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Jeffries or Wheatstone for classical music?


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On 8/17/2022 at 9:19 AM, adrian brown said:

I would also need to be sure there was a potential interest of more than just one person

I would buy a copy even if it was only in the hope that one day I might be able to play this stuff.

 

I would prefer the treble + treble octave clefs, but would be OK with the bass clef.

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I apologise for pipping in on this subject, as I have said my own thoughts before; but I have found hardly any limitations to my 30 button Anglo over the well  over 24 years I have owned it. With three huge lever arch files full of classical, medieval, some romantic period pieces, and lease rarer pieces, covering a wealth of styles .. several hundred now in my collection.. I see little or less limitation than we are lead to believe in 30 button instruments. And, besides,  it is quite usual to  transpose music for many instruments in order to fir their tonal range.

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3 hours ago, Aaron Bittel said:

I was looking at it with the assumption that anyone who would be interested in learning Renaissance polyphony would already be pretty comfortable with staff notation, but not necessarily tablature, which is why I was surprised.

Why surprised? Renaissance lute music was written in tablature!

Staff notation only gives you the pitch of the notes; finding them on your instrument entails knowing what pitches are where (which button and bellows direction on a concertina, which string and fret on a lute). Staff notation can be read directly only on the keyboard - or on the English concertina (whereby tenor, treble and bass versions will associate a given dot on the stave with a different button on the instrument.) And, well, if you're a really good singer, you can also sight read from staff.

Cheers,

John

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1 hour ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

Why surprised? Renaissance lute music was written in tablature!

Staff notation only gives you the pitch of the notes; finding them on your instrument entails knowing what pitches are where (which button and bellows direction on a concertina, which string and fret on a lute). Staff notation can be read directly only on the keyboard - or on the English concertina (whereby tenor, treble and bass versions will associate a given dot on the stave with a different button on the instrument.) And, well, if you're a really good singer, you can also sight read from staff.

Cheers,

John

Along the lines of what John wrote, I want to add something about notation from personal experience. I was a classical guitar player (staff notation) prior to playing Renaissance lute (tablature). Staff notation tells you the pitch of the notes and also the duration of all the notes (you are left to figure out which strings and frets will enable you to play it). Renaissance lute tablature tells you the strings and frets to play the various notes, but it only tells you the duration of some of the notes. When it comes to the duration of the other notes, you are left to figure that out for yourself, based on your knowledge of harmony/counterpoint.

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Ignoring for the moment the unresolved discussions of octave-low-bass-clef-treble-clef vs real-pitch-double-treble-clef vs real-pitch-with-bass-ledger-lines, I think there is a question of what is the market for a "grand staff" book specifically catering to larger instruments like 38-button Jeffries and 40-button Wheatstone Anglos, and maybe duets?

 

There are lots and lots and lots of 30-button Anglos out there, but relatively very few plus-sized versions. Adrian and I had a lot of discussions about even doing dual Wheatstone/Lachenal and Jeffries notations, admittedly adapted for the much-more-common 30-button instruments. I'd be curious how many Jeffries players have taken advantage of this?

 

I'm also curious as to how many players of larger Anglos are "paper-trained" to read standard notation? And in what clefs?

 

It's already a tiny micro sub-niche musical market! But if there is enough interest to make such a book worth the effort...

 

Gary 

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On 8/18/2022 at 5:28 PM, Anglo-Irishman said:

Why surprised?

Maybe I should clarify why, and why I think a grand staff version might be worth doing. Tablature is, by design, specific to one instrument -- and when we're talking concertinas, that's one layout among many. Staff notation is far from universal, but its strength (once you know how to read it) is that it's transferable -- you don't have to have a specific layout, you just have to know where the notes are on your particular instrument.

 

My argument is that the cohort of concertina players who would be interested in, and capable of, tackling Renaissance polyphony on concertina would overlap pretty heavily with those who know how to read staff notation and know where the notes are on their instruments; whereas folks who only read tablature for anglo would be relatively less likely to attempt this kind of music in the first place. So even though my own use case would be playing on a 40-button anglo, staff notation would be equally accessible on 30-, 34-, 39-, and 50-button anglos, as well as, hypothetically, any duet system. (This obviously totally falls down for English system players, though!)

 

I realize now that I don't actually have the data to back this assertion up, however intuitive it might be to me, and I'm grateful that Adrian and Gary are willing to consider it despite that. (Especially since "It's already a tiny micro sub-niche musical market!") So maybe it's on me to start a separate thread to try to gather some of that data. And to apologize to Martin for hijacking his thread!

 

On 8/18/2022 at 5:28 PM, Anglo-Irishman said:

Staff notation can be read directly only on the keyboard - or on the English concertina

At the risk of taking things even further off topic: I'm not sure what you mean by this, but people read directly from staff notation on all kinds of instruments all the time, and whole choirs sing from it too. Granted just as many (probably more) outstanding musicians don't read staff notation, but that's not because it doesn't happen to correlate visually with their instrument of choice.

 

- Aaron

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4 hours ago, Aaron Bittel said:
On 8/18/2022 at 11:28 PM, Anglo-Irishman said:

Staff notation can be read directly only on the keyboard - or on the English concertina

At the risk of taking things even further off topic: I'm not sure what you mean by this, but people read directly from staff notation on all kinds of instruments all the time, and whole choirs sing from it too. Granted just as many (probably more) outstanding musicians don't read staff notation, but that's not because it doesn't happen to correlate visually with their instrument of choice.

What I meant about staff notation and the keyboard was that there is a very simple, direct correlation between the notation and the instrument's user interface. The lines and spaces correspond to the white keys, unless there's a key signature or accidental, in which case the adjacent black key is struck. A note higher up the stave corresponds to a key farther to the right on the keyboard. As I understand it, the English concertina is even closer to the notation: notes on the lines are found on the left hand, notes in the spaces on the right, always in the two middle rows, except for key signatures and accidentals, which are found adjacent on the outer rows. (I think that's correct - I don't play English, but I have read an EC tutor!) And the spatial element is there, too: higher on the stave means farther out on the button rows.

 

Most other instruments require the beginner to learn a more or less arbitrary correlation between notation and fingering. The violin, with its equally-spaced strings, is relatively easy, but the guitar's mix of 4th and 3rd intervals makes reading less intuitive. The woodwind instruments, with their cross-fingerings and overblowings, are yet farther from the notation, not to mention the brass, with its natural harmonics, compensating slides, and valves to fill in the gaps. Add to that, most brass instruments are transposing instruments - the notation has to be transcribed from the composer's absolute pitch to the relative pitches of the various band instruments. In the context of the bisonoric concertinas, transcription is equally necessary - and might as well be done in tablature.

 

It 's interesting to note which instrument was the first to have its music notated in tablature: the baroque lute! This became necessary when several differrnt tunings had emerged: "French", "English", "flat", etc. As with the modern banjo, each tuning facilitated a particular mode of composition. But the standard notation is readable only when the reader can rely on the dot on a certain line corresponding with a certain string/fret position on the lute - and as soon as a string is re-tuned, this correspondence is no longer given. As in modern mandolin, guitar and banjo tabs, the tuning for which the tablature is written is defined up front.

Tablature has yet another significance for lute-playing, as opposed to keyboard: whereas there is a 1:1 correlation between a dot on the stave and a key on the keyboard, this is not true for fretted strings. Practically any given note is available at differnt positions on different strings, so staff notation is no longer unambiguous. This is where tabs come into their own, be it only for marginal mark-up. Needless to say, the bisonoric concertinas present (to a lesser degree) the same problem, which  is why many tutors use tablature, if only as an adjunct to staff notation.

 

If we divide the musical world into "composers' music" and "performers' music," I'd say the vast majorityof Anglo concertinists fall into the "performers' music" category. That is, they have a tune in their heads, and an Anglo in their hands, and just link up head and hands (using certain protocols that they have learnt from experience, and perhaps some tuition.) I'd say the vast majority of violinists and pianists are into "composers' music," which means that the first thing they learn is how to transfer composers' notation to their instrument (I call that "sight-reading" as opposed to "reading music", which merely entails identifying a dot as "E-flat" or "middle C.")

Of course, "composers' music" is often transcribed: piano works for orchestra, violin sonatas for oboe, organ works for CBA, etc. When arranging baroque music (choral, lute or ensemble) for Anglo concertina, it is obvious that transcription work is necessary. Question is, wouldn't it be more useful to transcribe to tabs with versions for 30, 40 or 50-button instruments, than to staff notation, where readers must decide for themselves which instance of the next note to play.

 

Cheers,

John

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7 hours ago, Anglo-Irishman said:

Question is, wouldn't it be more useful to transcribe to tabs with versions for 30, 40 or 50-button instruments, than to staff notation, where readers must decide for themselves which instance of the next note to play.

Apart from the fact that it would be a lot of work to do all those transcriptions, my point is exactly that I'd rather be able to decide, for example, which G works best in this phrase, rather than seeing a 2a with a line over it and having to look that up on a diagram to figure out that that refers to the note G on top of the staff, before I can then decide what I want to do with it on my instrument. (Better yet would be to have both, which if I recall is how the melody line is handled in Adrian's book.)

 

But you're right that if I'm playing a 30- or 40-button Wheatstone layout, and the tablature is for 30-button Wheatstone layout, and all I want to do is reproduce the the notes (and have recommendations for the best way to do it within those core 30 buttons -- which is definitely valuable; I don't want to minimize that!) without exploring my other options... then yeah, learning tablature is the most efficient way to go. And I understand now why Gary and Adrian would have decided that this represented the widest market for the results of all their time and effort. I just think that there's another, untapped, market represented by the first case. But I reserve the right to be totally wrong about that.

 

- Aaron

Edited by Aaron Bittel
typo
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  • 2 months later...
On 8/18/2022 at 9:54 PM, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

I apologise for pipping in on this subject, as I have said my own thoughts before; but I have found hardly any limitations to my 30 button Anglo over the well  over 24 years I have owned it. With three huge lever arch files full of classical, medieval, some romantic period pieces, and lease rarer pieces, covering a wealth of styles .. several hundred now in my collection.. I see little or less limitation than we are lead to believe in 30 button instruments. And, besides,  it is quite usual to  transpose music for many instruments in order to fir their tonal range.

Pipe away ūüôā For instance, the last bars of the Bach Cello Suite 2, Prelude require a right hand F and top D in the same chord. https://imslp.org/wiki/Cello_Suite_No.2_in_D_minor%2C_BWV_1008_(Bach%2C_Johann_Sebastian)

Or the Fugue from Violin Sonata in G minor requires a C# and an F together. While most of Bach is playable on a 30 button concertina, even if sometimes rather awkward fingering, it is the stray bar here and there that cannot be played that is the problem for me. Unfortunately, Bach is such a precise writer that I cannot in good faith wantonly change notes around.

In terms of Wheatstone or Jeffries, or some other system for the 40 button, I am coming to prefer the Wheatstone as it goes right up to top C, which makes so much sense, although I would like a left hand bottom D, but no one seems to do it!

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Just popping into this thread for a moment to say that I, an Anglo player, am not particularly literate, but love renaissance-style polyphony. It takes me longer to wrap my head around how to play it, but I suspect that the set of people who enjoy it is quite a bit larger than the set of people who are educated enough to easily play it (thanks largely to the work of Adrian and Cohen, on this forum).

 

So while I wouldn't mind seeing a full, non-tablature transcription of Garden of Dainty Delights, I definitely get a lot of value from the tabbed version. I find it gives you practically all the notes, and since I can figure out the original phrasing by listening to YouTube, it's really the most effective resource for a dilettante like myself.

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