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Maccann duet in C


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I was very interested in Chris Algar's 55 key Maccann that started on middle C on the right hand. unfortunately I

prevaricated too long about asking for a PX and it went back on Ebay and was sold. My own duet is a conventional 55 key New Model which I was/am reluctant to part with.

 

I am aiming to play pieces of music, a bit like piano, and some song accompaniment for myself. As I sing mostly soprano I want to be able to play at the same pitch and use the L hand for the accompaniment.

 

My question is twofold. 1) Is it normal/reasonable to play the R hand an octave higher than the notes written on the stave? I can easily pitch myself an octave down to sing. The only difficulty with this is I have a short pinkie and can't reach the top two right hand notes!

 

2) Are there many or any small Maccanns that start at C on the right hand or is it only the larger ones that do so? Since I can't afford another, larger instrument at present is it possible to adapt a 39 or 46 key box to start at C on the R? To do this by moving the existing reeds "up" and filling the lower four notes and their sharps/flats with new (second hand) reeds?

I realise that this could present difficulties with reed sizes, valves, tuning etc. etc.? My husband is a cabinet maker and fully equipped for all sorts of quality woodwork projects. Are these matters too difficult to overcome to make this a feasible project?

 

Any comments gratefully received, however brief!!

 

Ann

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To your second question ,I think it would be simpler to look for another Lachenal that starts at Middle C... they did make both options and this can be seen on the Lachenal price lists. To Change the reeds would be expensive and fraught with dangers.Although the reeds you would need might not cost a great deal from "Concertina Spares" . It is possible that there might be almost as many Lachenal 55 (56)key Maccanns about that start at middle C as those that start at G.

 

To your first question I would say why not play up an octave.. I find that the 'short Pinkie' problem can be overcome, to some extent by using looser hand straps and in desparation I use my third finger crossed over into the far corners when my little fingers will not reach.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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don't a number of the 57-keys go down to C on the right? that is only 2 more buttons, after all....:)

 

 

 

 

Yes, the 57's usually start at C on the right but these Lachenal 55's are smaller, almost standard small concertina size, about 6.5 inches across.

The advantages of this 55 key Lachenal are , size and cost. Because they are perceived as being like a 46 key with a few extra buttons (usually low C#,D,D# and high Bb on the left side and a few extra high notes on the right side) the market does not value them much beyond that of the 46's. So they are a lot cheeper to buy than a proper 57 key. So if you can find one of the version that starts at Middle C on the right you get a 57 type keyboard range in a small package for a small price.

 

The disadvantages of this Lachenal small Maccann with a layout like a standard 57key are; six fold bellows does not have a great amount of wind (for sustaining chords etc.) and the smaller internal space can compromise the tonal qualities.

 

The true 57 key instruments have a body that is about one inch larger and usually have a seven fold bellows.. thus a lot more wind in the chest and more space for good sized Reed chambers , better tone and dynamics.

 

At the moment it looks as if a standard 57key Maccann will cost at least twice as much as a 55 key ! :huh:

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Geoff and ceemonster, thanks for your input, appreciated!

 

I think the adaptation project is really a non starter, which I half suspected! I did know 57 key instruments usually started on C but didn't know that they are a significantly larger instrument. I have also seen that they are a lot more expensive. I think the best way forward in the light of all of this is to bash on (if that's the right term!) and continue to learn on my 55key, playing up an octave if necessary. After all, it is still a very nice concertina!

 

I shall work towards getting a 57 key in a year or two. I might have to forego or curtail my skiing holiday to pay for one!

 

With regard to short pinkies, I have already adopted the third finger crossover sometimes. It is clearly not ideal some of the time, but maybe better dexterity and capability with practice will iron out the problems!

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Having started my Duet playing on a 57key Aeola which is 7.5" across, I find this size is now 'normal'. Recently I had a 55key Lachenal ( which started at C on the right) in my hands and the comments above relate to that comparitive experience.

 

One thing you could do, for your short Pinkies, is to move the handstrap rails a little nearer to the keys. I found that, without making new rails, I could gain 4 to 5 millimeters by shifting the rails and re-positioning the screws.

 

Skiing is much more dangerous than Duet playing. A Ski holiday is paid for and gone in two weeks... the aquisition of a good Concertina is an investment !

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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My question is twofold. 1) Is it normal/reasonable to play the R hand an octave higher than the notes written on the stave? I can easily pitch myself an octave down to sing. The only difficulty with this is I have a short pinkie and can't reach the top two right hand notes!

 

 

Any comments gratefully received, however brief!!

 

Ann

 

I don't see why you couldn't play an octave higher and pitch yourself an octave lower. Another thing you might try is not playing the melody on the concertina at all and let your voice carry it. For example, guitarist often refrain from playing the melody while singing. Or you could play the melody on the left and some chords on the right.

 

You could also try playing across your hands. That is, when the melody line goes below the lowest note you have on the right, play it on the left. If you are singing at the same time and the melody just goes below the right's range for a note or two, you can just sing with a tad more emphasis and not play those notes at all.

 

Finally, you may want to experiment with a looser hand strap. If that doesn't work you could see about moving the hand bar. But I'd be very surprised if loosening the strap and some practice wouldn't do the trick for your pinky.

 

Good luck. As a disclaimer, I play and occasionally sing with a Crane duet. ;)

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...unfortunately I prevaricated too long about asking for a PX and it went back on Ebay and was sold.

 

This is thoroughly off-topic, but I'm not good at keeping my mouth shut when issues of vocabulary crop up: I believe the word you want there is "procrastinated." I can see how too much prevarication would be a problem in this situation, but only because a seller would (rightly) refuse to trust a chronic prevaricator.

 

Being an Anglo player and entirely lacking in experience with duets, I can offer you no advice on your actual question--just maunderings about word choice, welcome or welcome not.

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don't a number of the 57-keys go down to C on the right? that is only 2 more buttons, after all....:)

 

 

 

 

Yes, the 57's usually start at C on the right but these Lachenal 55's are smaller, almost standard small concertina size, about 6.5 inches across.

The advantages of this 55 key Lachenal are , size and cost. Because they are perceived as being like a 46 key with a few extra buttons (usually low C#,D,D# and high Bb on the left side and a few extra high notes on the right side) the market does not value them much beyond that of the 46's. So they are a lot cheeper to buy than a proper 57 key. So if you can find one of the version that starts at Middle C on the right you get a 57 type keyboard range in a small package for a small price.

 

The disadvantages of this Lachenal small Maccann with a layout like a standard 57key are; six fold bellows does not have a great amount of wind (for sustaining chords etc.) and the smaller internal space can compromise the tonal qualities.

 

The true 57 key instruments have a body that is about one inch larger and usually have a seven fold bellows.. thus a lot more wind in the chest and more space for good sized Reed chambers , better tone and dynamics.

 

At the moment it looks as if a standard 57key Maccann will cost at least twice as much as a 55 key ! :huh:

I told it also in the other post about the relative price of duets.

Because of the advice of Geoff in the other post, and as the concertina was put again in auction several times, and sorry, I finally bidded for it and I was the winner. I shall tell you when I receive it how it goes, I mean to tell all of you the characteristics of the instrument, size, wheight, tone, etc. etc.

I have small hands also and the other 55 lachenal that I have, (the other has 7 folds it seems at first sight of better quality, with lachenal bellows papers, type of metal buttons, etc. but not in the C range) , is comfortable for me. If bigger it seems to far for my fingers, perhaps because I have get used to play the anglo concertina.

Edited by felix castro
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Although I accompany myself on the anglo, you might like to hear my tuppence worth? I try to avoid playing the melody while singing and usually try to play a counter-melody, or spread my accompaniment over both hands. If I’m working from a piano score, this normally means playing the whole thing an octave higher, which puts my voice in the middle of the chords! It depends on the style and the effect you want to achieve. I find it works for all om-pa sort of accompaniments and I’ve even done a Purcell song playing the basso continuo part in this way. Obviously then it’s becomes more of a tenor continuo ! but for this one piece, it seemed quite a nice effect. (You can hear a bit of it

: beginning at 2:57)

I think the gold standard is to record yourself and then make adjustments to the accompaniment, or even (as often happens!) to decide it just isn’t going to work.

I hope this is some help,

Adrian

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  • 2 weeks later...

Geoff, thanks for pinkie adjustment suggestions. I can't move the hand rests as the tina has metal ends. I think it would be a bad idea!

 

jdms, I didn't mean procrastinate, I wasn't just doing nothing! I used prevaricate as it is nearest to what I meant, dithering around trying to find a solution. I realise the word can also be used in a rather negative way when dealing with others. I'm surprised that the English language hasn't got a word that would do; maybe it has and I don't know it. How about you!?

 

Felix, I realised that you had got Chris's Box, glad it's got a new home. I assume it hasn't reached you yet.

 

Adrian, I really liked your recording, especially the recorder player as that is currently my main instrument. I thought the van Eyck was great, have you got music for it (dotty type!)?

 

As you all probably notice I haven't yet discovered how to copy bits of other posts to reply to!

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Geoff, thanks for pinkie adjustment suggestions. I can't move the hand rests as the tina has metal ends. I think it would be a bad idea!

 

You can, you know. You can gain a bit yourself by moving the screwhole in the rest off to one side a bit and you can gain a bit more by redrilling, and perhaps moving the supporting post too; if you get carried away you may end up with the old holes showing but given the choice between that and not being able to play as well, I know what I'd do. Talk to your fixer next time you go near him perhaps?

 

jdms, I didn't mean procrastinate, I wasn't just doing nothing! I used prevaricate as it is nearest to what I meant, dithering around trying to find a solution. I realise the word can also be used in a rather negative way when dealing with others.

 

I use it like that; I'd have said negative implications only came from the context, not that they were implicit in the word.

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Dirge, thanks for the info. For this kind of job my fixer is only a few yards away! It's called a husband! Currently in the workshop making bird boxes, tables and feeders which sell well at this time of year and earn for him. Well below his skill level though. He used to teach woodwork and metal work to lads and now teaches adults at evening class as well as being a cabinet maker, doing all sorts of things, and a woodturner. He will have no trouble in doing the necessary work. I will have to take courage to take apart a metal ended concertina, have only done a wooden one!

 

Glad we agree on prevaricate!

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Dirge, I spent a couple of hours fiddling with the R hand strap after summoning up the courage to take the end apart! Pleased to find that I didn't need to take the metal end off which is what was worrying me. Found my R hand is 6mm larger around than my left so pinched as much as I could off both ends of the strap, getting about 4mm more in total. Had to get Brian to drill a second tiny hole in the bottom end as I didn't have a punch small enough, but otherwise all my own work.

 

There would have been problems moving the hand rest as it is quite narrow and could split if we made another hole in it (ebony). Also it was shaped to fit over the raised end, so would have needed reshaping to remain upright.

 

Anyway it seems to be a success as I can reach all the notes, although the top C is a bit of a stretch still, but I probably won't need it much.

 

Enthusiasm is regathered and I am playing again! Thanks a lot all.

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  • 2 months later...

Hello, I received the concertina a time ago.

I find the other lachenal with chidley layout that I commented in another post that I bought in an auction and that it is waiting for overhauling of better quality than this one, but they are very complementary one with rosewood ends (I like more usually the wooden ended models) and the other one wiht metal ends.

I hope that you bought one of the other wheatstone or lachenal of 57 buttons that appeared a month ago in ebay, that were a bit more expensive but they seemed nice.

I find usually in my duets that as my hands are very small I have to introduce a lot the hand through the hand strap, then the nearest notes to the palm are too near for the fingers. I should change the hands position.

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I find usually in my duets that as my hands are very small I have to introduce a lot the hand through the hand strap, then the nearest notes to the palm are too near for the fingers. I should change the hands position.

 

Keeping the hand straps loose allows you to slide your hands further in and then to be able to slide them further out again when you wish a comfortable finger position for the lower notes. This ,I find works well but it is when you need to make a long jump of notes or a wide spaced chord that small hands can be a problem. I am sure that people with large hands will equally have a problem of big fingers getting in the way of each other.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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There are times when playing chords when you will have to swing your hand through almost 90 degrees in the straps to reach the notes, and you need to be able to slide quickly in and out of the straps too. If you're playing standing up this may not be very easy. Certainly I always play sitting using one knee; never having learnt to play standing. You need room in the straps to do this sort of thing, and I have enough space to get the fingers of my other hand part way into the straps as well as the hand that is supposed to be there. Then you take this slack up by bracing your hand out into the strap against your thumb. .

 

Perhaps you have small hands, but I don't think you should come to it already defeated. You need to do it, so you must find out how to do it. Full stop, no excuses. I give a problem manoevre serious thought until I find it is possible after all if I do it 'like that'. (It always has been possible) Then I can settle down to practice and get it right. Don't forget the overlap area and the option to take a few notes into the other hand either. That often unravels things magically.

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