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Brainstorming A Diy Concertina Midi Controller


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Er, is this thread in English?

Chris (active member of the Luddite Party of Great Britain)

 

 

I don't think the thread is in English, I have not come across the expression 'Bs'ing', and am still in ignorance, so I have been at a bit of a disadvantage with respect to this thread. In fact I wonder what it has to do with concertinas, we have substituted accordion reeds for concertina reeds but now we seem to have stumbled into a cross between 'electronics weekly' and the 'DIY Computer Applications Annual'. we don't even need reeds, nor bellows so why retain keys and fingers?

 

Ah... we get existential. What truly makes a concertina a concertina? ^_^

 

So far as "BS'ing", though the term is often derogatory, here it's being used in the humorously self-deprecating way to mean "we're not terribly serious but are throwing around ideas just to see what comes up". The full term is just slightly naughty or work-unsafe for the most conservative, but here's the Wiktionary link; we're using it in the sense of definition Verb2: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bullshit#Verb'>link

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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Regarding Bluetooth audio, I have found the latency, at least on my iOS devices, to be too long for it to be used effectively for performing with realtime instrument apps.

 

If anyone has found a specific Bluetooth amplified speaker system that doesn't exhibit terrible latency for use with my apps I'd be very interested!

Hello Michael,

I agree that wireless speakers using the early Bluetooth specs, and also the devices up to the iPhone 4, could not handle real-time communication. Indeed I bought a Jambox to play from my midi concertina and was disappointed by the 0.4 second latency, which made it unplayable - it works fine though if I plug it in as a wired connection to my iPad.

 

However, the Bluetooth 4.0 spec (also known as Bluetooth LE for Low Energy) which came out in 2010 and is appearing in current devices like the Lowdi supposedly has very low latency. The later iDevices like the iPhone 4S and 5 also support Bluetooth LE. There are also apps like Apollo that are doing MIDI over Bluetooth for the first time using Bluetooth LE. The page that that links to has a good discussion of latency etc.

 

So, I too would be interested in anyone confirming a portable speaker that does do Bluetooth 4 with low latency in conjunction with a current iPad, and hence would be useable as a wireless speaker for a MIDI concertina, but I do believe that it is now feasible.

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@ Matthew & Chris: or we might just pretend, that in our case it this is just an abbreviation of BrainStorming and there is no naughtyness in it :)

 

thanks Lukasz,

 

yes I think than 'brain storming' is a far finer term than the bovine bye-product.

 

as to the question of all questions: What truly makes a concertina a concertina?

 

I might counter with the question: I may be able to get high scores on a Star-Wars Simulator, but is that flying a space ship?

 

If Flight Simulators are not true aircraft then a digital piano cannot be a true piano, it must be a piano simulator???

 

so a digital (midi?) concertina is not a true concertina, but a concertina simulator??

 

it must be bed time

 

Dave E

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as to the question of all questions: What truly makes a concertina a concertina?

 

I might counter with the question: I may be able to get high scores on a Star-Wars Simulator, but is that flying a space ship?

 

If Flight Simulators are not true aircraft then a digital piano cannot be a true piano, it must be a piano simulator???

 

so a digital (midi?) concertina is not a true concertina, but a concertina simulator??

 

Not at all an apt comparison: when you fly a flight simulator rather than an aeroplane, you don't find yourself actually arriving at Chicago O'Hare airport. When you play "Flight of the Bumblebee" on a MIDI concertina, your audience actually hears "Flight of the Bumblebee".

 

This is about as silly as arguing that an oboe is a "poor imitation" of a flute since it artificially introduces a reed to make the noise instead of a embouchure hole. MIDI instruments are musical instruments, and ones which use a concertina-based interface both allow concertinists to experiment with the possibilities of MIDI, as well as show MIDI players the ergonomic and layout benefits of the concertina.

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as to the question of all questions: What truly makes a concertina a concertina?

 

I might counter with the question: I may be able to get high scores on a Star-Wars Simulator, but is that flying a space ship?

 

If Flight Simulators are not true aircraft then a digital piano cannot be a true piano, it must be a piano simulator???

 

so a digital (midi?) concertina is not a true concertina, but a concertina simulator??

 

Not at all an apt comparison: when you fly a flight simulator rather than an aeroplane, you don't find yourself actually arriving at Chicago O'Hare airport. When you play "Flight of the Bumblebee" on a MIDI concertina, your audience actually hears "Flight of the Bumblebee".

 

This is about as silly as arguing that an oboe is a "poor imitation" of a flute since it artificially introduces a reed to make the noise instead of a embouchure hole. MIDI instruments are musical instruments, and ones which use a concertina-based interface both allow concertinists to experiment with the possibilities of MIDI, as well as show MIDI players the ergonomic and layout benefits of the concertina.

 

 

Maybe there ought to be part of this forum dedicated to computerised music then, certainly this thread has little to do with the repair and construction of concertinas

 

Dave

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I think that it would be best to let Dave have the last word. If the mods want to move this topic elsewhere then I would be happy with that.

 

"You can call me anything you like, just don't call me later for dinner."

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Ah... we get existential. What truly makes a concertina a concertina? ^_^

To me a concertina is a small portable musical instrument, in which the notes are chosen by buttons pressed in the direction of moving hands together, and the volume and expression is varied by the pressure exerted between the hands.

 

I think the 'Duck Test' applies. Wikipedia says:

The duck test is a humorous term for a form of inductive reasoning. This is its usual expression:

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

The test implies that a person can identify an unknown subject by observing that subject's habitual characteristics. It is sometimes used to counter abstruse arguments that something is not what it appears to be.

 

I'm fairly sure that my Lachenal concertina 30566 didn't cease being a concertina when the (naff) reeds were replaced by MIDI circuitry.

 

I also suspect that the long term future success of the concertina family of instruments will at least partly depend on the availability of modern concertina equivalents at reasonable cost, whatever the technology is or will be. So I do think this is a meaningful part of discussing 'the construction of concertinas'

 

However I don't want to upset Dave, particularly as he was very helpful to me at the Kilve weekend last week, so we may need to accept that different people have different opinions on this, and agree to differ!

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Dave:

we on c.net forum don't struggle with limited resources/forum space available. This thread doesn't occupy any "broadcast time" or in any way forces anyone to follow it, so I really don't see what your point is. This thread is about (MIDI) concertina construction and is disscussed by concertina players interested in playing concertinas, whether traditional, hybrid or electronic.

 

And I cannot agree, that MIDI instruments are mere simulators - a huge deal of modern music is done purely on electronic keyboards or with some use of them. Most piano players don't have real pianos, but they often have dozens of "simulators" which they use to great extent on such non-simulated events like open air festivals for tens of thousands of people.

 

In Poland we have two terms for people playing piano keyboard instruments on professional level: one is 'pianista' and refers to acoustic piano players with degree from music school, and the second is "klawiszowiec" which translates to "keyboard player" - a person who can play piano (often perfectly and often a pianista with diploma) but also have a wide knowlege on sound production, electronic music, composition and simply can use modern electronic keyboards with all their capabilities.

 

I bet, that if we had a large supply of cheap but powerfull MIDI concertinas available, a lot of concertinists would have a MIDI box for practicing and experimenting. As Paul said - if it can be played as any other concertina then it is a concertina.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If it's any contribution to this very erudite discussion, when I went on holiday last year my husband refused to contemplate me playing the concertina in our hotel room so I got my daily fix playing the Englitina app on my iphone instead. I learned a new tune while we were away and could play it on my 'real' concertina when I got back.

Edited by Spinningwoman
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  • 2 weeks later...

(Dave E: Just don't follow the link to this web-site as it will only upset you!)

 

This is a semester project for a 'concertina' made of of spare parts - including hand straps made from some Birkenstock sandals and cast off computer keyboard keys.

 

https://www.youmagine.com/designs/upcycled-birkenstock-e-concertina?_escaped_fragment_=design-embed

 

The electronics are more interesting than the mechanics, download the details from the page if you are interested.

 

Speaking of mechanics, I have been thinking about how to make button arrays, especially large button arrays for something like a 64 button Hayden. I want the buttons to feel as similar as possible to a real concertina and that means low activation force, no tactile click (?) and close button spacing.

 

I have samples of a number of off the shelf electromechanical push-button type switches, but none of the simple ones really feel right so far. Some of the Cherry keyboard switches (browns or reds) used in computer 'gamer' keyboards look pretty good, but they are too big to fit in a two dimensional keyboard array - I think that they would work well for a Melodeon.

 

I am beginning to think that it might be necessary to make a button and lever arm mechanism very similar to that used in real mechanical concertinas and use these to activate low, or zero force, switches. There are several good candidate technologies for these switches (optos, hall-effect sensors, reed switches and some low force lever-activated electromechanical switches).

 

But, making a real action board is going to be a lot of work and I really want to minimize the amount of mechanical stuff. As an aside, that Mr. Wheatstone was a clever bloke - the way the buttons work reliably, consistently and packed into a very small space is a marvel.

 

Any ideas for switches to try, or for a way to make an action board?

 

Don.

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It seems having to make an entire action would be a last resort. I know that it would be nice to emulate real feel, but maybe that's only needed at first, and you'd quickly get used to switches. What about switches like these:

 

ux_a14011500ux0050_ux_c.jpg

The buttons are 3.5mm diameter, but maybe you'd have to extend them to get through the case wall anyway, in which case you could make the extension anything you wanted?

 

An interesting thought though. We tend to think of the buttons on a concertina as normally open momentary contacts. But really they are normally closed, aren't they. You don't have to push the button all the way down to make the noise go. Ideally your button should be a normally closed one.

 

If you were tempted to make a full action, what about going halfway? A phosphor bronze or beryllium copper wire is riveted or screwed to the board where the hinge point of the real lever would have been. It passes through the button in the usual way. When the button is not depressed, the wire is in contact with an earthed plate. So the wire is both spring and contact.

 

Ideally you would avoid contacts altogether. If you went the full mechanism way, you would have room for opto or hall effect switches. Maybe there are SMD hall effect switches that could fit under the buttons even.

 

I think I need a little lie down....

 

Terry

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Terry: those switches you've pictured have almost no travel at all and require quite a force to switch.

 

Don: you could fit your keyboard switches onto two layers of circutboard (with button holes in upper one) and make some sort of spring-buttons to increase travel distance (by spring-button I mean a simple tube on a post, similiar to what electronic switches incorporate already). But from what you said earlier, your keyboard switches should fit into Anglo you're building.

 

Using reed switches etc.. is a great solution when making a conversion, but a pain really when trying to do a cheap midi controller, easily doubling the time and cost of the instrument.

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