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English Verses Maccann Duet?


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#1 Tarquin Biscuitbox

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:19 AM

English verses MacCann Duet Concertinas - which do you prefer & why? 

 

I'd like to hear from anyone who has played both systems. 



#2 maccannic

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 06:24 AM

Well that rules me out, as I've only ever played Maccann.  As a former pianist, accordionist and guitarist I've always tended to think in terms of harmonies, chord sequences and bass lines rather than just the tune.  Therefore I was drawn away from the English which, with the best will in the world, seems to be ideal for single-line melody and possibly drones but not free harmony.  I couldn't get my poor brain round the anglo, so duet it was.  And I've never regretted it.



#3 David Barnert

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 06:43 AM

In another thread, you wrote:
 

I'd like to know why you chose a MacCann Duet over the other systems?


And I’d like to know why you are focusing in Maccann rather than considering other duet systems. For instance, pretty much anything you can do on a Maccann you can also do on a Hayden, and there’s still folks making Haydens.

#4 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 07:24 AM

I have played both  English and McCann  duet  ( and Hayden duet ).  The EC  has been my main squeeze box  for  45+  years  and I have had reasonable success at  'tunes with chordal additions'. I'd not call it  'playing melody and accompaniment' in the sense  one can manage on a Duet , or Accordion,

 

I spent two years   recently working on the McCann    and although it does provide  plenty of scope  for  double hand melodies, melodies with chordal  accompaniments, three or four voices  etc.,  I  began to realize   that  whilst several  key  signatures  were  easy  enough  others  would be difficult  and  need a lot of study... ie  start young!

 

So, I then  began  the Hayden journey,  which promises  equality  and simplicity  of  fingering  throughout the key signatures... that is IF  the keyboard is extensive enough.  Lovely  things like  playing in octaves, very simply adding  chordal  and bass  line accompaniments  are  fun   and it is probably  the easiest concertina keyboard  to learn.  The downside  to the Hayden was the lack of  instruments  and I only took  it up when  several  makers  started to  offer  them.

 

In the end  I decided  to invest my practice time  where  it has  already proven  beneficial, with the English  and  branch out  onto  an instrument that  would carry me in the  duet direction  that works for others  who live where I live...  so I've begun  the Chromatique Accordéon  which gives me any key I wish  and multiple voices  that  are  more easily balanced ,left to right , great availability of  models to  choose  from, huge secondhand market with  incredibly low prices  due to a  decline  in interest  in the accordéon in France....

 

My bias  comes from  the EC  field, where  complex melody playing  became natural, anything from Bach to Ragtime  and much Traditional  music  in between.

 

It all depends what sort of music  you want to  play.


Edited by Geoff Wooff, 13 March 2017 - 10:08 AM.


#5 Myrtle's cook

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:29 AM

I play English and have tried to play MacCann. So, for what it's worth, my experiences are:

 

- the English is pretty flexible - as Geoff says - check out Steve Turner, Billy Whaley (English and MacCann, both providing rich accompaniment), Dick Miles et al on youtube. I found it relatively easy to learn (the logic of it's layout seems to work for my brain's hard wiring) and I find it easy to play from 'the dots' and by ear. The ergonomics of the EC - discussed elsewhere on this forum, and placing an initial strain on thumb and little finger - have been overcome by practice, muscle development and in the case of my heavier instrument a strap for the back of each hand.

 

- MacCann - I love the idea of a duet, but having have come to the reluctant conclusion that for my brain it requires rather more investment of time to master than the English. The layout rather lacks the straight forward logic of the English, although there is robust theory behind it. I am also left handed so this means the bulk of the fiddly playing is required from my less coordinated right hand. I have tried playing the instrument 'the other way around' - which was better - but just made me more aware of how awkward my brain finds this particular layout.

 

You might also want to consider the Crane system duet (in addition to Hayden suggested above). Less common than MacCann, but still a reasonable number of good vintage instruments available. The layout is in many ways similar to an EC - although not the same. I have tinkered around with one and found I could quickly get a tune from it. The left hand/right hand issue still applies, but the layout is easier for my brain to grasp. Check out Geoff Lakeman on youtube (he is a contributor to this forum) to get an idea of just what can be achieved from this system.



#6 Mike Pierceall

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:32 PM

Well that rules me out, as I've only ever played Maccann.  As a former pianist, accordionist and guitarist I've always tended to think in terms of harmonies, chord sequences and bass lines rather than just the tune.  Therefore I was drawn away from the English which, with the best will in the world, seems to be ideal for single-line melody and possibly drones but not free harmony.  I couldn't get my poor brain round the anglo, so duet it was.  And I've never regretted it.

I wish more people felt the way you do about the English, my choice, as it would lessen the competition to acquire another.  Alas, my experience is just the opposite, both for the former and the latter.



#7 wayman

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:58 PM

In another thread, you wrote:
 

I'd like to know why you chose a MacCann Duet over the other systems?


And I’d like to know why you are focusing in Maccann rather than considering other duet systems. For instance, pretty much anything you can do on a Maccann you can also do on a Hayden, and there’s still folks making Haydens.

 

 

Used Maccanns in good nick are readily available in the UK at very attractive prices. There are a bevy of good Maccann players here whose playing can be seen, heard, emulated ... and some may well be willing to teach or offer guidance. Jon Boden of course, but also Ollie King, Matt Quinn, Jack Rutter ... it's become the cool concertina to pick up. Whereas ... I've never, not once, seen a Hayden or met a Hayden player in the UK. The Hayden just hasn't caught on here, and I think it's that there are already enough duet concertinas here that have just as wide a range, and greater chromaticism, for a fraction of the price of a Peacock or Beaumont.



#8 David Barnert

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 09:38 PM

Therefore I was drawn away from the English which, with the best will in the world, seems to be ideal for single-line melody and possibly drones but not free harmony.


Don't tell Danny Chapman. He doesn't seem to have noticed.
 

I've never, not once, seen a Hayden or met a Hayden player in the UK.


I was in a room full of about 20 of them (instruments and players) once. Chippenham Folk Festival 2003, at a workshop that Brian Hayden was leading.

#9 wayman

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:31 AM

 

Therefore I was drawn away from the English which, with the best will in the world, seems to be ideal for single-line melody and possibly drones but not free harmony.

Don't tell Danny Chapman. He doesn't seem to have noticed.

 

Or Rob Harbron. Everything I believed about the limitations of the English concertina was completely removed after sitting next to Rob in a workshop and watching his hands ; a front row seat at a Leveret concert last week only further confirmed this. It might feel far less intuitive than other systems, but if you really do master it, you've got no real limitations. It just takes a completely different approach. We call them all concertinas, English, Anglo, and duet, but really they're entirely different instruments from each other that just use the same basic mechanics and physics and have more or less the same size and shape.

 

 

I've never, not once, seen a Hayden or met a Hayden player in the UK.


I was in a room full of about 20 of them (instruments and players) once. Chippenham Folk Festival 2003, at a workshop that Brian Hayden was leading.

 

 

Very cool! But all I'm seeing today are Maccann and Crane players. When you can get a good used Maccann for under £1000 cash, whereas any quality new Hayden will cost 3-4 times that much (plus payment is in $$$ with the worst exchange rate in decades, plus something like 15% markup for import duty), I can see why. 


Edited by wayman, 14 March 2017 - 08:32 AM.


#10 Don Taylor

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 09:37 AM

One issue that turned me against Maccanns when I was thinking about trying a duet was that on all of the smaller boxes the lowest note on the RHS is the G above middle C. The 56 button boxes are like this. I think that there are a very small number of 57 button boxes that start on middle C, but you generally need a 65 button box to be sure of having middle C on the RHS. One of the attractions of the concertina for me is its small size, and 65 buttons is getting on the big side. I know others feel differently about this.

This may not matter for the art music that Maccann played, but most folk and popular music needs to go down to middle C, or lower, for the melody line. Of course you can cross over to the LHS for the lower notes but if you are playing some sort of accompaniment on the LHS then it starts to get complicated.

Now, I never did try a Maccann so maybe my thinking is bogus and I would be happy to defer to real experience.

I think that all Crane duets, even the 35 button boxes, and all Hayden duets start on middle C on the RHS. The Beaumont starts a tone lower on Bb which, I think, would attractive for vocal accompaniment.

#11 Tarquin Biscuitbox

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:11 AM

I quite like the layout of the Crane/Triumph - but where can I get one from? There don't seem to be any for sale on the internet. i guess they don't make them anymore.  



#12 Don Taylor

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:43 AM

Nobody makes Maccann or Crane duets anymore, maybe you could commission one but it would be expensive and you might have to wait years for it to be made.

Buying blind off the Internet is risky as most boxes will need a lot work to get them in playable condition. Don't ask me how I know this...

There are a few reputable dealers/repairers on this forum so you could post your interest here. You might also get an offer from one of the members - many of us have bought and sold instruments from each other.

In the UK, contact Chris Algar:
http://www.concertina.co.uk/about-us/
directly as I don't think he visits here.

#13 Daniel Hersh

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:54 PM

If you're in the US, try Greg Jowaisas who's an active c.net member as well as an excellent concertina restorer.



#14 Theo

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:46 AM

If you are in the U.K. I expect to have a 60 button Crane for sale fairly soon, it's made by Harry Crabb.

#15 Tarquin Biscuitbox

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:05 AM

Hi Theo. I'd be very interested to know how much the 60 button Crane may cost? 



#16 Tarquin Biscuitbox

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:11 AM

I think it's also historically interesting to try and work out why some instruments became popular (e.g. the Spanish guitar & Anglo concertina) and others are no longer mass produced (e.g. the English guitar & Crane concertina).

 

Was it because there were better alternatives?   



#17 Don Taylor

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:38 AM

I think it's also historically interesting to try and work out why some instruments became popular (e.g. the Spanish guitar & Anglo concertina) and others are no longer mass produced (e.g. the English guitar & Crane concertina).
 
Was it because there were better alternatives?


Yes and no. There were better alternatives for a different, perhaps more modern, type of music. But the cittern, or English guitar, sounds just right for its kind of music and I suspect that a Spanish guitar would not sound quite as right. And vice versa.

I think that today's incredible popularity of the guitar started in the US, so how would, for example, Jimmy Roger's music sound on a cittern? Pretty weird, I think - it really would be high and lonesome! OTOH, I think that Leadbelly's music would sound pretty good.

There is no longer an interest in big public performances of classical music by virtuoso players of the Maccann, nor are there any Salvation Army concertina bands left. So there has only been hobby demand for Maccanns and Cranes. There has been enough good vintage instruments around to satisfy that demand and no need to make new ones other than occasional one-offs.

The Anglo has kept its popularity for Morris and especially ITM and consequently there has been enough demand to justify a few craftsmen making high-quality modern instruments.

#18 DEPconcertina

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 11:32 PM

 

In another thread, you wrote:
 

I'd like to know why you chose a MacCann Duet over the other systems?


And I’d like to know why you are focusing in Maccann rather than considering other duet systems. For instance, pretty much anything you can do on a Maccann you can also do on a Hayden, and there’s still folks making Haydens.

 

 

Used Maccanns in good nick are readily available in the UK at very attractive prices. There are a bevy of good Maccann players here whose playing can be seen, heard, emulated ... and some may well be willing to teach or offer guidance. Jon Boden of course, but also Ollie King, Matt Quinn, Jack Rutter ... it's become the cool concertina to pick up. Whereas ... I've never, not once, seen a Hayden or met a Hayden player in the UK. The Hayden just hasn't caught on here, and I think it's that there are already enough duet concertinas here that have just as wide a range, and greater chromaticism, for a fraction of the price of a Peacock or Beaumont.

 

I'd be quite interested in finding one of those MacCann players who is willing to teach.  My wife recently bought a fine reconditioned MacCann from a good shop in England, but I seem to be the one fiddlin' with it.  

I'm in Denver, Colorado, but with the modern tools for online video connection, I would not expect geography to be much of a problem.  

So how do I find one of these MacCann players who might teach?






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