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Introducing a new duet layout


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This duet has a ‘chromatiphone’ keyboard, patented in the 1920s by Hugo Stark. Just like the keyboard invented by Caspar Wicki, the chromatiphone layout was initially also a bandonion keyboard.

 

Because of the limited space, linear keyboards like the piano keyboard and C/B-system chromatic keyboards would not fit on small free reed instruments. The Chromatiphone layout is closely related to the C-system layout, which is the second most successful keyboard after the piano keyboard. It divides the chromatic scale over 4 rows instead of 3, which shortens the keyboard considerably.

 

The chromatiphone keyboard offers a large compass without the necessity of doubling notes. It is a consistent keyboard (same fingering throughout) and is, just like the piano and C-system keyboards, suitable for polyphonic music.

The duet with chromatiphone keyboard was the idea of the customer that placed the order. We frequently build custom instruments, but this was such a good idea that we decided to add the chromatiphone keyboard to our duet models.

 

This particular instrument is our C2 model, comparable to the H-2 (Hayden) and W-2 (Wicki). We will also develop a C1 model with 48(?) notes.

 

C2 Specifications: 12 sided, walnut ends with raised satinwood inserts and ebony borders and ebony/satinwood trim. It has European spruce action boards and a customized reed scaling (23 different frame sizes). For further details and keyboard layout see www.wakker-concertinas.com/C-2.htm

 

Wim Wakker

Concertina Connection Inc.

Wakker Concertinas

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That's the same keyboard layout as the Wheatstone Double except the obvious differences - wrist strap instead of thumb, orientation with respect to the hand rotated through 90 degrees, and note arrangement mirrored. I wonder if is better in that respect than the double - the advantage of which would be that with just the thumb anchored, the hand would be more free to rotate to form otherwise awkward shapes.

 

Looks pretty. Can anyone play it?!

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It would be interesting to hear from any players. I follow all the discussions of duet layouts with fascination...I am spread too thin musically to take up a duet system myself right now. But I do get asked for advice by folks interested in starting concertina, so I try to stay current. Will be listening (so to speak). :P

 

Beautiful looking instrument - no surprise coming from this maker!

 

Ken

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RE: That's the same keyboard layout as the Wheatstone Double ...

 

In addition to the differences already described above, there are other differences - see JPG in a subsequent post.

 

1. The angles of the keyboards' button layouts are "opposite," e.g., the ascent and descent are in opposite directions (think c-griff and b-griff CBA orientations)

2. The one-row offset - location of the c-row (again, think c-griff and b-griff CBA

3. And, most importantly, the relative position of the notes overall - note the relative position of "d" to "c" and "e"

In the chromatiphone layout the ASCENDING 2nd (two semi-tones) - in this case the "d" - sits directly in line two rows below the lower tone - "c"

In the Wheatstone layout, the DESCENDING 2nd (two semi-tones) - again the "d" - sits directly in line in the same two rows below the higher tone - "e"

This results in an offset of the relative positions and fingering sequences throughout the keyboard

 

These are not minor differences and are as notable and meaningful as the vertical and horizontal orientations - even though they may not be so readily apparent.

 

Hope this is useful and/or helpful.

 

Edited for brevity and to remove JPG to create space

Edited by danersen
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Well, my first reaction as a duet player (Maccann) is that this looks very interesting indeed for melody work, or even two simultaneous melodies, but some chords look a bit of a stretch (D major or G7, for example).

 

Perhaps a fifth row would help, but that would means either a lot of extra reeds or an un-concertina-like link mechanism. I await comments from players more expert than myself.

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That's the same keyboard layout as the Wheatstone Double except the obvious differences - wrist strap instead of thumb, orientation with respect to the hand rotated through 90 degrees, and note arrangement mirrored.
RE: That's the same keyboard layout as the Wheatstone Double ...

 

Not really.

Upon close inspection and thorough analysis...

Not really. ;)

I.e., even more thorough analysis is possible. (See below.)

...the differences are actually a little more interesting.

Depends on what a person is interested in.

My impression is that the "same"ness Danny mentioned was a fundamental geometrical concept -- an essentially rectangular 4-wide array with the notes of the chromatic scale placed sequentially along each row and subsequent rows, -- then a couple of finer details regarding the relative orientations of the array(s). You have added some further details, relating to the distortion (slanting) of the rectangularity and the start point of the scale (where in the 4-wide pattern is C?), but further relating these features to differences in fingering patterns when actually playing the two instruments, something which Danny only alluded to.

 

The following differences that you noted are certainly significant when it comes to playing the two instruments, as are the "vertical" (Wheatstone double) vs. "horizontal" (chromatiphone) orientations and the direction of musical "ascent" along a "row".

 

But I think there are additional ways in which the differences can be viewed, so...

1. The angles of the keyboards' button layouts are "opposite," e.g., the ascent and descent are in opposite directions (think c-griff and b-griff CBA orientations)

This may seem "obvious" with the two layouts displayed together as you have done, but you've rotated the double layout by 90°, and I think that distorts your viewpoint. If both layouts are viewed in their original orientations, you'll find that in both layouts an ascending scale runs diagonally from left to right and "upward" (away from the wrists) along a 4-wide "row", though the slants of these diagonals are quite different and the directions of laminating them together in the two arrays are different.

 

2. The one-row offset

Not quite sure what you mean by this. Is this about starting the chromatiphone scale on Bb, while the double layout (as shown) starts on C? But that would be an offset by 2, not by one. Besides, one could start either on the same note as the other, and the results would simply be "transposing" instruments of each type. (E.g., give a Wheatstone double starting on Bb to a player used to one starting on C, and they could read parts written for Bb trumpet, clarinet, etc. without having to transpose.)

 

3. And, most importantly, the relative position of the notes overall - note the relative position of "d" to "c" and "e"

In the chromatiphone layout the ASCENDING 2nd (two semi-tones) - in this case the "d" - sits directly in line two rows below the lower tone - "c"

In the Wheatstone layout, the DESCENDING 2nd (two semi-tones) - again the "d" - sits directly in line in the same two rows below the higher tone - "e"

I think this above argument is spurious, on two counts.

  • Your rotated version of the double layout is not how it is played. I think it would be more relevant to make comparisons of the two with each in its proper orientation.
  • With the RH layout starting on C but the chromatiphone RH layout starting on Bb (both in their respective lower left corners), I think you would get a more appropriate comparison by first transposing the one so that they start on the same note, e.g., transpose the entire chromatiphone layout up a whole step, so that it starts on C rather than Bb.

Working with the transposition suggested above and a properly oriented double layout, it's clear that the notes relations differ, but not in the way you suggest above. E.g., the C and its corresponding E are on adjacent buttons in both arrays, but in the chromatiphone layout the E is to the right of the C, while in the double layout the E is above the C. However, in both layouts the corresponding D is two buttons away on a rightward-upward diagonal, and the C# and D# are respectively one and three buttons away on the same diagonal.

 

This results in an offset of the relative positions and fingering sequences throughout the keyboard

I think describing it simply as an "offset" is wrong, but...

These are not minor differences and are as notable and meaningful as the vertical and horizontal orientations....

On this I agree with you completely. I believe my disagreement is only in the details, or in the relative importance of the different details.

 

I have just tried playing a few sequences on "air" concertinas of both sorts, and my fingers find them very different, regardless of how similar they might be in some conceptual respects.

 

And I personally find the double noticeably the more comfortable of the two. Part of this might be ascribed to personal idiosyncrasy, but I feel that at least part is due to the different orientation relative to the hand, and also the hand-strap vs. thumb-loop way of holding the two. Might the chromatiphone benefit from the latter, either to replace or supplement the hand strap? I'll leave that an open question, but I would note the recent discussion involving a custom French duet and the franglo by the Dippers and also that I know someone who has added thumb loops to his Crane duet and is quite happy about that.

 

I'll also note that the relative ease of a given sequence in each system can depend on the key in which it is played. This is also true of the 3-row chromatic button accordions. Those CBAs were made key-independent by duplicating two of the long "rows". The same could be done with the 4-wide pattern, but it would require duplicating three "rows", for a total of seven.

 

Also, to extend the range of the chromatiphone, it must be made wider. The 34 buttons for the right hand of the 62-button instrument described on the Concertina Connection web site (and pictured in danerson's post, above) comprise rows that are already 8 and 9 buttons wide, and with the diagonal shift the full width of the array is 9½ buttons. Is there a width where the need to shift the hand sideways to reach notes on the extreme ends becomes incompatible with holding the instrument? Maybe bandonion players could advise on this, but do any of them play with the instrument supported only by their hands? I know that at least some duet concertina players do.

 

I hope we'll get to hear both progress reports and recordings from the person who ordered this spectacular instrument. :)

 

(P.S. Thanks to
danerson
for stimulating me to look into a comparison of these two systems more deeply than I otherwise might have.)

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Jim,

 

RE: Working with the transposition suggested above and a properly oriented double layout, it's clear that the notes relations differ, but not in the way you suggest above. E.g., the C and its corresponding E are on adjacent buttons in both arrays, but in the chromatiphone layout the E is to the right of the C, while in the double layout the E is above the C.

 

-- Agreed.

-- This is how they are the same in that they both place the major thirds on adjacent buttons in the same straight row.

 

RE: However, in both layouts the corresponding D is two buttons away on a rightward-upward diagonal, and the C# and D# are respectively one and three buttons away on the same diagonal.

 

-- This is correct.

-- HOWEVER, here is the distinction I was attempting to make (perhaps, poorly) - The melodic and chordal orientation remains “opposite” as far as I can see. Please se the attached JPG for illustration using the proper orientations of each layout and an extension of the chromatiphone keyboard to achieve comparable row structure.

 

Edited for brevity

Edited by danersen
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1. The angles of the keyboards' button layouts are "opposite," e.g., the ascent and descent are in opposite directions (think c-griff and b-griff CBA orientations)

... ...

3. And, most importantly, the relative position of the notes overall - note the relative position of "d" to "c" and "e"

In the chromatiphone layout the ASCENDING 2nd (two semi-tones) - in this case the "d" - sits directly in line two rows below the lower tone - "c"

In the Wheatstone layout, the DESCENDING 2nd (two semi-tones) - again the "d" - sits directly in line in the same two rows below the higher tone - "e"

This results in an offset of the relative positions and fingering sequences throughout the keyboard

 

Aren't these both just a restatement of what Danny said more succinctly here:

 

...and note arrangement mirrored.
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Yes, David, it is.

I didn't think of the layouts as "mirrored" in that they are perpendicular - no straight rows up-and-down on the chromatiphone layout and no straight rows side-to-side on the Wheatstone.

However, as noted, the layouts are definitely mirrored when placed in the same axis and their scope expanded.

Thanks.

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Congratulation Wim--another beautiful instrument!

 

And, you've given those of us in the market for a modern duet another attractive option... or is that quandary! ;)

 

This duet has a ‘chromatiphone’ keyboard, patented in the 1920s by Hugo Stark. Just like the keyboard invented by Caspar Wicki, the chromatiphone layout was initially also a bandonion keyboard.

 

Particularly intriguing as we can expect some (albeit likely rare) antique chromatiphone bandonions to be available.

 

And, I do like the idea of a chromatic isomorphic instrument.

 

This particular instrument is our C2 model, comparable to the H-2 (Hayden) and W-2 (Wicki). We will also develop a C1 model with 48(?) notes.

 

Having an Elise Hayden Duet--I've had the opportunity to become familiar with (and enjoy!) the Wicki-Hayden keyboard. It would be nice to be able to try out a Stark Chromatiphone--but I'd expect any plans for a ‘starter instrument’ are some way off. (Anyone with a chromatiphone bandonion?)

 

How are plans coming along for the 48-key C1 model? Any hints on compass? Expected design / delivery date?

 

 

Congratulations, Again! Great Work!

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.... but the six rows on my Stark chromatiphone bandonion, have never left me wanting.

 

Dan, are you the commissioner of the new Wakker C2 Stark Chromatiphone concertina?

 

As for your Stark bandonion, how long have you had it...? And where did you manage to acquire?

 

 

Am curious to hear recordings of you playing it.

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Hello Lloyd,

The Stark bandoinion came to me quite accidentally and circuitously from a master chemnitzer concertina player and maker in Minnesota with whom I'm acquainted.

I'm trying to ascertain the best way to proceed with it.

The historian and sentimental side of me is hoping to preserve it it some form or fashion.

Be Well,

Dan

 

Edited for brevity.

Edited by danersen
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Hello Dan,

 

The Stark bandoinion came to me quite accidentally and circuitously from a master chemnitzer concertina player and maker in Minnesota with whom I'm acquainted....

 

An interesting story. Is a shame the instrument hasn't fared well through it's time.

 

I like the idea of using what is salvageable to make a playable instrument. I have a G/D concertina with antique Crabb reeds (and internals) rebuilt by Wim Wakker into a new ambonya carcass. As you'd expect, it both looks and sounds great!

 

 

So... did you have the Wakker C2 Stark Chromatiphone concertina made? Or was this another Concertina.netter? If not, we're still looking forward to hear the commissioner comment on this interesting new instrument.

 

 

My best,

Lloyd

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How are plans coming along for the 48-key C1 model? Any hints on compass? Expected design / delivery date?

 

 

 

Re the C1 model: the compass will be comparable to the Hayden/Wicki model. My design schedule for 2011 is already full. It probably will be 1-1 ½ years before the C1 will be available. The first design project this year will be the english basses, both single and double action.

 

The technical differences between the Wheatstone double and Chromatiphone keyboard have been pointed out, but no one mentioned the rake difference. The rake and stretch of a keyboard can make the difference between great and unplayable. The largest Chromatiphone keyboard (RH) is only 95 x 36mm (3.75” x 1.41”), which required minimal hand stretching/tension. The rake (stepping) allows for easy cross fingering. Nowadays keyboards are designed according to the Mensendieck or comparable principles to assure the most natural hand position and movement. I also applied the same principles to the hand rail design which we use on large anglos/duets.

 

Wim Wakker

Concertina Connection Inc.

Wakker Concertinas

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Why the Chromatiphone/Stark Layout?

it seems to best meet the following criteria.

 

- fully chromatic and isomorphic (meaning an identical structure or form) keyboard consistent to both hands

- fully capable of playing polyphonic music in all keys – major and minor

- fully and most easily transposable

- highly economical, i.e., relatively condensed/compact in shape and size for the scope of the notes provided

- highly accessible, i.e., the travel/transit is both efficient and versatile in moving among melodic sequences with semitones and accidentals and chord sequences in all of their intervals/positions

- congruent with the c-griff CBA layout with which I have experience

 

Edited for brevity

Edited by danersen
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Hello Lloyd, et. al.,

 

I did commission the Chromatiphone.

 

 

Hello Dan,

 

Thanks for this report. Is pleasing to see that your commission has brought another option forward for those of us interested in duets. (In a personal email, Wim has suggested another 1 to 1 1/2 years of development time before the W-C1 (48 key) instrument appears.)

 

Will be interested in hearing of your further experience with the instrument. Keep us informed!

 

 

My best,

Lloyd

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Hi Dan

 

Sounds superb and looks marvelous.

As you are selling your ECs there is a feeling for me as saying "good-bye playing EC".

Can you tell us why you are changing EC for the C2. Do you want to play other sort of music which may be more difficult with the EC. As a EC player myself I ask what may be your personal reason for this change. Would you answer this?

 

Juergen

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Hello Juergen,

 

RE: Can you tell us why you are changing EC for the C2. Do you want to play other sort of music which may be more difficult with the EC. As a EC player myself I ask what may be your personal reason for this change. Would you answer this?

 

The concise answer to your question is: versatility, capacity, and simplicity.

The longer answer is the criteria previously described.

 

The chromatiphone substantially overcomes most of the limitations that I have encountered through the years on both EC and other duet systems and am therefore unlikely to reach for anything but the chromatiphone except on rare occasions or very special situations.

 

By way of example: last night I was playing through Hubert Giraud's Sous le Ciel de Paris and the ease with which the passing tones can be played (especially in the bass clef) is truly wonderful.

The same is true for Brahms Hungarian Dances which I mentioned previously.

The uniformity of relative location throughout the scales allows for very easy transit. The ability to play multiple chord inversions in the same rows is very efficient, useful, and beneficial.

 

Maccannic earlier expressed a concern that "some chords look a bit of a stretch (D major or G7, for example)."

My experience is that both are less of a stretch than an F-minor chord on a Maccann which spans five columns compared to four rows for the G(dominant)7 and only two rows for the G(major)7 on the chromatiphone layout.

The spread of the chromatiphone layout is very comfortable as standard intervals and chords including octaves are within four buttons on three rows. Both a sixth chord and a ninth chord can be played on three adjacent rows - major or minor.

For comparison, the single-step interval of F# to G# on a Maccann spreads across all six columns. The Crane is effectively the same (all five columns) in the opposite direction.

 

As for selling the EC's: It just feels better to me that an instrument be played rather than sit idle,

I hope this is helpful/useful.

 

Be Well,

Dan

Edited by danersen
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