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Some concerns about the 40-button instrument


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I agree, for Irish, 30b seem to be more than enough. I am just a beginner (let's say advance beginner 😎) and I am far from using all the buttons of the third row 😉 I can already do a lot with 20 buttons.

I wonder how much a 40 buttons weight.

Maybe it is better to look for an EC if you need as much notes in same bellow direction 🙂

 

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10 hours ago, hjcjones said:

For Irish-style playing there is probably not much advantage in having more than 30, especially as many players seem to have quite specific ways of playing which are based on the 30 button instrument.  The benefit comes when playing harmonic-style, as the left-hand chords often dictate the bellows direction. The additional reversals give you more options to match right-hand melody notes with the bellows direction of the chord or bass runs, and to play more legato when the tune calls for it.  

I should have made it clear that I play in a melodic/chordy sort of style, so my comments only relate to that (and my version of that). I can't comment on anything irish-style.

 

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There is plenty of advantage in having more than 30 buttons for Irish music; the foremost (to my mind) is to not be forced into particular phrasing, to have choice. I am not suggesting 40 keys, I think around 33 could be adequate (ie. supplying reversals of the C,E,F,F#,G#,A# from the left hand side and the f#,f,g# from the right hand side including changing the pitch of some of the dog whistlers).   However there is a point of view in Ireland favouring the traditional 30 key. The justification is the limitations of the instrument have forced particular phrasings into the music and these are emblematic of the concertina in Irish music. 

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When reading threads like this I often wonder whether, for those seeking 40-odd buttons so as to have (more-or-less) every note in both directions, the player wouldn't be better off changing to a duet. A small duet (42 - 46 buttons) is adequate for most folk music, and is probably as small and light as an anglo. It wouldn't suit ITM players, but for harmonic-style players a lot of the issues of "do I suck or blow at this point" vanish.

 

(I await the brickbats!)

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2 hours ago, Little John said:

When reading threads like this I often wonder whether, for those seeking 40-odd buttons so as to have (more-or-less) every note in both directions, the player wouldn't be better off changing to a duet. A small duet (42 - 46 buttons) is adequate for most folk music, and is probably as small and light as an anglo. It wouldn't suit ITM players, but for harmonic-style players a lot of the issues of "do I suck or blow at this point" vanish.

 

(I await the brickbats!)

No brickbats here Little John!  As you've discovered, (thanx for the inspiration) mixing in some bisonorics with duet is a great idea and working it the other way round should be as well.  

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23 hours ago, Little John said:

When reading threads like this I often wonder whether, for those seeking 40-odd buttons so as to have (more-or-less) every note in both directions, the player wouldn't be better off changing to a duet. A small duet (42 - 46 buttons) is adequate for most folk music, and is probably as small and light as an anglo. It wouldn't suit ITM players, but for harmonic-style players a lot of the issues of "do I suck or blow at this point" vanish.

 

(I await the brickbats!)

 

As an engineer I have often thought that as well, but as an anglo player ........

 

I guess that if you knew what you wanted when you started then there is a choice to be made, but if you started on a 20 key anglo, and progressed to than a 30 key, then the logical next staep is to go to a 30+ Key anglo rather than re-starting on an altogther different instrument. And an anglo gives that inherent punch from the bellows reversals. Going to a 40 key may allow you to smooth that out if you wanted, but the punchiness is still inherent.

 

Of course Duet and English players can also play with great punch, but it's not inherent in the instrument,

 

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23 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

 

As an engineer I have often thought that as well, but as an anglo player ........

 

I guess that if you knew what you wanted when you started then there is a choice to be made, but if you started on a 20 key anglo, and progressed to than a 30 key, then the logical next staep is to go to a 30+ Key anglo rather than re-starting on an altogther different instrument. And an anglo gives that inherent punch from the bellows reversals. Going to a 40 key may allow you to smooth that out if you wanted, but the punchiness is still inherent.

 

Of course Duet and English players can also play with great punch, but it's not inherent in the instrument,

 

That was my trajectory, except that I mostly try to minimise the bellows reversals. I started with a cheap and cheerful German 20 key box and soon moved on to a 30 key Lachenal. Then my parents bought me a McCann Duet. I played that a bit for years but never got as far with it as with the Anglo. Then I got my Wheatstone/Dickinson 40 key G-D, learnt to use at least some of the alternative notes available from the extra buttons, and played the McCann less and less. I keep it partly for sentimental reasons and pick it up only occasionally.

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On 1/19/2022 at 10:38 AM, Little John said:

When reading threads like this I often wonder whether, for those seeking 40-odd buttons so as to have (more-or-less) every note in both directions, the player wouldn't be better off changing to a duet.

It's a fair question. It didn't arise when I started, because I wasn't aware there were different types of concertina. I just bought what the shop had, which turned out to be an anglo. 

 

If I were starting again, I would seriously consider a duet.  However (not having seriously tried to play one) I wonder how intuitive it is to play?  Forming chords on anglo is very straightforward (in the home keys anyway) even with no knowledge of music theory.  On the other hand, I think of chords as shapes rather than notes, and find them on the anglo by poking about until something sounds right, so I'd probably work it out.

 

I wouldn't change now. Having a 40-button gives me the best of both worlds.  I can play it like a duet (almost!) or like an anglo, as the mood takes or the nature of the tune suggests. The instrument (although not my talent) is capable of playing complicated polyphonic music, as John K, Cohen B-K and others demonstrate. 

 

Having to think about the push-pull thing isn't quite the obstacle it sometimes appears to players of other systems.  It is something else to think about, and can be difficult at first for beginners, and some never take to it. However it soon becomes intuitive, and like changing gear when driving doesn't require much conscious thought most of the time.  It can actually be a benefit when you're arranging a tune, because it forces you to explore alternative ways of playing a phrase.

 

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2 hours ago, hjcjones said:

If I were starting again, I would seriously consider a duet.  However (not having seriously tried to play one) I wonder how intuitive it is to play?

 

In a word, very. I can only speak about the Hayden duet system. Thirty-six years ago, Rich Morse put one in my hands and out came a tune. I had previously played many other instruments but no squeezeboxes.

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On 1/21/2022 at 1:57 PM, hjcjones said:

If I were starting again, I would seriously consider a duet.  However (not having seriously tried to play one) I wonder how intuitive it is to play?  Forming chords on anglo is very straightforward (in the home keys anyway) even with no knowledge of music theory.  On the other hand, I think of chords as shapes rather than notes, and find them on the anglo by poking about until something sounds right, so I'd probably work it out.

 

 

On 1/21/2022 at 4:42 PM, David Barnert said:

 

In a word, very. I can only speak about the Hayden duet system. Thirty-six years ago, Rich Morse put one in my hands and out came a tune. I had previously played many other instruments but no squeezeboxes.

 

It's something that baffled me since my first contact with an Anglo, and then was further emphasised when I switched to Hayden - the claim that chords on an Anglo are straightforward. Generally speaking, they aren't, only those few in home keys are. On the other hand, chords on a Hayden are pretty much more fundamental to the layout than melody is. If you know the shape of the chord class, then you can play all chords of this class. For vast majority of tunes out there, you only have to know how maj an min chord looks like (other triads are just as simple). This is true as long as you don't have to wrap around the keyboard edge. When I got my CC Elise, I've been able to play all sorts of songs from guitar tabs in just couple of hours. This feature enables working on tunes (and understand music construction) from harmony structure towards the melody line instead of harmonising melodies - this is yet another perk of a Hayden layout, that it actually teaches music theory. Not only because it is isomorphic, but most importantly, it groups black and white piano keys together and is structured around diatonic scales and maj/min music theory. This means, that you can directly see which chords belong to any given key and why, which notes play what role in any key etc. It is all there in the button array itself. 

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On 1/19/2022 at 6:38 PM, Little John said:

When reading threads like this I often wonder whether, for those seeking 40-odd buttons so as to have (more-or-less) every note in both directions, the player wouldn't be better off changing to a duet.

 

There's definitely no brickbats since I totally agree to your suggestion. But any kinds of Duet system are somehow familiar  to me since I used to play free bass accordions and I'm looking for something "strange." Otherwise, after a year of practice, playing close to duet is still not out of the question to me, although more rote memorization is clearly there. For an harmonic style Anglo playing, it requires a lot of sneaky to pretend everything is going on the same time but actually not, I think that's an adorable trait and extra buttons up to 40+ can actually reduce this issue. Of course, that still not really turns an Anglo duet.

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I find that there are about 33 buttons that I use on my 40 button concertinas, and that there are a few of the standard 30 button layout that I could do without!

I am always using the left button on the middle row on the right hand.

 

Robin

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19 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

It's something that baffled me since my first contact with an Anglo, and then was further emphasised when I switched to Hayden - the claim that chords on an Anglo are straightforward. Generally speaking, they aren't, only those few in home keys are. 

 

I don't think it's often claimed that chords are straightforward.  The more usual claim is that the instrument is very well-suited to playing an accompaniment (which is not quite the same).  Within the 20 core buttons, holding down pretty much any combination of buttons on the same row will produce an acceptable harmony. It may not be the correct chord according to music theory, but it will do.  No knowledge of chords or music theory required.  Equally usefully, as long as you keep away from the accidental row, hitting a wrong button won't be a disaster as it will probably harmonise.  It's quite hard to play a really wrong note.  The Anglo is also well set up for playing in octaves.

 

Admittedly things do get more complicated if you do want to play "proper" chords, and if you move away from the major home keys.  Then you're in similar territory to duet concertinas, where it does require some effort to learn the different chords and some awareness of how chords are formed.   Even on the Hayden the chord shapes may be fairly easy, and you only have to learn a few, but you do have to learn them. 

 

 

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I feel that people can sometimes become too concerned over the range, or type of instrument, they wish to use; if one is in one key or another.. myself I don't let it worry me too much, as I, personally play music as a means to an end and happen, by happy chance to have chosen concertina as my instrument.

As long as instrument has a chromatic range within a certain compass ( 30 key as example).. then you can work in any key range you wish, and with very minimal adaptions being required, of which, incidentally, even most standard instruments have to often consider.. ( at least as far as transposition is concerned. 

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It's perhaps worth pointing out that a 40-button doesn't significantly extend the range - possibly by one or two notes at the squeaky end, if that.  It think the only additional note on mine is a very high C, and it doesn't get used much.  The advantage comes entirely from alternative reversals of the notes you'll find on a standard 30-button .

 

Someone mentioned weight.  Obviously more metal = more weight, but my Crabb has aluminium reed frames and weighs only 20g more than my 31-button G/D, which has brass frames.

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A couple of things that have been under discussed in this thread: weight and button spacing. Some years ago I ordered a new Ab/Eb concertina from Suttner with 38 buttons with my thinking being similar to others here about chords and the like. I quickly discovered that the instrument was much heavier than my 30 button Jeffries and the button spacing was more cramped. I re-sold it In short order and at the same time regretted my original choice because in hind sight I probably would have been delighted with a Suttner 30 button Ab/Eb.

 

Ross Schlabach

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