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Is there anyone in this group who plays both an accordion and a concertina?

 

I have a Titano piano accordion, 120 bass. I would consider myself somewhere between moderate and advanced with it. I love the instrument, but find myself somewhat limited by the size of it (ie - I can't always take it where I want to, especially if I'm traveling, but even if I want to play in a different room of the house). So I'm considering purchasing an English concertina as a second, smaller instrument.

 

Has anyone else done this? What kind of trouble did you have (if any)? Did you find that the thirds in the concertina buttons interfered when you tried to go

back to your accordion? Or that the different spacing of the buttons on the concertina versus the accordion caused you trouble?

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I've already travelled this path. Nothing wrong with it, nor with switching back to the PA then.

 

IMO the EC with its own strict logic is the natural choice for anyone familiar with an "Ivory & Ebony" keyboard...

 

(but there are others who have chosen one of the "duet" systems instead)

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I've played PA for many years. Finding it a bit too large and domineering for pub sessions I got a concertina (Maccann duet) some years later. There is a lot of similarity, as in each case you can play the tune on one end and go oom-pah oom-pah on the other. However there is so much dissimilarity that switching from one to the other and back is hardly a problem.

 

There are some tunes which, due to a quirk of fingering or else because I have worked out some little distinctive figure in the accompaniment, I can only really play on one machine or the other. For example, on the duet I can go tenor G, tenor D, baritone G at the end of a line in the left hand which I can't do on the accordion. But on the accordion I can make up incredible right-hand chords which I could never hope to find or remember on the concertina. So I do have to concentrate, but really it's no problem.

 

I should imagine that the EC is even more different, so again, no problem.

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I got fed up with the bulk and immutable bass on my accordion too; some research later and I bought a Maccan duet. After a year I sold MY Titano 120b. Recently i saw an accordion at a very cheap price and thought about it for a minute but I realised I would never ever play it.

 

I wouldn't fiddle about with an English though. A Maccan will do more and cost you less.

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I have but don't really play the piano accordion, but I have a collection of both vintage and newish melodeons that I played for years before getting my first concertina. Of course, the concertina completely monopolized my attention for a bit, and I now have a Lach, a Morse, a Hohner and a Frontalini (which I love). I am obsessed with English style trad music and so continued to hear plenty of melodeon playing. I find that it is very easy to switch back and forth from Anglo to melodeon, but playing concertina has greatly improved my melodeon technique, and I can play things I couldn't have done before. But I also have a deeper appreciation of the melodeon. When I compare the wonderful concertina recordings of Peter Trimming (Youtube) with the enchanting recordings of Anahata on melodeon (Youtube), I can't imagine life without both. And I also realize that despite its shape my Frontalini "concertina" is really a melodeon with an more useful left-hand keyboard. All of this said, when I pick up my piano accordion (which I do rarely), I find it might as well be a rauschpfeife as far as familiarity is concerned.

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i played PA professionally for several years before learning b/c bisonoric box to a decent standard, followed by five extremely obsessed and intense years on anglo concertina, and am presently playing french musette music and tango, as well as irish tunes, on CBA, while continuing to play ITM on anglo concertina, and gathering my resources to learn a unisonoric concertina system, just can't decide which one.

 

and no, it is no problem switching back and forth, and is even no problem switching from unisonoric to bisonoric. many irish free-reed players are highly proficient at both accordion and concertina. on this condition---you must take the time and trouble to become fluent on your systems. otherwise, you WILL have trouble switching back and forth.

 

 

and you are right, the concertina's compact size and light weight is delightful to say the least.

 

 

as for which unisonoric to play, if EC is the one you lean towards, there is no reason to let anyone tell you to do duet. if you wish to play single-line melody music very rapidly, the "conventional wisdom" is that EC is the one for that, and substantial evidence in the form of videos and recordings bears out that the EC will do that very well.

 

whether maccann duet will do that very well remains unknown, because there is no, as in zero, evidence of it on video or recording. it may do that, but it may not. completely unknown.

 

EC will also play purely chordal music at slow-to-moderate pace very well, and there is much evidence of that, including much classical stuff. what EC is very tough for, is melody music accompanied continually by bass-chord vamping. that is what duet does quite effectively provided the duet has enough buttons, though at a moderate pace according to the presently available evidence.

 

so it's all about what you're looking for....:)

Edited by ceemonster
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i also advise looking into compact, lightweight (relatively) PAs. you would be amazed at what is out there. you do need a minimum of 30 right-hand buttons to be satisfied with the playing opportunities (26 treble keys will NOT do it)...., and there are great 30-key, 60--bass PAs out there. weltmeister does one that weighs about 12 pounds...

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I wouldn't fiddle about with an English though. A Maccan will do more and cost you less.

 

I have a few questions about this. And I am genuinely curious. I am not trying to be a smart alec or come across as confrontational.

 

I have never actually played a concertina. Everything I know is from online reading. I studied music in college, so my brain is very accustomed to working in theory and regular systems and patterns. So here is the thought process that lead me to the English.

 

1) The ease of having a truly chromatic instrument. I believe that it would frustrate me to no end to have an instrument that was lacking even a few accidentals and couldn't play in every key.

2) To my theory-inclined brain, the layout of the English makes sense. A very short glance at the key layout reveals how melodies work and how the triadic chords are laid out neatly and how major chords and minor chords are played quite similarly.

3) As I looked a duets, I really had only looked at the Hayden layout. It basically appeared like the left hand of my 120 bass accordion, with the familiar circle of fifths layout. At your suggestion I took a look at the Maccann layout, and it baffles me. I can't find any rhyme or reason to it. Not that it isn't necessarily good, I just don't get it from looking at it.

 

So, those are the reasons I specifically asked about the English and not the duet. I would love to hear your responses to those items. Again, I am not trying to be argumentative. I am genuinely curious.

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well, it sounds as if you are wide open...i'm pleased to be the one to break it to you that there are very eloquent, even prolix we might say, proponents of both EC and duet here and i'm sure they will be happy to weigh in....there are numerous compare-and-contrast threads to be perused as well...

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If you (as myself) want chiefly a keyboard/layout which is accessible for ad-hoc playing & chording, I'd suggest sticking with the idea of playing the EC. It's so simple as that, I guess.

 

Apart from that, sheet music (unless it's meant for the EC, of course) might be played in a more sophisticated manner on a "duet" (at least Dirge's renditions suggest this).

 

The Hayden system would (because of its comprehensible logic) nevertheless be of some particular interest, if there only where appropriate instruments...

 

P.S.: Hope this will sound sufficiently open-minded, not prolix... B)

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I wouldn't fiddle about with an English though. A Maccan will do more and cost you less.

 

I have a few questions about this. And I am genuinely curious. I am not trying to be a smart alec or come across as confrontational.

 

I have never actually played a concertina. Everything I know is from online reading. I studied music in college, so my brain is very accustomed to working in theory and regular systems and patterns. So here is the thought process that lead me to the English.

 

1) The ease of having a truly chromatic instrument. I believe that it would frustrate me to no end to have an instrument that was lacking even a few accidentals and couldn't play in every key.

2) To my theory-inclined brain, the layout of the English makes sense. A very short glance at the key layout reveals how melodies work and how the triadic chords are laid out neatly and how major chords and minor chords are played quite similarly.

3) As I looked a duets, I really had only looked at the Hayden layout. It basically appeared like the left hand of my 120 bass accordion, with the familiar circle of fifths layout. At your suggestion I took a look at the Maccann layout, and it baffles me. I can't find any rhyme or reason to it. Not that it isn't necessarily good, I just don't get it from looking at it.

 

So, those are the reasons I specifically asked about the English and not the duet. I would love to hear your responses to those items. Again, I am not trying to be argumentative. I am genuinely curious.

 

To throw another suggestion in the pot to further confuse you :-)

You could also look at the Crane Duet fingering system (aka Triumph). As an EC player, I found the button layout on this to be comprehensible and fairly quickly could play simple tunes, when I borrowed a friends to try.

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Apart from that, sheet music (unless it's meant for the EC, of course) might be played in a more sophisticated manner on a "duet" (at least Dirge's renditions suggest this).

 

One thing to bear in mind is that the English system is unique among button/keyboard instruments in that it doesn't have the low notes on the left and the high notes on the right. This is quite a big paradigm shift! it means that the concertina/accordion/piano habit of extemporising a melody with the right hand and an accompaniment with the left wouldn't work.

 

When considering changing from a piano-accordion to concertina, I'd break a lance for the Crane Duet. It has the "white keys" in the three middle columns, and the "black keys" in the two outer columns, with each sharp or flat adjacent to its natural. This gives you the same link between key signature and fingering as on the piano keyboard: "Aha! Two sharps! So I have to take the outer row there and there!" (where you'd take the black keys on the PA). Also, the C.major scale on the Crane is linear, as opposed to the Maccann's zig-zag, and this again is more piano-like. (Of course the scale of C in not all in one line, as it is on the PA, but it runs straight until you run out of fingers, and then goes to the next line, like on the strings of a violin!)

 

So much for the theory!

On the practical side, just recently, I had a busy day at a summer fete, letting children try out musical instruments. It was noticeable that children who have had piano lessons are very quick to grasp the fingering of the Crane, once they've been shown how it goes. After being "talked through" the scale of C major in the octave above middle C, one little girl played the scale from the bass of the LH to the treble of the RH end without further help. And another one managed to make a recognisable stab at a nursery rhyme after a few minutes' noodling.

 

In short, I would argue that the Crane Duet is the concertina system whose paradigm is closest to the piano-accordion, and should therefore be easist for a PA player to grasp .

 

Cheers,

John

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I wouldn't fiddle about with an English though. A Maccan will do more and cost you less.

I have a few questions about this. And I am genuinely curious. I am not trying to be a smart alec or come across as confrontational.

 

I have never actually played a concertina. Everything I know is from online reading. I studied music in college, so my brain is very accustomed to working in theory and regular systems and patterns. So here is the thought process that lead me to the English.

 

1) The ease of having a truly chromatic instrument. I believe that it would frustrate me to no end to have an instrument that was lacking even a few accidentals and couldn't play in every key.

2) To my theory-inclined brain, the layout of the English makes sense. A very short glance at the key layout reveals how melodies work and how the triadic chords are laid out neatly and how major chords and minor chords are played quite similarly.

3) As I looked a duets, I really had only looked at the Hayden layout. It basically appeared like the left hand of my 120 bass accordion, with the familiar circle of fifths layout. At your suggestion I took a look at the Maccann layout, and it baffles me. I can't find any rhyme or reason to it. Not that it isn't necessarily good, I just don't get it from looking at it.

 

So, those are the reasons I specifically asked about the English and not the duet. I would love to hear your responses to those items. Again, I am not trying to be argumentative. I am genuinely curious.

I play Anglo, piano accordion, Hayden, and Crane (learned in that order over several decades). I think that either Hayden or Crane could work well for you - their systems have an obvious and consistent internal logic and each has something in common with the PA layout. As you have noticed, the Hayden layout has similarities to the left-hand layout of the PA, while the Crane has "white keys" on the inside rows and "black keys" on the outer rows, which I feel is somewhat conceptually similar to the piano keyboard. I don't think that I'd recommend the Anglo for you, though I enjoy playing it: the push-pull changes might be difficult for you, and the logic of the instrument falls apart on the third "accidental" row and on the high and low ends of the range.

 

I can't comment authoritatively on the English or Maccann systems since I don't play them. The English scale, alternating between the hands as it goes up and down, doesn't work well with the way my brain works, but there are plenty of fine English players who seem to have no trouble with it.

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Thanks again all for the input! I think you've won me over to a duet style over English. It's just a matter of evaluating which layout. Also, for the record, I discovered that I was looking at a key layout for the Elise, which is why notes were missing.

 

Speaking of which, has anyone tried an Elise or concertina connection's Hayden "upgrade", the peacock?

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Thanks again all for the input! I think you've won me over to a duet style over English. It's just a matter of evaluating which layout. Also, for the record, I discovered that I was looking at a key layout for the Elise, which is why notes were missing.

 

Speaking of which, has anyone tried an Elise or concertina connection's Hayden "upgrade", the peacock?

My Hayden is an Elise. It's great for the price but the treble range is a little short on the high end and the missing accidentals can be frustrating. The Peacock is very new, so I don't know if you'll find anyone who's played one yet. The Clover Anglo in the same line has been out for a while longer and it's a good instrument.

 

You might also consider a 48 or 55 button Crane.

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When considering changing from a piano-accordion to concertina, I'd break a lance for the Crane Duet. It has the "white keys" in the three middle columns, and the "black keys" in the two outer columns, with each sharp or flat adjacent to its natural. This gives you the same link between key signature and fingering as on the piano keyboard: "Aha! Two sharps! So I have to take the outer row there and there!" (where you'd take the black keys on the PA). Also, the C.major scale on the Crane is linear, as opposed to the Maccann's zig-zag, and this again is more piano-like. (Of course the scale of C in not all in one line, as it is on the PA, but it runs straight until you run out of fingers, and then goes to the next line, like on the strings of a violin!)

After your contribution and the one from David, I must admit finding the Crane layout quite attractive and interesting. A duet based on the EC layout and meant as its "improvement". Perhaps I'll get me a Triumph/Crane one day or other :)

 

But nevertheless, the EC is a fascinating instrument, very playable even in a melody-and-chords-manner, against some first impression...

 

Of course not so much "ooom-pah", but one may find other ways... B)

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But nevertheless, the EC is a fascinating instrument, very playable even in a melody-and-chords-manner, against some first impression...

 

Of course not so much "ooom-pah", but one may find other ways... B)

I grew tired of oom-pah accompaniments long before I knew what a concertina was.

 

I've since concluded that, like accordions, they're excellent in some situations, though often -- far too often -- used inappropriately (according to my taste). But there are so many other possibilities, and many of them are actually easier on an English than even on a duet. (The simplest example, I would say, is parallel thirds.)

 

In fact, I would say that the difficulty of doing nonstop oom-pah accompaniment with melody could even be considered an advantage for someone who is already used to playing in that style on another instrument, as it can provide motivation for exploring other, easier-on-the-English styles.

 

As I've said before, I believe that versatility is a virtue.

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