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How do you play sharps and flats that you dont have on your concertina?


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I have an Elise Hayden duet. I play from music that is not made for concertina (namely flute, piano, and sax) This music is not made for concertina, and thus has sharps and flats that don't exist on my concertina. I was wondering if there is a substitute for those notes. Should I shift down or up a few notes so the sharps and flats I do have can line up with the notes that need them or what? I am playing a lamentation so the small difference between sharp, flat and natural is pretty audible. Any suggestions help please.

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I'm guessing the prime offenders for you are D#/Eb and G#/Ab, which don't exist at all on the Elise. The Elise is a starter instrument, and these gaps in its range aren't present on other Hayden concertinas. It's unlikely that you'll find much music arranged with the specific idiosyncrasies of the Elise in mind. So one option is just to upgrade.

 

Aside from that, there are some workarounds. If you're playing solo, transposing the entire piece to a different key where you do have all of the correct notes is usually the best solution. For notes that do exist, but only in the wrong octave, simply shifting that note (and perhaps the entire phrase that contains it) by an octave is a solid option. Sometimes you can just leave the problem note out entirely, although it sounds like that won't work well for the specific case you have in mind. You can also try replacing the missing note with something else, but what works best is going to be situational, so try different things and see what you like.

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21 minutes ago, Steve Schulteis said:

The Elise is a starter instrument, and these gaps in its range aren't present on other Hayden concertinas.

The following is a bit of a lamentation.

 

The problem now that the ButtonBox has closed its doors is that there are so few other Hayden concertinas, short of a custom build, that have a significantly increased range over the Elise.

 

There is the Troubadour (36 buttons) and the Peacock (42 buttons) from the Concertina Connection, and the Stagi Hayden (46 buttons) from Concertine Italia and hopefully available soon in music shops world-wide. AFAIK, that is it!  The Troubadour does not really have much more range than the Elise, the Peacock is a lot better but still does not quite make it.  I think that 46 buttons is the 'sweet spot' for a Hayden and only the Stagi  has that many buttons. 

 

The Stagi has other issues that have been discussed here from time to time (weird button alignment and fastening pins) but it is probably the best option available if you want to play music with sharps and flats.

 

I hope that somebody can correct me and tell me about other off-the-shelf Haydens that are available.

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How we wish Concertine Italia had accurate drawings/jigs/fixtures from the first run of Bastari Haydens.  Most all the issues people find with the new Stagis were not issues in that run.  There were, what, 30 or 40 of them?  One might turn up, with a search?

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I do not have the Haydn make ( mine is Anglo 30 button in C and G).. however I too do not play music specified for concertina; and use that intended for flute, violin, and often for recorder as the range works very well. Over two and half decades of transcribing music for my own uses, I have maybe altered very mildly from the music books; a note or two maybe, or rearranged a bar line.. but only a few.

Often I have simply transposed to a different key to better fit the range.

Transposing is quite often done for most instruments; and should not be too difficult for you to arrange your own I am sure.

Edited by SIMON GABRIELOW
Don't be nosey as to why!
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I basically agree with what Steve said, above, and have one addition (that he hinted at in his last sentence): play a different note in the same chord. For instance, if you’re in A and you need to play a G# and don’t have one, play a B, or an E. If it looks like you’re going to need to do that more than a very few times, transposition may make more sense.

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To some extent, it will depend on how vital the note is to the flow of the melody, or how important it is in the accompaniment.

 

Occasionally, an accidental may be a momentary decoration, but often it says something important about the harmony, and sometimes it is absolutely vital to the piece.

 

Where possible, the simplest option is to miss out the note.  Sometimes the effect can be achieved by playing a rest of the same value, or by "dotting the rhythm" to compensate for the missing note.

 

Another simple option is to shift the phrase to a different octave, if the note is available there.

 

Another option is to identify the chord, and choose another note from it.  Very often that is simply a matter of trying the available note a third above or a third below and listening to which one sounds best.

 

Failing that, the options are change the key (cheap) or change the instrument (expensive).

 

If you can learn ABC notation, it is a simple matter to write out a piece just once in a convenient key and then use an ABC converter to transpose it quickly into any key you want to try.

 

There is an ABC tutorial here: http://www.lesession.co.uk/abc/abc_notation_part2.htm

 

There is an ABC converter here: http://www.mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php

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As a former owner of an Elise, who grew so frustrated by it’s limited range that I’ve built my own 66 button Hayden I must say this - there are no good workarounds on this box if you want to play something outside of trad, diatonic music. Perhaps as many as two out of every three tunes I wanted to arrange run into unsolvable problems. This is because you miss two neighbouring accidentals on an instrument, that starts on c3 and ends on a5. You simply run out of space on the top or bottom of the range if you transpose too far. This is further emphasised by the intent of duets to accommodate for both melody and accompaniment - typical three chord or four chord songs will cover the entire LH range with no room to nudge and sacrifices and ommissions are usually glaringly obvious and intrusive to the flow of the tune.

 

As to upgrades availability. Sadly, with the end of Beaumont there is only the Stagi. Troubadour is a joke for it’s price, Peacock is lacking in range, and Peacock XL doesn’t seem to happen anytime soon. Given Wim Wakker’s range choices I actually expect Peacock XL to let Hayden players down. 

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It's worth remembering that there are many hundreds, of tunes that will fit on a simple harmonica, and hundreds more that will fit on a very basic concertina.

 

Of course, some of these tunes are simplistic, but many others are interesting, beautiful, and rewarding to play.

 

One simple and economical solution is to choose tunes that will comfortably fit the instrument you have.

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4 hours ago, Mikefule said:

It's worth remembering that there are many hundreds, of tunes that will fit on a simple harmonica, and hundreds more that will fit on a very basic concertina.

 

Of course, some of these tunes are simplistic, but many others are interesting, beautiful, and rewarding to play.

 

One simple and economical solution is to choose tunes that will comfortably fit the instrument you have.


While obviously true, this is however a very backwards approach to being a musician if your repertoire is dictated by the instrument instead your taste in music and inner desires. 46+ and especially 64+ button Haydens are great for a vast spectrum of genres of accordion repertoire and it is really frustrating to be so limited by the maker’s choice to not include some notes vital to reach that potential. If you look closely at Troubadour and Pacock layouts, you will see, that Wim decided to exclude the LH A4 - lack of this single note, present even on Elise, closes those boxes to all sorts of modern french accordion repertoire and pop/rock songs „as written” and very often altogether, because it is a central note of the layout, and it’s existence on the RH side is not enough to compensate. There is a very good musical reason why the Beamont, not the Peacock, was the most common choice amongst Hayden players. 

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54 minutes ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

If you look closely at Troubadour and Pacock layouts, you will see, that Wim decided to exclude the LH A4

 

That was the first thing I noticed when I first picked up a Peacock. But that was because I was already accustomed to the missing E flats on my Wheatstone 46.

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I'll get in trouble for this but I can't help but notice all those F#s and G#s cozy'd up to each other in the Hayden patterns.  I've combined them on one button where they occur on my Jeffries duet and gained a free button and a more consistent pattern  in each case.  The single bisonoric button occurring in the same place throughout is easy to get used to.

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3 hours ago, wunks said:

I'll get in trouble for this but I can't help but notice all those F#s and G#s cozy'd up to each other in the Hayden patterns.  I've combined them on one button where they occur on my Jeffries duet and gained a free button and a more consistent pattern  in each case.  The single bisonoric button occurring in the same place throughout is easy to get used to.

 

Not really a viable solution if you are playing in a true duet style. Bellows reversals in odd places would interrupt the flow of many continuous accompaniments I play and the whole idea of unisonoric layout is to not have to care which direction you are playing in. With the amount of air in my 8 2/3 octagon, 8 fold box I pretty much don't care for the bellows direction, only for the bellows dynamics.

With Elise, the most annoying thing about the design of this box, is that the same sized box, with the same type and grade of reeds can fit 40+ buttons easily, 45 if you push it to the limit. I did exactly that in my "single serving" 3d printed built around Elise's bellows. You just have to mount those reeds flat instead of wasting a lot of room by trying to fit reed blocks into the bellows opening. 

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8 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:


...this is however a very backwards approach to being a musician if your repertoire is dictated by the instrument instead your taste in music and inner desires.

 

Well, to an extent, but every choice of instrument is also a choice of repertoire, and a musician's choice of instrument does reflect that taste and inner desire. A piano is not a sitar is not a kora is not an shamisen, etc. etc. I pick up the banjo for a very different set of tunes than I pick up the concertina, and those are both pretty solidly set in Western musical traditions.

 

I honestly don't think it's a weakness of an instrument to be better at some things than others. Genuine virtuosos can transcend those limitations, but each instrument has strengths that lend themselves to particular kinds of music.

 

So I suppose my answer to the OP's question is "I don't", and will either transpose into a key that works or play a different instrument better suited to that particular tune. I make no pretensions of virtuosity, though 🙂

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1 hour ago, MJGray said:

 

Well, to an extent, but every choice of instrument is also a choice of repertoire, and a musician's choice of instrument does reflect that taste and inner desire. A piano is not a sitar is not a kora is not an shamisen, etc. etc. I pick up the banjo for a very different set of tunes than I pick up the concertina, and those are both pretty solidly set in Western musical traditions.

 

I honestly don't think it's a weakness of an instrument to be better at some things than others. Genuine virtuosos can transcend those limitations, but each instrument has strengths that lend themselves to particular kinds of music.

 

So I suppose my answer to the OP's question is "I don't", and will either transpose into a key that works or play a different instrument better suited to that particular tune. I make no pretensions of virtuosity, though 🙂

 

Agreed, but what you are describing is a choice of an instrument type, while I'm talking about the limitations imposed by the instrument model. I'm perfectly aware, that I can't ever pull off, e.g. a glissando on a Hayden, or that Arvo Part's Alina is not something that would sound properly on a free reed instrument. But duet concertina that lacks the ability to perform proper duet arrangements, and this is largely the case with any of the offerings from Concertina Connection, is not something I can find an excuse for. 

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13 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

 

Not really a viable solution if you are playing in a true duet style.  

?

After thinking about it I realized the Hayden has a much larger overlap zone than the Jeffries ( 5 notes for my 50 button ) and so it is "handier" for melody/accompaniment.  I would point out however that bellows changes are not mandatory in the overlap if one reverses the push/pull from LH to RH or simply goes bisonoric with one key.  

Edited by wunks
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53 minutes ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

 

Agreed, but what you are describing is a choice of an instrument type, while I'm talking about the limitations imposed by the instrument model. I'm perfectly aware, that I can't ever pull off, e.g. a glissando on a Hayden, or that Arvo Part's Alina is not something that would sound properly on a free reed instrument. But duet concertina that lacks the ability to perform proper duet arrangements, and this is largely the case with any of the offerings from Concertina Connection, is not something I can find an excuse for. 

 

Ah, I see. Yes, fair enough. 👍

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On 9/25/2022 at 1:41 PM, wunks said:

The single bisonoric button occurring in the same place throughout is easy to get used to.

 

On 9/25/2022 at 5:31 PM, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

Not really a viable solution if you are playing in a true duet style. Bellows reversals in odd places would interrupt the flow of many continuous accompaniments I play and the whole idea of unisonoric layout is to not have to care which direction you are playing in.

 

I don’t know anybody who has tried (much less seen) a Wakker H2, with its 65 keys, one bisonoric (eb3/f3). But there it is.

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