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Introducing Concertina 2.0...


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Yesterday I finished the prototype of a 40 key English-system reedless concertina. On it's own it does not make any music, but it connects by bluetooth 4.0 to an Iphone or in my case, an Ipad. There is a load of different apps on the market - of varied quality-, which turn the note-information into sound.

 

It has a pressure-sensor built in, but my app currently does not support channel-volume...

 

So far it has the following features:

switch between piccolo, treble, tenor, baritone and bass-range

transpose to any key

add an octave below and / or above

select one out of 10 MIDI channels

reset

toggle pressure-control

 

Under development is a sequencer, that allows to record one line and play along during replay.

 

I am also right now designing an anglo and a Hayden-duet.

 

Obviously such an instrument can not replace a good acoustic concertina, but it is fun, considerably cheaper and it will hopefully appeal to the younger generation... and it is a big relief to the house-wife or the fellow train-users, if one can practice with headphones;-).

 

If there is a market, I might start making a few -_-

 

Here we are: http://youtu.be/nugTz-mpDJI...

 

 

 

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Really an exciting development!

 

I would be interested in production if you choose to go that route. Though if your current settup proves to be a real winner, design-wise, the next question would be finding a cost-effective way to have them made in small quantity, perhaps using as many off-the-shelf parts as possible, and maximizing commonality of parts for the English/Anglo/Duet variants?

 

 

It seems that 3D printing always comes up a lot in these sort of threads, but really I'd think that 3D milling seems the sort of thing that'd be more effective, given that you can mill all sorts of materials as opposed to a few kinds of plastic. If the format for the ends, and the layout of boards your switches go through, can be programed in somehow, and then matched up with some standardized bellows, I wonder how affordable that could get...

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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Thanks for the interest! About a price!?! The printed circuit boards are expensive in small quantity, I have to use a special processor for the bluetooth and the keys and action take some time. The dearest part are the bellows. I am currently working on a bellow-less version which uses a foam block instead - which is flexible and includes volume-control.

 

Mass-producing in China certainly would bring the price right down, but first of all I doubt that masses could be sold, there would always be a degree of customization for the various systems and special requests - and a concertina should be made of wood, not plastic!

 

In fact I am hoping to offer a range of options from foam to custom-bellows and black paint to exotic wood...

 

In the beginning I would expect a price somewhere between 700€ and 1000€ ( 500 to 700 Pound right now ;-), which would be a fraction of anything similar else on the market!

 

I considered a kickstarter campaign, but I doubt that there would be enough interest...

 

To work wirelessly an Apple or Android device with the latest software generation is required. But it also works fine with MIDI ( 5-pin plug ) or USB adapter ( older smartphones or laptops with USB input ).

 

I will soon have a special page on http://www.concertinas.de for the concertina 2.0 project!

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I have a MIDI anglo which was made by Roy Whiteley and which works very well. However it is attached by a cable to the power supply and thence to the sequencer, so the Bluetooth system would be very attractive. One channel is pressure sensitive and so does support channel volume in MIDI.

 

I'm not sure that there is an easy way around the mechanicals - keyboard and bellows - to be really playable both the action and the bellows have to be of good quality and I haven't played a Chinese concertina with an action or bellows that compared with a 'traditional' instrument, be they vintage or modern. Anthony James made me a 30 key anglo without reedpans for not a lot more than the cost of a derelict Lachenal on Ebay, so mine has a decent riveted action and bellows which perform properly. I bought it principally for silent home practice but it has been useful on a few occasions to add a solo track on other people's recordings in ' anglo-unfriendly' keys.

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The more I play the little one, the less I miss the bellow-movement.

 

While a proper lever-and-pad-action certainly feels good, it adds a lot of extra work and cost. On my job the keys act directly on hall-sensors on the main circuit-board. It has a very light action, which I am looking for on real concertinas...

 

Of course my anglo will offer both different keys ( ( G/D to C#/G# plus baritone and bass ) and complete transposition to any key...

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Conzertino, are you looking to standardize on a specific size/shape to simplify construction? Is the goal to have something like a 6.25" hexagon like the average trad-reeded concertina?

 

Your foam idea is an interesting one; I think in other MIDIs we've seen traditioanl bellows with an air-pressure sensor, pistons that measure relative pressing pressure, and a hinge that measures degree of closure, so foam sounds like a new one to me.

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My ES and anglo prototypes have Stagi mini dimensions, which is fine for 40 key ES, tight for the anglo, too small for Hayden. A six sided format wastes a lot of space. So in future I will use the eight sided Aeola piccolo format ( 5 1/2" across ), which should accommodate all systems. The drawback is that eight sided bellows are more expensive - but with foam there is no problem!

 

Inside the foam I use analog hall-sensors to detect displacement ( push or pull, volume )!

 

By the way - as I mentioned in another thread: the 64-key Hayden will include a big anglo!

 

In fact, I might be able to use the Hayden board for anglo - just with less keys...

 

Still a long way to go, though;-)

Edited by conzertino
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By the way - as I mentioned in another thread: the 64-key Hayden will include a big anglo!

 

In fact, I might be able to use the Hayden board for anglo - just with less keys...

 

Isn't that sort of the opposite of what Jeffries did in inventing the Jeffries duet? Might be interesting to add the Jeffries duet to your "stable" and see if the popularity of that system increases. :unsure:

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I had an anglo opition in my DIY MIDI Hayden. Back then, I was just switching from an anglo playing and missed the "bouncing joy" of playing bisonoric instrument. It was fun to fiddle around, so I also did have some sort of a "hayglo" - a bisonoric Hayden layout that automaticaly transposed a whole tone up or down (or a semitone for a sake of experiment) depending on bellows direction. With a Hayden keyboard and a programmable bisonoric capable instrument, you can do all sorts of fun things. But I never had explored those variants deeper than a couple of shanties, as I was quickly and deeply drawn into Hayden logic and have abandoned anglo entirely.

 

One suggestion for you, conzertino - you should program the option to connect bellows pressure sensor reading to channel pressure OR note velocity. This way you will benefit greatly in regards to piano-like or plucked string, velocity driven samples. And if your tablet software does not recognize channel pressure you might link the bellows pressure to simple MIDI volume. Any dynamics is way better than no dynamics at all.

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Note velocity works ok, but I find it not very useful on a bellowed instrument, as you want to change volume while notes are pressed! I like to change bellows-direction while keeping a note pressed ( even on an ES !) - and I love knee-vibrato;-)

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You have misunderstood me :) What I meant is that having a bellows driven MIDI dynamics you can use it either as a volume dynamics or velocity dynamics. Volume dynamics is essential to achieving natural sound with all free-reed samples, bowed string instruments, woodwinds, brass etc… But it sounds strange an unnatural with plucked string samples, piano and percussive instruments (both xylophone-like chromatic percussive instruments and drum kits). And it is just a flip of a switch away when you have bellows driven, pressure dynamic sensor, which you can easily connect as either option, so why not have both in the same instrument?

 

And my "simple MIDI volume" suggestion was only reffering to your own statement, that at this point the synthesiser software you're using does not recognize channel pressure control and your video lacks any dynamics at this point.

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This is great! Congratulations. BTW, I am as impressed with your playing and general comfort with the instrument as with the technology.

 

BTW, I am amazed that the bluetooth doesn't introduce a delay. I have been playing one of Michael Eskin's apps on my iPhone but when I try it with a bluetooth earpiece it is impossible because of the delay.

 

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Yeah, the Bluetooth audio delay is a killer. I don't know why they need to buffer so much data when using Bluetooth speakers/headphones. It's not just my apps, it's all live music apps on iOS.

Edited by eskin
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Thanks for your hint, Lukasz. I am using another MIDI volume-control command now, which works. I find it hard to optimise the pressure to volume process. May be because our ear receives sound not in a linear, but logarithmic way...

But I will get there in the end.

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So probably another hint may proove helpfull: it is usefull to have a few different pressure-to-volume curves to choose from, depending on the sample used at a particular moment, style of play, and whether it is volume or velocity you controll - especially if you intend to comercialize your design. I have 4 different curves and I use all four of them (but some more than others).

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Good idea! Lukacz, what would you regard as a sufficient number of volume steps ( 4, 8,16,32 ) for such a curve? It would be easier and quicker to use a look-up-table rather than to calculate... Switching between tables is easy enough...

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