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Maccann Duet Help

maccan duet

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#1 VIN


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Posted 22 February 2018 - 10:59 AM

Can someone give me a little help please, I have a 61 button  maccann duet and I have just about learned  Andy cuttings “the Abbess” on the right hand, I would love to add a little ornamentation on the left unfortunately I have very little musical knowledge and everything i try just sounds off so if anyone could offer some practical   advice I would be very grateful, thank you in anticipation, Vin

#2 Anglo-Irishman


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Posted 22 February 2018 - 03:18 PM

There we have it again - different concertina systems are really differnt instruments. They're as differnt from each other as guitars, banjos and mandolins are, although their playing is based on strings and frets. The different tunings of the fretted instruments make you have to learn each one separately, although the physics of sound production are the same. This applies by analogy to the differnt button arrangements of the Anglo, English Crane and Maccann, although they all have bellows and reeds.


The question of how to add "ornamentation" (better: "harmony") on the Anglo is easy to answer. Just try pressing buttons to the left of the button that's playing the melody note! It won't be perfect every time, but it gets you on the way. That's because the press-draw Richter scale has the basic harmonies on adjacent buttons. The fact that only half of the notes are available in a given bellows direction means that most of the "wrong" notes are eliminated right away.


The duets are different. All the notes - including the "wrong" notes - are available all the time, and you as the player have to pick out the "right" ones. When I started playing the Crane duet after decades of the Anglo, this was a challenge. But I took the solution used by "camp-fire guitarists" - I looked up the "chord shapes" on the LH side of the Crane, learnt these as I had on the guitar, and employed them as I would guitar chords for the same tune.

I started off playing everything in C major (the easiest scale on the Crane) and learned the C major, F major, G major, G7 and A minor chords. I was soon playing harmonised arrangements of almost any tune in the key of C major. 


Of course, from years of playing guitar, banjo and autoharp, I knew instinctively what chord goes where. But lacking that experience (as I did when starting out on the banjo) you can use simple song-books that have the chord names printed over the stave. Look for a tune you know that happens to be in the key of C major (no sharps or flats) and use the chord names to find your left-hand harmomies. C, F, G, G7 and Am will be enough, in most cases. 

When you're comfortable with that, find the chords of D, D7 and E minor on your duet, and try familiar tunes from your song-book in the key of G major (one sharp).


Your first attempts will probably be "over-harmonised", but you'll soon learn when to play a full chord in the LH , and when to reduce it to two or even one note.


As I said, my duet is a Crane, so I don't know how easy it is to find and memorise chords on the Maccann - but the principle should be much the same.


Interestingly, my self-taught approach to the Crane owed nothing to my Anglo experience (except for my familiarity with the bellows). I treated the RH like a mandolin: the scale goes up the row until you run out of fingers, and then continues on the next row (for "row" read "string" for the mandolin). I treated the LH like a banjo or guitar: the C chord is these three buttons, the F chord is those three buttons, etc. (on stringed instruments, for "button" read "string/fret").


Hope this helps! I'm afraid I can't help you with information on Maccann scales and chords, but I'm sure the Maccann players will step in on this.




#3 ceemonster


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Posted 23 February 2018 - 01:28 AM

You've looked at the YouTube of Andy Cutting himself playing The Abbess, right?  (cnet will not accept posts of links from either of my computers, nor will it let either ny computers copy text to cnet, but this Cutting clip is not hard to find on the 'Tube).     His bass accompaniment effects are extremely simple, and easy to copy or approximate on a duet concertina.


Additionally, if you Google "Andy Cutting The Abbess," you will get a link to Chordify that gives chords transferable to guitar or piano.    Those, too, are very easily adapted to the left side of your duet.  You don't need to play full 3 and 4 note chords every time.  sometimes just two voices of the chord will do.  You get to choose.


If the issue is that you don't know where the notes are on your Maccann, now is the time to learn.  You just have to suck it up and memorize where they are for each octave, which on Maccann is slightly different for each octave.

#4 alex_holden


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Posted 23 February 2018 - 01:55 AM

You've looked at the YouTube of Andy Cutting himself playing The Abbess, right?  (cnet will not accept posts of links from either of my computers, nor will it let either ny computers copy text to cnet, but this Cutting clip is not hard to find on the 'Tube).


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