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Beginner Help Choosing English Or Duet

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And it should be added that you might want to try out specimens of the different systems - doing well with one or another appears to be a very personal and hardly predictable matter...

 

 

I had similiar problem to your's when I wanted to switch from Anglo to something chromatic and unisonoric. I have finally landed with Elise and don't regret (it is true that you'll run out of buttons quite fast, but it is a quite versatile box, especially in regards to harmony building and linking it with independent melody, and you have a Peacock upgrade path available now). But as Wolf said, you should try all different instruments prior to making choice. And if it is not possible you might consider making "dummies" to try: just take a "concertina sized" cardboard box, stick some pins in it to fake buttons in different layouts and try to "mind play" something. I have ruled out English concertina this way, because it had too awkward ergonomics for my long fingers and interleaved sides were completely unnatural for me (and this indeed have saved me money (or time) and frustration, as I was seriously considering buing Jack instead of Elise back then…)

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I have recently given both the MacCann and Hayden duets a two year test , each, after being a very long term player of the English keyboard.

 

So some points that I think could be usefull:

 

Any instrument needs 5000 to 10,000 hours of practice for the player to be fully conversant with it, so it is worth considering well before commencing.

 

People say that the MaCann is more difficult to learn than the Crane but I feel that for a person who will be learning tunes by reading written music scores, it is all the same whatever keyboard you take up.... yes some keys will be more difficult to finger..; but the quality and availability of vintage MacCanns is a very important factor. I think one gets better value for money buying a MacCann than any other type of Concertina. I arrived at playing in Bb,F C,G,D and A ( not necessarily transposing between each though) within the two year period. There are several Tutors and a body of arrangements which can be accessed at www.concertina.com

 

The Hayden has definately been held back by the lack of availability untill very recently. For a good coverage of keys the Hayden can quickly get larger than I would like. Playing in funny keys is possible but usually results in one hand being up the palm rest and the other being down, this is ok but feels unbalanced.Most keyboard designs have the semitones close to or directly next to the Naturals but that is not so on the Hayden ,so it is not so comfortable for heavily chromatic music. However the ability to very easily traspose within its range is a big plus factor for many people. There are no vintage Haydens.

 

In five or so years of searching the Web for Duets I have encountered precious few Cranes being offered for sale, so either one can get lucky or start on a very basic model and hope for a decent upgrade instrument to show up.... best not to look gift horses in their mouths! For me this lack of available models is exacerbated because the Wheatstsone company made very few Cranes so what is usually found is Lachenal's from the cheaper ranges... unless a Crabb instrument can be found, these can be some of the best Crane instruments , perhaps because that is the keyboard that the Crabb family play.

 

As has been said above, the English is very well suited to playing melody and accompaniment together, the fact that many people today do not do this is no reflexion on the instrument. If one's head wants to seperate the work into left and right hands then the English will need some readjustment , to up and down rather than left and right, but if you can manage to think slightly outside the box then the English is very versatile and much more available in the vintage market than any of the Duets and in a range of qualities from budjet to superb, from tiny to huge.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Rachel has told us that she " ruled out Anglo concertinas for various reasons " . I wonder what those reasons were.

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I've always wondered about whether going from piano to duet is easier, since there is the same division of between hands, and started a new post on that idea.

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And it should be added that you might want to try out specimens of the different systems - doing well with one or another appears to be a very personal and hardly predictable matter...

 

 

I would be great to be able to try different systems! But I'm not finding anyone closer than Washington who plays anything but an Anglo. And with my work and school schedule it's just not possible to make the trip up there right now, sadly.

 

But I did print out the keyboard layout for different systems and sizes and I've gone a bit nerdy on them..they're all color coded now and I've been figuring out the shape of different chords and whatnot. That doesn't hold a candle to actually playing an instrument, but it's better than nothing (or than studying for finals, which I really should be doing...)

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Rachel has told us that she " ruled out Anglo concertinas for various reasons " . I wonder what those reasons were.

I ruled them out mostly due to versatility. I did not want to have to transpose everything I wanted to play into the same key. That would be a lot of extra work. I want to be able to play everything (once I've learned to play well, obviously) from the music without having to figure out a transposition. And I can't play by ear to save my life, so that would not be as easy for me as I know it is for some people. The other main reason is the different note on the push and pull. That whole concept just messes with my head and I think I would get really frustrated and, as I understand it, it could limit what kind of music I could play, or at least require more effort to figure out how to play it.

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I've always wondered about whether going from piano to duet is easier, since there is the same division of between hands, and started a new post on that idea.

 

At least from where I'm sitting the duet makes the most sense because of the similarities to how the piano works. The lower/harmony in the left hand, the higher/melody in the right. I wouldn't have to rewire that part of my brain at least. That is one of the main reasons I'm looking at duet.

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But I did print out the keyboard layout for different systems and sizes and I've gone a bit nerdy on them..they're all color coded now and I've been figuring out the shape of different chords and whatnot. That doesn't hold a candle to actually playing an instrument, but it's better than nothing (or than studying for finals, which I really should be doing...)

 

 

I will repeat myself, but since you have printed those different layouts and are trying to do something useful with them, you should try them on the actual box - i.e. on the sides of a cube, to see which layout orientation is most ergonomical for your fingers. Flat printouts can mislead heavily on which layout would be easiest to play when you have a handstrap around your palm and must reach outside or closest/furthest buttons. I have used my MIDI Hayden in flat keyboard arrangement, and I can do very different things with it than on the actual concertina.

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But I did print out the keyboard layout for different systems and sizes and I've gone a bit nerdy on them..they're all color coded now and I've been figuring out the shape of different chords and whatnot. That doesn't hold a candle to actually playing an instrument, but it's better than nothing (or than studying for finals, which I really should be doing...)

 

 

I will repeat myself, but since you have printed those different layouts and are trying to do something useful with them, you should try them on the actual box - i.e. on the sides of a cube, to see which layout orientation is most ergonomical for your fingers. Flat printouts can mislead heavily on which layout would be easiest to play when you have a handstrap around your palm and must reach outside or closest/furthest buttons. I have used my MIDI Hayden in flat keyboard arrangement, and I can do very different things with it than on the actual concertina.

 

Yes, I will give that a try. (I didn't see your first post till after I had posted mine.) :-)

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I know others have vast experience, and are infinitely more expert than I on all matters concertinish, but I volunteer my two cents after a year of Elise Hayden playing. It has obvious limitations (many explained in this thread and others) in terms of range, chromaticity, and quality, but....For around four hundred bucks, you can test a clever system, and either get all your money back in a trade to its maker, or most of your money back in the used market. The keys it does play, it plays the same way! How cool is that? All other concertina systems seem to need 12 fingerings for 12 keys; my experience suggests a motivated rookie on a Hayden might cut the five-to-ten thousand hour "fluency" requirement quite significantly.

 

Good luck, and have a blast!

 

David

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Hello, and welcome.

I've no advice other than get the best concertina you can afford.

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I've always wondered about whether going from piano to duet is easier, since there is the same division of between hands, and started a new post on that idea.

 

At least from where I'm sitting the duet makes the most sense because of the similarities to how the piano works. The lower/harmony in the left hand, the higher/melody in the right. I wouldn't have to rewire that part of my brain at least. That is one of the main reasons I'm looking at duet.

 

Speaking in favor of the Crane again, it's vaguely analogous to a piano in that the natural "white key" and accidental "black key" notes are clearly distinguished, with the natural notes in the center three rows and the accidentals in the outer rows.

 

And a point of comparison between any Crane and an Elise - if you like the concertina-reed sound, you'll get it on a Crane (I believe that all Cranes have concertina-type reeds) but not on an Elise, which uses accordion reeds. That's one of the reasons I switched to Crane when I decided to move from an Elise to a more chromatic concertina with a bigger range.

 

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David, as I can of course value the advantage of a layout with a fingering covering all the keys, the piano (and organ) player is familiar with difficulties increasing with every added accidental, esp. flats, because with two or more of them you have the fundamental on a "black" (or white, regarding the organ) key. Playing in the keys from Fmaj to Dmaj (and their commonly used relatives) falls easily under the fingers - which is true for the EC (and likely the Crane) as well.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Wolf, Daniel, Geoff, Rachel et.al.,

 

I am becoming convinced I need more of these machines! I now have just the four anglos, the Elise, and a melodeon or three (this in three years of growing addiction) if you don't count the three piano accordions! And I have never even held a Crane, nor played an English nor Macann (sp?). But I do love the "old sound" and I wonder about having all those keys "falling nicely under the fingers."

 

Looks like I'll be about 110 years old when I finally get those 5 or 10 thousand hours in.

 

At any rate, Rachel, you'll love your new instrument(s) and the hymn world we be enriched, no doubt, by your playing!

 

Thanks to all you good folk, and regards,

 

David

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Speaking in favor of the Crane again, it's vaguely analogous to a piano in that the natural "white key" and accidental "black key" notes are clearly distinguished, with the natural notes in the center three rows and the accidentals in the outer rows.

 

Of course, the whole point of the Hayden is that you shouldn't have to worry about which notes happen to be white or black, just how the notes relate to the key you're playing in.

 

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Speaking in favor of the Crane again, it's vaguely analogous to a piano in that the natural "white key" and accidental "black key" notes are clearly distinguished, with the natural notes in the center three rows and the accidentals in the outer rows.

 

Of course, the whole point of the Hayden is that you shouldn't have to worry about which notes happen to be white or black, just how the notes relate to the key you're playing in.

 

Two different concepts, each making sense in its own right I'd guess...

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Speaking in favor of the Crane again, it's vaguely analogous to a piano in that the natural "white key" and accidental "black key" notes are clearly distinguished, with the natural notes in the center three rows and the accidentals in the outer rows.

 

Of course, the whole point of the Hayden is that you shouldn't have to worry about which notes happen to be white or black, just how the notes relate to the key you're playing in.

 

Two different concepts, each making sense in its own right I'd guess...

 

 

This is something I have the hardest time explaining to someone, who have never heard of/tried a Hayden layout and/or learned to play on a piano - that Hayden layout (and in fact any other isomorphic layout like 5 row CBA systems or Harmonic Table layout) is completely transparent in regards to note names. You realy don't have any reason (at least any related to playing on this layout) to think in terms of white keys, black keys, accidentals, key you're playing in etc - only plain intervals matter (which you even don't have to count, as they are geometry-based), so the whole percieving of music theory becomes quite different than on any other instrument or layout I have encountered.

 

[This comment is in no way intended to impress anyone that Hayden layout is utterly superior to everything else, but simply to point out how much different it is on a conceptual level. It has been discussed extensively in various previous threads, that isomorphism may be a curse in certain situations, as there is no "escape" from awkward or difficult fingerings by transposing a tune to a different key; or that separation of accidentals from "base" notes is a concept that does not suit everyone and may be considered a huge drawback for someone comfortable with piano keyboard]

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Speaking in favor of the Crane again, it's vaguely analogous to a piano in that the natural "white key" and accidental "black key" notes are clearly distinguished, with the natural notes in the center three rows and the accidentals in the outer rows.

Of course, the whole point of the Hayden is that you shouldn't have to worry about which notes happen to be white or black, just how the notes relate to the key you're playing in.

Two different concepts, each making sense in its own right I'd guess...

This is something I have the hardest time explaining to someone, who have never heard of/tried a Hayden layout and/or learned to play on a piano - that Hayden layout (and in fact any other isomorphic layout like 5 row CBA systems or Harmonic Table layout) is completely transparent in regards to note names. You realy don't have any reason (at least any related to playing on this layout) to think in terms of white keys, black keys, accidentals, key you're playing in etc - only plain intervals matter (which you even don't have to count, as they are geometry-based), so the whole percieving of music theory becomes quite different than on any other instrument or layout I have encountered.

 

[This comment is in no way intended to impress anyone that Hayden layout is utterly superior to everything else, but simply to point out how much different it is on a conceptual level. It has been discussed extensively in various previous threads, that isomorphism may be a curse in certain situations, as there is no "escape" from awkward or difficult fingerings by transposing a tune to a different key; or that separation of accidentals from "base" notes is a concept that does not suit everyone and may be considered a huge drawback for someone comfortable with piano keyboard]

 

Very well said! My first instruments were piano, clarinet, bassoon and recorder, so the natural/accidental way of looking at notes is more intuitive for me than an isomorphic set-up. I'm jealous of what a good chromatic button accordion (CBA) player can do, but I think that the learning curve for me to get comfortable with a CBA layout would just be too steep. Hayden's not too bad for me because many of the intervals within a major (e.g. white-key) scale correspond to the whole-note intervals within each Hayden row, but jumping to the far end of the next row for every half-step interval still feels odd. I might have got more comfortable with it if I had stuck with the Hayden as my primary duet concertina, but I'm pretty happy with my switch to Crane.

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