Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I'm in the process of figuring out a possible range for a Crane Duet. I'm really not taken with the upper register of my 55k standard model, so I'm thinking about exploring the bottom of the sound barrel, so to speak.

 

I don't want to venture into the range of the foot bass 'tina, but I'm wondering how low one could sensibly go on a 'handpowered' instrument. Very low notes use quite a bit more air, and if one plays chords on a duet, there will quickly come the point where one gets 'out of breath', I would have thought.

 

Any advice from the collective C.Net superbrain?

 

Cheers,

T.

 

PS: And if any of the mods could correct the word "sensible" in the subject subtitle, I'd be very grateful. D'Oh!

Edited by Cream-T
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well that depends on what you want to do with the instrument, doesn't it?

 

I currently have a largish 59 key Crane.

 

The left side range is from F just below the bass staff extending upward two octaves and a second to the G on the second line from the bottom in the treble staff. The lowest F# was modified to play the C, two octaves below middle C.

 

The right side of the instrument has a range of two octaves and a fifth; or from the Bb below the treble staff to the F on the third line above the treble staff.

 

It is a marvelous instrument to my mind and suitable for all sorts of music. It really shines when playing 4 part hymns. The left hand encompasses, almost exactly, the range from the bottom of the bass to the top of the tenor on the left and close to the bottom of the alto to well beyond that of what is usually written for the soprano voice on the right side. The literature here is enormous. Plus, it is great for just messing around with fake books, folk songs, standards and so on.

 

That said, I used to have a 55 key. I think the 55 was no less marvelous than the 59. The left side range was from C below middle C to the C above.

 

The right side was from middle C to the F on the third line above the treble staff. For messing around with fake books, folks songs, standards and so on it was just as good as the 59, though doing stride type stuff on the lower left side of the 59 is more dramatic than on the 55. There was more overlap on the 55. That was really good to have. The instrument was smaller as well, mainly because it didn't need as much air to feed the lower notes. I managed to learn to read guitar music with the 55 and found lots of interesting stuff to play most of which didn't transfer over to my current repertoire (I traded the 55 as part of the payment for the 59).

 

It would be nice to have one of each I suppose, though that might mean one fewer Crane player in the world. But I'm not pining for a 55 and if I had one I don't think I'd be pining for a 59. They are both great.

 

One could have the best of both by adding an additional 5 notes to the top of the left hand and I have seen such instruments. They are bigger than I'd like -- unless I was going for three instruments!

 

That probably didn't help you a bit, but it is all I have.

Edited by Kurt Braun
Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for that, Kurt! Food for thought and useful information, which is exactly what I'm after.

 

I am currently playing with layouts for a 65 key model. The added notes on the top of the left hand were exactly my starting point, since I really like playing in close harmony between the two hands, and my 55 is just missing that one row at the top.

 

I thought I'd sorted it by adding a row on the left top and also on the right hand bottom. However, I still ended up with an instrument in the same top range on the left as my 55, which is just to high for my taste.

 

An instrument a whole octave lower would be unfeasibly huge though, so I really got stuck in my plans. I don't mind a bigger instrument, but it should still be smaller than a piano accordion, otherwise where's the point?!

 

Starting the whole shebang with an F instead a C might just do the trick and I'll go back to the drawing board right now.

 

Cheers,

T.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've played only a few ranges of duets extensively (Haydens) and find that the size/weight of the instrument seems to be the determining/influential factor rather than lower range. My current box goes down to just the tenor C (the C below MC). I find that to be acceptable but for years wanted more.... like down to the G or F below that.

 

Lo and behold, I was loaned one for 6 months that went down to that F (a revived-from-a-parts-box Wheatstone Maccann morphed to Hayden)! Lovely sound! Great range! But... HEAVY! And more than that, it just didn't seem as responsive. The reeds were quick to speak but the sheer size of it made bellows work, well - WORK! Cumbersome to play. Certainly less *fun* to play.

 

Technically it was superior all the way around from my basic model Wheatstone, but I found it not as enjoyable to play. After giving it serious time (thinking I'd get over whatever problems I was having with it) I gave it back. Ultimately my choice was to play in less identically fingered keys and with less lower and upper ranges (and overlap!) for the sheer joy of playing a box that was "easier" and ultimately more fun and enjoyable. It's just that I can't play a small percentage of tunes I'd like to play on it, or some tunes as I want to play on it.

 

Maybe there's a middle ground? Twice I've been able to play for a few days the next step up to my 46-key Wheatstone, SD's 55-key Aeola model. A verrrrry nice box! It adds some enharmonics and is fully chromatic down to the low Bb for only a snatch more weight than my box. No, I didn't swap up (nice thing about working at the BBox - we get first dibs on anything that comes through!) as it tops out with the high D. I really would like to have more range. At the very least two more notes up to the E. So I them pass....

 

But back to an unspecific type-of-duet range, my preference is for the left side to start at the low Bb and be fully chromatic up to the C above MC, and the right side to start at the Bb just below MC and continue fully chromatically up to the high E.

 

OTOH, I can imagine me getting into a box - providing that it were LIGHT WEIGHT and the bellows/pressure thing were good - that started on the low F to C on the left and F below MC to the G or A three octaves above MC.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm in the process of figuring out a possible range for a Crane Duet. I'm really not taken with the upper register of my 55k standard model, so I'm thinking about exploring the bottom of the sound barrel, so to speak.

 

I don't want to venture into the range of the foot bass 'tina, but I'm wondering how low one could sensibly go on a 'handpowered' instrument. Very low notes use quite a bit more air, and if one plays chords on a duet, there will quickly come the point where one gets 'out of breath', I would have thought.

As Kurt and Rich have indicated, it depends both on what you want to do with the instrument and your own comfort with things like size and weight. It also depends very much on the individual instrument.

 

Getting "out of breath" shouldn't be a problem, because lower instruments normally have larger bellows. You will have to pump the bellows harder, though, to push the air through, and that doesn't get easier with a larger, heavier instrument.

 

You've indicated that you want both deep notes and extra overlap, a combination that's difficult without more buttons. BUT I'll repeat once again that the relationships among number of buttons, bottom of range, and size and weight can be quite variable.

 

The Morse baritone Albion is a prime example. Though an octave lower than the treble Albion, it is exactly the same size and weight. Also, my 55-button ebony Lachenal New Model Crane/Triumph is exactly the same size and weight as my 48-button rosewood Crane Bros. (really Lachenal) Crane, and significantly smaller and lighter than the 55-button ebony Edeophone Triumph with exactly the same range. There have also been reports (in the old forum?) of a couple of full 48-button treble-range Englishes in bodies of piccolo (octave-higher) size.

 

My 59-button metal-ended Jeffries Crane is significantly bigger and heavier than even the Edeophone 55, though it has nearly the same range, with only an added B below middle C in the right hand and added low A, Bb, and F in the left. A friend's 70-button Æola is even bigger and heavier. In the left hand it's fully chromatic down to F below the bass clef, but the right hand goes down only to the B below middle C, having its extra notes mainly on the top. My 80-button Maccann has a 3-octave left hand -- going down to a cello's low C (2 octaves below middle C) -- and a 3½-octave right hand -- the full range of a 48-button English, with the same low G as the violin. It is also rather large and heavy, though not as heavy as it might be, because it has aluminum reed frames.

 

The reason I mention the big, deep ones is that they are all very responsive instruments throughout their range, as is my bass English (also going down to the cello C). The quality of the construction and reed work are what matters. Only on my contrabass English -- which goes down to the G below the cello, or an octave below the bass clef -- do I need to concern myself with slow-starting reeds, and I think even they could be improved with some careful resetting. If I keep up sufficient steady pressure I can still play jigs and reels two octaves below normal at contradance speed, though I don't think I could keep up with some Irish sessions. ;)

 

There may be another possibility for you. I've seen a couple of 55-button Cranes that I might call "tenors", i.e., their range is a fourth lower than a standard 55, going down to the G below middle C in the right hand and an octave lower in the left. (One of them can be heard among Morgana's recordings from the ACE, played by Jamie B.) They don't go as high in either hand (G above middle C in the left), but the overlap is still a full octave. They are rare, but as I say, I've seen two so far. I don't think they're any bigger than a standard baritone English, maybe even slightly smaller. If you're considering having one made, you might consider something with that range.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I mentioned in another thread, in relation to the design of an ideal Hayden duet, the fact that since I find I am more comfortable singing with guitar than with the Hayden I would at least like to have notes in the range of the low notes of the guitar. I'd be happy with the low G if not the E, F, and F#.

Link to post
Share on other sites
My desk is drowning in keyboard layouts! :) I feel I'm getting closer, it's mostly a matter of maximising the overlap - one octave just isn't enough...

The amount of overlap has nothing to do with the layout pattern, only with the range you choose for each hand. A 2-octave range is 25 buttons, whether it's Maccann, Crane, or Hayden, and whether it starts on middle C, the G below, the C below that, the F below that, or whatever. Once you decide on the range for each hand, the layout details will be determined by the type of duet you choose, since each (possibly excepting the Jeffries) follows a pattern that determines how the range gets extended.

 

If your left hand starts an octave below your right hand, then you need 35 buttons in the left hand to get an octave-and-a-fourth overlap. But if you shift the RH lower (relative to the left), you could get more overlap with fewer LH buttons, though you'd lose some top from the right hand (something I think you said you wouldn't mind).

 

E.g., you could have a standard 55-button Crane layout with the 25-button LH starting on the usual C below middle C, but start the RH on G below middle C. You'd get overlap from the RH's low G to C above middle C (just shy of 1½ octaves' overlap), with the RH continuing an octave above that.

 

Or you could take a standard 55-button Crane layout and extend both hands downward to the next G, an additional 5 buttons in each hand. That would give your right hand the same bottom note as a fiddle (which is usually also the lower limit for the right hand in piano arrangements), an octave-and-a-fourth overlap, some nice low "bass" notes (same bottom as a baritone English), and still without reducing the top (something you might not care about in the RH, but is important in the LH to give you the overlap you want). Modeled on a 55-button instrument and made in proportion (pick a New Model to proportion it to, not an Edeophone ;)), it would be maybe 20% heavier for all of having 65 buttons. If you like, you could leave off some of the top RH range, e.g., so that you have 30 buttons in each hand (instead of the usual more-in-the-right). It won't save much weight, but might allow for more comfortable placement of the buttons relative to the hand support

 

And if you really don't feel the need to play fiddle tunes or soprano parts in their normal range, you could borrow an idea I've toyed with: Make both hands the same range. For any number of buttons, that would reduce the total range, but it would also mean that for every note you have a choice of which hand to play it with... and in exactly the same position, rather than octave-shifted as a Crane normally is. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jim, you're describing exactly the kind of patterns I've been penning out on my charts, with the same thoughts I had re. 65/60/55 keys etc. So far my thoughts are going into this direction, with anything between 55 and 65 keys in total:

 

Left hand: G-2 up to either G (25 keys) or C1 (30 keys) (only a little lower than my 55K New Model) - it would be nice to have it go up to the D1, though - maybe add a C# and D at the top and make it 32 keys?

Right hand: C-1 up to either F1 (30 keys) or B1 (35 keys) (a full octave lower than my 55 K) - again, the 30 could do with a F# and a G at the top perhaps...

 

Probably my favourite is indeed the 30(32)/30(32) idea, which has a total range of almost 3 octaves (G-2 to F1) and an overlap of 2 octaves (C-1 to C1). It's almost as radical as the left=right idea, just not quite. Both hands have just one row lower/higher than the other. It might still make a reasonably sized/weighed instrument, I reckon.

 

What do you guys think?

 

I'll sleep on it another night and see if it still makes sense to me in the morning...

 

It's fun though, isn't it?! :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Probably my favourite is indeed the 30(32)/30(32) idea, which has a total range of almost 3 octaves (G-2 to F1) and an overlap of 2 octaves (C-1 to C1).... It might still make a reasonably sized/weighed instrument, I reckon.

 

What do you guys think?

I think it's going to be a pretty big box. The size (and corresponding wieght) of a concertina is determined by how many reeds you have on the left side. In a duet, the right side can fit about 25% more reeds (because the higher reeds are smaller). So if you have 32 on the left you can fit in 40 on the right = 72 keys! Big! Heavy!

 

Then again you can just elect NOT to install more than 32 on the right but while you will save some weight you'll also be missing out on range. I'm unsure of what you mean by G-2 to F1. There are many conflicting pitch designations out there, but if the low G you're intending is the second one below MC, then your top end won't cover a lot trad dance tunes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
There may be another possibility for you. I've seen a couple of 55-button Cranes that I might call "tenors", i.e., their range is a fourth lower than a standard 55, going down to the G below middle C in the right hand and an octave lower in the left. (One of them can be heard among Morgana's recordings from the ACE, played by Jamie B.) They don't go as high in either hand (G above middle C in the left), but the overlap is still a full octave. They are rare, but as I say, I've seen two so far. I don't think they're any bigger than a standard baritone English, maybe even slightly smaller. If you're considering having one made, you might consider something with that range.

 

I don't play fiddle tunes, etc. so I really like this right hand. These instruments gain overlap by extending the right hand downward rather than by giving up range on the low end of the left hand.

 

Given weight and size, overlap and range are compromises, as Jim points out. Overlap is convenient. Range is more absolute. That is, overlap is nice because it gives you the flexibility of deciding what hand to play a note in the overlap range. However, if you give up a note of the bottom of the left hand or the top of the right for that flexibility it more than inconvenient to play the note you gave up -- it is now impossible!

 

The duet can be designed to play the staff -- bass clef on the left and treble on the right. You may want to consider starting the left hand on E, F or G at the bottom of the bass. Those notes will occur often enough in most borrowed arrangements that you will not regret having them even though they will contribute to the size and weight of the instrument more than any other notes. And as David B points out, it is nice to get under your own voice if you sing (or play with singers). The upper limit on the left will probably determine the size and much of the weight of your instrument.

 

The right hand plays the treble clef. Many duets start on middle C. Once the left hand is configured for going well into the base clef, there is no real need to limit oneself to middle C on the right. Going down on the right to Bb, A or G will extend your overlap and come in handy. The upper limit on the right is mostly the size of the end. The upper notes may not be used much, but you already have the space and the little reeds and shoes won't add that much weight so you may as well go for them.

 

These thoughts are making me appreciate my instrument more, so I might be simply rationalizing my current state and helping myself more than you. ;) Then again, Mr. Crabb designed it for himself and he did have a lot of experience and probably gave it quite a bit of thought. Perhaps you would do well to connect with Geoffry Crabb who has made more Cranes than anyone I know of.

 

Edit to add:

 

I posted this not seeing Rich's post and now worry that the referral to Geoffery Crabb might be seen as a slight to Rich. That was certainly not the intent. I know that Rich has built a large number of duets and has much too offer as well.

Edited by Kurt Braun
Link to post
Share on other sites

Reply to Jim:

So with your LH=RH design you simply made a Duet/EC combination?

What if, while keeping LH=RH, leave double bass notes intact: Bb,F,C,G,D,E,A

This way it is possible to play some bass runs and play bass/chord in common keys without the chords sounding too low.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Richard, I was indeed talking about "G minus 2"= second octave below middle C. An "F1" would be in the octave starting with the C above middle C.

 

I'll have to think about all your guys' ideas and thoughts - but not tonight, I've been working this weekend and am just knackered now...

 

Cheers and good night,

T.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Reply to Jim:

So with your LH=RH design you simply made a Duet/EC combination?

Not at all. With a few exceptions (and those only in even-tempered tuning), each note on the English is found on only one end of the instrument. My equal-hands idea is that all notes will be found on both ends (and even in the same positions on each end). On the English, consecutive notes of the scale are in opposite hands, while consecutive thirds are in the same hand. With LH=RH, any note combination could be played entirely in one hand, entirely in the other hand, alternating hands, or in any other combination you might wish.

What if, while keeping LH=RH, leave double bass notes intact: Bb,F,C,G,D,E,A

This way it is possible to play some bass runs and play bass/chord in common keys without the chords sounding too low.

I don't know what you mean by that, since nothing in my concept strikes me as not "intact". The LH=RH concept is otherwise independent of the layout. It could be done with only deep bass notes, or all shrill piccolo notes, or any combinaton. It doesn't require a full chromatic scale. In fact, one could just as easily build an anglo with every note under every button in both hands identical, including push-pull differences.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...