Anglo or English accordian?

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rick H

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Mar 15, 2006, 7:36:11 AM3/15/06
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Hi!

I want to get my wife an accordian for her birthday, but I don't know
which type is "right" for English/Celtic folk.

Is there a right kind of accordian to get for this type of music, or
is it down to personal taste?

Much obliged for any help,

Rick

Jack Campin - bogus address

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Mar 15, 2006, 9:21:45 AM3/15/06
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> I want to get my wife an accordian for her birthday, but I don't
> know which type is "right" for English/Celtic folk.
> Is there a right kind of accordian to get for this type of music,
> or is it down to personal taste?

You'd better have the time to do a bit more research.

"Anglo" and "English" are terms applied to concertinas, not accordions.
"Anglo" means you get different notes on push and pull, "English" means
you get the same note.

Accordion terminology is less simple. "Melodeon" means a small
accordion which does different notes on pull and push, as does
"diatonic accordion" - like anglo concertinas, they are restricted
in the keys they can play in. They need a separate row of buttons
for each key they can play. Other accordions are "chromatic" -
one now-unusual type (the sort Jimmy Shand used to play) does
different notes on push and pull but most produce the same note.
Piano accordions are the commonest of these, the other kind is
the Continental button accordion. (There have been a mindboggling
number of variant accordion designs over the last 150 years, any
description shorter than a book is going to oversimplify).

English concertinas have a strange button layout where alternate
notes in the scale are played by alternate hands (like the African
thumb piano). Very few players can make folktunes sound fluid and
expressive on them; they were designed as a free-reed alternative
to the classical violin. The rare Duet type (also the same note
both ways) has a saner arrangement of the buttons, with low on
the left and high on the right, but you hardly ever see one and
I couldn't name any folk player I've ever heard.

Different kinds of folk music need different instruments. Scottish
music is often in D or A, and needs punchy accents and strong chords;
the Shand-type accordion does both easily, the piano accordion is
reasonable, anglos do the tunes well, multi-row diatonic accordions
are maybe a bit better than a chromatic when they fit but leave you
stranded for tunes in keys like B flat (which do matter sometimes).
Irish music is usually in D or G, with limited harmony, fast scale
patterns and not much discernible beat - a lot of players use two-row
diatonic accordions with the rows in keys a semitone apart (like B
and C), which lets them play very fast. English music is usually in
C, G or D, has the punchiness of Scottish music and the harmonic
simplicity of Irish music - a two-row diatonic works well. "Celtic"
music is mythical and best played on an air harp.

Concertinas are more expensive than melodeons or chromatic
accordions for the same musical functionality. They're more
portable and more durable; almost any concertina from 100
years ago can be repaired. And they won't wreck your back, as
a heavy chromatic accordion can do. Good ones are much harder to
find than accordions, with a waiting list for a usable new one.

In value for money, a not-too-old middling-quality second-hand
piano accordion from a reputable shop beats any of the other
types by a long way, but make sure it's light enough.

============== j-c ====== @ ====== purr . demon . co . uk ==============
Jack Campin: 11 Third St, Newtongrange EH22 4PU, Scotland | tel 0131 660 4760
<http://www.purr.demon.co.uk/jack/> for CD-ROMs and free | fax 0870 0554 975
stuff: Scottish music, food intolerance, & Mac logic fonts | mob 07800 739 557

Paul Burke

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Mar 15, 2006, 9:54:38 AM3/15/06
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rick H wrote:

> I want to get my wife an accordian for her birthday, but I don't know
> which type is "right" for English/Celtic folk.
>

Anglo and English are concertinas (the 8 or 12 sided ones). If it's one
of these she wants, again it's down to taste, both are used. I'd expect
most people to go for English, but either way it'll cost you.

For accordeons, it's either piano, a rarity called Continental Chromatic
or push-pull.

Piano does what it says, a little piano keyboard. Some people play these
very well, but they have a bad name in a lot of circles because of the
way some players have of smearing out the tune when they try to play
fast, and over- enthusiasm on the bass buttons.

The push- pull are divided into Irish style with 2 rows a semitone
apart, or melodeons which are a bit like mounthorgans but harder to get
into the mouth. Melodeons are the sort used commonly in English folk
circles. They also tend to be available at the cheaper end.

If your wife is a complete beginner, I'd probably go for a cheap, simple
single- row melodeon. It's harder to play and less capable than a piano
accordeon, but also harder to get wrong.

Paul Burke

mark_b...@pobox.com

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Mar 15, 2006, 10:04:36 AM3/15/06
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Jack Campin - bogus address wrote:

> ... "Celtic" music is mythical and best played on an air harp.

You owe me a keyboard - this one's full of tea!

Kevin Sheils

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Mar 15, 2006, 10:19:31 AM3/15/06
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Jack Campin - bogus address wrote:

> Accordion terminology is less simple. "Melodeon" means a small
> accordion which does different notes on pull and push

And I have found that some Irish frequently use accordion where the
English would say melodeon, and only use the word melodeon when
referring to the single row variety.

And to confuse things even further melodeon (pronounced "melowjon")
tended to be used by some of my mothers family (Irish) as a generic term
for any instrument as in, eg, "Did you bring your ould melowjon with
you?" when enquiring if I had my guitar. But you probably didn't need to
know that!

Anahata

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Mar 15, 2006, 11:00:13 AM3/15/06
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Kevin Sheils wrote:

> melodeon (pronounced "melowjon")
> tended to be used by some of my mothers family (Irish) as a generic term
> for any instrument as in, eg, "Did you bring your ould melowjon with
> you?" when enquiring if I had my guitar. But you probably didn't need to
> know that!

Just as "fiddle" or "fiddler" sometimes also implied any instrument, not
necessarily the four-strings-and-a-bow variety.

Anahata

Steve Mansfield

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Mar 15, 2006, 2:51:55 PM3/15/06
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> Anglo and English are concertinas (the 8 or 12 sided ones).

'Ere, my English has only got 6 sides! I paid a lot of money for it as well,
I've been ripped off ....

--
Steve Mansfield
http://www.lesession.co.uk - abc music notation tutorial,
the uk.music.folk newsgroup FAQ, and other goodies
http://www.trebuchetmusic.co.uk - Trebuchet - concerts,
ceilidhs and celebrations for NW England and beyond

*** To email me see http://www.lesession.co.uk/email.htm ***


Michael Bell

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Mar 15, 2006, 1:52:54 PM3/15/06
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In message <%STRf.23997$Nb2.4...@news1.nokia.com>
rick H <rik_...@dsl.pipex.com> wrote:

Let's be clear what you're asking. "Anglo" and "English" are types of
CONCERTINA, not ACCORDIAN. Which do you mean?

Michael Bell

Jon Freeman

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Mar 15, 2006, 3:58:24 PM3/15/06
to
rick H wrote:
> Hi!
>
> I want to get my wife an accordian for her birthday, but I don't know
> which type is "right" for English/Celtic folk.
>
> Is there a right kind of accordian to get for this type of music, or
> is it down to personal taste?

As others have questioned, are you talking accordion/melodeon or Anglo/
English concertina...

For dance music, the Anglo is sometimes considered more rythmical
because of it's push/pull to change notes method and the English more
suitable for song with the same note is in and out and also, it is
chromatic.

The same "rules" can be applied to the Melodeon (which is push pull) and
piano accordion.

Make no mistake though, there are great players who defy such sweeping
generalisations.

To confuse the issue further, some "melodeons" (push/pull) are often
called "accordions", at least in Irish music. These are usualy ones
where a chromatic scale can be played between the 2 diatonic rows, eg.
B/C, C#/D as opposed to a G/D, G/C,etc. I used to play some morris
dancing once and then for that the most common (an my) choice was G/D.

Kevin Sheils

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Mar 16, 2006, 3:50:28 AM3/16/06
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Jon Freeman wrote:

> To confuse the issue further, some "melodeons" (push/pull) are often
> called "accordions", at least in Irish music. These are usualy ones
> where a chromatic scale can be played between the 2 diatonic rows, eg.
> B/C, C#/D as opposed to a G/D, G/C,etc.

AH that expands on my earlier post and makes some sense. I've not
noticed the term specifically being used for those ones. Which would
explain why melodeon is always used for the one row variey.

Jon Freeman

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Mar 16, 2006, 5:58:55 AM3/16/06
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There is another factor. I've just remembered someone on Mudcat (I think
one of the Australian members) who decided to use the Hohner catalogue
for the naming of these instruments. Apparently the only ones they call
melodeons are the one rows.

So the one row, you are safe on.
All 2 rows could be called melodeons, (button) accordions, or sometimes
you will see the split as I suggested can happen above.

Marjorie Clarke

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Mar 16, 2006, 6:48:26 AM3/16/06
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"rick H" <rik_...@dsl.pipex.com> wrote in message
news:%STRf.23997$Nb2.4...@news1.nokia.com...

> Hi!
>
> I want to get my wife an accordian for her birthday, but I don't know
> which type is "right" for English/Celtic folk.
>
> Is there a right kind of accordian to get for this type of music, or
> is it down to personal taste?

I'd endorse everything that others have said, except to say that IME English
music is most usually played in G or D, and a two- row G/D melodeon will be
a lot more use than a single-row for playing dance or session music, and has
much more versatility in the basses.

But I'll also add another note of caution: has your wife got anything to say
about this, or are you planning to surprise her? You sound a bit unsure as
to what the options are - does she know any more than you do? If not, I
think it would be a bit risky just to buy her an instrument. Some people
take to certain instruments and playing systems better than others. I once
had the loan of an English concertina and couldn't get on with it all,
whereas if I'd got my hands on an Anglo, I think I'd have liked it better.
But both types of concertina are a bit small and fiddly under the fingers
for me. I then bought a two-row melodeon and just knew straight away I could
learn to play it, it seemed very natural to me, whereas others find it
counter-intuitive and prefer the piano-keyboard setup of an accordion. A
good music shop will let you try the instruments and explain the pros and
cons. Or better still, borrow an instrument from a friend and see how she
gets on with it.


--
Best wishes,

Marjorie


Stephen Kellett

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Mar 16, 2006, 8:30:15 AM3/16/06
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In message <44195089$0$9243$ed26...@ptn-nntp-reader01.plus.net>,
Marjorie Clarke <dontuset...@springequinox.co.uk> writes

>for me. I then bought a two-row melodeon and just knew straight away I could
>learn to play it, it seemed very natural to me, whereas others find it
>counter-intuitive and prefer the piano-keyboard setup of an accordion.

And then you've got the issue of is your melodeon un-subtle and loud,
like a pokerwork or is it subtle and able to play loud and quietly?
Depending on what you want to do one may suit more than the other.

Then you venture into the strange twilight that is the world of
Bandoneons where no two are the same...

Stephen
--
Stephen Kellett
Object Media Limited http://www.objmedia.demon.co.uk/software.html
Computer Consultancy, Software Development
Windows C++, Java, Assembler, Performance Analysis, Troubleshooting

Chris Ryall

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Mar 17, 2006, 3:29:24 AM3/17/06
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rick H wrote on "Anglo or English accordian?"

>I want to get my wife an accordian for her birthday, but I don't know
>which type is "right" for English/Celtic folk.
>
>Is there a right kind of accordian to get for this type of music, or is
>it down to personal taste?

The two instrument types correspond in a way to two mindsets.

Some players are note orientated, whereas some think of their music (or
feel it) in chords. I wouldn't try to surprise the lady. You are better
going down to a good supplier like Music Shop and she trying instruments
until she finds one that feels right for her. The wrong genre will be a
mistake. Both work for all kinds of music with some practice.

Post your whereabouts here and someone will recommend a place.
--
Chris Ryall Wirral UK <cjr...@my.domain>

Chris Ryall

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Mar 17, 2006, 3:31:01 AM3/17/06
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Michael Bell wrote on "Anglo or English accordian?"

>Let's be clear what you're asking. "Anglo" and "English" are types of
>CONCERTINA, not ACCORDIAN. Which do you mean?

Don't forget the 'Franglo' - which is an accordeon on concertina frame!

Chris Ryall

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Mar 17, 2006, 3:33:30 AM3/17/06
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Marjorie Clarke wrote on "Anglo or English accordian?"

>But I'll also add another note of caution: has your wife got anything
>to say about this, or are you planning to surprise her?

I have to confess that my wife 'surprised' me with a D/G melodeon one
birthday. I loved it and have never looked back. But then she knew that
I was already enjoying a 'push-pull' Anglo concertina.

rick H

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Mar 17, 2006, 7:29:51 AM3/17/06
to
Marjorie Clarke <dontuset...@springequinox.co.uk> wrote:
>
> I'd endorse everything that others have said, except to say that IME English
> music is most usually played in G or D, and a two- row G/D melodeon will be
> a lot more use than a single-row for playing dance or session music, and has
> much more versatility in the basses.
>
> But I'll also add another note of caution: has your wife got anything to say
> about this, or are you planning to surprise her? You sound a bit unsure as
> to what the options are - does she know any more than you do? If not, I
> think it would be a bit risky just to buy her an instrument. Some people
> take to certain instruments and playing systems better than others. I once
> had the loan of an English concertina and couldn't get on with it all,
> whereas if I'd got my hands on an Anglo, I think I'd have liked it better.
> But both types of concertina are a bit small and fiddly under the fingers
> for me. I then bought a two-row melodeon and just knew straight away I could
> learn to play it, it seemed very natural to me, whereas others find it
> counter-intuitive and prefer the piano-keyboard setup of an accordion. A
> good music shop will let you try the instruments and explain the pros and
> cons. Or better still, borrow an instrument from a friend and see how she
> gets on with it.
>
>
Thanks for your reply, Marjorie, and for everyone else's comments and
corrections. My wife can play the violin and piano very well. We bought
our toddler a toy melodeon at Sidmouth last year for a tenner and my
wife's since expressed a desire to get - what I think is - a concertina.

Thanks to you and the others, though, and with a bit of extra sniffing
around on the web, I'm now pretty sure it's unwise to spend the money
required to get a decent concertina if it's not going to me the right
one - I didn't know just how many variations in these things there were
in terms of the number of buttons, the different keys, etc.

The wife also mentioned wanting one of those blinking-great 2-foot long
whistles, and I know that the tiddly one we've already got is in D
(prior to my daughter retuning it through a combination of chewing and
bashing it), so maybe that would be a safer bet.

Thanks again for everyone's help.

Rick

Peter Chadbund

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Mar 17, 2006, 7:54:06 AM3/17/06
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Being related to an Irish family via my daughter's marriage, I have
ascertained that the Irish terminology nowadays is that a melodeon is a
single-row instrument whilst the chromatic version (usually two rows in
adjacent keys, eg C- C#; B -C) is called an accordion, both giving different
notes on pull and push, whilst the instrument with a piano-type keyboard is
unsurprisingly known as a "piano accordion".

Pete

"Kevin Sheils" <oldros...@btinternet.com> wrote in message
news:7gWRf.575$A7....@newsfe3-win.ntli.net...

Peter Chadbund

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Mar 17, 2006, 7:55:28 AM3/17/06
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I would think you want to get her an English Concertina or Piano Accordion.

Pete


"rick H" <rik_...@dsl.pipex.com> wrote in message
news:%STRf.23997$Nb2.4...@news1.nokia.com...

Kevin Sheils

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Mar 17, 2006, 8:10:18 AM3/17/06
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Peter Chadbund wrote:
> Being related to an Irish family via my daughter's marriage, I have
> ascertained that the Irish terminology nowadays is that a melodeon is a
> single-row instrument whilst the chromatic version (usually two rows in
> adjacent keys, eg C- C#; B -C) is called an accordion, both giving different
> notes on pull and push, whilst the instrument with a piano-type keyboard is
> unsurprisingly known as a "piano accordion".
>

And I have just been told by my wife that her late father, the Sligo
fiddle player Edmund Murphy, used to use the word "melodeon" to
described anything he thought was rubbish, as in "That film was melodeon!".

Much the same way my Irish family would use the word "cat" as in "that
band was cat!" or if particularly awful "that band was dead cat!".

I sense a connection here with the old Cosmotheka story that people
would bring dead cats into Music Halls to throw at acts they thought
were rubbish.

I have now drifted way off topic for this thread and apologise profusely.

Kevin

johnb

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Mar 17, 2006, 8:48:14 AM3/17/06
to


Of course in some parts they tell "melodeon" jokes while in others they
tell "banjo" jokes. You know the sort ...

"I left my melodeon/banjo in the back of the car. When I came back
some b*gg*r had broken the window ...

... and there were now TWO melodeons/banjos!"

So,

before you decide on melodeon/accordion/concertina, make sure you're
not going to become the butt of jokes :-)

Stephen Kellett

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Mar 17, 2006, 9:20:54 AM3/17/06
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In message <1142603294....@i39g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>, johnb
<john...@tinyworld.co.uk> writes

>"I left my melodeon/banjo in the back of the car. When I came back
>some b*gg*r had broken the window ...
>
>... and there were now TWO melodeons/banjos!"

Well look at this album cover:
http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,2550701,00.html
Bagpipe, Banjo and accordion.

:-)

Apparently its a good album...

Paul Burke

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Mar 17, 2006, 9:40:19 AM3/17/06
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rick H wrote:

> The wife also mentioned wanting one of those blinking-great 2-foot long
> whistles, and I know that the tiddly one we've already got is in D

Can I suggest you have a look at Phil Bleazey's low-D whistles? they are
quite different in both concept and sound from the big-aluminium-tube
jobs, being wooden, and rather like a big recorder. The one he showed me
had a lovely buzz in the low notes. The holes are small, unlike most low
Ds- I can't cover the holes on most metal ones, my fingers just fall in.
Phil's are of course correspondingly more expensive than the metal ones.

Paul Burke

Dominic Cronin

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Mar 17, 2006, 9:51:32 AM3/17/06
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On Fri, 17 Mar 2006 14:40:19 +0000, Paul Burke <pa...@scazon.com>
wrote:

"Reassuringly expensive" is a phrase I remember from a marketing
campaign from a while back.

--

Dominic Cronin
Amsterdam

Stephen Kellett

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Mar 17, 2006, 10:14:48 AM3/17/06
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In message <48003qF...@individual.net>, Paul Burke <pa...@scazon.com>
writes

>Can I suggest you have a look at Phil Bleazey's low-D whistles? they
>are quite different in both concept and sound from the
>big-aluminium-tube jobs, being wooden, and rather like a big recorder.
>The one he showed me had a lovely buzz in the low notes. The holes are
>small, unlike most low Ds- I can't cover the holes on most metal ones,
>my fingers just fall in. Phil's are of course correspondingly more
>expensive than the metal ones.

Jon Swayne also makes very nice wooden whistles. I was surprised
recently when someone showed me a low D by JS - it was so small compared
to those drainpipes that some people sell. Looked kind of like a
recorder, but was a whistle, sounded great.

Phil outdoes Jon with the website though as Jon hasn't got one...

Jacey Bedford

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Mar 17, 2006, 11:25:25 AM3/17/06
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In message <3ZxSf.24656$_k2.4...@news2.nokia.com>, rick H
<rik_...@dsl.pipex.com> writes

There are some starter English concertinas (that's the same note on pull
and push) priced at around 200 called the Jackie, stocked by the Music
Room in Cleckheaton. Personally, I tried one but it was too clumsy (I've
got small hands) and I ended up paying 400 for a 1960s Wheatstone
Mayfair which is the cheap end of the Wheatstone range but I like it.

In the meantime my starter concertina of choice was a Stagi mini. At a
cost of 228 pounds and with just 16 buttons it was a good introduction
to an instrument that takes some time to get your head around if you've
never played boxes before (which I hadn't). Afyter a few months I
transferred easily to the Wheatstone. The Stagi is still a good little
stopgap for chucking into an overnight bag if I want something
concertina-ish to play with. It only plays in limited keys, but it's fun
and I'm not an instrument snob.

I have since treated myself to a Morse Baritone but the jury's still out
on that because the lowest notes are very slow to respond and I'm not
yet a good enough player to adapt to that characteristic very readily.
It makes a lovely sound, but at 1400 quid it should do.

Whistle-wise if you're thinking of buying her a Low D (which I assume is
what you mean) I can tell you that if she has small hands she'll have
the devil of a job covering all the holes. There's also a huge variety
in feel between makes so again, the suggestion is to let her try one
first.

I've got a Howard Low D and it's a lovely whistle but just too much of a
stretch for me.

Most of the straight bore Low Ds I've tried are a bit like blowing on a
piece of plumbing pipe. I'd love to try a Copeland Low D because I love
the smaller (conical bore) Copeland brass whistles - but they're not
cheap - upwards of $300 for the little ones - depending on the key. And
there may be a waiting list. I have a D and C Copeland and the lowest
Copeland I have is an A. I can just about stretch to the G, but I've
never tried anything bigger.

http://www.copelandwoodwinds.com/

Susato - the plastic whistle people - do a low D with keys for those of
us with small hands, but I've not managed to get hold of one to try it
yet. Besides, the Susato mouthpieces are a bit chunky for my liking.

http://www.susato.com/

Tony Dixon whistles are getting very good press at the moment and I have
several of his in keys of Eb to Bb and plastic heads with bodies of
(varyingly) plastic, aluminium and brass. Though I love the brass
Copelands, oddly enough I find the plastic and brass Dixon the least
satisfying of all his - possibly because the brass body is heavy and the
plastic head is light so the balance feels a bit weird. It sounds nice
though and I know I'll be able to get used to it in time.

http://www.tonydixonmusic.co.uk/

The Dixons are generally better for intonation than my C and A Copeland
but the tone on the Copelands is gorgeous and I've not found anything to
beat my little Copeland D in brass.

Many people on this list know much more about the instruments than I do,
but as I started playing fairly recently I thought a beginner's
perspective might be useful.

Jacey
--
Jacey Bedford
jacey at artisan hyphen harmony dot com

Stephen Kellett

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Mar 17, 2006, 11:50:33 AM3/17/06
to
In message <KJDwycf1...@artifact.demon.co.uk>, Jacey Bedford
<look...@nospam.invalid> writes

>Susato - the plastic whistle people - do a low D with keys for those of
>us with small hands, but I've not managed to get hold of one to try it
>yet. Besides, the Susato mouthpieces are a bit chunky for my liking.
>
>http://www.susato.com/

I've got a Susato low G and surprisingly the stretch is larger than my G
Swayne bagpipes. I tried a Susato low D at a folk festival last year -
way to big a stretch, plus whereas the Susato low G had a lovely tone I
couldn't say that about the Susato low D.

Steve Mansfield

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Mar 17, 2006, 1:09:32 PM3/17/06
to
>> The wife also mentioned wanting one of those blinking-great 2-foot long
>> whistles, and I know that the tiddly one we've already got is in D
>

Just to add to what others have said about low whistles, a Susato is a good
one to start on as they are (a) cheap, (b) very good for the price, and (c)
don't have the large holes or stiff breath pressure requirements that some
low whistles have.

Howards are good - no, strike that, Howards are excellent - but they have
very big holes that take a reasonable sized hand to cover properly; although
of course you should always use the pads between the two joints of the
finger to cover the holes, particularly on the middle hole of each hand (the
A and E holes on a low whistle in D), not the ends of the fingers.

The daddy of all low whistles are of course still Overtons - like everything
else in folk music they're often said to be not as good as they used to be,
but my Overton is a recent (about two years old) Colin Goldie-made one and
is a damn fine whistle. A beginner might find Overtons a hard blow as their
first low whistle though.

Again to repeat what's already been said, go to one of the major dealers
(Hobgoblin or The Music Room) and try a few different makes out, as
different low whistles suit different people in terms of hand-span and tone
(I personally don't like the sound of Bleazley whistles for example,
although I cannot fault their look and build quality).

Final bit of advice is to always start with a low D whistle, especially if
(as your wife does) you're coming from playing tin whistle, as then there's
one less thing to worry about because the notes are where you'd expect them
to be. After getting up to speed on the low D, *then* the acquisition of
three or four different low Ds and at least one in every other available key
can begin in earnest!

Loads more info on www.chiffandfipple.com BTW.

Jack Campin - bogus address

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Mar 19, 2006, 8:12:16 AM3/19/06
to
> Just to add to what others have said about low whistles, a Susato is a good
> one to start on as they are (a) cheap, (b) very good for the price, and (c)
> don't have the large holes or stiff breath pressure requirements that some
> low whistles have.
> Howards are good - no, strike that, Howards are excellent - but they have
> very big holes that take a reasonable sized hand to cover properly

They are also made of steel, i.e. far too bloody heavy, and plated with
nickel, which is highly allergenic for a lot of people.


> The daddy of all low whistles are of course still Overtons - like everything
> else in folk music they're often said to be not as good as they used to be,
> but my Overton is a recent (about two years old) Colin Goldie-made one and
> is a damn fine whistle. A beginner might find Overtons a hard blow as their
> first low whistle though.

I used to have a low G and got rid of it. It sounded fine but it had
two *disastrous* design misfeatures which are repeated on all the larger
models:

- the beak is way too long. This means there is a serious risk of
smashing your front teeth on it if you need to pick it up quickly
(which, as a quick-change instrument-doubler, I do all the time).
I tried gluing a block of cork under it to reduce the projecting
length to the minimum needed, but couldn't get it to stick.

- the block is made of metal, which means the windway blocks with
condensation on the very first breath you put through it. If you
are playing it on a cold stage you have to have time to warm the
instrument up (I discovered this the hard way when using it in a
situation where there was no opportunity to do that). I contacted
Overton (or Goldie, I forget) to ask about changing it for a wooden
block and was told rather offensively that there was no problem.

There was nothing I could do on it that I couldn't do equally well
with a Susato G alto recorder so I didn't need both.

The Susatos do have design problems too:

- those stupid O-ring seals. They come out of their grooves, stretch,
don't go back in again and can then break your instrument along the
groove. I've replaced mine with PTFE tape.

- they are tuned to A=440 with the joints pushed fully in. No way
to go sharp of that.

Alba whistles seem a lot better than either the Howard or Susato but
they keep changing their design and I haven't tried the latest ones.

But really, the tenor recorder is just way better as an ergonomic
and acoustic design than any low whistle. The reverse conical bore
means the fingerholes are in more accessible places and the high
notes are a lot better. A Renaissance type has a similar timbre
to a low whistle.

============== j-c ====== @ ====== purr . demon . co . uk ==============
Jack Campin: 11 Third St, Newtongrange EH22 4PU, Scotland | tel 0131 660 4760
<http://www.purr.demon.co.uk/jack/> for CD-ROMs and free | fax 0870 0554 975
stuff: Scottish music, food intolerance, & Mac logic fonts | mob 07800 739 557

Temprance

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 9:32:54 AM3/20/06
to
On Sun, 19 Mar 2006 13:12:16 +0000, Jack Campin - bogus address
<bo...@purr.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>> Just to add to what others have said about low whistles, a Susato is a good
>> one to start on as they are (a) cheap, (b) very good for the price, and (c)
>> don't have the large holes or stiff breath pressure requirements that some
>> low whistles have.
>> Howards are good - no, strike that, Howards are excellent - but they have
>> very big holes that take a reasonable sized hand to cover properly
>
>They are also made of steel, i.e. far too bloody heavy, and plated with
>nickel, which is highly allergenic for a lot of people.
>
>
>> The daddy of all low whistles are of course still Overtons - like everything
>> else in folk music they're often said to be not as good as they used to be,
>> but my Overton is a recent (about two years old) Colin Goldie-made one and
>> is a damn fine whistle. A beginner might find Overtons a hard blow as their
>> first low whistle though.
>
>I used to have a low G and got rid of it. It sounded fine but it had
>two *disastrous* design misfeatures which are repeated on all the larger
>models:

Thank you Jack. :-) I actually like it.

>
>- the beak is way too long. This means there is a serious risk of
> smashing your front teeth on it if you need to pick it up quickly
> (which, as a quick-change instrument-doubler, I do all the time).
> I tried gluing a block of cork under it to reduce the projecting
> length to the minimum needed, but couldn't get it to stick.
>

I don't have to pick it up quickly but they do need time to warm up.
However I only play the g overton at home for my own pleasure.


>- the block is made of metal, which means the windway blocks with
> condensation on the very first breath you put through it. If you
> are playing it on a cold stage you have to have time to warm the
> instrument up (I discovered this the hard way when using it in a
> situation where there was no opportunity to do that). I contacted
> Overton (or Goldie, I forget) to ask about changing it for a wooden
> block and was told rather offensively that there was no problem.
>

(snipped)


>Alba whistles seem a lot better than either the Howard or Susato but
>they keep changing their design and I haven't tried the latest ones.
>

Scocha.. I heard the new tuneable Alba low whistles at the concert
they played here and I couldn't believe it when he told mwe they were
made by Alba. The improvement is stupendous and they sound rich and
tuneful. He played the C and Eb and didn't actually seem to be warming
them up.
I had the first D alba and it was nowhere near 440 and I ebayed it in
the end. The untunable low D that a young lad had was the same.

>But really, the tenor recorder is just way better as an ergonomic
>and acoustic design than any low whistle. The reverse conical bore
>means the fingerholes are in more accessible places and the high
>notes are a lot better. A Renaissance type has a similar timbre
>to a low whistle.
>

I'd second that having heard you play them.

Jacqui

Roger Gawley

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 12:42:03 PM3/20/06
to
In the midst of much clearly-expressed good advice,

On Wed, 15 Mar 2006, Jack Campin - bogus address wrote:

>
> English concertinas have a strange button layout where alternate
> notes in the scale are played by alternate hands (like the African
> thumb piano). Very few players can make folktunes sound fluid and
> expressive on them; they were designed as a free-reed alternative
> to the classical violin. The rare Duet type (also the same note
> both ways) has a saner arrangement of the buttons, with low on
> the left and high on the right, but you hardly ever see one and
> I couldn't name any folk player I've ever heard.
>

Some people find the English button layout odd, others find it natural. It
is a doddle to play off written music. Perhaps that is not very folky.

Where have you been Jack? Ever heard Alistair Anderson play? I know about
twenty English concertina players who play folk tunes fluidly and
expressively. On a good day, I would claim to do so myself.

The English concertina was indeed designed to slot into the place of a
violin and to this day plays fiddle tunes. Most of them are folk tunes
now.

There are several duet concertina layouts. Rarer that English or Anglo but
quite a lot about if you look. Ever come accross Tim Laycock, Chris Coe,
or Iris Bishop?

Lots of helpful information (and links to much more) at

http://concertina.info

Roger Gawley

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 12:58:55 PM3/20/06
to

Throw in a word for Dave Shaw's whistles including low D (and the G in
between which is less of a stretch for smaller hands).

http://www.daveshaw.co.uk/SHAW_Whistles/shaw_whistles.html

As others have noted, this is really a bit personal and you should aim to
try out as many as possible. Surprises are lovely but not always happy.

Roger

Jack Campin - bogus address

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 3:34:19 PM3/20/06
to
>> English concertinas have a strange button layout where alternate
>> notes in the scale are played by alternate hands (like the African
>> thumb piano). Very few players can make folktunes sound fluid and
>> expressive on them
> Where have you been Jack? Ever heard Alistair Anderson play?

He was one of the few I was thinking of. But there aren't many other
instruments that people can slog away on for years and never make them
sound quite like there's a human player doing it. Anglo players seem
to get to where they can communicate energy and feeling a lot quicker.


> There are several duet concertina layouts. Rarer that English or Anglo but
> quite a lot about if you look. Ever come accross Tim Laycock, Chris Coe,
> or Iris Bishop?

I've heard Chris Coe and possibly Tim Laycock - didn't know what they
played. Duets (any kind) are surely such an exotic item that a new
player would have to be confident they could figure it out on their
own.

Doug Deedman

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 4:11:11 PM3/20/06
to

On 20-Mar-2006, Jack Campin - bogus address <bo...@purr.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> He was one of the few I was thinking of. But there aren't many other
> instruments that people can slog away on for years and never make them
> sound quite like there's a human player doing it.

What about the wonderful Frances Wilkins? With Richard Chaff (guitar &
vocals) making up the duet Solan she makes the English Concertina sing and
jump. Catch one of their gigs - actually, you just missed one at the Wee
Folk Club (http://www.royal-oak-folk.com/page5.html) - and you will see what
I mean.

Doug

Jacey Bedford

unread,
Mar 20, 2006, 11:11:17 PM3/20/06
to
In message <Pine.LNX.4.58.06...@vega3.dur.ac.uk>, Roger
Gawley <roger....@durham.ac.uk> writes

>
>
>
>On Fri, 17 Mar 2006, Jacey Bedford wrote:
>
>>
>> Whistle-wise if you're thinking of buying her a Low D (which I assume is
>> what you mean) I can tell you that if she has small hands she'll have
>> the devil of a job covering all the holes. There's also a huge variety
>> in feel between makes so again, the suggestion is to let her try one
>> first.
>>
>> I've got a Howard Low D and it's a lovely whistle but just too much of a
>> stretch for me.


OK this thread has really made me think... Why am I hanging on to my
Howard Low D if I'm never going to be able to play it? I'm thinking of
putting it on e-bay (with a reserve price) but if anyone wants to talk
to me about it (off list) before I do then my e-mail address is pretty
easy to fathom from the sig file. I have the Howard Low D with both the
old head and the new one. Hardly tootled. In fact the new head has never
even been on the body.

I also have a Tony Dixon brass-bodied C whistle surplus to requirements
- again it's virtually new - hardly been tootled. Nowt wrong with it -
it's just that I still prefer my Copeland so I found I was never using
the Dixon.

Cheers

Roger Gawley

unread,
Mar 21, 2006, 9:55:44 AM3/21/06
to


On Mon, 20 Mar 2006, Jack Campin - bogus address wrote:

> >> English concertinas have a strange button layout where alternate
> >> notes in the scale are played by alternate hands (like the African
> >> thumb piano). Very few players can make folktunes sound fluid and
> >> expressive on them
> > Where have you been Jack? Ever heard Alistair Anderson play?
>
> He was one of the few I was thinking of. But there aren't many other
> instruments that people can slog away on for years and never make them
> sound quite like there's a human player doing it. Anglo players seem
> to get to where they can communicate energy and feeling a lot quicker.
>

There seem to be two sorts of people: push-pull people and push-push
people (well ignoring the rest of the world who would not think of doing
either). Don't know who these inhuman sloggers of yours are: I know dozens
of good EC players. Alistair probably has the highest profile but you have
Simon Thoumire, Sandra Kerr, Norman Chalmers (you must have heard him),
Sarah Graves, Dave Townsend, do any of these sound robotic?

>
> > There are several duet concertina layouts. Rarer that English or Anglo but
> > quite a lot about if you look. Ever come accross Tim Laycock, Chris Coe,
> > or Iris Bishop?
>
> I've heard Chris Coe and possibly Tim Laycock - didn't know what they
> played. Duets (any kind) are surely such an exotic item that a new
> player would have to be confident they could figure it out on their
> own.
>

It is not always easy to tell by looking: I had to ask Vic Gamon. They are
not as exotic as you might think. There is a very good website for duet
materials and the ICA could probably find you an adviser in most parts of
the world. About fifty members out of three hundred play duets (many play
others systems too).

Cheers, Roger

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