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Hello Everyone !

 

The Concertina is a very new instrument to me. I recently started reading up about it and was hoping to learn some more.

 

I understand there are three different types of Concertinas out there namely the English,The Anglo and the Duet.

 

I'd like to play Melodies along with some chords as accompaniment. What kind of concertina would you guys recommend i go for ? 

 

Please keep in mind i'd like to get an instrument that allows me to play in all keys. 

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You will find that there are trade-offs between ease of playing chords against melody, key versatility, abundance, and price. There may be no ideal answer without some kind of compromise. With enough buttons (ie., expensive), you can achieve your goal with any of the systems. The English is great for playing melodies and it is possible to play chords as well, but their placement is not intuitive, as the notes are arranged so as to alternate between the two hands. The Anglo is great for playing melodies with the right hand and chords with the left, but some keys will be more awkward than others, and depending on how many buttons you have some keys may be out of reach. The same, to some extent, could be said about the various Duet systems. They tend to be more versatile than Anglos, but generally have more buttons and can be harder to find.

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Thank you David. You've given me much needed clarity on this subject. 

 

I'm still not sure about what kind of concertina i should get,but it's safe to say that i wouldn't want to get an English Concertina. I am leaning towards getting an Anglo. Although the Duet also seems like an interesting option the way you described them.

 

Could you elaborate a bit more on what you said about the Duets being more versatile than the Anglos ?

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Ask yourself four questions, in approximate order of importance:

 

1. Does the idea of getting a different note from the same button when you push and when you pull seem (a) perfectly natural and sensible or (b) utterly bizarre and brain-mangling?

2. What sort of music do you mainly want to play? (a) Folk and similar, in a few common keys or (b) a diverse range of music in all keys.

3. Should you use your two hands (a) right hand high notes, left hand bass like on a piano keyboard or (b) both hands playing an equal role like on a typewriter keyboard?

4. Do you expect to play (a) largely by ear or (b) largely from printed music/dots?

 

If you answered 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, get an anglo.

If you answered 1b, 2b, 3b, 4b, get an English.

If you answered 1b, 2b, 3a, 4b, get a duet.

If you answered anything else, get a banjo. 😈

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3 hours ago, Piyush Sachdeva said:

Could you elaborate a bit more on what you said about the Duets being more versatile than the Anglos ?

Anglo concertinas are, at heart, diatonic instruments, built around rows of buttons that are restricted to the notes of two major keys. Additional rows provide accidentals not found in the two main rows, but sometimes an accidental is only available in one direction when you may need it in the other direction, so you may have to come up with an “in-out” scheme that compromises somewhere else (remember that word, “compromise”?). Duets are designed as chromatic instruments from the start.

 

2 hours ago, Moll Peatly said:

If you answered anything else, get a banjo.

I was thinking “chromatic button accordion” (or “bayan”).

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Would a Duet be easier to play compared to the Anglo ? 

 

My main purpose of getting a concertina is to be able to play chords along with melodies by myself or to accompany a singer maybe. If i get a 41 key Crane Duet will it serve my purpose ?

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On 6/6/2021 at 11:01 AM, Piyush Sachdeva said:

Would a Duet be easier to play compared to the Anglo ? 

There are as many answers to that question as there are concertina players.

 

At this point I should say that I do not play Anglo. The only concertina I play (and am intimately familiar with) is a 46-key Hayden Duet. I’m very happy with it and I found it easy to learn (25 years ago, but I played many other instruments before and was well-versed in music theory). But at 46 buttons, even with a full chromatic range from E3 up to D5 it is difficult to play in keys with more than one flat in the key signature. Eb and Ab are there, but they are where you’d expect to find D# and G#. So when the band wants to play a tune in Bb, I take out my Bb pennywhistle.

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On 6/6/2021 at 8:31 PM, Piyush Sachdeva said:

My main purpose of getting a concertina is to be able to play chords along with melodies by myself or to accompany a singer maybe. If i get a 41 key Crane Duet will it serve my purpose ?

 

I see !! That's a whole lot of experience. I'm not as experienced as you but i do play a few instruments and have a fair understanding of music theory.

 

From what i can understand each type of concertina comes with it's set of pro's and con's and it boils down to one's preference at the end of the day. 

 

Could you please answer my question about the 41 key Crane duet ?

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/6/2021 at 5:01 PM, Piyush Sachdeva said:

My main purpose of getting a concertina is to be able to play chords along with melodies by myself or to accompany a singer maybe. If i get a 41 key Crane Duet will it serve my purpose ?

 

Yes, I'd say it would. My smallest Crane is a 45 button, and about 90% of the "standard English dance repertoire" fits into that range, melody and accompaniment. The question of course is what keys your singer(s) sing(s) in. The Crane layout centers around the keys of D,G and C which means in those keys the fingering is easiest and you are the most likely to fit most if not all of the melody notes into the right hand in those keys. If your singer(s) need other key families, it gets harder for you the further the keys move away from the instruments' "home keys."

 

Edited by RAc
replaced 35 (typo) with 45.
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I am not an Anglo player, but I will point out that Anglo concertinas are available with different key centres/home keys.  Sadly, this  does not seem to be the case with duets or ECs although there may be a few around.

 

The common C/G Anglo is readily playable in C, G and D, but you can get G/D, A/E and probably other key sets too.  If singing accompaniment is important then an Ab/Eb will give you Ab, Eb and Bb with the same fingering patterns as a C/G playing C, G and D.

 

Basically, you can play in multiple keys on an Anglo as long as you buy multiple instruments.  Modulating between distant keys is another story.

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20 hours ago, RAc said:

 

Yes, I'd say it would. My smallest Crane is a 45 button, and about 90% of the "standard English dance repertoire" fits into that range, melody and accompaniment. The question of course is what keys your singer(s) sing(s) in. The Crane layout centers around the keys of D,G and C which means in those keys the fingering is easiest and you are the most likely to fit most if not all of the melody notes into the right hand in those keys. If your singer(s) need other key families, it gets harder for you the further the keys move away from the instruments' "home keys."

 

 

Alright. This gives me a sense of relief. i guess i need to dig a little deeper to find what suits me best. 

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12 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

I am not an Anglo player, but I will point out that Anglo concertinas are available with different key centres/home keys.  Sadly, this  does not seem to be the case with duets or ECs although there may be a few around.

 

The common C/G Anglo is readily playable in C, G and D, but you can get G/D, A/E and probably other key sets too.  If singing accompaniment is important then an Ab/Eb will give you Ab, Eb and Bb with the same fingering patterns as a C/G playing C, G and D.

 

Basically, you can play in multiple keys on an Anglo as long as you buy multiple instruments.  Modulating between distant keys is another story.

 

Thank you Don ! 

 

This gives me some clarity on Key centres of concertinas. Earlier i had my mind set on getting an Anglo since most of the videos i saw of somebody playing with accompaniment were done on an Anglo. 

 

But the more i talk to different concertina players and read about this instrument, it seems like Duets are slightly more versatile when it comes to playing in different keys.  

 

Although I still need some time to process all this information since it's all very new to me.

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11 hours ago, schult said:

What's your motivation for wanting to play in any key? What kind of musical background do you have?

 

The concertina is an expensive instrument. I wanted to get an instrument that was as versatile as possible since i wouldn't be getting another one anytime soon. 

 

I am primarily a guitar player but i do play a bit of keys and a few other string instruments. I am also a music producer and i work with different singers from time to time. 

 

I am not too familiar with the music that is supposed to be played on a concertina. I wanted to use it as a tool to spice up my productions with my ear leading me to play parts that sound sweet with whatever i make. 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Piyush Sachdeva said:

I am primarily a guitar player

 

That's my background as well. Back when I asked a similar newbie question on another (now obsolete) concertina forum, the user present here as anglo-irishman advised me that a duet (in particular a Crane or a Hayden) would make the most natural transition path from a stringed fretted instrument such as a guitar or banjo. I never really tried any other system, but I'd chime in with him for those reasons:

 

1. Like the left hand on the guitar, each hand walks up chromtically or diatonically a row of buttons like on the frets on a string until the end of the position is reached, then moves on to the next string (or button row). This holds true for Crane, Hayden and Jeffries systems (see wunk's later post) but not McCann.

2. On the guitar, the right hand thumb takes over the pianist's left hand (accompaniment), while the fingers take over the pianist's right hand side (melody). On a duet or anglo, you're back to left/right for accompaniment vs. melody. Your brain can be trained to splitting the thumb/fingers roles into the left/right hand roles fairly easily. In fact, a number of fingerstyle techniques (stride bass, Travis picking etc) can be adapted quite fast. This holds true for all duet and anglo concertinas, but not the EC.

3. Somewhat like on the guitar, you can think in terms of movable chord patterns for both hands. To my understanding, this is easiest on the Hayden and on the EC, a little more clumsy on the Crane (because when moving a chord pattern up or down a row, you'll need to adjust one finger by a semi tone for most chords), also present on the Anglo but less on the McCann and Jeffries duet systems (I'm sure someone is going to corrent me fairly soon here if I didn't do the sysems I'm not too famiiar with justice).

 

I know about one EC player with a guitar background and another (very good) one who adapted guitar styles to the McCann duet but a fair number of Crane and Hayden players with a guitar background. I myself still "think" guitar a lot when I play one of my Cranes. To me the Anglo is not an option because I can't make heads or tails of bisonoric layouts, but that's just me.

 

The usual advice is to "dry test" the different layouts by printing them out on paper and "air playing" them to get a feel for the playing idiosyncracies.

 

Edited by RAc
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As a duet player (Jeffries) I would add that while the "home key" is easy (C for my Box) so are F, G, Bb, A minor D minor and several sharp keys.  In fact, I don't find any particular note combinations very difficult especially if you're used to the contortions involved in playing the guitar.  Additionally the overlap twixt LH and RH solves many difficulties.  A further advantage of duet is with voicing potential.  You can use a lot of bellows work but you don't have to and you can chord and counterpoint, drone, slur, punch and/or linger at will.  The different types of duet will have their own advantages.

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