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Author Topic: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key  (Read 1178 times)

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Richard J Delong

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Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« on: March 09, 2019, 04:14:56 AM »

Hello!

I have an opportunity to buy a G/C Pokerwork in great condition, but as a complete beginner I'm wondering if this is a good choice to learn on?  I've noticed (both on this forum and while searching for learning materials) that D/G is a far more common set-up - do you all think it will be more difficult to learn on a G/C box, and why?  Also, am I correct that G/C will be a lower pitched instrument, below D/G and C/F?  You can see I have everything to learn!

From a previous posting here a long while back I now understand how these instruments can 'naturally' transpose a tune (from D/G to C/F, etc.) by using the same fingering, but would I be able to use learning materials designed around the D/G system on the G/C or are there complications that I don't understand yet?

Thank you all for your advice!!  Although I owned one Pokerwork recently (in C/F, that I was forced to sell, much too soon), I never invested in good learning materials and made very little progress in learning, apart from attempting some tabs... I'm genuinely motivated and, truthfully, the G/C box looks excellent so I'm inclined towards it, but please be honest with any advice as I'd very much like to take advantage of the learning materials out there!!  I noticed the Pignol/Milleret books for G/C, but found no others yet specific to this key - any thoughts on these books?  Lastly, I would like to mention that I LOVE Italian diatonic music and also play some Celtic tunes on other instruments - is G/C suitable for either of these styles?  I read the Ed Rennie book is excellent - suggestions here would be invaluable, and (again) how it all relates to a G/C box would be a lifesaver!  I've convinced myself recently not to pursue learning on an Italian organetto at the moment because I was concerned that good learning materials (in English) might not be available, but now I'm worried I may be making the same mistake with buying a G/C (and not speaking French)!!  My long-term goal would be to play tunes from around the world, but I can really only afford one box for the foreseeable future.

Thank you all for your time in responding!!

Rich DeLong



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Gena Crisman

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2019, 04:56:30 AM »

Hello fellow 4 am UK time pal!

The biggest reason to pick a box with any given set of scales would, I think, be based on playing music with other people, or, along with recorded music. Past that, I'm not sure how much it truly, really matters?

DG is very common on this forum mainly because, well, most posters here are british and speak english, and D& G are very common in the music we play here, along with non melodeon instruments. Melodeons and Diatonic boxes are all across the world though, Where abouts in the world are you?
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Richard J Delong

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2019, 07:26:46 AM »

Hello Gena!

I'm in Hawaii so it's still pretty early here on a Friday night...

You know, there are no melodeon players around for many, many (many!) miles here as far as I can tell (at least on this Island, and probably not many even in Honolulu...), and all my friends who play music really aren't interested, so I'm free to play in any key I want!

With that in mind, do you think using a book based on D/G would present any unforeseen issues on a G/C or would it be as simple as just following the tutorials and simply ending-up with transposed tunes (and playing different notes)? 

I don't have much musical experience, so I'm trying to set myself up to learn as best I can...

Thanks for your reply - I often wish I was in a place where the box was more common and appreciated, as you can't beat having a good teacher and some like-minded friends!  Are you in England? 


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Theo

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2019, 09:09:36 AM »

Another set of tutorial material for GC is Vol. 1 : LE LIVRE DU DEBUTANT
Beguiner's tutor by Yann Dour.
It's in English and in French
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2019, 09:25:30 AM »

Hello Richard.

One thing to consider, when looking at the melodeon as a transposing instrument, is that the DG and the GC are pitched quite a long way apart. DG players favour the lower octave. GC players seem to use the upper octave a lot more. Yes, you could learn a tune on the DG and then pick up a GC and play the tune but you might find it pitched too low, as well as transposed. In my (very) humble opinion if you're learning to play GC you're better off with a tutor dedicated to GC and concentrating on tunes being played on GC instruments as references.

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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2019, 09:38:31 AM »

The Pignol/Milleret books are in French and English, so no worry there. I prefer G/C both from the point of it being more mellow sounding, and from the point of accompanying myself singing, as the home key of C sits more comfortably within my vocal range, than the G of a D/G box. However I'm not a cross row player, so can only play in the keys of the box I am using. Sounds to me like you won't be playing with a lot of other melodeonists, so pick the key you prefer, is my advice, for what it's worth.

Sir John
« Last Edit: March 09, 2019, 11:37:43 AM by John MacKenzie (Cugiok) »
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folkloristmark

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2019, 11:19:24 AM »

it will take a while learning melodeon for the differences in boxes to sink in past theoretical to actual practice. Your choice wont make that much difference as your music theory in practice improves. You have a common straight Key G in both those boxes.Were does the music you already play sit? and others you play with.Thats a starting point. Were you are it more likely common ground would be found with a Cg than a Dg ?? you might also consider AD.Do you play in C more than D which ever is the answer that may be the way to go at the begining , you can use either tutor books on both instruments by transposing or just treat the box as in the key of the book/resourse on your own its fine, it just effects were the tune sits with others. This can really aid learning and when you get the second and third box you are a natural.
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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2019, 12:12:25 PM »

Hello!

I have an opportunity to buy a G/C Pokerwork in great condition, but as a complete beginner I'm wondering if this is a good choice to learn on? ...  Also, am I correct that G/C will be a lower pitched instrument, below D/G and C/F?  You can see I have everything to learn!
...truthfully, the G/C box looks excellent so I'm inclined towards it

Rich DeLong

and, in direct answer to these questions:
The box you talk about sounds like an excellent choice for a beginner, or anyone who particularly likes Hohners but it will tend to drive your playing in a direction. Nothing wrong with that.

Yes, GC is pitched lower.

The choice of DG or GC will tend to influence your playing style and your repertoire but both are valid choices in your situation. Just try to hang on to it long enough for it to "take". It can be quite a long time.
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Greg Smith
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2019, 01:42:02 PM »

Hi Rich!

The D/G melodeon is commonly used on this site because it is the most commonly played for English music, which this site is biased towards. In other traditions the G/C or C/F are more common. I sought out a D/G because I knew I wanted to learn to play traditional English tunes like Morris dance tunes, but if you have a different focus, the G/C may well be more appropriate.

You *can* use D/G instructional materials for the G/C, but you may find that most books move quickly to using musical notation, so you will have to "pretend" that your box is in D/G when interpreting the notes. I don't know how confusing that would be, but it does present an extra layer of mental work. But there are plenty of good instructional materials for the G/C available as well.

My overall thought is that if the G/C is readily available (e.g., already in Hawaii) and in good condition and properly tuned, and you're not specifically committed to learning English music, then it would be your best bet.

By the way, I don't know about other melodeonists in Hawaii, but there's a fellow named Gary Coover who plays the anglo concertina very well and writes tutor books for it, and he lives in Hawaii (I think Honolulu actually). So there are other players of the push-pull squeezebox around those parts, and maybe opportunities to play with other traditional musicians as well.
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Steve C.

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2019, 03:19:08 PM »

If it's in tune, if it's marked made in germany and if it's less than US$400 or maybe 500, go ahead.  Cannot lose. 
One warning about Milleret/Pignol: labor of love.  Many have approached this method, but it can be pedantic and slow going.  Rennie, Mally and others books are rapid teachers: they get you playing tunes fast. 
I am a not an experienced player, but in my limited experience, C/F is a sweet spot tone-wise and works fine even with D/G method books.  G/C's are pitched too low for D/G books. 
Best learning box is the D/G combined with Melnet resources.  These people can get ANYONE playing. (!) 
Shipping to HI is only going to be around 10% or less the price of a box, so don't be shy about about looking/asking for beginner boxes right here. IMO.
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playandteach

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2019, 04:01:20 PM »

If you have a fairly good budget, and the GC pokerwork is as good a deal as you think, then you might regret not buying it. You can always add a DG later.
The GC world in French music is full of really good resources for tunes with melodeon tabs to help you find the buttons. The techniques are interchangeable, although as someone else said, you'll spend time in different octaves on the two instruments.
I'm certainly happy to have both now.
I have the Pignol / Milleret books, but I think they might be tough going if you haven't had any previous experience.
Worthy practise, especially for the left hand if you stick to all the exercises as they deal with phrasing and note lengths in great detail.
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tom f

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2019, 10:12:51 PM »

I found the Yann Dour tutors for the G/C (as noted by Theo above) very good, with a large range of tunes (not just French tunes) and perhaps less 'formal' than the Milleret/Pignon.  There are 3 different volumes to suit different abilities and techniques and you should aim to start with 'Le Debutant' (the Beginner).  The range of G/C tutors in English is not as expansive as those for D/G for which there is a huge range of learning materials available in the UK including online courses. When you start learning an instrument it's important that you play with other musicians as this will help you get through the 'difficult' times and give you some direction so it follows that you should choose an instrument that plays in the keys that others are playing in.  Good luck with your new adventure!
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Lyra

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2019, 11:39:35 PM »

When you start learning an instrument it's important that you play with other musicians as this will help you get through the 'difficult' times and give you some direction so it follows that you should choose an instrument that plays in the keys that others are playing in. 

It's not always possible, however desirable, for those in far flung places to play with others. Playing music that doesn't speak to you because it's all that's available can be pretty demoralising when "the right notes in the right order" is already a struggle.

I'd say pick your music. Then pick your instrument. If it turns out to be not the "right" one, you can always get another instead (or more likely) as well.
Also, skype lessons and other virtual platforms are available, and surprisingly effective. Well worth considering to kick start the process.

Personally I wouldn't use a DG book with GC because I read music and the transposing makes my brain hurt. There are several good tutor books out there (A couple already mentioned above. I 'd pick based on how your brain works - if you like theory/maths/puzzles then the M&P books are great. If you like a more intuitive quick start then maybe some of the others. You'll maybe end up a better player with M&P but you kind of have to learn to grind your own pigments first when many people just want to slap colour on the canvas. If you get my drift.)
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Richard J Delong

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2019, 09:17:34 AM »

Thank you all for your advice!  I went ahead with my purchase of the G/C today and feel grateful to know that it's been recently tuned and is reported to play wonderfully... I'll receive it this week (if it isn't lost at sea!) and will probably order one of the G/C tutor books immediately.  Although the D/G does indeed sound like a more supported key in terms of learning materials, I've been listening to a lot of French tunes recently and really love those waltzes!  I don't think I'll be disappointed as my goals are pretty modest - learn some fine tunes for my own entertainment and enjoy the process!

Thanks again for all the advice.

Rich
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playandteach

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2019, 09:26:07 AM »

When you start learning an instrument it's important that you play with other musicians as this will help you get through the 'difficult' times and give you some direction so it follows that you should choose an instrument that plays in the keys that others are playing in. 

 Playing music that doesn't speak to you because it's all that's available can be pretty demoralising when "the right notes in the right order" is already a struggle.

You'll maybe end up a better player with M&P but you kind of have to learn to grind your own pigments first when many people just want to slap colour on the canvas. If you get my drift.)
That's nicely said about the pigment. Many musicians get into formal learning once they've already embedded the love of the music, so you can go back later (especially if you stick to a standard keyboard layout, which I didn't).
I still play on my own, which is why I guess I started writing tunes. I think I'm now at a stage where I'd enjoy playing with a few others.
We have a local village band, but it's too noisy for me (tinnitus), and with just two or three, the social bit is so important (like playing bridge, you've all got to get on socially and musically).
I don't think you can go wrong with either tuning that you are looking at, and now I know you've started with GC, then you can always drop me a note if you're stuck for tunes (not mine).
I've attached Valse Triste.
All I did to find it online was to type in Valse Triste Loffet to Google.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2019, 11:49:25 AM »

Not sure the Milleret Pignol books, especially II, III are of help.  There are two ways of playing melodeon. The straightforward one is to go with the main rows.  Here D, G, and relative minors Em, Em dorian (using the C#) Am and Bb.   The 8  basses are cleverly set up to work with that, and also support E harmonic minor for that Klesmer or E Europe feel.   

In Grenoble "C'est l' enoui ca!"   Steph and Norbert, both lifelong friends like to play 'out'. In this context we see them both with essentially C+F boxes, but with most of their music in D!  They have special set up and 18 basses.   You can dabble in this using the 'part scales' discussed book I.  Against song, or in company of eg a clarinet it works surprisingly well. I do the same commonly  singing in C or Cm on a D/G, but I have a whole (C#) row of accidentals and the same 18 base as them.

So as all the earlier posts seem to say - it depends on your music and whom you play with.   

BTW if you like Blues - the fluent scale on box is a semitone below inner row key, so F# on British kit, B in France or on your new box.   Norbert used to carry a second box, simply for his Blues improvisation breaks, but his technique is now such that he can do Blues in any key.  But it is a very different way of playing ...

See you've gone CG.  You'll be very happy playing in France, or Italy or in the Anglo French company.   English sessions ... all the G tunes.  The once in D will need a bit of practice, but it is all do-able.  Enjoy  ;)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 11:53:17 AM by Chris Ryall »
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Rees

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2019, 03:52:30 PM »

Transposing was mentioned earlier in the thread. There's no need to transpose, just pretend that your G/C box is a D/G and everything will be fine.
Tunes will come out in a different key but who cares as you're playing on your own.
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george garside

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Re: Advice Needed! Choosing a Key
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2019, 05:35:56 PM »

what Rees said!. indeed any 4th apart 2 row box  can be 'deemed' to be in any key  unless you have perfect pitch in which case  non home keys may sound a bit iffy.

Once you have got the hang of the CF box you may find other people to play with and you may then find you need  a differently tuned box to play along with them  - but just keep that in mind as a possible future requirement and enjoy your CF box

george
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