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Introducing a new duet layout

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As a long-time Hayden player, I'd be interested to know why you didn't chose a Hayden (or Wicki)? I'm not trying to suggest that you made the wrong choice or that I'd be hurt if you gave me a convincing reason. It's just that if there is a real reason that the chromatiphone wins out over the Hayden, I'd like to see it.

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Hello David,


Any choice of instrument and its format seems, to me, to be a very personal choice with many variables at play - not the least of which are cognition and physiology.

I tried a Hayden layout on two separate occasions and I simply did not find it comfortable or efficient.

There are several reasons, but the most important ones are:

- it is not completely isomorphic - uniform, yes - but not isomorphic - to me

- the absence of an A# or a Gb which would make both outer accidental ranks "comparable" and diminish the stretch for the Bb and the F# from their natural semi-tones.

I have attached a jpg to illustrate what, to me, is a deficiency in the Wicki layout.


All of the criteria that I previously listed and the comments that I've expressed - all of them - are real reasons.

To that extent, if one reason, "...if there is a real reason that the chromatiphone wins out over the Hayden, I'd like to see it." is truly the answer that you seek, I do not have the answer for you.


In my case, I prefer the Stark layout which helps to overcome my limitations rather than my having to overcome its limitations.


I prefer the Stark layout as it provides more proximity and better suits my own cognition and physiology.

This melodic sequence may be helpful in illustrating it:


You may play this sequence easily on the Wicki. I could not develop an easy transit for this passage.

My psyche just prefers that the semitones/accidentals are in-line with the naturals rather than located off-to-the-side.

My fingers seem to travel more easily in a horizontal direction.

The Wicki locates octaves vertically (octaves above/below) while the Stark locates them horizontally (octaves side-to-side).

Again, my cognition just relates to this more readily. Perhaps its all the years of piano. Octaves occur along the axis of the thumb and little finger not the wrist and the fingertips.

Along this line, I think the Wicki layout is confusing to me as I don't "expect" the adjacent diagonal buttons to be fourths and fifths, but semitones - again, more like a piano keyboard.

The Stark does not accomplish this fully, but it is more closely oriented that way.

The Wicki, to me, is much more akin to a Stradella layout which is based on the circle-of-fifths.


Edited to correct typos and add the jpg which I forgot.



Edited by danersen
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During intermission at symphony this afternoon, it occurred to me that the fingering systems of oboes and clarinets may be a useful analogy to concertina layouts.


To my knowledge, there are at least three "standard" (recognized and utilized) fingering systems for oboes - English, French, and German.

Add to that full or partial conservatorie, full or partial automatic, second and third octave rings, and more - trill keys, etc.

There are also three recognized and utilized clarinet fingering systems of which I am aware - Boehm, Albert, and Oehler.

Here there are also added keys, mechanisms, and even extended notes.


All are currently available and in-use by world-class professional musicians.


Is any one better than the others.

In one sense, yes.

It is better to the musician who chooses it for her/his own inclinations, purposes, and repertoire.


I think the same may be applicable to concertina layouts and those who choose them for their own individual inclinations, purposes, and repertoire.


The success or popularity of one does not diminish the value or relevance of any other.

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

Speaking of... one has just turned up here.


I bought this one - it has two reeds per note tuned in octaves on the left hand side, and two near-unison musette tuned on the right. It's in fairly playable condition, so should be a lot of fun getting to grips with the layout.

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Grand to know that now I'm not the only one around here playing Stark's layout.

If you get a moment, I am very interested to know which row is the C-E-G# row.

Taking a BWAG, it appears that the dots may be locating the C,F,G tones or the G,C,D tones - depending on the tones in the repeating rows..

How close are these guesses?

I am also interested to know location of Middle C in both hands.

No rush. Just curious.



Edited by danersen
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Hi Dan,


Actually the dots are the "black" notes - on quite a few the paint has rubbed off, so difficult to see the pattern on the photos.

The row layouts start like this: (c1 = middle c)


a c#1 f1

g# c1 e1

g b d#1

a# d1 f#1

a c#1 f1 (same as row 1)



C# F A

C E G#

B D# G

D F# A#

C# F A (same as row 1)


Middle C on the left is three buttons from the end of row 2. The covers have holes for an additional row above, and the right hand has outlines of 3 additional holes on the right. Presumably the factory used the same covers for different models.


My main instrument is the tango bandoneon so I've been keen to find out how it feels to play a completely "logical" instrument, i.e. the complete opposite of what I am used to ... so far it seems like a pretty good system.

I wonder how many of these instruments were actually built?

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