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Odd left hand layout of larger Crane duet concertinas

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Hi, all,


I've been getting more interested in Cranes recently, and am finding myself puzzled by the layouts of the left-hand keys of the larger models. I don't understand why they always seem to deviate from the usual pattern once they go below C3. On the 69- and 80-key Crabbs documented at craneconcertina.com, for examples, low Bb has to be placed outside of the normal spread of buttons, and F ends up being pressed by the thumb. This is especially weird on the 80-key since the range keeps on going down past this irregular bit in an otherwise normal way.


Since there seems to be no trouble with the RH extending upwards and downwards to fill out the range, I'm not seeing why the same thing couldn't have been done with the left. I feel like I must be missing something obvious, but after weeks of staring at these layouts, for the life of me I can't think what it would be. I've attached an image of a proposed more logical lower range for both of these Crabb instruments; does anyone have any insight on why a layout like these wasn't adopted instead of breaking the pattern?






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Thank you for your interest in the larger Crabb 'Crane' Duet keyboards.

Please accept my following brief account which may, I hope, go some way to meeting your query.


Whilst the arrangement of notes/buttons on the mentioned instruments may, on inspection, appear to be illogical, it is the result of requests by early players of the instrument who found it to be more practical for chordal work.


Originally, the 'Crane' marketed 55 button was soon regarded as being somewhat limited in sound and requests were received for extra buttons in the lower range that could supplement chords and thus add to sound of the instrument.


The first Crabb example, the 58, was provided with an additional F, G and Bb. These notes were an octave lower than those in the normal bottom octave of the 55.

The choice of these notes was customer driven.


These extras could be used as a beat note or included to enhance the 'normal' F,G or Bb chords and their derivatives to achieve a much fuller sound.


To aid ease of manipulation, the G and Bb buttons were mounted outboard of the left hand button column for operation by the little finger. The F button was positioned for operation by the previously free thumb.


As players became more proficient, requests for instruments with larger or different ranges were received. It is not possible here to cite the details of all the variations (30 plus known to date) made in the Crabb workshop but the choice of the above extra notes and positions seemed to have been the most popular and many instruments were made in this mode.


The use of 'outboard' buttons in many larger Crabb instruments on both left and also right hand sides of some instruments would also avoid lengthening, physically, a keyboard.


The 80 button Crabb 'Crane' instrument can be considered as impractical due to the physical length of the keyboards. There existence, as usual, was due to customer requests and few were made. The more practical McCann/Wheatstone 81 was the choice of most.

The keyboard diagrams on craneconcertina.com were posted in response to requests.




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Hi, Geoff,


Thanks so much for all the information! That definitely makes sense -- I should have realized it must have grown organically from a smaller layout rather than having been designed that way from the ground up.



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