Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
MatthewVanitas

Can a Chemnitzer serve as a starter bandoneon?

Recommended Posts

A friend of mine is getting into the tango scene in Washington DC, and was thinking of dusting off her old college clarinet and getting back in the swing to help out in the tango orchestra. We talked a bit and I described bandoneon, which she was vaguely familiar with but very curious about.

 

I have a spare Morbidoni 54-button Chemnitzer at my place (see my amateur

), would that be something worth just playing around with for her? I understand that the bandoneon and Chemnitzer have somewhat different fingering patterns off the home rows, but are the basic skills pretty transferable? Will she do herself any harm just putting on some tango CDs and trying to do some simple backup chords, or follow a melody? Clearly for serious bandoneon playing some lessons would be in order (online or by getting with local players, if any), but in the short term is Chemnitzer at least close enough to try out to get a feel for whether one likes the Big Square German concertinas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that the bandoneon and Chemnitzer have somewhat different fingering patterns off the home rows, but are the basic skills pretty transferable? Will she do herself any harm just putting on some tango CDs and trying to do some simple backup chords, or follow a melody?

 

Matthew,

 

The diatonic concertinas - Anglos, Chemnitzers, Bandoneons, etc - each have a central "pad" of 20 buttons that are practically identical, inherited from the old, German 20-button concertina. However, the whole character of each layout is influenced by the "different fingering patterns off the home rows", as you put it. And they are not somewhat different, they are very different. And it's not just off the home rows, it's off the central 10 buttons of each home row. :( The typical music of each instrument (e.g. tango on the Bandoneon) utilises its peculiarities, making them more important than the common features.

 

My first squeeze was a 20-button German concertina, and my second was a Bandoneon. I was immediately able to play everything that I'd played on my 20-b on the Bandoneon (albeit in A and E instead of C and G). But that didn't get me anywhere near the tango sound. That only comes when you've discovered where the alternate fingerings are, so that you can play almost any note over almost any chord, and play extended runs on the press only or on the draw only. To get a piece to run smoothly, you have to have all those scattered buttons in your "finger memory", and even a slight variation in the layout is going to thwart you.

 

So if you friend wants a training instrument, I'd suggest a 20-button Anglo. She'll get the hang of the push-pull scales, but she won't have to unlearn anything when she moves to the Bandoneon proper.

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The person to get in touch with about all this is Bertram Levy, master of concertina and bandoneon!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John: When one learns on the 20-button Anglo and then moves to the bandoneon are you speaking of all bandoneons or particular ones? I am just getting started and wondering if all bandoneons have the same 20-button pattern.

 

 

 

<<So if you friend wants a training instrument, I'd suggest a 20-button Anglo. She'll get the hang of the push-pull scales, but she won't have to unlearn anything when she moves to the Bandoneon proper.

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

>>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John: When one learns on the 20-button Anglo and then moves to the bandoneon are you speaking of all bandoneons or particular ones? I am just getting started and wondering if all bandoneons have the same 20-button pattern.

 

My limited experience of bandoneons (one instrument) was that even the central core was different in that the two rows were a tone(G and A IIRC) apart insted af a fifth, like this diagram. so any cross row fingering you lkearn on an angl will not transfer to the bandoneon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John: When one learns on the 20-button Anglo and then moves to the bandoneon are you speaking of all bandoneons or particular ones? I am just getting started and wondering if all bandoneons have the same 20-button pattern.

 

I only have one Bandoneon, and I haven't played anyone else's, but strictly speaking what makes a "thing" a Bandoneon is, by definition, the button layout. So they should all be the same, unless you have one with more or fewer buttons. Certainly the central 20 buttons are the same.

 

My point was that the central 20-button area of the concertina is there on the Bandoneon, so the transition from 20-b concertina to Bandoneon involves extending, but not changing, your feel for the concertina. Moving from Chemnitzer to Bandoneon would involve some un-learning and re-learning. I should add that the 20-button rows of concertina and Bandoneon are in the same relationship to one another, but are in different keys: the concertina typically in C and G, the Bandoneon in A and E (with a third diatonic row in G). But the feel is the same. I have one party piece that has exactly the same fingering on the Anglo in the key of C and on the Bandoneon in the key of A.

 

Since you asked about all Bandoneons, I should also add that there are "chromatic" Bandoneons (same note on press and draw) nowadays. These have the look and sound of a "genuine" Bandoneon, but the button arrangement is totally different, so the "feel" doesn't transfer from the concertina. I believe the layout is more like a chromatic button accordion, but someone else on the list may be able to provide details.

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somehow I missed this thread in my "great Chemnitzer sweep" last week.

A friend of mine is getting into the tango scene in Washington DC, and was thinking of dusting off her old college clarinet and getting back in the swing to help out in the tango orchestra. We talked a bit and I described bandoneon, which she was vaguely familiar with but very curious about.

Matthew, did your Clarinetist friend ever try taking up bandoneón, by way of Chemnitzer or otherwise? It seems to me some important points were missed in the discussion, that could have value to this or similar situations.

 

First for someone who only plays clarinet (if that was in fact the case), there are other challenges to overcome first in transitioning to bandoneón:

  • Learning to use right and left hand independently to create separate melody/harmony.
  • Learning to handle the bellows & air valve.
  • Learning to handle the instrument itself (weight, balance, size, etc.).
  • Learning to read bass clef, and then play from two staves of notation.

Any of these could be managed in a basic sense with a Chemnitzer, at least until a suitable, playable bandoneón is found.

Will she do herself any harm just putting on some tango CDs and trying to do some simple backup chords, or follow a melody?

Probably no more than she would harm her Clarinet abilities by borrowing a friend's saxophone for a while.

And they are not somewhat different, they are very different. And it's not just off the home rows, it's off the central 10 buttons of each home row. sad.gif The typical music of each instrument (e.g. tango on the Bandoneon) utilises its peculiarities, making them more important than the common features.

Actually, the left hand of the chemnitzer shares 17 buttons completely in common with the bandoneón. Three more match in one bellows direction. Four of the chemnitzer's buttons are completely different, and then the bandoneón adds 9 buttons around the perimeter to extend the range.

 

When I picked up my 44-button bandoneón, I had no problems adapting to the left hand. (The 44-button is a subset of the standard tango type and its 23 left hand buttons include all of the common or half-common buttons with the chemnitzer's 24 left hand buttons.)

 

The right hands are not quite so similar, with only 9 (or 10*) buttons completely the same (spread across parts of all 3 rows), another 7 (or 6*) buttons matching in one bellows direction and 7 not matching at all. The bandoneón was extended in range with 3 outer rows, while the chemnitzer extends all 3 rows with a couple extra buttons.

post-1638-0-31410100-1370886826_thumb.jpg

Even so, it doesn't take me hitting too many wrong notes to adapt if I pick up the bandoneón after a long stretch away from it. If I keep both chemnitzer & bandoneón practiced, switching is easy.

My limited experience of bandoneons (one instrument) was that even the central core was different in that the two rows were a tone(G and A IIRC) apart insted af a fifth, like this diagram. so any cross row fingering you lkearn on an angl will not transfer to the bandoneon.

That's the most common keyboard layout for tango players, though not the only one.

My point was that the central 20-button area of the concertina is there on the Bandoneon, so the transition from 20-b concertina to Bandoneon involves extending, but not changing, your feel for the concertina. Moving from Chemnitzer to Bandoneon would involve some un-learning and re-learning. I should add that the 20-button rows of concertina and Bandoneon are in the same relationship to one another, but are in different keys: the concertina typically in C and G, the Bandoneon in A and E (with a third diatonic row in G). But the feel is the same. I have one party piece that has exactly the same fingering on the Anglo in the key of C and on the Bandoneon in the key of A.

I don't think there's necessarily "un-learning and re-learning" involved. Just that some of the things learned don't carry over. On a 20-button Anglo, you're certainly going to be handling the bellows very differently and a lot of the notes simply won't be there. The general way of playing across the rows translates more closely from chemnitzer. Ultimately though, availability is going to make a difference and either would help someone get the feel of playing a bellows instrument.

 

*there is one button that varies on older chemnitzers.

post-1638-0-31410100-1370886826_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...