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Left handed concertina?


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I have just read a bit of someone mentioning ( after listening to a splendid performance on this site) ..where they asked was it "left handed" concertina!

And it got me thinking on that subject; indeed is there such a thing? Or need for one even?

I assume that musician on any instrument should be near ambidextrous at least enough to play reasonably well.

So I imagine that it would be theoretical as to need for design in this way?

I know more than most being primarily left handed myself, ( for artwork drawing)..generally speaking, because I am able to use both hands to a degree also.

Anyone else have thoughts on this subject? 

 

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There are instruments designed for left-handed people like lefty guitar or bass, I think it is because these instruments require players do the different things on both hands, i.e., pressing or picking. I've played bass and violin, but I'm right-handed, and I'm guessing that string-picking and bow works require the player to use their dominant hand for those subtle manipulations. But for piano, keyboards and all the squeezeboxes, except pulling and pushing the bellow, all needed to do for both hands is just press the buttons or keys, and that makes the question "which hand is better for what" less necessary. 

 

Perhaps the accordions and melodeons are easier to play for lefties because they requires the player to operate the bellows with the left hand, and the dominant hand is usually stronger. And for those squeezeboxes that don't need to be hung on the body, like concertinas of course, bandoneons, etc, the bellow operating can be assigned to either hand at will, or switched at any time while playing.

Edited by LazyNetter
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I know a melodeonist who plays a standard melodeon upside down/left handed.

 

I also heard of a melodeonist who had his reeds repositioned so he could play left handed but in a more conventional style.  Apparently he delighted in leaving his box lying around in sessions in the hope someone would pick it up.

 

 

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I'm a left handed melodeon player, started by just playing tunes and did it naturally with my left hand. Most of my boxes have an extra air button positioned for my right handed thumb, apart from that they are standard.

 

On the other hand (!) I play anglo the "correct" way round, although I do have a tendency to play the tune on the bass end as well as the treble end.

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Thanks to you all for your interesting contributions thus far on this topic.

I am, technically speaking more left handed, for my creative art side ( drawing, writing, etc)... Yet when I play my concertina my right hand is very agile, as much as left. Maybe with Anglo types with lot of treble notes also being on right side of the instrument, requiring that hand, it is good for stretching the brains capabilities in coordination between the two hemispheres.

Strangely, I cannot comprehend even using a left hand guitar, or some of the odd domestic implements in my opinion ( like spoons for lefties, or pens).. which to me are totally unnecessary. But that is another topic altogether!

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This is indeed an impressive playing but I think it's more like just for fun, but not a efficacious scheme that benefit left-handers. The air button located pretty awkward in this way to me, and the thumb seems can do nothing. I've tried playing in this way somewhat badly before, but I'm probably not as smart as the guy in the video to get this done.

 

Other than playing upside down, accordions or melodeons that are constructed to target left-handers from beginning seems to be rare, or even exist? As I found, they are either modified from ordinary box or unparalleled work up to very specific order, but still remains a lot of ordinary designs, or let's say for right hand users. I found something related in this thread on The Accordionist Forum. 

 

I'd also like to reiterate that for keys/buttons-pressing instruments, handedness is not as important as strings. Here's a good example: the free bass chromatic accordion, which has a wide variety of key layouts. The commonly used system of such instruments in Russia and east Europe is the B system (Bayan), and the commonly used in central and south Europe is called the C system (probably shorten from Chromatic), these two layouts are completely mirrored, moreover, some of them are the high notes on the both left and right ends that are close to the lap, and some are from low to high from left lap to right lap. All of these systems, layouts and combinations have tremendous players, on both quantity and their skills, and they just used to what they practiced since they started practice.

 

I believe those who play the instrument upside down can do wonderful works, and maybe even achieve some unexpected special effects that ordinary way can't do. But since that's not what those designed for, it's still questionable to me whether it's an efficient way to play.

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9 hours ago, Takayuki YAGI said:

This is somewhat off topic, but if you hold the instrument upside down, doesn't that mean it's a left-handed concertina ?

 

 

 

Not really because on the left hand (now the treble side) the higher notes will be at the top of the instument and the lower notes at the bottom, similarly on the Right hand side (now the bass end). Not so say you couldn't play it like that, of course.

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9 hours ago, Takayuki YAGI said:

This is somewhat off topic, but if you hold the instrument upside down, doesn't that mean it's a left-handed concertina ?

 

 

Not for Anglo.

 

A standard Anglo played right handed:

LEFT Hand.  On the bass side, the lower pitched notes are at the bottom, next to your pinkie.

RIGHT hand.  On the treble side, the lower pitched notes are at the top, next to your index finger.

 

If you flip the instrument over, then

RIGHT hand is now the bass side, and the lower pitched notes are at the top, next to your index finger.

LEFT hand is now the treble side, and the lower pitched notes are next your pinkie.

 

So the technique for playing the instrument upside down would be fundamentally different.

 

When I play harmonic style Anglo on a 30B, my pinkie on my bass side (left) is the busiest finger of all, controlling the lowest 6 buttons.  If the box were to be inverted, my index finger would be doing that work.

 

 

 

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When I started to play guitar I wondered why the complicated fingering was left to the weaker and less co-ordinated left hand.  Later I understood that stringed instruments are built the way they are because the musicality comes from the right hand, which for most is the dominant hand.  Holding down the notes is the easy bit, musical expression comes far more from how the strings are plucked or bowed.  This is actually where most dexterity (quite literally) is needed.

 

With melodeons and accordions, again it is the dominant right hand which does the most complex work handling the melody. Playing the basses is relatively straightforward by comparison, and even if the left arm is weaker it is more than capable of pumping the bellows.

 

Concertinas and pianos are more balanced, there is greater similarity between what the hands do, although even here they are designed so that the more complex melody parts usually fall under the right hand.

 

Like most things, musical instruments are made for a right-handed world and lefties must work out their own ways of dealing with this.

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I imagine it would be fairly straightforward (although not necessarily cheap) to convert an anglo to a true left-handed version by making new reed pans and relocating all the reeds to their mirror positions.  This would be reversible, assuming the original reed pans were retained.

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OK, so there is a definite "handedness" with playing guitar, melodeon etc., but I don't fully understand why. When I was young I was taught the piano. I learnt scales with both hands separately, and also together in parallel and opposite directions. I don't remember it seeming any more difficult with the left hand than the right. Then in my twenties I taught myself the English concertina. There is no distinction between the two hands, and again I never had any sense that somehow it was harder with my left hand than my right.

 

My understanding is that if you play classical violin you have to play with the bow in your right hand, whether you're right handed or not, because the sight of a bow going the wrong way in an orchestra would be unacceptable. (The violinists have to play exactly the same phrasing in order that their bows move in concert.) Is it any harder to play the other way round if you start that way from the very beginning?

 

So could it be that convention has taken us in one direction and we can't conceive of it otherwise? Could the convention have equally developed tho other way round?

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5 minutes ago, Little John said:

So could it be that convention has taken us in one direction and we can't conceive of it otherwise? Could the convention have equally developed tho other way round?

 

Presumably yes.  The English concertina has a left right left right scale pattern, and whether the tonic is on the left or the right, and which sides any chords are made, will depend on the key.

 

I am very right handed for most things, but when I play Anglo, I feel that my right hand is on autopilot most of the time, and most of the nuance and variation comes from what I choose to do on the left hand.

 

If I play the same tune 5 times in a row, the right hand fingering will usually (but not always) be the same each time, but the left hand may change quite a bit.  So, in a sense, my left hand is the one that converts the tune into the music.

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Without delving too deeply into the physiology involved (careful, there's a can of worms lying about...😄) , it might be helpful to remember that the hands serve at the pleasure of the two halves of the brain generally, left brain/right hand, right brain /left hand and that these two brains are much more complex in their differences than our hands are.  

Edited by wunks
punc.
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31 minutes ago, Little John said:

So could it be that convention has taken us in one direction and we can't conceive of it otherwise? Could the convention have equally developed tho other way round?

 

I don't think it is simply convention, because that would suggest it is cultural, and so far as I know the same convention is found in all cultures with similar stringed instruments.  Although to a beginner fingering the notes seems the most difficult part, the real musicality comes from the plucking or bowing of the strings, and this is where the dominant hand (right, for most people) has the finest motor control and can achieve the greatest nuance.

 

For instruments where both hands are doing much the same thing, such as piano, then there isn't much difference, and certainly both hands can be trained especially if you work with both from the very beginning.  However for instruments where the hands are doing different things it makes sense for the most complex work to be done by the dominant hand, and they are designed accordingly.

 

Left-handed orchestral players are required to learn to play right-handed.  I don't think this is only for visual effect but to avoid bows clashing in a restricted space.  Presumably those lefties who can't cope with this don't make it into orchestras.  Other players are less constrained, and you often see left-handed guitarists and even fiddlers.  Sometimes they restring it (like Jimi Hendrix), sometimes they just play a standard guitar upside down (like Elizabeth Cotton) There seems to be sufficient demand for left-handed guitars to be made, although apparently not for accordions - perhaps these are easier for lefties to adapt to.

 

I don't believe concertinas are very "handed", especially the EC and perhaps Irish-style anglo. Although Anglos played harmonically and Duets usually play melody with the right hand and accompaniment with the left, it doesn't feel as if what the left hand is doing is much easier, although the twiddly-bits*  tend to be played with the right hand.

 

* this is a technical term

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1 hour ago, Little John said:

My understanding is that if you play classical violin you have to play with the bow in your right hand, whether you're right handed or not, because the sight of a bow going the wrong way in an orchestra would be unacceptable.

 

There is a left-handed Viola da Gamba player that I have seen several times at the Boston Early Music Festival who plays an instrument constructed as a mirror image of a standard VdG (not as trivial as you might think), bowing with his left hand, fingering with his right.

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I suppose, in a way, concertina as instrument is one of the success stories; as far as using both sides of the brain in coordination  is concerned.  the hands are forced onto two different sides at the onset, and have to do something at some stage in proceedings.

I have never had problem adapting my general left handedness, nor really thought about too much; because I use both for different tasks anyway.  There's some unbelievably ridiculous products been sold in past for people of this persuasion [ of which I am one so I feel I can say this myself].. left handed spoon? pen, whatever next.  But that is nothing to do with concertinas so I ask the admin to forgive me on my little adaption of the topic; and will say no more on this.😁

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