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Aldon Sanders

Best duet system for SATB hymn playing?

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Hi. It's been several years since I've been by this forum.  During the time I've been gone I played my 64 button Wheatstone English in a group that specializes in American music of the 1850s. It was fun but not very profitable. 

 

My regular gig is as an ukulele soloist and since this is my off season I've been enjoying reading through tune books on my English. I've also been playing out of a hymnbook for the 2 part (sometimes 3 part) harmonic arrangements.

 

What I really want to do is read through SATB hymn arrangements and play them straight off the dots with the full harmony. That lead me to thinking about duet concertinas.

 

Do any of the duet systems allow for playing straight off of the piano score without having to adapt the piece to fit the system?

 

If not, what system would be the most appropriate?

 

Thanks for your time & insights,

Aldon Sanders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Aldon Sanders

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A (larger) Crane would certainly be a good bet as the SA seems to have used instruments for that purpose, and from my limited experience it‘s very well possible (as it has a reoccurring pattern in the button layout).

 

Best wishes - 🐺

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Thank you Wolf.

 

I'll research the larger Cranes' note chart. A larger instrument makes sense because of the need for the chromatics. Many hymns are in Db and Ab and I'd really love to play them straight off the dots and have some sense of organization.

 

(I have looked at the layout of the basic SA Triumph, hoping they were on to something, but saw how haphazzard the notes were. Several key notes were missing on the LH, and according to the chart I saw the button layout for the RH is also 'upsidedown', with the higher notes toward the handstrap and the lower notes on top! Hopefully the Crane will be a better fit.)

 

Thanks again.

Aldon 

 

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3 hours ago, Aldon Sanders said:

 

I'll research the larger Cranes' note chart. A larger instrument makes sense because of the need for the chromatics.

 

All Cranes are pretty well chromatic, regardless of size.

 

Quote

Many hymns are in Db and Ab and I'd really love to play them straight off the dots and have some sense of organization.

 

Db? I think that would be difficult on most concertinas! Do you mean Eb?

 

Quote

(I have looked at the layout of the basic SA Triumph, hoping they were on to something, but saw how haphazzard the notes were. Several key notes were missing on the LH, and according to the chart I saw the button layout for the RH is also 'upsidedown', with the higher notes toward the handstrap and the lower notes on top! Hopefully the Crane will be a better fit.)

 

"Triumph" is just the Salvation Army's name for Crane. The systems are identical. Not sure what layout you were looking at, but it doesn't sound like either Crane/Triumph or Maccann (which is, in my view at least, somewhat haphazard). Neither has an upside-down RH.

 

By it's nature, once you extend beyond a standard 55 button Crane the notes start to get a bit haphazard, particularly on the bass where you end up with breaks in the main sequence, outliers in a sixth column and a note on the LH thumb; but I guess you can get used to these. Follow Wolf's link in the previous post to view some examples.

 

LJ

Edited by Little John

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"I have looked at the layout of the basic SA Triumph, hoping they were on to something, but saw how haphazzard the notes were." 

This was my observation as well, and for this reason I chose a "large" 52 key Hayden, specifically a Morse Beaumont. It's schema is entirely regular and fully chromatic and allows playing in Eb and Ab, though not with the convenience of the simple pattern which is common the keys of A, Bb, C, D, E (almost), F, and G whose scales all follow the exact same pattern. 

 

The largest available Hayden, from the Concertina Connection, extends the unified basic scale pattern to Ab and Eb, and removes the "almost" from E. 

 

Since the Hayden system is quite recent, there aren't fine historical instruments available as for McCann and Craine/Triumph, and hybred construction is common until you reach the very finest levels of Haydendom. And, of course, the irregular fingering patterns of the older systems hasn't prevented the duet players of the last century from doing exactly what you plan to accomplish!

Daniel 

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I have a larger Crane and enjoy playing hymns on that. It works OK directly from the music but sometimes the base can overpower the tune. My Crane (67 button) goes down to the E flat 1.5 octaves below middle C, so can pick up all the lower base lines. Alternatively the low base notes can be raised an octave which also works satisfactorily.

 

Hope you find a good instrument - whether Crane or Hayden.

 

Regards

Peter

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13 hours ago, Peter Smith said:

I have a larger Crane and enjoy playing hymns on that. It works OK directly from the music but sometimes the base can overpower the tune. My Crane (67 button) goes down to the E flat 1.5 octaves below middle C, so can pick up all the lower base lines. Alternatively the low base notes can be raised an octave which also works satisfactorily.

 

I refrained from commenting on this aspect earlier since the OP specifically wanted to play SATB directly from the score. But in truth, all four parts continuously can be really thick sounding and bass heavy, as you say. My preferred approach is to play the tune on the right hand and to respect the general harmonic intent with the left hand, using generally two notes (on the LH hand, that is, so three notes in total); occasionally just one LH note in passing but often three for the final chord.

 

That works for me on an Crane going down to A2 (an octave and three semitones below middle C). But then I tend to play by ear, not from the dots.

 

LJ

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Brian Hayden does just what you’re asking on his Hayden duets. He plays up to six voices. I’ve never heard him do it. My Hayden (46 buttons) has an octave below middle C as the low note, which isn’t low enough for most bass parts.

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Might be an idea to enquire of Harry Lowery (of Yesterday's Men) what he thinks as I know that he does a fair amount of hymn playing on both English and Maccan systems.

 

Robin Madge

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22 hours ago, David Barnert said:

My Hayden (46 buttons) has an octave below middle C as the low note, which isn’t low enough for most bass parts.

 

Larger Cranes will regularly go down to the F below (my Crabb being fully chromatic from A upwards, and has the G below as well).

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