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Bidirectional or unidirectional? Im so confused.


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Hey there, 

Im looking at buying a duet concertina and was eyeing the troubadour.  However the bidirectional and unidirectional forums have me totally confused?  Which orientation is "normal"?

 

I have played guitar for years so the concept of my left hand hitting notes increasing in pitch from my index finger to pinky seems natural.   

 

I want to pick up the Concertina to play sea shanties and campfire music.  How should i proceed?

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What ever system you decide on. You will need to learn through muscle memory and repetition. 
 

where you are starting from zero you won’t have a frame of reference as to what “feels” normal or right. 
 

by all accounts the troubadour is a quality box. And the Hayden system has a lot of good things going for it.
 

I would just take the plunge and give it a try.

 

 

Edited by seanc
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I agree with everything Sean wrote. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The usual pre-sales test recommended is to print out the layouts of the different systems and do some "air playing" on the paper (which of course helps only a little with regard to bisonoric). The only layout that ( I believe) feels unfamiliar for guitarists is EC as the pitch hopping between the hands is nothing known to guitar players. But then again, a number of seasoned guitarists have successfully switched to EC. Thus, in terms of transition ease, duets (jn particular Cranes and Haydens) probaly are first, followed by Anglos (that feature the additional complication of bisonority), finally ECs.

 

Then again, maybe ease of transition is not a showstopper criterion for you.

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On 10/8/2021 at 7:27 PM, Erik said:

However the bidirectional and unidirectional forums have me totally confused?

If you are referring to the two versions of the Troubadour on the CC web-site then your confusion is entirely understandable.  I never understood why Wim chose to go against all of the accepted diagramatic and naming conventions for the Troubadour.

 

I am 99% sure that the bi-directional layout is the Hayden layout and is, by far, the most commonly used version.  The uni-directional layout is, I think, the original Wicki layout and is made by Wim (and none of the other makers) for a very small number of clients.

 

Maybe David will correct me if I have read Wim's diagrams incorrectly.

 

 

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4 hours ago, RAc said:

I agree with everything Sean wrote. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The usual pre-sales test recommended is to print out the layouts of the different systems and do some "air playing" on the paper (which of course helps only a little with regard to bisonoric). The only layout that ( I believe) feels unfamiliar for guitarists is EC as the pitch hopping between the hands is nothing known to guitar players. But then again, a number of seasoned guitarists have successfully switched to EC. Thus, in terms of transition ease, duets (jn particular Cranes and Haydens) probaly are first, followed by Anglos (that feature the additional complication of bisonority), finally ECs.

 

Then again, maybe ease of transition is not a showstopper criterion for you.

I played guitar for a long time. I found the Anglo push pull gives a different note completely baffling to me. The English made a lot more sense. And the having some what got my arms around that have been dabbling with crane. Which seems like an off shoot of an English. And somehow kind of working for me.

 

but it seems that the current accepted standard with the most currently made offerings is the Hayden.

 

 

 

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The normal arrangement for both duets and anglos, which have low notes on one side and high notes on the other, is for the lowest and highest notes to be played by the pinkies of the respective hands ie bidirectional. This mirrors the run of notes on a piano keyboard, and is what Wakker describes as "standard".

 

I don't play duet, so I'm not sure what advantages if any the unidirectional layout might offer.  The fingering  is the same with both hands, but I'm not sure that is an advantage - instinctively our hands tend to mirror one another, and one of the challenges of learning any instrument is breaking this pattern and becoming being able to use them independently.  I'm doubtful about a layout which encourages mirroring for that reason.

 

If you are starting from scratch then perhaps it doesn't matter, whichever you choose you will have to learn the patterns.  I suggest you discuss with Wim what advantages he feels the different options offer.  My gut instinct would be bidirectional simply because that is standard, and most players of the Hayden system will have that (and for me as an anglo player the logic is familiar), but he may have very good reasons for offering the alternative.

 

I play guitar myself, and in my opinion playing guitar doesn't transfer to concertina, except that you are already used to moving your fingers independently and have an understanding of music and chords.  I wouldn't base a decision simply on how a guitar fretboard works.

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13 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

I am 99% sure that the bi-directional layout is the Hayden layout and is, by far, the most commonly used version.  The uni-directional layout is, I think, the original Wicki layout and is made by Wim (and none of the other makers) for a very small number of clients.

 

Maybe David will correct me if I have read Wim's diagrams incorrectly.

 

I think you’re right. I have no familiarity with the Troubadour and only first looked at the web site just now. As I understand it, from the diagrams as they currently  appear on the site, the two versions of the instrument differ only as to whether the left hand keys are oriented similarly to the right hand keys (bidirectional) or mirror-image (unidirectional). In both cases they are an octave below the corresponding keys on the right. To be clear:

 

• The right hand layouts are the same in both versions.

 

• In both versions the rows of keys (on both sides) are parallel to the hand rest, as opposed to the 10.5 degree slant that Hayden specified here.

 

• Note that although Wakker and others use the names “Hayden” and “Wicki” to differentiate between the slanted and straight keyboards, respectively, it is also the case that the instrument Kaspar Wicky designed had the “unidirectional” left hand keys, while the instrument Brian Hayden designed had the “bidirectional” left hand keys.

 

If I’m not mistaken (interpreting both Don and Wim correctly), I’m saying the same thing Don said, above.

 

 

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I'm apparently one of the few who have chosen the unidirectional (mirrored) layout.  I chose it because i discovered from a Hayden simulation app (unfortunately no longer existing) that once i learned a melody with my right hand, it transferred almost automatically to my left hand so that i could play it an octave lower.  This makes octave-based or 4th- or 5th-based left hand accompaniment (which i prefer to chord-based) very easy.  However, since any chord you can finger with your right hand you can also finger with your left hand on the unidirectional layout, chordal accompaniment is also available.

 

The primary disadvantage of the unidirectional layout is that it will likely be more difficult to sell such an instrument.

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I would probably suggest bi directional. 
 

I have not done a lot of research on this. So my conclusions may be way off. But. As bi directional  seems to be more standard. It will give you more available options if you grow out of the troubadour and/ or want to look for something with more buttons.

 

in a duet. You are likely to find that more buttons is always better.

 

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54 minutes ago, rlgph said:

I'm apparently one of the few who have chosen the unidirectional (mirrored) layout.

When Jim Plamondon first introduced his “Thummer” (a sort-of electronic Hayden that never really got off the ground) 16 years ago, he expected most people would want the mirrored version (uni-) and offered the bi- as an option for people who already played the Hayden.

 

54 minutes ago, rlgph said:

once i learned a melody with my right hand, it transferred almost automatically to my left hand so that i could play it an octave lower.

I have discovered the same thing with the tabor pipe (a 3-hole pennywhistle with a range of an octave and a half that you play with one hand while beating a drum with the other). If I learn a tune while playing it with my left hand (the traditional way to play it) I find I don’t have to relearn it when playing with my right hand.

 

But this is not important to me while playing the Hayden. I rarely play melodies with my left hand and on the rare occasions that I play a tune in parallel octaves I have no trouble doing it on the bidirectional layout.

25 minutes ago, seanc said:

I have not done a lot of research on this. So my conclusions may be way off. But. As bi directional  seems to be more standard. It will give you more available options if you grow out of the troubadour and/ or want to look for something with more buttons.

You are correct. As Don mentioned above, nobody else is making them that way.

 

25 minutes ago, seanc said:

in a duet. You are likely to find that more buttons is always better.

Also correct (except for the “always” part). I, myself, couldn’t imagine being content with 36 keys. I have 46 and find it limiting in flat keys. But keep in mind, the more keys, the more likelihood of mechanical failure, especially in extreme temperatures. Also, more keys make it easier to get lost and put your fingers on the wrong keys.

Edited by David Barnert
Minor formatting and a typo
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43 minutes ago, rlgph said:

once i learned a melody with my right hand, it transferred almost automatically to my left hand so that i could play it an octave lower.  This makes octave-based or 4th- or 5th-based left hand accompaniment (which i prefer to chord-based) very easy. 

 

For me that style does not appear to exploit the advantages of the duet system, which is that it facilitates the playing of chords and countermelodies.  The very ease of mirroring what the other hand is doing could, it seems to me, be a disadvantage if you wish to play anything more complex.  This is not of course a criticism of how you choose to play it.

 

I agree that a less common layout could be more difficult to sell on.

 

 

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I have not found it more difficult to play chordal accompaniment on the unidirectional layout than the bidirectional layout (based on my limited experience with the Elise).  I have not been patient enough to learn to play counter-melodies with my left hand, but i see no intrinsic reason it would be more difficult to do so with a mirrored layout.  I have not found the theoretical tendency for the left hand to mirror the right hand to be a problem with learning a chordal accompaniment.

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Looking at the note layout. 
and the thing that has stopped me from picking one of these up to try out is that I just don’t see 36 notes as being enough. On the left hand side having limits can force you to get into some interesting chord voicing.

 

but on the right, I’d really like to see an expanded/ extended range. 
in its “main” key of C you only have 1 octave +6; (A) and then diminishing from there. And then as you go up/ down keys it gets really short. 
 

beyond Bb on the flats looks really difficult to manage. better on the sharps side. But limited. Eb and beyond and B you’d need to get very creative.

 

but as a first box, looks good.
 

But it will really depend on music/ song choices as to if it is a long term one box fits all.

 

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Regarding mirrored layout...

 

CBA players who play freebass accordions (except for some Russian models) play on mirrored instruments. If I am not mistaken, Wim Wakker had them in mind when offering a mirrored option.

 

When I think of playing a mirrored concertina, I think of the relationship of the hands as generally similar to playing a harp. The harp notes go in one direction in relation to the body (highest pitches closest to the body, lowest notes farthest from the body), and the hands are simply positioned on either side. Whatever right hand fingers a harpist uses to play a chord or series of notes, the left hand can do the same.

 

You could build a bi-directional harp, but you would need two sets of strings. The right hand strings would have their lower pitches closest to the body, and left hand strings would have their higher pitches closest to the body. With that setup, a harpist could have the fun of using different fingerings for chords and melodies depending on which hand they were using, while keeping in mind which direction the pitches ran on either side of the harp. It might seem confusing and unnecessarily complicated to an experienced harpist. But they could get used to it. Concertina players play this way without any trouble. :)

 

 

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