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Size Isn't All That Matters...


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#1 JimLucas

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 07:24 AM

At last a favourite of mine: Button size .... a wider button area does admit using stronger springs with the same (or even better) comfort. Compare the Hohner 200+ grams again and its 12mm buttons which cause me no discomfort at all.

I find this an irrelevant argument, because I experience no discomfort with even the smallest-diameter concertina buttons I've experienced.

Generally speaking the 'comfort preferrence size' for 'touch buttons' use to be (10)12-15mm...

And I don't know whose preference Göran is talking about here, since it's definitely not mine, but in any case, that's not my point in opening this new topic. I wish to say, instead, that in my own experience the following factors are more important than button diameter:

..1) Interbutton spacing: When I tried the "travelling Tedrow" concertina, I wasn't as enthusiastic as the others who were with me. Every individual factor I tested was excellent, but it didn't add up to an excellent "feel". I finally localized the "problem" as being the fact that with slightly larger than normal buttons but standard button spacing, there was less space between the buttons, and to me it's important to have that space in between. I've had a similar experience with other instruments that have larger (6-7mm) buttons, but on those it was less obvious because other factors were also different.

Some people say they have problems when playing of hitting buttons adjacent to the ones they intend. I don't experience that problem with concertinas, but it does sometimes happen to me on a computer keyboard, where the keys are more than 3 times as large. Why? I suspect it's because there is virtually no space between the computer keys, relative to their size.

..2) Location of keys relative to the palm bar and strap: I've experienced instruments (I'm speaking mainly of anglos here, but comparison with duets is also useful) where the entire keyboard is shifted either parallel or perpendicular to the bar (or both) compared to the "normal" location, and I find that only a few millimeters difference can significantly affect "playability".

..3) The curvature and "rake" of the keyboard layout. What I'm calling "rake" is the angle the "diagonal" rows in the button pattern make with the line of the bar. Again, I have experienced variations in these factors -- on both anglos and duets -- and found that small variations can significantly affect the ease of playing.

..X) Finally, all the above factors interact with each other, and varying two together may have a very different effect from either variation taken alone. This is my main pont. Discussing button diameter or any other factor in isolation may be misleading, as it can miss contextual interactions. Button diameter has been discussed "to death", yet the other factors I've listed have hardly been mentioned. I think that's a mistake.

#2 Robin Madge

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 07:42 AM

I have two wheatstone 40 button Anglos, a G/D from 1880s and a C/G from 1950s.

The 1880s model has metal buttons and the 1950s metal over a plastic(?) core. Otherwise they have the same dimensions. The 1950s buttons are more domed and can make my fingers sore after a couple of hours playing due to the increased pressure. (Pressure = force/area!!) The 1880s buttons never give me any problems and are less prone to breakage as well.

If buttons are too large I have problems with fingernails staring to catch on or skid across the button surface. With smaller buttons the fingernails are out of the way, and can even help to locate the finger against the button.

If the buttons can be depressed too closely to the end of the concertina the fingernails can hit and eventually cause damage to the surface, or even jam between the button and the end!

I don't have over long fingernails, by the way, it's just that I like to use them as tweezers occasionally for modelmaking!!

I hope that this expands the discussion.

Robin

#3 Dave Prebble

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 08:28 AM

The 1880s model has metal buttons and the 1950s metal over a plastic(?) core. Otherwise they have the same dimensions. The 1950s buttons are more domed and can make my fingers sore after a couple of hours playing due to the increased pressure. (Pressure = force/area!!) The 1880s buttons never give me any problems and are less prone to breakage as well.

Hi Robin,

Would it be possible to expand on your post by supplying the missing link in the equation - Namely the respective button force ('Springing' if you like) for each instrument?

In my experience, the later Wheatstone concertinas often have significantly heavier springing than the earlier boxes. It may be that in your case, in addition to the concentration of finger effort on a domed button, the concertina may have stronger springs than are actually required for all normal playing purposes. It could be that a slight change in spring strength would do much to reduce any comfort problems
Anyway, after 2 hours playing, surely it's time for a cup of tea! ;)

Button shape is a matter of personal taste. I prefer slightly domed tops or et the very least, radiused corner edges rather than completely flat and my least favourite option would be rounded though quite a few of my buttons now approximate to this shape due to the wear and tear from over a century of playing.

Regards

Dave

#4 Paul Groff

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 09:45 AM

Hello

I found all these postings very interesting. Like Jim, I find certain combinations of these variables much more playable than others; it isn't that I dislike any particular button shape, but that it can give me difficulty in combination with certain other specifications.

I think a lot depends on your "starting point." If you learned to play primarily on one instrument, have played primarily on one instrument for a long time, or even have just been playing for two hours on one instrument, you will have adapted more or less to its characteristics and a relative deviation may cause problems, especially in fast or technically demanding music. So (like the perspective of one mountain as seen from another) there is no objective, absolute "playability" that can be evaluated when you try a new instrument, only relative playability which depends on particular skills developed on a different instrument. An extreme example (but not too uncommon) is when relatively inexperienced players have a negative reaction to an excellent concertina because it differs from the only one they have played (and thus the only one on which they have developed rudimentary operating skills). This reminds me of the teenager who can only drive their own family car, and is one reason that internet evaluations about "good" and "bad" concertinas or features (which are often posted, with the best of intentions, by enthusiastic beginners), should be taken with a grain of salt.

One concrete example to illustrate both points: Like Robin, I have felt my fingernails skate on the relatively flat-topped buttons of a great Wheatstone (that I otherwise love). In my case, this happens even on the left side where my nails are short, but primarily on the index finger buttons of the inside row. I am sure this is not only because the buttons are flat-topped, but primarily because I have done most of my playing on anglos with those buttons spaced a little further from the handrails (Crabbs, Jeffries, and my Dipper). Wheatstones (and 3 row Lachenals) tend to bring those top buttons of the inside row very close; this means my index finger is curved in at the last joint and even short nails are likely to make contact with the button-top. Buttons with the same position but more of a dome, bone buttons (they seem to have a little more "sliding friction"), or even flat-topped metal buttons that are positioned farther from the handrail give me fewer problems and in fact I have never "skated' in any of these circumstances. For maximum playability (for me, given my fingers and the skills I have learned) I should put slightly domed bone buttons on that Wheatstone, but it is so original I hate to disrespect the way it was made (even reversibly). Somewhere there is a great player for whom it might be the ultimate anglo, just the way it is.

Re: the discomfort from overly round-topped buttons, there are interactions with the amount of button travel and the "springiness" of the felt dampers ("doughnuts") under the buttons, as well as with the stiffness of the springs. I like a good amount of button travel and a soft landing for the button, and a concertina with less of these and with highly rounded buttons will make my fingers sore after a few hours of fast, hard play. However if the springing, travel, and dampers are within the (fairly wide) range that I like, the rounded-top buttons are great "targets" as the fingers move around the keyboard - very easy for the fingertips to locate, grab, and depart.

I have never seen a Wheatstone anglo that early, Robin. Jim will want a new thread started, but in some way I would like to know about its features.

Paul

#5 JimLucas

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 10:36 AM

I have never seen a Wheatstone anglo that early, Robin. Jim will want a new thread started, but in some way I would like to know about its features.

Actually, what Jim would like is a completely different way of relating to the content of posts. In the old forum there was only one "Forum", but one could change the subject line as the topic changed within a thread. But what I have in mind is something even more radical than that. So if I want to discuss it, I'll have to look for an internet forum dedicated to discussion of discussion forums, and that's not here on concertina.net. ;)

In the meantime, I would also like to know more about the early Wheatstone anglo. And I'll only try to start a new thread if that "digression" starts getting large enough to compete with the main topic. OK? :)

#6 goran rahm

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 01:47 PM

I think Paul covered most of the aspects on the issue but I try to sum up some of my views and comment on Jim's message later.

Of course one can look at each factor by itself and find out the importance of various other variables on each one of them. If you try to integrate all of it you easily end up with merely subjective impressions. I fear You Jim are doing just that when you refer 'firstly' to your own experience(s).

1) button diameter
(10)12-15 mm diam preferrence use to be the result from inquiries and practical tests. This is practised in most 'keyboard' operation where nothing else influences the size.
Squeezeboxes with no need to minimize the keyboard usually have 10-15mm buttons

2) button shape/profile
concave, not convex,... is preferred when nothing else is involved
Better comfort and better confidence. NO hitting of two buttons at the same time!
IF you are expected to hit 2 or more at the same time some degree of convex profile may be wanted.
So...playing style/idiom/method decides greatly if concave,flat or domed buttons may be advantageous

3) button c-c distance
mostly rougly the same distance between button centres as between the fingers
when not spread out.
This of course is depending on individual finger width

4) button interspace
of crucial importance only if button travel demands are such that fingers gett jammed or hooked up on next button. Look at the computer keyboard!
On concertinas this is very much related button travel AND playing style..i.e
whether hitting only one or 2 and more buttons at the same time

5) button travel
may be a constructional decision or not and this limits variation tolerances
For precision with the concertina there are some requirements of enough travel
and not too much travel. Depending on playing style/technique!

6) damping of button
hitting a 'dead' surface is not comfortable and may cause pain and even illness

7) 'springy' resistance
I have not seen any exploration of this subject but together with 6) there is
reason to expect that it may be of importance at least for long time comfort
in the meaning that a varying springy resistance probably is 'better' than an
"on-off" situation

enough for the moment....

Jim:..1) Interbutton spacing:...

Goran: Just as you say...this is much an individual matter..depending not least to individual finger width of course...
A 'standard' keyboard ought to be large enough to admit the wider fingers...leaner
ones can adapt to the width within limits....
but for *optimal* conditions you need individual spacing!

Jim:..2) Location of keys relative to the palm bar and strap:

Goran: You refer again to your own experience firstly
I find it more interesting firstly to find out the average purposeful conditions and if
these are acceptable both for large/long and small/short hands
Also here you may come to needs for individual 'design' for optimum but it is
difficult to judge from occasional trials

Jim..3) The curvature and "rake" of the keyboard layout. What I'm calling "rake" is the angle the "diagonal" rows in the button pattern make with the line of the bar. Again, I have experienced variations in these factors -- on both anglos and duets -- and found that small variations can significantly affect the ease of playing.

Goran:certainly....habits is again one thing and anatomy partly another.
Among our usual concertina keyboards the Anglo concept can be regarded as
the ergonomically better one....more suited to the relaxed hand/finger positions, moving range of fingers and distances between buttons (both c-c and interspace)

Jim..X) Finally, all the above factors interact with each other, and varying two together may have a very different effect from either variation taken alone. This is my main pont. Discussing button diameter or any other factor in isolation may be misleading, as it can miss contextual interactions. Button diameter has been discussed "to death", yet the other factors I've listed have hardly been mentioned. I think that's a mistake.

Goran: I would not firstly say a "mistake" since like I started to say...each factor certainly can be ....and partly needs to be...explored by itself AND AFTER that together with the others.....but I agree if saying 'limited' since I too would like to have all these aspects included in every trial to analyse the musical and ergonomical demands on a *keyboard*
As long as we speak of *buttons* only it is a little easier....

Goran Rahm

#7 JimLucas

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 04:20 PM

Of course one can look at each factor by itself and find out the importance of various other variables on each one of them. If you try to integrate all of it you easily end up with merely subjective impressions.

There are well-established methods for multivariate analysis, but...

Subjective impressions are the only ones that really matter in matters of personal comfort and accomplishment.

The human brain, with it's massively parallel, multilevel connectivity, is extremely well suited to reliable analyses of many-variable nonlinear systems which are entirely infeasible for any contemporary computer or analytical mathematical function. Humans can play tennis; computers can't. Those that come closest are modelled on aspects of the human brain the behavior of which cannot be predicted by mathematics.

And any analysis -- even and especially analyses of only one variable -- is subjective, because what one chooses to measure and not to measure is a subjective decision.

I fear You Jim are doing just that when you refer 'firstly' to your own experience(s).

Damn right!!

Because I have other things I need to do right now, my point-by-point response to Göran's tome will have to wait. (Did I hear a collective sigh of relief? :) )

But I'll conclude this post by returning to that first quote:

If you try to integrate all of it you easily end up with merely subjective impressions.

If I try to integrate it all, I end up playing music! :)

Edited by JimLucas, 02 December 2003 - 04:22 PM.


#8 goran rahm

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 05:08 AM

QUOTE (goran rahm @ Dec 2 2003, 01:47 PM)
Of course one can look at each factor by itself and find out the importance of various other variables on each one of them. If you try to integrate all of it you easily end up with merely subjective impressions.

Jim:There are well-established methods for multivariate analysis, but...

Goran:Yes...."but"....you likely will get lost in theory....

Jim:Subjective impressions are the only ones that really matter in matters of personal comfort and accomplishment.

Goran: Well, yes, they matter for YOU personally and have little bearing for others....

Jim:And any analysis -- even and especially analyses of only one variable -- is subjective, because what one chooses to measure and not to measure is a subjective decision.

Goran:Is that your 'always' practised "scientific" approach....?......:-)
Who? tells you when *your* 'reality' may be accepted by your fellow-beings?

QUOTE
I fear You Jim are doing just that when you refer 'firstly' to your own experience(s).

Jim:Damn right!!

Goran:If 'we' shall have a chance reaching some kind of common understanding or
'knowledge' in these (or any other...) matters I'm afraid we have to agree upon *some* prerequisites for 'objectivity'

Jim:Because I have other things I need to do right now, my point-by-point response to Göran's tome will have to wait. (Did I hear a collective sigh of relief? )

Goran:Didn't YOU start the topic Jim....? I will at least wait for your "point-by-point
response"....:-)

Jim:But I'll conclude this post by returning to that first quote:
QUOTE
If you try to integrate all of it you easily end up with merely subjective impressions.

Goran: So I suggest 'we' try to dissect the factors one by one first and IF you are not exhausted by that we could try to integrate them within some priority categories related to a couple of individual or circumstantial situations. That is about as far as I believe the 'analysis' may proceed and still being meaningful.

IF music performance were a competition game we might find ways to 'measure' (=objectivize) the importance of the factors in various situations and of course *some* (more or less pathetic....) methods are available....
- performing different trills and scales *as fast as possible*
- playing harmonized scales *as fast as possible*
- doing the above *as long as possible*
- playing Wieniavski's second violin concerto note by note *at all*

Goran Rahm

Jim:If I try to integrate it all, I end up playing music!
Goran: Didn't you complain about the lack of 'integrated discussion'....?

#9 JimLucas

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 06:39 AM

Jim:Subjective impressions are the only ones that really matter in matters of personal comfort and accomplishment.

Goran: Well, yes, they matter for YOU personally and have little bearing for others....

My "subjective" impressions matter to me. Others' subjective impressions matter to them. Any agreement -- or disagreement -- between these impressions is significant information.

Jim:And any analysis -- even and especially analyses of only one variable -- is subjective, because what one chooses to measure and not to measure is a subjective decision.

Goran:Is that your 'always' practised "scientific" approach....?......:-)

Absolutely! It's something I learned even before the rigorous training I received at the Calfornia Institute of Technology.

Who? tells you when *your* 'reality' may be accepted by your fellow-beings?

They do. (Not you.)

Goran:If 'we' shall have a chance reaching some kind of common understanding or 'knowledge' in these (or any other...) matters I'm afraid we have to agree upon *some* prerequisites for 'objectivity'

I have long since given up trying to reach any "common understanding" with you, even on the definition of "reality". We don't have to agree on anything, because I don't believe it's possible for us to agree on fundamental concepts of evidence.

I could go on, in detail, but this exchange has just become personal, acrimonious, and -- I suspect -- either annoying or boring (or both) to most of the readers. Anyone who is really interested can look up the history of our exchanges here or in the newsgroup rec.music.makers.squeezebox.

Jim:Because I have other things I need to do right now, my point-by-point response to Göran's tome will have to wait.

Goran:Didn't YOU start the topic Jim....?

I did. But that doesn't oblige me to respond on someone else's timetable. Besides, you seem to have attempted hijacking it to ends directly opposed to my original intent, and I really don't want to assist you.

I will at least wait for your "point-by-point response"....:-)

Please be patient. I have much to do before the new year, and you have presented too many disputable points.

Goran: ...I suggest 'we' try to dissect the factors one by one first and IF you are not exhausted by that we could try to integrate them within some priority categories related to a couple of individual or circumstantial situations.

Suggest all you want, but I have no interest in being part of your "we". You seem completely unable to accept the fact that I do not agree with your methods and priorities.

I'm reminded of a friend who told her husband, "I need some time alone to consider why I feel that you ignore my needs and feelings." He responded, "Definitely. We should spend a week down at the beach discussing that." She didn't bother with the beach; she divorced him.

Göran, if you don't see the point of my anecdote, then I think I've made my point.

Jim:If I try to integrate it all, I end up playing music!
Goran: Didn't you complain about the lack of 'integrated discussion'....?

I believe you have completely missed (or tried to divert others from?) the point of my comment. But...

Saying that discussion lacks integration is not the same as saying that we need more discussion, especially if that "discussion" -- like yours -- attempts to dis-integrate the consideration of interrelated factors.

For those who have bothered to read this far, I'm going to use a separate post to address a real, technical issue.

#10 goran rahm

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 07:09 AM

QUOTE Goran)
Who? tells you when *your* 'reality' may be accepted by your fellow-beings?

Jim:They do. (Not you.)

Goran:Agreed...so I suggest You ask *They* as often as possible...

QUOTE
Goran:If 'we' shall have a chance reaching some kind of common understanding or 'knowledge' in these (or any other...) matters I'm afraid we have to agree upon *some* prerequisites for 'objectivity'

Jim:I have long since given up trying to reach any "common understanding" with you, even on the definition of "reality". We don't have to agree on anything, because I don't believe it's possible for us to agree on fundamental concepts of evidence.

Goran:Well then..if that is your fundamental approach it sounds as a rational ground to stop arguing with me.....:-) or even 'discussing'.....

Jim:I could go on, in detail, but this exchange has just become personal, acrimonious, and -- I suspect -- either annoying or boring (or both) to most of the readers. Anyone who is really interested can look up the history of our exchanges here or in the newsgroup rec.music.makers.squeezebox.

Goran:Oh dear...! 1) who wants to? 2) who cares? 3) for what purpose?....4) ???

QUOTE
Jim:Because I have other things I need to do right now, my point-by-point response to Göran's tome will have to wait.

Goran:Didn't YOU start the topic Jim....?

Jim:I did. But that doesn't oblige me to respond on someone else's timetable. Besides, you seem to have attempted hijacking it to ends directly opposed to my original intent, and I really don't want to assist you.

Goran:Ok...I shut up for a while.... and in the meantime You set up your own plan for the 'button size topic' and structure for an 'integrated' analysis....avoiding the historic "mistakes" when discussing the subject...

QUOTE (Goran before)
I will at least wait for your "point-by-point response"....:-)

Jim:Please be patient. I have much to do before the new year, and you have presented too many disputable points.

Goran: That sounds positive...I'll be patient (until Jan 15th) and optimistic....

Goran Rahm


QUOTE
Goran: ...I suggest 'we' try to dissect the factors one by one first and IF you are not exhausted by that we could try to integrate them within some priority categories related to a couple of individual or circumstantial situations.


Suggest all you want, but I have no interest in being part of your "we". You seem completely unable to accept the fact that I do not agree with your methods and priorities.

I'm reminded of a friend who told her husband, "I need some time alone to consider why I feel that you ignore my needs and feelings." He responded, "Definitely. We should spend a week down at the beach discussing that." She didn't bother with the beach; she divorced him.

Göran, if you don't see the point of my anecdote, then I think I've made my point.


QUOTE
Jim:If I try to integrate it all, I end up playing music!
Goran: Didn't you complain about the lack of 'integrated discussion'....?


I believe you have completely missed (or tried to divert others from?) the point of my comment. But...

Saying that discussion lacks integration is not the same as saying that we need more discussion, especially if that "discussion" -- like yours -- attempts to dis-integrate the consideration of interrelated factors.

For those who have bothered to read this far, I'm going to use a separate post to address a real, technical issue.

#11 JimLucas

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 07:49 AM

AND NOW SOMETHING ABOUT BUTTONS:

1) button diameter
(10)12-15 mm diam preferrence use to be the result from inquiries and practical tests.

I've very curious as to who was tested, and under what conditions. Were these persons with no previous experience with any keyboard, not even piano? Did it include experieced players of English-construction concertinas, and if so, did their responses differ from those of other testees? Were the preferences tested with 2-dimensional arrays of buttons, linear arrays of buttons, or only isolated single buttons?

This is practised in most 'keyboard' operation where nothing else influences the size.
Squeezeboxes with no need to minimize the keyboard usually have 10-15mm buttons

But I think that therein lies the crux of the matter. Unlike on the accordion (or piano, organ, etc.) the hand of the concertina player is attached to the keyboard and has limited ability to move relative to the keyboard, so the keyboard does indeed need to be made smaller, and the buttons must also be small enough to fit the keyboard within the reach of the fingers. On a 48-button English or a duet with 50+ buttons, 10-15 mm buttons aren't compatible with actually reaching those buttons to play them.

This is a matter of the interaction of multiple factors. Considering button size without taking into account the means by which the instrument is supported and manipulated seems to lead to an unworkable "solution".

2) button shape/profile
concave, not convex,... is preferred when nothing else is involved

How can nothing else be involved? If a button is large enough for the finger tip to fit into the concavity, then concave buttons might indeed be helpful in guiding the finger into the center of the button and away from other buttons. But this cannot happen with a concavity which is significantly smaller than the finger tip, e.g., a standard 5mm concertina button. In fact, I would expect the "edge" of such a concavity to be uncomfortable, and a gently convex button to be rather more comfortable. (I find them comfortable, anyway.)

Then there's the point that players may not want always to be prevented from hitting a second button. Two buttons at once with the same finger is a useful technique on the concertina, while on a button accordion it is common to slide a finger from one button to the next. Maybe this is why convex buttons are commonly found, but concave buttons are never (to my knowledge) used?

Again, factors involved in how the instrument is actually played (and I believe also button diameter) are important constraints on the relative desirability of convexity/concavity.

But my real reason for this post, after I indicated that I didn't have time, is that I've just realized there is another and MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR:

The problem of accidentally hitting two buttons at once does not depend only on the size of the buttons, but on their spacing. That's what I started this Topic with, but I hadn't realized why and how it mattered. The factor that really matters is the distance between the buttons on either side of the one you're aiming for... because that's the space you have to fit your finger into if you want to hit only the one button!

If the buttons are 13 mm across with 1 mm space between them, that distance is 15mm. But guess what! If the buttons are 5 mm across with 5mm space between them (the button size and minimum distance on my Ćola English), then it's still 15mm!

I think that an experiment is in order, in which both button size and interbutton spacing are varied indpendently.

#12 David Barnert

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 12:11 PM

Goran, PLEASE learn how to use the quoting feature in this forum. Your posts are impossible to parse. I can't imagine Jim has the patience to read through them.

There's a "Test Forum" section of this forum where you can practice all the ins and outs to your heart's content.

Sorry for the off-topic post, but as has been amply demonstrated elsewhere (all this calling for proper signatures in the concertina discussion topics) nobody but a few of us actually read the parts of this forum where such comments are appropriate (and already discussed at length).

Edited by David Barnert, 03 December 2003 - 12:20 PM.


#13 goran rahm

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 02:09 PM

AND NOW SOMETHING ABOUT BUTTONS:

QUOTE (Göran Rahm)
1) button diameter
(10)12-15 mm diam preferrence use to be the result from inquiries and practical tests.

Jim:I've very curious as to who was tested, and under what conditions. Were these persons with no previous experience with any keyboard, not even piano? Did it include experieced players of English-construction concertinas, and if so, did their responses differ from those of other testees? Were the preferences tested with 2-dimensional arrays of buttons, linear arrays of buttons, or only isolated single buttons?

Goran now:Hmm...are 'we'(!) speaking about *buttons* now or shall I assume that You Jim are practising an 'integrated' approach whenever it suits You? Sorry...but you indicated something like that before if I got you right....
Anyway...I talked about *buttons* as such...or called "press buttons" in most literature I think when reporting about preferences for size and shape in various technical control devices,keyboards like typewriters,computers, telephones and so on...
I don't know any studies on musical instruments but that is also one of the points..
the knowledge is 'wider' from other fields...mostly applicable still as long as you
understand the significance and the limitations

QUOTE (Goran)
This is practised in most 'keyboard' operation where nothing else influences the size.
Squeezeboxes with no need to minimize the keyboard usually have 10-15mm buttons

Jim:But I think that therein lies the crux of the matter. Unlike on the accordion (or piano, organ, etc.) the hand of the concertina player is attached to the keyboard and has limited ability to move relative to the keyboard, so the keyboard does indeed need to be made smaller, and the buttons must also be small enough to fit the keyboard within the reach of the fingers. On a 48-button English or a duet with 50+ buttons, 10-15 mm buttons aren't compatible with actually reaching those buttons to play them.

This is a matter of the interaction of multiple factors. Considering button size without taking into account the means by which the instrument is supported and manipulated seems to lead to an unworkable "solution".

Goran:I have said nothing contrary to this. 'Knowing' that the preference for button size is the said (10)12-15mm diam one can practise this on the instrument 'concept' we know in order to find 1) the effects of adaptation to it
2) what changes of the construction may be needed to achieve a working synthesis
The outcome may be intolerable, acceptable within reservations, or satisfactory...

QUOTE Goran)
2) button shape/profile
concave, not convex,... is preferred when nothing else is involved

Jim:How can nothing else be involved?

Goran now:If you have a free choice of (suitable) size and shape a concave profile is preferred. Typewriters, computers...

Jim:If a button is large enough for the finger tip to fit into the concavity, then concave buttons might indeed be helpful in guiding the finger into the center of the button and away from other buttons. But this cannot happen with a concavity which is significantly smaller than the finger tip, e.g., a standard 5mm concertina button. In fact, I would expect the "edge" of such a concavity to be uncomfortable, and a gently convex button to be rather more comfortable. (I find them comfortable, anyway.)

Goran now:Yes..! Again...take each factor by itself first....*later on* make your 'integrating' applications....

Jim:Then there's the point that players may not want always to be prevented from hitting a second button. Two buttons at once with the same finger is a useful technique on the concertina, while on a button accordion it is common to slide a finger from one button to the next. Maybe this is why convex buttons are commonly found, but concave buttons are never (to my knowledge) used?

Goran now:Seems likely and a reason I have not suggested concertina buttons being concave either UNLESS maybe if you strictly play 'single' or at least 'separate' buttons...

Jim:Again, factors involved in how the instrument is actually played (and I believe also button diameter) are important constraints on the relative desirability of convexity/concavity.

Goran now:Naturally...

Jim:But my real reason for this post, after I indicated that I didn't have time, is that I've just realized there is another and MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR:

The problem of accidentally hitting two buttons at once does not depend only on the size of the buttons, but on their spacing. That's what I started this Topic with, but I hadn't realized why and how it mattered. The factor that really matters is the distance between the buttons on either side of the one you're aiming for... because that's the space you have to fit your finger into if you want to hit only the one button!

If the buttons are 13 mm across with 1 mm space between them, that distance is 15mm. But guess what! If the buttons are 5 mm across with 5mm space between them (the button size and minimum distance on my Ćola English), then it's still 15mm!

Goran now:Of course....you will need an increased c-c distance between larger buttons to avoid some of the said jamming up to the individual width of the finger.
Again check your computer...you are (probably) doing fairly well with the 17mm or so (sideways) c-c distance while your English has about 13mm and your fingers corresponding measures some 17-20mm. The computer keyboard is more 'natural' in this respect and considerably more comfortable. If you like (!) you could press 2,3 or even 4 buttons on the computer just as you can with your English.
An 'English' keyboard enlarged to the 'computer' size could remain equally 'handy' as a normal 48 key one up to say about 40 buttons which is enough for as a guess more than 90% of the common 'folk music' performance.....

A not mentioned factor of importance is the button travel distance and here again the profile comes in. With a concave and sharp profile like the computer buttons the risk for jamming when reducing the c-c distance is greater than with a convex profile (due to the rounded finger) and if the button travel may be reduced by just 1 mm it makes significant difference

Jim:I think that an experiment is in order, in which both button size and interbutton spacing are varied indpendently.

Goran: 'Interbutton spacing' including both c-c distance and space 'between' the buttons....Something I have suggested repeatedly for more than 5 years.....and I have done a little myself (at least with the buttons) since I have not changed the mechanism and its measures but I have made some test 'dummies' for it and compared as much as possible with various other keyboards.
Modifications are worth considering but the individual demands for sure decide if/when they might be musically sucessful. My basic point is that according to 'common' ergonomic judgement the English and Duet keyboards are 'too small'. The Anglo is more 'adequate'.

Goran Rahm

#14 Lester Bailey

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 03:25 PM

AND NOW SOMETHING ELSE ABOUT BUTTONS

Goran Please learn how to use the quote button, it would make your posts so much easier to understand and I for one do read most of what you post.

#15 JimLucas

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 04:54 PM

I don't know any studies on musical instruments but that is also one of the points..

I wouldn't have guessed that from your previous statements.

If you have a free choice of (suitable) size and shape a concave profile is preferred. Typewriters, computers...

If I have a free choice, my choice depends on button size, keyboard design, and purpose. If you believe that concertina keyboards should have the same design as computer and typewriter keyboards, I don't understand why you have anything to do with the Wheatstones, Lachenals, Crabbs, and Jeffries. A Chemnitzer or bandoneon would seem more suited to your suggested ideal, though even they don't seem to use concave keys.

Again...take each factor by itself first....*later on* make your 'integrating' applications....

Again... not possible. Any measurement of one factor "by itself" must be within the context of each other factor being at some particular value. Measure that first factor with the others at some other set of values and you might get completely different results. That is the "interaction" I'm talking about.

...I have not suggested concertina buttons being concave either...

You haven't? Coulda fooled me!

#16 goran rahm

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:30 AM

QUOTE (goran rahm @ Dec 3 2003, 02:09 PM)
I don't know any studies on musical instruments but that is also one of the points..

Jim:I wouldn't have guessed that from your previous statements.

Goran now:Ergonomic principles may differ less than you guess between different types of work....

QUOTE (Goran)
If you have a free choice of (suitable) size and shape a concave profile is preferred. Typewriters, computers...

Jim:If I have a free choice, my choice depends on button size, keyboard design, and purpose. If you believe that concertina keyboards should have the same design as computer and typewriter keyboards, I don't understand why you have anything to do with the Wheatstones, Lachenals, Crabbs, and Jeffries. A Chemnitzer or bandoneon would seem more suited to your suggested ideal, though even they don't seem to use concave keys.

Goran:From this respect "Chemnitzer or Bandoneon" are good as they are :-)
In any field you will likely find that major steps of progress are related to some kind of 'cross-over' ....by consideration or by accident....

QUOTE (Goran)
Again...take each factor by itself first....*later on* make your 'integrating' applications....

Jim:Again... not possible. Any measurement of one factor "by itself" must be within the context of each other factor being at some particular value. Measure that first factor with the others at some other set of values and you might get completely different results. That is the "interaction" I'm talking about.

Goran:The common ways of locking up creativity and progress is using blinds of some kind and making restricts from the start is just that....stimulating prejudice...

QUOTE (Goran)
...I have not suggested concertina buttons being concave either...

Jim:You haven't? Coulda fooled me!

Goran:I have once .....(as I indicated in the complete sentence you 'quote'....) on the direct question from someone suggesting it and with the precise addition that it might be quite adequate for 'single note/single button' playing style.

Goran Rahm

#17 JimLucas

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 06:12 AM

Ergonomic principles may differ less than you guess between different types of work....

Or they may differ more than you guess.

True "ergonomics" may be a worthwhile concept, but too much of what is so labelled is merely using the term as a promotional buzzword, with no rigorous research behind it. Real "ergonomics", however, is ultimately about the effectivenes of design for human use. Results of experiments which don't at least approximate conditions of use are of extremely dubious value.

E.g., there are so many major differences between computer keyboards and concertina keyboards and the way they are used that any study of one should be considered completely inapplicable to the other unless and until equivalent studies done separately on both demonstrate similar results. If that has been done, neither I nor you are aware of it.

In any field you will likely find that major steps of progress are related to some kind of 'cross-over'...

Ture in some cases, I'm sure, but certainly not as an inviolable rule. Einsteinian relativity, quantum mechanics, transistors, and lasers are but a few of the examples I'm familiar with that don't satisfy that "principle". Besides, such a principle says nothing about whether any particular crossover will be an "improvement", or even viable. It certainly says nothing about whether some sort of crossover between our concertinas and typewriters -- or even bandoneons -- would be beneficial.

#18 JimLucas

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 06:17 AM

A further comment/observation on comparisons between computer keyboards and concertina keyboards: Anyone wishing to make such a comparison compare how many notes per minute they play on their concertina with how many characters per minute they type on their computer.

Do we have any concertina-playing professional typists in the audience? If so, what do you think of the comparison?




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