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cdelta

Any opinions on Uni-Directional keyboard layout for Duet Concertinas?

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I was reading through Wim Wakker's post about the new Troubadour duet concertina and this was the first time I'd noticed that some of the Concertina Connection instruments can be made with an alternate "Uni-directional" keyboard layout.

 

"Bi-directional Keyboard"

This seems like it may be the more common layout.

On the Right Hand the order of the notes from low to high in each row would normally be played with [Index] -> [Middle] -> [Ring] -> [Pinky].

On the Left Hand the order from low to high in each row is the reverse. [Pinky] ->[Ring] -> [Middle] -> [Index]992539796_BidirectionalKeyboard-Peacock-2.png.06842478ba48da5f1057ba04a262ac2d.png

 

**Note about the diagrams. These are from the Concertina Connection Peacock Duet page. I have to do some mental gymnastics to correctly understand the official layout diagrams. For the diagrams in this post I rotated the official ones by 180 degrees and then flipped the text back upright. This way the Right Hand layout is on the right and the Left Hand layout is on the left. Hopefully I didn't get these mixed up in the process.😅

 

"Uni-directional Keyboard

On the Right Hand, the order of the notes from low to high in each row is the same as the Bi-directional layout [Index] -> [Middle] -> [Ring] -> [Pink]

The difference now, is that on the Left Hand the order is exactly the same as it is on the Right Hand. [Index] -> [Middle] -> [Ring] -> [Pink]

 

2012279927_UnidirectionalKeyboard-Peacock-2.png.42e3e3c3b2e611649025c1704f9b5ac0.png

 

It seems like the Uni-directional layout would be an advantage because you get to use the exact same fingers on both hands to play the same notes.

For example, using, [Index] -> [Middle] -> [Ring] on the first row is 'C', 'D', 'E' on either hand.

This seems a lot more intuitive than having the flow of keys switched between the 2 hands.

 

I'm very new to playing the Duet though and maybe there are some potential advantages to the standard "Bi-directional" layout that I'm just not aware of.

I'm curious if anyone here is familiar with the Uni-directional system and how they feel about it.

 

Thanks!

 

 

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3 hours ago, cdelta said:

 

I'm curious if anyone here is familiar with the Uni-directional system and how they feel about it.

 

 

I have to confess I am not familiar with it (other than as a concept). I, too, find the diagrams hard to read. For me it would be better to rotate the right hand a quarter turn clockwise and the left hand a quarter turn anti-clockwise. That way you can extend your hands in front of you and imagine your fingers over the keyboard. That is how pretty well other concertina layout is shown.

 

But to get to the point, the more common layout ("bi-directional") would be familiar to anyone who comes from a piano background. Maybe that's why Crane and MacCann duets are also arranged this way. Anglos follow this pattern too; though I suspect that derives more from the idea of taking a melodeon style keyboard, cutting it down the middle and folding it back-to-back.

 

LJ

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As indicated by my previous threads, i am a strong advocate of the uni-symmetric layout.  I had it on my CC Peacock and have one on my current Wakker W1.  I think that it would be especially useful on beginners' instruments because it allows one to quickly learn a non-trivial form of left hand accompaniment -- playing in octaves or other fixed relationships (e.g., 4ths) -- without (so far as i can see) making it any more difficult to learn other forms of accompaniment.

 

As you say, it also makes sense to have the same functional use of fingers between left and right hands.  The appeal to an analogy with piano playing is inappropriate because the concertina has a hard boundary between left and right hand notes.

Edited by rlgph
grammar correction

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I have  a couple of Bandoneons that have a bi-directional layout (Meisel and Praktical) and it does take some getting used to.  I won't tell you that I have, yet.  As I experiment with different systems, I try to appreciate each for what it is, but I find uni-directional much more logical.

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Ahh, thanks for linking to the other related threads. My forum search for ‘unidirectional layout’ hadn’t turned up much but I see that ‘mirrored layout’ or ’Wicki layout’ is maybe a more common name for these. Rlgph, I’ll give the Duetta app a try and see what it’s like to use the mirrored setup. Thanks!

 

Since I’m coming from a clarinet background where the pitch flows from index to pinky on both hands maybe that’s why the Mirrored sounds more intuitive in theory.

 

It’s very cool that we have the option to choose. I wonder if The Button Box has ever made a mirrored Beaumont before.

Edited by cdelta

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As a Beaumont player I'll add a few thoughts.  I've had previous experience with guitar and, long ago, saxophone.  I found the non-mirrored Beaumont to be intuitive, and never once thought that the asymmetry was frustrating.  I'd think that the relative difficulty of Maccann to Hayden would dwarf any trouble related to a non-mirrored versus mirrored layout.  To me (and at least a few others) Maccann looks completely nonintuitive yet I've heard some really great Maccann playing.  If you think you'll ever sell your instrument the mirrored layout may be a harder sell.  Finally, on guitar people visualise chord shapes.  I find myself doing the same on the Hayden.  It's a helpful mnemonic when I'm playing a tune by memory.  The chord shapes concept wouldn't work as well on a mirrored layout.  Good luck!

-George

Edited by dabbler

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FWIW, I wrote a little Windows 10 app that allows you to configure your own keyboard, so you can "dry test" any layout you want. I'll give it to anyone who cares for free; the only thing I ask is that you send me your keyboard file once you wrote it:

 

Just drop me a PM if you're interested.

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I only just discovered your thread.  I wish you luck with it, but i'm not up to trying it out because of too many other things on my plate.

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55 minutes ago, dabbler said:

If you think you'll ever sell your instrument the mirrored layout may be a harder sell. 

 

The chord shapes concept wouldn't work as well on a mirrored layout.  Good luck!

-George

Your point about selling is true, but i didn't buy my instrument with any thought of selling.

 

Your point about chord visualization is not true, at least, not true for all people.  For me, mirror image visualizations are no more difficult than non-mirrored ones, and mirrored notes/chords are easier to play without conscious thought.

 

To use your analogy with a guitar, when first learning i think most people do visualize chord shapes to know where to put one's fingers.  But as we get more proficient, we see (e.g.) the symbol C and automatically know where our fingers go without having to visualize the diagram of a C chord.

 

On my mirrored Hayden concertina, if i learn to play a simple tune with my right hand, i can pretty much immediately play the tune simultaneously with my left hand.  In fact, i can play the tune almost automatically with my left hand alone, albeit more slowly.  My brain apparently transfers the learning from one hand to the other.  Based on the book that i mentioned in a previous thread, i am not alone (or even in a minority) in being able to do this.  Apparently it is a common human trait.

Edited by rlgph
additional info
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Thanks, but since I don't plan on making any money off it anyways, I don't really care if nobody is interested. I personally use it on a daily basis, it's great for memorizing tunes, so the work I put into developing it has already paid off big time for me.

 

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I had already learned the traditional Hayden fingering before I discovered that the mirrored keyboard existed, and my first thought was "Rats! That woulda been easier!" After giving it some thought, I no longer feel that way. 

 

Like George, I "see" the note pattern as though it were printed before me, and I plop down whichever finger rests above the spot on that pattern where my desired note/s are located. I relate to the note position, not the finger. I think that this makes it easier for me when I shift fingering to improve phrasing or ornamentation.  I recognize that my way of "seeing" music is part of my cognitive hardware and not a universal feature, so I'm glad I started where I did. 

 

As I was learning the traditional Hayden system I found my piano association of "left little finger locates the lowest notes" useful as a beginner, though I certainly see the beginner's attraction to "learn one hand and you know the other." 

 

I also agree with George that humans learn complicated things easily. I think that either traditional or mirrored Hayden will quickly become comfortable under a newbie's fingers, and any advantage of one Hayden keyboard over the other would disappear after a month or two. 

 

Daniel 

Edited by W3DW
Typo

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"I relate to the note position, not the finger."

 

So do i, but i don't have a conscious image in my mind of the layout or of my finger positions relative to it.  However, i don't agree that "humans learn complicated things very easily".  There are far too many who have tried to learn to play an instrument (e.g., guitar) but have given up without significant progress.

Edited by rlgph

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As well as the better known Stradella Left Hand, accordions may come with Freebass or MIII keyboard which mimics the treble layout.

The Russian Bayan tends to have low to high as per the piano .

In the West the commonest layout is low to high = sky to floor and a mirror of the Right Hand buttons. (as with the ‘uni-directional’ approach.)

I find this set-up means the most mobile fingers have the least to do. Eg: with Index finger on a root note you have just two fingers left to play/stretch with + a not very nimble ‘pinky.’

It also feels a bit odd that as the left hand moves away from the right, the pitch of the notes becomes closer.

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I find human learning very interesting, so i'm curious about learning of other players of duets.  Those of you with standard non-mirrored duets (essentially all duet players i gather), if you learn to play (e.g, by ear) a simple tune on the right side, does that learning transfer directly to playing it on the left side, or do you (or would you) have to undergo a corresponding learning period to play it an octave lower (or, if it's a Hayden layout, some other key shift) with your left hand?

 

I understand this is not a task that you would normally do in learning a new melody with accompaniment.  I'm just proposing a simple experiment to investigate transference of learning between the hemispheres of the brain.

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1 hour ago, rlgph said:

 Those of you with standard non-mirrored duets (essentially all duet players i gather), if you learn to play (e.g, by ear) a simple tune on the right side, does that learning transfer directly to playing it on the left side, or do you (or would you) have to undergo a corresponding learning period to play it an octave lower (or, if it's a Hayden layout, some other key shift) with your left hand?

 

I understand this is not a task that you would normally do in learning a new melody with accompaniment.  I'm just proposing a simple experiment to investigate transference of learning between the hemispheres of the brain.

 

Your premise is wrong (at least to me). On a duet, the right hand side takes care of the melody, the left hand side is in charge of the accompaniment. There is nothing that needs to be translated.

 

When I began playing the Crane system, I would for a while play octaves as a first approximation to two-handed work. That became pretty boring soon because the lower octave did not add anything significant. And yes, I also did for the hell of it try to play the melody on the left hand side. There wasn't a point in it either. I then turned around the concertina, tried to play the melody left but with the "right hand" notes just to help the muscle dexterity on the left (after Kurt Braun indicated that my right hand was "light years ahead of the left.")

 

None of that seemed even remotely natural or meaningful as a practice. I play chord accompaniment with the left and melody on the right. Logically, there is some degree of relationship between the left and right hand side layout, but in my opinion, it's overrated, and the time spent musing about these questions would be much better utilized practicing any given system.

 

There is this age old experiment in which subjects get to wear special goggles that make them see the world upside down. At first, they'll freak out about it, but guess what? After a while their brains will have adjusted, and they'll move around in the upside down world exactly as everyone else move around in theirs.

 

The goal is to become a good musician in practice, not in theory, so if anyone accomplishes that by doing something fancy with their instrument, fine. Elisabeth Cotton became one of the cornerstones of fingerstyle guitar history although (or because, doesn't matter) she played the guitar "upside down." Obviously she was a very talented musician and would also have made a significance if she had played the guitar (or another instrument) any other way. Mark Knopfler is one of the many who is left handed but was forced to play the guitar right handed. In his own words, that helped him in some ways but made it more difficult in others.

 

Well, time to get back to practising.

 

Edited by RAc
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2 hours ago, rlgph said:

Those of you with standard non-mirrored duets (essentially all duet players i gather), if you learn to play (e.g, by ear) a simple tune on the right side, does that learning transfer directly to playing it on the left side, or do you (or would you) have to undergo a corresponding learning period to play it an octave lower (or, if it's a Hayden layout, some other key shift) with your left hand?

Well, as Rüdiger wrote, it's not a thing you'd do very often, but it's thinkable.

 

But never say No, and there may be situations - perhaps in an ensemble rather than when playing solo - where a melody in the bass would be quite nice. On a Crane duet, this is not an issue. If you've got the melody (mentally or notationally) mapped out in the right hand, all you have to do to transpose down an octave is press the same buttons on the other end of the concertina. No learning period involved!

And, similarly, if you want the chordal accompaniment in the treble, you just use the familiar left-hand chord shapes on the right-hand buttons, and that's it!

 

The button's the thing - the finger is immaterial!

 

Reference has been made to other instruments - piano, clarinet, et al. I'm a fretted-string player, and my approach to the Crane duet was that the left hand has chord shapes, like a banjo, and the right hand has scales, like a mandolin. However, the chord shapes I learn for the Crane left hand are directly transferable to the Crane right hand, and the scales are directly transferable in the opposite direction. No need to mirror the patterns.

BTW, my wife is a primary-school teacher, and one of the difficult things she has to do with the children is symmetry and mirror-imaging. It is not directly intuitive to the young human!

 

About this "bi-directional" vs. "unidirectional" thing: Early in this thread, Elise layout diagrams were shown with the handstraps outside and the buttons inside. However, the normal way of depicting the layouts of Anglos and Duets is with the handstraps at the bottom and the buttons at the top. Quite honestly, when I have my Anglo or Crane in my hands, and want to look at all the buttons at the same time, I will rotate my hands inwards, and the view that will present itself to me is that with the straps at the bottom and the buttons at the top. The notes of the scale on the anglo will run in one direction across both hands, and the spatial relationship between any two notes on the Crane will be in the same direction in either octave.

 

So what is uni-directional, and what is bi-directional?

 

Cheers,

John

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, rlgph said:

if you learn to play (e.g, by ear) a simple tune on the right side, does that learning transfer directly to playing it on the left side, or do you (or would you) have to undergo a corresponding learning period to play it an octave lower (or, if it's a Hayden layout, some other key shift) with your left hand?

 

Subject to inherent physiological limitations on ambidexterity, for me the transfer is indeed "automatic" when the non-mirrored keyboards are identical (at least in the range where I'm playing).

 

My perception* of the keyboard layout is independent, not related to the hand.  And so my fingers reach for a sequence of notes based on their positions in the layout, not on their positions relative to my individual fingers.  After all, my fingers have some freedom to change their positions relative to the button layout.

 

Others may differ.

 

* "Perception", or "internal image" is how I'm aware of the keyboard even when I can't see it.  Sort of how I'm aware of where the light switch (among other things) is located in a dark, but familiar, room.

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