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Author Topic: Getting started with GC  (Read 1846 times)

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Kon

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Getting started with GC
« on: May 04, 2019, 08:00:12 PM »

Hi all,

I'm a new member and looking to start playing the melodeon. I have fallen in love with the sound of the instrument listening to the likes of Andy Cutting, Cyrille Brotto and Remi Geffroy and would love to learn to play myself.

I've got a few questions about getting started. First and foremost I would love to actually get my hands on a box! Do any members live around Cambridge (UK) or have acquaintances here who would be prepared to let me have a squeeze, or even borrow or rent a box (or give a couple of beginner's lessons)? I am hoping to buy a melodeon soon but don't have much spare cash at the moment and would like to get hands-on with a box before spending lots of money.

Secondly, thinking ahead to buying an instrument, based on the style of music I enjoy and would want to play I am thinking a fourth-apart box would be best suited, and I am drawn to a GC melodeon (liking the mellower sound of the lower-pitched instruments) but wouldn't be choosy about key, as I am unlikely to be playing with other people in the foreseeable future. It seems that a standard 2-row 8-bass instrument is the best starting point. Does this all sound sensible? If anybody has a working box that meets these criteria that they could imagine selling for around £200, or advice on how to find one, I would be very interested. Obviously not expecting the world from a melodeon at this price point, just something that plays would be enough to get me started - but let me know if you think I am deluded to hope to find something usable for that amount of money.

Last but not least I am curious about the pros and cons of starting out on a one-row. I am drawn to a two-row because it seems like that would offer a greater range, and because I really like those long cross-row melodies, but it seems much easier to lay hands on a cheap one-row, and I wondered whether that might be a good starter instrument.

I look forward to reading your replies, and to joining in the forum as I learn more. Cheers!

Konrad

(EDIT: title modified to be more informative/specific)
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 05:34:54 PM by Kon »
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GC Erica

playandteach

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2019, 10:15:54 PM »

It all sounds sensible. I would, however, choose your key not on the sonority but on the type of pieces you might like to learn. If you like English pieces, then DG is probably wiser, if you like French, then GC works well. You can of course apply any learning to any keyed box, but it does make some sense to pick according to style. Andy Cutting may play different keyed boxes to Remi Geffroy.
In terms of cost, you may have less luck picking up a GC for £200. Hiring a box is the way I started - I think it was £25 per month, which was with someone who trusted I would look after it well. That way you might get something really pretty decent to learn on.
You don't mention if you have any previous musical experience, which may impact on your ability to pick up some tunes quickly. I'm sure the Cambridge based melnetters will be out in force to support you. There is a Bb Eb old Hohner on Ebay which was up for bids of £150 or so.
Buying from a player on here is a really great idea, as I can't think of anyone who would sell you something unusable - ebay is a different story as most people don't really know how badly in need of restoration their attic finds are, or how expensive that restoration could be.
Good luck, and I'm keen to hear how you get on.
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Kon

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2019, 10:46:19 PM »

Thanks for the reply playandteach!

You are right of course - I believe Andy Cutting plays in DG typically, whereas GC seems more common with the French players I enjoy. I am probably more drawn to the French style at the moment, but suspect that may change over time.

I did use to play the piano, but have not had access to an instrument to practise on for the last 6 years, so am far worse than rusty, but hopeful that some basic music theory and note reading ability will stand me in good stead.

I will update you here on any progress! Fingers crossed I can work out an affordable hire arrangement similar to yours.

Konrad

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Tufty

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2019, 03:38:58 PM »

There are a few C/F boxes around in your price range, usually older Hohner types. C/F fits between D/G and G/C in tone, so would be flexible. Downside being not many people in UK play C/F as their main box. So fewer chances to play together. 
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Alan Pittwood

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2019, 05:04:51 PM »

There are other tonal possibilities between G/C and D/G:

A/D
Bb/Eb

But always think about playing with others.  Doing so will make learning easier and more rewarding.

Also remember that as musicians we play for others - best to dance and but sometimes to listen.   Finding opportunities for either of these may help to make your learning more focussed.

D/G is the best advice.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 05:10:53 PM by Alan Pittwood »
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Hohner Erica D/G.

Theo

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2019, 05:16:29 PM »

DG is I’m sure the dominant system among players of English and in particular Morris music.  But if you are drawn towards French music then it’s not really suitable.  For that you need a GC, or possibly AD.  There is a thriving European music scene in many parts of England where you will find kindred spirits and many GC players.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Kon

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2019, 12:37:57 AM »

Thanks all for the helpful advice! Plenty to think about. The generally lower price-point of the slightly less common CF/AD/BbEb boxes is attractive, but GC seems like a better choice if it best suits the style I enjoy. For now, however, this remains a purely academic question, as I can't justify spending the money on buying a box before I've even tried one out!

I suppose visiting a shop would be a good way of trying out a few boxes, any suggestions on what might be the nearest shop with a good selection? Might it be possible to visit one of the forum's fettlers and have a go on some of the boxes they've got for sale at the time? There doesn't seem to be anybody particularly near Cambridge, but I have family in the North-East, so could come visit the Box Place, if you'd have me Theo, when I'm next up - though that won't be for a few months.
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Dick Rees

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 01:44:06 AM »

Kon...

Welcome to the world of diatonics.  I also am a big fan of the sonority of the G/C boxes.  I heartily endorse your choice of a G/C for your first box...

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2019, 08:19:15 AM »

As others have hinted at, it's good to be able to play along with other melodeonists, perhaps in sessions or in small workshop groups or even one-to-one lessons (Mel Biggs does excellent lessons via Skype). Playing along with others is a great way to learn very quickly. But to do this, you ideally need to obtain an instrument in the same pitch which is most used in your locality. In the Cambridge area (and indeed much of England) this will be D/G. There are morris sides who will have helpful melodeon playing musicians, and sessions too. If you start a thread along the lines of "Melodeon players in the Cambridge area" and asking for help, you should get some useful responses from forum members.

I note your interest in French music. While there are some G/C players around in England, it is still not the normal choice for most, so you may be struggling to find similar players nearby. A lot of French music is playable on a D/G melodeon.
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Theo

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2019, 08:48:26 AM »

You are welcome to visit The Box Place when you are in the NE.  Please contact me to arrange a time.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Kon

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2019, 09:45:50 AM »

Haha, looks like opinions continue to be divided for/against GC for a starter box - thanks both for the input Dick and Steve.

I will start a thread with a more informative title to search for players in my area, thanks for the hint Steve.

I look forward to meeting you when the opportunity arises Theo!
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Winston Smith

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2019, 10:26:09 AM »

I had a G/C for a while, and I loved the sound of it. I've also had a few in D/G which I've got rid of because I find the squeaky sound quite offensive, of course that might have more to do with my playing or dodgy hearing, or the way the instrument has been set up and tuned (or not tuned, as the case may be!).
Surely a 2+ row G/C would be an ideal tuning option, offering the lovely lower tone plus the facility to join in with the French loving lot, whilst it could also be played from the outside in (with any required C#'s on the + row) when in D/G land? It would certainly seem to be a way to overcome my current aversion, other than having an octave tuned D/G. (I'm suggesting this from a position of musical ignorance, btw or perhaps obviously!)
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Squeaky Pete

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2019, 10:53:45 AM »

You can play anything you like as long as you are playing on your own. French stuff that is normally played in C on the inside row of a GC box will sound higher if you are using a DG box and English tunes you would play in D on the outer row of a DG will sound lower on the outer row of a GC.
It only really matters when you play with other instruments, and ultimately that's what I imagine you want to do.
Fiddle tunes seem to be in G and D and occasionally A as it's an easy reach in the first position. Country fiddlers made use of the D and G open strings to give a bit more oomph and volume to their playing. It doesn't really affect  you why it happened, but the the result is most people play English stuff on a DG box .
French stuff on the other hand is more driven by hurdy-gurdy players and pipers. The natural scale of the pipes made these days is G, which is C with a middle hole start. Gurdies are much the same.

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Winston Smith

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2019, 11:55:14 AM »

"French stuff that is normally played in C on the inside row of a GC box will sound higher if you are using a DG box"

As I imagined, and unpleasant to my ear.

"English tunes you would play in D on the outer row of a DG will sound lower on the outer row of a GC."

Also as I experienced with my own G/C (but with the missing note!?) and much easier on my ear.

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Peadar

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2019, 03:41:33 PM »

Kon,

You can save yourself so much trouble if you just start with a real melodeon i.e. 1 row!

Joking aside you need to get your hands on a box and start learning how the in-out action of this- the original form of the accordion- works between your hands. I started with a Hohner 1040 in G (two voice, no stops, no frills) which came with the caveat that it is in tune with itself would probably need tuning if I wanted to play in sessions-as someone else said- tuning isn't an issue (unless you have perfect pitch) until you want to play with others. It lives under a napkin in the kitchen and I consider it  Eu115 well spent.

Put it this way....If you are prepared/can afford to spend £25/month on a hire accordion to get started, then a one row at that sort of price pays for itself while you learn a few tunes which in turn will give you a sense of what  (relative to the one you already have) an accordion feels like when you get a chance to try one in a fettler's shop.

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Winston Smith

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2019, 04:11:57 PM »

I'd like to say "Amen" to Peader's post. I too started on a 1 row (but not a fancy Hohner!) mine cost £7.01 and it turned me into a raving sufferer of MAD within a relatively short period of time! Although the cross-row style of playing which so many players prefer, does come with a bit of difficulty after playing on just 1 row all the time, I don't think that the problem is insurmountable to anyone with the will to do it.
I love my 1 rows to bits!
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Nigel

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2019, 04:41:32 PM »

I'm selling an old Hohner GC. I've sent a Pm about this and PlayGroup.
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Larry Powers

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2019, 04:43:07 PM »

As a beginner myself I will offer this.  It would be best to buy a melodeon that is suitable for the music you like and to learn using the music you like.  I struggled off an on for years trying to learn to play an instrument.  Typically lessons were formulaic, designed for kids and used music I did not care for.  I would start, get bored and quit.  Wait a few years and do it again.  Now I have fallen in love with Quebecois music and I have a teacher who is a Quebecois player and we are using Quebecois tunes (and I have time since I am recently retired).  I am quite happy and making reasonable for an old retired guy. 

I don't know much about G/C but I would recommend that you locate some good books or dvd's that teach two row G/C or locate a teacher who teaches using two row G/C and a repertoire that will hold your interest before buying your first melodeon.  And as others have mentioned it would be good if there is a group in your area that you can meet up with and eventually play with.

That being said I have found that resources for playing D/G are the most common.  If after looking for resources for learning G/C you find they are not abundant in your area then a D/G may be the way to go to learn and it will leave you with a reason to buy a second melodeon in G/C as you progress.
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Theo

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2019, 04:50:03 PM »

Here is a link to the Cambridge French Dance group.  It includes links to similar groups several of which are also in the Southeast.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2019, 04:56:37 PM »

Here is a decent looking Hohner Erica GC on ebay.   It has a new Acorn keyboard fitted which shows that it's been looked after.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Hohner-Erica-GC-melodeon/323796363208
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