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#19 tony

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 07:23 AM

Just be glad you aren't trying to learn the fiddle, after a month you would still be struggling to get a note in tune! At least the concertina looks after that for you. :lol:

Hm.
I disagree on both accounts. Not everybody struggles with the fiddle. I was a witness to at least two cases, where at a workshop strangers picked up violin and the sound came out just right. It was in Hawai'i and one of the strangers was me.
A concertina just "seems" to be user friendly, but to get from squacking in tune to playing takes some time. A concertina is specifically difficult instrument, much more difficult than a piano, for example.


I'm with Theo.

#20 JimLucas

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 07:23 AM

Edited to remove a bunch of stuff from another Topic that Invision seems to have pasted in without (as far as I know) my asking it to.

Just be glad you aren't trying to learn the fiddle, after a month you would still be struggling to get a note in tune!

I know some "fiddlers" who seem to have given up that struggle long ago, but that doesn't stop them from playing. :o :(

I disagree on both accounts. Not everybody struggles with the fiddle. I was a witness to at least two cases, where at a workshop strangers picked up violin and the sound came out just right.

. . .

A concertina just "seems" to be user friendly, but to get from squacking in tune to playing takes some time. A concertina is specifically difficult instrument, much more difficult than a piano, for example.

I wonder if Wim Wakker and his piano accompanist would agree with you. :unsure:

Well, I have found the (English) concertina to be much easier than the piano, even though I struggled with the piano for years before knowing that concertinas existed. And I know at least one other person for whom this is true. Using your own "two cases" argument, Misha, my pair of anecdotes "proves" that you're wrong. :D

The truth is that the degree of "difficulty" isn't an inherent, fixed property of the instrument, but depends significantly on characteristics -- both physical and mental -- of the person trying to learn to play it.

The reason that technical demand for the piano is higher is that there is a centuries old conservatory culture wrapped into that instrument.

Firstly I stated that we shouldn't compare more difficult music demanded from a piano, to simpler music expected from Concertina.

You did? I thought you said (the boldface emphasis is mine):

...I think Concertina takes as much time to master, as violin, if not more,....

But I agree that it makes sense to compare playing at comparable levels. If "Mary had a little lamb" should be one level, then how about both piano and concertina arrangements for songs of the Music Hall-Vaudeville genre as another, e.g., comparing piano arrangements (published or recorded) with what Jamie Boorer does on the Crane, Dave Townsend on the English, and John Kirkpatrick on the anglo (among others). Something more "classical"? How about comparing Franz Bosen's Concerto (in D major) for the Concertina "composed for and dedicated to Giulio Regondi" with a piano or violin concerto from the same period?

If "Mary had a little lamb" is easier on a piano, than it means that piano is easier.

First of all, I don't believe it is easier on the piano, so I find the rest of your argument to be irrelvant. And even if your "If" statement were true, I don't believe your "than" ("then") statement follows from it. But if you meant that as a definition rather than a conclusion, I don't accept it as true, so for me any argument deriving from it is pointless.

I think njurkowski has described the situation pretty accurately.

Edited by JimLucas, 11 December 2007 - 07:31 AM.


#21 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 07:46 AM

If you're planning on playing Prokofiev piano concertos or Chopin's ballades, the piano can be a much more difficult instrument than most anything written for the concertina at present.

Have you tried any of Regondi's works for the concertina? :huh:

#22 njurkowski

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 10:46 AM

If you're planning on playing Prokofiev piano concertos or Chopin's ballades, the piano can be a much more difficult instrument than most anything written for the concertina at present.

Have you tried any of Regondi's works for the concertina? :huh:


Oh, there's no question that Regondi's works demand a very high level of technical prowess - I'm working through some of the Leisure Moments right now, which are fairly modest compared to the really terrifying stuff he wrote, and they're at the edge of my ability. Even so, I stick by the original statement. There haven't been the number of virtuosos or composers for the concertina that there have been for the piano - and each composer and virtuoso pushes the boundaries for what is possible on the instrument. Really, the only composer-virtuoso has been Regondi, whereas the piano had a whole host, continuing today. As someone who plays both instruments more or less casually (I've been playing the piano off and on for 8 yeas and the concertina for about 1.5, averaging probably about a half-hour a day of practice for each), looking at Regondi's pieces doesn't fill me with the same helpless wonder that looking at Ives's Concord Sonata does. There is no way I'll EVER be able to play that, but someday (with practice, of course) I might be able to play the Regondi.

And to be fair, part of this is me. As Jim said, a lot of it depends on the person learning the instrument, and I like playing the concertina more than I like playing the piano.

#23 peelypost

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 12:35 PM

I remember leading some workshops with singers where I asked people to try to list the most famous and those who influenced them the most. You usually find that the majority of those listed have something disctinctive about what they do, rather than being technically 'perfect'.

Likewise, Jobim wrote his "Samba de uma nota so" (Samba on one note), made famous by Stan Getz, to show that it is all about timing rather than technical prowess.

If you have a player able to work within their limits to add to the music, they can be most rewarding to work with. Also, how else can they learn the musicianship required to play in a group? It is far worse to have the virtuoso instrumentalist constantly wanting to be the centre of attention.
Maybe that is why I heard on the news today that the rest of the band walked off the stage last night when Jimmy Page did his guitar solo at the much hyped Led Zeppelin concert!

Of course the ultimate is that very rare combination of wonderful musicianship, with something distinctive yet able to blend in with the music as a whole.

#24 njurkowski

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 01:12 PM

I remember leading some workshops with singers where I asked people to try to list the most famous and those who influenced them the most. You usually find that the majority of those listed have something disctinctive about what they do, rather than being technically 'perfect'.

Likewise, Jobim wrote his "Samba de uma nota so" (Samba on one note), made famous by Stan Getz, to show that it is all about timing rather than technical prowess.

If you have a player able to work within their limits to add to the music, they can be most rewarding to work with. Also, how else can they learn the musicianship required to play in a group? It is far worse to have the virtuoso instrumentalist constantly wanting to be the centre of attention.
Maybe that is why I heard on the news today that the rest of the band walked off the stage last night when Jimmy Page did his guitar solo at the much hyped Led Zeppelin concert!

Of course the ultimate is that very rare combination of wonderful musicianship, with something distinctive yet able to blend in with the music as a whole.


Naturally, there is far more to being a great musician than just technical prowess (though I must say I've never heard a great musician who wasn't technically sound), and many of the more "virtuoso" players I've met have been egomaniacs. However, virtuosos have a tendency to push the barriers of what is possible, which is constructive for all players of the instrument. I don't like the majority of the concerto literature out there (for any instrument!), and I don't think there is a lot of musical value in the empty show-pieces that abound for instruments like the violin and flute, but the fact that they exist means that more challenging literature can be written for the same instruments in an ensemble setting, and musical possibilities are expanded. By the virtue of the virtuoso's existence, more is expected from all the players in the section.

Your point is precisely why the music of Regondi is very mediocre as far as the quality of composition - it is technically incredible, but really only adequate as far as interesting melodies and harmonies, and occasionally quite trite. However, that's beside the point, as Regondi's real contribution was expanding the technical possibilities of the instrument. What's really needed is a composer who can use those possibilities in creating a great piece of music. In short, the virtuoso is a means to an end.

I'm mainly speaking from a classical perspective, because that is my background, but I think the point carries for other genres as well.

#25 m3838

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 02:35 PM

Is Concertina easier than the Piano?
OK, here are my arguable positive evaluation points, specifically for learning to play:
Good observation of the keys
Access to the notes
Easyness of sounding the note
Non-interrupting scale (of all things)
easiness of controlling the pitch and dynamics
the weight of the instrument, as far as player is concerned.
Clear indication of the keys

Piano:
You see the keys-------1
All the keys have their specific places, easy to identify---1
All the keys accend linearly.------1
you have equal access to all notes--------1
It has all the notes--------1
The pitch and dynamics are controlled by the same finger action.-----1
You don't need to control the weight of the instrument, nor steady it.-------- 1
Concertina:
You don't see the keys------------- -1
Some keys are either duplicates, or arbitrarily placed.----------- -1
The range doesn't accend logically and often has gaps.----------- -1
Not equal access to all buttons ------------ -1
The pitch and dynamics are controlled by completely different actions, each has to be learned independenly, and instrument doesn't have individual dynamics, making low tones overwhelm high. ------ -1
You have to learn to control and steady the ends, because it's the key to bellows dynamics. -------- -1
----------------------------------------------------------
Note, that piano is ahead on every point. I deliberately didn't include portability, character of sound, sustainability, been traditional (certainly a big factor if Irish music is what you are after), cuteness, exclusivity. -- all have nothing to do with how easy it is to learn, but have everything to do with why people choose Concertina over a keyboard.
Aside from composers, culture, written music - just the ergonomics.

But chromatic accordion is even worse, so don't despare.

#26 njurkowski

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 02:55 PM

Good observation of the keys


While this seems true, when reading music it isn't true in practice. Just like on the concertina, a pianist must develop a feel for the instrument and know intuitively where notes are.

Access to the notes

As long as notes are systematically arranged, the system doesn't make a difference. I don't think that the keyboard layout of the English concertina is any more difficult than the linearly arranged piano keyboard. Both are sensical and regular.

Easyness of sounding the note

This is a common misconception about the piano - there is far more to getting a good sound than just hitting the note, just as there is with concertina.


Non-interrupting scale (of all things)

When learning different scales on the piano, you have to learn different fingerings, so the "regularity" argument breaks down. You will play a C major scale with entirely different fingerings than a Gb scale.

easiness of controlling the pitch and dynamics

There is nothing easy about controlling pitch and dynamics on the piano. Since each note has an instant decay, the entire phrase must be subtly crafted in order to not emphasize individual notes.

the weight of the instrument, as far as player is concerned.

While it's true that one doesn't have to grapple with this on a piano, there are different considerations regarging posture and balance, as well as the physical gestures one makes when playing the instrument.

Clear indication of the keys

This is a very superficial concern, because in order to play even basic music on any instrument, one must be familiar with the layout. The layout is one of the first things learned on any instrument, and as I said above, as long as the layout is systematic (as is the case with the English concertina), the specifics don't matter.

Further to the point, none of these mechanical issues address the point that what is expected of a pianist technically is more than what is expected of a concertinist, which is one of the key determining factors for the difficulty of an instrument. "To be a good X player, what do I have to be able to do?"

#27 JimLucas

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 04:11 PM

Further to the point, none of these mechanical issues address the point that what is expected of a pianist technically is more than what is expected of a concertinist, which is one of the key determining factors for the difficulty of an instrument. "To be a good X player, what do I have to be able to do?"

As in so many things, basing the analysis on different assumptions can lead to quite different conclusions. So here's a different interpretation of this one issue:

Greater expectations do not make the piano itself more difficult, but they do make it more difficult to be accepted by other people as having attained a particular level (e.g., "acceptable", "good", "excellent", or "virtuoso") of competence.



#28 JimLucas

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 04:26 PM

However, virtuosos have a tendency to push the barriers of what is possible, which is constructive for all players of the instrument.

I know it's not really the same thing, but that comment reminds me of a friend's opposite conclusion regarding ballet. He says he can't enjoy an "art" where to be deemed excellent, a person is expected to push themself to the point where they cause themselves permanent injury and are forced into crippled early retirement. Many sports seem to be like that, too. I don't think playing musical instruments has gone that far, yet. Ah, but what about RSI (repetitive stress injury, e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)?

Edited to correct some punctuation.

Edited by JimLucas, 11 December 2007 - 04:31 PM.


#29 JimLucas

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 04:30 PM

However, that's beside the point, as Regondi's real contribution was expanding the technical possibilities of the instrument.

AND its popularity!



#30 Dirge

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 04:39 PM

Getting back to your original point, RiverHamble; (if you're still watching) I finished my practice this morning thinking 'Ye Gods I'm playing worse than I was a couple of weeks ago. Why do I bother?'

I think everyone gets doses of it. The next gratifying lurch forward is on it's way for both of us; nil desperandum, keep plugging away.

#31 m3838

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:04 PM

Good observation of the keys


While this seems true, when reading music it isn't true in practice. Just like on the concertina, a pianist must develop a feel for the instrument and know intuitively where notes are.

Access to the notes

As long as notes are systematically arranged, the system doesn't make a difference. I don't think that the keyboard layout of the English concertina is any more difficult than the linearly arranged piano keyboard. Both are sensical and regular.

Easyness of sounding the note

This is a common misconception about the piano - there is far more to getting a good sound than just hitting the note, just as there is with concertina.


Non-interrupting scale (of all things)

When learning different scales on the piano, you have to learn different fingerings, so the "regularity" argument breaks down. You will play a C major scale with entirely different fingerings than a Gb scale.

easiness of controlling the pitch and dynamics

There is nothing easy about controlling pitch and dynamics on the piano. Since each note has an instant decay, the entire phrase must be subtly crafted in order to not emphasize individual notes.

the weight of the instrument, as far as player is concerned.

While it's true that one doesn't have to grapple with this on a piano, there are different considerations regarging posture and balance, as well as the physical gestures one makes when playing the instrument.

Clear indication of the keys

This is a very superficial concern, because in order to play even basic music on any instrument, one must be familiar with the layout. The layout is one of the first things learned on any instrument, and as I said above, as long as the layout is systematic (as is the case with the English concertina), the specifics don't matter.

Further to the point, none of these mechanical issues address the point that what is expected of a pianist technically is more than what is expected of a concertinist, which is one of the key determining factors for the difficulty of an instrument. "To be a good X player, what do I have to be able to do?"


I don't understand your points though.
All that you say about piano is applicable to the concertina and any other instrument. I gave you 7 points, and you argue that there are another 100. OK, So 107 - 100 = 7. We still have them, and those 7 indicate superiority of Piano vs. Concertina in terms of easiness to learn.
The fact of higher expectation from a piano player may well be (and I think it is) due to piano been easier to learn, so a learner can go further faster, and achieve more. My progress on Bayan was much slower than my possible progress on Piano. I had this conversation with both, piano and bayan teachers.

#32 m3838

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:17 PM

So here's a different interpretation of this one issue:

Greater expectations do not make the piano itself more difficult, but they do make it more difficult to be accepted by other people as having attained a particular level (e.g., "acceptable", "good", "excellent", or "virtuoso") of competence.


Let's not put things up-side down.
It's the universality and versatility and ease of learning, that put piano keyboard to a level, attractive to both, players and composers. A hurdy-gurdy may be much more ancient machine, but nobody expects virtuosity from players. Their niche is to provide the background fill or rhythm. Virtuosos are eagerly welcomed, but that's a bonus, not an expectation. Same with concertina. I think people are going to accept our virtuosity with open hearts, but they still have to wait. Claiming we are already there, just because in some distant past, some individual composed body of unplayed works is not the same as performing those works at level of composer's expectations.

#33 njurkowski

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:30 PM

However, virtuosos have a tendency to push the barriers of what is possible, which is constructive for all players of the instrument.

I know it's not really the same thing, but that comment reminds me of a friend's opposite conclusion regarding ballet. He says he can't enjoy an "art" where to be deemed excellent, a person is expected to push themself to the point where they cause themselves permanent injury and are forced into crippled early retirement. Many sports seem to be like that, too. I don't think playing musical instruments has gone that far, yet. Ah, but what about RSI (repetitive stress injury, e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)?

Edited to correct some punctuation.


Ha - That's it's an interesting point. My girlfriend is a flute-performance grad-student and has had numerous problems with tendonitis and "golfer's elbow." Since she has started doing regular exercises the problems have gone, but it still leaves the question, "how much suffering for one's art does it take for the art to be worth less?" I've never really thought about it...

As in so many things, basing the analysis on different assumptions can lead to quite different conclusions. So here's a different interpretation of this one issue:
Greater expectations do not make the piano itself more difficult, but they do make it more difficult to be accepted by other people as having attained a particular level (e.g., "acceptable", "good", "excellent", or "virtuoso") of competence.


This seems to be at the heart of the dispute. I don't think it's fair to judge how easy it is to learn an instrument in a vaccuum, because that gives an impression with no context. But everyone is different.

I don't understand your points though.
All that you say about piano is applicable to the concertina and any other instrument. I gave you 7 points, and you argue that there are another 100. OK, So 107 - 100 = 7. We still have them, and those 7 indicate superiority of Piano vs. Concertina in terms of easiness to learn.
The fact of higher expectation from a piano player may well be (and I think it is) due to piano been easier to learn, so a learner can go further faster, and achieve more. My progress on Bayan was much slower than my possible progress on Piano. I had this conversation with both, piano and bayan teachers.


Well, if you noticed, I refuted at least six of your seven points, so I don't think that your argument stands, even by your own criteria. And as I mentioned above, I think it is disingenuous to judge an instrument solely on the mechanism, since there is so much more wrapped up in learning an instrument than that. Expectations for performance level comes from the possibilities of an instrument, not from how easy it is to learn.

#34 pugwash

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:41 PM

This process is truly annoying bit I have just had a quick practice before going on shift and although I did the same as yesterday (albeit with more tunes) I think I am a little bit further down the road.


RiverHamble, you say "tunes" It is my guess, that maybe you are trying to go too fast. I have only been playing since May this year. I found the best way to progress, is to learn only one tune at a time and to chip your way through it, 2 or 4 bars at a time (as already stated) Do not move onto the next part until you can play the first parts by muscle memory, then move on and so forth. It may be tedious but it works, well it does for me and I am not a fast learner. Trying to learn too many things at the same time, leads to confusion, you need to be relaxed.

Richard.

#35 JimLucas

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:57 PM

A hurdy-gurdy may be much more ancient machine, but nobody expects virtuosity from players. Their niche is to provide the background fill or rhythm.

Not the ones I've heard. They have their drones and also a rhythm capability, but the ones I've heard always played melody and/or harmony, too. And after hearing a pair of young ladies in France playing for dancing in the wee hours of the morning, I would call them virtuosos. Maybe not technical virtuosos in the Prokofiev style, but certainly virtuosos of the soul. Their arrangements and their sound thrilled me!

But now I approach the issue of concertina virtuosos from a cold-hearted perspective... statistics! :ph34r:

If among players, virtuosos are one in a million. And if there are 500 thousand concertina players in the world. Then there's only half a chance that there will be even a single concertina virtuoso anywhere in the world.

Of course, if there are fewer than half a million concertina players all together, then the chances get proportionately worse.

But what are the odds, really? Well, how many piano (or violin) players are there in the world, and how many piano (or violin) virtuosos? Maybe one in a million is too high? :unsure:

#36 JimLucas

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 06:06 PM

TI don't think it's fair to judge how easy it is to learn an instrument in a vaccuum,...

Didn't one of the astronauts take a harmonica up to the space station?
He wouldn't actually have been playing it in a vacuum, of course, but close.

Very close.

Maybe even less than a meter away. :D





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