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Don Taylor

Hayden 46 Button Plus?

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This is the 'standard' 46 button layout for a Hayden concertina:

Capture.jpg

I am contemplating the layout for a midi Hayden and, while it is easy and tempting to just add a gazillion extra buttons, I am mindful of David Barnert's objections to a large button field (http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=15879) and of my own ability to get lost even on a smaller button field.

 

My question is: are there just one or two buttons on each side that are really worth adding to the 46 button layout, and why?

 

(I assume that none should be removed).

 

I should point out that, as a midi instrument, it will be easy to transpose the entire instrument so that playing in remote keys could be achieved with the flip of a switch.

 

Thx. Don.

 

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I'm kind of at both extremes, where to one degree I like having extra buttons so I can do microtonal stuff with MIDI, and scales where (for example) G# and Ab are to different pitches. But to the other degree, I play a lot of instruments with little/no chromaticity, so I'd enjoy having a 24-button Hayden too.

 

So far as your specific question, if I were adding just one or two buttons to either side of the 46b you show:

 

- The Bb in the bottom left corner of each. My Beaumont has this and I find myself playing in Bb more than I expected

- The C# on the right hand layout, the one that's a row below your bottom right row, same as on the Beaumont. I don't use it terribly often, but it is occasionally useful for getting the low C# without having to switch to my left hand.

 

That said, if one isn't doing weird scales/temperaments, and can transpose with a tap on my iPhone screen, I'd be fine with the 46b MIDI personally, and likely with less. That's why I have really no interest in large layouts for acoustics (where they make the instrument big and I can't reassign pitches without major tweaking), but like the idea on MIDIs where more buttons means more discrete tones I can mess with and barely increases instrument size. And with my limited experience going from the Elise 34b to Beaumont 52b I haven't found any particular problem getting lost on the larger keyboard. Either I'm not pushing my bonds enough, or it might vary by individual, though I do find a little utility in the slight indentations I had BB put on the middle A of each hand so I can index my fingers when I start playing.

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Matthew:

 

Do you really mean playing in Bb, or do you mean missing a low Bb when playing in F?

 

Playing in Bb on a midi can be done by transposing down a tone and playing in C. If you want to play in Bb untransposed then you will need the Eb's too which starts us on a slippery slope.

 

I can see wanting the missing Bbs for playing in F, and the low C# might be handy.

Edited by Don Taylor

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The missing button that I reach for most often is the rh low b on my Beaumont.

 

I like to keep all the melody on the right hand while playing toward the low end of its range.

 

I also moved from the Elise to the Beaumont without any feeling of having too many buttons. Bbs, and Ebs see plenty of use.

 

After the low 'b', a low 'a' and a low 'g' would probably get lots of use.

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...it is easy and tempting to just add a gazillion extra buttons...

Dunno about a gazillion, but on a midi I don't see any good reason why the left hand should have fewer buttons/notes than the right hand.

 

....my own ability to get lost even on a smaller button field.

Not that it matters to someone who's already chosen Hayden for other reasons, but I wonder if this might be more true of a Hayden -- because of its uniformity -- than of a Maccann, Crane, or Jeffries duet.

 

My question is: are there just one or two buttons on each side that are really worth adding to the 46 button layout, and why?

I don't play Hayden, so the following thoughts I've had while looking over the 46-button layout you picture are theoretical*; nevertheless:

  • I don't understand why a regular geometric layout of the buttons is given priority over musical continuity. I.e., why isn't there a partial row at the bottom to give the lowest C# and D#? And for those who want the low Bb, I'd also include the B-natural.
  • If one can transpose with just a tap on a button or a screen, that might be an interesting technique for pieces that change key between major sections ("A part, B part"), but would require a very different mindset to be used for just one or a few notes within a passage, e.g., to overcome having to reach for a D# when an Eb would be easier (and "more natural"?). So for folks who don't want to go to the trouble of transposing every piece into C or G before they learn to play it, I would think it would be useful to have the notes Eb and Ab as well as D# and G#. I think this would be particularly useful (important?) for someone wanting to play jazz or other "rich" genres. The late Rich Morse particularly liked ragtime; it's a shame that it's too late to get his perspective on this point.

* "In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice, but not in practice." :)

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I agree with Jim that having Ab's and G#'s, Eb's and D#'s is usefull to save that long stretch which ineviatbly comes around.

 

I also find that a left hand upper C# would be handy for chording in the keys of A,E and B ( yes B, my wife has a Cabrette in that key which also needs chords for F# too... but that is getting a wee bit ridiculous and would be covered by Don's Midi transposer)... mind you the idea of being able to 'Tune-in' to play with instruments that are not quite in pitch would be my most desired feature of one of these electronic gadjets.

 

Yes, the Hayden is easy to get lost on.... especially when in a noisy session it is possible to play in two keys at the same time ,one on each hand!! :wacko: I rarely got lost on the MacCann..... only when I confused myself by starting to play the Hayden... it was one or the other for me, but not both.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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I also find that a left hand upper C# would be handy....

 

Note my previous suggestion that without physical reeds, there seems no reason why the left hand shouldn't have just as many buttons as the right, e.g., duplicating the entire RH layout an octave lower. Then that C# would be there by default, along with a few other potentially useful notes.

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I also find that a left hand upper C# would be handy....

 

Note my previous suggestion that without physical reeds, there seems no reason why the left hand shouldn't have just as many buttons as the right, e.g., duplicating the entire RH layout an octave lower. Then that C# would be there by default, along with a few other potentially useful notes.

 

True!

I guess physical size is not much of an issue with a Midi Concertina .

 

It is just that it appears to me to be simpler to shift key 'on the keyboard' than go searching for another knob which shifts the pitch of the whole instrument.

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post-10030-0-68817100-1425730542_thumb.png

 

Here you have a standard 46 layout (in red-ish color) with Bob Tedrow's additions (in violet-ish color). Notes in circles are what I would add for the sake of continuity of chromatic range and symmetry between hands (I like to play in octaves or to have full freedom of accompaniment in a given range and I play a lot in minor keys, hence the low Bb for keyboard geometry reasons).

 

On a MIDI I see no point realy to double accidentals, other than Matthew's microtonal reasons. You can (and probably will) always transpose your keyboard for keys with a lot of sharps and flats, so that the key you play in is in the center of the button array. And from my experience you'll only realy need a semitone transposition, as on a Hayden this switches outside keys with inner keys and is sufficient, as you are probably used to whole tone transpositions by hand placement.

 

As a sidenote, I don't realy think that "getting lost" on a keyboard is problematic at all if you have some sort of a reference point, be it marked (domed or flatted) buttons for F and B or A notes, or a thumbstrap. It is a bit more likely on a Hayden than on a Wicki, due to slant, but I had no problems at all on my 64button MIDI.

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On a MIDI I see no point realy to double accidentals, other than Matthew's microtonal reasons. You can (and probably will) always transpose your keyboard for keys with a lot of sharps and flats, so that the key you play in is in the center of the button array.

I've been reading music at least since I was 10 years old, on various instruments. To me it seems like unnecessary extra work to transpose a piece -- whether short and simple or long and complex -- before learning to play it. On my English, I simply read it "as written". (Yeah, I play Bb if the music says A#, C# when it says Db, but I've gotten used to those adjustments. I don't have to stop and think about them.)

 

But even transposing has its limitations. If your piece sticks entirely -- maybe even almost entirely -- to the scale of your given key, then it should be fine. But when it incorporates a lot of accidentals, the lack of duplication could make reaching them awkward in any transposed key, possibly even more awkward than in the original key.

 

This "problem" can be compounded in music that departs even farther from simple diatonic keys. That's why I previously mentioned jazz. Not only can the melodies make significant use of the entire chromatic scale, but chords with more than three notes are common. Consider a simple example: F7. If the Eb is available, the chord is all on the left side of the Hayden keyboard and fairly compact, but if you have to use the D#, that's literally a stretch. Transposing up a step could solve that particular problem, but what if the same piece contained somewhere (before transposition) a B(natural) chord? Before transposition, it's simple enough, but tranposing up a step creates a similar "stretch".

 

As a sidenote, I don't realy think that "getting lost" on a keyboard is problematic at all if you have some sort of a reference point, be it marked (domed or flatted) buttons for F and B or A notes, or a thumbstrap. It is a bit more likely on a Hayden than on a Wicki, due to slant, but I had no problems at all on my 64button MIDI.

I've never understood the "advantage" of marking a particular button in a way that one can feel. If you get lost and your finger's not already on that button, then you first have to find it before you can use it as a reference point. Given that, there are already plenty of "reference points" available... the edges of the button array. And depending on which edge you want to use, you already know for certain in which direction to search for it.

 

Best, of course, is (as Łukasz indicates) to become sufficiently familiar with your instrument that you can feel your hand's position over the buttons, relative to the hand bar, thumb strap, or whatever. Then getting "lost", if it happens at all, rarely lasts more than a split second.

Edited by JimLucas

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But even transposing has its limitations. If your piece sticks entirely -- maybe even almost entirely -- to the scale of your given key, then it should be fine. But when it incorporates a lot of accidentals, the lack of duplication could make reaching them awkward in any transposed key, possibly even more awkward than in the original key.

 

 

Of course it would be ideal to have an array of buttons like my entire hexagonal grid (including gray areas of duplicated buttons) - just like 5 row CBAs do have - so you won't have to transpose. But I wouldn't demonize the "stretch" when playing on a Hayden - I have trained playing all sorts of "edge chords" on my 64b MIDI and this is not harder than making long jumps on Stradella bass system (but I have long fingers which may play a role in this opinion). In fact this "stretch" is in some cases easier and more natural than jump your entire hand across the keyboard back and forth. And as you have stated, those "stretches" or jumps are quite inevitable in less diatonic music - even with large button array you either stretch some chords or you have to jump across the keyboard for a single chord or note (which may be more comfortable when isolated, but may require more awkward wrist movement when actualy playing something). It is the very nature of a quite stretched octave on a Hayden and adding a single repetition of duplicates does not eliminate the problem entirely, you still have to use those awkward fingerings sometimes, so why bother making larger array if you still have to learn those fingerings? IMHO it might even cripple your ability to play fluently, as you will use those edge fingerings less frequently and in turn won't have them inprinted in your muscle memory that well… And with larger button arrays you begin to have wrist movement restriction and finger reach problems (this is why I'll have completely different handstraps on my DIY acoustic box)

 

And I'm not sure if you have understood fully what I had in mind by transposing "on the fly", as (as far as I'm aware) you have limited experience with isomorphic layouts. On an "unlimited Hayden array" there is no difference between playing in different keys other than actual pitch produced. And because of that, playing on a Hayden is purely about geometric shapes of intervals, both in melodic and harmonic context. So if you "erase button labels" (as is possible with MIDI), you can play in every key with the exact same, most comfortable fingering. You don't make any "unnecessary extra work to transpose a piece" - you just play it with different button labels, the geometry stays exactly the same and with MIDI transposition capabilities you'll most likely always move the root note to most comfortable position (this may be different for major and minor keys and may depend on occurrences of accidentals in a tune). This is why I think that teaching to play on a Hayden in a manner "this is C note, this is A note" is wrong - instead it should be learnt like "this is root note, this is major second, this is the scale shape, this is a major chord shape" - especially on a transposable MIDI instrument.

 

And one more word about "advantage of marked buttons" - if the markings are logical, you are simply NEVER lost, because you either feel the marking with one of the fingers and know where you are or you don't feel the marking and because of this you know where you are. This is of course true only if ones style of play does not rely on hovering fingers above buttons when they don't play a note, but usually rest on silent buttons. Finding a position using array edges is IMHO sufficient enough only for smaller Hayden keyboards, when you are usually no further than a single button away from proper position or an edge.

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If I could add just one button on each side, it would be the Eb near the upper left of the field.

 

BTW, Don, you can link to an individual post within a thread by clicking the number of the thread at the top right and copying the URL that pops up. So the post you mention in the opening of this thread is here.

 

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My personal recommendation for a "few" extra buttons added to the 46 button array is as follows:-

Add low Bbs to the left of the lowest Cs on both sides, and add low and high Ebs to the left of the Fs on both sides. OK that's 3 extra buttons on each side not 2, so leave out the D#s .

That (50 buttons) is precisely the concertina that I would have liked when Steve Dickinson first offered to make a batch of concertinas over 30 years ago. The small Hayden duet was intended specifically for English folk players, but also to play Scottish, Irish and New England tunes. The most used keys being the ubiquitous G & D together with A, Bb & C, with occasional use of E, F & Eb.

I had calculated that it would be possible to shoehorn all this into a standard 6.25" sized instrument. However when it came to the final details of the design this proved not possible. My idea of putting one or two reed chambers into the centre of the reed pan was firmly rejected. So the key of Bb as an easypeasy key was dropped in favour of an easy key of E.

 

Inventor.

Edited by inventor

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My personal recommendation for a "few" extra buttons added to the 46 button array is as follows:-

Add low Bbs to the left of the lowest Cs on both sides, and add low and high Ebs to the left of the Fs on both sides. OK that's 3 extra buttons on each side not 2, so leave out the D#s .

That (50 buttons) is precisely the concertina that I would have liked when Steve Dickinson first offered to make a batch of concertinas over 30 years ago. The small Hayden duet was intended specifically for English folk players, but also to play Scottish, Irish and New England tunes. The most used keys being the ubiquitous G & D together with A, Bb & C, with occasional use of E, F & Eb.

I had calculated that it would be possible to shoehorn all this into a standard 6.25" sized instrument. However when it came to the final details of the design this proved not possible. My idea of putting one or two reed chambers into the centre of the reed pan was firmly rejected. So the key of Bb as an easypeasy key was dropped in favour of an easy key of E.

 

Inventor.

 

Hey, that's almost exactly the Beaumont layout :) (Full disclosure, I work at the Button Box, contributed to the Beaumont R&D, and have built nearly all the Beaumont actions to date.)

 

Łukasz wrote "This is why I think that teaching to play on a Hayden in a manner "this is C note, this is A note" is wrong - instead it should be learnt like "this is root note, this is major second, this is the scale shape, this is a major chord shape" - especially on a transposable MIDI instrument." That's how I've always thought about music ... but I come at it from the diatonic instrument experience (harmonica, melodeon, and now anglo; though I've also been playing Hayden for fifteen years and totally love and appreciate the system). I'm actually slowly working on a teaching method -- for anglo, for playing intuitively and improvising in many different keys on an anglo (way beyond C, G, and D) without thinking about note and chord names -- that builds on these same ideas of scale tones, intervals, and shapes. If I ever get it into a shareable format, all y'all will be the first to know :rolleyes:

 

On the topic of ragtime, I play Dallas Rag on the anglo, and find that (unsurprisingly) it's easiest to play that on a C/G in the key of C, and that when I do so I use D# a lot (and think of it functionally as D#, rather than Eb, though I'm not sure whether I'm actually correct about that...). I've never tried ragtime on a Hayden, so I can't say for sure whether I'd find playing an Eb or a D# more "natural" feeling. Next opportunity I get to play around on a Beaumont, I'll try both -- there are a few Eb/D# duplications on the Beaumont. Not that my experience will in any way reflect anyone else's!

Edited by wayman

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I like the idea of developing a teaching method for the Anglo based upon ' playing intuitively and improvising ' but I wonder to what extent these two very personal aspects of music-making can actually be effectively taught.

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I like the idea of developing a teaching method for the Anglo based upon ' playing intuitively and improvising ' but I wonder to what extent these two very personal aspects of music-making can actually be effectively taught.

 

I'm curious about that too!

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This in response to the notion of "playing intuitively and improvising:"

 

I, too (like Wayman) come to concertinas from harmonicas, and a couple of months of melodeon. Now, with a modest 2-1/2 years of Anglo and almost a year of Hayden, my "goal" is to make those instruments as transparent to use as my singing voice, with the added advantage of being on pitch, almost automatically. What this seems to mean to me is the home key/along the rows limitation for the Anglo (which I know is anathema to serious practitioners, but increasingly comfortable to me) but no such limitation with Hayden. I can't imagine a slicker layout for making the concertina "my voice" unless, of course, I go nuts and get a CBA!

 

But....what kind of new teaching method might you be dreaming up for the Anglo which might make me reconsider my self-imposed limitations on playing "in the keys stamped on the side?"

 

Regards,

 

David

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As I suggested in the other thread I would use 2 x 32 keys on a MIDI-Hayden. First of all: with an action without levers considerable less space is used, so more keys can be added. I would limit the keys to 32 per side, because the I2C ICs have 16 bit each ( 2 per side! ). And I would keep the layout symmetrical, because it can then easily be reprogrammed for mirror-Hayden-layout ( which makes a lot of sense to me ).

 

By the way: any MIDI Hayden could easily have a build-in anglo option with loads of spare notes;-)

 

What is the biggest ( most keys ) anglo, that ever was seen ( I had a 45 key Jeffries )!?!

Edited by conzertino

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