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Anglo, English, Duet Relationships


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#1 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 03:13 PM

Friends,

In another thread,

As far as duet combining the best of both worlds (AC&EC) - I guess the handle, separate hands - that comes from anglo to an extent. ...  Anglos most defining feature is it's bisonoric nature, and that didn't survive in the duet concept. I still see it more like a separate hand English, rather than AC/EC combo.

 

What do you think?

 

Is a Duet more like an Anglo freed of its restriction on the number of keys that can be played easily? Or is it an EC with one hand freed to play the treble and the other to play the bass part? Do you see any affinities with non-concertinas, such as keyboards or fretted stringed instruments?

 

And would your answer differ, depending on the Duet system: Maccann, Crane, Hayden or the less familiar "piano duets" like the Rust system or the Jedcertina?
 

Discuss!

 

Cheers,

John



#2 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 04:08 PM

Can't resist a second time: My initial reading was the Duet as (not) being an AC/DC combo 🙃

However, IMO both the English and the Anglo concertina are encouraging certain combinations in harmonizing a tune. Whereas the Anglo (or basically 20b German) concertina seems to naturally lead to a harmonica style á la Peter Bellamy (favouring the Dominant over the Subdominant along the rows), the EC can (but surprisingly not too often does) encourage a pleasant spreading of the harmony (with basically two "line" and two "space" notes) including all six commonly available "chords".

My guess would be that the latter would be easier reproducible on the Duet than the push/draw harmonica thing. However, the ordinary Anglo player might object as soon as he or she'd be making use of the accidental row or playing across the rows.

Where the Duet - or rather a certain system - might lead to itself I don't now as I never tried one...

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by Wolf Molkentin, 18 December 2017 - 04:13 PM.


#3 RAc

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 04:19 PM

John -

 

the way the questions is phrased doesn't make sense to me as (concertina wise) duet is the only type I've played so far. So I don't look at it in terms of comparison to other types of concertinas.

 

It was you who pointed out to me the relationship between a guitar and a (Crane) duet - I believe the arguments that support this (moveable chord shapes as well as the ability to play bass and melody lines at the same time) also hold for the Hayden layout. Don't know about the McCann system though.

 

You were (and still are as far as I'm concerned) right on the spot with that description for which I'm still very grateful. Another thing I discovered which I believe to be particular to the Crane is the easy availability of power chords (at least for the "standard" chords F,C,G,D,A and E) which open up space for some groovy effects (another reason to liken it to the guitar). In how far these observations also apply to other types of Concertinas - I don't know.



#4 harpomatic

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 04:45 PM

Can't resist a second time: My initial reading was the Duet as (not) being an AC/DC combo

 

 

Wolf, your initial reading was two semitones too flat...


Edited by harpomatic, 18 December 2017 - 04:45 PM.


#5 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 04:55 PM

Can't resist a second time: My initial reading was the Duet as (not) being an AC/DC combo

Wolf, your initial reading was two semitones too flat...

Yeah, I can see (if not hear) that now... 😎

Edited by Wolf Molkentin, 18 December 2017 - 05:07 PM.


#6 harpomatic

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:03 PM

I just don't see how it is any more difficult to play independently in two or more octaves on EC than on duet. Yes, one does it with two hands in different ways, and for some the EC's "split hand" layout is unintuitive. Duet is more straight forward, as it is often compared to a piano, in the regard of "left to right" ascending notes. Logical to any two handed individual. Maybe it is easier for those people in this "mental" regard. As some people say, their brains are "wired" with a preference for one or the other. However, I would not think that any of the impressive examples of duet playing are easy, or easier to do on duet in some literal sense of "finger (and mental) acrobatics" that are required. Different acrobatics for different systems, seemingly equally capable of anything, any note combination. Maybe the only difference is a bit more of an overlap on Duet, but EC has its own weird overlap in form of doubled sharps and flats. I really don't think its all about overlap. Now, I must say that I myself was one of those people that would rather go for Duet than English, due to initially such unintuitive layout of EC, the way it looks on "paper". By chance, I was recently introduced to EC, and am captivated by its possibilities, as well as such an intuitive layout, once I actually held it in my hands. So in my discussion here I am not at all advocating anything here, rather trying to understand the system and see if there's anything missing from my understanding... Simply, isn't it true that anything played on duet can be played on EC?

 

pS. If you asked me to invent the keyboard on which we all type, I'd probably lay it out as ABCDEF..., and alot of people in the world would love me for it. However, we know of one other very competitive layout, QWERTY, and some weirdos find it equally efficient. We may possibly have a similar situation here...

 

PPS. I went on a smoking break and summed it up like this:

 

where Anglo is incapable of playing some note combinations, both EC and Duet are only limited by the players "brain wiring", not "finger wiring" so to say (as landing a finger on a required note at a required time is equally easy or hard to attain, in the physical/mechanical sense)...


Edited by harpomatic, 18 December 2017 - 06:24 PM.


#7 Mikefule

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 01:03 AM

Surely duets have some of the benefits of the Anglo and some of the benefits of the English, but that does not meant that a duet is a blend of the two, or a modification of either.

 

The Anglo has the low notes on the left and the high notes on the right which makes a chordal accompaniment easy.  You can play music in 2 or more parts on an Anglo with simultaneous notes over an octave apart.

 

The English is fully chromatic and unisonoric and the keyboard layout makes fast legato playing possible in any key.  In this sense, it is much more versatile than the Anglo.  

 

The duet can do both of these things, but it does them differently.  It is a different instrument.

 

To my mind, it is almost misleading for the three to share a name, concertina.  To the layman, they are "basically the same thing" but to the player, they are as different as the melodeon and the piano accordion.

 

The fact that I can play a 30 button Anglo means I can also get a tune out of a 20, 38, or any other "size" of Anglo, but it does not help me to get even a major scale out of a duet or English.

 

They are different instruments, lumped together because of a superficial visual resemblance and certain structural similarities, but they are are completely different.



#8 RAc

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 03:29 AM

 

To my mind, it is almost misleading for the three to share a name, concertina.  To the layman, they are "basically the same thing" but to the player, they are as different as the melodeon and the piano accordion.

 

The fact that I can play a 30 button Anglo means I can also get a tune out of a 20, 38, or any other "size" of Anglo, but it does not help me to get even a major scale out of a duet or English.

 

They are different instruments, lumped together because of a superficial visual resemblance and certain structural similarities, but they are are completely different.

 

I wouldn't go that far, although I agree with a lot of what you wrote.

 

Coming from a guitarist's background, I'd liken the different types of concertinas with guitars (or other fretted stringed instruments) tuned in different tunings - to switch from one to the other I'd have to relearn chord shapes, scales and the likes, but not the basics of handling the instrument - attack, basic hand positions, motorics etc, and my hand and finger muscles wouldn't have to be retrained from scrach.

 

Some guitarists (for example Canadians Andy McKee and Michael Friedman or Autrian Peter Ratzenbeck) have up to 30 different tunings in their active repertoire, freely switching back and forth between them. They're stil guitarists even though every time they retune their guitars, it's the resemblance of picking up a different type of concertina.

 

Similarly, all concertinas share some technical challenges, in particular bellows control, the "feel" of the buttons, the way the buttons need to be attacked and so on. When I attend concertina meetings and have a chance to put my hands on different kinds of concertinas, I basically know where to put my hands, how to work the bellows and so on, although naturally, getting recognizable music out of the instrument is a different story. Likewise, my nephew who is a very good accordeon player didn't take long to entice a simple tune out of my Crane (for similar reasons - his accordeon, like my Crane, is a free reed unisonoric bellows driven instrument with basses left and melody notes right). I'm quite sure he would also get something audible out of an EC in little more time. Any stringed instrument to him would be much more like starting from scratch than any bellows driven free reed instrument.



#9 maccannic

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 05:23 AM

I play a Maccann duet (surprise, surprise!  The clue is in the name).  The original question is probably impossible to answer, but to sort of half answer it I might say that when I play duet it sounds nothing like an English but a bit like an Anglo.  If anything it sounds most like a piano accordion (which I also play) but with concertina reeds.  This is because on the right-hand end I play the tune together with as many extra chord notes as conveniently fall into place, while the left is basically going 'oom-pah oom-pah', although I try to get away from that as much as possible by putting in block chords, bits of bass run, etc.

 

I don't conciously try to imitate English or Anglo, but if playing dance tunes I'm concious of the rhythmic effect achieved by a good Anglo player and try to be at least as good.



#10 malcolm clapp

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 06:35 AM

What's in a name? Did I not read somewhere that early Wheatstone anglos were described as "Anglo Duets" or something similar in the ledgers?  And the Crane/Triumph was once described as an "English Duet".



#11 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 06:40 AM

Yes - the Crane patent by John Butterworth is titled "Improvements in English Concertinas".
 
edited  to add: making sense to me as you have the EC "triangles" (triads) spread in three centrer rows and the accidentals in the outer rows, again like an EC. As I had been musing about giving a Duet a try (with already some EC experience) it was the Crane that drew my interest. But - tempi passati... :)

Edited by Wolf Molkentin, 19 December 2017 - 07:44 AM.


#12 Little John

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 01:24 PM

I started on the English concertina - at the time I didn't even know other systems existed! - mainly playing melody for Morris dancing and chords for song accompaniment. After a couple of years I heard about duets and, after a bit of research, plumped for a Crane. This suited my love of harmony, but it wasn't so easy to play standing as the English was, so I continued with both systems in parallel for many years. Then a friend gave me a beaten-up Anglo. I had this restored and majored on that for about a year. It offered the tune-plus-harmony possibilities of the duet but in a smaller, lighter package.

 

On the basis of that experience I'll offer a few observations:

 

1. The English system is like a guitar - it's easy to play a melody and it's easy to play chords. It's a different ball game altogether to do both at once, and most of what you've learnt up to that point is of relatively little help. I know some superhumans such as Dave Townsend can do it, but I really struggled to do much more than playing in thirds and adding a few open fifths below the tune.

 

2. The Anglo and the duet are similar in some respects - both allow for the natural separation of melody and accompaniment. If duets hadn't been invented I'd probably have ultimately chosen the Anglo over the English for this reason. I used a certain amount of cross-row playing on the Anglo, particularly on the left hand to form chords, but it seems that you need to use more-and-more extra buttons which add in missing notes and reversed notes to play really well; giving it as many buttons as a small duet and making the layout seem less-and-less logical. But then, as harpomatic points out, most of us get along fine with the QWERTY keyboard so I guess it's just a matter of getting used to it. Ultimately, having already made good progress on the Crane I preferred to stick with its more logical layout.

 

3. Much depends on what you start with and what you get used to. All systems have their advantages and disadvantages. The key is to persevere to overcome the limitations of your particular choice. With hindsight I should have concentrated solely on the Crane thirty-odd years ago. If I had I might have been half-decent on it by now!

 

4. My search for a high-quality, small, lightweight Crane duet continues.



#13 harpomatic

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 04:27 PM

Tell you what: I will stick with my EC until I master it, but you guys - Wolf and Little John, you did this to me! I finally looked at that Crane layout, and I want to try it now! I shouldn't have looked...

#14 JimLucas

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 04:43 PM

Is a Duet more like an Anglo freed of its restriction on the number of keys that can be played easily? Or is it an EC with one hand freed to play the treble and the other to play the bass part?

 
No.
 
Well, I suppose one could look at the interrelationships in those ways, but that seems to reflect particular attitudes toward particular musical styles, while I propose that the duet concept originated in simpler, more basic concerns.
 
One interpretation is that the duets were considered to combine the "best"* features of both the English and the anglo... specifically 1) the "English" feature of having each button sound the same note in both directions and 2) the "anglo" feature of having the lower notes on the left-hand end and the higher notes on the right-hand end.  A further feature of all "duets", and almost certainly a design criterion, is that 3) the two hands can play "independently".§  One more feature which may or may not have been explicitly considered is 4) a limited overlap in range between the two hands, as on the anglo.
 

*or "simplest"?  (always a matter of opinion, of course)


§ While this seems to be a feature of the anglo, playing in octaves or parallel harmonies seems to have been rarely used on the anglo itself.  Chord-based harmonies have been more "the rule".
 

The above is a description of the features shared by all the "duet" systems, as we know them today.  It doesn't address the differences among the various duet note layouts and the (presumed) reasoning behind the different choices.  It doesn't even necessarily explain the historical development of the "duet" concept, since one such design is included (Fig. 9) in Charles Wheatstone's 1844 patent, several years before the appearance of the first "anglo-German concertina".
 
Those issues -- historical development and differing layouts -- deserve their own, separate posts.



#15 JimLucas

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 05:14 PM

I play a Maccann duet (surprise, surprise!  ...I might say that when I play duet it sounds nothing like an English but a bit like an Anglo.

 

I would suggest that your playing doesn't sound so much "like an anglo" as similar to those anglo players you're used to listening to.  Probably not much like the "Irish style" anglo players, and not at all like the recently posted recital video of Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne.

 

As for the English-vs.-anglo stereotype, I'm reminded of a concert by Father Charlie Cohen that I attended years ago with a friend who was an experienced English concertina player and arranger.  Somewhere into the second number, Jerry turned to me and said, "I thought you said he played anglo."  Which, of course, he did.  :)



#16 JimLucas

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 05:33 PM

Did I not read somewhere that early Wheatstone anglos were described as "Anglo Duets" or something similar in the ledgers?

 

I don't think that's quite accurate.  If I recall correctly, at least one of those "anglo duet" concertinas has surfaced, and it's an instrument with an anglo core, but with several additional buttons (a fourth row?) that play the same note in both directions.  So as the name suggests, it's a hybrid between the "anglo" and "duet" concepts.

 

In the same period, Wheatstone also made -- and advertised -- standard "anglos", though they're mostly identified in the ledgers by model numbers,  without the word "anglo".



#17 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 05:52 PM

Tell you what: I will stick with my EC until I master it, but you guys - Wolf and Little John, you did this to me! I finally looked at that Crane layout, and I want to try it now! I shouldn't have looked...


Yes, the layout looks tempting...! But seriously, the English leaves nothing to be desired...

#18 JimLucas

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 06:19 PM

3. Much depends on what you start with and what you get used to.

 

Indeed.  Even the "more logical" criterion should usually be described more accurately as "more familiar".

 

4. My search for a high-quality, small, lightweight Crane duet continues.

 

How "small" and "lightweight" do you "need"?  As I've mentioned elsewhere, my 55-button Lachenal New Model Crane/Triumph is exactly the same weight and size across the ends as my 48-button Crane & Sons.
 


Edited by JimLucas, 19 December 2017 - 06:57 PM.





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