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English Layout Is Great!


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#1 harpomatic

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 07:17 PM

Friends, just want to share my sheer excitement about the English layout - genius! Nice to be trying it on a Wheatstone Amboyna Aeola... Still can't believe my luck here.... Now, after playing Anglo, Bandoneons and Konzertinas(same thing as Anglo"German") of various layouts the question of which system is superior is settled for me without any doubt. Anyway, that subject has been covered here;) One observation that's a bit of contrary to the common wisdom is that English is somehow not as much of chord machine as .....(fill in the blank). On contrary, isn't it a chord monster, rivaled only by a piano? In my experience it totally is, as any theoretically known chord can be easily played. Second, is a question: the entire layout is genius, however, I am simply curious as to what would happen if the layout of accidentals was a logical half step say, either up or down from main rows, and not as it currently is distributed according to a more frequent use of those sharps and flats? I completely get the logic of how it is laid out now, just simply curious about implications of this slightly altered English layout. I am sure that someone played it out at least on paper, if not in actuality.

Mike.


Edited by harpomatic, 10 November 2017 - 07:21 PM.


#2 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 03:05 AM

Mike, as I'm perfectly sharing your excitement re the allocation of buttons on the "English" concertina (and lucky you having an Amboyna Aeola at hand!!), I don't get the point of the added question after some consideration.

I myself got hooked by this system when having found out that the pattern of triads (and basically open fifths, as for my personal approach to playing) is consistent throughout much of the "circle of fifths" (and not just that all the notes/tones are there).

Here's a common and really helpful illustration (courtesy of William Meredith AFAIK) of what I'm referring to (which you may have come across already anyway):

wm_english_chords_left_sm.jpg wm_english_chords_right_sm.jpg

IMO it is exactly due to this "chromatic" extending the basic "diatonic" pattern (as provided in the "white" center rows) that the EC is so incredible versatile and handy, not just for single-line melody but even more for adding chords (with a wide choice of inversions and spreadings) - which you would be loosing with your strictly "logical" approach (which lacks this tight connection to the "western" musical basis I reckon).

Best wishes for your further exploring this fantastic instrument, I'm sure you won't stop enjoying it the way you do at the moment - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor, 11 November 2017 - 03:31 AM.


#3 RonnyB

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:50 AM

Thanks for the layout and chord structure layout will be very useful in my study of this great English concertina 

Ron



#4 harpomatic

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 07:56 AM

Wolf, seems that half of those major/minor triangles would be lost in favor of less often used extentions and triads. I am not saying at all that it would be an improvement, I guess mr.W thought about his layout more than once, before it went into production. Genius layout. I know of various attempts to incorporate the CBA layout into a concertina package - perhaps the only other, more logical layout - but history evidently didn't favor those efforts. Apparently, what works on paper is not always equally workable in the hand of a player. My only regret is that I didn't try this system some dozen years earlier, when I first saw that diagram of english triangles...Until I got it in my hands, on paper the scale being split in two hands, same note on push/pull, the unusual way of holding it, and the overall range of keyboard extending "away from the body", rather than the usual up and down - all seemed much less intuitive than it actually is.

Edited by harpomatic, 11 November 2017 - 08:00 AM.


#5 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 08:14 AM

Mike, I can easily understand your point here as the "idea" of the EC may in fact look in a way crazy at first sight - and I consider myself very lucky that it stroke me in an instant as I saw my then first concertina (not counting the horrible 20b Stagi I had acquired years before) advertised on eBay - bought it right away (although I'd rather been considering the Anglo system, or one of the Duets, before)...

Re the triads I don't even apply them that much as such but can intuitively make use of the respective third and fifth if there's the need..., and it's important that it is on the "right" (be it left or right) side then; this is what all these impromptu arrangements are based upon...

and as to "away from the body", this is not very true for me as I'm holding the instrument revolved by 60 degrees so that the "higher" buttons are sitting rather up than further away. 😎

Edited by blue eyed sailor, 11 November 2017 - 09:12 AM.


#6 David Barnert

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 09:04 AM

I know of various attempts to incorporate the CBA layout into a concertina package - perhaps the only other, more logical layout...

 

I beg to differ. Consider the Hayden layout.

        LEFT HAND            ||        RIGHT HAND
                             ||
                             ||  Bb  C   D
   F   G   A   B             ||    F   G   A   B   C#
 Bb (C)  D   E   F#  G#      ||  Bb  C   D   E   F#  G#
   F   G   A   B   C#  D#    ||    F   G   A   B   C#  D#
     C   D   E   F#  G#      ||     (C)  D   E   F#  G#
                             ||
(5th Finger)       (Thumb)   ||  (Thumb)       (5th Finger)
 ======HAND STRAP========    ||   ======HAND STRAP========

                (C) = middle C (both hands).


#7 harpomatic

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 09:44 AM

David, while duet layouts have their own logic (as really any other layout), the isomorphic nature of CBA layout is both logical and intuitive in a league of its own, the way the chromatic scale is laid out, with conseqent sameness of all the chord shapes, scales, etc. But I feel that my quest for the best (for me) keyboard layout in a squeeze box is over(hopefully).

#8 David Barnert

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 01:26 PM

Mike, look again. Everything you just wrote is also true of the Hayden, which, being more compact than the CBA, is better suited to an instrument the size and shape of a concertina.



#9 harpomatic

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 03:53 PM

David, I kind of see it, kind of take it on faith - both probably due to the number of buttons/rows - more would make benefits of such layout more apparent. Same would probably happen with CBA layout in an abbreviated keyboard. I am sure you know that even 3 full rows of CBA do not offer a full isomorphic potential, as opposed to 5 rows. However, SEEMS that for transposing scales and melodies, CBA is more intuitive (linear?). I may be totally wrong here, not having it in my hand to actually try it. As I wrote earlier, the English looked more confusing on paper than in the hand....

#10 JimLucas

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 05:49 PM

...isn't it a chord monster, rivaled only by a piano? In my experience it totally is, as any theoretically known chord can be easily played.


I don't think anyone who has tried the English has said it's not good for playing chords. What is considered between difficult and impossible is to play a constant chordal background simultaneously with a melody moving at a lively pace.
 
As for the piano being the only rival for chording, I would add to that at least the lute, guitar, and various other stringed instruments.
 

Second, is a question: the entire layout is genius, however, I am simply curious as to what would happen if the layout of accidentals was a logical half step say, either up or down from main rows, and not as it currently is distributed according to a more frequent use of those sharps and flats?


That I can tell you. The basis of the Wheatstone ("English") layout is, like most Western music, the diatonic scale.

The center two columns in each hand form the diatonic C scale. The pattern of playing along the (diatonic) scale alternates between the hands, and in each hand, successive notes are on opposite sides of the center line. The arrangement of the accidentals ensures that the same pattern of alternations, with only slight adjustments between inner and outer columns, holds true for the "most common" 8 of the 12 standard keys.  They "feel" essentially the same.

What you would get in a layout with all the notes of the outer columns being a half step away from their adjacent inner-column notes is simply two parallel diatonic scales half a step apart, one inboard of the other. If, e.g., the outer buttons were all a half step higher, then the doubly-alternating pattern would still work for keys with sharps (and in fact, for more of them than with the current system), but it would break down for keys with flats and would depart further and further from the simple alternations with each added flat.

What's more, with the current system, that same doubly-alternating pattern -- which easily transfers from a conscious pattern to a muscular habit -- also fits various klezmer and other "non-Western" scales/modes. Just select a different set of accidentals for your scale -- e.g., a G-to-G scale with Ab, Eb, and F# -- and you'll find that the music is hardly "Viennese", but that same doubly-alternating pattern is still there... both in the "logic" and in the muscles.

And it's not just scales. It's often noted that standard triad chords -- major and minor -- can be formed as triangles entirely on one end or the other. That's another pattern that would break down for many common keys if the half-step shifts of the outer columns were all in the same direction.

 

Comments, anyone?



#11 harpomatic

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 07:23 PM

Jim, very informative post, thank you. Can you elaborate a bit more on

"also fits various klezmer and other "non-Western" scales/modes. Just select a different set of accidentals for your scale -- e.g., a G-to-G scale with Ab, Eb, and F# -- and you'll find that the music is hardly "Viennese", but that same doubly-alternating pattern is still there...

? Perhaps you can spell out the klezmer/gypsy sounding scale you're mentioning, I'll try it to fully "digest" your insights.

Edited by harpomatic, 11 November 2017 - 09:26 PM.


#12 JimLucas

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 10:02 PM

Can you elaborate a bit more on

...also fits various klezmer and other "non-Western" scales/modes. Just select a different set of accidentals for your scale -- e.g., a G-to-G scale with Ab, Eb, and F# -- and you'll find that the music is hardly "Viennese", but that same doubly-alternating pattern is still there....


? Perhaps you can spell out the klezmer/gypsy sounding scale you're mentioning, I'll try it to fully "digest" your insights.

If all you want is to have the scale "spelled out", here it is:  G-Ab-B-c-d-eb-f#-g.

 

If you want a sound file example of that or some other "hybrid" scale, it may be a few days before I get to it.

 

Well, needing a break from more serious work, I've just recorded this.  Just a bit of noodling around, using the above scale.  First, a couple of times mainly up and down the scale, including going down below the "tonic".  Then a bit of fooling around with different ranges and scale intervals.  Yet the scale still follows the same double-alternation as the usual major and minor scales.

 

By the way, I don't claim that it's any of the standard scales of klezmer or any other genre -- maybe David B. would know?, -- only that it has an "odd" combination of both sharps and flats, resulting in (among other characteristics) two intervals that are greater than a whole tone.  And to show that the same patterning also fits/produces such "weird" scales is the point of the exercise.

 

 


Edited by JimLucas, 12 November 2017 - 11:39 AM.


#13 JimLucas

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 11:45 AM

I just edited my previous post to include the following (and a bit more), but then remembered that edits don't trigger the "New Content" flag.  So...  bump;)
 

Well, needing a break from more serious work, I've just recorded this.  Just a bit of noodling around, using the above scale.  First, a couple of times mainly up and down the scale, including going down below the "tonic".  Then a bit of fooling around with different ranges and scale intervals.  Yet the scale still follows the same double-alternation as the usual major and minor scales.


Edited by JimLucas, 12 November 2017 - 11:52 AM.


#14 harpomatic

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 02:27 PM

Ah, nice!!! Jim thank you!! Any more of such insights would be so appreciated! After all the years of Internet, and this forum particularly, I still am amazed by the ease of communicating, learning, sharing knowledge and info!

Edit: Btw, I understand that perhaps its not  some specific scale, and by more insights I don't mean any specific scales either, as there are hundreds of them out there, but rather this kind of stuff that happens to lay nicely on the keyboard. In my learning of instruments I, both, avoid the use of (insert the name of the instrument) + isms, but also like to know and use them.. (I mean "concertin+isms", guitarisms, etc - naturally occurring idiosyncratic predispositions of any given instrument to do this, that or other, kind of "easy" moves)....


Edited by harpomatic, 12 November 2017 - 02:55 PM.


#15 harpomatic

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 03:14 PM

As an example of what I'm talking about, here is one of my "finds", also klezmer/gypsy  sounding one (I love those): Ab A C C# Eb E G G# (A). All except for the last A can be played on the left hand (same the right hand, higher up the rows), by hitting all the successive buttons of "vertical" first two rows, starting on the Ab.


Edited by harpomatic, 12 November 2017 - 04:58 PM.


#16 JimLucas

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:19 PM

As an example of what I'm talking about, here is one of my "finds", also klezmer/gypsy  sounding one (I love those): Ab A C C# Eb E G G# (A). All except fot he last A can be played on the left hand (same the right hand, higher up the rows), by hitting all the successive buttons of "vertical" first two rows, starting on the Ab.

 

An interesting "scale" it is, and I already have some comments in mind, but I'm afraid they'll have to wait at least a couple of days, because I'm traveling in the morning, and I have other loose ends to tie up before I go.



#17 JimLucas

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:26 PM

Any more of such insights would be so appreciated!

 

I have at least a couple more up my sleeve (I've just pulled my sleeves over my fingers), but as I just said above, I don't expect to get around to writing them out for at least a couple of days.

 

Meanwhile, have fun exploring your English concertina.  It's an adventure!  :)



#18 harpomatic

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:57 PM

it will take me at least a couple of days to digest the first tip, Jim. Looking forward to more of your comments, thanks, and thank you fellas for the illuminating discussion: Wolf, David!






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