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Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

What Would You Change About Concertina Design?

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[[Though I don't think there is anything 'wrong' with concertinas I always thought that things should always be questioned and improved and innovated upon as a process of evolution. The design of anything is rarely static, people always come up with new ways of doing things to improve the design in question. If someone can design a way of making a concertina easier to play I dont think we should see that as a dumbing down of technique]]

 

agreed. my thoughts on EC improvements are already on record. basically i think this system is great but ready for a re-design. i don't think of this as a trashing of ec. rather, i think of it as the "next step" in its evolution.

 

or, perhaps another way of looking at it might be, since there are apparently those who find the ec set-up fine as it is, i think there is a place at the table for a bilateral unisonoric system without some the features i and numerous others find damnable in current EC design and set-up.

Edited by ceemonster

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Struggling to achieve the impossible is all part of the fun of playing an Anglo. !

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Struggling to achieve the impossible is all part of the fun of playing an Anglo. !

Agreed :)

 

[[Though I don't think there is anything 'wrong' with concertinas I always thought that things should always be questioned and improved and innovated upon as a process of evolution. The design of anything is rarely static, people always come up with new ways of doing things to improve the design in question. If someone can design a way of making a concertina easier to play I dont think we should see that as a dumbing down of technique]]

 

agreed. my thoughts on EC improvements are already on record. basically i think this system is great but ready for a re-design. i don't think of this as a trashing of ec. rather, i think of it as the "next step" in its evolution.

 

or, perhaps another way of looking at it might be, since there are apparently those who find the ec set-up fine as it is, i think there is a place at the table for a bilateral unisonoric system without some the features i and numerous others find damnable in current EC design and set-up.

 

I have never learned the English system myself and sort of fell into anglo from my melodeon playing. I have heard people making some complaint about EC ergonomics in the past though.

 

On the same note I met a lovely American lady who was playing an Aeola standing up for quite a while, I asked her how she managed. In response she allowed me to feel the muscle below her little finger. It was rock hard!

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[[Though I don't think there is anything 'wrong' with concertinas I always thought that things should always be questioned and improved and innovated upon as a process of evolution. The design of anything is rarely static, people always come up with new ways of doing things to improve the design in question. If someone can design a way of making a concertina easier to play I dont think we should see that as a dumbing down of technique]]

 

agreed. my thoughts on EC improvements are already on record. basically i think this system is great but ready for a re-design. i don't think of this as a trashing of ec. rather, i think of it as the "next step" in its evolution.

 

or, perhaps another way of looking at it might be, since there are apparently those who find the ec set-up fine as it is, i think there is a place at the table for a bilateral unisonoric system without some the features i and numerous others find damnable in current EC design and set-up.

 

I have never learned the English system myself and sort of fell into anglo from my melodeon playing. I have heard people making some complaint about EC ergonomics in the past though.

 

On the same note I met a lovely American lady who was playing an Aeola standing up for quite a while, I asked her how she managed. In response she allowed me to feel the muscle below her little finger. It was rock hard!

 

I'd say that with the English you can do things similar to what the Bratwurst" guy from another thread is doing with his Carlsfelder (or whatever): there are parts were you have to rest the instrument on a knee, in any event when engaging four fingers of a hand (what I do rather often) more than transiently...

 

Some have changed the design theirselves for that reason, but I guess I'm fine with sitting down for most of my playing - feels comfortable on stage... :D

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EC's vertical row lines, coupled with the super-close spacing, is infuriating with tunes featuring arpeggiated major chords when the notes in these chords fall close on those rows, all on one side with no switch-off. i've got it pretty much down at a nice relaxed speed. but if you are playing "live in knocknagow" style for boisterous, crazed dancers, those note groups are a nightmare. it is really a hateful feature of current EC design, and badly needs a re-vamp.

Edited by ceemonster

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EC's vertical row lines, coupled with the super-close spacing, is infuriating with tunes featuring arpeggiated major chords when the notes in these chords fall close on those rows, all on one with no switch-off. i've got it pretty much down at a nice relaxed speed. but if you are playing "live in knocknagow" style for boisterous, crazed dancers, those note groups are a nightmare. it is really a hateful feature of current EC design, and badly needs a re-vamp.

Would rather end up at some place beyond the EC, wouldn't it? :unsure:

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EC's vertical row lines, coupled with the super-close spacing, is infuriating with tunes featuring arpeggiated major chords when the notes in these chords fall close on those rows, all on one side with no switch-off. i've got it pretty much down at a nice relaxed speed. but if you are playing "live in knocknagow" style for boisterous, crazed dancers, those note groups are a nightmare. it is really a hateful feature of current EC design, and badly needs a re-vamp.

Perhaps you could give some examples of these difficult tunes ?

 

"badly needs a re-vamp"..... what do you suggest ?

 

Is there a Perfect Keyboard ?

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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okay, lemme think....how about some of those g-major-ish dance reels that start with a major arpeggio over there on the left side...the ones you can't do without all three fingers including the ring. those are horrid on ec...the e-minors on the left i can usually pivot and just use the index and middle. but some of the g-majors, where you are bouncing between the g, the b, AND the d....you have to use all three with the ring, and it's vvvvv hard to do when they're breaking the glassware in knocknagree...

 

or, in D, over on the right-hand side, the opening to "Miss Lyon's Fancy." at top speed that is a tough arpeggio...

Edited by ceemonster

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okay, lemme think....how about some of those g-major-ish dance reels that start with a major arpeggio over there on the left side...the ones you can't do without all three fingers including the ring. those are horrid on ec...the e-minors on the left i can usually pivot and just use the index and middle. but some of the g-majors, where you are bouncing between the g, the b, AND the d....you have to use all three with the ring, and it's vvvvv hard to do when they're breaking the glassware in knocknagree...

 

or, in D, over on the right-hand side, the opening to "Miss Lyon's Fancy." at top speed that is a tough arpeggio...

Ah! G major reels like 'The Heathery Breeze'... do you mean ? Yep they can be tricky alright... I never play at breakneck speed but I can handle that stuff ok ... but it has never been in my favorite repertoire... a tune like that on the CBA takes up about 6 inches of keyboard and probably a 12" span on a piano accordeon.. so it is quite a difference but one can get used to it... I'll have a look at "Miss Lyons Fancy" tomorrow ( as I've never heard of that title before) and report back..... :)

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OUI, justement, "Le Vent Heathery" is the perfect example of EC driving me nuts. I was attempting it "Lahawns" style last week. It actually is in one of the Clare dance-tune sets on one of those live Lahawns records. I think they put it after "Bank of Ireland," which is easy and fun to do ceili-tempo on EC. Sometimes I use the Lahawns recordings as a gauge of what would be "Clare fast"---those recordings are quite brisk, yet the hyper-speeders go even faster than that, even in Clare at times, which I don't care to do. Lahawns or "knocknagree" would be about it for me.

 

CBA, not a problem--at least, for this specific sticky wicket. CBA has its own sticky layout-ergonomics issues, different from this. this is an EC problem for me....on CBA I can do that arpeggio pretty ok at knocknagree speed. it is EC where the one-sided major arpeggio is horrid. "The Flowing Tide" hornpipe would be another example, though no worries on that one because it is a hornpipe, and I'm managing these arpeggios ok on EC at hornpipe speed. "The Morning Mist" reel is another one, but I don't play that at dance speed anyhow.

 

"Miss Lyon's Fancy" has another title but I can't remember what it is. Macmahon and Hill do it on "Knocknagree." But now I better doublecheck, because now I'm worried I'm mixing up the titles myself...

 

here are the Mulcahys doing it in e-flat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBaYTgh8iPc

that's a sweet, sprightly speed

 

here is james keane doing it faster, and i think macmahon/hill take it at a gallop as well...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEpWMr-v3bM

 

those same-side, vertical-line, ring-finger-involved arpeggios are tough on EC...i seem to have better purchase or leverage doing them up higher in B parts. Like, there is a high D arpeggio in the "B" part of "Miss Lyon's Fancy.. but they are proving tough to execute at a clip down lower...

Edited by ceemonster

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Ok thanks for the direction finder for Miss Lyon's... yes I know the tune, but like many people I have more of these tunes than I have titles.

 

Depending the position on the keyboard, or the shape of one's hands, the vertical finger crossing movement might be above or underneath of the normally assigned finger/row.These can involve two or three fingers. The Heathery Breeze , for me is an under crossing of middle finger to to the G button combined with ring finger to B button... whereas at tune like " The day I met Tom Moylan" involves the simpler diagonal movement of first finger going back and forth between G and B whilst pivoting on the middle fingered E....

 

I'm not inclined to think these close knitted groups of fingerings require a redesign of the keyboard more an avoidance of listening to ,or trying to emulate musicians who took their first Reels with their mother's milk and delight in showing off how fast they can play... for dancers who take to the floor for purely sporting activities.

 

I prefer exercizing my fingerings on more complex but not such constipated pieces. Try the Bourrée from Bach's keyboard suite in Eb (BWV 819)!

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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we don't play the bourree in knocknagree. because the dancers would hit us with bottles. :rolleyes: what about the bretagne music? can this be played at a relaxed speed or does one have to go nuts with it?

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Heh. Yes, he definitely has opinions... Look for posts by him in the Ergonomics section of this forum if you want to read more. He was banned from here years ago (and some other forums, from what I understand), undoubtedly because of his combative nature and dead-horse-beating skills. A true evangelist, in the worst sense of the word...

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This is very relevant and is close to what I have in mind form my DIY - in fact I have tested such wristrest back in at the very begining of my concertina playing (on anglo back then).

They are very comfortable, but have several limitations and are tweaking ergonomics in a substantial way:

- first of all, they prohibit wrist movement, which makes it unnatural to play in lower range on the EC and limits reach to high notes (especialy sharps) on the Hayden.

- secondly, if done high enough for comfortable wrist position, you end up with completely different finger "attack angle" and different muscles are involved in fast retracting of fingers. It is less of a problem with EC, because it's "normal" ergonomics different finger positions and training of different muscles.

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This is very relevant and is close to what I have in mind form my DIY - in fact I have tested such wristrest back in at the very begining of my concertina playing (on anglo back then).

They are very comfortable, but have several limitations and are tweaking ergonomics in a substantial way:

- first of all, they prohibit wrist movement, which makes it unnatural to play in lower range on the EC and limits reach to high notes (especialy sharps) on the Hayden.

- secondly, if done high enough for comfortable wrist position, you end up with completely different finger "attack angle" and different muscles are involved in fast retracting of fingers. It is less of a problem with EC, because it's "normal" ergonomics different finger positions and training of different muscles.

 

Thanks for the input. I had no idea of the downsides of this system. Shame the guy sound a bit nasty, he clearly has an interest in concertina design. I am very interested in your project. I hope it goes well.

 

I was thinking lately:

 

I think what would be very interesting would be to ask some concertina makers, who have been working for a long time and have a much better understanding of concertina making than us what they would do if you told them you would pay them their average hourly rate to pursue an idea or design innovation that they felt was valid. I think there is a tendency with craftspeople to be busy with orders and although the maker might have an idea - for example some wild prototype idea they never quite have the time to dedicate to such experiments as there are customers waiting for their orders. A good example of this is a story a mate told me about a well known concertina maker who never had the time to make himself an instrument and whenever he did he ended up selling it as it was a lot of money sitting there.

 

This is something I used to experience, I used to work for an architecture company making models. I wanted to pursue my own projects of woodwork using the company equipment (which did not bother anyone at all) but at the end of each day I was so tired from what I had to do to make money that I never did pursue my own experiments and its rather a shame.

Edited by Jake of Hertford

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This may have been posted before, and is not necessarily relevant to the issue you guys are discussing but this man has made his own take on EC handle design:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmEPTosZ44g

 

Blue eyed sailor, is this the man you were talking about?

I don't think so. Fellow EC player Ardie once told me something about his ideas...

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