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English or Duet?


Dieppe
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Answers to this are bound to be personal but also the history is important.

It I were tempted to learn the duet I would think that learning to play

keyboards would be a better bet. Originally duet players wanted something

that could be like a small portable piano. Now thanks to electronics

they don't have to compromise with a duet concertina.

 

This is just wrong. No decent keyboard is as portable as a big duet, let alone independent of electricity or speakers as a duet is. In my experience they are nothing like as responsive as an aeola, (few instruments are) nor do they sound so spectacular.

 

There is nothing like a decent duet. You really have no idea.

 

Well said Dirge.

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Answers to this are bound to be personal but also the history is important.

It I were tempted to learn the duet I would think that learning to play

keyboards would be a better bet. Originally duet players wanted something

that could be like a small portable piano. Now thanks to electronics

they don't have to compromise with a duet concertina.

 

This is just wrong. No decent keyboard is as portable as a big duet, let alone independent of electricity or speakers as a duet is. In my experience they are nothing like as responsive as an aeola, (few instruments are) nor do they sound so spectacular.

 

There is nothing like a decent duet. You really have no idea.

After having listened to hours of Duet recordings I have to agree with that

Al

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Answers to this are bound to be personal but also the history is important.

It I were tempted to learn the duet I would think that learning to play

keyboards would be a better bet. Originally duet players wanted something

that could be like a small portable piano. Now thanks to electronics

they don't have to compromise with a duet concertina.

 

This is just wrong. No decent keyboard is as portable as a big duet, let alone independent of electricity or speakers as a duet is. In my experience they are nothing like as responsive as an aeola, (few instruments are) nor do they sound so spectacular.

 

There is nothing like a decent duet. You really have no idea.

 

Well said Dirge.

 

What he said ....

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It is certainly a challenge :lol:

I've been playing a duet since 1977 and I love it. However, I must say that if I'd spent all those years on a piano or a guitar or even an accordion I would have a much larger repertoire and be generally a better musician than I am today. Though I'm sure of this, I'm not so sure about the "why" of it. I think that it has something to do with how close the keys are (fine motor stuff) and the expectations.

 

It really does take a long time to work up a decently interesting arrangement. I've watched my son, admittedly more talented than I, progress on the piano over less than 10 years. He is just 16, but a good example of what I'm talking about. He has long been able work up an arrangement in less than an hour what it would take me weeks to do. And even then, he can play it much more reliably than I and at least as musically. Now he is working on stuff I'd never attempt on the duet. Though in the abstract, the duet seems to be as capable as a piano, you don't don't hear many (any?) of even the best duet players attempt stuff that is common at junior high piano and guitar recitals.

 

I know nothing of English concertina's, but I suspect that taking up the violin would be a better choice there too.

 

There is something very seductive about the concertina, but the choice seems to be less than rational (irrational?). I rarely try to sell others on the instrument. It is a road less traveled and there is fun in that. But, I'm not interested in advocating concertina too strongly as I witness the better chances of success on other instruments.

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I started on EC because there were tester student instruments (Concertina Connection) that could be had, the EC seemed pretty logical and I have always played single-line instrumrents. I switched to Duet because I wanted to play multi-part music. It has been a real challenge for me because I'd never really learned to play piano. It's the same with my study of the harp. New brain-muscle connections happen more slowly after 50, I'm finding out.

 

I did sell my ECs because it was too easy to switch back to single-line play. I can play a single line on either side of my Crane.

 

Would I change back? Give me about 5 more years and then I'll have a better opinion. Right now, I still have to practice some more ......

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've just got back from Tenterden Folk Festival at which I had the pleasure of attending an excellent workshop on the English concertina run by Dick Miles. Dick explained in great detail how he achieves the various styles in which he plays. As Dick himself said, you have to work all sorts of tricks on an English to achieve certain things, whilst on a duet you can "just play what you want". This has confirmed for me that the Crane was the right choice for me for song accompaniment, but I still think it is inferior for tunes because of the speed issue.

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Answers to this are bound to be personal but also the history is important.

It I were tempted to learn the duet I would think that learning to play

keyboards would be a better bet. Originally duet players wanted something

that could be like a small portable piano. Now thanks to electronics

they don't have to compromise with a duet concertina.

 

This is just wrong. No decent keyboard is as portable as a big duet, let alone independent of electricity or speakers as a duet is. In my experience they are nothing like as responsive as an aeola, (few instruments are) nor do they sound so spectacular.

 

There is nothing like a decent duet. You really have no idea.

 

Yes I really do have an idea having heard many big duets and as I said its a personal choice.

The design of the English shows genius the various duets are all in some way compromises.

To say that a keyboard e.g. a piano is not as fast as a duet is a strange idea.

 

I suppose you sent your email from a concertina or did you use something that depends upon

electricity. Most music now depends on electricity at some stage or don't you make or play

recordings. You really have no idea

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I've just got back from Tenterden Folk Festival at which I had the pleasure of attending an excellent workshop on the English concertina run by Dick Miles. Dick explained in great detail how he achieves the various styles in which he plays. As Dick himself said, you have to work all sorts of tricks on an English to achieve certain things, whilst on a duet you can "just play what you want". This has confirmed for me that the Crane was the right choice for me for song accompaniment, but I still think it is inferior for tunes because of the speed issue.

 

Interesting - I wasn't aware that Dick played the duet.

 

What did he specifically point to that you can 'just play' on a duet where you have to 'work all sort of tricks' on an EC?

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I've just got back from Tenterden Folk Festival at which I had the pleasure of attending an excellent workshop on the English concertina run by Dick Miles. Dick explained in great detail how he achieves the various styles in which he plays. As Dick himself said, you have to work all sorts of tricks on an English to achieve certain things, whilst on a duet you can "just play what you want". This has confirmed for me that the Crane was the right choice for me for song accompaniment, but I still think it is inferior for tunes because of the speed issue.

 

Interesting - I wasn't aware that Dick played the duet.

 

What did he specifically point to that you can 'just play' on a duet where you have to 'work all sort of tricks' on an EC?

 

I wasn't suggesting he played a duet. He is entitled to compare the systems even if he doesn't. The words "work all sorts of tricks" were entirely mine and a product of the impression I got. As far as I can remember he did say "just play what you want" or words to that effect. I posted this in good faith but I'm a bit dubious about responding further as Dick himself is currently unable to confirm, deny or expand on the subject.

 

To put it simply, and entirely in my own words, you can on a duet play a melody on the right and, entirely separately as it were, play chords or some other accompaniment on the left without any direct interaction. Perhaps someone else could express this more elegantly, but I trust you get the meaning. Obviously, this is not the case with other systems for reasons we are all familiar with.

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I don't know whether Dick has played a duet , but he certainly owned a Maccann at one point, from a discussion I had a while back with another Maccann player who had had his on loan. (I think it may have been a 48 key)

Edited by Irene S
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Well.

Speaking as a Duet player, I would obviously say that the Duet wins hands down!

But, I have dabbled with the English and the Anglo.

With both systems, I found the lack of opportunity for harmonic embellishment made them quite limiting.

Ok, shoot me down in flames if you like, and of course there are sensational and amazing players of both systems.

It's just that the Duet fits the wiring of my brain. Playing it is just so easy.

(If you want to have a go at me, I'll admit to once playing a C/F Melodeon as well. Little White Bull....Oh the shame!)

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To put it simply, and entirely in my own words, you can on a duet play a melody on the right and, entirely separately as it were, play chords or some other accompaniment on the left without any direct interaction. Perhaps someone else could express this more elegantly, but I trust you get the meaning. Obviously, this is not the case with other systems for reasons we are all familiar with.

You can't do it on an English, but you can do it on an Anglo - that's the whole idea behind "English style" (aka harmonic style or duet style) Anglo playing. The question of whether one is better off doing this on an Anglo or duet is of course a different issue. I personally lean slightly toward duet at the moment.

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To put it simply, and entirely in my own words, you can on a duet play a melody on the right and, entirely separately as it were, play chords or some other accompaniment on the left without any direct interaction.

Precisely why I prefer the English, though I also like both the anglos and the various duets.

On the English I can treat the two ends together as a single unit, and the musical arrangement also as a single unit, rather than two separate parts. I find that this viewpoint becomes particularly useful/helpful when the arrangement doesn't separate into two distinct parts in a simple fashion. A 3-part arrangement would be one potential example. Or arrangements where the number of simultaneous "voices" isn't constant.

 

Speaking as a Duet player, I would obviously say that the Duet wins hands down!

But, I have dabbled with the English and the Anglo.

With both systems, I found the lack of opportunity for harmonic embellishment made them quite limiting.

Not sure what you mean here. What sort(s) of "embellishments"? In my experience, both the English and the anglo are wonderfully capable of what I might describe as "harmonic embellishment". Duets, too, of course

 

It's just that the Duet fits the wiring of my brain. Playing it is just so easy.

The same reason that I like the English. It beautifully fits "the wiring of my brain."

 

Neither is inherently superior. But each may be a "better" fit for particular individuals.

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'Neither is inherently superior. But each may be a "better" fit for particular individuals.'

 

I entirely agree with this but I will post again and probably draw down lots of hatred on my

head for saying this but...

 

If you think that you might ever want to play Irish music on your English or Duet concertina

then you should be aware that there are people who post here who believe that you cannot play

Irish Traditional Music on these concertinas. If you ever try to do this and meet up with

them then you will feel the full force of their rejection. So be aware that politics is also

a part of choosing a concertina.

 

There are people here who will tell you of the wonderful things you can play on an Anglo

concertina (you can play jazz standards in any key and even full symphonies) but I have

never heard anyone play these sorts of things on an Anglo. All I have heard is people

playing om-pa om-pa music and ruining Irish and English folk music on what is a limited

folk instrument.

 

The English Concertina can play in all keys, it is fully chromatic unlike most Anglos

although people will post here about fabled 100 key Anglos that are fully chromatic, this

is just a myth. The English can also play any chord in any key.

 

The thing that the duet can do that no other concertina can do is play counterpoint. If

you don't know what counterpoint is then listen to Bach's 'Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring'

played on a large Church Organ. Also listen to Boogie Woogie Piano and notice how the

left hand plays independently of the right. However no duet concertina has the range of

an organ or a piano.

 

All the duet players I know were keyboard players who took up the concertina as a

second instrument so they were already familiar with the concept of two handed

independent playing. I have never heard any of these people playing something

that could only be played on a Duet concertina but I know that they could if they

needed to.

 

People posting here will say that I am wrong and I have never heard the power

of a large duet. What they don't say is that you may not be able to find or

afford a large duet but lets ignore these blue sky postings. The real question

is what sort of music do you want to play how old are you, are you prepared to

learn to read music, what sort of music do you want to play and how much money

do you have.

 

I don't care which concertina people play, my own favourite is the English but

I think it is important that people are not mislead about the capabilities of

of various instruments. For many people buying a concertina is a major investment

so try to learn as much as you can before spending your money. Don't listen to

other people's enthusiasms or propaganda.

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