Jump to content

Duet, playing practice question


Recommended Posts

To all the duet people out there. A practical question…

 

What is the best way to try to balance the volume? I am finding that the lows come through much stronger than the highs. 
 

when playing a chord on the left. It really overwhelms the melody on the right.  Should I be trying to play more Stacatto on the left to get the melody to come through better?

 

is it just that I am getting more lows and they are actually projecting where I am not hearing it?

 

I am not sure if baffles are the right thing here as I am finding myself running out of melody on the right and needing to continue on the left quite a bit.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

Are you playing with your LHS close to and facing a wall?  If so try turning around and see if that makes a difference.

I will try that…but the low lows just seem to have substantially more volume. I have to think that I am not an isolated case.

 

do the duet players out there tend to try to keep the lowest notes really short as a practical work around? Holding and releasing is definitely a skill I have not come close to getting a handle on. I definitely tend to have that lazy piano player left hand syndrome.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

45 minutes ago, seanc said:

 Should I be trying to play more Stacatto on the left to get the melody to come through better?

9 minutes ago, seanc said:

do the duet players out there tend to try to keep the lowest notes really short as a practical work around?

 

That’s really the only way to do it. The reeds on the lower notes are bigger and therefore louder. Since you can’t send less air pressure to them, the only way to decrease the amount of air flowing through them is to shorten the amount of time their pads are open. It makes good musical sense, too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have known some duets do overpower the right hand end and I have managed to get a better balance by fitting a thin leather baffle just inside the offending end,this is certainly worth a try. 

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of the above but some things that work for me on the Jeffries:

 

-Play as much of the melody as possible with the left hand working into the overlap   zone including the melody notes in the chord structure.  Chase the melody with the harmony.

 

-Use the overlap zone like an EC for a smoother transition of the melody to the right hand.  

 

-As the melody moves higher on the scale, use more base runs rather than block chords.

 

-Use the low octave note for harmony.   It may be louder but seems to compete less.

 

-Use three finger combinations surrounding but not simultaneous with the embedded melody note.  

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not clear on the science, but I think this is to do with the physics of music, and it affects other instruments besides concertina. Of course, on a piano it's easier to play the left hand more quietly than the right.  When I'm micing up my anglo I'm often asked to boost the treble side for a better balance, but the difference is only small.

 

Don't forget that the player has a distorted perception of what their instrument sounds like.  Try setting up a recorder where an audience would be, you may find that your perception of the sound is different from what they would hear.

 

if the problem is real rather than perceived, the suggestions for lightening the accompaniment certainly reflect my experience with anglo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
On 8/3/2022 at 8:54 AM, hjcjones said:

 

Don't forget that the player has a distorted perception of what their instrument sounds like.  

This is 1000% true.

my rule with acoustic instruments, guitars, has always been to have somebody else play it. and me listen.

 

there have been too many times to count that I thought I had found “the one”.  And then after asking somebody else to play it was completely underwhelmed.
 

The area between your body and the instrument gives an immense bass boost to the player. it acts as a resonating chamber. And with clothes and skin that really sucks up highs and let’s this lows through. Especially  playing seated. 
 

my assumption is that this is the same with a concertina.

 

Edited by seanc
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whilst  one  can  selectively  'baffle'  the  left hand  it is  also  possible  to  increase /  decrease   the  output  of  each  note  by  controlling  the  pad lift.  Removing  one , or more,  of the  felt  dampers  from  the  location  pin  of  the  buttons  will  increase  the  pad lift  and allow  more  sound  to  exit  the   reed chambers.  Limiting  the  height   the  pads  can  rise  will  have  a  dampening  effect.   It  is  possible  in this  way  to  improve  the  balance  without  making  irreversible  changes  to  a  concertina.

  NOTE Drastic changes  in  pad lift  may  require   some notes to  be  re-tuned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, seanc,  for asking this question.  I am new to the concertina and though playing/practicing my duet for only a few days have noticed and wondered about the same thing.   Thanks, too, to wunks for some practical solutions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Geoff Wooff said:

Whilst  one  can  selectively  'baffle'  the  left hand  it is  also  possible  to  increase /  decrease   the  output  of  each  note  by  controlling  the  pad lift.  Removing  one , or more,  of the  felt  dampers  from  the  location  pin  of  the  buttons  will  increase  the  pad lift  and allow  more  sound  to  exit  the   reed chambers.  Limiting  the  height   the  pads  can  rise  will  have  a  dampening  effect.   It  is  possible  in this  way  to  improve  the  balance  without  making  irreversible  changes  to  a  concertina.

  NOTE Drastic changes  in  pad lift  may  require   some notes to  be  re-tuned.

I have not tried it, but have wondered about partially taping over the pad holes of too loud reeds.

 

Also, elsewhere here there have been suggestions to use thicker valves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With duets (and Anglos) it's too easy to play full chords on the left against a single melody note, which makes it instantly outgunned three (or four) to one. 

 

The key is in the arrangement and in the micro-phrasing (I think that's what Jody Kruskal calls it). You seldom need to play full chords for their entire length, and sometimes just adjusting the timing of the accompaniment can let the melody shine through. A few notes can suggest a chord, notes can be played staccato against a legato melody, single harmony notes can arpeggiate (if that's a word?). Open fifths are also good.

 

When playing, really concentrate on hearing the melody, and let the left hand fill in as needed. Easier said than done, but let your ears tell you when you are nicely accompanying the melody as opposed to drowning it out.

 

You'll also find you will have a lot more air if you're not playing big lefthand chords that are eating up most of the air. Listen to how folks like Michael Hebbert (Jeffries Duet) or John Watcham (Anglo) make great accompaniments without overbearing lefthand chords.

 

I'd try this, which admittedly comes easier with time, rather than trying to make physical modifications to your instrument which could potentially lead to bigger problems.

 

Gary

Edited by gcoover
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Geoff Wooff said:

Whilst  one  can  selectively  'baffle'  the  left hand  it is  also  possible  to  increase /  decrease   the  output  of  each  note  by  controlling  the  pad lift.  Removing  one , or more,  of the  felt  dampers  from  the  location  pin  of  the  buttons  will  increase  the  pad lift  and allow  more  sound  to  exit  the   reed chambers.  Limiting  the  height   the  pads  can  rise  will  have  a  dampening  effect.   It  is  possible  in this  way  to  improve  the  balance  without  making  irreversible  changes  to  a  concertina.

  NOTE Drastic changes  in  pad lift  may  require   some notes to  be  re-tuned.

 

2 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

I have not tried it, but have wondered about partially taping over the pad holes of too loud reeds.

 

Also, elsewhere here there have been suggestions to use thicker valves.


The same volume controlling effect can be achieved by installing o-rings in pad holes. I have regulated my two lowest basses this way after first drilling maximum diameter holes. Even 0.5mm ring made measurable difference. And since those can be friction mounted, it’s perfectly reversible while not changing button travel.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This problem isn't inevitable. I've had four Crabb Cranes in the past (two cheap 35 buttons and two more expensive instruments). None of them suffered this problem. Why? Because the Crabb family actually played Cranes and so realised how to set them up properly. Most other makers and restorers don't.

 

Try this. Hold down a bass button and a treble button at the same time with no pressure on the bellows. Slowly start to press (or pull) the bellows. Which note sounds first? If it's the low note (and if that's true across several different buttons) then the reeds need re-setting and/or re-valving so they all start to sound at the same pressure.

 

You might still need to adopt some of the other playing techniques as well, but a properly set-up instrument will give you a head start.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/2/2022 at 4:09 PM, seanc said:

To all the duet people out there. A practical question…

 

What is the best way to try to balance the volume? I am finding that the lows come through much stronger than the highs. 
 

when playing a chord on the left. It really overwhelms the melody on the right.  Should I be trying to play more Stacatto on the left to get the melody to come through better?

 

is it just that I am getting more lows and they are actually projecting where I am not hearing it?

 

I am not sure if baffles are the right thing here as I am finding myself running out of melody on the right and needing to continue on the left quite a bit.

 

 

I would encourage you to listen to the recordings at http://www.concertinas.org.uk/DuetAudio.htm to hear how various players have handled this.

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...