Jump to content

More ( But Not All) About Duets


Recommended Posts

Bruce B. said:

I've played around with both Hayden & Maccann duets a bit and have some limited time on a Crane too, and I'd love to hear why you've come to prefer the Crane.

So here's my response:

 

I always preferred the Crane, even before I had one (and before the existence of the Hayden). It's pattern made more sense to me than the Maccann, and once I got one I discovered that it also made more sense to my fingers. I had a couple of Maccanns (80-button in mint and 55-button not so good), and the problems I had with them weren't so much the arbitrariness of the layout, but that fingerings seemed awkward.

 

However, while I like the Crane, I have since decided that I was really trying to do things with the Maccann which were too difficult for a beginner, and that I should give it another chance. I've already started, but it will really get under way once I have the tuning touched up on a 55-button Maccann. (I think the 80-button is too big until I get comfortable with the smaller one.)

 

My experience with the Hayden is limited to looking at charts and pictures, plus a couple of brief hands-on experiences where I only tried simple tunes and chords. I found it easy enough to pick up the system and start playing tunes and chords, but I didn't feel that it was either easier or harder than on the Crane or Maccann. The theoretical Hayden layout is indeed extremely logical and -- as often remarked -- allows arbitrary transposition by a trivial shift of the hand position. Unfortunately, this is fully realized only if the keyboard is extended sideways so that each row is 11 buttons wide. That just won't work with the hand held in place by the strap which supports the instrument, besides requiring an ungainly size.

 

So in practice the "consistent" pattern of the Hayden seems no more consistent than the other duets -- though probably no less so -- and it really comes down to a question of how it feels to *play* in the different keys. I hope the Hayden players (David Barnert, Jack Woehr, Rich Morse) can help us out here. But I notice what appears to be a deficit in the 46-button layout, the only one *currently* available: Though the "main" octave -- going upward from middle C -- is covered in both hands, it is missing C# and Eb in the right hand, and Bb in the left. Maybe the Hayden players could comment on what it's like to play in the keys of Eb, Bb and Gm, and some of the klezmer scales that use those notes?

 

One point of "logic" in the Hayden layout, and with minor exceptions in the Maccann, is that changing octaves can be accomplished by simply shifting the hand upward or downward a couple of rows. I've never felt that this was particularly important or even desirable. In fact, I sometimes find it a hindrance that playing an octave involves two buttons which individually would normally be played with the same finger, but which are separated by a button that I don't necessarily want to play. Neither the English nor the anglo has this "feature", so why should a duet? And if we look beyond concertinas, we find that the piano, piano accordion, and chromatic button accordion have this characteristic, but stringed instruments in standard tunings don't. I actually like the fact that on the Crane an octave involves buttons in different rows.

 

I'm not going to address the Jeffries duet until I have some experience with it. Besides, both instruments and teachers are almost impossible to find, so I wouldn't advise a newbie to look for one.

 

I've always thought the Crane was the most like an english of all the duets.

1) "Like" depends on your point of view. If you have two chairs, one red and one blue, are they "alike" because they're both chairs or "different" because of the colors. Like the English, the Crane has the C scale in the center rows and the accidentals in the outer rows, but the pattern is not split between the sides, and it's not even the same number of rows. So 2) even if you think it's true, so what? Does learning one make it easier to learn the other? I don't think so.

 

In the limited time I've had with duets I was never able to get really comfortable playing melody with my right hand. The hayden seemed easiest and the Maccann hardest.

I think it depends entirely on the melody. On each of the duets there are some tunes which are easier and others which are more difficult, but which are which is different on each one. If there's a problem with the Maccanns, it's that the lowest right-hand note on most of them is G *above* middle C, so most melodies can be played entirely in the right hand only if they're played an octave higher than written. (But see another perspective below.)

 

Are you to the point where you can play fast melodic runs on your Crane? Could you play a bit of Irish Trad melody (let's not worry about ornaments) up to speed if you wanted to? I understand this is not playing to the strengths of a duet, I'm just trying to get a sense of how fluid someone can get with a lot of practise.

 

I haven't spent a lot of time yet working on fast tune playing on the duet, but your question prompted me to experiment a bit. I don't see why fast passages should be any more difficult on the duet than on the anglo, and my experimentation bore this out. On the anglo, like the duets, all or most of the notes of a given passage are generally in the same hand, though the anglo has the added -- and often limiting -- factor of bellows changes. I could play some passages up to speed even on tunes I hadn't tried previously on the duet, and it's clear that with practice I'll be able to play most tunes easily and quickly.

 

However, I find that both the action/response and size/weight are significant factors. If the action/response is quick, then it's easy to get a tune up to speed; poor action/response slows me down much more than it does on the English, though that might be partly due to the fact that I'm already much more accomplished on the English. I find that greater size and weight are much more of a hindrance on instruments with the duet/anglo hand straps than with Englishes, and I'm certain this isn't *just* due to differential familiarity. I find it to be true even if I'm supporting the instrument on my leg(s) as I play. And the size, shape, placement, and adjustment of the straps and bars -- to optimize both flexibility and control -- are crucial.

 

As for "the strengths of the duet," I do get tired of these stereotypes which seem to assume that because one instrument is better than another for a particular technique, then that technique is all that it's good for. Compare the smaller (up to 55 buttons) duets with a standard 30-button C/G anglo: Each has the lower notes in the left hand and the higher notes in the right hand, with a certain amount of overlap, and they all have the same lowest note, C below middle C. So aside from enforced bellows reversals on the anglo, how do they differ?

 

The overlap on the anglo is four notes, from B above middle C up to E, but without the accidentals. On a 55-button Crane the overlap is a full octave, from middle C to C an octave above, and fully chromatic.(On a 46-button Crane it's a fifth, from middle C to the G above, still fully chromatic.) On my 55-button Maccanns it's a fourth, from G above middle C to the next C above, also fully chromatic. (On a 46-button Maccann it's the same, except that the Bb is missing from the left hand.) The overlap on the 46-button Hayden is nearly an octave, but as noted above, it's missing three accidentals. So the duets have more overlap than the anglo, though in different ranges.

 

The top note on the anglo is B nearly 3 octaves above middle C, but the next-highest note is the G below it, and even below that G a couple of notes are missing from the chromatic scale. The 55-button Maccann reaches to the C above that B and is fully chromatic all the way. Because it goes lower in the right hand (and therefore has more overlap) the 55-button Crane only reaches the F below the anglo's high G, but that's more than high enough for most tunes, unless you're trying to play an octave higher than written. And it's fully chromatic all the way up to that F. The 46-button Hayden goes only to the D below that, though that should certainly be adequate for most players, especially since it goes *down* to middle C.

 

On the low end, the Crane is chromatic all the way down, as is the 55-button Maccann. The 46-button Maccann lacks the low C# and D. The 46-button Hayden lacks the low C# and D#. The anglo lacks the low C#, D, D#, F#, and G#.

 

The above suggests that any playing style used on the anglo should also be possible on any of the duets, with differences only in detail. As one might expect, the common Morris style works just fine, but consider also the common Irish anglo style: It's just as easy to play only melody, or melody with just occasional harmony notes, on the duets as on an anglo. And the greater overlap provides more opportunities to choose between right and left hand for particular notes or phrases.

 

I'm not planning on ever giving up on the english, it's the system most suited to what I like.

Well, the English is also my main squeeze, and I suspect it always will be. But there are some things I can do with the other systems that just aren't feasible on the English, so I expect I'll continue to play with them, too.

 

[Edited this old post, because I just rediscovered it and noticed an error in quoting. Now corrected.]

Edited by JimLucas
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jim,

Thank you for the very thoughtful reply. You have me seriously considering a Crane. I sent you an email about 55 vs 46 buttons on the Crane. How many buttons to get is the area I'm least sure of. Thanks again.

bruce boysen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So in practice the "consistent" pattern of the Hayden seems no more consistent than the other duets -- though probably no less so -- and it really comes down to a question of how it feels to *play* in the different keys.  I hope the Hayden players (David Barnert, Jack Woehr, Rich Morse) can help us out here.  But I notice what appears to be a deficit in the 46-button layout, the only one *currently* available:  Though the "main" octave -- going upward from middle C -- is covered in both hands, it is missing C# and Eb in the right hand, and Bb in the left.  Maybe the Hayden players could comment on what it's like to play in the keys of Eb, Bb and Gm, and some of the klezmer scales that use those notes?

I think Jim already knows the answer to this one.

 

The 46-key layout of the Hayden is not well-suited to playing in flat keys. Bb and G-minor are possible by hooking the D# at the other end with the little finger but this doesn't work well for quick passage work, and on each side the note is present in only one octave. I avoid keys with more than one flat and odd scales like Klezmer (my performance of Satie's 1st Gnossienne transposed to D minor at the Squeeze-In notwithstanding). Rich is more adventurous, using his thumbs (and I think occasionally his toes) for some of the awkward notes.

 

The missing low B and C# in the right hand can often be "borrowed" from the left hand, but it woud certainly be nice to have them present on the right. When Dickinson finally gets around to making the 55-key instrument I ordered in 1989 <_< , I'll report on the status of the above concerns.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So in practice the "consistent" pattern of the Hayden seems no more consistent than the other duets -- though probably no less so

Actually, I find the ability to play in many keys using identical fingering patterns highly useful. Most other instruments have a "home" key which is usually the easiest to play in and make the most logical and spatial sense on the instrument. In that regard both Maccann and Crane duets are similar to Englishes (from which they evolved).

 

For visual reference (particularly for those that don't play those systems), consider the piano keyboard. The English, Maccann and Crane are similar in that the "home" key is C. The pattern on the piano for C major is very straight forward - and straight up the keyboard one sequential key at a time - and ignores the "black keys" which are offset to allow you to focus on the '"white keys".

 

Those 3 concertinas are similar - a fingering pattern up rows of buttons flanked by the "black keys". Far from the straight line that a piano is, but the constraint is the same. One interesting difference is that while the piano pattern is identical from one octave to the next, both the English and Crane alternate the pattern from octave to octave (essentially two similar but "different" patterns for the key of C).

 

From the home key, every other key has a different fingering pattern, with the further from home you stray, the more different it is (whew, sorry for my lack of "English" command!) For instance, with C being the basic, easily recognizable pattern, the key of G means a pattern with only a single key difference, D would have two, A three, etc.

 

By themselves it's not such a big deal particularly as most folk don't stray but for a few keys sharp or flat - and it you play mainly the melody.

 

Now look at the Hayden. It is designed to be a chromatic system rather than a home base system. The Hayden's layout is pitch-relative to western music, built around our I, IV, V -centric way of music. I say "chromatic" only because that seems to be the word which I've heard used to describe such systems even though the word itself may be misleading. Continental (B and C layouts), Basetti, Uniform, etc. are accordion versions of "chromatic" systems. Hugh Blake's diatonian system is a concertina "chromatic" system that is both unisonoric and bisonoric at the same time....

 

Any chromatic system can have its sea of keys to such extent that all 12 keys can be played with the same identical fingering pattern (including all octaves as well) in the same mode. Most modes have only slightly different (but identical fingering patterns) and many of the modes are identical to others but for the "start" position.

 

Now comes the fun part.... Play the same C major tune on English and these three duets and compare the results. Pretty simple all the way around except for remembering the octave switch on English and Crane. So say it's a song and the singer wants it pitched higher - try D? So the E,M,C have a different fingering pattern, but as they play in D a lot it's not to bad to transpose to that only somewhat different fingering. The singer says - let's go another higher.... Yes, E! the key of so many hymns (I wonder why?). Now this becomes a bit of a workout for E,M,C as over the E pattern is new from the home C.

 

Even the smallest standard Hayden of 46 keys plays in C,D,E,F,G,&A identically.

 

Maybe transposing and playing in very sharp or flatted keys isn't your thing - but consider the chord and accompaniment situation. Now we're talking more in the duet realm - being able to play several different lines of music at the same time. Back to the piano for a moment....

 

One gets "used" to a certain pattern of backup (counterpoint, whatever) that your fingers become to "know" - but only in ONE KEY! The physical pattern is different in each key even though the intervals are the same, just as it is on Maccann or Crane. All those patterns are - the same - on a Hayden.

 

Say you're learning a new tune - and you realize that it has a certain melodic or harmonic pattern that you recognize as being similar to another favorite tune that you know well - but it's in another key. Not a problem putting in that I, I#dim, IImin, V with the walking bass and inverted partials. It's identical whether played in C, E or G#.

 

That's what I find so wonderful about the Hayden system. My brains are working hard enough doing new stuff without having to reinvent stuff I already know.

 

Now onto another nice thing about Haydens. The fingering pattern does away with some very difficult patterns that crop up the E, M, D systems - specifically when you have quick tunes that use 4ths and 5ths. Try playing quickly tunes (or grace notes, turns, trills) using successive C&G, A&E on the Maccann.... Add C&F on Crane.... Add A&D on English. Sure you can do it, though most likely by using different fingers and compromising the fingering of other adjacent notes.

 

4ths and 5ths are normally played with different fingers on a Hayden. Of course there are times when fingering can be a bear though it seems that it's inherently less problematic on a Hayden (IMHO - others please present your case!). There is one fingering which IS not as easy as on an English or Crane, and that is the octave - because all octaves are fingered identically and are located directly "above" the octaves below (but for one intervening button). The Maccann is similar in this regard.

 

The fix is to either use the same finger for those sequential octave notes, or to use a different finger. I usually use a different finger. Probably most Maccann players do too and find it no more inconvenient than I do (though due to the slight slant of the Hayden layout the octaves are not directly over each other which may be just slightly easier). The really hard part is playing parallel octave tunes (unless you play them on opposing side of the instrument).

 

So much for the good stuff. On to the not-so-good news.

 

It takes a significant amount of real estate to get a chromatic's sea of buttons extended to the point of being able to play all 12 keys identically - and then some more as you'd want the related keys right next to them rather than have to go to the other end of the keyboard to get into them. That's why a "long" 48 bass piano accordion doesn't make it with the crowd that plays a lot in very sharp or flatted keys. They need redundancy at both ends.

 

Fortunately most of the tunes I play (and I suspect most of us do too) don't stray far from C. The standard 46-key Hayden fingers identically in C,D,E,F,G&A - the most common keys I use. Still - every key is available, it's just that the further you go from the 6 keys, the incrementally more difficult the pattern becomes. Much like E,M,C and piano except that their incrementally more difficult patterns start immediately from C.

 

Certainly a larger "sea" of buttons is preferable though there is a balance point at which the usability of having more identically fingered keys is offset by the size of the instrument.

and it really comes down to a question of how it feels to *play* in the different keys.

For me - I would rather have only one pattern to play - and focus on the music. In reality keys are groupings of similar internal note relationships. The only real difference between keys is the overall pitch. Why make life harder when it needn't be?

But I notice what appears to be a deficit in the 46-button layout, the only one *currently* available:  Though the "main" octave -- going upward from middle C -- is covered in both hands, it is missing C# and Eb in the right hand, and Bb in the left.  Maybe the Hayden players could comment on what it's like to play in the keys of Eb, Bb and Gm, and some of the klezmer scales that use those notes?

I find Gm very easy as for some reason those tunes rarely have the Eb. When it does appear the high Eb is reasonable to grab with my right pinky and the lower one if easy with my left thumb.

 

Bb is a little more problematic as the Eb is used quite a bit, but as I'm very fond of hornpipes I've gotten pretty good with my pinky and thumb. I only do one tune in Eb, and only that because it's the third part of a rag I like. Beyond that I go to the piano. I'm not at all familiar with playing Klezmer.

 

I don't miss the higher Bb much as grabbing it on the left is pretty easy. The "missing" low C# and Eb is a major drag.

 

That doesn't mean that I'm content without these guys - but it does give me a lot of selfish impetus in putting so much effort into making Haydens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. Even the smallest standard Hayden of 46 keys plays in C,D,E,F,G,&A identically.

 

2. Now onto another nice thing about Haydens. The fingering pattern does away with some very difficult patterns that crop up the E, M, D systems - specifically when you have quick tunes that use 4ths and 5ths. Try playing quickly tunes (or grace notes, turns, trills) using successive C&G, A&E on the Maccann.... Add C&F on Crane.... Add A&D on English. Sure you can do it, though most likely by using different fingers and compromising the fingering of other adjacent notes.

Rich,

Great post. There are just a few small points I don't understand. You said that even the smallest Haydens play in the key of A. When I had a Bastari Hayden years ago I'm sure the G# was missing. I remember playing Devil's Dream & Speed the Plow from Richard Carlin's English Concertina tutor and having to play them in G because there was no G# in the right hand and it was much too hard to reach way over and grab the Ab. This and the fact that there were no other Haydens available (and none on the horizon, and I really disliked the Bastari as anything more than a temporary solution) were the reasons I gave up on the system. Of course, when you guys come out with the 55 button Morse Hayden, those problems will no longer exist. I do think the Hayden is a great system. I might have even suggested someone get one in another thread.

 

The other point I didn't get was about fingering and the english system. Was it a typo where you said to add A&D on english? (I quoted that part) A & D are on opposite sides and obviously it's lightning fast & effortless to play that two note sequence. If you mean 5ths, say A to E on an english, I still don't understand the problem. While not as easy & fast as alternating sides, I find 5ths very easy to finger on the english. In fact, having the buttons directly over each other is an advantage, IMO. For example, this makes it easy to start with either finger 1 or 2 on the A button and hit the E button with the other. I find both ways easy. With the slanted Hayden pattern wouldn't you lose this freedom and HAVE to use the same pattern, say finger 1 for C & 2 for the G above? If so, I'd find that a very real disadvantage.

 

The great thing about the english is that I've never found any sequence of notes in any tune I've tried to play to be a problem. The english is just so smooth & fast when playing melody, and all the duets are going to fare poorly when judged against it playing melody only. Of course, this comes at the huge price of not being able to play melody in one hand and chords/whatever in the other. Perhaps it's better to leave the english out of a duet discourse as it's so very different?

 

My last point is about the cost/benefits of adding more buttons and making an instrument bigger & heavier. My former english was a very nice 56 button Aeola and my current is the 37 button Morse. I don't expect many people to agree with me, but I enjoy playing the Morse more. It's SO much lighter than the Aeola and even though I always play sitting down with the concertina on my knee, it still makes a difference. It feels almost effortless to play and I can play longer with it. I never get even a twinge in my hands or thumbs like I did sometimes with the Aeola. A lighter concertina makes playing fast melodies(Irish trad) easier for me. I guess the point of this is that on the english I'd gladly give up the top end of the range (I realize it's also the construction of the Morse that makes it lighter) to get it lighter, so adding more buttons to ANY concertina isn't a totally positive thing, IMO.

 

Oh well, I'm not sure if this added ANYTHING to the discussion.

bruce boysen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You said that even the smallest Haydens play in the key of A. When I had a Bastari Hayden years ago I'm sure the G# was missing. I remember playing Devil's Dream & Speed the Plow from Richard Carlin's English Concertina tutor and  having to play them in G because there was no G# in the right hand and it was much too hard to reach way over and grab the Ab.

Bruce-

 

I'm sorry, but I think you're mistaken. As far as I know, Bastari only made two sizes of Haydens, the 46 key and the 66 key. I've played them both, and I have the 46. It has the same layout as my Wheatstone. There is a G# in each of the two octaves present on each side (the higher one on the left = the lower one on the right). I have played many tunes on the old Bastari that included the high G#, including both Devil's Dream & Speed the Plow. On the other hand, the 46 does not have an Ab, which one would expect to the left of the Bb.

 

I have never heard of a Hayden with fewer than 46 buttons.

 

This is the layout of the 46-key Hayden (Bastari, Wheatstone, and Stagi).

 

[Added: Sorry about that with the graphic. I had to do it as a jpg because this system makes a mess of ascii art]

post-4-1065670876.jpg

Edited by David Barnert
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry, but I think you're mistaken. As far as I know, Bastari only made two sizes of Haydens, the 46 key and the 66 key. I've played them both, and I have the 46. It has the same layout as my Wheatstone. There is a G# in each of the two octaves present on each side (the higher one on the left = the lower one on the right). I have played many tunes on the old Bastari that included the high G#, including both Devil's Dream & Speed the Plow. On the other hand, the 46 does not have an Ab, which one would expect to the left of the Bb.

David,

Yikes! I can think of three explanations.

 

One, it was a long time ago and I'm just not remembering it correctly.

 

Two, (I kind of hope it's this one as that would be really funny!) I started playing the Hayden with my hand shifted over one button to the right, playing the D button when I thought I was on the C. Since it was a Hayden and I didn't play it for very long and didn't play with anyone else, this is possible. Ha, Ha, Ha!

 

Three, the one I had was as I said, but this does seem unlikely after what you wrote.

 

 

Wait....maybe it was that missing Ab that bugged me all along. Just kidding on this one.

bruce boysen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two, (I kind of hope it's this one as that would be really funny!) I started playing the Hayden with my hand shifted over one button to the right, playing the D button when I thought I was on the C. Since it was a Hayden and I didn't play it for very long and didn't play with anyone else, this is possible. Ha, Ha, Ha!

That was my guess, but I didn't want to say...

 

:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can think of three explanations.

I can think of two other "possibilities":

 

1) Is it possible that they made an instrument tuned in Bb? (Did you buy it used?)

 

2) I've heard some rather scary stories about quality control at Stagi, including an English concertina straight from the factory with all the notes in *one* hand mirror-reversed from what they should be, and some other errors even less consistent. Is it possible that the G#'s on your instrument were tuned to some other pitch? Would you have noticed if their relative pitches didn't fit the otherwie-consistent pattern?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are just a few small points I don't understand. You said that even the smallest Haydens play in the key of A. When I had a Bastari Hayden years ago I'm sure the G# was missing.

I'm fairly certain that all Bastari Haydens had two G#'s on each side of the instrument.

 

The other point I didn't get was about fingering and the english system. Was it a typo where you said to add A&D on english? (I quoted that part) A & D are on opposite sides and obviously it's lightning fast & effortless to play that two note sequence.

I'm also pretty sure that there are A&D on both sides, and EACH of those sides has the notes A&D "above" each other.

If you mean 5ths, say A to E on an english, I still don't understand the problem. While not as easy & fast as alternating sides, I find 5ths very easy to finger on the english.

While I'm not a proficient English player, I've heard from many that 5th's can be particularly troublesome. For example, consider The Black Nag in the second part. The first few measures are minor arpeggios (in jigtime): E,C,A, E,C,A | E,C,A, E,C,A | A,F,D, A,F,D, | A,F,D, A,F,D, | etc.... This is very easy on a Hayden as each of those notes is normally and easily played with a different finger. I guess you could do those passages with separate fingers on English but most English players I know use 2 fingers and swear a lot. How would you do that bit? I know that Jim knows The Black Nag well - comments Jim?

With the slanted Hayden pattern wouldn't you lose this freedom and HAVE to use the same pattern, say finger 1 for C & 2 for the G above? If so, I'd find that a very real disadvantage.

Similar but different. I find it very rare to have to break out from the "set" finger pattern, but when I need to it's usually a matter of shifting my hand position to the right or the left for a few notes or phrase. If normally I use my index for C and middle for G, but that the tune goes where I need to put down my middle finger on the NEXT note, I'll shift my hand to use my middle for the C and ring for the G leaving the middle for that otherwisely-awkward note progression.

I've never found any sequence of notes in any tune I've tried to play to be a problem. The english is just so smooth & fast when playing melody, and all the duets are going to fare poorly when judged against it playing melody only. Of course, this comes at the huge price of not being able to play melody in one hand and chords/whatever in the other. Perhaps it's better to leave the english out of a duet discourse as it's so very different?

I grant that the English system is superior in raw melodic speed over other concertina fingering systems, though I have yet to reach to top end of my Hayden's rate - so for me raw speed isn't much of an issue. As you mention, the contrapuntal propensities of duets is a pretty plus.

My last point is about the cost/benefits of adding more buttons and making an instrument bigger & heavier.... A lighter concertina makes playing fast melodies(Irish trad) easier for me. I guess the point of this is that on the english I'd gladly give up the top end of the range... to get it lighter, so adding more buttons to ANY concertina isn't a totally positive thing, IMO.

We're talking about two different things here. Certainly lighter is better (which is why we strived to make our Morses as light as practical), and useless range doesn't make much sense. The problem with the Hayden is that in order to play in very sharp or flatted keys easily you have to add redundant buttons (more parts and weight). The operative word here is easily. All 12 keys are accessible (just like they are on the English), and with the extreme flat and sharp keys being more difficult to play in (as the English) - so why go to the more buttons/weight? Only IF you want to play in those keys VERY easily.

 

I should point out here that technically speaking, while playing in all keys further from C on an English is incrementally more difficult - yet the worst ones are only marginally bad. On a 46-key Hayden the first 6 keys are like falling off a log - identical, the next couple (Bb and C#) are only marginally more difficult, but from there they get worse much quicker than on the English. That's why so many Hayden players that play frequently in a few more keys that the basic 6 want a few more redundant buttons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, I find the ability to play in many keys using identical fingering patterns highly useful. Most other instruments have a "home" key which is usually the easiest to play in and make the most logical and spatial sense on the instrument. In that regard both Maccann and Crane duets are similar to Englishes (from which they evolved).

This will be a very brief and incomplete response. I started a longer reply, which got progressively longer, and if/when I finish it and post it, I think I'll use it to start another Topic, since it concerns the English as much as the duets. But...

 

Rich clearly has a better understanding of the Hayden than I do, but I differ considerably with his characterization of the other systems. He seems to have what I consider to be a very narrow view of what constitutes "a pattern"... or "identical".

 

The English and Crane systems are built around patterns which are quite consistent, but which are not based on rigid geometry in space. Prompted by his comments, I tried transposing some arrangements -- not just single-line melodies -- on both English and Crane. This is something I have rarely bothered to try, and never with these particular arrangements. All I did was try to *play* the arrangements -- without preparation -- in keys other than the original. While it didn't go perfectly smoothly, I was suprised at how little stumbling I did, even when going to a key which I think Rich would consider a completely different "pattern". E.g., from G to F on the Crane.

 

The best illustration, though, was the English, partly because I'm most familiar with it, and partly because it has -- in my opinion -- the most consistent pattern. On the English I took an arrangement in G of "Planxty Irwin" and played it F (every note in the opposite hand), Eb (every note in the same hand as in G, but the opposite side of the center line), E (the same as Eb, except the opposite button in each natural-accidental pair), Bb (like F, but with one less note in the "outside" -- or accidental -- row), and C (hardly more than shifting the hand down from G).

 

Most of the arrangement involves two notes at a time, with three in a few places. There are sections with held notes against moving ones, others with parallel thirds, a bit with parallel sixths, and some not parallel. Interestingly, each successive new key was easier than the one before, I think because my brain became attuned to the *general* concept of what I was doing, and because to me the "pattern" of all keys *feels* the same. The reason this works for me is that I never think in terms of "right" and "left", but rather in terms of "this side" and "the other side"... a kind of enforced dyslexia.

 

Rich says that the Hayden plays identically in 6 different keys. The way I conceptualize it, the English does that in 8 keys. But I really wonder how important that is, even to him. I.e., if he didn't have that ability, how badly would it hinder him? Would he restrict himself to learning tunes in only one or two keys?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm also pretty sure that there are A&D on both sides, and EACH of those sides has the notes A&D "above" each other.

QUOTE

If you mean 5ths, say A to E on an english, I still don't understand the problem. While not as easy & fast as alternating sides, I find 5ths very easy to finger on the english.

 

While I'm not a proficient English player, I've heard from many that 5th's can be particularly troublesome. For example, consider The Black Nag in the second part. The first few measures are minor arpeggios (in jigtime): E,C,A, E,C,A | E,C,A, E,C,A | A,F,D, A,F,D, | A,F,D, A,F,D, | etc.... This is very easy on a Hayden as each of those notes is normally and easily played with a different finger. I guess you could do those passages with separate fingers on English but most English players I know use 2 fingers and swear a lot.

Rich,

Ok, I think I understand everything you're written. Yes, of course there are A's & D's on each side, but I was unclear what you meant. I assumed you meant an A and the D note above it as that's how I'd thought of it at the time, building from the bottom up. That didn't make a lot of sense, so that's why I asked if you meant a 5th, the example being right hand side A & the E above it. Now I know you meant a D and the A ABOVE it, not the other way around. I get it now.

 

Now, about The Black Nag. Sorry, but that is an excellent example of a tune that is exceptionally easy on an english. I just played the version in the Fiddler's Fakebook. The ECA & BGE sequences are effortless, E finger 1, C finger 3, A finger 2. B finger 2, G finger 1, E finger 3. These are patterns (putting these three fingers in a triangular shape) that you do constantly on an english, after all it's the basic pattern for building chords, so if you *couldn't* easily do it you'd be in trouble. I do have thin fingers, which probably helps with this, but I'm at a loss as to how anyone could find this tune even slightly troublesome on an english. I don't understand why anyone would attempt this sequence with TWO fingers when using three is so easy.

 

My guess is that these note sequences finger somewhat alike on a Hayden, no? For ECA, wouldn't your fingers be in a triangular pattern and you'd use finger 3 for E, than 1 for C & two for A? Same common pattern on english & hayden that both systems use constantly, and probably equally easy on both.

 

It's a different story on english as soon as I start playing lots of notes at once. I find it really hard to play the harder tunes in Dancing With Ma Baby and end up sometimes using my pinky to make things easier. I'm sure I could come up with lots of multiple note sequences where it's difficult not to cross up my fingers.

 

bruce boysen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, fingering charts for the instruments being discussed are available on my Hayden Duet webpage.

 

Secondly, IMHO, people make too much of the wraparound problem on the Hayden. I can play fluently in the "black keys" on my Stagi Hayden 46. I couldn't always, but after a year of gigging with a singer-guitarist who sang in Eb, Ab, and C# mostly, it was easy.

 

This is why I've discussed with Richard Morse his plans for the BB Hayden and suggested this Hayden 55 layout.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Years ago I was in a band and we got a new member. I first heard him as he warmed up for a rehearsal. He was ripping through some impossible stuff. I took it to be showing off for the benefit of the people in his new outfit and wise cracked, “Take it up a half step.” Without a pause, he did.

 

He played tenor sax, an instrument that has a definite home key. Indeed, saxophones are transposing instruments, meaning the home key isn’t even C. He was a very good player, and fortunately, forgiving of wise cracks.

 

The point is if you are really going to master an instrument, you need to be able to play fluently in any key. You might have a key or two you hate, but even then you should be able to play the key or be able to work a tune up when asked. The great thing about modern transposing instruments like clarinets and saxophones is that the key work makes it easier (not necessarily easy) to master all keys. This is not a problem for violin players or mandolin players who learn one scale in a few positions, then they are done.

 

I play a crane system and do not pretend to be knowledgeable about other concertinas, even other duets. I don’t have a single song in my repertoire in the key of C# and I'm not interested in Gb either. I like the key signatures of C, D, A, G, Bb, F. When feeling bold I’ll take on Eb, Ab, E and B. Part of my problem with getting far from home is due to the instrument. However, I had similar problems with the saxophone when others overcame them. You have to practice those scales you rarely play to be ready. I'm in this for the fun and can conviently bow out when I don't like the key. I can’t find much fault with the Crane system in this regard.

 

Transposition on the Crane, like the saxophone, has never been my forte. However, transposing up a step or up a fifth was never the issue. It is the key I’m transposing to. Down a halve step from C# to C is no problem. F# to C wouldn't be a problem. No at all like down a half step from D to Db or F to C#. My problem in transposing to any key is that I don’t know all my keys because I’m not willing to practice scales in keys I seldom use.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...