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owlgal

Duet Concertinas?

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You might think of them as two Englishes glued together… Duet vs Anglo comparison however is a lot more complex, as each has it's own advantages and distinctive features, some shared by both and some unreplicable on the other...

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Your 20b Anglo and the CC Elise are very different creatures, but it's certainly worth reading up on to see if the Elise or Rochelle better suits your needs.

 

If you're looking to play traditional Irish concertina, 98% sure you want 30b C/G Anglo. Ditto [EDIT: still an Anglo but in G/D] for Morris dancing and the like.

 

Duet, in contrast, "belongs" to no particular tradition, but is the best suited for playing multi-layered music, and Hayden Duets have the advantage of a really brilliant and intuitive layout of notes.

 

The whole advantage of a Duet concertina is its ability to easily play multiple parts, or harmony and melody both, at the same time. This is not a great advantage in heavily melody-based traditions like Irish trad, but for other styles can be great. For example, I like to play Sacred Harp arrangements (a style of singing that sounds like a cross between Gospel and Gregorian chant) so Duet is great for playing two or more vocal parts at the same time. Similarly, I also find the Duet fun because I can play chords or counter-melodies for traditional American folksongs.

 

The Elise is a fine starter Duet provided you're doing such folky stuff, rather than the classical or jazzy stuff that Duet players tend to do. Since the 34 button Elise is a bit small for a Duet, it can only cover the keys of F, C, G, and D, and has a range of under three octaves. For our Duet-playing (MacCann, Jeffries, Crane, etc) board members here who do complex piano-like music that is woefully insufficient, but for people like me who are playing old murder ballads, fiddle or smallpipes tunes and the like it's largely sufficient, and I played my Elise casually for a few years until I just recently "grew out" of it and ordered a quality 52 key Duet.

 

The main reason I chose Elise over Rochelle is that I was fascinated by how logical the Hayden-Wicki Duet layout is, and how easy it is to transpose tunes to different keys while keeping the exact same fingering. It's very consistent, and has made it easy for me to just jump into songs and figure the chords out by ear. So that and the ability to play multiple parts is why I chose the Duet, also partially because Duet is so rare there's really no way to do it "wrong" since there's not a clear established tradition.

 

Fundamentally, the Elise appealed to my inner geeky rebel (rebellious geek?).

Edited by MatthewVanitas

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Wow thanks a lot, sounds like what I'm looking for. Been playing around with everything from Bellman (18th-century Swedish songwriter) and simpler Swedish stuff to simple American folk tunes like "Tom Dooley", none of it very well but I see the potential. I've been playing every day which isn't something I've done with an instrument for a long time.

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I have been tempted by an Elise, but I have so far decided against one because I have not found much in the way of tutorial material that I could use on my own.

 

Maybe there is something out there that I have not yet found?

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I can only back Matthew up in everything he said about both Elise and Hayden layout in general. I do miss some notes on my Elise sometimes, but it has so much more potential in it than 20b Anglo. The single biggest reason why Hayden is the only duet layout currently in "mass" production is its very steep learning curve - after getting familiar with chords (just a couple of shapes, not huge piano/guitar-like chord sheets) you can just play accompaniments to everything easily, by ear or from fake sheets. Such ability is IMHO the real possibility for these concertinas to get out of a "ghetto" of traditional music: it is perfectly capable of playing punk, rock, world, indie or any modern instrumental music. And since we can observe a steady increase in number of available sizes/models the "dead end" problem of Elise is no longer an issue.

 

@Don: There is really no tutorial needed for Hayden layout - just study these patterns http://www.shiverware.com/musix/wicki/chords.html This is a "roadmap" of all possible chords and for starters you'll need only major and minor (just two shapes) with occasional seventh and sus chords (another four shapes). Also practice scales (only two, one major and one minor) and you're good to go on anything you have dots for. This basic level of understanding of a Hayden is doable in couple of evenings!

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I have been tempted by an Elise, but I have so far decided against one because I have not found much in the way of tutorial material that I could use on my own.

Maybe there is something out there that I have not yet found?

 

The Elise comes with a good 50-page tutor by Wim Wakker.

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ha, as it happens, prompted by the "concertina in sweden" thread, i was listening to the swedish and scandinavian folk tunes on my copy of mark gilston's "troll road" today and it did come to mind that though he has devised and executed chordal/harmony effects to go with his melody lines very impressively using his EC, the concertina that really would be great for that is duet....there seems to be a bias among many of the duet folks on this site towards the classical end of the spectrum, but there is nothing wrong with using a duet to play folk music. left-side harmonizing and/or bass vamping to right-side melody playing (or the reverse, for spice), sound gorgeous on duet concertina--tango, musette, scandinavian, eastern-european....

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Found this guy Jeff Lefferts that has some fun duet stuff http://www.youtube.com/user/JeffLeff/videos Check out his slightly surealistic "Baby Elephant Walk" video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpVOOmmQA5Q 8-)

Yes yes... one of my favourites on Youtube is that version of the Baby Elephant tune. :D Makes me laugh everytime.

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I don't know that I have anything new to add, but I'll chime in. I can't say a lot about the anglo, as the bisonoric concept is totally foreign to me. I've studied music for many years and at the university, and so my brain was not wired to the anglo system. That doesn't make it bad, but I think it is a harder switch for someone used to other instruments. Perhaps for someone just learning their first instrument it would not be an issue.

 

The Hayden duet, on the other hand, is brilliantly laid out (as has been stated before). I went through a similar search to yours about a year ago after our daughter was born. I consider myself an accordion player (and still do, as it's quite versatile) but I wanted something that I could sit on the floor with my daughter and play. After much research I ordered the Elise from the Button Box. They and Concertina Connection were both quite helpful as I tried to identify what instrument I wanted to try, and both offered to let me sample several with me only being out of pocket for shipping as we tried various instruments until I found the one I wanted to keep.

 

I started with the Elise and I never returned it. I was concerned about the missing notes. For my purposes it hasn't been an issue. At some point I will probably want to move beyond playing tunes on the floor with my daughter and I'll need to step up. If you want to play in an ensemble you'll also run into problems. But if you're playing on your own and starting with simple tunes you can put them in a key that works even with the missing notes.

 

Either way, you're going to be glad your getting into the concertina! It has been a delight since the day I got it on my doorstep!

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Wow thanks a lot, sounds like what I'm looking for. Been playing around with everything from Bellman (18th-century Swedish songwriter) and simpler Swedish stuff to simple American folk tunes like "Tom Dooley", none of it very well but I see the potential. I've been playing every day which isn't something I've done with an instrument for a long time.

 

I wasn't familiar with Bellman, but looking at it now he was kind of like a somewhat more Baroque Scandinavian parallel to Scotland's Robert Burns?

 

Looking at some snippets of his sheet-music online, I think this definitely looks the kind of thing a Duet would do well, within the limitations of key and range:

 

mxpre7468.gif

 

 

Not that he is necessarily your only goal, but the fit there is good. For things like Tom Dooley and whatnot, while an Anglo can cover those handily, the Duet can do so as well, and personally for Appalachian it is fun to have big droney open chords running under some of the melody.

 

Nothing you've mentioned so far is contrary to what Duet does well, or has significant disadvantages to Anglo or English.

 

 

 

 

.there seems to be a bias among many of the duet folks on this site towards the classical end of the spectrum, but there is nothing wrong with using a duet to play folk music. left-side harmonizing and/or bass vamping to right-side melody playing (or the reverse, for spice)

 

Yep, I was baffled at first when I looked into Duets on this forum, because serious Duet players seemed to value such massive (to my eyes) instruments like 60-key Maccanns and the like. From that angle I could see how the Elise would look hobbled, but given that I routinely play purely diatonic instruments, or instruments with a range of barely an octave, the Elise is more flexible than many axes I play. But it's certainly not a piano.

 

 

@Don: There is really no tutorial needed for Hayden layout - just study these patterns http://www.shiverwar...cki/chords.html This is a "roadmap" of all possible chords

 

Łukasz, what a great link! I'm surprised I haven't seen that before. For a "visual learner" it's a great layout, but I would love to see (or make?) a video demonstrating on an actual instrument, to really drive home how uniform and predictable the fingering is. On another instrument I would have to pause for a moment to recalculate how to change it from C to D, or would just shrug and capo a mandolin or swap out a different tinwhistle, but on a Hayden Duet I just shift over one button and use the same fingering as I was before, and I'm suddenly in the proper key.

 

Don, not to be too glib, but rather than studying some music to understand the Hayden, it's rather the reverse where just feeling your way through the Hayden improves one's understanding of music. The instrument is become the instructor...

Edited by MatthewVanitas

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Interesting to read your thoughts of duets as two Englishes glued together, Lukasz - coming to duets originally from anglo, the way I think of them is as unisonoric anglos with an overlap!

 

The Hayden/Wicki layout is certainly very logical indeed, and being the only cheaply-available production duet is a good option. But the keyboard layout in itself doesn't offer a massive amount that extra practice won't solve on any other system. From personal experience I know that while the Jeffries duet layout looks absolutely horrific on paper, with work it's very playable, and not just in its core key. And you'll rarely hear a pianist or brass player complain about each key having its own fingerings ;)

 

If you're really interested in duets, then it's worth bearing in mind what's been said about the availability of small Lachenal Maccann duets for around the £400 mark - that would offer the same "unlikely to lose value" confidence if you bought one and didn't get on with it.

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Interesting to read your thoughts of duets as two Englishes glued together, Lukasz - coming to duets originally from anglo, the way I think of them is as unisonoric anglos with an overlap!

I was inclined not to strain the thread with my (already disclosed) view on the English, but... :)

 

Never having had the chance to test a Duet it would nevertheless be my guess that you might lack sth. compared to the EC. What I really like about them (resp. the instrument that I have the pleasure to play) is kind of a solid, compact feeling of playing melody and harmony interwoven among each other, based on open fifth double stops.

 

Of course any Duet will more likely be suitable for playing piano-like scores whereas the English (in my understanding) fits for, well, fiddling about with lines, ornamentations, harmony. The Duet players might claim their instrument as being capable of all that, too - and many more; and I wouldn't be the one to object.

 

But if you're an "English" type of musician (or should I say: folkie; because regardless of its primal image as the instrument for the Victorian lady folk music is what the EC is really meant for IMO), the Duet does not necessarily have to be the system of your choice even if you don't want to confine your playing to single line melodies.

 

Try out, if you can (albeit in my case it had been simply by inspiration that I decided to rely on the English, on that significant morning, when I instantly bought my Lachenal..., and was delighted, and continue to be so more and more).

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Yes, my sense is that if you've never played a duet before, and it's your first exposure to the Hayden/Wicki system, the Elise is mind-blowingly cool, and the low cost-of-entry (and high trade-in value later on) more than makes up for the ... well, I've heard it described as "wading through a swamp" when compared with the feel of playing higher-end concertinas. If you're coming from having played any concertina better than a Concertina Connection, a Stagi, or a vintage instrument whose bellows produce a nice cooling breeze on your face as you play, then you might find yourself a bit frustrated with the Elise, but the coolness of its duet system may still overcome that, and the security that you can actually think of the Elise as a down-payment on an upgrade makes it an extremely low-risk investment (compared with, say, the Stagi Hayden duet).

 

It's true, practice will make any duet system playable in a variety of keys (each fingered differently), just as it will make a piano playable in a variety of keys ... and just as it will make an English or Anglo playable in a variety of keys. The advantage a Hayden/Wicki has over all of these is, those keys aren't fingered differently. That means it takes a lot less initial learning time to be able to play in C, D, F, and G over multiple octaves because ... learn C in one octave, and you've learned everything. For some folks, having a lot less to memorize or learn up front is a tremendous advantage; it also means that you can start digging into those more obscure chord patterns earlier -- the Sus-4th, the 6th, etc. And, get a larger instrument later on, and you instantly can play in A, Bb, and so on with no additional learning time; you instantly can play in any higher or lower octave, likewise. That's simply not true of other duet systems.

 

Is it an advantage in the long run? No, not necessarily. But in the short run, for a beginner? I think it's a huge advantage there. Does that mean every beginner should get a Hayden/Wicki, instead of, say, an Anglo or an English? No, I don't think so. Each of the three makes something easier to do while not being quite as intuitive or natural at doing something else; each has some association with a different sort of, or sound of, or tradition of music (though obviously with the Hayden/Wicki these associations are pretty weak, comparatively, as it's a relatively young instrument); and each favors a different learning style and way of thinking about music.

 

Matthew, I don't think you're being glib: I think the Hayden really is itself a tutor for the musician looking to gain a better grasp of music theory. I've handed one to several music majors and composers with no explanation of what it is, and after five minutes of playing around with it their reaction has been not only one of immediately being able to play a tune or two, but also "wow, what a great teaching tool this would be for music theory classes!".

 

That website with the chord layouts and video is great! Brilliant and elegant! I did notice two small typos -- in the Sus-4th chord and the Perfect-4th interval, "F5" should read "F4".

Edited by wayman

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If you're looking to play traditional Irish concertina, 98% sure you want 30b C/G Anglo. Ditto for Morris dancing and the like.

Nonsense. I've been playing for a Morris dance team for 25 years on a Hayden duet. Many Morris concertina players prefer an Anglo in G/D.

 

Found this guy Jeff Lefferts that has some fun duet stuff http://www.youtube.com/user/JeffLeff/videos Check out his slightly surealistic "Baby Elephant Walk" video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpVOOmmQA5Q 8-)

He's on concertina.net, calls himself Boney, although he's been quiet lately.

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