you have got it badly wrong!".    That was one of Will's brilliant one liners and probably the most important 30 second lesson I have ever had, never to be forgotten.

george
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2017, 05:18:43 PM »

My background is English concertina and I'm used to working in triangles on the EC keyboard so cross rowing from the start made perfect sense to me.
Over the years I've seen melodeon players frantically thrashing the bellows for all its worth and I really dislike that style of playing.
As any note is played either pushing or pulling, I really question if playing along the rows gives any more bounce.
Surely it is down to your phrasing of music and the emphasis of the beat that gives the bounce, not whether that note is pushed or pulled?
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Thrupenny Bit

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

pikey

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2017, 05:19:03 PM »

Spot on Tufty . I soon tire of the smooth crossed row ( and C bass drone for tunes in G and D ) when used all the time . 

I suggest learning both styles , and as the original poster said , mix and match them .
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2017, 05:23:54 PM »

Yes mix and match to give emphasis to the bounce and beat ....
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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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2017, 05:53:09 PM »

Spot on Tufty . I soon tire of the smooth crossed row ( and C bass drone for tunes in G and D ) when used all the time . 

I suggest learning both styles , and as the original poster said , mix and match them .

Exactly. I recall the words of a master - lots of melodeon players now seem to be trying to make them sound like piano accordeons, and vice versa.

I've become more of a 'cross-rower' through interest in French dance, and I reckon it's made me a better player with more tools in the play box, but knowing when to employ the tools is the thing. What works on a French mazurka isn't the same as what fits a lumpy hornpipe - my playing style is quite different when I play for the Bourrees as opposed to Border Morris and so it should be.

J




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Rob2Hook

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2017, 06:11:31 PM »

Not so sure about the vice versa...  There are few PA players indeed who can impart a lively bounce to their playing, so much so that when you do hear it you still look for the melodeon!  I suspect that the typical PA player in a morris side is happy enough to get the right notes and has never considered practicing the more advanced techniques of bellows dynamics and staccato playing - things which come naturally on a melodeon, indeed here the advanced techniques include smoothing out the above to achieve a legato style.

Sure, often a phrase is cross-rowed to match the available basses, but in addition some decorative runs, etc can be cross rowed to get more even tempo as they don't impinge on the overall rhythm of the piece.  If one tries to pay them somewhat staccato it still fits - just don't slur them Mantovani style (unless that suits your sense of humour)!

Rob.
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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2017, 07:27:58 PM »

There are few PA players indeed who can impart a lively bounce to their playing, so much so that when you do hear it you still look for the melodeon! 
My son can do it. I am immensely proud of his musicianship.  (:)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVgocd3dSR8
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Howard Jones

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2017, 07:41:19 PM »

It's not that one is right and the other is wrong, it's about picking the best fingering option for what you're trying to do. That may be to get the  chord you're after, cross-rowing to play faster or more smoothly, or up-and-down to (maybe) slow it down or to get some bounce. For me, working out a tune involves exploring as many options as possible to find what works best.
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george garside

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2017, 07:42:36 PM »

I suspect that the typical PA player in a morris side is happy enough to get the right notes and has never considered practicing the more advanced techniques of bellows dynamics and staccato playing - things which come naturally on a melodeon, 
 Rob.

not to  all melodeon players  by any means!

george >:E ;)
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Stiamh

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2017, 07:45:21 PM »

There are few PA players indeed who can impart a lively bounce to their playing, so much so that when you do hear it you still look for the melodeon! 
My son can do it. I am immensely proud of his musicianship.  (:)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVgocd3dSR8

Lovely stuff, Steve. Having just got my own son a decent working PA, this is inspiring.

As to row-crossing on diatonics - as a two-row semitone box player I have only two reversals. They are surprisingly handy for smoothing certain phrases and allowing certain chord choices, but reading the above debate I think I'm almost glad not to have more than two... saves time having to make decisions  (:)

(Actually I do have quite a few more on my 2½ row box but I practically never use them except for the odd right-hand chord.)

Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Cross row v across the rows. Evolving techniques.
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2017, 08:15:54 PM »

I'm with Howard here, its the way I work.
i work out a tune to the way I want to play it, without concern as to whether on row or cross rowing.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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