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Anglo melodeon difference.

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Obviously there are many differences, but the one that I lay in bed thinking about last night was:


On an anglo the higher pitch row (e.g. G)is closer to the wrist than the lower pitched row (e.g. C).

On a melodeon this is the other way round.


Is there a good musical/fingering reason for this?, or a mechanical reason due to placing of the reeds?, or is it just one of those things?


Related to this, to add to the confusion is that on a melodeon the "Inner" row normally refers to the one nearest the body of the instrument, i.e furthest from the wrist, while on the concertina the "Inner" row is normally the one closest to the wrist.


None of this actually matters. I'm just curious.

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Melodeons/diatonic accordions have the lowest pitched row on the outside of the keyboard, closest to the player's hand, whilst the inside row may be a fourth, or a semitone, higher, so G/C, or B/C, etc.


Anglo/German concertinas have the lowest row furthest from the player's hand, and the nearest one is always a fifth higher, so C/G, G/D, etc.


So, for example, the G row of a G/C melodeon is in the same octave as that of a G/D Anglo, but an octave  lower than the G row on a C/G Anglo, whilst the G row of a D/G melodeon is in the same octave as a C/G Anglo... 


The two instruments developed separately, from single-row accordion origins.




Edited by Stephen Chambers
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So actually the keys are in the same relative position, but the outer row (nearest the hand) on the melodeon is an octave lower than the inner row (nearest the hand) on the concertina.


Has anyone ever made a concertina where the inner row is an octave down from the normal so that chord shapes become the same as the melodeon, or , indeed, a melodeon where the outer row is an octave higher than normal?


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The relationship between the keys is the same but on a melodeon you are counting 5 steps down rather than 5 up the scale: you have a C/G concertina where the rows are a fifth apart (counting up the scale) but a G/C melodeon, which is a fourth apart counting up from G but a fifth counting down from C. The consequence is that on both instruments the rows (ignoring accidentals) contain the same notes except for F/F#.


It appears to me that they share the same musical logic but have arrived at slightly different solutions. Playing along the row is the same but course playing across the rows requires slightly different fingerings .


I've never played one but I believe the "franglo" is a concertina with a melodeon keyboard.  The late Dave Roberts of Blowzabella apparently had a melodeon which was "inside out", but whether this was deliberate or a mistake at the factory I cannot say.

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If an Anglo is GD, the equivalent 2 row melodeon is DG.


On the Anglo, the row nearer to the hand is a 5th higher than the row further from the hand.


On the 2 row melodeon, the row nearer to the hand is a 4th lower than the row further from the hand.


The other difference, which is less obvious, is that most of the melody (right hand) on an Anglo is played on what would be the top half of a melodeon keyboard.


Think of a melodeon cut in half.




Now, think of the lower half of that keyboard being flipped round to be the left hand end of an Anglo.  The top half of the keyboard stays where it was and becomes the right hand end of the Anglo.


The push/pull relationship between the notes on each button is (more or less) reversed on the top end of the melodeon (where few melodeonists stray for long) and the right hand of the Anglo (where most Anglo players spend a lot of their time).


I think these two factors (reversal of the DG or DG, and the top half/right hand thing) are linked.

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30 minutes ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

Oooh it's getting quite confusing now..😊😊😊😊

I use a two row melodeon accordion in C/C sharp and just get on with playing it ( once a month or so)...and don't worry too much about technicalities.

A C/C# melodeon is more like a Koch tuned chromatic harmonica than an Anglo.  Different though processes.


I used to play DG melodeon a bit until I got the Anglo.  As soon as I started taking the Anglo seriously, the combination of similarities and differences was enough to confuse me and I stopped playing melodeon.  I'm now a reasonably good Anglo player, but I literally can't get a tune out of a melodeon - even tunes I used to play.


However, I suspect I would find the C/C# less confusing as it is so different from the Anglo.

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 In the one I use ( my late Father's hohner melodeon accordion) it is so configured that the button numbering is similar to Anglo 30 key layout; for example.. 3rd button along is middle C on both instruments. The accordion sounds good on lower tone range notes prticulately, whereas concertina ( I find) is good for medium to higher range. So, in a way, they compliment each other. Melodeon has that C sharp row which has a really unusual tonal feel used alone coupled with the basses.🌝🌝

Extra thought added.
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I played anglo before melodeon, and don't have any difficulty going between the two. I cross the rows a lot on both, but as the pitch relationship is different the fingering patterns are also different, so I don't get confused.  I think in terms of playing patterns rather than named notes, and my mental libraries of fingering patterns are different for each instrument.


In my view the instruments are only superficially similar.  Playing one will give you a bit of a start on the other, but only because you will have some idea of how to play along the rows and how to use the bellows and air-button, but that's about it. I found it easy to think of them as separate instruments from the beginning, and when I started on melodeon I didn't try to bring my concertina techniques to it.  When I play melodeon in the upper octave it doesn't even occur to me to look for the similarities with the anglo - I'm playing melodeon and have my "melodeon head" on.


They are very different to play, and not only because you have to build the chords on anglo rather than have them pre-set.  They also feel very different, not only in their size but also the size and feel of the buttons, so I don't find I get subconscious cues from those which might cause me to switch from "melodeon head" to "concertina head".


I wonder whether for those who have difficulty playing both it is because they are (perhaps subconsciously) looking for greater similarities than actually exist?


The semitone-apart melodeons that Simon describes are another thing again, with possibly even fewer parallels with anglo except when playing strictly along the rows.



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I have put some thought into this and can see good reason for it to be the way round that it is on an Anglo (not necessarily THE reason).


It comes down to harmonic playing and chords. Lets assume a G/C concertina: Think of a chord on the left hand (or indeed on the right hand), where you are using buttons from both the G and C rows1; I guess the classic being F, Em, D, Dm,  but there are others. If you want the standard Door, 3rd, fifth pattern, i.e. not an inversion, then if the G row was an octave lower then the chord would spread across both hands, which would make playing the melody harder. As it is these chord use almost adjacent buttons and are very easy to finger.


This is not a restriction on a melodeon as the role of the left and right hands are more distinct. 



Any thoughts?

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