Thrash it out in Thrace!

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maugein96
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Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by maugein96 » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:26 pm

"Where the hell is Thrace?"

It is a region that was split between three different European countries, namely Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. That means three different languages, alphabets, and much more.
Thrace_and_present-day_state_borderlines.png
All three countries have accordion traditions, and the thing that connects them is that they are situated in the Eastern Balkans. So how does it all work?

You take a Romani virtuoso accordionist, Angel Jordanov Kapsov, from Northern Thrace (Bulgaria), and move him into Eastern Thrace (Turkey). On this occasion it is permissible to miss out Western Thrace (Greece), as it is a bit out of his way.

When he's in Turkey you tell him that you want him to compose a Turkish accordion tune that refers to the days (19th century) when young male dancers from the former Yugoslavia were brought to Istanbul for the pleasure and entertainment of the bourgeoise in the capital.

Given the fact that your accordionist was a diminutive Bulgarian with slightly effeminate tendencies, he took the whole thing to heart and composed this tune, which IMHO is one of the finest "popular" accordion tunes ever. "Ciguli", the accordionist concerned, was born in Bulgarian Thrace and eventually became a household name in Turkish Thrace. Comedian, dancer, singer, TV personality, film star, and virtuoso accordionist he may have been, but he died in Bulgaria in 2104, unknown to the "western world" of entertainment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQSMU-1KjOQ

Apologies, as I've posted this clip elsewhere on the forum. However, I've been listening to the accordion for a very long time, and rate this recording as one of the best I've ever heard. Forget all your 30,000 Euro posh accordions. Get yourself a Weltmeister PA and you too may be able to hit the big time in Thrace (if you can remember where it is!).

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:03 pm

Thank you for another interesting lesson on Eastern European/Balkan accordion music :) I like the rhythmic, repetitive, trancy flavour of this tune. I bet it can be played on a Pigini though.... I have an elderly Weltmeister B system, but it's waiting to be fixed & sold. Not going back there!

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:04 pm

By the way, the accordion that is pictured on the still photo that comes with your video IS a Pigini!

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by maugein96 » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:32 pm

Anyanka wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:04 pm
By the way, the accordion that is pictured on the still photo that comes with your video IS a Pigini!
Any clips I've seen of Ciguli show a very big Weltmeister being played by a very small man. The Lada car company was called Zhiguli, until they began to export them abroad, and changed the brand name to Lada. For some obscure reason Ciguli took his nickname from the pre Lada company name.

I discovered this track by accident a week or so back. It is a strange mix of Turkish and "Yugoslavian". The Balkan chord changes in it are exceptionally well executed, even if I don't know precisely what they are yet. Reckon I'll try and get this one down by ear as best as I can, when I get the time.

Ciguli is well worth a listen and there are a lot of clips on You Tube. Just don't look at his very prominent set of false upper teeth! He was definitely one of life's characters and displayed amazing skill on PA. He used to sing Turkish folk songs in a near falsetto voice, consistent with his stature, and it would appear that people loved him for it. A classic example of how "Eastern Europe" is comprised of modern countries which often bear no relation to the territory boundaries of old.

Here is an example of Ciguli's dancing "prowess", which adequately portrays his comic image. He also wore the hat routinely when playing accordion. His dance partner looks like she's been on the same diet as I have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bv_O1e1kkY

I did consider a B system Welty a good few years ago, but decided that it would take too long to switch systems.

Was it the B system or the box you didn't like? Quite a lot of players seem to get great sounds out of Weltmeisters, but I am probably one of those who couldn't.

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:37 am

maugein96 wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:32 pm

I did consider a B system Welty a good few years ago, but decided that it would take too long to switch systems.

Was it the B system or the box you didn't like? Quite a lot of players seem to get great sounds out of Weltmeisters, but I am probably one of those who couldn't.
I bought the Weltme (the 'ister' was missing from the lettering) for a smallish sum on ebay to help me decide whether to switch from PA to CBA - and it did the trick. As soon as I knew that CBA was for me, I stopped playing that one and just waited for a quality 5-row of either system to come along second-hand at a reasonable price. I didn't want to commit to B in case it went the other way, which it did. The Pigini popped up on this forum (or its predecessor?) just as I wanted it. My life is like that ;)

It's a large 3-row B-system - 80 basses, I think - in fairly good condition, but the tuning is wetter than I like it, and the quality of sound and responsiveness of the buttons is just not in the same league as a Pidge. I'm now just waiting for The Husband to repair a broken coupler so we can put the box up for sale (I'm saving up for another set of bagpipes...)

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:05 am

Kirsten,

When I eventually started "playing" at playing C system CBA, round about 1984, I soon discovered that all my heroes used B system CBA with Belgian basses, and the only known source of such instruments in the UK was John Leslie's shop in London. Belgian bass was just about impossible to obtain and it was probably just as well I never went down that road. After speaking with John on the phone, he advised me to stay with C for French musette, as I had been playing that system for a few years by the time I spoke to him. I've never played any type of piano keyboard so CBA never represented any particular challenge.

Truth was I was then nearly 35 years old, and it wouldn't have mattered (in my particular case) what system I chose, as I was never going to be in any danger of making much impact on anybody's accordion scene. Based on my own experience with musical instruments, if you don't get those fingers and wrists elasticated enough before your mid teens, then you've got to accept the limitations that confront most "adult beginners". Those of us who are determined enough will give it our best shot, but it's safer just to watch in awe at the virtuosity of the "child prodigies", instead of trying to attain their level. Took me a very long time to work that one out.

I know a lot of "good" players on many different types of instrument, but IMHO the vast majority of us need to start very young to fully develop into confident and accomplished players. Adult beginners have all sorts of potential hang ups about whether they are doing things correctly, and that tends to hold them back. Young kids generally just do what is asked of them without question, and henceforth come on in leaps and bounds, whilst we mature types are still working out whether we look and/or sound the part.

I know that a lot of members on here started later than I did, and for as long as they can maintain that enthusiastic drive born out of any new venture, then they will get a lot of pleasure out of playing the accordion. My frustration is that even after a very long learning process, I have been unable to acquire the degree of "natural ability" that came automatically with the stringed instruments I play. I started playing guitar in my early teens and even after any long lay off it's like riding a bike. However, if I don't play the accordion for a few weeks, it takes me quite a while to get back into the swing of it. Perhaps it was ultimately the wrong choice of instrument for me, but I'm still interested in the listening element.

Now that my theory on learning musical instruments has been aired, I hope you manage to "shift" your Weltmeister. When I was on the buses in Glasgow we had some elderly single deckers called Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmasters, and every time I see the name "Weltmeister", I think of a rattly old box of shivering tin, which nevertheless did the job it was supposed to.

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:46 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:05 am
[...[ if you don't get those fingers and wrists elasticated enough before your mid teens, then you've got to accept the limitations that confronts most "adult beginners". Those of us who are determined enough will give it our best shot, but it's safer just to watch in awe at the virtuosity of the "child prodigies", instead of trying to attain their level. Took me a very long time to work that one out.

I know a lot of "good" players on many different types of instrument, but IMHO the vast majority of us need to start very young to fully develop into confident and accomplished players. Adult beginners have all sorts of potential hang ups about whether they are doing things correctly, and that tends to hold them back. Young kids generally just do what is asked of them without question, and henceforth come on in leaps and bounds, whilst we mature types are still working out whether we look and/or sound the part. [...]
I started playing piano in my early 40s, accordion towards the end of that decade, and yes, I won't ever be a virtuoso - but there are other highly enjoyable avenues to explore. I was lucky because before I'd played accordion for a full year, Karen Tweed took me under her musical wing (in the form of an all-female accordion orchestra), which made me practice hard, fast and long. I love what can be achieved by playing with others: in a band or orchestra, the sound can be so very much more than the sum of the individual players' abilities. I have discovered a couple of regular workshops and one session where I get the chance to play with very good musicians - an absolute blast.

I'm also fortunate in that my personal aims are achievable: I want to play with feeling and expression, not with mechanical virtuosity (which I hear in many of the tunes that other people on this forum admire) :) There is an immense serenity to be found in playing freely and intuitively, without the desire to impress anyone. It is a form of meditation, and it also constantly improves my 'proper' playing.

However, I do agree with your experience of early learning vs later skills: my childhood instrument was the recorder, which I played to a fairly high level of competence. That now feeds into my bagpipe playing - it's been like coming home, but with knobs on ;)

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 3:31 pm

Anyanka wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:46 pm
I'm also fortunate in that my personal aims are achievable: I want to play with feeling and expression, not with mechanical virtuosity (which I hear in many of the tunes that other people on this forum admire) :) There is an immense serenity to be found in playing freely and intuitively, without the desire to impress anyone. It is a form of meditation, and it also constantly improves my 'proper' playing.
I believe I set my bar too high with the accordion, and it's only now that I realise I should have aimed to progress slowly, rather than become frustrated that I couldn't match the playing of the pro players. The old adage of running before you can walk was definitely present, and I was of the mistaken belief that my previous experience on other instruments would carry me through at a faster pace than most. Don't know what degree of "wrong" was in my thoughts, but it was pretty high up the scale.

Will I ever be able to play to a standard I am happy with? Probably not, as I have a strong preference for instrumental music, most of which requires a fairly strong playing technique on whatever choice of instrument.

Playing along with others would have been a great experience, but when you deliberately shun the local accordion scene then you are at a disadvantage. That is an issue I have never been able to resolve. I haven't travelled very extensively, but find the music styles of other countries have considerably more appeal than those in the UK and Ireland. Don't know why that is, but it seems there are others on the forum with similar interests.

Displays of mechanical virtuosity seem to have been an unfortunate feature of the accordion for as long as I've been listening to it. CBA players appear to be the worst culprits, and there are some French players I just cannot "hack" because of their incessant displays of such mechanical virtuosity. The late Yvette Horner had the ability to play the most complicated classical pieces whilst giving the impression that she was reading a dull novel at the same time. A very competent and popular player when playing (some) "serious" music, but I often got the impression that a comb and paper would have served the same purpose as her accordion, when she played musette tunes. I suppose decades of playing the same boring stuff to the same boring audiences may have played its part, and who am I to criticise a player who was so highly regarded by the "connaisseurs"?

The Scottish bagpipe is obviously synonymous with the country, but many of we Lowland Scots in part of the south west were discouraged from taking any interest in Highland culture, for reasons I have gone into elsewhere. I never knew any Scottish bagpipers at all until I went to live in Edinburgh, where there often seem to be two on every street corner. Living near the English border as I do, I quite like the sound of the Northumbrian pipes, although wouldn't have the first clue as to how they were played.

The only recorder I've ever played was of the tape variety, and that never required much effort at all!

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:59 am

I do not play the Great Highland Pipes! I have two sets of English border pipes, a Scandinavian säckpipa, Northumbrian smallpipes and Scottish smallpipes. The Northumbrians are the most difficult of the lot, because the holes are very close together and you only lift one finger at a time. The Swedish pipe is the easiest and most mellow, and also the least widespread of the lot! I mostly play French and Swedish tunes on bagpipes; the French tunes in a trio with fiddle and a hurdy gurdy.

As for local accordion scenes, normally I'd avoid that too! Tweed's orchestra was neither local nor typical of accordion groups - we played her arrangements of tunes, mostly folk but also some big band swing and a couple of OAP favourites (her term!). Our "Scottish set" was my least favourite, but a hit with the audiences... unlike most of our other sets, it was not subtle.

Same as you, I prefer instrumental music, especially the type that is not easily classified. Accordion-wise, I'm currently listening to a lot of Anne Niepold: she's a diatonic player who can play fast & furiously, but knows better than to focus on that. Her music often sounds deceptively simple. Here's a clip of her solo, although her CDs all feature other players, both on accordion and other instruments. I've been in a couple of workshops with her (mixed instruments, working on arrangements and improvisation) and found her massively inspiring.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2B2OHQrIUM

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by maugein96 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:35 pm

Kirsten,

I'd heard the name Anne Niepold and presumed she was Belgian or Dutch by her surname, but had no idea what type of music she played.

A very unusual style indeed from a diatonic box. I recently discovered a Colombian guy who does similar things with a diatonic Hohner Corona, but it's not quite as subtle as this clip. I find the music fairly easy on the ear, although I believe it would require a certain amount of further appreciation to be able to get "into" it. It's refreshing to hear somebody actually playing the accordion without trying to smash all the windows in the room with the sound.

I've been to Sweden a few times but have never heard or seen the säckpipa, which I believe are local to the Dalarna (Dales) area of the country. We've always tended to stick to the south west, and would still be going there if DFDS hadn't taken the Newcastle/Kristiansand/Gothenburg ferry off some years ago.

Highland bagpipes are the marmite of Scotland, and that's as far as I'll take it. So is Scottish accordion, and I promised not to go into that again either, except to agree that subtle it isn't. .

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:16 am

maugein96 wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:35 pm
I've been to Sweden a few times but have never heard or seen the säckpipa, which I believe are local to the Dalarna (Dales) area of the country.
As usual, you know more than I do - I just play the thing! Here's a video featuring a lovely säckpipa duet (a German tune, but I like it) between two very fine players, Olle Gällmo and Matthias Branschke. I'll be attending a weekend workshop with these two in November, in Germany :)

https://youtu.be/SXXPBXCiavk

This is now firmly off topic :shock:

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by maugein96 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:16 pm

Nice and pleasant to listen to, but I think I'd rather hear them "live" than on a video. I find that with Northumbrian pipes too.

Interesting that the Swedish bagpipe has been accepted by players in other countries. In Scotland it seems we have fairly rigid rules concerning traditional musical instruments, and very few would dare to experiment. Or at least that's the way it was when I was young.

One of these days I'll try and get to grips with what is happening on my own doorstep, but IMHO the music happening everywhere else has always outshone the local fare.

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:15 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:16 pm
Interesting that the Swedish bagpipe has been accepted by players in other countries. In Scotland it seems we have fairly rigid rules concerning traditional musical instruments, and very few would dare to experiment. Or at least that's the way it was when I was young.
The Northumbrian pipers are very prescriptive about how the way their pipes are played, too! I think the difference comes from the fact that Scottish and Northumbrian piping has an unbroken tradition, whereas the border pipes and Swedish pipes were recreated from remnants of pipes or even from pictures and descriptions i.e. there is no way of knowing how precisely those instruments were used, or how they actually sounded. This is quite liberating...

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by maugein96 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:02 am

Anyanka wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:15 pm

The Northumbrian pipers are very prescriptive about how the way their pipes are played, too! I think the difference comes from the fact that Scottish and Northumbrian piping has an unbroken tradition, whereas the border pipes and Swedish pipes were recreated from remnants of pipes or even from pictures and descriptions i.e. there is no way of knowing how precisely those instruments were used, or how they actually sounded. This is quite liberating...
Kirsten,

Over the years I've had some experience of copper, lead, stainless steel, plastic, UPVC, and malleable iron piping, but have never managed to get more than a few rather tuneless notes out of any of them.

Seriously, the ability to play any historic instrument is a joy to behold, and the fact that you don't need to conform to any traditional rules or techniques will be very liberating indeed.

Unfortunately here in Scotland the generally accepted principle with music is that there is only one way to do everything. In modern times things have changed a little, but for as long as we're still deep frying Mars bars, then we don't seem to be convincing others that any of our theories on life are worth considering.

Is this "off topic", or would you prefer a deep fried Topic to a Mars bar?

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Re: Thrash it out in Thrace!

Post by Anyanka » Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:24 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:02 am
Is this "off topic", or would you prefer a deep fried Topic to a Mars bar?
:lol:

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