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Mirrored Hayden Duets


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#1 rlgph

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 11:52 AM

I just started reading the neuroscience book Incognito, by David Eagleman, and came across the passage below.  It reminded me of the feeling that i experienced when i discovered how easy it was for me to play in octaves on a Hayden duet with a mirrored left side in comparison to one with the conventional arrangement:

 

"To demonstrate the interference of consciousness as a party trick, hand a friend two dry erase markers -- one in each hand -- and ask her to sign her name with her right hand at the same time that she's signing it backward (mirror reversed) with her left hand.  She will quickly discover that there is only one way she can do it:  by not thinking about it.  By excluding conscious interference, her hands can do the complex mirror movements with no problem -- but if she thinks about her actions, the job gets quickly tangled in a bramble of stuttering strokes."

 

As i've described it before, although the conventional arrangement was easier to think about, the mirrored arrangement was easier for me to do.  I ascribed it to some fundamental way my brain worked, but apparently it is a property of human brains in general. 

 

So far as i can see, there is no overall advantage of one left side arrangement over the other in general chord formation (although some specific chords may be easier in one arrangement or the other).  As for counter melodies, it seems to me that the mirrored arrangement has an advantage that the dominant left hand fingers are available to play the more common notes.  If these two expectations are true, perhaps we should seriously consider adopting the mirrored left side as a standard for future Hayden beginner concertinas, since it does have the inherent advantage for octave playing.  (We can already get mirrored left sides as options on intermediate and advanced Haydens.)


Edited by rlgph, 06 March 2018 - 11:59 AM.


#2 Spectacled Warbler

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 04:07 PM

I don't do much octave playing, but when I do, I don't have any problem not using the same fingers, as I think in shapes not fingers, so I just use the same shape on each side with different fingers.   Not quite as easy as a mirrored layout, but still fairly easy.    The advantage to the non-mirrored layout, for me, is that the left and right hands are a continuation of the same keyboard, just split in 2 at the ceiling end, with an extra high row stuck on the right hand.    So if I start playing on the left bottom row,  floor end and continue up to the ceiling end, the next note in the layout is the ceiling end of same row of the right hand, continuing down to the floor end again.    That applies to every row except one, where there's a note missing in the layout (55 buttons).     So Eb, Ab, most of Db, are all doable with a bit of thinking.      I love it.    Horses for courses.  

 

Joy



#3 David Barnert

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 10:36 PM

Please don’t design an instrument based upon how easy it is to play parallel octaves. If all you want to do is play parallel octaves, the original Bastari 64-key Haydens had two reeds tuned in octaves for every button. There’s your instrument. But why would you want to? A strength of duet concertinas is the ability to play counterpoint, and parallel octaves is the antithesis of counterpoint. I sometimes (rarely) play parallel octaves just for variety if, for instance, I’m playing a 32-bar tune many times (for Morris dancing, or whatever) and want to do something a little different one time through.

 

You don’t hear pianists clamoring for a piano keyboard that ascends to the left and right from the middle toward the edges, do you? Why should the concertina be any different?



#4 rlgph

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 08:18 AM

Please dont design an instrument based upon how easy it is to play parallel octaves. If all you want to do is play parallel octaves, the original Bastari 64-key Haydens had two reeds tuned in octaves for every button. Theres your instrument. But why would you want to? A strength of duet concertinas is the ability to play counterpoint, and parallel octaves is the antithesis of counterpoint. I sometimes (rarely) play parallel octaves just for variety if, for instance, Im playing a 32-bar tune many times (for Morris dancing, or whatever) and want to do something a little different one time through.

My point is that chords and counter melodies are likely as easy to learn to play on a mirrored left side as non-mirrored, so there is no intrinsic reason to choose one over the other for that kind of accompaniment. However, the mirrored version has an additional advantage that can get beginners quickly into a non-trivial accompaniment. Besides, the ability to easily play a tune at a lower octave opens up more than just parrallel octave accompaniment.
 

You dont hear pianists clamoring for a piano keyboard that ascends to the left and right from the middle toward the edges, do you? Why should the concertina be any different?

This is a totally irrelevant comment. Concertinas have a hard dividing point between the left side and right side. Pianos do not.

Edited by rlgph, 07 March 2018 - 08:29 AM.


#5 Robin Harrison

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 08:30 AM

She will quickly discover that there is only one way she can do it:  by not thinking about it. 

 

  This was the part I was intrigued by...

        Don't know how many times over the years I've been playing a tune and suddenly realized I can't play it.......and crash to a halt. And yet I had been doing perfectly well until I thought about it.

Robin



#6 Spectacled Warbler

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 02:33 PM

 

She will quickly discover that there is only one way she can do it:  by not thinking about it. 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yes!   to this and to Robin above. 

 

Joy

 

 

Joy



#7 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 05:19 PM

 

My point is that chords and counter melodies are likely as easy to learn to play on a mirrored left side as non-mirrored, so there is no intrinsic reason to choose one over the other for that kind of accompaniment.
 

You mean, it's easier to learn two different layouts - one for each hand - than just one, that puts the same note an octave lower on the left hand in the same position as the higher note on the right?

 

Seems unnecessarily complicated to me!

 

Could it be that you associate your notes with fingers, whereas I associate them with buttons? Depending where my tune is coming from or going to, or what chord I'm building, I'll use different fingers for a given note in different situations. It's the buttons that count!

 

I must admit I'm not familiar with the Hayden, but on the Crane I find it sensible to have the same "road-map" for both hands.

 

Puzzled,

John



#8 rlgph

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 08:52 PM

You mean, it's easier to learn two different layouts - one for each hand - than just one, that puts the same note an octave lower on the left hand in the same position as the higher note on the right?

 

Before i answer your question, let me briefly give my concertina background.  I started learning to play just over three years ago, in my late 60s.  Thus, i'll never be an outstanding player.  I consider myself an advanced beginner or an early intermediate.  However, because my time on the instrument is relatively short, i can pretty well remember my early experience in learning how to play it.

 

Initially, i basically ignored the left side, and concentrated on playing simple tunes on the right side by ear (mostly American folk songs).  Within a few months i had internalized the fingering and relative tones on the right side so that with a little effort i could play new tunes by ear.  I did a little with the left side, but not much.  However, during this time i discovered the iPad app duettina which allowed a choice of a regular layout on the left side or a mirrored layout.  In my experimentation with the mirrored layout, i discovered that once i had a tune pretty well down on the right side, i could simultaneously play an octave lower on the left side.  I also found that once i had learned a tune with my right hand, i could then play it pretty well with my left hand by itself, never having made any effort learning to play it on the left side prior to that point.  My response was to immediately order a CC Peacock with mirrored left side, and ignore the left side of my Elise since i was trading it in for the custom Peacock.

 

So, my answer to your question is that no, i didn't have to learn two different layouts.  Incorporating the left side layout came pretty much automatically after learning the right side layout.

 

I still play mostly by ear, looking at scores only when i can't quite work out a tune on my own.  For the past few months i've particularly enjoyed ad-libbing variations on basic tunes.  I can do this with either hand; internalizing the right hand layout has automatically transferred to the left hand for me.  When i do play both sides together, i usually will play the melody on the right side with an occasional phrase on the left side, either simultaneously with the right side or in lieu of it.  Sometimes i experiment playing a parallel 4th or 5th on the left side.  Occasionally i will play single or dual finger chordal accompaniment on the left side, but generally i don't like that as well as playing accompanying phrases or just melody on the right or left side.

 

I have not played counterpoint accompaniment because i personally haven't had the patience to learn and practice playing two different melodies simultaneously.  However, i see no reason why it can't be done if one is willing to put in the time.  Certainly the left side layout is not the limiting factor there.  Whether my experience with playing simple folk tunes would transfer to complex music, i have no idea.  At my age i have no interest in playing such music.

 

Finally, i want to emphasize that i am not advocating that people who already play a Hayden to their satisfaction change.  I am merely suggesting that for beginners the mirrored left side may be a better solution -- one that can get them into something beyond simple melody more quickly.



#9 rlgph

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 11:59 AM

As i have read further in Incognito, i've been reminded of the process of learning a physical task such as playing an instrument or tennis or ....  Initially one consciously thinks about "rules" as one learns to play (slowly), but later on the tasks become incorporated into the unconsciousness, and become much quicker and smoother and less error prone.  (Sometimes referred to as "muscle memory".)  Once in that "automatic" mode, if we allow conscious thought to interfere, we tend to make mistakes more readily.

 

Apparently with the mirrored left side, learning to unconsciously play with my right hand transferred to similar playing with my left hand, without having to go through the rule application phase. I think that with the conventional left side arrangement i would have had to go through the conscious rule application stage for it as well, requiring a longer learning period.

 

Isn't the brain an amazing thing?


Edited by rlgph, 08 March 2018 - 12:01 PM.


#10 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 07:56 AM

Apparently with the mirrored left side, learning to unconsciously play with my right hand transferred to similar playing with my left hand, without having to go through the rule application phase. I think that with the conventional left side arrangement i would have had to go through the conscious rule application stage for it as well, requiring a longer learning period.

 

Had that been the case with me, I probably wouldn't have survived my first drive on German roads ...

 

I learned to drive a car on the left side of the road in Ireland. I was neither particularly adept nor inept, and I soon had the hang of "left foot clutch, right foot brake or accelerator." and also the "first gear forward left, fourth gear back right" idea. I also got accustomed to sitting in the right-hand seat, changing gear with my left hand and steering with my right while doing so. After a few years I was right in that phase that you talk about where you don't have to think about details. You just think "Slow down!" and your hands and feet "automatically" apply the brakes and shift down a gear as necessary. Same with "Speed up!".

 

Then I moved to the Continent. I was without a car for about a year, but then it became necessary to purchase one, so I went shopping, and found a suitable vehicle. And of course I got the chance to test drive it. And so I found myself for the very first time behind the wheel of a car, but in the left-hand seat, with the gear lever under my right hand. And I had to drive on the right, too!

 

A recipe for disaster?

 

Not a bit of it! Because, fortunately, the controls on right-hand-drive and left-hand-drive cars are not mirrored. The sequence of pedals is always clutch-brake-accelerator, and the gears are always low at front left to high at back right. So no "rule application phase" is required when switching from an RHD to an LHD car for the first time.

 

For the analogy with the duet condertina, the car's gear-shift is the most relevant aspect. Irrespective of which hand you're using, each gear has the same spatial location, so no "conversion" is needed. Your trained instinct kicks in immediately for the unpractised hand.

 

And it's not that I'm in any way singular as a driver! I meanwhile know lots of Germans who have driven hire cars on holidays in Britain and Ireland, and all of them came back alive, having reached the destinations they were heading for. ;)

 

Cheers,

John



#11 hjcjones

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 09:58 AM

I think most people find it easy to mirror with one hand what the other hand is doing.  One of the challenges of learning a two-handed skill such as playing a musical instrument is learning to break that habit and becoming able to do different things simultaneously with each hand.  It is more difficult to begin with, but once it is learned it opens up far more opportunities.

 

I am therefore not surprised that you would find a mirrored keyboard easier to play, and as you seem to be content to play only in octaves then it would seem to be ideal for you.  However music is much more than playing in octaves, and for most purposes the ability to play chords and countermelodies is essential. You haven't put forward any musical reasons why a mirrored system offers any advantages, only that it requires less effort to learn..

 

Any system can be learned when you're starting from scratch, but I think it would be very unwise for a beginner to start on any system just because it is easier to play, if it might cause them difficulties when they wish to play something more advanced.



#12 rlgph

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 11:01 AM

 You haven't put forward any musical reasons why a mirrored system offers any advantages, only that it requires less effort to learn.


I don't think there are any musical reasons to favor one layout over the other. However, i also don't think that ease of learning is a trivial matter in any endeavor. Too many people abandon something that could give them lifelong pleasure because of a steep learning curve.

In my view the Hayden concertina itself is an example an instrument with a less steep learning curve than other duets. I suspect that it will eventually become the dominant duet system for that reason. And almost certainly the standard left side layout will not be mirrored in the future.

#13 hjcjones

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 12:03 PM

If there is really no difference musically between the two layouts then you may have a point.  However I wonder whether a mirrored layout actually reinforces the instinctive tendency for one hand to mirror the other; whereas a non-mirrored layout might encourage the player to learn independent movement from the outset, which will make playing more complex music easier once they progress.

 

With respect, I think your own preference for playing in octaves is a red herring, in my experience most people, and especially duet players, want to play something more complex.



#14 rlgph

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 08:15 AM

With respect, I think your own preference for playing in octaves is a red herring, in my experience most people, and especially duet players, want to play something more complex.

Possibly, though i haven't had any particular difficuly playing simple one or two finger chordal accompaniment. I just find it rather boring.

Perhaps i am being idealistic, but i think people who want to play complex music will have the self-discipline to learn it. We don't need to worry about them. On the other hand, people who are satisfied to entertain themselves with simple melodies and maybe simple acompaniment (like me) should be encouraged to whatever extent is possible. Having more people playing Haydens is probably an advantage even to more advanced players. Some of those who initially are satisfied with simple playing will decide to move up.

Thanks for giving me some things to think further about.

ron

Edited by rlgph, 10 March 2018 - 08:55 AM.


#15 David Barnert

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 11:07 AM

I seem to remember Wim Wakker mentioning in another thread that all Concertina Connection Hayden instruments are available at no extra cost with mirrored left hand.

Edited to add:

Found it: http://www.concertin...=19864&p=187918

It was, of course, in response to your comment, rlgph.

Edited by David Barnert, 10 March 2018 - 11:17 AM.


#16 rlgph

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 01:17 PM

I seem to remember Wim Wakker mentioning in another thread that all Concertina Connection Hayden instruments are available at no extra cost with mirrored left hand.


True for their intermediate and advanced Haydens, but not the beginner's Elise. I upgraded more quickly than i would have otherwise because of that.

#17 rlgph

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 11:08 PM

I wonder whether a mirrored layout actually reinforces the instinctive tendency for one hand to mirror the other; whereas a non-mirrored layout might encourage the player to learn independent movement from the outset, which will make playing more complex music easier once they progress.


This is an interesting question -- one that i would like to explore further by trying to learn to play a simple melody on the right side with accompaniment (something beyond chord sequences) on the left side. As this is not something i've ever done, could someone who does this regularly summarize your approach to learning such a task? Do you have a suggestion for a simple melody and counter melody for me to try?

#18 David Barnert

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 07:16 AM

... trying to learn to play a simple melody on the right side with accompaniment (something beyond chord sequences) on the left side. As this is not something i've ever done, could someone who does this regularly summarize your approach to learning such a task?

 

For me, this process involved serious study of music theory (6 semesters in college). I don’t know how I would suggest you go about it, although many seem to get there without following the route that I did.

 

Do you have a suggestion for a simple melody and counter melody for me to try?

 

Why not start with a scale in 10ths (3rd + octave)? Play a G scale with the left hand while playing an ascending scale starting on B (but staying with the notes of a G scale) with the right.

 

If you want a real tune, you might try Xotis Romanes, which was "Tune of the Month” here on concertina.net in October 2013.

 

Here’s a video of me playing it.

 

And here’s the music in abc notation:

X:1
T:Xotis Romanes
M:4/4
L:1/8
V:1
V:2
K:AMin
[V:1]  Acea e2dc|dede d4  |dgdg  d2cB |cBcd edcB |
[V:2]  A4-  AcBA|d4-  dfed|g2B2  gfed |efed cBA^G|
%
[V:1]  Acea e2dc|dede d4  |gfed  c2B2 |A8       :|
[V:2]  A4-  AcBA|d4-  dfed|g3 f  e2e2 |Aceg edcB:|
%
[V:1]|:AccB BAA2|ceed dcc2|egg^f fee^d| e8       |
[V:2]|:e4   d2c2|g4   f2e2|b4    a2^f2|^g8       |
%
[V:1]  dffe edd2|ceed dcc2|eddc  cBBA |A8       :|
[V:2]  a4   f2a2|a4  e2a2 |a4    eddc |c8       :|

Play the lower line down an octave (as would be natural for the Hayden system).






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