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John Hazlehurst's C/g/d Anglo


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#1 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 04:14 PM

In light of the recent discussions on alternate Anglo layouts, I would like to share with you John Hazlehurstís C/G/D adaptation. I was invited to play at the Furness Tradition Festival in Ulverston, England this summer where I met John and had a long talk with him about his 38 button Jefferies.

It seems that about 30 years ago he was playing this same instrument when it was a standard C/G Jefferies 38. He liked it but felt restricted by the limited chord options and difficult fingerings when playing tunes in D. I believe he was playing pretty much along the rows, then at least. Around 1990, he joined a band that played lots of D tunes. His solution was not to get a G/D as I did, but rather to cleverly switch the reeds around, retuning three of them, turning his third accidental row into a D row. His new D row closely duplicated the standard push/draw series of Anglo diatonic intervals while retaining all but one of the original ďaccidentalĒ notes, though not, of course, in the standard locations.

All of the alterations were done by John himself and are easily reversible, except for the retuning of the three reeds, F3 to D3, G6 to A6, E6 to G6. If someone else wanted to convert their 38 button instrument to Johnís arrangement, I could imagine a spare set of just those three reeds to try it out.

He has been playing on this altered box exclusively since then and has a glorious sound using extensive chords and inventive accompaniments for ceilidh, clog and morris dancing. I had the pleasure of spending several hours with him talking and playing and the next day was honored to be invited to play a local dance with his group, the Old Friends Ceilidh Band.

John generously wrote out a chart and explanatory notes on his retrofit C/G/D 38, included below, along with a photo of him and his altered Jefferies. I recorded some of Johnís playing which Henk has generously added to the tune link page.

Not only is John a master of his unique concertina system, but he is also an accomplished player of the Northumbrian small pipes. In fact, he learned to play pipe tunes on the concertina when he first started out and emulated the pipe sound as a musical model on which to base his concertina playing. John is also a composer of tunes in the local Lakeland style and has published them in his book Phizackleaís Fandangle, available at Corylus Publications, 3 Kestrel Drive, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA15 8QA, UK

As of yesterday, John has joined c.net, so he can answer your questions about his system directly.

_John_Hazlehurstchart_copy.jpg

_Hazlehurst_notes_copy.jpg

_J_H_Photo.jpg

Edited by Jody Kruskal, 11 October 2006 - 04:46 PM.


#2 Paul Groff

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 08:30 PM

Hi Jody,

This reminds me of several non-standard layouts I have seen in original Jeffries and Lachenal 3 row anglos.

One lovely old 31 key Jeffries had the middle row in Ab and the inside row in Eb, but the outside row in Bb - making it somewhat analogous to the layout you have presented, but transposed down a major third (discounting the fact that the one I saw was still in old pitch, unequal temperament). The biggest difference however was that in that 31 key all the comparable notes of each key (doh, etc.) lined up. I note that in the layout you show, the D scale on the right hand side is displaced, presumably to allow for a more "standard" (Wheatstone/Lachenal!) position for the C#/Eb button on the RH first finger 3rd row. I am pretty sure I have also seen a Bb/F with the outside row in C.

I have also seen several Lachenal and Jeffries with the third row tuned uniformly one half step up from the middle row, e.g. A/E with the third row in Bb etc. These would be the transposed equivalent of a C/G with the third row a complete C# diatonic scale (as has been noted, the standard 3 row anglo layouts are not too far from this anyway, in places).

I am pretty sure I have mentioned these nonstandard layouts in previous postings to this site, and if I am not mistaken Jim Lucas came up with an unambiguous way to name them. The trick is that when we discuss a "3 row standard C/G" we are listing the middle and then the inside row, so if we call a nonstandard 3 row a "C#/C/G" (etc.) there may be some risk of confusion.

As I have also noted before, a century ago when someone commissioned a fine anglo he might sometimes have been playing a good time and accumulated some interesting personal preferences, evidently resulting in customized layouts and tuning such as I have seen. When we encounter unmodified original instruments today, there is often much that can be learned from them if we take the time to do so, before hastening to "restore" them to our own tastes or the tastes of some standardized "market" for resale.

Paul

#3 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 08:49 PM

Hi Paul, one of the interesting things about this story is that John actually plays in this system and we can hear what he is able to do. Do you know any one else who does that on one of these nonstandard configurations? Were you tempted to learn any of them as they passed through your hands?

#4 Paul Read

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 09:09 PM

If I recall correctly, Robin Harrison reported an Ab/Eb with a Bb third row in another thread.

Edited by Paul Read, 11 October 2006 - 09:09 PM.


#5 Paul Groff

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 09:24 PM

Hi Jody,

Although I am repeating a previous posting again, I always say that what any novel keyboard layout really needs is a very good musician to stick with it and learn its ins and outs -- how to get the music out of it that "you were looking for" and then also what unexpected features pop up that can also be musically effective. I really believe that *any* conceivable layout can shown to be effective in making great music if a great musician chooses to make that layout her/his mode of musical expression over a period of many years.

Unfortunately, most people experimenting with new layouts seem to be beginners who are attempting to "outsmart" the long and difficult process of learning to play by developing a "magic layout" that makes playing "easy." I think most of these folks may be better off with a more standard layout so they can benefit from more opportunities for help from other musicians, rather than a personal, customized design. But whatever makes music fun for you!

I got a good bit of music out of all those concertinas, and not only playing on the rows. As someone who has played a lot of guitar (and other fretted instruments) in different tunings, I just figured out where the notes I wanted were and tried to remember those button positions (and bellows directions) when I needed them. I think that all those systems have their own advantages, as no doubt does John Hazelhurst's.

To the many beginning and intermediate players who frequent this board, though, I remind them that whether you learn to drive in a Chevy, Toyota or Studebaker is probably not so important as lots of time developing a feel for the rules of the road, steering, braking, active perception, etc. -- that is, general skills that apply whatever your gear (though the details of *how* to apply them may differ depending on your gear).

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff, 11 October 2006 - 09:27 PM.


#6 Chris Timson

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 01:50 AM

The first time I ever met Colin Dipper, in a pub garden in Chippenham probably about 1992, he gave me a newly built concertina to twiddle with that was apparently a C/G/D designed by someone. The C row was in the baritone range to make the cross row relationships work. There must have been a few extra accidentals dotted around somewhere, but at this distance in time I don't remember. It was normal concertina size.

Chris

#7 Hooves

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 06:11 PM

C/G/D sounds like a great idea, though I wonder sometimes if it wouldn't be just as easy to have 2 concertinas and go with one of the standard tunings.

I myself have been recently looking more at Duets than alternate anglo tunings. But if you have to sacrafice a kidney to get your own touched-by-an-angel crafted box, why not get it however you like?

#8 Robin Harrison

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 07:36 PM

Hi Paul............as 't other Paul mentioned, I have a 31 key Jeffries , Ab/Eb with a complete Bb scale as the outside row. Do you know if this was a reasonably common layout or not, and what where they designed for.
I'd love to know .... Cheers Robin

#9 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 09:53 PM

I'd love to know .... Cheers Robin


Me too.

Lucky you Robin. What sort of music do you play? Would you care to share your button layout with us?

#10 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 12:49 AM

Robin,

I wonder if this is the only Anglo you play, or do you also play a standard setup?

#11 geoffwright

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 08:49 AM

Isn't this where a midi-anglo would come into its own, where you could start experimenting with this sort of layout?

#12 Chris Timson

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 09:52 AM

Isn't this where a midi-anglo would come into its own, where you could start experimenting with this sort of layout?

It would have to be one where the layout could be reprogrammed, but yes, you're absolutely right.

Chris

#13 Paul Groff

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 01:40 PM

Hi Paul............as 't other Paul mentioned, I have a 31 key Jeffries , Ab/Eb with a complete Bb scale as the outside row. Do you know if this was a reasonably common layout or not, and what where they designed for.
I'd love to know .... Cheers Robin


Hi Robin,

I *think* you are asking this Paul ... anyway the "why" of the Bb/Ab/Eb would have to be a surmise on my part, since I only have the internal evidence of the instruments, and the experience of seeing what works (from my perspective) in playing the system.

But, more generally, Ab/Eb (in more standard 3 row configuration) was a common key for Jeffries (usually in pitches from A = 439 to 453). Ab/Eb anglos have a uniquely resonant sound; low enough to avoid all shrillness yet not as boomy or slow as the lower pitches. They work very well with (some) male voices and also for tunes (can be played equally well along the rows, or in "C/G fingering," or yet again in "G/D fingering"). And of course, for playing with wind instruments Ab, Eb, and Bb -- the major keys with the most options on a standard Ab/Eb -- are very handy keys. However on a standard Ab/Eb 3 row, of course the key of Bb major must be crossfingered like D major on a standard C/G.

Specifically for the Bb/Ab/Eb concertinas, I surmise that the several of these I have seen were commissioned by players who wanted all these features of an Ab/Eb, but whose style emphasized more playing along the rows, so preferred to have the third row in Bb to allow playing that key on the row like the other two keys.

I think Geoff Crabb has mentioned various 3 or 4 row custom anglos being built by the Crabb firm, with each row in one key (indeed John Crabb may have made some of the Jeffries like this). I have also heard of players from the English folk revival re-tuning 44-48 key Jeffries or Crabbs to a system of C/G/D/A or similar.

I love all these expressions of originality and individuality -- again, they remind me of guitar styles using alternative tunings for the strings (Hawaiian slack key, blues, etc.). But again, they are only an invitation to lots more work learning to make use of their options, not a "magic bullet" that will solve the problem of learning to play for beginners. If you are going to learn to play one anglo very well, the standard Lachenal and Jeffries 3 row systems have a lot to recommend them.

Paul




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