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CelticKnotBook

Beginner Help Choosing English Or Duet

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[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.

 

Quite!

The Hayden is a number of overlapping diatonic instruments, whereas the Crane is a single, chromatic instrument.

A similar distinction can be made between the EC and the Anglo: the EC is a single, chromatic instrument, whereas the Anglo is two diatonic instruments combined. The 30-button Anglo is two diatonic instruments stuck together with chromatic-coloured glue. :)

 

Cheers,

John

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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..

 

Probably because "intuitiveness" isn't inherent, but depends on a person's prior experience. In particular, it's probably fruitless to try explaining why note names or the black-white distinction are irrelevant when the person receiving the explanation doesn't even know what they are. But similarly, trying to explain how "intervals" are consistent across different keys makes little sense to someone who has never thought of musical pitches as having "distances" between them.

 

The latter could very well include singers who can "transpose" because they have a relative pitch sense but who have never thought about there being an underlying structure, "logic", or "grammar". They just "feel" it. Folks who do something similar with instruments are more likely to learn, even without thinking about it, that similar intervals are separated by similar "counts" in the different "do-re-mi" scales, even if not by similar geometrical distances on their "keyboard".

 

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.

 

And it does seem well suited to the process of learning by ear, at least for persons who don't have a sense of absolute pitch. But it seems to me that it can run into difficulty with standard music notation, whether it be "the dots" or ABC. What's there are "the names", and the player then has to decide what note to use as a basis (tonic?) and then convert (consciously or otherwise) each note name to its interval value relative to that basis. Key signatures can help, but one still has to learn that with no accidentals a G is the "fifth" but with two sharps it's the "fourth".

 

And that's without considering minor keys and other modes. E.g., E minor has the same key signature as G major. I don't have access to a Hayden. Do you position your hand as for a G major scale but then just consider the "tonic" to be at a different location in the scale? Or do you position your hand relative to E the way you would position it if you were playing in E major, but then reach in different directions for the intervals that differ from the major scale? Or maybe something else entirely?

 

It seems to me that your conceptualization would be more compatible with a completely different form of notation. But an interval-based notation could run into a different sort of problem, i.e., disagreements over which note should be used as a basiss/tonic. Take D mixolydian, for example. Should it be written with one sharp, essentially identifying G as the "tonic", or should it be written with two sharps and each C "modified" with a natural sign, thus identifying D as the "tonic" and G as the "fourth"? (Even with standard notation, some individuals use the one notation and other individuals use the other, but with the viewpoint that "a note is a note", no significant conceptual shift is needed.) Meanwhile, such a notation would place an added "burden" on anyone reading it on a non-isomorphic instrument (i.e., almost all contemporary instruments). Rather like some orchestral music I once had to deal with: I had a French horn in F, but the music for the horns (not for the violins, etc. :angry:) was all notated in the key of C, then annotated as being for "horn in Eb", "horn in C#", etc. So I learned to transpose arbitrarily on the fly, though at the time I wasn't consciously thinking in terms of intervals... at least not "named" intervals.

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Probably because "intuitiveness" isn't inherent, but depends on a person's prior experience. In particular, it's probably fruitless to try explaining why note names or the black-white distinction are irrelevant when the person receiving the explanation doesn't even know what they are. But similarly, trying to explain how "intervals" are consistent across different keys makes little sense to someone who has never thought of musical pitches as having "distances" between them.

 

This leads to an interesting distinction between listneners in general: if you don't have absolute pitch you percieve only those distances and they are the "fabric" of music for you; however if you have absloute pitch then you indeed percieve "black and white" coloured music (if you care for piano-oriented music language). But in both cases, it is relative "distance" between notes that makes the melody, while "button colour" is a cultural construct - an artificial language, no matter how popular. And this "language matter" was the point of my previous comment: Hayden layout (and any other isomorphic layout for that matter) may teach you a different, geometry based language to describe music, if only you're not particulary attached or fluent in a piano&staff "common language". As another example: lately there was a thread about new MIDI instrument, which has two spiral inputs - such spiral (and even better a conical-spiral) three dimensional representation of music is IMHO far more natural than linear piano representation.

 

 

It seems to me that your conceptualization would be more compatible with a completely different form of notation. But an interval-based notation could run into a different sort of problem, i.e., disagreements over which note should be used as a basiss/tonic.

 

 

True. I find traditional staff notation very obscure and favor Parncutt 6-6 tetragram over it, as for me it's more intuitive and straightforward to read http://musicnotation.org/system/6-6-tetragram-by-richard-parncutt/ - mostly because it shares the same "key independence" (in form of consistent geometric shapes of all intervals and chords. The notation itself has a very clever way of representing black and white piano keys "built in", but this is again a "cultural overlay" as this is simply a semitone notation with clever position of ledger lines). And the concept of marking the key of a tune and distinctive sharp/flat notes can be reintroduced into this notation via what I like to call "opposite" flat/sharp signs - instead of marking that the pitch of the note should be lowered/risen while playing, it can be marked that this particular note has been lowered/risen to the noted pitch while composing (for non-equal temperament use, microtonal instruments and other practical reasons in which there should be distinction between flats and sharps).

In fact I had couple of attempts to learning music theory in my life, and I could not make any logic from standard piano&staff language. I have percieved it as requiring heavy memorisation of quite arbitrary rules which made very little logical sense for me. It was only when I found Wicki-Hayden layout (and later other isomorphic arrays like various CBA systems) and started to orient my understanding of music around isomorphism, when I made it past the point of simple melodies to the world of harmony and all other aspects of music theory.

[i think that it should be noted here, that a carefully chosen slant of a Wicki-Hayden keyboard makes it possible to "overlay" the traditional staff notation directly to the keyboard - if you were to move a line parallel to the hand rest over such slanted buttons, they will cross such line in a chromatic order. But this concept is not (at least not for me] all that usefull in real practice]

 

 

E.g., E minor has the same key signature as G major. I don't have access to a Hayden. Do you position your hand as for a G major scale but then just consider the "tonic" to be at a different location in the scale? Or do you position your hand relative to E the way you would position it if you were playing in E major, but then reach in different directions for the intervals that differ from the major scale? Or maybe something else entirely?

 

Something else entirely :) This may be suprising to you, but when playing in E minor I position my hand as in playing in C major (index finger on C), but start a scale with my ring finger instead of an index finger. On a Hayden a major scale has a shape of 4-3 buttons (4-3-4-3… when repeated through octaves), while a minor scale has a shape of a 2-3-2 buttons, which when repeated in more than one octave fits into the same 4-3-4-3 shape as the major scale and it is most logical to place your hand in a way that enables you to play a 4 button row with 4 different fingers. I could not position my hand as in playing in E major and "reach in different directions", as E major is located over entirely different part of the button array. And I realy don't treat intervals of e.g. major third an minor third as closely related: they are completely different vectors on a keyboard, used in different contexts and for different purposes, and I would even say that I treat them more like "opposites" than "neighbours". Again - Hayden keyboard is more geometric than arythmetic and gives you a completely different view on harmony and note relations.

 

This leads to another fundamental difference between the Hayden layout and the piano (or in fact many of the other isomorphic layouts): different keys and modes of the scale you're playing in does not matter in regards to fingering, however the scale you're playing do matter a lot in regards to practical playability. On a piano each scale, key or mode is just a bit different pick from the straight line of 12 buttons. But on a Hayden, each scale is a completely different thing. For example, it is very difficult to play a gypsy/klezmer scale on a Hayden as it consists of notes scattered "all over the place". It is doable, but much harder than a major/minor scale.

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The extent to which this topic has now moved on is interesting. In Rachel's opening posting, if I understand correctly, she was simply looking for the most appropriate Concertina system on which to make a start at playing and accompanying traditional hymn tunes. She is certainly receiving plenty of food for thought. My two-penny worth is to suggest that she might at least try a 30 button Anglo. Traditional hymn tunes are simplistic, and none the worse for that, and perfectly well suited to the Anglo. Theory counts for nothing until you have got the actual instrument ( any instrument ) in your hands and given it a go. Bite the bullet, forget the piano and enter a new world !

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The extent to which this topic has now moved on is interesting. In Rachel's opening posting, if I understand correctly, she was simply looking for the most appropriate Concertina system on which to make a start at playing and accompanying traditional hymn tunes. She is certainly receiving plenty of food for thought.

 

Oh, I've been quite enjoying reading the conversation going on here. It's been a while since I've spent much time thinking about music theory, and I've enjoyed seeing the different perspectives on how to approach music. It's akin to a philosophical discussion, and I do love those. :)

 

Bite the bullet, forget the piano and enter a new world !

:o Never! I am tremendously excited to start playing the concertina, but that doesn't mean that I will abandon the piano! (If for no other reason then that it would be a disgraceful waste of almost two decades of study and practice.) No, I will always love and play the piano. But that doesn't mean I can't love and play another instrument as well. :)

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And to let all of you lovely and helpful folks know: after much consideration, pro/con lists, and color coded charts (is there any other way to make decisions?) I have chosen! (Wisely, I hope) I am in the process of buying a 46key Wheatstone Maccann duet concertina and I could not be more excited. (Seriously. Giggling may have occurred, and I am not much given to giggling.) Now begins the excruciation process of waiting for it to arrive! (I'll need my piano more than ever in the mean time, just to tide me over!) Though perhaps it is just as well, since I'm smack in the middle of studying for final exams next week... I don't think I'd have the self-control to study economics when I could be practicing... :P

Edited by CelticKnotBook

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And to let all of you lovely and helpful folks know: after much consideration, pro/con lists, and color coded charts (is there any other way to make decisions?) I have chosen! (Wisely, I hope) I am in the process of buying a 46key Wheatstone Maccann duet concertina and I could not be more excited. (Seriously. Giggling may have occurred, and I am not much given to giggling.) Now begins the excruciation process of waiting for it to arrive! (I'll need my piano more than ever in the mean time, just to tide me over!) Though perhaps it is just as well, since I'm smack in the middle of studying for final exams next week... I don't think I'd have the self-control to study economics when I could be practicing... :P

Well done you !

 

I think this is a good choice for a starter instrument and the ability to move to higher ground is very well catered for in the MacCann family,

Congratulations and happy music to you,

Geoff.

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I don't think I'd have the self-control to study economics when I could be practicing... :P

 

Is the study of economics compatible with purchase of a concertina? :unsure:

I once worked "on Wall Street", but now it's just the concertinas. :)

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I don't think I'd have the self-control to study economics when I could be practicing... :P

 

Is the study of economics compatible with purchase of a concertina? :unsure:

I once worked "on Wall Street", but now it's just the concertinas. :)

 

Well Jim, it is an investment, and, although not garanteed to make a profit, the purchase of a vintage concertina of good pedigree does not usually suffer the depreciations that many other items do. :rolleyes: At least ,for me, ownership of these little squeeze boxes has proved to be, or appears to be, gratis... with the help of inflation of course. :D

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I think this is a good choice for a starter instrument and the ability to move to higher ground is very well catered for in the MacCann family,

Congratulations and happy music to you,

Geoff.

 

The options to 'upgrade' later on where definitely a contributing factor on the decision. But I'm already foreseeing a problem; I'm going to get so emotionally attached to my first instrument that I won't be able to trade it in for another! I'll have to save up to by a second one but keep the first one too. ;)

 

 

 

I don't think I'd have the self-control to study economics when I could be practicing... :P

 

Is the study of economics compatible with purchase of a concertina? :unsure:

I once worked "on Wall Street", but now it's just the concertinas. :)

 

Well Jim, it is an investment, and, although not garanteed to make a profit, the purchase of a vintage concertina of good pedigree does not usually suffer the depreciations that many other items do. :rolleyes: At least ,for me, ownership of these little squeeze boxes has proved to be, or appears to be, gratis... with the help of inflation of course. :D

 

 

I have found myself analyzing the structure of the concertina market during the process of looking for one to buy. I wonder if my prof would give me extra credit for that... :P

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I'm late to this thread but a 46 Maccann is a good choice. If/when you want an instrument that's bigger, they're reasonably readily-available, and the Maccann keyboard layout works well. As a pianist you should have no trouble with it. Good luck!

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Now that the OP has made her lucky choice (congrats and best wishes!), it might be considered appropriate to continue with this OT stuff:

 

...if you don't have absolute pitch you percieve only those distances and they are the "fabric" of music for you; however if you have absloute pitch then you indeed percieve "black and white" coloured music (if you care for piano-oriented music language).

I'd doubt that! The "perception" of "black & white" will be rather generated through personal experience than "having" absolute pitch IMO. All the more lacking that absolute pitch the experienced keyboard player will "perceive" a given melody in one of "the people's keys", i.e. in "black & white", avoiding too many "black" notes. At least this is true for myself, a major melody will most likley occur in Cmaj or Gmaj, regardless its "real" pitch...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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Now that the OP has made her lucky choice (congrats and best wishes!), it might be considered appropriate to continue with this OT stuff:

Actually, I think this deserves its own thread, with an appropriately informative title. But then it would be missing the posts thus far. I wonder which is "the lesser of the evils".

 

...if you don't have absolute pitch you percieve only those distances and they are the "fabric" of music for you; however if you have absloute pitch then you indeed percieve "black and white" coloured music (if you care for piano-oriented music language).

I'd doubt that! The "perception" of "black & white" will be rather generated through personal experience than "having" absolute pitch IMO. All the more lacking that absolute pitch the experienced keyboard player will "perceive" a given melody in one of the people's keys, i.e. in "black & white", avoiding to many "black" notes. At least this is true for myself, a major melody will most likley occur in Cmaj or Gmaj, regardless its "real" pitch...

There are many variations in the way individuals perceive things, and sound is one of those things. Unfortunately, it's also common for persons to assume that somehow their own way of perceiving things is not only "natural", but almost universally so, and that any differences are both anomalous and rare.

 

...if you don't have absolute pitch you percieve only those distances and they are the "fabric" of music for you; however if you have absloute pitch then you indeed percieve "black and white" coloured music (if you care for piano-oriented music language).

I've mentioned before two friends, one of whom plays baritone concertina because he literally cannot hear the high notes of a treble, while the other plays melodeon without the bass because she can't hear the bass.

 

I've known one person who really was "tone deaf". With him not looking, if I hit keys on the piano twice in succession, he couldn't tell me whether they were the same or different... unless they were very far apart. Yet he enjoyed listening to popular music.

 

And I know a person who has "perfect" pitch but no "relative" pitch. I.e., if he learns (or reads) a song in a certain key and then wants to sing it in another key, he can't just move the starting note and then shift everything else by "feeling" the intervals, but he has to mentally transpose each note before he sings it. If you give him a guitar, piano, or concertina that's more than a half step out of tune, he can't play it, because what he hears is not what his fingers are "playing".

 

But perfect pitch isn't an all or nothing thing. My above friend can adjust within a range of half a step. Many wind instrument players have "memorized" the exact sound of the note they tune to, even if they can't match any other pitch to its name. Singers, especially, can often distinguish notes and keys not so much by their sound but by their comfort, and that's more meaningful to them than the mathetmatical relationships of the intervals. (That's one reason why so many individuals, including many of us, transpose songs to keys other than the ones in which they've been written or recorded.)

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...if you don't have absolute pitch you percieve only those distances and they are the "fabric" of music for you; however if you have absloute pitch then you indeed percieve "black and white" coloured music (if you care for piano-oriented music language).

I'd doubt that! The "perception" of "black & white" will be rather generated through personal experience than "having" absolute pitch IMO. All the more lacking that absolute pitch the experienced keyboard player will "perceive" a given melody in one of the people's keys, i.e. in "black & white", avoiding to many "black" notes. At least this is true for myself, a major melody will most likley occur in Cmaj or Gmaj, regardless its "real" pitch...

There are many variations in the way individuals perceive things, and sound is one of those things. Unfortunately, it's also common for persons to assume that somehow their own way of perceiving things is not only "natural", but almost universally so, and that any differences are both anomalous and rare.

 

 

I admit, that I should phrase that statement differently (I often do this "direct translation" from polish, which often leads to improper reception, that something I write is "undoubtfull and universal truth"). What I meant was that someone without absolute pitch will not be able tell which notes of the tune he hears are "black" and which are "white". Assuming some musical training, he will hear though, which notes are accidentals (in meaning that they do not belong to the given diatonic key), but will not hear their button colour. I didn't meant that those are the only variants of percieving music, only that hearing "note colour" is one of the aspects which differentiate listeners.

 

[i have some strange problems with proper quoting of previous posts, so I have to go with "manual" quoting from this point]

 

@ Jim: "And I know a person who has "perfect" pitch but no "relative" pitch. I.e., if he learns (or reads) a song in a certain key and then wants to sing it in another key, he can't just move the starting note and then shift everything else by "feeling" the intervals, but he has to mentally transpose each note before he sings it. If you give him a guitar, piano, or concertina that's more than a half step out of tune, he can't play it, because what he hears is not what his fingers are "playing"."

 

This would be the most radical ilustration of hearing "black and white music" from my previous post. But I didn't knew that such separation of absolute and relative pitches can even occur. I always thought, that absolute pitch was something like a "permanent anchor" for relative pitch. And I think it would be quite interesting to know, what this particular person thinks about isomorphic keyboards, how does he "feel" them and if he finds them intuitive/usefull or an even more complication.

 

Having a narrowed spectrum of hearing has nothing to do with what I wrote. To differentiate: inside the scope of ones hearing range you are either "musically aware" and can hear either relative or absolute pitch of notes (or both) and can name the notes (in an absolute or relative way) or at least tell which of two given notes is higher, or you are what you call "tone deaf" - you hear the sound but you cannot make any distinction of its relative or absolute pitch. Some of those capabilities can be learned/trained/shaped to any "music description language" and with some you are simply born with.

 

One of the strangest case of percieving of music I have encountered in my life is one person I know, who doesn't like to listen to any kind of music, because she has absolutely no musical memory. Each tune or song is always completely new to her, and because she cannot anticipate any "incoming" note or phrase, listening to music is one of the most annoying things for her.

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I'm glad you've settled on a system and found an instrument, you've come a long ways since we exchanged messages just a week or so ago. Now you can get down to the business of learning the mechanics and the art of playing it. Concertinas can be a little temperamental on occasion so if you run into any problems in the future, this is a good place to come for advice.

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What I meant was that someone without absolute pitch will not be able tell which notes of the tune he hears are "black" and which are "white". Assuming some musical training, he will hear though, which notes are accidentals (in meaning that they do not belong to the given diatonic key), but will not hear their button colour.

 

 

Ah, I'm glad you put it this way. Some people seem to be using "black note" as a synonym of "accidental" which is only the case if you're in Cmaj or Emin. If you're in Bmaj then none of the black notes are accidentals... I never think of the black keys as inherently accidental, that depends on the key I'm playing in.

 

 

Having a narrowed spectrum of hearing has nothing to do with what I wrote. To differentiate: inside the scope of ones hearing range you are either "musically aware" and can hear either relative or absolute pitch of notes (or both) and can name the notes (in an absolute or relative way) or at least tell which of two given notes is higher, or you are what you call "tone deaf" - you hear the sound but you cannot make any distinction of its relative or absolute pitch. Some of those capabilities can be learned/trained/shaped to any "music description language" and with some you are simply born with.

I have no ear for music. After years of training I was able to distinguish all the intervals within an octave (well, I could usually get it within a couple guesses. :P And I hated trying to learn it so I've never practiced and will have lost it by now.) But I wouldn't have a clue as to which key the interval was being played in, if could start on a C or a G# for all I knew. (Though if I were to sing the notes I might be able to guess within a couple notes, as JimLucas said, by comfort more than anything. Though I am not a singer.)

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I'm glad you've settled on a system and found an instrument, you've come a long ways since we exchanged messages just a week or so ago. Now you can get down to the business of learning the mechanics and the art of playing it. Concertinas can be a little temperamental on occasion so if you run into any problems in the future, this is a good place to come for advice.

Yes, you and all the people on here were very helpful! Thank you!

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