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Hayden Duet Fingering


JeffA

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I just got a Hayden duet and love it!  But as I train myself, I'd like to know anyone's thoughts about fingering.  I know some people use mostly 1,2,3 and others use the pinky (1,2,3,4) and I've read a lot in this forum already about these techniques.    But I want to know if the suggested 1,2,3 - 1,2,3,4  is relative to the key/scale or to the button row.  I'm finding that if I commit my fingers to the button rows, it's just like when I play the fiddle - there's a finger position for each note - period.   But it means that in the key of D, I'll end up using my pinky more often for F# and C# but in G, the pinky will be used less.  However, if I shift the fingers for other keys I can avoid so much  pinky use but then the notes now have different fingering positions which could get confusing if I'm reading music.   I'm tending toward the absolute 1 finger per button row no matter what key, but I'm curious if there are other thoughts about making the finger positions relative rather than absolute.

 

Thanks.

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Actually, Brian Hayden recommends 234 / 1234 / 2 for a major scale in the keys where it is possible (ie., you don’t run off the end). Rich Morse used to play that way and it was quite effective. I start with the first finger for any major scale (again, where it is possible), which is probably a bad habit, but I’ve been doing it for 35 years and I’m unlikely to change now. Another bad habit is I often play the 6th and 7th notes of a major scale with the same (3rd) finger, slid from one to the other, rather than use the 4th finger.

 

If I’m understanding you correctly when you say “button rows” I would think you’re limiting yourself unnecessarily and will soon run out of fingers as you stray from the more familiar keys. You play the fiddle. I play the cello, and I certainly don’t limit myself to a finger position for each note. I spend a lot of time in  2nd, 3rd or 4th position, playing each note with whatever finger makes what’s coming next most convenient to play. Sure, it means that a given dot on a page of music might be played with any of several fingers, but that’s a small trade-off to have to be able to play passages that wouldn’t be possible if I stayed in 1st position.

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Thanks for the comment.   So if I interpret your approach correctly, you would use your index finger for the tonic "C" when playing in C and then use it on the next row over "D" or "G" when playing in those keys?   That's what I was calling relative to the key.   It has a logic, and yes, it's like playing a stringed instrument in a different position.   That was essentially the question that I was asking.  I'm not sure yet what I'm going to "commit" to as I learn.  I'm finding it pretty useful to use index for the second row "D", "G" and just reach left for the C natural and conversely, on the other end, to use the 3rd finger for the row with B and E and then  to reach for the accidentals when needed.   So it's kind of 123 all the way around.    But that's just me exploring.   So I'll work with the relative idea as well to compare approaches.  

 

Still, what a cool instrument.   Everything I wanted to have in a concertina:  unisonoric, with harmonizing capabilities on the left hand to support and counter balance the melodic right hand.   

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6 minutes ago, JeffA said:

So if I interpret your approach correctly, you would use your index finger for the tonic "C" when playing in C and then use it on the next row over "D" or "G" when playing in those keys?

 

Sure. That’s a primary selling point for the system: same fingering for each key. Learn a tune in one key, play it in another key by moving your hand somewhere else and using the same fingering.

 

9 minutes ago, JeffA said:

Still, what a cool instrument.   Everything I wanted to have in a concertina:  unisonoric, with harmonizing capabilities on the left hand to support and counter balance the melodic right hand.

 

My thoughts, exactly.

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After playing a Hayden for about a year my advice would be:

  • From the very start, make use of your 4th finger... it may feel awkward at first, but it'll soon become natural.  
  • Standard fingering patterns such as 123-1234 are fine for playing scales, but don't feel obliged to use them all the time. 
  • Tunes usually break down into fragments of scales and arpeggios which map onto shapes on the buttons. As you become more familiar with the instrument you'll begin to recognise the shapes and develop fingering patterns to suit.

 

 

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My default finger pattern is (123, 1234, 1) and I start with this when learning a new tune but then I have to adapt it when I run out of fingers for playing a tune smoothly.  This means backing off a few notes from the tricky note(s) and briefly changing my finger pattern so that I can play those notes cleanly.  I then revert to my standard pattern as soon as possible after that.  This is often the hardest part in learning a new tune - training my fingers to take a different route for just a few notes.

 

I have never really got my pinkie finger to work properly on the LHS so I finish up doing a bit of 'hopping' on LHS buttons - this is a bad habit.

 

Thinking on this a bit, I can see that the (234, 1234, 2) pattern might result in less out of pattern fingering.  The most frequent problem that I find with using my pattern occurs when my index finger (1) needs to go up a fourth, let's say from C4 to F4.  If my index finger (1) is on C4 then I would have to use  my middle finger (2) to play the F4 which is awkward and puts the following notes out of pattern.  What I try to do in this case is to adjust the fingering before playing the C4 so that I play C4 with the (2) finger leaving the (1) finger ready to play F4 and get back in pattern.  The (234, 1234, 1) pattern does not have this problem as the (1) finger is always free to play the fourth higher note.  I originally favoured the (123, 1234, 1) pattern because I felt that my (1) finger was the most adroit in moving about and my (4) finger the least mobile.  I don't think that I am going to change now but if I were starting over then I might try the (234, 1234, 2) to see if it would work for me.

 

Re-reading JeffA's original post, no the fingers are not tied to a particular button, everything shifts when you change keys (at least with the 'easy-peasy' keys that do not have out of position notes.  It is a bit like a capo on a guitar, the relative fingering stays the same but the key changes.

Edited by Don Taylor
Further thoughts.
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My two cents - forget about fixed scales fingering altogether, unless all you want to play are straightforward, strictly diatonic, single line melodies in central keys, with sparce accompaniment. The only rigid part of fingering is your LH oom-pah rhythms, because you don’t really have options there. If you desperately need to have some form of rigid fingering system to anchor yourself to, then build one on rigid chord arpeggios instead of scales. Hayden is so chord shapes focussed system, that if you learn it from the harmony and chord progressions perspective, then melodies become a sequence of naturally bridged chords and your fingers fill follow the pattern not only for the melody, but also for accompaniment. And if you decide not to use your pinky, you are severily limiting yourself. I can’t imagine playing in wrapped keys or chromatic pieces with three fingers only.
 

Imho fixed row fingering is the worst approach, because you’ll end up with more exceptions than compliant cases and you’re throwing away Hayden’s biggest advantage of isomorphism. Because of how shape for minor chord looks like, you’ll often have to play with your middle finger on a closer row than your other fingers and you will very often have to play a single note with multiple fingers within a single tune, especially when proper legato is required. The simplest cases - how will you finger a C-D-G-C-F melody with 123-1234 fixed row or scale fingering? And D-E-B-E-A with 234-1234 fixed fingering? You’ll either have to play stacatto, or slip between buttons, do awkward crossovers and still end up with your hand shifted up or down a button. Or how do you play an octave interval legato? Hayden is not an Anglo, there is no „in row/cross row” distinction, it is fundamentally 2D system and it’s best to accept that from the very beginning. 

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5 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

Łukasz:

 

I am intrigued by what you have to say but I don't understand how it works. 

 

What chord shapes and notes would you play on the RHS and what fingers would you use for your examples?

 

It is not about the exact recipes, it's about flexibility. In those examples it is easier to finger each with the other scale fingering. And since you'll inevitably encounter all sorts of this kind of awkward passages, it is way better to not have a rigid scale, and rigid row even more so. But, all and every melodic passage is, by nature, a form of an "exploded" chord progression. So my method is based on chord arpeggios. Basic fingering is 1-3-2 for major and 2-1-3 for minor, same for sus chords, but can differ for 7th chord, etc, but the essence here is to have the shape of a chord imprinted very, very deeply in your fingers, so when bridging two chords together or filling a chord, it becomes irrelevant which finger follows the shape - only the shape is important and my fingers will find buttons even if an appropriate basic finger is unnavailable. So, in my examples above, first one, C-D-G-C-F is sus2 to sus4, which are both fingered as basic major and minor triads, just closer together, so it will be either 1-3-2-1-2(crossed) or 1-3-2-2(slipped)-1, depending on what follows, so what shape my fingers need to be at the end of this phrase, but sometimes it will be 3-4-3-2-1 if it's not exactly C-D... but the same shape on the sharps side of the keyboard and I need my 1 and 2 to do some heavy lifting before/after. In the second example, D-E-B-E-A, it's a melody arriving at sus4 chord, and again, my fingering depends on what follows and where I'm coming from - if it's 7sus4, then the proper fingering is 2-3-4-3-2, so 1 is available to continue the pattern above. If however, the melody then follows to e.g. Amaj chord, then the proper fingering is 1-2-3-2-1. Of course, those are ideal circumstances, when I have all fingers freely available at the beginning of the phrase. When I improvise in a "campfire guitar" style, it is pretty much a given, that I'll play the first repetition of a given chord's arpeggio with non-basic fingering and then my fingers will default to the standard the second time around. And I probably use 1-3-4 fingering for the first row of a major scale more often, than either 1-2-3 or 2-3-4, because fingers 1 and 3 are more independent from eachother, than 1 and 2, and 4-1 is more comfortable for the minor second interval in the melody than 3-1 is, and frees 2 and 3 for what follows.

 

So, as you can see, my system is the exact opposite of fixed rows - everything is flexible and fluid. Heck, with my handles I even rotate my hand, so e.g I play a 5 chord or an octave with all possible finger combinations, including inversions (so e.g. when using fingers 2 and 3 for an octave, it will sometimes be 2 low, 3 high and sometimes the other way around, depending on the chord they are in, but I have one tune, when I play an octave with 1 closer and 2 two(!) octaves above, because 3 and 4 are required immediately after this and the tune is played legato). I also use my pinky as high, as the highest C on the RH (it's not a typo, I mean C, not C#), in a passage that arrives at it after a Bb-Bb' octave then stays on the flat side.

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There is a lot ti think about here which, I think, will take me some time to digest.

 

Questions:  Do you hear tunes as a harmony first and then you fit melody to that harmony?   I find that I need to know and play a melody before i can find a harmony to go with it, harmonies alone do not just speak to me, I wish that they did.

 

If you hear a new tune that you want to learn to play then do you start off by playing chords in your right hand before working on the melody?

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2 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

There is a lot ti think about here which, I think, will take me some time to digest.

 

Questions:  Do you hear tunes as a harmony first and then you fit melody to that harmony?   I find that I need to know and play a melody before i can find a harmony to go with it, harmonies alone do not just speak to me, I wish that they did.

 

If you hear a new tune that you want to learn to play then do you start off by playing chords in your right hand before working on the melody?

 

Harmonies first, melodies second when "campfiring"/improvising, but I can do the other way around, since as I wrote above, on a Hayden a melody is simply a flow between chord shapes. It is as much about music as it is about geometry flow. You can only fit certain triads in a scale shape without the members of the triad sticking out, and it will always sound ok if you back a piece of melody with a chord it travels through or to at the moment. With sheet music I play "to the letter", so it doesn't matter, and all of the difficulty for me lies in combining hands. 

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On 12/18/2023 at 5:50 AM, SqueezyC said:
  • Tunes usually break down into fragments of scales and arpeggios which map onto shapes on the buttons. As you become more familiar with the instrument you'll begin to recognise the shapes and develop fingering patterns to suit.

and

 

20 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

build one on rigid chord arpeggios instead of scales. Hayden is so chord shapes focussed system, that if you learn it from the harmony and chord progressions perspective, then melodies become a sequence of naturally bridged chords and your fingers fill follow the pattern

It sounds like you are both saying the same thing?

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All of you guys have been really helpful since starting this thread.  I probably should have said that I'm into my Hayden for less than a week and while making great progress, I knew that the "approach" to the fingering could go many ways.   Since I know music theory pretty well and have a lot of experience in other instruments, your comments have made great sense in thinking less about "one finger per note" and more about what pattern the music is calling for given the logic of the button layout.   So I'm thinking of this more like a piano now rather than like a tin whistle.  

 

Just studying the layout is quite fascinating and supports what you've been saying.   You can look at the buttons one way and you see a cycle of 5th's that mirror the bass of a piano accordion.  You look at it another way and you see an orderly scale pattern allowing for the normal or flattened 7th as required by many folk tunes.   You look at the shape of a major or a minor and see the same kind of moveable pattern you would use on a guitar with capo or barre chords.   Or, you just can decide that any support chord can be two note fifths (like a fiddle double stop), a full triad, or just a two note third.   And just moving any of these up or sideways gives you what you need.  And just like with a piano, depending on where you're headed with the melody, you may use a thumb or a pinky on the same key.   The music leads the way!

 

Did I get it?

 

I can move around the buttons pretty well for less than a week's effort - now for just getting both hands to cooperate with each other.    But I've been through this before many times on other instruments.   

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On 12/19/2023 at 3:27 PM, Don Taylor said:

and

 

It sounds like you are both saying the same thing?

Maybe not exactly, but very close, yes. There is this fundamental set of common finger phrases, that you’ll find in many tunes. And unlike on a piano, because of Hayden’s isomorphism, those are common across all keys, so stand out more prominently. Some of them are simply arpeggios on a chord, some are scale fragments used as bridges between chords, some are patterns of joining common chord progressions, octave switches etc. You can think about those a bit like using whole syllables/words instead of individual letters. Where my approach differs is the emphasis of deliberately learning those first, instead of gradually „collecting” them one by one as you learn melodies „the usual way”.

 

When learning a piano, there are two sets of basic excercises. First are scales, second are arpeggios - of all shapes and sizes. They not only educate you on the layout and rhythm patterns, but also train endurance and hand coordination. Learning scales on a Hayden is pretty much instant, but I think arpeggio excercises on a Hayden are very valuable and at the same time very underrated.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Continuing this discussion as I have progressed in a few weeks, I'd like some thoughts on a new issue I've encountered.   I'm using my pinky - depending on the tune for the F# or the C# - which is what the majority advice has been.   But I'm finding that when I use that pinky, I lose a bit of grip on the concertina itself so that it gets a little wobbly or loose and then I have to recover while moving on to the next notes.

 

I've got the straps adjusted pretty well - I've tried this in "loose strap" and "tight strap" mode.   It doesn't seem to make a difference for this problem.   I'm now trying to rest the concertina on my right knee and expand/contract bellows more with the left side.   This may stabilize my "keyboard" but I haven't seen too many videos or comments on this technique.  Most seem to favor resting the box on the left knee.  

 

Any thoughts on how to address this problem?

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8 minutes ago, JeffA said:

I'm now trying to rest the concertina on my right knee and expand/contract bellows more with the left side.

 

That's exactly what I've done for years with my Crane duets. Using fairly loose straps it allows me to slide my right hand forward to reach the higher accidentals with my little finger. If you use Instagram there are loads of videos of me playing. @craneduet

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Hi Little John:  Thanks for that.  I just looked at some Instagram posts and became a follower.   Very helpful.  Looks like your straps are fairly loose so I'll try to match that in my setup and see how I do.

 

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48 minutes ago, JeffA said:

Continuing this discussion as I have progressed in a few weeks, I'd like some thoughts on a new issue I've encountered.   I'm using my pinky - depending on the tune for the F# or the C# - which is what the majority advice has been.   But I'm finding that when I use that pinky, I lose a bit of grip on the concertina itself so that it gets a little wobbly or loose and then I have to recover while moving on to the next notes.

 

I've got the straps adjusted pretty well - I've tried this in "loose strap" and "tight strap" mode.   It doesn't seem to make a difference for this problem.   I'm now trying to rest the concertina on my right knee and expand/contract bellows more with the left side.   This may stabilize my "keyboard" but I haven't seen too many videos or comments on this technique.  Most seem to favor resting the box on the left knee.  

 

Any thoughts on how to address this problem?


The reason for this is the biggest flaw of Brian’s design - the slant, which makes using pinky on the RH unnecessary awkward by increasing the distance. It would be way better, if the RH slant was the same as on the LH (in relation to fingers, not pitches). IIRC Ed’s box has no slant, so it will be easier, however…

 

The problem of stability vs reach is a fundamental problem of a duet. This is exactly why I invented my handles. One way to increase the stability of Elise is to use the upper part of the hand strap as a makeshift thumbstrap. If you try this, add some padding on the endplate to create a bit of an offset for more ergonomic hand position and better bellows control. You can then have the hand loop of the strap very loose, because the thumb and index finger create a sort of a „joystick” connection with the concertina. This is not an ideal solution, but this is why the original Ed’s design had both thumbstrap and handstrap. BTW, which version of Ed’s box you’re waiting for?

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