The Czech Area Concertina Club started as a group of concertina players playing together (jamming) for the pure enjoyment of doing something together that was fun. Members each had their own versions of songs, but when played as a group, that’s when things fell apart. As various songs were picked to play, it was quickly realized that even though the titles were the same, the way the song was played could be quite different. Some people had the song in the key of “G”, others in the key of “D”. Still other versions were in the key of “A” and so on. It was quickly realized that in order for people to play together, we must all have the same music.
The other problem that was identified was whether the music was readable. Much of the music we have today is handwritten and has been reproduced many times so that reading it is difficult at best and trying to play it becomes even worse. So having good readable music was a must.
Some of the music that people had was more difficult than other versions. With people of different skill levels, and having the majority of concertina players playing together, the degree of difficulty had to also be considered when rewriting music. As songs were added to the list of club music, it was found that there could be many ways to play a particular song. Now it had to be decided on just what version should the club adopt?
A few people set out to start writing music that everybody could use. So it was quickly concluded that any song the group played, first must be fairly easy to play, second must be in the same key, third must be written in only one version, fourth must be easily understood for repeating, fifth must be easily obtained and last must be readable.
To make the music readable, a computer software program, “Finale Print Music”, was found to be flexible enough to allow the writing of music for the concertina and do it in a style that was professional and easy to read (previously, we used “Music Time Deluxe”). It was felt that if relatively easy music was selected, the majority of musicians would and could play along. Making it repeatable was also necessary. The number of times the music was repeated always seemed to change when played together for different occasions.
What music to play is always a topic of debate. A club music committee was formed for the purpose of selecting the song-of-the-month for the club newsletter. The club newsletter is the main vehicle for distribution of the club music and a new song is selected each month. When the music appears in the newsletter it is also posted on the club web site at www.concertinaclub.org.
As each song is selected, it is rewritten into Finale Print Music and then e-mailed to all music committee members. Each member is asked to review the sheet and comment on it. Comments are collected, reviewed and the music is adjusted so as to fit the collective needs of the club members. The editor of the newsletter receives the final version for publication.
We have found, that after all this scrutiny, adjustments are still necessary. To accommodate these changes, dating of the music became necessary and is placed on the music after the first version. The latest versions are made available at club meetings and are also on the website.
The music is intended to help promote the playing of the concertina. To help keep the music flowing, we ask that you join the Czech Area Concertina Club. Your membership fees help maintain our website and support the music committee to maintain a good list of music.
Your suggestions are always welcome and can be sent to the chairman of the music committee as listed on the website. — “Lets continue to have fun playing our concertina’s together.”
Where to hear Old Time music in Minnesota?
KCHK 95.5 FM and 1350 AM, New Prague, Minnesota.
KDHL 920AM in Faribault
KATE 1450 AM, Albert Lea, Minnesota
KBEW 1540 AM, Blue Earth, Minnesota