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DougS

Using thumbs to play Hayden Duet Concertina

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Greetings -- I'm a concertina newbie, just bought a Stagi 46 note (I know, I know, the concertina all love to hate, nevertheless, I like the sound, system and esp the price 🙂 ). I was playing around with the strap tightness/looseness, and it suddenly occurred to me that no matter how I adjusted it, it still seemed awkward to reach some notes from some others. Then I thought what if really loosen it up and put all my fingers through, and when I did I realized I'd gained 25% more fingers (20% more if one is bad at math, so let's split the difference and call it 22.5%). Of course, the part of the back of hand that makes contact with the strap for bellowing is closer to the wrist, and  resting each end of the concertina on the corresponding leg may be needed for stability given the looser straps and not using the thumbs for stability. Having all 10 fingers then permits easier interval stretches and more fingering options for both melodies and chords. I do allow for the possibility that as a newbie, I simply don't realize this is ridiculous, scandalous and will never work as I progress, but just wondering, does anyone out there use their thumbs to play concertina?

Edited by DougS
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Hi Alex, Thanks for the link. I can see how a different strap mechanism could help w reaching notes more easily with thumbs either over or under the straps. But does anyone actually do what I'm experimenting with, playing with all 10 fingers? Or is that something tried 100 years ago already and ultimately non pacticable?

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Hi @DougS. I actually do not use my thumb for playing yet. As you say, in Stagi Hayden it is ( for me) impossible without putting the entire hand into the strap. The combined strap system I am thinking about, besides the design of thumb and hand plates, could allow me to play at least a coup of bass notes in right side in a "drone" style as example.  In the left hand,  probably some utility for the thumb could be also encountered after practising. 

Edited by Isel

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One does of course need to use the right thumb for the air button on an Anglo, and some Anglos have a corresponding button on the left-hand end that plays a note, often referred to as a "drone" but also usable as part of a chord. If it's OK on an Anglo I don't see why it shouldn't be done on a Hayden.

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As a duet player (about a year and a half in) I really want a thumb cluster of base notes.  It's difficult to find the space in the box however, and to set up the action without a spaghetti tangle.  The Jeffries system that I play could incorporate such a thing but would need a major re-working of the innards as well as a modified end plate.  Of the two instruments I have (one pictured  above) both could squeeze in a note or two.  If I ever find a nice old box with a wrecked interior I have a plan!  

 

One more thing to consider is that if you move the strap behind the thumb the hand rest obstructs free thumb movement towards the buttons.

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The idea of the strap covering the entire hand is not new, of course. It can be found in Cnet some pictures (after Mike, @ragtimer) of the called "Bastari Hayden bandoneon", which  strap is designed to accommodate the entire hand.

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Rich Morse used to use his thumbs (outside the straps) occasionally on his 46-key Wheatstone Hayden. Not for routine passagework, but for the rare awkward note that was unplayable any other way. I've never seen anyone else do it.

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IMO, if a thumb can reach the buttons, the hand rest is too close to the buttons.  I've never been able to reach more than one button on each side with thumbs on a slanted keyboard, and have never felt any need to use thumbs for playing.  Thumbs give stability to a player's hold on the hand rest.    .   

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8 hours ago, Jim Bayliss said:

...  Thumbs give stability to a player's hold on the hand rest.    .   

 

I rather agree with that. The grip on the strap between the thumb and the palm is firmest point of contact with the instrument.

 

LJ

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On my Hayden Beaumont, my left thumb can easily play the Ab that is needed to complete the key of Eb. It's just the happy coincidence of button location and a long, fat thumb, but it's much easier for me than reaching my index finger across the keyboard which necessitates shifting my whole hand as well. In fact, extending my thumb helps tilt my left hand toward the far side of the keyboard where the rest of Eb lives.

I wish the two right hand Ab buttons were as easy to use! 

Daniel 

Edited by W3DW

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IMHO thumbs are too cruicial for fine outwards bellows controll and articulation to be „wasted” on just one or two easier to play notes. Besides, thumb joints axis orientation makes thumb movements a lot slower than other fingers’, especially when trying to reach further lower buttons. And frankly speaking even six notes at a time sounds rich enough on a concertina, with eight fingers being enough for smooth chord transitions in nearly all cases. I can imagine two or three thumb operated drone base buttons on the left side outside of Hayden layout being musically usefull, but otherwise it is wasted bellows controll for me.

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51 minutes ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

IMHO thumbs are too cruicial for fine outwards bellows controll and articulation to be „wasted” on just one or two easier to play notes. Besides, thumb joints axis orientation makes thumb movements a lot slower than other fingers’, especially when trying to reach further lower buttons. And frankly speaking even six notes at a time sounds rich enough on a concertina, with eight fingers being enough for smooth chord transitions in nearly all cases. I can imagine two or three thumb operated drone base buttons on the left side outside of Hayden layout being musically usefull, but otherwise it is wasted bellows controll for me.

Thanks -- Had the same thought yesterday while playing re: how many notes are really needed (or desirable) at a time. Part of the issue is that I bought a Stagi, which is bigger than other concertinas, but 4 (long) fingers do seem to be enough even on the Stagi.

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