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Łukasz Martynowicz

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Everything posted by Łukasz Martynowicz

  1. The part of "harder to read" is very, deeply wrong. Look at this link https://musicnotation.org/systems/. Parncutt 6-6 chromatic notation I use (a variant of A-B chromatic notation listed under the link) has 4 lines and two ledger lines and then the pattern repeats - next 4 lines, next two ledger lines and so on. It is really intuitive and fast to read, each note will always land on the same line/space/ledger line, the vertical distance is exact distance in semitones, so the flow of note marks exactly follows the flow of melody, and each type of chord always look the same. It also has a "built in" black & white key piano pattern. Apart from different staff and vertical location of notes, Parncutt 6-6 uses everything else straight from traditional notation, except for things, that are obsolete (but you still can put sharp and flat marks if you wish, I use colour coding for even easier sight reading).
  2. Oh, but I agree, just elaborating. I still use traditional notation, as everything I start working on starts as a traditional sheet. But for the love of me, I simply can't learn to sight read a system in which the same note from different octave lands in a different looking part of the staff. Different per octave and different for treble and bass clef. Vertical scale not having anything to do with the flow of the pitch is another problem for me. I can decipher it, but I can't read it fluently. And then I've been able to sight read Parncutt after a day of fiddling with it. IMHO what both ABC and piano roll do better is accessibility for newcomers. Western notation (and by extension, those alternative notations, that were invented by composers) of course beats ABC and piano roll when it comes to complex music, but has absurdly high entry point.
  3. Well, from all discussions here and elsewhere, the main reason why traditional notation is used is because... it is traditional If you want to play any classical piece of music, you can read it straight from the original source. I bet, that if someone transcribed a huge repository of public domain sheets into any chromatic notation system, many people would use it instead. And sort of exactly this is achieved by ABC notation for trad music and piano roll notation for computer assisted play (when you play on MIDI keyboard connected to a computer displaying piano roll or use a tablet instead of paper sheets). To be clear - the rhytm part of the notation is very easy to learn and read, only the pitch part is awful. Many of those alternative notations use the same or very similar note duration representation.
  4. The answer to your staff questions is: "because tradition". It all started with only four lines and neumes (pitch only notes without duration) to notate religious chants and then everything invented later was crudely bolted onto this foundation. Also, great many elements stem from the scarcity of paper to write music on. This is why western notation is so illogical, complicated and require extensive memorisation. There are alternative notation systems, and you can read more about them here: https://musicnotation.org but they all have one common flaw - you have to create your own sheet music in them, you won't find anything ready made. Moreover, there is only one piece of software, and only on a Mac, that allows for easy conversion between traditional notation and alternatives and at the same time offers playback. Personally I use the one called 6-6 Parncutt tetragram, as it has a very strong relation to how Hayden duet keyboard is arranged. Most alternative notations have repeatability (each pitch will always land on the same line/space/ledger line) and many of them are similar to compressed piano roll type of notation popular on YT videos. In many of those alternative systems, transposing a piece only requires a parallel shift of the staff up or down, without any alteration to note marks. In traditional notation however, your best way to transpose will be input the music into something like Musescore and use transpose up/down option.
  5. We talked a lot with Edward during development stages of his boxes and yes, we have talked about such a variable opening. It isn't viable, as it changes the tuning slightly, enough for some reeds to go out of tune. But his sine wave pattern allows for customisation of timbre on order, as he can change the density of those "spokes". But from my personal experiments I must say, that a concertina with mixed LH/RH timbre to make RH stand above LH more doesn't sound all that good. It is one of those ideas, that look good on paper, but if RH is bright and LH is mellow/muted, my mind perceives LH as broken and faulty. @ curved - yes, in horizontal plane, to go around buttons and pads. Every Hayden needs those, or else you have to increase the box size or work with very short levers, or place the padholes in suboptimal or straight up wrong places of the chamber, which alters the sound and response of the reed, or everything of the above at the same time. 3D printing is anisotropic and some features need to be printed along the layer to have proper durability/smoothness to work or you have to calculate this anisotropy in your design. Action is the most tricky part to 3D print (except for the bellows, which is straight up impossible). All Edward's levers go straight, some of them only have bridges around colliding buttons. Edward uses special carbon fiber infused filament to ensure enough durability, as those bridges are weak spots because they are across layers.
  6. I had no time last year for this project, but there is a non-zero chance I will build/print a prototype of a sqare standard, around 6 - 6 1/4” this year. Just last week I’ve made some preliminary tests of new printed lever design that allows for curved levers, which are absolutely necessary to solve reed placement and lever routing problem on Haydens. The goal stays the same - small and cheap standard, as FB groups show that there is quite an interest in the system, but both Stagi and Elise are just too subpar choices and then there is a significant price jump to Troubadour, which simply isn’t worth that much money. And Edward not only want big boxes, he also prefers playing in all keys over having wide range. Despite huge button count his current box goes down only to A2. I don’t promise anything, as my mind has a tendency to wander away from concertinas from time to time, but it just turned out in the last few months, that not simply my job, but my entire profession might just become obsolete by the end of year. So I may have all the time in the world soon…
  7. Not only directing the end at your head, but also playing on each of the six/eight sides sounds different from the player’s perspective. As to original question: beating rhytm of two reeds with the same pitch is quite natural, unless you mean something different than „wet” musette effect. Two pitches „in tune” according to tuner readout can still be 5-6 cents apart. Assuming you meant something else, first thing that comes to mind is reed orientation. When I was building my box I run into a frustrating problem of two F3 notes sounding drastically different - one was clear, the other had this saw/trumpet character to it. It was not caused by the reed itself, as the problem stayed the same side after switching reeds around. It also stayed (however to lesser extent) with the endboxes removed. What caused it was the difference in vertical orientation of the reed and turning the concertina upside down switched the side of the problem. Fretwork emphasized the problem further, but the origin was in the reedpan layout itself. I only managed to diminish the problem by altering chamber depth to counter the most offensive harmonics. And as Wally wrote - it was much more noticeable from the player’s perspective, than for the audience. Another problem is the fretwork design. If some padholes are under large closed areas and others are under large open areas, notes will sound different. Obviously you can’t redo the fretwork, BUT - when I designed and cut my fretwork I had no idea about the above effects, so my box ended up with huge timbre differences between notes. The solution was to install a thin, rigid, 3D printed baffle, that had solid circles directly above each padhole. Changing the diameter of those circles changed the timbre of individual notes, and at the same time changing the overall open area changed the overall character of the box. Since my original fretwork design is really open, I had the opportunity to test all sorts of variations of such baffles, from nearly completely open up to completely closed, including asymmetrical LH/RH „voices”. I would suggest you starting with such experiments, as such baffles are completely non destructive. If your concertina is a hybrid, you could also experiment with individual chamber depths - even a mm change in depth can make a huge difference in timbre. If you have a traditional box however such modification is not possible.
  8. Square vs hex vs octagon size debate has two separate flavours - for traditional reeds and construction it is circumference that is more important than area, while with accordion reeds it is area coverage efficiency that is more important than circumference. For accordion reeds, square/rectangular box makes way more sense, as there is no wasted area between reeds and reedpan edges. Both hex and especially octagon shapes must be larger flat to flat than squares. I’m currently solving lever routing/reed placement problem for a small 46 button Hayden hybrid and I can easily fit all the reeds in a 6” square with no inner reeds, but hex needs to be 7” and has some inner reeds (single layer, flat mounted). However, at the same time it is impossible to route levers in this 6” box, as some levers end up too short. And a word about bellows cross section and resulting differences. There is one important gain from larger cross section for Duets, that is usually overlooked when talking about concertinas, because of the Anglo dominant character of most of such discussions. Larger bellows provide not only all the air for thick chords and multiple voices, but also mechanical stability. I currently have two boxes fitted with my antlers, heavy 8 2/3” and very light 7 1/4”. It is noticeably harder to play fast rhytmic accompaniment on the small one, despite smaller jumps. Even without lap pad, larger one simply stays oriented the same way throughout the whole bellows travel in a single direction, while smaller one is harder to keep balanced and reacts more to finger taps.
  9. It has perfectly normal handrail/buttons placement for ~6” instruments, where there is simply no room for moving handrail more to the front, no matter if it is square, hex or octagon. On push you have a pretty perfect alignment of the squeezing force along the center of the bellows and you only have a small offset on pull. The problem with large Haydens of any shape is lever routing when there are more than five rows of buttons, which forces you to move the button array a row or two towards the back. In case of Haydens, bandoneon action has way more sense than concertina action.
  10. There is no inherent problem with square bellows, however, one adjustment to design is essential - button array should have a small forward slant, dependent on the size of the instrument. This is because you cannot rotate the box to align it properly relative to your elbow height in sitting position, as the rotation point is way too far forward and the lever length is greater, making it very unstable. This lever length is a problem even on large octagons - my 66b is 8 2/3" and I had to make a lap pad to anchor it in stable position and force a forward slant of about 10 degrees. This lap pad was also necessary for one other very important reason, which is also the biggest problem with Edward's design - his button array is at the center and the hand strap/hand rail is very close to the edge, when a desired configuration is opposite - button array should be off center and the hand rail/hand strap should be as close to the center as possible. My button array is only 1-1,5 rows too far back and it already creates big enough wobble between push and pull endplates angle to make it difficult to maintain stable LH rhytms. With force offsets as huge as Edward's this will be way worse. Large contact area of square sides will help a bit, but this particular design would benefit a lot from anatomically curved lap pad/s or velcro lap strap for at least LH side.
  11. This is especially true for Hayden players, as currently there is no affordable nor readily available instrument with at least „46 standard” button count and proper button spacing. So while it might not be the end of golden/silver era for this system, it is most certainly on pause.
  12. Regarding duets, the most important thing, that differentiates them from Englishes and Anglo is the ability to play two uninterrupted strings of notes, one for each hand. Be it melody and countermelody, melody plus accompaniment, octaves up to fully fledged polyphony. Englishes and Anglos both allow you to play in those ways only in some particular cases and sometimes even only in parts of a given tune. Then the different flavours of duets boil down to two aspects - ergonomy and logic of the button layout, and availability of first/second hand instruments.
  13. Actually, describing them horizontally makes much more physical sense if you consider player’s perspective as a reference point. If you want to see buttons clearly while strapped you either turn the side of the box as you would turn steering wheel in the car, or you lean back over the side, ending in a position, in which buttons are aligned more towards horizontal view axis than vertical view axis. That said, I can understand vertical diagrams easily except for the most bizzare diagrams used by Wim Wakker for CC duet boxes, which are vertical and from an audience perspective (concertina bellows bent inwards) instead of player’s perspective (bellows stretched outwards) resulting in switched LH/RH sides on the diagram. This is really confusing and unnatural for me.
  14. Sounds familiar I first heard a concertina on a shanties concert when I was 11 and immidiately wanted to play one. It was 1990. I got my hands on my first DDR made Anglo only some 20 years later, when Ebay became accessible in Poland. At that time I still knew nothing about concertina types, makes or history, as before that point no music shop clerk even knew what concertina was and no library I checked had anything on concertinas. Some time after acquiring this first Anglo I discovered this site and was amazed by just how much knowledge and resources were readily accessible. Sadly, this site saw a noticeable decline in activity after FB introduced groups (same thing happened to few other forums I was active on back then).
  15. Well, if you are brave enough and reeds in this box are mounted with screws, not wax, then replacing valves isn’t really all that hard, it is mostly time consuming. But you would probably have to tune reeds afterwards, which is a bit trickier and even more time consuming. Most low end concertinas will have plastic valves mounted (which is strange as leather valves, though more expensive than plastics, are still just a fraction of a cost of even low end boxes). English and duet concertinas can work nicely with plastics (actually I prefer them in my boxes) but with anglos you will always hear this. It is the nature of the free reed and is a problem even in… midi concertinas(!) with real bellows and pressure sensors. It stems from the small overlap zone in between bellows direction change, when springiness of the air and coupling of reeds and valves of both directions to the same chamber cause both reeds and both valves to vibrate for a moment until airflow stabilises. Heavier valves and leather valves will reduce this effect but it won’t go away entirely and stiffer plastic valves will increase the effect. Using heavier and/or leather valves increases the pressure threshold to start the reed but by doing so you also increase the force you have to squeeze the bellows with to start the reed. So this is always a problem of ballance between the sound and the ease of play. My box (a duet) is set up so even the lightest bellows squeeze will start any reed mounted, but at the expense of this kind of artifacts happening during bellows tremolo or LH oom-pahs at lower volumes. The bottom line - this behaviour is normal, to a degree. However, it is indeed very strong in your box, most probably because of wrong choice of plastic valves (they are not created equal).
  16. A bit tangent, but as visual arts are my bread and butter I must say this - there is a very, very good reason to differentiate student and pro ranges of paints. Just as there is a reason to differentiate pro power tools from hobby power tools. Can you make a nice art piece/wooden cabinet with either? But yes of course. Can you make a large series of art pieces/many wooden cabinets with them? No, you can’t. They will either brake, run out, frustrate you, waste a lot of time and effort etc. With concertinas it is pretty much the same. If I play occasionally and for pure pleasure and I don’t ever plan to earn money with my play or make a career with it, then my minimum requirement is pretty much equal to my maximum requirement from a squeezebox - that it has enough range to cover my desired repertoire and does not work against the pleasure I get from the act of playing (which is quite high bar on it’s own sadly*) I don’t need the purest tone, the fastest response, the smallest dimensions and featherlight weight. But if I were to earn money from playing concertinas? Absolute reliability, volume, ease of transport (especially if I had to cary multiple instruments to every gig), those all become very important factors. *for a long time I only had access to Elise and I thought, that the only important restriction was the limited range and I could be happy with „Elise XL”. And then I played my first tune on my big box. Suddenly, all difficult or straight up impossible passages became accessible or trivial and advanced techniques became intuitive. Overnight my ability to play grew, because I no longer had to wrestle with bad ergonomics, stiff buttons, slow bass response, wrist movement restrictions etc. I had fun with Elise for sure, but at some point it turned into frustration from all restrictions it imposed on my progress. The same applied sooner or later to all different work/hobby activities I had in my life. Beginner/student tools are there only to try, if a given activity is interesting for you. You will always benefit from upgrading from begginer to intermediate tools and you will not know just how much until you try. Where there might not be a reason to upgrade is from intermediate to pro level, especially in activities where „pro” means increased longevity or robustness and not necessarily an upgrade to quality.
  17. Both brass shoes and zinc shoes sound significantly different from aluminum, with brass towards concertina sound and zinc towards bandoneon sound. Size is also a factor, my brass reeds are couple of mm shorter than typical accordion reeds.
  18. What Alex wrote. Go to the details page on the site you linked, there’s a picture with those reeds mounted. For at least a decade now, some reed manufacturers, like e.g. Harmonikas.cz make brass (and also zinc) plated accordion style reeds. I have such reeds mounted in my box. I would describe their tone as having more trumpet like character, full and „round”, compared to a bit more „dry” and „sharp” tone of aluminum reeds. To my ear it is much more pleasant. It can be then shaped further with the endbox/fretwork design to be either piercingly bright or mellow but deep (as opposed to more muted/dampened feel of mellow aluminum reeded instruments). They are a bit heavier though.
  19. I think this chirping you’re encountering is not an effect of slow cell action, but not implementing the valve equivalent, that is a pressure threshold that starts the reed. I had the exact same problem and it is a true acoustic concertina behaviour if you have extremely sensitive reed and a very light/thin plastic valve. In an acoustic box you regulate this by the stiffness and weight of the valve. So it is actually the other way around - the sensor is too sensitive and too unstable around zero point. When I tried to correct this with real pressure sensor it turned out, that the reading below about 6 out of 1024 levels was extremely unstable, both in value and sign so it had to be cut off by sending note on/off commands and not just volume commands around zero point (I was working on a duet, so initially sending on/off commands only on button down/up and a global volume seemed viable). As to your contraption - I don’t think it will survive a full, intense Irish session. Look at Cormac Begley’s playing style and how much lateral movement of the bellows and ends tilting there is. Preventing ends tilting also prevents doing a basic bellows tremolo.
  20. Seconded. We’re already hindered enough by immobilised thumb. That said, using pinky with traditional handstraps was a lot harder and less useful than with my antlers or with thumb strap+wrist strap setup.
  21. From my perspective, fixed finger designations don’t really work on a Hayden, even if you do as Don suggests, that is to fix on scale steps instead of notes. Scale structure with two rows, minor and major chords that use different fingers on shared steps, distant sharps/flats etc, force you to break from patterns just too often. And if you play fully chromatic pieces, you will find yourself playing variations of nearly same phrases with completely different fingerings, just to be able to stretch that pinky or index finger to reach an odd accidental. It is way better to train your fingers for common short phrases or passes and generally to think about intervals as geometric relationships between buttons, as this is how the layout is constructed. That way, it stops being about which finger go on which note, but what shapes you have to follow, with any finger that feels natural at the moment.
  22. I’m surprised, that no one mentioned drums yet. It is very easy on any free reed instrument to flood the rhytm with drones, multiple voices chords etc. It all sounds nice, organ like and all, but what I really miss is deep low drum rhytm. Or banjo/mandolin/guitar, but each if those defines a tune so much for me, that neither is s universal choice. Other than that, I only like combinations of multiple free reed instruments if they are complimentary, not overlapping. So a foot bass or a bass concertina is great, but a duet of two identical concertinas usually sounds cluttered. If the piece requires multiple legato voices, I really prefer combining concertina with fiddle.
  23. A word about „fretting”. From my personal experience of my various hobbies and interests, „fretting” about one’s passion is as important as following said passion. It is so, because bouncing your enthusiasm, ideas and achievements off of someone with similar interests is an additional source of both motivation and knowledge. When I bought my first concertina, a no-name 20b DDR Anglo, I knew nothing about concertinas and very little about music itself outside of natural singing an whistling. After just a year of „fretting” I knew enough about concertinas and music to build my first instrument - a MIDI Hayden, and then, after another couple of years, to start a very long, bumpy but rewarding journey of building my very own acoustic concertina. It would’t have happened if I had no community to „fret” about concertinas.
  24. One other reason is that concertinas are perceived mostly as traditional instruments and rarely played outside of folk music, in which Irish is the dominant one. So most people’s goal is to achieve this „Irish concertina” feel, which pretty much requires an Anglo. The other reason is historical. Concertinas had quite brief life as a mainstream instrument and were replaced by more versatile accordions. Even the largest duets are roughly an equivalent of the smallest free-bass/converter CBA’s, and there is nowhere to upgrade further except from switching to a chromatic bandoneon (Harry Geuns made a few Haydens recently). To sum up - duet concertinas are a niche within a niche, divided even further by overabundance of different duet systems, so there was never a ground or reason for them to gain traction.
  25. I can’t remember when or where I read the „origin story” of this design choice, but it is there in the button chart for H-2 on Wakker site.
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