Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
gcoover

Large Anglo Keyboard Numbering System

Recommended Posts

Since a recent thread on right hand chords drifted into the territory of button numbering for large Anglos, it really deserves its own separate post...

 

 

As you all know, there are a host of different numbering schemes for Anglo buttons, some make more sense than others, and many have loyal adherents, but to my knowledge there's never been a consistent system that addresses the larger 30+ button instruments.

 

So I've been talking with Adrian Brown and Jody Kruskal and we've come up with the following scenario:

 

It starts with the basic 20-button core numbered 1-10 on each side, and then utilizes a combination of numbers and letters to notate the outlying buttons that are accidentals and extras.

 

It's fairly common to number the top rows of accidentals 1a-5a on each side, but for larger Anglos the extra buttons all over the place are more problematical, especially since Jeffries and Wheatstone arrange them completely differently.

 

So here's the basic idea (see attachment):

 

Number the extra buttons above the 20-button core with an extra "a".

Number the extra buttons to the side of the 20-button core with an extra "b".

Number the extra buttons below the 20-button core with an extra "c".

And number the three extra Wheatstone buttons on the diagonal with an extra "d".

 

"a" = above

"b" = side

"c" = below

"d" = diagonal

And then just "Th" for the left hand thumb button since it's in a class all its own.

45-button Jeffries Anglos have additional buttons only on the bottom row, so this system should work for them as well.

And the best part? It totally avoids the crazy stuff like you see on the Chemnitzer concertina keyboard (0/0, 1/0, 2/3, *, -, +, etc.). It uses simple numbers and letters that are readily available on any computer keyboard that are easy to use and remember.

I know, I know, it's best to learn the actual music notes and read musical notation, but some of us prefer the initial crutch of button numbering and tablature to get started and to help remember how to play certain tunes!

Looking forward to the discussion and the brickbats!

Gary

AngloKeyboard Layouts-J38-W40.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I know, I know, it's best to learn the actual music notes and read musical notation, but some of us prefer the initial crutch of button numbering and tablature to get started and to help remember how to play certain tunes!"

 

The main reason I see for such a common nomenclature is to be able to describe a button for purposes of discussing the instrument:

 

"My G/D Jeffries's right-side push A is a bit dodgy." "Er, sorry, which button is that?" "Oh, it's button 6b on the right." "Great, thanks!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always conceptually thought of the 38-Jeffries "c" row button as being part of "the other column". That is, where you label it "8c" on each side ("being below 8"), I think of it as being below 9 on the left and being below 7 on the right. Is there a good argument for one or the other? (I'm not sure I have a good argument for my way, it's just how I've always thought of it... though I'll give it some thought.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking at the diagram, my mind follows the same logic as Wayman suggests - which would mean "9c" on left and "7c" on the right. But not having such an instrument with extra buttons, I don't know if there is possibly any ergonomic argument why if "feels" like these buttons are below the "8" on each side?

 

As for the utility of button numbers: I also prefer to read notation rather than tab, and I never read music from the tab while playing. But the button numbers are still useful! When the instrument presents more than one button able to play the same note, the numbers make it possible to communicate which button choice a particular person has made, which in turn influences the fingers used, and therefore the phrasing.

 

With smaller numbers of buttons this is less of an issue of course, simply because there are fewer alternatives. My main instruments are 20 button and 26 button!

Edited by Tradewinds Ted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Firstly thanks Gary for giving this topic its own thread - I was feeling guilty every time I posted on the other and took it away from its question...

 

I've always conceptually thought of the 38-Jeffries "c" row button as being part of "the other column". That is, where you label it "8c" on each side ("being below 8"), I think of it as being below 9 on the left and being below 7 on the right. Is there a good argument for one or the other? (I'm not sure I have a good argument for my way, it's just how I've always thought of it... though I'll give it some thought.)

 

 

Looking at the diagram, my mind follows the same logic as Wayman suggests - which would mean "9c" on left and "7c" on the right. But not having such an instrument with extra buttons, I don't know if there is possibly any ergonomic argument why if "feels" like these buttons are below the "8" on each side?

 

c

 

That's entirely my fault, I counted in my head rather than looking at where they actually sit. But perhaps we need to enlist someone who plays one of the really big Jeffries Anglos (hey Cohen.... Help! :-) and ask them how many buttons there are on the innermost row? But you're quite right that our rogue inner row button sits under 9 on the left and 7 on the right so theoretically should be 9c and 7c respectively, unless that is, somebody has a layout with 6 buttons on that row?

 

I too wonder what our English and Duet colleagues must be thinking of us in all this - as Mike pointed out in another thread: three musical ideas separated by a common instrument :-)

 

We're getting there...

 

Adrian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I like it Gary, and will adopt it wholeheartedly until somebody complains! Of course unlike the two main 30 button systems, we will always have the problem that quite significant differences exist within the Jeffries 39 layout, but at least if we have a standard button numbering for the layout we can compare along the lines of "My RH 1b

has a push f# and draw A, so there!)

 

What do all you Wheatstone and Jones 40 system players think?

 

Adrian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never numbered the accidentals as almost every concertina I have played has a different arrangement.My layout is different now to how they were when I received them.Many makers have different layouts. Sadly I think apart from a twenty button standard layout ,it may create some confusion.

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never numbered the accidentals as almost every concertina I have played has a different arrangement.My layout is different now to how they were when I received them.Many makers have different layouts. Sadly I think apart from a twenty button standard layout ,it may create some confusion.

Al

 

I don't think anyone would dispute this Alan, but I think the value of having a standardised button numbering system is that however the buttons themselves are tuned, it is easy to communicate fingerings and layouts without referring along the lines of "the one beside the draw g"!!! In a teaching situation, it's very useful to be able to orientate the student's fingers to where you think the correct note should be found :-)

 

Adrian

 

Adrian

Edited by adrian brown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never numbered the accidentals as almost every concertina I have played has a different arrangement.My layout is different now to how they were when I received them.Many makers have different layouts. Sadly I think apart from a twenty button standard layout ,it may create some confusion.

 

I think the B-C (Brown Coover) notation is useful for purposes of maintenance and comparison of note layouts, but not for notating tunes/arrangements... except if one notates a particular tune/arrangement for a particular instrument. My experience is similar to Alan's. I've almost never seen two non-Wheatstone anglos of more than 32 buttons that had entirely the same layout, even in relative terms (compensating for different core keys). And the differences were usually at least 3 buttons in both directions, though various web sites show what they present as "the standard" (or just "the") 38-button Jeffries layout. (Adrian's anglos are an exception, but I understand he has had changes made to insure that that's the case.) And of course, the "standard" 40-button Wheatstone layout is quite different from any 38- to 45-button Jeffries layout I've seen.

 

Even on 20- and 30-button instruments, there are "common" variations on the lowest button of the inner left-hand row (the G row on a C/G). In addition, I've seen at least two anglos -- a Lachenal and a Jones -- which had two separate (but smaller, and closely spaced) buttons for the left-hand thumb.

 

I have always preferred the staff-oriented musical notation, which I started learning to read (on the trumpet) when I was 10 years old. When I added other instruments -- sax, flute, piano, even guitar (on none of which I became very proficient), -- I learned to match the different notes (on the staff/staves) to the different fingerings and physical locations on each instrument, rather than have a separate way to "picture" the different notes for each instrument. Imagine that for a single tune you would need to carry separate "tablature" sheets for each instrument you play... e.g., tin whistle, anglo concertina, and tenor banjo? Not for me, thanks. Conversely, if you're sharing a tune with others, it's a rare whistle player who can read mandolin tablature, much less a sequence of concertina button numbers.

 

Instead, I think it makes sense, even for anglo concertina, to use standard notation, learn (in your head, but eventually in your fingers) where each note is, and then only where there is ambiguity (multiple possibilities) add some sort of additional notation above or below the staff to resolve the ambiguity. In particular, for an anglo, simply indicating push or pull in addition to which note can often serve for more than one layout, though the required button may be in different places in each layout.

 

And returning specifically to the issue of anglos with more than 30 buttons, I would maintain that anybody working with such an instrument (with the possible exception of the standard Wheatstone 40-button layout) had better know "in their fingers" where every note is, rather than trying to construct a tune or arrangement from an arbitrary sequence of button numbers. Having merely a sequence of button numbers (plus push or pull, of course) for each tune/arrangement for one many-button anglo could result in absolute cacaphony on another anglo with the same geometrical pattern of buttons.

Edited by JimLucas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...I think the value of having a standardised button numbering system is that however the buttons themselves are tuned, it is easy to communicate fingerings and layouts without referring along the lines of "the one beside the draw g"!!! In a teaching situation, it's very useful to be able to orientate the student's fingers to where you think the correct note should be found :-)

I think that what you're describing, Adrian, is equivalent to my stated exception of "if one notates a particular tune/arrangement for a particular instrument". So yes, in that respect, it is a very useful protocol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

...I think the value of having a standardised button numbering system is that however the buttons themselves are tuned, it is easy to communicate fingerings and layouts without referring along the lines of "the one beside the draw g"!!! In a teaching situation, it's very useful to be able to orientate the student's fingers to where you think the correct note should be found :-)

I think that what you're describing, Adrian, is equivalent to my stated exception of "if one notates a particular tune/arrangement for a particular instrument". So yes, in that respect, it is a very useful protocol.

 

 

I don't think what Adrian's describing is about tunes or notation at all, Jim; I think what he (and I) see as the purpose of this exercise is being able to name buttons for purpose of discussing instruments, not tunes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a couple of remarks on this...

 

I first came across a button numbering system in the simple tutor I acquired with my first 20-button east German instrument: "The First Step How to play The Anglo-Chromatic Concertina" by J. Wetstone. This uses the familiar numbering system as stamped on the very old 20-button instruments: 1-5 for the C row, 6 - 10 for the G row, plus 1a to 5a for the accidentals row, the same for either hand.

 

HOWEVER - this is not used as tablature, but only as a way of annotating the fingering (and belows direction, using a ^ for draw) for notes on the stave of standard notation.

 

I think a lot of this thread assumes that button numbering is somehow analogous to guitarists' and other fretted-string players' tablature, which of course it isn't. The main difference is that the button numbering system does not indicate the duration of the notes, as tablature does (but see Note below). Button numbering does share the drawback of fretted-string tablature: it only works for one instrument - more precisely for one instrument in one tuning. So it is a private, not a public notation. As has been pointed out, you can't use it to communicate with players of other instruments.

 

Note: I have devised a way to use button numbering to describe a tune completely, including note durations. This is based on the (to singers in the UK) familiar Tonic-Solfa notation. A line of print is divided into bars by vertical lines, and the bars are divided into beats by colons. Instead of the sol-fa notes d, r, m, etc., you can insert button numbers in this framework, using some diacritic to indicate bellows draw. Tonic-Solfa uses one line of print for each voice in a choral score; for the concertina, we need two lines: an upper one for the right hand and a lower one for the left hand.

 

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

...I think the value of having a standardised button numbering system is that however the buttons themselves are tuned, it is easy to communicate fingerings and layouts without referring along the lines of "the one beside the draw g"!!! In a teaching situation, it's very useful to be able to orientate the student's fingers to where you think the correct note should be found :-)

I think that what you're describing, Adrian, is equivalent to my stated exception of "if one notates a particular tune/arrangement for a particular instrument". So yes, in that respect, it is a very useful protocol.

 

 

I don't think what Adrian's describing is about tunes or notation at all, Jim; I think what he (and I) see as the purpose of this exercise is being able to name buttons for purpose of discussing instruments, not tunes.

 

 

Yes, exactly and to be able to post questions like "what have you got on your 7c?"Just consider the problems we are having on the other thread about a Jeffries with an errant g#, that I now find out is not "errant"to me at all.

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=20126

 

If I had realised button 10 was being referred to and not button 6, it would have been a bit more obvious :-)

 

Adrian

 

Edited by adrian brown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just thinking Adrian about 7C it could be a squeeker or a whistle as some old instruments had.( not to be taken seriously)

I can roughly see the point you are making, but I should think it would rarely be used ,but stick with it if you like the idea.

I have always advised that with an Anglo with more than twenty buttons that you get two large pieces of paper ,one for the left hand and one for the right and put down every note you have and ii's location to the concertina layout you have. A perfect reference for future work.

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just thinking Adrian about 7C it could be a squeeker or a whistle as some old instruments had.( not to be taken seriously)

I can roughly see the point you are making, but I should think it would rarely be used ,but stick with it if you like the idea.

I have always advised that with an Anglo with more than twenty buttons that you get two large pieces of paper ,one for the left hand and one for the right and put down every note you have and ii's location to the concertina layout you have. A perfect reference for future work.

Al

 

Alan,

 

I was only using 7c as an example of the utility of a standard button numbering system for orientation. And I quite agree with you about the large pieces of paper - as Jim remarked above, all my anglos have (now) the same layout so that those large pieces of paper have not had to evolve into a ring binder :-)

 

Adrian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply Adrian I did realise that using it as an example.

Thinking further on this subject ,a more complicated Anglo has accidentals not only on the top row, but on the middle and bottom rows,in fact there are specials (not only converted Jeffries Duets) that have almost four rows. It all becomes very complicated to try and work a straightforward numbering system to cover all the models.

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Alan that button numbering systems get very complicated especially when you get to instruments with more than 30 buttons. The biggest Anglo I have owned was a 50 Key Carr. This was not a converted Jeffries Duet but appeared to have reeds & Anglo pans from the Jeffries workshop ( these likely "disappeared" in Mr Carr's lunch box).

 

Compiling a button numbering system was complicated, so I did it using an Excel spreadsheet which identified each button as two cells in the spreadsheet and therefore enabled individual reeds to be identified. Doubtless someone from C.net will have an instrument with more than 50 keys and it would be simple to extrapolate my 50 key spreadsheet to accommodate this. After that all buttons would have cell designations and instruments with fewer keys could simply ignore the missing ones.

 

I currently have Excel button maps for over 40 instruments ranging from 8 to 50 keys. If there is a way to attach Excel documents to this thread ( and somebody could explain how to do this) I'd be happy to share this info. If this is not possible on C.net then we could probably use e mail.

 

 

And of course this is just one alternative way around the problem .......there may be others.

 

John Warren

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×