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Tori

advice please - ease of transition from piano - which concertina?

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Hello,

I'm looking for advice please. I'd like to learn concertina to accompany myself singing. Having done some research, I think either English or duet would work best (since I tend to sing in odd keys and don't want to be restricted by the instrument).  I like the sound of the lower concertina ranges, and think they would work best with my voice (I sing Alto), so tempted by a tenor treble or baritone English, but my money seems to go further with a duet.   I'm wondering which type of concertina would be the easiest transition to learn as a piano player ? The English makes sense to me - ledger lines to the left, spaces to the right... but equally melody with the right hand, chords to the left does too, but I'm cautious about the apparent randomness of note placement on common duets...  I'm quite dextrous (can touch type) and play piano to grade 5. What advice would you give? 

 

Many thanks for your thoughts :-)

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If you're going for a duet then I'd say the Crane system is closest to a piano. It's derived from the English layout in that (on each hand) the three middle columns are the white notes and the two outer columns are the black notes. The right hand starts at middle C (C4) and the left hand at C3 (an octave below) - giving a range like a tenor-treble (except lacking the squeaky notes you don't need).

 

LJ

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If you can touch type, then you must be used to the random arrangement of the letters of the alphabet.  So the random arrangement of the notes should rapidly become intuitive (it did in my case).

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On 9/6/2020 at 2:43 PM, Tori said:

I tend to sing in odd keys and don't want to be restricted by the instrument

How odd?  I don't think that many players venture much beyond 1 or 2 flats and maybe 3-4 sharps.   

 

The notes are there on ECs and duets but they become increasingly difficult/awkward to play.  I suspect that for really odd key song accompaniment then a large EC would be your best bet - a tenor-treble or larger if you can find one.

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10 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

...I don't think that many players venture much beyond 1 or 2 flats and maybe 3-4 sharps...  

...they become increasingly difficult/awkward to play...

 

I hope this isn't wandering  too far off-topic, but this has some relevance for me at the moment.

 

Does this apply to the 30-button Anglo too? I have a project in hand which involves looking at tunes

in 1-, 2-, etc. sharps, and 1-, 2-, etc. flats. I've 'intuitively' stopped at exactly the range of sharps and

flats Don mentions, and am wondering whether to go any further - for example. there seem to be a

reasonable number of tunes kicking around in Eb or Cm (3-flats).

 

They certainly become increasingly difficult to play on an Anglo.

 

Should I just shrug my shoulders and transpose to an Anglo-friendly key(*), or should I soldier on with

the weird keys?

-------

(*) 'Friendly' for G/D. C/G. or Bb/F instruments. Obviously, something in Bb is fine for a Bb/F, but may be awkward on a G/D...

 

Edited by lachenal74693
Correction: '3-sharps' replaced with '3-flats' - Silly boy!

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7 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

I don't think that many players venture much beyond 1 or 2 flats and maybe 3-4 sharps.

 

2 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

I've 'intuitively' stopped at exactly the range of sharps and flats Don mentions, ...

 

Same here, playing a Crane duet. I've generally found no need to go beyond two flats and three sharps for folk music and song. I've played a couple of jazz tunes in Eb, but that's about it. (And that was just for the challenge. My guitarist friend uses a capo anyway for these so he could have moved it down a fret to D.)

 

LJ

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 Beyond    four sharps  and  three  flats  on the  English  keyboard  the  regular  sharing of  notes  between left and right hands  starts  rapidly to  breakdown.  So  Eb,  Bb, F, C, G, D, A and E  and their  relative  minors  are  comfortable  keys  within the system.  Once the  pattern  layout  becomes  second  nature  it is  relatively easy  to quickly  change  key,  here is  an example;

 

A  two  minute , single take,   recording  of  a   tune  played in 7 different  keys  ( 14  if  one  includes  the major and minor  sections  of the piece) . Ok , not a perfect  recording  but  just an  experiment  to see  what  is possible.

 

 

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Tori,

 

perhaps there is  no  perfect  transition between  piano  and  concertina  keyboard .  The  Hayden /Wikki   Duet  would  be  perhaps the closest match.

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2 hours ago, Little John said:

Same here, playing a Crane duet. I've generally found no need to go beyond two flats and three sharps for

folk music and song...

 

1 hour ago, Geoff Wooff said:

Beyond four sharps and three flats on the English keyboard the regular sharing of notes between left and

right hands starts rapidly to breakdown...

 

Bearing in mind the fact that I rather hi-jacked the thread to ask about Anglos, both of those observations

are very helpful, and will allow me come to some sort of 'rational' decision about how to proceed with my own

project. I guess the second comment might be re-cast for the Anglo as something like: "Beyond four sharps

and three flats on the Anglo keyboard, the frequent need to shift to and from the accidentals row rapidly causes

the whole exercise to breakdown."? It's certainly giving me a headache when I've tried it - albeit briefly.

 

I did a very rough count of the number of tunes in 3-flats in a couple of large (~13,000 and ~8000 tunes) ABC

files , and it came to ~170 and ~120 - in the order of 1.5%, so maybe it's not worth bothering too much about

3-flats. It was a bit of a shove to include 4-sharps...

 

Ta.

Edited by lachenal74693

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1 hour ago, Geoff Wooff said:

 Beyond    four sharps  and  three  flats  on the  English  keyboard  the  regular  sharing of  notes  between left and right hands  starts  rapidly to  breakdown.  So  Eb,  Bb, F, C, G, D, A and E  and their  relative  minors  are  comfortable  keys  within the system.  

 

F's relative minor is A flat with Bb Eb Ab and Db. Db is missing and you need C# (if you have equal temperament tuning) so F minor is tricky.  But that's the easy one. Bb major has a relative minor of Db ? (and 5 flats) or enchromatically C# and Eb  has a relative minor of Gb or enchromatically F# none of which are concertina friendly.

 

I'm a pianist and have found the English the easiest to adapt to. I play some Scottish tunes which regularly go up to E6. As to tunes in "odd" keys the only one that I regularly play is Miss MacDermott (Carolan) which is a minor key version of Princess Royal. In Carolan it's in F minor, but the usual session version is in G minor which is a lot easier to play.

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2 hours ago, Geoff Wooff said:

perhaps there is  no  perfect  transition between  piano  and  concertina  keyboard .  The  Hayden /Wikki   Duet  would  be  perhaps the closest match.

 

AFAIK the Hayden/Wikki system is only easy to play in a wide range of keys if the instrument has a wide enough keyboard to avoid breaking the pattern, which quickly gets into large/expensive/rare instrument territory.

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On 9/6/2020 at 2:43 PM, Tori said:

(since I tend to sing in odd keys and don't want to be restricted by the instrument)

 

The question is: How comfortable would you be singing a half-step above or below one of the “odd keys” you “tend to sing in”? If there’s some flexibility there it opens up a much greater range of possibilities. I was once working with a singer who wanted to sing in F minor (me on a Hayden). I convinced her she could just as easily do it in E minor and all went swimmingly after that.

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Hi Tori

 

I like to have the dots in front of me some of the time, especially when trying out tunes or learning new ones. I find the ec is ideal for this. A tenor treble would be even more useful, although more expensive.


I also play push/pull instruments and the dots aren’t much use to me for those. 

 

I only play melody lines though.

 

Good luck with your choice.

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I'll mention that on the Jeffries duet (C core) the keys of F# (thumb key), G#,C# Eb and their relative minors are quite handy.  This is because they are all on the top row as accidentals so you can play their scales along the top two rows for the most part with no more difficulty than working the middle two rows for F, G, Bb, C and D.  Perhaps this is workable for other duets and/or anglos.  I don't know enough about "temperment" to know how or if that figures in.  

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As a pianist, I expected the EC to be the most similar, but was taken by the Hayden/Wiki system which keeps the same fingering in many keys. 

 

I bought a simple Hayden, and soon a fine large one; I love the system.  I bought a delightful EC as well and have never taken to it as I have to the Hayden. In addition, I find it easier to play melody and harmony together on the duet, though many of my skilled colleagues manage it very nicely. 

 

Enjoy the voyage! 

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Many thanks for all your thoughts 🙂 experience and words of wisdom...   The 'odd keys' aren't odd in themselves, just that I fit to my vocal range and comfort, rather than predictable keys (and there is some room there to adjust, but varies song to song)... but I like the versatility of an instrument with a full chromatic scale, that's all. 

Interestingly your collective answers seem to favour the duet, but still a few favour EC,  I guess I'll just have to suck it (or squeeze it) and see   Maccannic - fingers crossed you're right about my touch typing!   Thank you all 🙂

Edited by Tori

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I think you'll appreciate the logic of the EC, coming from piano, but the vertical "crossed fingering" of scales will drive you nuts until you get used to it. The Frank Butler book (available as a download at concertina.com) will help immensely.

 

A lot of English folkies have successfully accompanied their singing with EC, check out Louis Killen, Tony Rose, Alf Edwards, etc.

 

Gary

Edited by gcoover

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On 9/11/2020 at 1:06 PM, Tori said:

...but I like the versatility of an instrument with a full chromatic scale, that's all.

 

My 46-key Hayden duet concertina has a chromatic range of 2 octaves and a minor 7th. Only the two lowest notes are outside the chromatic range. F minor (see my previous post in this thread) is awkward, but not unplayable on my instrument because the Eb and Ab are where you’d expect to find D# and G#, so the flat scales don’t fit the pattern.

 

Here is the layout of the 46 buttons. Notes on squeeze and draw
are the same (like English Concertina). Air vent button on the
right (not shown here).

|        LEFT HAND            ||        RIGHT HAND
|                             ||
|                             ||  Bb  C   D
|   F   G   A   B             ||    F   G   A   B   C#
| Bb (C)  D   E   F#  G#      ||  Bb  C   D   E   F#  G#
|   F   G   A   B   C#  D#    ||    F   G   A   B   C#  D#
|     C   D   E   F#  G#      ||     (C)  D   E   F#  G#
|                             ||
|(5th Finger)       (Thumb)   ||  (Thumb)       (5th Finger)
| ======HAND STRAP========    ||   ======HAND STRAP========

(C) = middle C (both hands).

 

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