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Tønder..The Eternal Friendship on Dipper and Crabb


Little John
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Partly inspired by soloduetconcertina's posting of Da Slockit Light, but something I've been meaning to do for a while anyway since I had my Crabb re-tuned to fifth comma mean tone. I'll probably post more on that experience in a new thread, but I've posted this beautiful Phil Cunningham tune on IG to compare the Crabb in mean tone with the Dipper in equal temperament. I'd be interested in any comments.

 

I'm not sure if this will work - you may need to go to Instagram to hear the second version (since I can't see the two dots beneath the picture indicating a second video).

 

 

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Little John, both are nicely done.  I wasn't aware that Dipper made a Crane.  I'm new to the alternate tunings universe of concertinas but wonder if, being so used to equal temperament tuning, we perceive comma mean tone as somehow lacking?  For example, the "sweetness" that some ascribe to common mean tone seems to make certain of the higher notes sound like they are carrying as well or get lost in too big a chord.  I have a Tedrow "Harley" Anglo that is tuned in quarter comma meantone and am trying to get a handle on why that is.

 

That said, well done on the playing ... I'm still trying to determine if I want to stray from equal temperament!

Edited by saguaro_squeezer
Changed craneduet to Little John.
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The problem  I have with  your recordings, or  if you like  'your comparison', is  that  the timbre  of each instrument  sounds  quite different.  The  first  ( the Dipper)  has a clear , bright  tone  whereas the second ( the Crabb)  appears to be  more subdude  in the upper  partials.  Perhaps  the  1/5 Comma  Meantone  is  sweetening some of the harmonies  but my own experiences  with these  two  temperaments  is that  the  inherent  tonal qualities  of each instrument  are  not  particularly affected  by  a change.  A  bold  toned concertina  will benefit  more  when certain  Equal Tempered  intervals are modified  to  sweeten  chords.

 

 You are playing a tune  using  chords  that  we are  very used to  hearing in ET,  therefore  the harshnesses  are  molified  by  our  familiarity  and the  actual chord construction , what notes are used  and in whch inversions.  I think we probably have a natural  tendancy to  avoid    grating intervals  when  constructing  chords  in our 'finger  map'  of a  tune.

 

I have been using 1/5th Comma  for  over 30 years  on my  EC's  because it allows  me to use  the Major Third  interval , which is  the worst  sounding common chord in ET  on a strident concertina  whilst also being the  easiest  usefull  harmony  to  fall under  the  fingers. It is a usefull compromise  that  has so far failed to  raise  an eyebrow  from  those  musicians I have played with.

 

Coming back to your recordings:  would I be correct   in thinking    the  Dipper  has  brass framed reeds  fitted to  a solid wood  reedpan and  pallet board...  whilst the Crabb  has    aluminium  reed frames fitted to a plywood  construction  ?

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Hi John,

My first impression was that when you play the solo part at the beginning the sound of the Crabb is better but when you add the accompaniment with chords I prefer the sound of the Dipper. Can you explain what is fifth comma mean tone please? Thanks,

Didie

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23 hours ago, saguaro_squeezer said:

craneduet, both are nicely done.  I wasn't aware that Dipper made a Crane.  I'm new to the alternate tunings universe of concertinas but wonder if, being so used to equal temperament tuning, we perceive comma mean tone as somehow lacking?  For example, the "sweetness" that some ascribe to common mean tone seems to make certain of the higher notes sound like they are carrying as well or get lost in too big a chord.  I have a Tedrow "Harley" Anglo that is tuned in quarter comma meantone and am trying to get a handle on why that is.

 

That said, well done on the playing ... I'm still trying to determine if I want to stray from equal temperament!

 

Thanks saguaro_squeezer.

 

"I wasn't aware that Dipper made a Crane." I don't think they've made more than a handful. I believe mine was the second and I was aware of one more after that.

 

"I have a Tedrow "Harley" Anglo that is tuned in quarter comma meantone and am trying to get a handle on why that is." The reason for choosing this temperament is that it makes the major thirds perfect. The wide major thirds of equal temperament are one of its worst features and this seems to show up on the concertina more than any other instrument.

 

LJ

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21 hours ago, Geoff Wooff said:

The problem  I have with  your recordings, or  if you like  'your comparison', is  that  the timbre  of each instrument  sounds  quite different.  The  first  ( the Dipper)  has a clear , bright  tone  whereas the second ( the Crabb)  appears to be  more subdude  in the upper  partials.  Perhaps  the  1/5 Comma  Meantone  is  sweetening some of the harmonies  but my own experiences  with these  two  temperaments  is that  the  inherent  tonal qualities  of each instrument  are  not  particularly affected  by  a change.  A  bold  toned concertina  will benefit  more  when certain  Equal Tempered  intervals are modified  to  sweeten  chords.

 

 You are playing a tune  using  chords  that  we are  very used to  hearing in ET,  therefore  the harshnesses  are  molified  by  our  familiarity  and the  actual chord construction , what notes are used  and in whch inversions.  I think we probably have a natural  tendancy to  avoid    grating intervals  when  constructing  chords  in our 'finger  map'  of a  tune.

 

I have been using 1/5th Comma  for  over 30 years  on my  EC's  because it allows  me to use  the Major Third  interval , which is  the worst  sounding common chord in ET  on a strident concertina  whilst also being the  easiest  usefull  harmony  to  fall under  the  fingers. It is a usefull compromise  that  has so far failed to  raise  an eyebrow  from  those  musicians I have played with.

 

Coming back to your recordings:  would I be correct   in thinking    the  Dipper  has  brass framed reeds  fitted to  a solid wood  reedpan and  pallet board...  whilst the Crabb  has    aluminium  reed frames fitted to a plywood  construction  ?

 

Hi Geoff,

 

You're right: the two instruments have very different timbres, and probably the brighter (or harsher) Dipper would have benefited more from being tuned to meantone. I'm not sure that the recording (on an iPhone) gives a fair representation of the sound. Colin Dipper himself described the Crabb as having a rich tone.

 

As for construction, both concertinas have mahogany (or similar) pallet boards and sycamore (or similar) reed pans, with the exception of the right hand side of the Dipper which has a plywood reed pan. Brass reed frames for the Dipper and aluminium for the Crabb. I'm not sure that makes much difference in itself - John Kirkpatrick's Crabb also has aluminium reed frames but certainly doesn't sound subdued.

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On 9/22/2018 at 3:37 PM, saguaro_squeezer said:

... wonder if, being so used to equal temperament tuning, we perceive comma mean tone as somehow lacking?  For example, the "sweetness" that some ascribe to common mean tone seems to make certain of the higher notes sound like they are [not?] carrying as well or get lost in too big a chord.  ...

 

22 hours ago, Geoff Wooff said:

... the second ( the Crabb)  appears to be  more subdude  in the upper  partials.  Perhaps  the  1/5 Comma  Meantone  is  sweetening some of the harmonies ...

 

7 hours ago, soloduetconcertina said:

Hi John,

My first impression was that when you play the solo part at the beginning the sound of the Crabb is better but when you add the accompaniment with chords I prefer the sound of the Dipper. Can you explain what is fifth comma mean tone please? Thanks,

Didie

 

There may be a common thread in these three comments. In part the difference is down to the timbres of the instruments, but the comparison is complicated by an additional factor. The Dipper had a very dominant left hand from the outset, so I inserted a partial leather baffle over 30 years ago. Recently I've been experimenting with extending this baffle. This means that not only is the left hand quieter than the right but it is tonally different too, which allows the melody to cut through clearly. By comparison with the Dipper (but not necessarily with other "normal" concertinas) the melody on the Crabb stands out less clearly from the harmonics of the chords. That could explain why Didie preferred the Crabb solo but the Dipper when accompanied (as, indeed, do I).

 

I'd be interested to know if anyone who has listened picked up on this at all.

 

Didie - Loads has been written on mean tone tuning (and other tuning systems). You can find stuff on Wikipedia and elsewhere, and Ross Duffin has an interesting book called How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (And Why You Should Care). In brief the problem is this. A perfect (or Pythagorian) fifth is a frequency ratio of 3:2. In theory, if you stack up 12 fifths (A - E - B - F# - ... - D - A) you get back to A. Except you don't. You end up 24 cents sharper than the A you started from. (A cent is 1/100 of a semitone.) This 24 cent difference is called a comma, and its existence is a problem to fixed pitch instruments with keyboards or frets. It's also a problem because this stack of perfect fifths creates major thirds that are much wider than perfect thirds. So compromise is needed. If you reduce each fifth by 2 cents (a 1/12 of the comma) you overcome the problem of ending up 24 cents sharp, but the major thirds are still sharp. (This is "equal temperament"). If you reduce each fifth by 6 cents (1/4 comma) you get perfect major thirds but rather narrow fifths. So a common compromise is to reduce the perfect fifth by 4.8 cents (1/5 comma). But now the circle of fifths doesn't close, so one fifth is much wider than the others (the "wolf fifth"). The trick is to put it somewhere you won't want to use it, like G# - Eb.

 

You can take advantage of this on a large Hayden (as they used to on English concertinas) because D# and Eb, for example, have separate buttons, thus eliminating the wolf fifth (at least, for all practical purposes).

 

LJ

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16 hours ago, adrian brown said:

So did you plump for an E flat or a D sharp LJ? With the EC and larger Anglos, you can have both (on the Anglo you arrange for them to be in opposing bellows directions) When I played a 31 button anglo tuned in 1/4 comma MT, I always seemed to want the other!

 

Adrian

 

I plumped for Eb. There was never much doubt I would. I've thought of all sorts of times when I might want a D#, but in practice over the past five months it's never arisen as a real issue. Come Christmas, the Coventry Carol (in Em) was the one I expected to cause problems since D# is frequently exposed in the melody. Solution? Transpose to Gm, which turns out to be the key it's written out in anyway!

 

I use Eb3 in a couple of tunes and Eb5 in a couple of songs, but I've never wanted D# at either of those pitches, only D#4 (right hand). So if it does become a problem I might make that one button D#/Eb anglo style.

 

LJ

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8 hours ago, Little John said:

 

I plumped for Eb. There was never much doubt I would. I've thought of all sorts of times when I might want a D#, but in practice over the past five months it's never arisen as a real issue. Come Christmas, the Coventry Carol (in Em) was the one I expected to cause problems since D# is frequently exposed in the melody. Solution? Transpose to Gm, which turns out to be the key it's written out in anyway!

 

I use Eb3 in a couple of tunes and Eb5 in a couple of songs, but I've never wanted D# at either of those pitches, only D#4 (right hand). So if it does become a problem I might make that one button D#/Eb anglo style.

 

LJ

That's an idea - as long as you remember which direction has which :-) Not a problem for Anglo players to remember such things, but might be more than a tad awful if you then played a B major chord in the wrong direction!

Cheers,

 

Adrian

 

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