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Why the duet concertina has more advantages but is not mainstream


luli
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hi, i just register the account.

i like this lovely instrument.there are three kinds concertina can be learned.

it seems that the duet concertina is the most versatile.however, it dont become the most popular.

I used to use an Anglo concertina and now have an English concertina.

I wonder if there are some downsides to the duet concertina.

I am from China. my friend share some knowledge with me .but he doesn't care the duet .

luli

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Hi, it is really just a matter of personal taste.  For full chordal work the duet is generally more suited, and can do full soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices as per piano/organ music.  May not be quite as speedy on very fast, single note passages though.

 

Anglo has a very good pulse feeling for dances. and because tuned  in just two basic keys it can sound brighter, but the push/pull effect makes legato difficult.

 

The English enables very fast single note passages in any key, and can play chords/harmony with practice.

 

It has to be said that a good player in any system overcomes any shortcoming, and after you decide what type of music you will mostly play, you come back to "just a matter of personal taste". 

 

Enjoy the concertina - whatever system.

 

Les Branchett

 

 

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I think that the main problem is simply availability made more complex by there being four (or more) different types of duet - Maccann, Crane, Jeffries and Hayden, 

 

There is only one entry-level duet on the market, the Elise Hayden from the Concertina Connection.  If you do buy an Elise then the availability of upgrades to a better Hayden is very limited especially if you want an instrument with concertina reeds rather than accordion reeds.  You could switch systems and buy a vintage duet of one of the other types but then you are basically starting out all over again to learn a new system.

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One other reason is that concertinas are perceived mostly as traditional instruments and rarely played outside of folk music, in which Irish is the dominant one. So most people’s goal is to achieve this „Irish concertina” feel, which pretty much requires an Anglo. 
 

The other reason is historical. Concertinas had quite brief life as a mainstream instrument and were replaced by more versatile accordions. Even the largest duets are roughly an equivalent of the smallest free-bass/converter CBA’s, and there is nowhere to upgrade further except from switching to a chromatic bandoneon (Harry Geuns made a few Haydens recently). To sum up - duet concertinas are a niche within a niche, divided even further by overabundance of different duet systems, so there was never a ground or reason for them to gain traction. 

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The Anglo is simple, and similar in concept to other accessible "folk" instruments such as the harmonica, and various other squeeze boxes.  20 buttons gives you all you need to play a few hundred tunes in 2 major keys, and many tunes in the associated minors/modes.  So, it's cheap to make and easy to learn.  A popular choice.  As most people think more is always better, the step from 20 to 30 or more buttons was an obvious progression.

 

The English is "perfectly logical" and was designed to take the place of a violin or similar instrument in a small ensemble, such as family music in a middle class Victorian parlour.  It would play mainly a single line of melody as part of the ensemble.  The buttons on one side correspond with the spaces on the stave; the buttons on the other with the lines.  There was a clear market for it.

 

In both of the above cases, there was a sizeable market with a clear purpose.  Popularity and fashion are intertwined, and once they each took off, they kept selling.

 

The duet is a specialist instrument ideal for the type of musician who wants to play complex arrangements solo: a concertina that does the job of a piano, but is not a cheap option.  It may be "better" than other concertinas in many ways, but with a smaller potential market, and probably being more expensive to make, it was always going to be niche.

 

Many people think Betamax was better than VHS, and that vinyl was better than CD, and CD was better than MP3.  However, look what makes up the majority of these markets now.  It's the same with the duet: there is more to being successful than being the best system.

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On 9/27/2022 at 3:54 PM, Mikefule said:

there is more to being successful than being the best system.

 

For another comparison along those lines, look at the history of video game consoles. Within each generation the most successful console rarely, if ever, has the best specs. Other factors, like cost, being first to market, or having a popular exclusive game, are generally more important. And sometimes specs do matter, but not the ones you think: the Gameboy dominated the portable market for over a decade, in part because it had significantly longer battery life than its numerous "better" competitors with higher resolution backlit color screens and faster processors.

Edited by Steve Schulteis
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  • 3 weeks later...

I assume that I'm probably the friend that Luli talked about who "doesn't care the duets."

 

Quite the contrary, it's not that I don't care about the duets. I just realized that any kind of duet is unlikely to be acquired easily, as Don Taylor said. In China, except for those entry-level concertinas sold directly by the workshops, any kind of concertina must be purchased from abroad. 

 

And also, for the duets, there are very limited tune books and tutorial materials that can get through the internet, unlike for anglos (appreciations to Gary Coover.) But I think maybe mastering duets, especially Hayden, because the button layout is more reasonable, so it doesn't require too many tutorials for someone with a certain musical background(?)

 

Chinese makers mainly produce English and Anglo, and maybe the Elise that Don Taylor mentioned is also made in China, but as far as I know, no retailer has one of those.

 

Concertina may be an unfamiliar instrument to the vast majority of the world, and even more so to the Chinese. I guess that there are only a few hundreds of people in China who own one and can basically play the concertina. There are seems slightly more anglo players in China than English players, but I haven't heard of anyone who can play or own a duet.

 

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Pondering a similar dilemma with the Jeffries duet (which I find very reasonable) here in the states has led me to the following realization:

 

Because it was derived from the Anglo, the parts are basically the same with a few positioning tweaks in the action and some reed substitutions.  Even the button pattern is very close if not identical.  I have a set of Thomas Shakespeare 44 button Anglo fret ends that fit right over the buttons on my 50 button JD.  Conversions either way especially with modern accordion reed construction seem quite reasonable.  an Anglo maker might be persuaded to make you one in this way.  No need to be shy of the Jeffries duet.  The reasoning is through the hand to the brain, not the other way 'round.  Gary also has an excellent tutor for JD.

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