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Reforming Concertina(s)


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#37 Richard Morse

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 11:00 AM

please provide cost estimates for modifying an existing instrurment for:

1. Larger buttons
Goran (6mm ones):Production :Cost $5-10 Time 4-5h  Assembly:2-3h

2. Retrofit handles
Goran (own design): Production: Cost $5 Time 2-4h  Assembly: 1/2 h

3. New case to accommodate insturment with larger handles: Cost $10-15 Time 5-6h
Why? There are perfect hard cases to get for $20...

Does your "cost" mean materials? And if you figure an amount of $35/hr for labor (which includes overhead), then the button modification would be about $250 and the handles to be about $130. That sounds in the ballpark to me.

Please let me know where to buy perfect hard cases for $20. Our cost several times that!

#38 goran rahm

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 11:01 AM

QUOTE (Goran)
I am also amused to find that despite the obvious inventiveness and urge for personal integrity among many makers very few boldly grab the challenge of developing something really new...

Rich:"Boldly grabbing the challenge" requires the will (as in the desire to do it) and the way (as in the time it would take and money it would cost to do it). Even you, Goran, are unwilling to provide the way (scaled drawings and money to enable the creation of your designs). How can you expect us to do more?"

Goran:Please don't be personally hurt by my little provocation Rich! I have met/spoken to quite a few makers during 25 years....and I do see/know the *very* understandable obstacles on the way..still most of them (and You likely...)
have spent enormous energy on various constructive variations of the 'basic concept' and many have made quite 'new products' true...the real challenge we were discussing in the message before...
The same (or just a trifle more) effort (cost and time) could have been used also for implementation of some 'new concept' ....
IF the 'old concept' is assumed being perfect you better do like violin makers have done for 300 years-trying to make the optimal copy and nothing else!

QUOTE
... but rather stay safe within the tradition and in worshipping of the predecessors.

Rich:"While I admire and respect vintage concertina makers, my concertinas DO vary considerably from traditional design/construction (as do most of the other current makers). Your insinuation that makers demur to take on a "challenge" due to safety in tradition is myopic and disingenuous of you."

Goran:You (and other makers) have my full respect Rich for the enterprise, production and general aims being realized but you admit don't you that the 'challenge' for todays makers is focused mainly on amibitions like
- copying (with some individual touch) of original 'best quality' instruments
- cost reduction of 'trad style' instruments
- accordion reeded applications/simulations of 'trad style' instruments
- semi-industrial production of low cost 'trad-like' instruments

Only a handfull of really *new concepts* have seen the light in later decades and
just a couple more (handfulls) in all ("British style") concertina history....

Rich:"There are many reasons why makers choose not to develop your ideas."

Goran: This time I was actually pondering firstly about their own ideas....:-)

Goran Rahm

#39 goran rahm

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 01:23 PM

A couple of additional remarks to the previous post. We do have the common interaction between supply and demand of course and I wonder a little about the interests among users too...not being unaware at all of the impact that has on the interest among makers to make their ambitions come true.

My impression about this (concerning a 'new' instrument) in order of priority:
Expensive:
1) the instrument should look like and sound like an old Wheatstone or Jeffries

Some cost reduction:
2a) the instrument should look like an old W. or J.
2b) the instrument should sound like an old W. or J.
add a) it could sound like almost anything else but not an accordion despite having accordion reeds
add b) it must look a little bit like and old W. or J.

Budget:
3) it could sound like anything including accordion as long as it resembles traditional "concertinas" for looks

Cheap:
4) it could sound like anything and hardly work... conditionally that it has six or maybe eight sides

5) In all cases it better be as small as possible and as light as possible i.e. not larger or heavier than analogous W. or J. even if this might be negative for practical use or beneficial technical/musical solutions

6) In all cases practical musical handling has low priority compared to looks and
traditional sound character

Despite you may taste a little touch of acid I am NOT saying the above is WRONG.
It may certainly correspond to true valuations and thus being fully adequate.... still I might have expected to experience less focus on looks and particular sound characteristics...particularly since firstly powerful sound seems to be requested. All musical instruments sound differently and most 'concertinas' too and this may add to the flavour of any musical experience...personally I admittedly have little understanding of the demand for absolute similarity in this respect....the variation and expressfulness being of greater attraction...

Goran Rahm

#40 goran rahm

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 01:59 PM

Rich:"Does your "cost" mean materials? And if you figure an amount of $35/hr for labor (which includes overhead), then the button modification would be about $250 and the handles to be about $130."

That sounds in the ballpark to me.

Goran:Does that mean you find the estimates realistic? Now...this is figured for the one-off doing and the hobbyist firstly. If you rationalize a bit, say doing at least 5-6 sets (buttons or handles) you might reduce about to half.

Rich:Please let me know where to buy perfect hard cases for $20. Our cost several times that!

Goran: You (and your customers) probably have a little bit greater 'traditional' demands! I don't blame you.... but hobby retail warehouses have light metal (camera and tool...) hard cases for about $20 with measures perfect for concertinas...so do drugstores with 'beautyboxes' (some favourites of mine...)
apart from old EP record boxes you get for $5...I recently found some slightly oversized cases for CDs with perfect measures too.
(Otherwise polstered soft cases are quite good and mostly less attractive for snatchers who prefer cameras to concertinas....)

Goran Rahm

#41 Frank Edgley

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 03:19 PM

Regarding your "impression" of you 1:23 posting, I don't think you really get it. All of us (concertina builders) aim for the best possible instrument we can build in terms of sound and appearance, and still be within the reach financially of most of us (NOT the same as cheap). It IS a matter of customer demand as well as our own pride in our product. Are we "slaves" to tradition as you suggest? Only as much as demand. As you can see from my website, I have made several custom-ordered concertinas with very unusual finishes. And yet, I believe they conform to what a concertina is. Your drawing (sketches) of oblong instruments of larger size, means of reed attachment and placement, different buttons and spacing, and handle positions etc. do not---at least what most concertina purchasers consider concertinas. Your drawings and suggestion for design do REALLY seem more like accordions than concertinas. All well and good, but don't consider they are the same instrument, any more than Northumbrian pipes and Scottish small pipes are the same instrument. Maybe we could call your development a "Gorancertina". A fine instrument in its own right, related to concertina, and other free reed instruments, but not the same thing. BTW, how have the bandoneon and Chemnitzer people resopnded to your ideas? The Gorancertina is certainly closer to those designs and may not evoke such resistance.

#42 JimLucas

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 12:39 AM

But the statement that "very few [concertina makers] boldly grab the challenge of developing something really new" is simply false,...

[...]

None of these are the particular "improvements" that Göran advocates, but they definitely put the lie to any claim that concertina makers -- including and especially the leading ones -- aren't open to trying radical new designs.

An example of innovation by concertina makers that I forgot to mention is Frank Edgley's 24-button anglo layout.

But I've also just noticed in the Wheatstone ledgers #30377, a 72-button duet with "large keys". I wish we could find that instrument, to see just how large "large" was considered to be. It certainly indicates that Wheatstone was willing to build instruments with larger keys if they were requested, but the corollary is that there wasn't much demand for them, or we'd see many more, both in the ledgers and among used instruments for sale.

#43 goran rahm

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 04:12 AM

Frank:"And yet, I believe they conform to what a concertina is. ....Your drawing etc....... do not---at least what most concertina purchasers consider concertinas. Your drawings and suggestion for design do REALLY seem more like accordions than concertinas."
.... BTW, how have the bandoneon and Chemnitzer people resopnded to your ideas? "

Goran:A little reminder: bandoneon and Chemnitzer people regard and often talk about 'their' instruments as *concertinas* and many of them even haven't heard of sixsided 'concertinas'...! And they likely outnumber 'us'...!
Traditional bonds however are supposed to be evenly strong among 'them'...:-)
...only that four sides come more natural....

Jim, I am fully aware of all the examples you have given for various modifications.
We just have a very different view on what I mean with 'new concept'. None of the ideas I have suggested has been entirely 'new'....After I came up with them publicly new hints have popped up all them time regarding earlier trials with the same proposals: wrist supports,extra thumbstraps on Anglos and Duets, better handstraps, better wriststraps, variation of button sizes, different keyboards, other dimensions and shapes, better balance,double reeds, neck/shoulder supports...

The situation is not unique....We rather seldom use in everyday life the 'very best tools' ...we use the 'products' we are offered to buy and the availability is not as determined by *our* free choices as consumers neither as we wish it were...nor believe it is....

The 'fact' that the proposals have not been implemented is not as some believe a 'proof' that they are not sensible or motivated....only that 'time' was not motivated for them...and the reasons for that may be quite complex....

I am not as eager as some may believe to have a reformed concertina (squeezebox)produced.
IF concertinas may continue being produced at all however I see the present situation as rather futile!
The original boom of harmonicas and squeezeboxes was related not only to their 'novelty' but to the revolution they initiated in music making generally due to the possibility of industrial production, in turn related to the use of a new type of cheap soundsource for which wind, blown or pumped, was used.
Production of these instruments today is not as costeffective any more. The soundsource itself actually is rather expensive compared to (electric) alternatives not needing wind either.

So again ..IF *squeezeboxes* (accordions and concertinas) continue being produced sucessfully the natural progress to me seems being development of something *new* meaning a musical and technical hybride, taking the 'best' of everything but still within limits to allow at least some of the 'original' keyboard systems being practised BUT essentially finding means to use more costeffective solutions for automatic processing and assembly including new materials.

Squeezeboxes - not being musically exclusive - but obviously exclusive regarding their prices - can only be an article today for fanatics. The ambitious musician finds symphonic instrument alternatives and everyday music makers choose modern (electric) alternatives....

The symmetric bimanual 'concertina keyboard concept' (skip the squeezebox....)
however ought to have a great potential if applied to the (programmable) computer keyboard ....as long as we don't have the 'virtual keyboard' fully realized...but that probably will not take long (a couple of years?)....
We will be able to 'play' any 'system' on the desk or just in the air without buttons or bellows or whatsoever....!!

Goran Rahm

#44 JimLucas

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 05:56 AM

Jim, I am fully aware of all the examples you have given for various modifications.
We just have a very different view on what I mean with 'new concept'.

So it would seem. Your use of the term doesn't seem coincide with the English meaning of the words.

More importantly, we have very different ideas of the meanings of "rational discussion", "evidence", "experience", and various related concepts. Again, yours seem to depart from those commonly accepted.

I am not as eager as some may believe to have a reformed concertina (squeezebox)produced.

That's made clear by the fact that you're unwilling to expend your own effort or money to have it produced. But then why do you produce so many words arguing that it should be produced?

#45 goran rahm

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 09:02 AM

Goran before:I am not as eager as some may believe to have a reformed concertina (squeezebox)produced.

Jim:"That's made clear by the fact that you're unwilling to expend your own effort or money to have it produced. But then why do you produce so many words arguing that it should be produced?"

Goran:"should".....Your *english* Jim? :-)...I have never said so...I've said it 'could' (if wished) be done or 'ought to be...' in case new concertinas are produced at all...in order to make them more purposeful...not least since repeatedly not only I, but others, report having various problems with the
management of this or that being related to features in the traditional construction/design which are possible to change.
More linguistic problems to sort out?

Goran

#46 JimLucas

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 10:13 AM

...why do you produce so many words arguing that it [Göran's "reformed concertina"] should be produced?"

"should".....Your *english* Jim? :-)...I have never said so...I've said it 'could' (if wished) be done or 'ought to be...'

English? Yes, English. In the English language I know, 'should be' and 'ought to be' are synonymous. They imply strong urging, though not a requirement.

The question remains. Why do you expend so much effort and so many words to urge that others implement your designs?

#47 duckln

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 01:21 PM

It puzzles me why there are 120 buttons on a 120 bass accordion? Why not only the
number you actual use which might be 30 max? Could also shorten the 'wrist' strap.

Wheatstones' follow-up patent on the English has the top 4 or so buttons operating the valves
directly (without levers). This allowed all the buttons to be moved up one row. It may slow your
playing a little, but the bass buttons would be easier to reach. It may also make an added
wrist strap more acceptable.

There are vintage and new concertinas that drop the top 4 notes on the treble, some drop the duplicated
accidentals. That's fine, but how about adding 2 notes on the lower end to go down to an E as part
of the change?

An air button is a must for me. Also a balance point on the ends to attach a neck strap. IMO the thumb strap
is not suited the balance point.


Joe

#48 goran rahm

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 02:23 PM

Jim:"The question remains. Why do you expend so much effort and so many words to urge that others implement your designs?"

Goran:Does that matter if things might get better....?
Why don't you ask yourself a corresponding but reverse question ?

#49 goran rahm

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 02:40 PM

Joe:It puzzles me why there are 120 buttons on a 120 bass accordion? Why not only the
number you actual use which might be 30 max? Could also shorten the 'wrist' strap."

Goran: There are lots of various compacts..usually down to 48bass. The point with the large 120 is the doubling at the ends..otherwise you would have to leap from one end to the other more often.

Jow:Wheatstones' follow-up patent on the English has the top 4 or so buttons operating the valves
directly (without levers). This allowed all the buttons to be moved up one row. It may slow your
playing a little, but the bass buttons would be easier to reach. It may also make an added
wrist strap more acceptable.

Goran:In my eyes moving the keyboard towards the top (and 'handle' to the centre) was an excellent idea. The direct valves made the construction extra complicated which I think was an understandingly abortive idea. Strangely enough there was no suggestion of a wriststrap in the patent.

Joe:There are vintage and new concertinas that drop the top 4 notes on the treble, some drop the duplicated
accidentals. That's fine, but how about adding 2 notes on the lower end to go down to an E as part of the change?

Goran:There are instruments with this extension but usually down to C : "Tenor-treble" . I favour the 48key tenortreble as a nice variant but for 'folk music' and single not playing firstly I really mean that a 32-36 key treble or 40 key tenortreble could be quite purposeful instruments. They do exist....

Joe:An air button is a must for me. Also a balance point on the ends to attach a neck strap. IMO the thumb strap is not suited the balance point.

Goran:By attaching the neckstrap (rather use one or two shoulder straps!) by means of an intermediate say 200mm long strap fastened between two (not nearby) endbolts and fixating the supporting strap somewhere optional on this intermediate strap you gain two things:
1) a balance point exactly where you want it to be
2) greater stability (less rotation of the instrument)

Goran Rahm

#50 JimLucas

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 04:40 PM

The question remains. Why do you expend so much effort and so many words to urge that others implement your designs?

Does that matter if things might get better....?

Yes. Whether or not "things might get better".

Why don't you ask yourself a corresponding but reverse question ?

Who is to say I haven't? You, on the other hand, have once again failed to even try to answer a simple, direct question. I can only conclude that you are incapable of giving an honest answer.

#51 JimLucas

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 05:04 PM

It puzzles me why there are 120 buttons on a 120 bass accordion? Why not only the number you actual use which might be 30 max? Could also shorten the 'wrist' strap.

Joe, what relevance do you think this has to concertinas?

Wheatstones' follow-up patent on the English has the top 4 or so buttons operating the valves directly (without levers).

I believe that's William Wheatstone's patent, not Charles Wheatstone's. And I don't know of any instruments which actually used that design.

...the bass buttons would be easier to reach.

I don't find them at all difficult to reach with the current design. Are your hands unusually large? If not, I suspect that your button-reaching technique could be improved.

There are vintage and new concertinas that drop the top 4 notes on the treble,...

44-button treble concertinas? I don't believe I've ever seen one. Which four notes do you say are dropped?

...some drop the duplicated accidentals.

I've seen instruments like that. I don't like them. Removing the duplicates interferes with the regular pattern of scales in some keys.

...how about adding 2 notes  on the lower end to go down to an E as part
of the change?

Which two notes... E & F, or E & F#? Why those and not others? If you get a tenor or tenor-treble English concertina you'll have those notes and more.

IMO the thumb strap is not suited the balance point.

I'm not sure what you mean by "balance point". In my experience, the English concertina is superbly balanced.

#52 duckln

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 12:07 AM

Jim

From a 48 treble. Left side- remove the top row, c'#, g', b', and b'b
add in a bottom row, F' , and F'#
Right side-remove the top cluster, c'', a', f', and f'#
add in a bottom row, E', and E'b or an air button.
Benefit , remove keys seldom if never used from the top end.
you then have 3 lines above the stave rather than 5
and 3 lines below the stave rather than 2
The music would be easier to read, the confusing bass clef stave would
be discarded.
I don't have a 'tenor'. Wish I did, and would except for the price jump , vintage rarity,
size and weight increase.
To me, going down toinclude low D'' and C'', is beyond the capacity of a standard
treble but you could squeeze in F and E.

The balance of the english is fine. It's when you add a neck strap, the balance
point changes. Seems it would be nice to have a mounting point specifically
for a neck strap.

I have what I consider small hands, with farmer fingers. When anyone IMO
plays the bottom row it envoles slipping from the pinky stop, hunt and search,
and getting disorientated.

In my session book most of the music is centered slightly above the treble
stave. Many tunes start on D and range to a, in sharp keys for the benefit of the fidlers.
Moving the button pattern up on the treble would help the english player reach speed.



Joe

#53 JimLucas

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 08:51 AM

There are vintage and new concertinas that drop the top 4 notes on the treble,...

[and Joe's subsequent clarification: ] From a 48 treble. Left side- remove the top row, c'#, g', b', and b'b...  Right side-remove the top cluster, c'', a', f', and f'#...

First of all, you're going to have difficulty getting what you want if you don't describe it accurately. Aside from the typo -- your c'# should be g'#, -- your more detailed description indicates dropping not "the top 4 notes", but 8 notes, 4 from each side.

By the way, I'm curious as to where you've seen "vintage" treble concertinas that don't have those top 8 buttons. 48-button tenor-trebles (sometimes called simply "tenors") don't have them, but they have the same number of buttons added below. Vintage trebles with fewer than 48 buttons tend to be custom instruments, very rare, and go for premium prices.
You say:

I don't have a 'tenor'. Wish I did, and would except for the price jump , vintage rarity, size and weight increase.

But if you can't afford such a vintage instrument, what makes you think you could afford a custom-built contemporary one?

And if you're just imagining a theoretical instrument that you think you would like, do you really think that having a lowest note of Eb, rather than the C below it, is of great importance? What music do you play where a low E is more useful than a low D? Do you believe that a significant number of other concertina players would favor your proposed variant over what is already available?

I, for one, don't agree with the arguments you give for your design choice:

Benefit, remove keys seldom if never used from the top end.

I don't consider that a benefit. "Seldom" is not "never". While I don't use those notes often, I do use them now and again, which I couldn't do if they weren't there. And they in no way interfere with my playing when I'm not using them. I'm glad they're there.

you then have 3 lines above the stave rather than 5...

A pointless goal for anyone who doesn't read music, and an irrelevant one for anyone who does, but whose music doesn't use those "extra" notes.

...and 3 lines below the stave rather than 2

In light of your wish to reduce the number of lines above the staff, I don't know whether you're suggesting that adding one below is an advantage or a disadvantage.

The music would be easier to read,...

How so? Any notes which aren't in the music won't appear in the notation of that music. Those that are, will.

...the confusing bass clef stave would be discarded.

What "confusing bass clef"? Who writes concertina music in the bass clef?

To me, going down toinclude low D'' and C'', is beyond the capacity of a standard treble but you could squeeze in F and E.

By definition, a "standard" treble doesn't go down to E, but only to G. In addition, it does have those upper notes. What you're suggesting is not "standard". But when you mention "squeezing in" a few extra notes, it sounds as if you think that there is no space for more than 48 buttons on a concertina of "standard treble" size. This is not true, as "piccolo" instruments have 48 buttons on much smaller ends. Even full treble instruments with "piccolo"-size ends have been produced, so there's enough room for all the reeds, as well.

The balance of the english is fine. It's when you add a neck strap, the balance point changes.

Since I don't find a neckstrap useful, that doesn't matter to me. But if you do add one, the resulting forces and torques must depend considerably on where and how you attach it. It's hard to follow your argument if you don't define the points of attachment you're referring to.

I have what I consider small hands, with farmer fingers.

"Farmer fingers"? Explain, please?

When anyone IMO plays the bottom row it envoles slipping from the pinky stop, hunt and search, and getting disorientated.

Not when I "play the bottom row", or any of the buttons on a standard 48-, 56-, or 64-button concertina, and I'm certainly one of "anyone". It sounds to me as if you just haven't developed the requisite flexibility and competence, and possibly that what you're doing to try to reach those buttons is counterproductive. To reach the lower buttons, I bend my hands backward at the writsts and bend my fingers to draw them back over the buttons, where I can then press downward with my fingertips. No problem.

In my session book most of the music is centered slightly above the treble stave.  Many tunes start on D and range to a, in sharp keys for the benefit of the fidlers.

Your "session book" sounds rather limited to me, and more likely to have been limited for the benefit of whistle players than fiddlers. Fiddlers like the key of A, but many whistle players don't, because playing G# requires covering half a hole, rather than a simple fingering. And fiddlers don't mind going lower than D, with the G below being their lowest note. Whistle players prefer tunes with one or two sharps (G and D, and their related modes), and no notes below D, because they can't play them (at least not without jumping octaves). There are also many fiddle tunes in such keys as C, Am, F, Dm, Bb, and Gm, because those particular tunes in those particular keys are comfortable on the fiddle.

Moving the button pattern up on the treble would help the english player reach speed.

This seems to assume that on a "standard" treble "the English player" has difficulty reaching speed. I think you're deceiving yourself. I haven't met any competent players of the English who have difficulty playing tunes "up to speed" on a responsive instrument. It further suggests that shifting the keyboard as you suggest would have the effect of increasing their speed. I don't believe that's so, and I doubt that you can provide any evidence that it is, even in your own case. Do you really find that in general you cannot play tunes that go down to D as quickly as those that don't go below G?


All in all, I think you need to consider more carefully all the ramifications of your suggestions before prescribing them as an ideal. I'm not convinced that the instrument you suggest would satisfy even you, much less the rest of us.

#54 goran rahm

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 10:37 AM

QUOTE (Joe):
When anyone IMO plays the bottom row it envoles slipping from the pinky stop, hunt and search, and getting disorientated.

Jim:"Not when I "play the bottom row", or any of the buttons on a standard 48-, 56-, or 64-button concertina, and I'm certainly one of "anyone". It sounds to me as if you just haven't developed the requisite flexibility and competence, and possibly that what you're doing to try to reach those buttons is counterproductive. To reach the lower buttons, I bend my hands backward at the writsts and bend my fingers to draw them back over the buttons, where I can then press downward with my fingertips. No problem."

Goran:Joe's complaint is absolutely comprehensible I would say and the problem he describes ought to be obvious for most other english-players too except those who without further consideration do like JL describes above:-)
It is not a matter of "competence" but whether or not that (described)tense,awkward and inefficient hand position is accepted by the player or not!

QUOTE (Joe):
Moving the button pattern up on the treble would help the english player reach speed.

Jim:"This seems to assume that on a "standard" treble "the English player" has difficulty reaching speed. I think you're deceiving yourself. I haven't met any competent players of the English who have difficulty playing tunes "up to speed" on a responsive instrument. It further suggests that shifting the keyboard as you suggest would have the effect of increasing their speed. I don't believe that's so, and I doubt that you can provide any evidence that it is, even in your own case."

Goran:YOU are seemingly "deceiving YOURself" Jim! What Joe says definitely is correct. You ought to be able to proove it to yourself if you just are interested doing so (which I doubt..). You perform best in and around the 'natural relaxed hand position'...definitely NOT in the position with hyperextended wrist and much flexed fingers like you described above. The anatomical ground for it is mechanically simple: The tendons of both the extensors and flexors in 'your' position have to pass two sharp edges/curves on their way... obstructing their action ....and sustaining the static (crampful) end-position of the wrist causes extra tension hindering the activity as well.

Jim:"All in all, I think you need to consider more carefully all the ramifications of your suggestions before prescribing them as an ideal. I'm not convinced that the instrument you suggest would satisfy even you, much less the rest of us."

Goran:I think YOUR comments in this topic were demeaning and not well considered Jim....How about consulting the "Tossing..." topic elsewhere again with some more reflection...?

Goran Rahm




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