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Pondering Duets


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I was recently on holiday camping in France and took my concertina with me (to the 'joy' of our camping neighbours), determined to learn my way around it better..

 

As a part of this I determined to learn all the major and minor chord on the left hand (at least one version of each), which being a 36 key Anglo are possible (OK, so G# and F# and their minors are only possible in inversions).

 

Having started with melodeon I have always been a dedicated anglo man (never even picked up an english or duet), but I still found myself asking why I was bothering to learn every thing twice (Eg G Major push and G Major pull - completley different fingerings).

 

Hence the title of this thread: I started thinking about duets, on the basis that they'd still allow the chord and melody style, but I'd only have to learn everything once!.

 

I'd be grateful for any thoughts and comments on this idea, especially from anyone who's made this transition.

 

 

The crazy thing is, with the current market, I could probably sell my anglo and buy a duet (with more buttons and reeds) and still have money left over. Having said that I wouldn't want to sell my anglo to finance a duet, too much like burning my bridges.

 

Clive.

 

 

PS: What ever happened to Tim Laycock?

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I was in a similar situation when I first took up concertina. My primary reason for going concertina after playing BA for 5 years was so that I could build my own chords and inversions - and have access to more than the 8 basses that the button box afforded. And like the treble side of a BA, I realized that I should be able to play pretty much what I wanted providing that I memorized (mind and fingers) the keys/notes and patterns.

 

However.... It didn't take me long to realize that I would still be pretty limited (some notes and combinations are just not possible. I was particularly dismayed that the typical 30-key anglo was missing the second lowest note on the concertina (not to mention several lower chromaticisms as well). Well -- limited toward what I wanted to play....

 

Just about that time I met a guy playing a Hayden duet. I was still pretty new to concertinas at the time (and knew about duets but had never spent any real time with one) but within only a few minutes on the Hayden I was already adding bass and chords to tunes that seemed to play themselves. So far easier for me to learn than an anglo plus it could play any combination of notes - AND - at the time Steve Dickinson's waiting list was only 6 months long! A real no-brainer!

 

Of course there were are few drawbacks. I got a 46-key Hayden which is missing the low C# and D#, and I have to work more to get the sense of expression that comes so naturally with an anglo.

 

Your situation is a little different in that quality Haydens are not readily available (though Stagis are). OTOH other duets systems are quite undervalued in comparison to anglos these days. Maybe you can borrow or rent a duet for a month an see if it entices you before making a leap?

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Having started with melodeon I have always been a dedicated anglo man (never even picked up an english or duet), but I still found myself asking why I was bothering to learn every thing twice (Eg G Major push and G Major pull - completley different fingerings).

 

Hence the title of this thread: I started thinking about duets, on the basis that they'd still allow the chord and melody style, but I'd only have to learn everything once!.

You've hit upon the reason Duets were invented.

 

Just about that time I met a guy playing a Hayden duet.

 

Out of curiosity, Rich, who was that? I should add that just a couple of years later, that scene was repeated with Rich showing the Hayden to me.

 

PS: What ever happened to Tim Laycock?

 

Good question. I was given a vinyl album of his in the early 1980s. Great stuff. Haven't heard his name recently.

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PS: What ever happened to Tim Laycock?

Tim is very much around, still playing his Crane duet. We had him to lead the band at the ICA AGM and Bicentenary party last year.

 

He tends to pop up in all sorts of contexts, for instance he recorded some of the tracks on Boxing Clever, but is probably most active with the New Scorpion Band, which he leads. If you get the chance, go and see them, they are excellent.

 

Chris

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Just about that time I met a guy playing a Hayden duet.

Out of curiosity, Rich, who was that? I should add that just a couple of years later, that scene was repeated with Rich showing the Hayden to me.

I don't remember his name, only that he played for one of the Morris teams Muddy River was touring with that day (summer of 1984?) a bit northeast of Bath. OTOH, I do remember a deal about my brief time with the Hayden as well as the ambiance and layout of the pub.

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone. I suppose the next step is to get hold od a duet to try out, which raises the more complicated question (I suspect) of which to go for?

 

Am I right in thinking that there are basically four systems? ie:

Crane/triumph

McCann

Jeffries

Hayden.

 

Are these dramatically different, or is it just a case of a few different notes here and there (like Wheatstone/jeffries in anglos)?

 

Is there much to chosse between these given that I would be coming from an Anglo, and probably would continue to play anglo, or is it a case of having to think of any Duet as a completely different instrument, and forget any crossover other than general dexterity etc?

 

Thanks again,

 

Clive.

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Clive...I started (and still am) a melodeon guy but play english and anglo.Also for many years I had a 67(?) key McCann edeophone and played it sporadically because it seems such a sensible system...fingers right where they need to be.

But then maybe five years ago I met Dave Barnert ( who in turn had met Rich Morse!!!....)at a London(Ontario)Ale,fell in love with his Hayden and by a coincidence that is unlikely to repeat itself,the Button Box had two Dickinson (Wheatstone)Haydens( from the mid-late 90's)and I got one.I tried hard to play it but realized that given the time I had then I wasn't going to progress very fast.I sold it after 18 months but it gave me an insight into anglo playing........if you look at the anglo like a duet player does his concertina , there are quite a lot of duet things you can do on the anglo.If you approach the anglo ,like I did ,from the melodeon perspective of note /chord/note chord etc there's not so much there.

So now when I play anglo for Morris (no cross row stuff) I think ... tune--right hand --chords left hand --but try be much more creative....It's also improved my melodeon playing.

So my input would be...if you are a "dedicated anglo man".....stay with what you know and can do and approach the anglo differently i.e. spend a lot of time practising playing tunes in unison;this helps you learn where the notes are on the left hand so you can start to to play harmony parts(NOT in unison).

If you want ot try a different system as well as the anglo.....do it,it's a blast ! But how much time have you got ?

Regards Robin

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Robin,

 

Thanks, that sounds like a very interesting perspective, and your comment about 'how much time do you have' is very pertinent. I also play melodeon in a band, whereas the concertina is (so far) for my own entertainment only. I am just about to take up morris dancing again after about a 5 year lay off, and may try to use the concertina for that.

 

Cost is also a factor of course, my anglo is quite a good one, and if ended up with a Stagi or similar duet then it might colour my judgement of duets for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately I probably can't afford a duett of similar standard at the same time as the anglo. Richrds suggestion of hiring one for a few months might be worth it, but the time available to play comes back into the equation.

 

I agree with you about being a bit more adventerous on the Chords etc, it was trying to up my repertoire of chords that started me thinking duet in the first place.

 

I wa trying to learn the tune 'A shropshire lass' which has lots of nice chords in it(A7, F#m etc), which prompted me to try learn all the basic chords. Another one I've tried is 'A nightingale sang on Berkeley Square', inspired by the John Kirkpatrick version of years ago which I loved. This also has lots on interesting chords in it.

 

What prompted the original posting was that you think you know the chord, but then find that you have to change the way you play the melody since you only have the chord in one direction. Perfectly feasible, but still a pain in the bum when you thought you knew the melody.

 

I suppose this raises the question of how different people go about learning tunes on an anglo. I tend to learn the melody first in the most natural way to me, which is basically up and down the row, only leaving the row when I have to, but generally prefering to swap row rather than go onto the left hand if I can.

 

Then I start to fit in the chords, which is where the above problems start, especially if you want to go beyond the 'three chord trick'.

 

Perhaps I should be starting by working out the required chords, and then working the melody around that.

 

Looking forward to more comments.

 

 

Clive.

 

PS, which side do you play/dance with?

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Perhaps I should be starting by working out the required chords, and then working the melody around that.

 

Keep in mind that once you go beyond the 'three chord trick', you don't have to play exactly the chords that somebody else has written down... or plays. I'm working on a song now with a sections where I play either Dm or F, and another section that works with either Bb or Gm. If you look look up different arrangements of the same popular song, you're likely to find sequences of chords that are extremely different, and yet each sounds OK.

 

The important thing is to find a group of buttons that when played together, sounds good... to you. They don't even have to be either a "full" chord or one that you can put a name to, as long as they sound good. Experiment.

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