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B Griff Concertina

Tuning B Griff concertina

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#1 David Hornett

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 05:31 PM

I am wondering if anyone would like to comment on this idea:

 

I am designing a BGriff concertina to add to my Tassie Tiger collection (I play B Griff accordion. These accordions, in their 3 row variant allow for every key on the scale to be played with just 3 different fingering patterns. 

 

The buttons produce the same sound push and pull.

 

 

I can fit 33 buttons, therefore 33 notes into my little 51/2 inch Tassie Tiger concertinas (16 on the left and 17 on the right, in the anglo style layout). What this allows me to do is on the left hand side range from D3 - E4, and on the right hand side range from F4 - Bb5 in a B Griff three row layout.

 

Because all notes of a scale are present on each side of the instrument in both directions all possible cords can be formed.

 

This is my question: If I tune the right hand side to A442, and the left hand side to A440, I would have a nice vibrato tuning like a two voice accordion when the same note (e.g. F3 and F4 played simultaneously). AND, because deeper notes tend to flatten slightly under pressure (volume), a high and low note, e.g. Eb3 and Eb4 on the left hand side would also have a slight vibrato.

 

Unless told that there is a difference in pitch, the ear has very little sensitivity, if any, to difference (in pitch) below about 8 cents, when a player plays an instrument relative to itself, and in most cases relative to other instruments. There is just under 8 cents difference between A442 and A440, so it would be hard to pick a difference in tuning in the instrument against itself. But when two same pitched notes are played on the same instrument, right and left hand, the harmony would be noticeably enlivened by vibrato. (As an example: accordions retain their bass side (chord) reeds at A440, but flatten or sharpen two 0r more banks of reeds on the right hand side to make a musette.)

 

The advantage of this layout as far as I can see are:

 

* All cords can be played push and pull

* All cords can be played push and pull right and left hand with precisely the same fingering pattern both sides

* All keys can be played both sides of the instrument.

* There is a mild vibrato effect that mimics a two voiced instrument

* And all this in a very small instrument, highly portable, and loud.

 

Comments are most welcome, please.

 

David



#2 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 05:45 PM

Hi David,

I always find it intriguing to discuss new layout concepts such as this one. However, first I feel like commenting on your "vibrato" idea. When I understand the allocation of tones right there would be no overlapping. So the beats would occur while playing octaves (or possibly increase with fifths). Such a "vibrato" doesn't sound nice to me. As you rightly mention we get that very effect from smaller low reeds going flat under high pressure. What I'm hearing then (in an octave, or double-octave) sounds rather like distortion than vibrato to my ears.

So I would advocate to let the detune idea alone, and go ahead with the layout concept.

Edited to add, that with my PAs I would never wish for a "wet" octave voice I reckon...

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor, 01 November 2017 - 05:48 PM.


#3 Don Taylor

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 08:23 PM

What range would it have on each side?



#4 David Hornett

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 08:33 PM

Don:  left hand side range from D3 - E4, and on the right hand side range from F4 - Bb5 in a B Griff three row layout.

 

​B. E. Sailor: But a normal accordion can have vibrato on the treble and a standard bass note (on the bass side) an octave below, sounds OK? Or have i misunderstood your point?

 

​Thank you both for your response

 

David



#5 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 03:32 AM

But a normal accordion can have vibrato on the treble and a standard bass note (on the bass side) an octave below, sounds OK? Or have i misunderstood your point?


The usual piano accordion (and many Melodeons,to some  extent) would have a single bass note and chords (including octaves), with every reed tuned spot-on, on the left side - and then (if not tuned "dry" or only in octaves, which IMO has to be "dry" as well) a "swing" or "tremolo" produced by two or ("Musette") three reeds of basically the same pitch, but at least one of them detuned to some degree (not fixed in %, but rather aiming for a consistend "speed" of the beats/vibrato), on the right side.

The vibrato/tremolo is regularly produced by reeds of one note in the same octave.

 

I apologize if this should have been clear anyway (and of course I can't rule out that one might find different things, which however I would find odd I suppose).

 

Best wishes - Wolf



#6 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 04:38 AM

... and I guess the flattening of low notes is just acceptable insofar the dissonant distortion will be present with the attack but hopefully dissolve at some point later...



#7 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 04:41 AM

The advantage of this layout as far as I can see are:

 

* All cords can be played push and pull

* All cords can be played push and pull right and left hand with precisely the same fingering pattern both sides

* All keys can be played both sides of the instrument.

* There is a mild vibrato effect that mimics a two voiced instrument

* And all this in a very small instrument, highly portable, and loud.

 

Comments are most welcome, please.

 

My comment is that I see no added value in your proposal compared with "conventional" duet concertinas. At least, not with the Crane Duet, which is the one I'm familiar with. It, too, can play all chords on push and pull, all chords (and scales) on both hands with the same fingering patterns, and all keys on both sides. 

In addition, the middle-sized Crane (48 buttons) has more than two octaves on the right (c' to f''') and one and a half octaves on the left (c to g'), which is more than your proposed B-Griff layout. (Even the smallest Crane, the 35-b, has one and a half chromatic octaves, c' to g'', on the right, though admittedly only an octave and a third, c to e' on the left, and that not fully chromatic.)

 

Vibrato: Not really a concertina thing, IMO. Accordions, which do have vibrato tuning, are big enough to accommodate registers that allow you to switch off the vibrato at will. I would find even a "tasteful" vibrato annoying if I couldn't switch it off. It's an effect that should not be overused.

 

Small size: Is the B-Griff layout really suitable for a small instrument, in which the tonal range is divided between two fingerboards? The conventional duet layouts are designed with two immobilised hands in mind, the B-Griff accordion layout for one freely moveable hand!

 

Cheers,.

John



#8 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 05:06 AM

David,

 

maybe you could give us a hint as to the goals of introducing this layout:

 

My understanding is that first it would make for a Duet concertina which would fit in your Tassie-Tiger concept, which would surely be nice. OTOH, would you consider the application of the B-Griff pattern of advantage for a player of a (B-Griff) CBA (which I'm not myself, thus having no clue here)?

 

And then, thirdly (in the light of what John has submitted): Would you deem the layout favourable in the field of already established Duet systems? and if so, for what particular reason(s)?

 

Best wishes - Wolf



#9 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 06:27 AM

The point  that  John makes  concerning the fixed hand  position of the current  Anglo and Duet  layouts  as being not completely convenient  for  the   Chromatic  3 row  systems  is  an important one.

  David I can see  value in keeping your keyboard  range and the instrument  small  as this will limit the sideways hand movements  which I  had difficulty with  on a  Chromatic C system Bandoneon .  I  think   the keyboard  size  you suggest  will be  quite limiting  musically.  Perhaps a slightly larger instrument  with  sliding hand rails ?

 

Not sure I'd go for the 'wet'  option  although I do play  accordéons  that have 'musette' settings, they are switchable.



#10 Patrick Scannell

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 06:38 AM

I'd be interested in a model in a C Griff, vibrato or no.  I like the Geuns C Griff bandonion.



#11 W3DW

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 08:08 AM

I'm all for experimentation!
I don't see a problem with reaching the buttons with a fixed wrist strap - I expect that with 16 and 17 buttons per side, you wouldn't need a row longer than 6 buttons, as is common to duets.
Obtaining a wet sound by tuning octaves a couple of hertz apart will give a different result from tuning identical reeds since the beats will be established primarily between the upper reed and the first harmonic of the reed an octave below. I grabbed a guitar to compare the result, and confirmed that the result (to my ears!) seems less like a warm vibrato and more like a tuning problem.
But this is just a guess. Build it! The worst outcome would be a vibrato that doesn't meet your expectations, at which time you could easily retune the 442s down to unison.

#12 David Hornett

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 04:32 PM

Thank you for your replies.

 

I was thinking of angling the palm rests at 20 degrees more or less to allow ease of playing in the sideways creep style of C and B griff instruments. Many B and C griff players trail their thumbs along the bottom of the keyboard (although I don't) so the idea of a freely moveable hand with this playing style, is limited in the sense the B and C griff instruments are often being played more like a concertina. On the B Griff accordion I have, it is reasonably easy to hold the thumb in one fixed spot on the instrument's side and cover two octaves, but whether a hand strap will allow sufficient movement is to be seen, although there are many concertinas which have 17 buttons in three rows on the right hand side.

 

WD3W & B.E.S. I just did what I should have done before I made the first post, tuned a C3 to A440 and a C4 to A442: the result was not any warm sounding vibrato! (For years until now I had assumed the bassoon reed on a musette was tuned flat, so much for assumptions.) Thankyou.

 

John, I am not at all familiar with the Crane Duet so thank you for that. You are right about range, for some scales the range on my 33 button instrument would be 2 1/2 octaves, for others nearer 3, but then this is well in excess of the range of the 12 buttons a row melodeon. But I agree, the duet does seem to do all I am trying to do, but I don't play duet and do play B griff, and it is far quicker to build a concertina than learn a new system.

 

Wolf, my reasoning is: For a B griff player they would have a very light, small, highly portable instrument, 5 1/2 inches across, less than 1.03 kgs. with very good bellows control. The idea of the vibrato is that it would not activate unless notes on both sides were played simultaneously, if vibrato was not wanted, then just play single notes. At less than 8 cents difference very few players would hear one side of the instrument was flat compared to the other across the octaves if single notes were played. But, it now seems that such a cross octave vibrato sounds not that nice, thank you WD3W, but I will give it a go and see what happens in a instrument rather than just reeds on a bench  -- you never know.

 

I'll post a sound track and image of the completed instrument possibly after Easter.

 

All the best

 

David



#13 W3DW

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 06:48 PM

Yes, you never know, and I still hope you build it. But I'm wondering...

First, I do have doubts that octave notes with the lower note sharpish will yield a happy warm vibrato.

But also, there will be plenty of opportunities to play bass figures, melodies and countermelodies on the bass side like with any duet system, and I'm wondering if having the whole bass side a bit sharp might get irritating. Equal temperament tuning has us all comfortable with intervals that beat - particularly thirds - but having ALL of the lower half slightly sharp means that if other instruments are also playng along, the ensamble fourths and fifths will beat, too, and I'm not sure that'll make all ears happy.

On the other hand, if you plan to play this concertina solo, only a rare listener who is blessed/cursed with perfect pitch would notice.

Still, in the worst case you could set the left side to 440 as well, and have a unique solution of your own design.

W3DW

P.S. Picking up Hayden is pretty intuitive - I bet it wouldn't take you long at all!

Edited by W3DW, 03 November 2017 - 06:50 PM.


#14 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 07:08 PM

I do have doubts that octave notes with the lower note sharpish will yield a happy warm vibrato.!

'Twas the other way around, wasn't it? Not that I would expect any good from that...

The idea of providing an instrument with the enormous bellows control of a small (treble-ish) concertina for the so-inclined CBA player I can easily understand and value...

Best wishes - Wolf

#15 W3DW

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 07:15 AM

Ah, you're right, Mr. Wolf, I remembered that incorrectly. I'd be even more concerned that featured treble notes would be consistently sharp.

And since this is a compact low-button design, it will be more common to have to swap sides to complete a melody line. Would we notice the "bump" between sided?

#16 David Hornett

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 10:33 PM

Sorry, it was the other way around.  

 

'Bump' between sides, I don't think so, we become pretty proficient with many musical instruments that require different notes with different hands, proper concertinas for instance, and whistles, sax's and so on, I have no concern about bumps, especially in that the sound is the same push or pull, but I do worry about getting the fingers operating in a crab motion on a little instrument. I'll let you know, success or disaster, the fun will be in the experiment, and you just might be able to say, "Told you so."

 

Regards

 

David



#17 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 02:09 PM

David,

I don't play the CBA, but a Russian friend of mine plays the Bayan, and what he likes about the C-Griff, as opposed to the piano keyboard, is the ablity to play fast, chromatic runs with just two fingers with what you describe as a "crab" motion. This is most spectacular when he uses the full compass of his long Bayan keyboard. That's partly why I questioned the suitability of a B-Griff keyboard split in half with the hands fixed in straps.   

 

One other point is that you intend to use the conventional 30-button Anglo layout - plus one button left and two buttons right - for your three B-Griff rows. This arrangement is to be found on 30+-button Anglos, which can be played perfectly well with the hands fixed in straps.

However, bear in mind that the Anglo is bisonoric, so it has twice as many notes as it has buttons. That's why you can play an octave scale on only four buttons. Monosonoric instruments need a button for each note. If we compare the Anglo to other concertinas - English and the traditional Duets - we see that the Anglo has only three rows of 5 or 6 buttons, whereas the others have many more rows. The rows on the Maccann are 6 buttons long, those on the Crane 5 buttons, so you can't get an octave compass in one row on one end. So, because you can't easily stretch more than 6 buttons sideways, the scale continues on the next row. So limiting a monosonoric, chromatic concertina to only 3 rows is going to seriously impair the range of the instrument.

 

Granted, the "double ration" of notes to buttons on the bisonoric instruments is partly consumed by alternate fingerings (same note on two different buttons), but two rows plus the "accidentals" row are adequate, and the compass of a normal tune - with accompaniment - lies well within reach of the "fettered" fingers. To reach the added number of buttons on a monosonoric instrument, there has to be a "forward and back" movement of the fingers in addition to the (restricted) "left and right" movement. This is most pronounced in the EC.

 

In a nutshell, I doubt whether the button array of a bisonoric concertina is enough for a monosonoric concertina of equivalent range.

 

BTW, I think that the "bump" that W3DW mentions has less to do with the fact that you'd have to play differnt notes with different hands - Anglo players do that all the time. It's more to the point that, if you detune one side to produce a vibrato (or tremolo) effect, two adjacent notes in a tune, one left and one right, would have an imperfect interval between them, which even someone without perfect pitch would notice.

 

Cheers,

John



#18 David Hornett

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 03:57 PM

Thank you John,

 

Yes, I suspect i will be forced to give up on the vibrato idea.

 

And the B/C Griffs are very fast and smooth, faster than piano accordions I dare venture; I think with practice this will be possible on the anglo three row layout, although it may need some creative thinking re. hand straps to add flexibility.

 

The range will be reduced compared to English concertinas and the big bionic brothers, but at 21/2 octaves, give a few notes more for some keys, the little instrument will have a fair range, better than the smaller (48 bass) piano accordions many play in sessions for ease and being unobtrusive, and not far behind the full size accordions, F3 - A6, which is only three octaves and a major third. It will be better than chromatic harmonicas, better than melodeons, approximating a whistle: so not too bad.

 

Further, it will have all keys, all cords and limited finger patterns to learn (3) and if you play a griff, then you know them anyway.

 

And if it can be done? then such a small light instrument with such great versatility: but can it be done, and if done can it be done well? (sorry Shakespeare). I'll let you know. It is more in the challenge than the product, but to have a successful outcome would be most rewarding too.

 

David






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