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Chords On Various Duets


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Hi, I am curious about the playability of drone chords on the more common duet concertinas. I am thinking about a layered effect similar to the drone that bagpipes produce. On my english I use a droned A on Campbells Farewell because I don't need to move the low A finger, but on other pieces where I might want a drone, I end up with finger tangles and lose the effect.

Do all three duets ala Crane, Maccann, and Hayden allow for enough notes to be held constantly so as to produce a strong and constant drone? Yes I am in danger of over using this, but there is so much fun to be had...

Thank you! eric in Montana

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Eric,

Chris Algar once sent me a picture of a model 22 Wheatstone (metal ends) that had a springy arm attached at an end bolt that could be placed so as to hold down a button for a drone effect. (I'll look for the picture).

 

It might commit you to that drone note for the duration of the tune but some ingenious person might rig a way to shift or lift the lever. Or perhaps a spring could be devised to hold the drone activator at ready to be pushed down by the palm ala the right arm of an uilleann piper to engage and change drone notes....

 

Whoa! going toward the deep end here! :blink:

 

Greg

 

Pic found! Although it looks as though a rivet was used to anchor the arm rather than an end bolt.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Greg Jowaisas
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Can't speak for Maccann, but I play both Hayden and Crane, and both work pretty well for drones, but the Hayden definitely the better of the two.

 

A Crane drones fine, but depending where you are in the scale the fingering patterns are different, whereas for the Hayden every root-fifth drone is one button, and then the button up and to the right of it. If you want a root and fourth, pick your key button and then go one up and to the left. It's a very regular, consistent system.

 

 

Hayden system: note D-A, C-G, Bb-F, etc. are all identically "play root, and the button up and right", throughout the layout.

 

2aqj4n.gif

 

 

And here's Crane; note D-A, C-G, Bb-F, etc are all totally different finger shapes. It's not necessarily terrible to get used to, same as being on a piano and having to figure out white and black keys, but it's not as dead-simple as Hayden.

 

 

24ni3br.gif

 

 

And here's a Maccann, note even less consistency. That's not to say it's a bad system, just that forming chords isn't as immediately intuitive, but supposedly it's a better/smoother system for complex harmonic play, once you get the system integrated into your brain.

 

a2c09v.gif

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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Chris Algar once sent me a picture of a model 22 Wheatstone (metal ends) that had a springy arm attached at an end bolt that could be placed so as to hold down a button for a drone effect. [picture follows in Greg's original post]

Looks similar to what Peter Bellamy did on his anglo.

 

What I see as limitations with this on the English:

  • Only one drone note at a time. Many instruments with drones have two or more notes, e.g., tonic and fifth, tonic and octave, or tonic with fifth and octave. (Could you get tonic and fifth by setting the arm to press two buttons at once? If so, you'd probably need to add a joint, so that the angle of the end could be different from the angle to the mounting.)
  • Only a very few notes would be accessible to such a fixed arm.
  • Access to other notes near the drone might be blocked by the arm.

But on a duet

  • All notes (in the left hand) are equally accessible for use as drones.
  • The drones and melody would normally be in separate hands, and therefore completely independent in terms of fingering. (An exception, though I believe fairly rare, would be if the melody goes below the lowest note in the right hand.)
  • Even the smallest duets normally go down to C below middle C in the left hand, allowing for lower drones than on a treble English, though a tenor-treble English does go down to that low C.

I occasionally do drones on my treble English, even tonic and fifth by pressing two buttons with one finger, but it's definitely easier on any of my duets... and possible on more tunes and in more keys.

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@Eric:

 

well, one Problem I see w/ this Approach is that the more valves you open, the less air flows through each one and consequently, less air is left for the melody notes if you push more than one left Hand side button at the same time. On my 55 button Crane (which is fairly high Quality and has a good air supply volume due to the 8 fold bellows), pushing more than two Buttons on the left Hand side renders a right hand note played at the same time almost inaudible.

 

 

Speaking as an anglo player, I find that surprising. I usually play in a fairly legato style (not too much oom-pah) and I'm often playing RH melody while playing at least 2 or 3 notes on the LH. When RH chords are added I could routinely be playing 4 or 5 notes at once, sometimes more.

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I'll echo hjc: I don't have any problem with left-hand multiple notes sucking away too much air from my right side. I do tend to use just one or two left-hand notes while doing melody-heavy stuff, but that's more because of the volume of having too many bass notes playing. Still plenty of air getting to the right side, right side note(s) still playing clear, just they get drowned out in sheer volume if I use too much left hand.

 

Another reminder that I need to finally get around to recording some Irish sean-nós melodies with drone on my concertina.

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I think Ruediger is refering to the volume issues and not any lack of available air for the melody notes.

 

Are you quite sure about that? ;)

 

the more valves you open, the less air flows through each one and consequently, less air is left for the melody notes if you push more than one left Hand side button at the same time.

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I think Ruediger is refering to the volume issues and not any lack of available air for the melody notes.

 

Are you quite sure about that? ;)

 

the more valves you open, the less air flows through each one and consequently, less air is left for the melody notes if you push more than one left Hand side button at the same time.

 

You've only quoted the first sentence and although this is what he wrote I feel that what he means is contained in the last sentence

of that paragraph.

 

Many Duet concertinas would appear to be just that 'two keyboards' for use in playing two or more melodies at the same time and not really balanced to use as 'melody right hand and accompanying chords on the left à la the accordeon.

 

A system of adjustable Baffles would be a fine thing though I must say that one can get used to the balance of you particular instrument. When my Wakker 46 first arrived I thought the volume of the Left hand was too much but a few delicate adjustments to brighten up the Right hand and the balance when recorded with a central microphone shows all is well. I also notice that many of its left hand notes have a softer tone, almost 'woolly' which allows the right hand notes to shine above a bass line. Whether this has been 'designed-in' or not I cannot say but judge for yourselves at

https://soundcloud.com/geoff-wooff/itmduet3mp3

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@Howard, Geoff and Matthew: Thanks for trying to interpret my moronic gibberish. The only excuse I have for putting it out is that a) I should stop trying to juggle bits and bytes and thinking about music at the same time and B) with my first 48 Crane I used to have the problem that I ran out of air, and one of the pieces of advice I got was to cut down on notes to be played at the same time, and apparently I haven't tried otherwise since then. (the only other feasibly explanation would be dementia, and I'd be too scared to follow up on that).

 

Of course all of you are right. There is no substance in what I wrote, and I kindly ask all of you to forget about it. And to prove just how wrong I was and in order to at least contribute something reasonably significant to this discussion, a few minutes ago I hastily recorded myself playing something with both full chord accompaniment (first time around) and single note (second time). It's a piece taught to me many years ago by Jimself, and apologies for a quick and dirty recording (I just couldn't expect my wife and my dogs to take even one more take):

http://www.ruediger-asche.de/tidbits/yc_demo.wav .

 

I think it clearly proves that there is no loss in full chord accompaniment.

 

I DO feel sheepish, I really do. Again, sincerest apologies.

Edited by Ruediger R. Asche
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I don't know if this is equally possible on all Duet systems (due to different ergonomics of each of them), but on a Hayden you can comfortably use a bass/tonic drone as a third layer of arrangement, that is playing a drone beside a full chordal accompaniment on the LH. This is a VERY air consuming technique and of limited practical use (I sometime dabble on my concertina exploring it's capabilities in an improvised way and one time this technique of increasing number of voices came to my mind).

As to maximum number of sounding notes I use up to 7 in some punk rock songs (single note bass + full chord on the left and an octave higher chord on the right) for necessary punch and fill. Other than that it is usually 3-5 notes maximum (full chord accompaniment plus melody with added fifth or octave on accents).

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This is a great discussion and will be useful as I contemplate the aquisition of a duet. It appears that all the duet keyboards would allow me to play drone with melody. I think the duet concertina would allow for some great psychedelic organ fills or some fabulous drones ala velvet underground. And the drone would be great on those wonderful scottish bagpipe tunes. Thank you!

Edited by Eric Barker
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This is a great discussion and will be useful as I contemplate the aquisition of a duet. It appears that all the duet keyboards would allow me to play drone with melody. I think the duet concertina would allow for some great psychedelic organ fills or some fabulous drones ala velvet underground. And the drone would be great on those wonderful scottish bagpipe tunes. Thank you!

 

This is pretty much what I do. As noted in some other "how you got into concertina" threads, I had far less interest in existing recordings of concertina experts, and more in having a small portable instrument that would allow me to do uilleann-like stuff, imitate Nico's harmonium as heard with Velvet Underground, etc. (Here's some Nico for folks unfamiliar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl2abkTndAw)

 

I favor Hayden for that kind of playing because the uniform fingering system is convenient for me, but you have to balance that against market availability. Hayden has the real affordable student models ($400), but after that for a decent hybrid concertina jumps to $2500 or $3800, and for one made with traditional concertina reeds, $5,800.

 

Cranes and Maccanns you can find a medium-small one (46b, 48b) for maybe as low as $800. I spent $500 on my 35b Crane, thought it needed $150 or so of repair done on it, and 35b comes cheap because most folks find that few buttons rather limiting.

 

Like I was saying to the fellow in "Duet for Irish music" thread, if you want to have some long, slow drones for singing, Duet handles that quite well and also frees up the right hand to fill in some high bits for contrast. Exciting to see more folks taking a hard look at Duet these days!

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