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Author Topic: BC basses  (Read 768 times)

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Toothwright

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BC basses
« on: October 04, 2018, 12:43:22 AM »

Speaking only as a so far unsuccessful melodeonist with a Chinese BC box (designed in Uk, badged Frontini).
The treble side (23 button) is quite understandable however I was advised that I should regard the basses on BC boxes in general as percussion only.
Why should this be?
Is it the general view?
Is it the reason for them generally to be disregarded in Irish recordings when basses are clearly of great melodic use in DG boxes?
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Stiamh

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Re: BC basses
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2018, 03:18:24 AM »

It seems like a simple question but a thorough answer would take a long time to write and it's getting late over here... but here are a few points.

You can use the basses on a B/C to great effect, but in a completely different way from how they are used on a D/G box, or a G/C box, or a C/F etc.

This has to do with the fact that while D/G boxes, for example, are - basically - mostly used to play in D and G and related minor keys, B/C boxes are - practically speaking - never played in B and not that often in C. In fact they are mainly played in D & G and related minors! Plus a smattering (or for really good players, a lot) of other keys. 

This makes providing a usable set of basses difficult, at least on an 8 bass box. If you look at modern attempts to provide minimally useful basses - say the Joe Burke and John Nolan systems - you'll find you have precious few options.

This makes a constant harmonic accompaniment difficult, so B/C box players tend to use the basses differently. Either as a sort of constant percussion, as many mediocre players do (as well as very good melody players who don't bother with basses). But there are players who use the basses much more imaginatively. (It's often said that they can be used for occasional harmonic or rhythmic effect in the way that good uilleann pipers use the regulators.) However such players won't play creative bass accompaniments on every tune.

Players of D/G and G/C boxes are generally much more concerned with basses than B/C players are. So much so that learners are told they must learn to use both hands from the start. And later they often work out the bass accompaniment they want to play before, or at least while, they learn the right hand.

If you're learning B/C, you should not take this approach. Get well established with the right hand first. If you want to play basses later, when learning tunes in some keys (for example Em) it makes sense to know which direction your basses are available in and choose which row to play particular notes on accordingly. But that doesn't apply to the bulk of the repertoire.

Also bear in mind that B/Cs are mainly used in Irish music and for the bulk of the dance-tune repertoire, the type of accompaniment used by D/G players doesn't do much for the music. In fact it risks putting lead slippers on it.  ;)

If you're really anxious to play constant harmonic bass accompaniment on a B/C, you'll want a more complex bass system, either 12 basses, or a stradella (piano-accordion type) setup. But that means more weight and expense. In Irish music, almost nobody bothers with such systems.
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Tiposx

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Re: BC basses
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2018, 07:04:49 AM »

If it helps - I have been playing Irish music on various types of box including single row, pa and b/c for a year or so. I usually play along with an english concertina man. Recently we have found a local itm session and have started to join in with the rest of them - fiddles, pipes, whistles, d/g melodeon, mandolins, guitars etc. I have really had to up my game to fit in. In particular their fluency and speed were much better than my efforts. I confess that I have never even touched the left hand buttons - there is too much going on, and it just wouldn't fit in with the session.
On my spare b/c box (a converted Student 1)I haven't even fitted the basses/ chords. It feels very light and responsive. On my main box (b/c Pokerwork)I have an unused Joe Burke set-up. If I really wanted to play basses a mini- stradella would be my preference.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 07:09:49 AM by Tiposx »
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richard.fleming

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Re: BC basses
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2018, 08:58:10 AM »

As a player of ITM I have come to find the way bases are often (often, not always) played on DG boxes to sound either unnecessary, or unhelpful, or even obtrusive, noisy and pointless. This is not to say that I am right but simply that very sparing use of basses has come to seem preferable to me personally, and I think to see them as best used like the regulators on the pipes is very helpful. You don't have basses on the fiddle or the flute or the whistle and you can manage very well on the box without them. If the button box had been invented in Ireland I suspect it would not have had them at all. 
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boxer

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Re: BC basses
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2018, 08:01:45 PM »

I agree with the above posts.  You might manage to create a decent accompaniment for suitably structured slow airs , but as for the Irish dance repertoire, your time's better spent concentrating on the right hand side.  Only when you can make the melodic line flow with a discernible (and appropriate, intentional and regular) rhythmic pattern, and at reasonable speed, might it be time to start considering the bass buttons.

Good luck
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Stiamh

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Re: BC basses
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2018, 08:35:26 PM »

This video provides a very fine demonstration of creative bass playing on B/C. At first he uses what might be termed "regulator-style" playing, very effective, but getting towards the end of the second tune there are more adventurous harmonies combining notes from different bass pairs.

Two reels from Damien Mullane
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: BC basses
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2018, 11:38:57 PM »

This video provides a very fine demonstration of creative bass playing on B/C. At first he uses what might be termed "regulator-style" playing, very effective, but getting towards the end of the second tune there are more adventurous harmonies combining notes from different bass pairs.

Two reels from Damien Mullane

Thanks for posting, Stiamh. Very fine playing indeed!
I also like the tone quality of those lowest notes on the RH side in the first tune. They really sing out with a rich, almost voice-like, sound.
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Toothwright

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Re: BC basses
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2018, 12:18:28 AM »

Stiamh,Tiposx, richard.fleming and boxer.

Thank you very much for taking the time, and making the effort, to answer my questions.

I bought the BC instrument as a light-weight method of improving my treble efforts on the BCC# accordion. The BCC# has moved on to a very capable player but the BC remains.

Following your posts and advice I am now more conversant with the reasons for the different approaches in DG and BC instruments.
Your joint advice to concentrate on the treble initially has smoothed the decision path for me - I no longer need to feel the immediate guilt of bass neglect.

I use the BC for Scottish music - mostly pipe tunes in A maj - because of the BCC# origin - but I can see now that, in view of the keys I use mostly, the use of chord buttons as rhythmic devices is the appropriate future step.

Thank you for the help, I am very grateful.
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