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Hayden Duet Layout Planning


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Hello! Been reading obsessively for a little while, but now I finally decided to make an account so I could ask a few of my own questions!

 

I recently got my first concertina, a Rochelle-2 Anglo, and I love it! The only problem is that my brain doesn't work that way, thus for me the Anglo system is surprisingly unintuitive. So, after talking a bit with a maker, I'm in the process of getting a Hayden Duet made! Only problem now is figuring out the keyboard...

 

Before I bombard you with diagram-punctuated rambling, a little background: I'm a pianist, have been for most of my life. I've been fascinated by accordions and concertinas forever, but only recently realized I could just hop in whenever I wanted! There is no specific genre or genres I play, I'm all over the place, so versatility is important to me -however white and whaley that may be in such a compact instrument.

 

Anyway, to the layouts! I started with the 52K layout from the Morse Beaumont, and seeing that the range had a couple holes at the bottom I added a low B and C# to make it chromatic:

image.thumb.png.82502493a92be277642cb98763e4ecc7.png

(right is red, left is blue, overlap is purple, and octaves have alternating green and orange labels)

 

Then I tried eliminating the overlap by shifting the left hand down an octave, but when I tried to figure out how I would play a few songs on it I quickly understood how important that overlap is. So for a moment I thought this 54K layout was perfect, but then I got two thoughts in my head: The left hand doesn't go down very far, and it's missing Bb/A#4.

 

So I started looking for other references for a Hayden layout and found the 65K layout used by Wakker:

image.thumb.png.0063728c5471443c193248b59f185920.png

 

I found it interesting how the extra buttons were used as much to fill out the existing accidentals as they were to extend the range, and the more I learn about the Hayden layout the more that makes sense to me. But I see a lot of compromises here that I don't like: Missing F#2, G#2, and Bb4 on the left, G#3 on the right, the bisonoric Eb/F, and a lot of duplicated keys which, while great for transpositional invariance, could have been used to make it chromatic. (I actually don't know if Wakker uses linked buttons for duplicate notes, I wonder...)

 

So I made a couple modifications:

image.thumb.png.b29ec08cd2d9d151315255e3827d00d1.png

 

Much better for my purposes, but I still wasn't very happy with it. The left hand still didn't go quite as low as I wanted (E2 would be perfect), I had a few duplicate notes I wasn't sure would actually help, and I was starting to notice something else: The cut-down Hayden layouts tend to be very inconsistent from octave to octave. For instance, B major looks very different between B2 and B3 on the left. The example layouts I've found tend to exacerbate that problem more, and the way I've been adding notes tends to even it out, but you really can't get away from that problem completely without adding 19 buttons per octave!

 

I tried to mitigate the non-uniformity by using only sharps, and seeing as I eliminated a lot of duplicates I extended the range down to E2:

image.thumb.png.fecfa9a654c1dec1adb9805ed3765a87.png

 

Now it's consistent, but no less limited. It breaks down with F major and the common Bb major, and fixing that uniformly would mean adding a lot of duplicates!

 

Enter the weirdest and most interesting reference layout I've looked at:

image.thumb.png.b0febc31de8d4e4d342d404d2bd57874.png

 

It's very sharp-biased but not totally, it has almost the range I want (both more and less), but it's... weird. I really don't like pushing the left F4 all the way over to the sharps, I don't need the low Eb, and I'd like fiddle G on the right. I ended up with this:

image.thumb.png.fc580b8f9f34fb8e99060763947852a4.png

 

I think this is the best tradeoff between range, uniformity, and isomorphism out of any of the layouts I've considered so far (while being totally chromatic so my brain doesn't get confused). I'm not sure about the high E and D#, I guess I'll have to figure out how significant those two reeds are for construction, but I don't see how I could improve this without adding way too many buttons or compromising the range. I also think ~64-66 buttons is approaching the edge of where I'm confident I won't get helplessly lost in the button field.

 

So, my question: I'm still very new, so to those of you who play Hayden duet, what do you think of this? Am I making any big mistakes? Is there anything I'm not aware of or haven't thought of?

 

... do you like my graphs?

Edited by Dashy
Got rid of unexpected attachment
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2 hours ago, Dashy said:

So, my question: I'm still very new, so to those of you who play Hayden duet, what do you think of this? Am I making any big mistakes? Is there anything I'm not aware of or haven't thought of?

 

You’re overthinking it. If you want an instrument that can play everything, get a chromatic button accordion. If you want something more compact than that, there will have to be trade-offs. Don’t forget that lots of low notes means lots of big reeds and your maker will have to find a place to put them.

 

I’ve been playing a 46-key Hayden for over 35 years and am perfectly happy. I used to think I’d like more keys, but every time I pick one up I find the array so large that I don’t instinctively know where my fingers are without looking or hearing. Larger instruments also require more work to pump the bellows and are more prone to require minor repairs. After trying an 82-key Hayden I commented:

 

On 9/4/2006 at 10:53 AM, David Barnert said:

I found playing it fun (in a novelty sort of way) but a bit disorienting. It was easy to get lost in the expansive sea of buttons and difficult to be sure that both hands were oriented over buttons that corresponded to the same key. Pumping the bellows took a great deal of energy, so that when I went back to my 46-key Hayden, I felt like I had a jet engine in my hands.

 

Sure, there are keys I avoid and times I wish I had more octaves to play with, but like I said: trade-offs. To get stuff I don’t have I’d have to give up stuff I do, and at this point I don’t think the trade would be worth it.

 

BTW, the 82 was bought by Jim Bayliss in Texas.

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8 minutes ago, mskow said:

Were you able to find a maker without a multi-year waiting list? 

 

I didn’t. Long story short: I got lucky. While I was on such a waiting list (for a 55-key Wheatstone), the Wheatstone 46 that has been my “main squeeze” since 1994 became available from a previous owner. Before that I was playing a Bastari 46, which were abundantly available when I got mine in 1987.

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3 minutes ago, David Barnert said:

 

You’re overthinking it. If you want an instrument that can play everything, get a chromatic button accordion. If you want something more compact than that, there will have to be trade-offs. Don’t forget that lots of low notes means lots of big reeds and your maker will have to find a place to put them.

 

I’ve been playing a 46-key Hayden for over 35 years and am perfectly happy. I used to think I’d like more keys, but every time I pick one up I find the array so large that I don’t instinctively know where my fingers are without looking or hearing. Larger instruments also require more work to pump the bellows and are more prone to require minor repairs. After trying an 82-key Hayden I commented:

 

 

Sure, there are keys I avoid and times I wish I had more octaves to play with, but like I said: trade-offs. To get stuff I don’t have I’d have to give up stuff I do, and at this point I don’t think the trade would be worth it.

 

BTW, the 82 was bought by Jim Bayliss in Texas.

I read that thread! That's actually where my comment about getting "helplessly lost in the button field" comes from, I hadn't considered that before your comments.

 

I realize the concertina has inherent limitations, and I've given a lot of thought to that. An accordion is a large, heavy instrument, and while I do intend to learn one day, that's not what I'm after right now. I realize there's a huge difference between 46 and 64/66 buttons, but even a 60-odd key concertina doesn't look half the monster that 82-key does!

 

The Rochelle-2 is a 6.5" hexagon, the 64/66K layout I showed would be somewhere around a 7.25" octagon. I wish I could just pop down to a local music shop and try a few different sizes and shapes.

 

2 minutes ago, mskow said:

Were you able to find a maker without a multi-year waiting list? 

Not quite, but I don't mind! He's Flying Duck Concertinas (Pistachio Dreamer here), it should be a year or two, assuming I'm not still trying to decide on a layout in 2024.

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Welcome to the fascinating world of solving Hayden range puzzle :D

I went through the same process when deciding on what I want to have on my 66 button instrument all those years ago (self built, currently just bellows papers left to make and it'll be finally done, after 8 years). So you already know that overlap is important, but what you don't know is that reeds below C3 are way larger (about twice the area or even larger, I'm talking about a hybrid, so accordion reeds) than those from C3 upwards and require even larger chambers. You have eight of them, I have "just" five, two of which are long scale (so about 150% the size of normal scale). And by "larger chambers" I mean 150-250% of the volume relative to the reed tongue length than reeds from C3 upwards. My instrument is 8 2/3" and I could only make it about 1/3", maybe 1/2" smaller without sacrificing response and timbre. And I use linked buttons for 4 notes, so I'm talking about "only" 62 reeds... This is why duet concertinas have more notes on the RH side than on the LH side. It is LH that dictates the physical size of the instrument, and then you fill RH size with as many useful notes as you can route the levers to. Which leads to the second most important restriction - the problem of routing levers, which is a can of worms in its own respect. My concertina has handles a bit too much to the back, so the bellows works just a bit to off-center, all this because I wanted it to have a RH range from F3 to E6, so had to fit two rows of high reeds in front of the array.


Now another problem with theorising the layout - concertina is not a piano, you have to reach all those buttons with your wrist pretty much immobilised if you go with a traditional hand strap design. It took me quite a lot of work to come up with a solution that frees the wrist, but it is highly unorthodox. You can see it here: 

Another problem with sharps heavy array is that it inherently pinky heavy array on the RH side, which adds to the hand straps problem. So before you decide on the layout make physical mockup, including handles, and check if you are even able to reach all those buttons in practical ways.

Now last but not least, to my knowledge no modern maker except me (and I'm not a professional) uses linked buttons because it is a non-trivial problem on a concertina. So you can forget about all those Abs, Eds and A#s without adding duplicate reeds and more layer routing/box size problems.

To sum up - with your layout you are already approaching bandoneon sized instrument (because of bass notes), so you might be better with this: https://bandoneon-maker.com/professional-model-c-b-and-russian-b-system-bandonion/

Or if you stick to the concertina, with this bass side, you can afford all the reeds you want on the RH side, probably another 10-15, especially if you extend towards "dog whistles".

Ah, and I do use E6 and D#6 in at least one tune each, so I wouldn't drop them.

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3 hours ago, Dashy said:

I read that thread! That's actually where my comment about getting "helplessly lost in the button field" comes from, I hadn't considered that before your comments.

Congratulations on finding it. I’ve quoted it a few times in recent years and it always takes me a few searches to find it.

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4 hours ago, Dashy said:

The Rochelle-2 is a 6.5" hexagon, the 64/66K layout I showed would be somewhere around a 7.25" octagon.

I seriously doubt that a 64/66K Hayden with accordion reeds could be made in a 7.25" octagon.  I have a 52K Beaumont which is about that size (it is 7") and it is stuffed inside, especially on the LHS.  Morse even had to resort to using a (small) accordion-like reed block to fit them all in.  The low reeds in particular are big and mine only goes down to Bb2 on the LHS.

Beaumont-insides-lg.png  

 

I have not read your post in detail, but I agree with David that you are over thinking this thing.  You tried an Anglo and found that you did not grok it, surely you should try a Hayden before you try redesigning the layout and having one custom made?

 

Here are a few ideas: 

 

Buy one of the Concertina Connections 'off the shelf' Haydens - maybe a used Elise - and try that. 

 

Or, if you have access to an iPad, try the AppCordions Hayden simulator which is basically a Beaumont with one extra button. 

 

Or, while it is not strictly a concertina, buy a Striso duet like Didi's here.

 

 

Edited by Don Taylor
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3 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

Now last but not least, to my knowledge no modern maker except me (and I'm not a professional) uses linked buttons because it is a non-trivial problem on a concertina. So you can forget about all those Abs, Eds and A#s without adding duplicate reeds and more layer routing/box size problems.

I looked through the thread but found no pictures of the mechanism! I'm really curious how you laid out the linkages, do you have any pictures?

 

3 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

To sum up - with your layout you are already approaching bandoneon sized instrument (because of bass notes), so you might be better with this: https://bandoneon-maker.com/professional-model-c-b-and-russian-b-system-bandonion/

Just to clarify, is this all under the assumption that the lowest reeds aren't weighted?

 

EDIT: Also, that handrest is bloody genius.

Edited by Dashy
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14 hours ago, Dashy said:

Before I bombard you with diagram-punctuated rambling, a little background: I'm a pianist, have been for most of my life. I've been fascinated by accordions and concertinas forever, but only recently realized I could just hop in whenever I wanted! There is no specific genre or genres I play, I'm all over the place, so versatility is important to me -however white and whaley that may be in such a compact instrument.

...

14 hours ago, Dashy said:

 

I think this is the best tradeoff between range, uniformity, and isomorphism out of any of the layouts I've considered so far (while being totally chromatic so my brain doesn't get confused). I'm not sure about the high E and D#, I guess I'll have to figure out how significant those two reeds are for construction, but I don't see how I could improve this without adding way too many buttons or compromising the range. I also think ~64-66 buttons is approaching the edge of where I'm confident I won't get helplessly lost in the button field.

 

 

 

Hello and welcome to this Form, Dashy!

 

This may or may not be useful (apologies if not), but you may want to also look at this project:

 

https://www.koopinstruments.com/legacy-projects/harmonicade-prototype-1

 

 

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8 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

I seriously doubt that a 64/66K Hayden with accordion reeds could be made in a 7.25" octagon.

I can confirm this is possible, but it was a squeeze! It's a 65K instrument with 33 keys on the LH side going down to Eb2. It involved accordion style blocks in addition to flat mounted reeds, plus a raised tray with reeds underneath. However, we were all pleased at the consistency in tone that resulted. Of course, the bass reeds weren't quite as loud and responsive as they could be if we had extra space for long scale reeds.

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I like your graphs!

 

If you end up going the small free bass chromatic button accordion route, there are a few prominent options: cheap Russian children's instrument, expensive Italian children's instrument, very expensive custom Swiss instrument.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

Another problem with sharps heavy array is that it inherently pinky heavy array on the RH side, which adds to the hand straps problem. So before you decide on the layout make physical mockup, including handles, and check if you are even able to reach all those buttons in practical ways.

This gives me an idea: Maybe I could write up a parametric model to generate 3D-printable mockups of button layouts... I don't even think it would be that hard! I have been printing out pictures of my diagrams to sort of mime it, but a 3D-printable model could be much more representative.

 

On this line of thought, would you mind sharing your handle model? I understand if not, but it's too cool to not ask!

 

6 hours ago, RAc said:

Hello and welcome to this Form, Dashy!

 

This may or may not be useful (apologies if not), but you may want to also look at this project:

 

https://www.koopinstruments.com/legacy-projects/harmonicade-prototype-1

I'm actually very interested in a Hayden MIDI keyboard! I've seen that one and looked at the Striso, but honestly what I really want is to make a 3D-printable one. I'm also looking into the Janko layout.

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18 minutes ago, David Barnert said:

Have you seen this?

 

 

 

I can wholeheartedly recommend Ed as a maker. I was a close witness to his journey from the early prototype to production models and as an accordion player himself, he is very focused on the sound of his designs as much as he is on the ergonomy of them. He is currently working on duets, Crane to be precise and is open to designing other systems as well, but not one-and-done projects, so it's more probable to get a standard 46 button Hayden from him than a 66 button one.

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