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Author Topic: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?  (Read 3852 times)

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MatthewVanitas

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1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« on: June 04, 2008, 08:18:57 PM »

Greetings!  I'm new to the board, and wandered here to ask some morris questions, since I understand there's a larger morris contingent than on Chiff & Fipple (where I usually ask squeezebox questions).

I've been getting interested in morris dance (particularly Border) as of late.  Unfortunately, my options to participate are limited, as I'm currently in Afghanistan.  I'll return to the States and be demobilized later this summer, and was hoping to try and visit a few sides as I wander the country before returning to Austin for university.

I have some basic skills on melodeon, mainly the 2-stop Hohner 1-row.  Played a little bit for sessions and when living in Newfoundland, etc.  Mainly a strings guy, but found melodeon really intuitive.

I like compact, agile instruments, and I like minimalism, so I'm particularly fond of the small 1-row melodeons.  I understand that morris musicians generally (almost universally) use larger D/G boxes.  If I were to take a 1-row D melodeon to a morris dance, would I be of very limited use? 

Is there any advantage to mini-melodeons (1-2 reeds, <10 keys, etc), in terms of being able to in some way move with the dancers, caper in some external role as the "fool", etc?  I've been messing with some toy accordion rebuilds, and imagine that this little critter might be great for mobile playing:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3e7iYw7jj4

It's basically a toy accordion, tweaked and upgraded with Weltmeister single reeds in D.  Nothing fancy, but an inexpensive and portable little box.

Thoughts?  Should I just give up on one-rows and start saving up for a Hohner Lilliput 2.5 (which seems like a really fun box)?
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BruceHenderson

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2008, 12:49:59 AM »

  Greetings!  I'm new to the board, and wandered here to ask some morris questions, since I understand there's a larger morris contingent than on Chiff & Fipple (where I usually ask squeezebox questions). 

   Yeah, but we put up with it pretty well.

Quote
(snip) I like compact, agile instruments, and I like minimalism, so I'm particularly fond of the small 1-row melodeons.  I understand that morris musicians generally (almost universally) use larger D/G boxes.  If I were to take a 1-row D melodeon to a morris dance, would I be of very limited use? 

   Yeah, pretty limited.  Most Morris tunes (and Morris musicians [if that's not too far a stretch of an oxymoron for you]) are in G.  It's *possible* to play some tunes in G on a one-row in D but you lose pretty much all of your bass which isn't good*.  Unfortunately, it's hard to find a one-row in "high-G" -- most of them are an octave lower but that puts them in the same range as a GC (or GCF) and not a DG, which is what most Morris musicians will be playing.

   There's a bigger issue here.  Most Morris teams practice with a specific musician and work out important factors (speed, number of repeats, emphasis at places etc.) and there's not much scope for a "visitor" to just join in unless that musician has shown to be knowledgeable and adaptable in regard to that team's repertoire and style.  Unless you're available to practice with a team, you are unlikely to find opportunities to play for the dance in public.

   But if you're going to be "customizing" a *small melodeon", you can get the reeds from an old dead (that will make it appropriate for Morris) DG and that would put you in the right octave.  But if you want some more general advice, find all the dance-outs you can and go along and meet the people and have a good time -- you'll probably come out of it with new friends and some good contacts and some happy memories.  And the instrument in G will fit in find at sessions after the dancing is over.

(*  The bass gives a "bounce" that some say lifts fat-assed, beer-gutted, grey-beared, balding Morris dancers with the little bent pipes clamped in their teeth and scraggly ponytails ... and the men, too.)
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I love one-rows!  Four reeds kick butt!!!!

Bill the Farmer

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2008, 11:21:34 AM »

Most local morris sides we know have a music and singing session in the pub after the dancing. Any singers/musicians who turn up are encouraged to join in or do a turn. There was a chap last year with a Hohner one row in D in the visiting side at one of our stands, so we played lots of tunes in D after the dancing.
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Allan Smith

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2008, 02:14:27 PM »

"and was hoping to try and visit a few sides as I wander the country before returning to Austin for university."

Try asking the sides that are on your route, you'll find that they're quite welcoming & if they know why your there you'll get dragged into something or other.

& most Border sides go with the Big Band sound, so you can lose yourself in the background 'til you get up to speed

There's a good list here - http://www.morrisfed.org/mf/members/Alist.shtml

Hope to see you if you wind up in our neck of the woods ;)

Smith
« Last Edit: June 05, 2008, 02:16:50 PM by Allan Smith »
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melodeon

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2008, 04:08:17 AM »

Take a  G  melodeon and you can play in G and D   plus the minors
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Rob2Hook

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2008, 11:24:01 AM »

Our border side had one musician who nearly always played a one-row.  Of course, it was a Hohner four-stop so the grunting bass and fairground treble sound gave great added depth to the "Wall of Sound".  It did mean that he carried two boxes, G & D.  The low G gives more character than the high G, anyway, but playing at normal speed and outdoor volume is an extreme cardiovascular workout!
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joe

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2008, 11:36:31 AM »

All musicians should have been dancers at some point ...
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Québécois

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2008, 02:50:14 PM »

All musicians should have been dancers at some point ...
...and vice-versa!!!
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joe

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Re: 1-row mini-melodeons for Morris?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2008, 03:13:54 PM »

No, i've heard some otherwise great dancers trying to play the melodeon!!!!

Seriously though, a lot of music played for morris has a very odd rhythm, that makes no sense at all, unless played for morris. The speed, rhythym, emphasis, just about everything can change throughout a dance (by that I dont mean the speed getting faster throughout, but rather changing for different parts) and it is extremely difficult to learn this without having danced.
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