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Electronic (Midi) Concertina - Current Options?

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#19 alex_holden

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 01:14 AM

Buttons turned from white Delrin dyed black, bushed.


Why not use black Delrin?

#20 accordionmagic

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 08:18 AM

I can't get hold of small quantities of small diameter black delrin but have loads of 6mm white. This can be dyed very easily using the correct dye to almost any colour, handy for special buttons with special function etc.

 

Delrin is extremely easy to turn and leaves a smooth finish after turning that doesn't need polishing further.

 

Dyeing Delrin results in a deep colour layer that cannot be scratched off.

 

 



#21 oxfordanglo

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 04:27 PM

HI All late to this topic but what is the attraction of a MIDI concertina?



#22 JimMacArthur

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 05:55 PM

For me, it's all about quiet practice.  I live in a small flat with my two sons, and the only time I can practice is when they're around.  They usually prefer not to hear my endless scales, and I can't blame them.

 

For some others, it's about expanding the sonic palette beyond free reeds.  I worry a bit about the musicality of that, but then again, the concertina has always been about experimentation.  Charles Wheatstone, the inventor of the English Concertina, was one of the greatest engineers of his time, and I think that he would approve of our attempts to transmogrify it.

 

One of the O.P.'s interests is in making an inexpensive, but faithful, concertina, perhaps by replacing the reeds with electronics.  I and others have been exploring that space, but, IMO, we haven't found something that is both inexpensive and a decent replica of a concertina-playing experience.



#23 Reed Rat

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 10:41 PM

I'd still like to have/make an 'everyone's' budget electronic concertina...

 

What's the easiest available way?

I'm a player rather than a builder, I just want to be able to create a custom one that will help me play the ways I enjoy most.

 

If there's a simple kit of the electronics to save me time, I might see if I can create a MIDI concertina with a sculpted keyboard that better suits the arc of the fingers. I've heard of pressure-sensitive buttons, so I'd like that kind, and any other such features to give ability to play expressively.

 

I have been considering a similar project - I wonder if in the short run you could use a paper bellows like on an Italian concertina?

 

I bet you could 3d print the bellows with that flexible rubber-like fiber.  3d printing the ends should be pretty easy, I just took a class in 3d printing and almost made a concertina end. Problem was the school printers were very low quality and everything came out with ridges.

 

I bet you could use an Arduino: I have an Arduino NANO I bought for experimentation, I also got a serial (I think SPI) MIDI/sound chip which can play Mp3 files and has 16-60 notes of polyphony for its internal General MIDI sound bank (I believe the sounds are FM). The chip/board is from "Geeetech", but I have just recently acquired it and haven't wired it in yet.

 

That chip cost me I think $10, and the Arduino was $7, though I would use a bigger MC for a MIDI concertina so that there is enough digital inputs to not have to try to multiplex or decode the buttons.  Seems like each button could just be a regular momentary switch and you could use a single universal valve for all buttons with an air sensor for direction and pressure., it may not be identical to a real concertina, but at least it would be responsive

 

I like the BeagleBone and you could run the Csound library on it, pretty sure it runs on the Arduino series as well if you go through the API.  I think there could be enough room for a speaker or set of small speakers, then you could choose to play it out loud or with headphones on, like a PigNose guitar.

 

I see a lot of plastic/paper concertinas, maybe an old German style could get you the framework to start since you may not need the existing action.

 

You said you wanted it to be cheap, I think sacrificing some complexity would at least get you started on your project.

 

Chris

 

 

 

 

 



#24 Bruce Thomson

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 03:05 AM

Hi folks,
 
STATUS
 
Here's here's a summary of the current focus of the 'Concertina Nova', and some replies to your helpful comments.
 
- I'm delighted by the increasing possibility of creating it, thanks to your and other enquiries in hand.
- Delighted now to be conferring with 
Jim MacArthur (building a MIDI concertina printed circuit board) 
Paul Hardy, Don Taylor, Chris Ball (each building a MIDI concertina currently), 
Roy Whitely (very experienced converting to MIDI concertina) currently 
 
- This is a 'from scratch' refreshing, fun, rethink of the concertina, rather than a conversion of existing concertinas.
- Help me leap us into the 21st century using 'now' technologies, materials
- Let's equal/surpass today's existing top concertinas in sound quality, and (most important), ability to express ourselves more richly and satisfyingly in music. 
- Especially let's use MIDI electronics to transcend reeds and probably bellows (use mechanical force to give 'feel' and 'effect'), but for now prob retain at least 'dummy' button/lever structure to retain the 'feel'. (Jim, Roy)
- The 'real concertina' sound is highest priority, but it's got to have unlimited other voice customizing at low extra cost for those who want it.
- Remember horse and cart? That's where existing concertinas are. Now think of the Tesla Model 3 (see https://www.youtube....h?v=ExXGy_oIY30 )
 
- Let's design it to be a tenth of the price of the world's best concertinas, making it widely available and popular for millions of school kids, family/friends campfire gatherings, parties, etc.
- Completely self-contained with battery enough for 10 hrs of playing, and speakers.
- As 'democratic' as possible: Open source parts & software, designed to be simple for anyone to fix. Cheap as a guitar. More rugged than a guitar.
- BUT if desirable, I know how to patent any excellent final design to protect it from capture by a competing, obstructive vendor.
- Several of us might be building their own, but conferring with each other, ending up with at least one that thrills us, and thousands of people in future.
 
EASIER, FASTER COMMUNICATIONS
 
Although I love old Concertina Net, this is 2016 and I'm used to Skype, YouTube and FaceBook.
 
I encourage any and all of you all to connect with me via Skype video session - My ID is Bruce Thomson in New Zealand.
Also welcome to use Skype telephone calling, or ordinary phone to telephone me.  NZ is 64 06 357 7773 or (cell phone) 64 021 176 9711
My hope is that in this adventurous project we'll get to know each other as humans and have a lot of fun as it advances.
If you email me your phone number, I can try to phone you at my expense (very cheap if I Skype telephone you).
 
RIGHT NOW ACTION
I'd love to talk with Jim, Paul, Roy, or even all together in a Skype session at a globally okay time.
Things like the best way to achieve button feel and effect, doing a run of Jim's printed circuit boards, costs involved.
I AM willing to PAY if I have to. E.g. put hundreds of dollars to get the parts I will need to produce the Concertina Nova IF it leads to something the world will love.
I AM happy to hear your pitch if you ask me (e.g. Chris Ball) to pay you to create a useable starter playable prototype (to pretty up later) towards that.
My knowledge of electronics exists, but is limited. 
 
Remember I'm only doing all this to get myself a superb MIDI concertina for expressing myself even better than my present joy of playing.
 
If you haven't yet, DO have a drool over today's best manufacturing tools, at... https://www.youtube....h?v=o6g9eTP5H1Q
 
Keep talking here. It'll help me get there. =)
 
Regards,
 
Bruce

Edited by Bruce Thomson, 15 April 2016 - 03:18 AM.


#25 Don Taylor

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 08:03 AM

I still think that the simplest way to get decent sound is to incorporate an iPhone or iPod Touch into the box. They are small, self powered, have a headphone socket and Apple, for all its other faults, have paid attention to the needs of synthesized music. Neither Windows nor Android come close. There are tons of interesting sampled sounds available including some great concertina samples from Michael Eskin who is a member here.

There are plenty of used iPhones available. An iPhone 4 will probably do the basic job, a 5 will definitely work.

Don.


Edited by Don Taylor, 15 April 2016 - 10:53 PM.


#26 Don Taylor

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 08:11 AM

Conzertino's very impressive demo of his midi EC fed through an iPad:
https://youtu.be/nugTz-mpDJI

Edited by Don Taylor, 15 April 2016 - 08:13 AM.


#27 Reed Rat

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Posted 17 April 2016 - 07:20 PM

Conzertino's very impressive demo of his midi EC fed through an iPad:
https://youtu.be/nugTz-mpDJI

 

the sounds from that ipad app are really good and his playing is a nice demonstration of the English system. Even a box with no working bellows would probably make a nice compact MIDI controller. 

 

Good luck with your project



#28 Paul_Hardy

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 09:31 AM

HI All late to this topic but what is the attraction of a MIDI concertina?

For me, personally, the three main advantages are 

1) being able to put headphones on and play silently

2) being able to play with it sounding like a cello, or an oboe, or tubular bells, or any combination of three sounds

3) being able to play direct to computer and see/hear/save it as notation

 

Beyond that, the longer term drive is to help the creation of a relatively cheap solid-state 'concertina-like object' that can bring new people to the concertina, in the way that electronic keyboards bring new people to playing the piano.

 

Does that make sense?



#29 Chris Ghent

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 05:35 AM

HI All late to this topic but what is the attraction of a MIDI concertina?

3) being able to play direct to computer and see/hear/save it as notation
 
Paul,
how do you do this? I run mine (one of my own adapted by Roy Whitely) through an iPad but I could run it through a computer. When I read your quoted post I realised I had not been thinking big enough.

I love mine; I usually run it in church organ using lots of chords or cello with sustain. It doesn't do sudden popped notes as often used in Irish rhythm ornaments, it just displays them as short notes, apart from that it is great.

Cheers Chris

#30 JimMacArthur

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 07:22 PM

My summer circuit design just got tricky: students asking for an integrated RF link.  I hate my students.  The obvious choice would be to use the Bluetooth Low Energy MIDI spec: 

 

https://developer.ap...ecification.pdf

 

although I share Roy's worry about latency of a BLE link.  I guess the class will find out.  Has anyone here played with BLE-MIDI yet, and if so, can they suggest a short path?  Roy's going a custom route, but how about you, Conzertino?  Did you use BLE or Classic Bluetooth?  Anyone else?

 

-Jim



#31 Don Taylor

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 08:42 PM

Re: RF links
 
Before I ground to a halt I was planning to try these:
https://www.nordicse...Hz-RF/nRF24L01P
 
You can get 4 of these on shields for about $5 on eBay.
 
My idea was to minimize the amount of on-board processing inside the concertina: just capture button changes and bellows pressure samples and ship these out over a very simple custom protocol  on top of an nRF24L01+ to a separate box that generated midi over USB and/or incorporated a SamplerBox (http://www.samplerbox.org/) or an iPhone.
 
The rationale was that I wanted a stand-alone midi concertina with minimal weight and decent battery life.  I also wanted it cheap! 
 
 

Edited by Don Taylor, 21 April 2016 - 07:28 AM.


#32 Paul_Hardy

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 01:49 PM

Paul, how do you do this? I run mine (one of my own adapted by Roy Whitely) through an iPad but I could run it through a computer. When I read your quoted post I realised I had not been thinking big enough.


I use a Midi to USB dongle to couple the tina to the PC, and a program called "Anvil Studio" on the PC, to quantise the midi to strict rhythm and create abc which I can then print as dots.
It's not perfect, but it gives a good start for transcribing tunes.

#33 Chris Ghent

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 10:29 PM

Paul, how do you do this? I run mine (one of my own adapted by Roy Whitely) through an iPad but I could run it through a computer. When I read your quoted post I realised I had not been thinking big enough.

I use a Midi to USB dongle to couple the tina to the PC, and a program called "Anvil Studio" on the PC, to quantise the midi to strict rhythm and create abc which I can then print as dots.It's not perfect, but it gives a good start for transcribing tunes.

Thanks Paul...

#34 jggunn

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 04:00 PM

I have one of Roy's designs. I bought an old shell which Roy nicely restored and transformed into a Midi. I have not used it as much as I anticipated but it performs very well and actually plays very fast. I use basically the same set-up as Paul Hardy. It involves quite a lot of wires, but I think it could be set up on a more permanent manner without all the connecting and disconnecting each time. I bought it for two reasons: my wife does not want to hear the concertina all the time, and I wanted to sound like a violin and other instruments that do not require plucking individual strings, which is not so effective. The Irig interface with the Ipad is prone to slipping out, but it really on the whole is great.



#35 conzertino

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 04:16 AM

Jim, I use BLE on my midi-project ( as seen in my video ). There is hardly any latency ( 5 - 10 ms?! )!! IOS works well, Android has problems...

 

Even though I have the option of the Bluetooth connection, I usually use my ES midi with cable connection to an I-pod, which also supplies the power. I can play for several hours on one charge. It is the most flexible option and keeps the instrument light ( no batteries ). Obviously playing with head-phones is no problem.

If I take the midi to a session, I usually find myself playing bass, harp or flute - never concertina;-)

 

Midi4.JPG

 

My second attempt was an anglo ( size of a Stagi Mini ). I used hall effect sensors, adjustable homemade keys ( ball-pen-caps, rawl-plugs and small srews ) with tiny magnets and a foam layer instead of springs! The PCB holds the sensors plus electronics and seals against the bellows.

 

Midi2.JPG

 

By using I2C bus technology I only need four wires across the ends. I used a phone-spiral-cable and connectors. Here you can see the connection and the low-cost pressure-sensor:

 

Midi1.JPG

 

By pressing a single program-key plus one of the other keys I can select loads of options:

1 of 5 midi channels, transpose to any key, piccolo, treble, baritone or bass range, dynamics on or off, add octave below and / or above, volume control, reset.

 

This technology could easily be used for mass-production - I just don't have the time - and other priorities.

 

The bellows were custom-made - and by far the most costly item!

 

I have experimented with foam blocks instead of bellows and I have been able to determine the foam-displacement for bellows-change and dynamics...

 

I find that the size of an Aeola piccolo is ideally suited both to ES and anglo! My ES has the size of a Stagi mini and uses it's bellows. The size is great for a 40 key ES - but certainly to small for an anglo!

 

Midi3.JPG

 

My latest project is also my first one: To convert a quality-instrument ( an Aeola piccolo ) to Midi in a reversible non-distructive way by replacing the reed-pans with midi-pans! All I have to do is to stick little magnets on the pads ( which could be removed , if required ). I feel that I have enough experience now to tackle this project!

 

This sceme could be used to offer midi as an option with new instruments - I have talked to makers... 


Edited by conzertino, 24 April 2016 - 07:09 AM.


#36 Don Taylor

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 08:05 AM

Conzertino:

Are you using conductive foam as a bellows substitute?

TIA.




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