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Exploring The Maccann Duet For Traditional Music

felix castro

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Dear friends, as I told in another topic, the Dilemma, that began Mr. Dirge, I have put two close up videos of myself playing the right hand of my maccann duet. I don't know if putting them on the video forum or in the teaching and learning forum.


I decided to do it as there are only a few videos of duet playing in were one can see clearly the hands or one hand in one of the sides of the concertina.

I recorded them almost one year ago, I didn't put them online as there were several mistakes, hoping for recording again them better, but finally as I didn't record them again, I decided to began putting these videos for beginning a topic, and hoping that other maccann players do the same.


Titles and links

1st Video

Experimentando coa maccann duet concertina 1. É unha modelo wheatstone de 46 botóns de aproximadamente 1920. Interpreto en do a melodía da muiñeira de Faustino Luis Seoane, coñecido gaiteiro de O Cañizo - A Gudiña - Ourense.

Exploring the maccann duet layout 1 playing a wheatstone 46 buttons concertina from the 20s, I play a galician muiñeira in C key, learned from the famous galician piper, Faustino Luis Seoane, O Cañizo - A Gudiña (Ourense).


I posted this muiñeira in another topic in the videos section with an anglo in Bb/F.


2nd Video

Experimentando coa maccann duet concertina 2. É unha modelo wheatstone de 46 botóns de aproximadamente 1920. Interpreto en do unha jota aprendida do gran gaiteiro Juanjo Fernández. Exploring the maccann duet layout playing a wheatstone 46 buttons concertina from the 20s, I play a galician jota in C key, learned from the galician piper Juanjo Fernández from Lugo"



Jotas are in 3/4 rythm but much more lively than the waltz, if they go in a moderate tempo, as this one it can be called Jota valseada (waltzsed jota).


I hope your benevolence for the mistakes.

I shall put in another post the way that I played in these videos, I adapted my way of fingering in the diatonic accordion, playing with three fingers mainly, index, middle and ring finger. It works well in C key, in another keys not.


My purpose is playing traditional music mainly and in galician music the tunes aren't usually more than in a 9 notes extent, then maccanns with 46, 55 or 57 keys are very nice for playing it, I think.


Félix Castro

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Hello again.

The way of playing that I used here is a lot from my diatonic accordion style, that I think it is common to many squeezebox players.

When I play the C scale in the maccann the first times and I thought about a diatonic two row keyboard broken, split, in two parts, C, D, E, F and G, A, B and C, put one over the other.

The way of making scales is the same that I use in my diatonic accordion, using three fingers, index, middle, and ring, it could be done with only two, index and middle, in fact when learning diatonic accordion, many people began doing the scale in the two rows only with two fingers.

I. E.

C - index finger, D- ring finger, E - middle finger, F - ring finger again; and G - index finger, A - ring finger, B - middle finger, C - ring finger


The three fingers work in the four rows of the maccann. And the accidental notes are adjacent to the "natural" notes.


In typical diatonic accordion (speaking in a C/F accordion) we don't have the C button pulling in the "same" place that in a maccann layout, but in a C club system accordion there is. I put a layout here (note the middle button with C/C, the notes on the right are pulling.


(The exactly same way of fingering of all fingers as I exposed for the maccann in a C/F diatonic accordion pulling all the notes will result a Dm scale with the Bb and the high C pulling one button further).


The G-A adjacent notes in the low scale or in the chidley layout brokes this kind of playing of alternating notes with index and ring and using the middle as a substitute of them. As another member suggested in another topic about the difference with the chidley layout, perhaps it is true that the chidley layout is more regular, but less playable having i. e. two Cs in the same row, as is very common in tunes going up and down quickly from C to one octave higher C.


And when more accidental notes needed, more difficult is to use this style.


I made several things, that were not properly of the tune (particularly in the Jota), repeatedly quick three notes, C-B-A, or a quick scale of C, for showing that with this way of fingering and almost without practicising it can be done (at least in C key).


(To be continued)

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Felix; they are nice little tunes and will sound really good, but if I were you I'd just forget your accordion completely and play what the concertina wants to play, if you understand me.*


Work out and practice some basic chords, perhaps C, G, F to start with and learn to use them. Add others later. You heard what I do and said you liked it; well I don't do much more than that when playing by ear.



*thinking about it that's exactly what I had to do when I moved on from piano accordion.

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The typical C major scale in a diatonic accordion in C/F trying to do the most part of the notes pulling would be

C push - index finger (c row) (in a club accordion could it be C pull - index finger in the f row), D pulling - middle (c row), E pull - index finger (F row), F pull - ring (C row), G pull - middle (F row), A pull - ring (C row), B pull - pinkie (c row) and C push - ring (c row) (in a club accordion it can be C pull - ? finger pinkie or ring but the other fingering may be altered (C row).

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Hello Félix,


I'm new with the duet ... and a melodeon player too


It is very difficult for me to manage with the concertina : notes are not at all disposed as they are on my melodeon, and are not at all either diposed as they are on a piano keyboard :(


So I agree completely with what Dirge says : it's too complicated comparing both instruments and trying to find correpondances between them !


Maybe I could add something from my own (small !) experience ?


Try to play with both hands. As for me, for the left hand I pick the chords which are mentionned on the sheet and and try to select some notes which go well with my right hand, and at the end, sometimes it makes something :mellow: !





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Hello, thankyou Dirge and Diatosoldo very much for your advices.

Sorry because of my english, I know that I make many mistakes writing, but I usually don't revise a lot my writings, if I should do it surely I would perfect my english, but I should be writing a simple post for many hours ;-).

I didn't mean about not playing with both hands or without chords, only about a way of fingering that is the same that I use in the diatonic accordion (and less similar to the anglo concertina).

It focuses about playing the four middle rows more with three fingers (index, middle and ring) moving through the four columns, and less with the pinkie.

When I read about the fingering in the maccann duet, I understood that many peopled used mainly each finger, index (1), middle (2), ring (3) and pinkie (4) in the four inner rows, and the accidental rows were reached by index and pinkie, it is fine, i. e. for not be lost in the keyboard (I do some times in the anglo concertina, be fixed in the same button and no moving the fingers from the buttons) but in the practice the fingers need to be moved, i.e. when playing the following note in the same column, or for doing ornaments, that are an important part in traditional music.

Of course I shall practice my left hand more and my pinkie too. And I shall put videos of that.

But as I told before in another topic, as my mainly musical knowledge is practical, by ear, not theorical, I don't read sheets (with big effort), I found easier for doing left hand accompaniment in the anglo and diatonic accordion, that with bellows reversals suppress many wrong choices of buttons or notes (but limits also advanced chording possibilities). I am studing now more the maccann keyboard (and some theory) that what I have done before with the anglo and the diatonic accordion.

As I play mainly by ear, for me it is difficult to use the old maccann tutors in www.concertina.com, and mainly because the tunes of the books are absolutely unknown for me. Perhaps some body could record the melodies of the old tutors for helping to the beginners.

It was only a point of viewing or approaching part of the playing, and the concertinas are a whole world of playing, melody line with only one hand, with both hands, chords and melody, faster or slower, etc. etc. For me , at least in my short anglo experience, each key is a different fingering and way of playing.

Thankyou very much again for your support.

Edited by felix castro
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