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Tradition Be Damned!


Hooves
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Ok, so I see C/G, G/D, even D/A anglo tunings. And a job to cram in another row to make it sort of chromatic.

 

Then I see the irish button accordion with one row of B and one of C and I have to ask, why not make anglo concertinas this way? Wouldn't that be fully chromatic with only 2 rows?

 

Fumbling away, one row at a time, perhaps as a failing concertinist I do not appreciate the artistry of finger athletics. Those digits knuckled under by years of creative dexterity would scoff at such a thing.

 

Why not C/D? For irish music wouldn't this be just dandy? You would have a nice solid C, a very accessible D, and lo and behold a G mixed in the works. No fussing about F# and no whining about losing D Dorian.

 

Tradition be damned I say.

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Most standard Anglos with two rows a fifth apart and the third accidental row are nearly fully chromatic as far as the available notes except at the lowest few notes or the highest. The Keys of the rows do mean that those keys are simple to play along the rows, but has as much if not more to do with the range of the instruments, with the G/D at the low end (before you get into the baritones ) and the D/A ( and possibly even higher sets I haven't seen but others probably have) giving a higher range. The C/G is usually thought of as the one closest in range to the Fiddle. All the standard keys for Irish music are pretty easy to learn, and master with a bit of practice. Pretty much, if it is playable on the fiddle, you can play it on the C/G anglo concertina.

 

Most of the half step accordion tunings for Irish Music (B/C. C#/D etc... ) are set up to give you a pretty good range and a mostly chromatic scale. The system has it's own problems though. You have few duplicate notes in different directions, forcing you to adopt a single way of playing some triplets for example, and a different way for others with no choice in the matter. Players styles accomodate these issues and turn it to their advantage when they can, but playing in different keys can give very different feel with some being very choppy or bouncy due to the predominance of push / pull changes in the scale, where other keys can be very rolling or smooth to play since many of the notes lie in the same direction. Chord limitations on the keyboard side can be a problem since you can't count on having the required notes in the same direction. The chord side of the instrument is limited to what few the manufacturer provided, and are anything but chromatic. I'm no expert on box playing, and there are some pretty clever ones out there. ( Check out Johnny Og Conneely's astounding rendition of the prelude in J.S Bach's partita In Emajor for solo viloin.) (Dusk to Dawn - Charlie Lennon and Johnny Og Connolly CD) For a two row instrument, it is a darn clever scheme.

Box players generally choose the Key set by whether they like the older sounding more melodeon like style for their music or a smoother slicker more modern one. Learning the different keys on a B/C box isn't any easier than on a C/G anglo.

 

Anglo concertinas with their abundance of duplicate midrange notes have a fairly large range of chord possibilities especially for Irish music where chords are usually two note, leaving out the note that would push the chord either major or minor letting the context set the tone. There are some pretty clever Anglo players out there too.

 

There might be some interesting possibilites in a three row instrument Set up like a B/C plus a row of notes in the opposite direction, but I'd think about it for it's own sake. The current anglo system actually makes a lot more sense than is initially apparent. Starting out with the assumption that it is only good for the keys of the rows is common, but is a limitation that we put on the instrument, not one inherrent in it.

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The current anglo system actually makes a lot more sense than is initially apparent. Starting out with the assumption that it is only good for the keys of the rows is common, but is a limitation that we put on the instrument, not one inherrent in it.

 

i'll second that one. although i too am interested in different layouts, perhaps not for irish music but for other genres. for the current c/g/accidental layout, there are some things i want: a low d instead of c on the last button of the g row left hand; a jeffries (push pull) d#/c#:c#/d# changed into c#/d#:a/c#; the pull a on the g row of the right hand (fourth button) changed into a pull g. of course, i dont properly use all of the buttons i have anyways, so it will be some time before i start experimenting.

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there are some things i want: a low d instead of c on the last button of the g row left hand; a jeffries (push pull) d#/c#:c#/d# changed into c#/d#:a/c#; the pull a on the g row of the right hand (fourth button) changed into a pull g. of course, i dont properly use all of the buttons i have anyways, so it will be some time before i start experimenting.

I've been longing for that low D for a while now and will have to figure a way to work it into my design. I would love to have a big D chord that would match the churchy G and C chords. I've been thinking about swapping out the low F for the Low D for the time being since F isn't a common key for me and until I miss it I might as well have the D. Still, I have an extra chamber space in the left side which If I can figure out a decent lever layout might serve the purpose eventually...

 

I already have a press A on the last button of the right top row and a G#/ G on the third button , so I don't feel the need for either of the other things you are looking for, and on the G row at least, I'd like to maintain the integrity of the stepping up in thirds as much as possible.

Dana

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I've been longing for that low D for a while now and will have to figure a way to work it into my design.

I have an old Italian 2-row concertina where the pull D at the end of the G row is an octave lower than the one in the middle of the C row. I know that many boxes (including mine) use that position for a pull low-A, and you probably want that pull A for your deep D chord, but if you might be willing to give up your low F, then why not the low Bb instead? I.e., make the A/Bb button in the 3rd row into an A/A, with a pull low D at the bottom of the G row.

 

Just one wild possibility of many, of course.

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Ok, so I see C/G, G/D, even D/A anglo tunings. And a job to cram in another row to make it sort of chromatic.

 

Then I see the irish button accordion with one row of B and one of C and I have to ask, why not make anglo concertinas this way? Wouldn't that be fully chromatic with only 2 rows?

 

Fumbling away, one row at a time, perhaps as a failing concertinist I do not appreciate the artistry of finger athletics. Those digits knuckled under by years of creative dexterity would scoff at such a thing.

 

Why not C/D? For irish music wouldn't this be just dandy? You would have a nice solid C, a very accessible D, and lo and behold a G mixed in the works. No fussing about F# and no whining about losing D Dorian.

 

Tradition be damned I say.

I currently play a G/D Lachenal (Wheatstone accidentals). Just out of curiosity the other day I sat down at the piano and mapped out exactly what notes I had and where. I knew it was pretty chromatic, but was surprised to find that I had almost three full chromatic octaves (just one note short)! There are 5-6 other notes on the high and low ends which I assume have the tuning they do for chords. At least I know the low ones are, I don't really use those very high outliers. And of course many notes are duplicates in different locations/directions.

 

I guess what I'm saying is yes, some keys are easier to play on some concertina tunings than others. But those old makers and designers had a pretty good idea what they were doing! The more I play the more I appreciate the inherent logic in the Anglo system. Would I appreciate 2-4 extra buttons for additional low notes/notes in alternate directions? Sure. But I don't see much reason to do more than tinker with what works.

 

-David

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Ok, so I see C/G, G/D, even D/A anglo tunings. And a job to cram in another row to make it sort of chromatic.

 

Then I see the irish button accordion with one row of B and one of C and I have to ask, why not make anglo concertinas this way? Wouldn't that be fully chromatic with only 2 rows?

 

Fumbling away, one row at a time, perhaps as a failing concertinist I do not appreciate the artistry of finger athletics. Those digits knuckled under by years of creative dexterity would scoff at such a thing.

 

Why not C/D? For irish music wouldn't this be just dandy? You would have a nice solid C, a very accessible D, and lo and behold a G mixed in the works. No fussing about F# and no whining about losing D Dorian.

 

Tradition be damned I say.

 

I think one thing you need to keep in mind is that changing the concertina from the current tuning scheme might make the instrument harder, not easier to play. half-step tuning works on button accordions because the player's right hand has alot more freedom of movement than a concertina's player has. Common triplets (EF#G and BC#D) played on the Button Accordion will usually change your hand position. This is often desireable as it can be used to set you up for the next phrase of the tune. With the more limited hand movement that the concertina has, I usually prefer triplets where the triplets are played between both sides of the instruments (BC#D is almost always played (by me) with the B and D played on the left hand on the G row and it is much easier than playing it on the right hand on the C row because one finger then also has to hit the C#.

 

Now mind you, perhaps a C/D would work.... I really don't know. But I am not really eager to find out. I want to sound like the people playing the concertina now. Certainly the change in the instrument would demand a different style of play.

 

--

Bill

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All valid points lads, excuse an old fool his sarcasm.

 

I will look for those advantages. And I will commission a nice C/D concertina.

 

They can call it "Hooves" tuning.

Edited by Hooves
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The one thing the B/C has is all the accidentals on 20 buttons.

If you wanted to play in the irish style as with a B/C box it would be perfect.

Then if you fancied a change, those accidentals are there to use without having to have the extra row.

 

Makes sense to me as it keeps the cost down.

 

Most boxes only have 20 or perhaps 21 buttons anyway, and you will find it hard to find an irish box player (music style) that have any extra buttons added.

The kudos is in not needing them and the style that it gives the music.

 

To me the english players playing on D/G boxes have the advantage (although disadvantage in not having the fully chromatic bit) is that they can play a G/D box without extra work also on 20 buttons.

 

Sharron

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A C/D would not be fully chromatic. You would need a C/C# as far as I can tell. I also affirm what Bill has said---

" half-step tuning works on button accordions because the player's right hand has alot more freedom of movement than a concertina's player has."

A concertina set up with the rows a half step apart would be difficult to play because you would constantly be skipping across the rows with the fingers of the same hand, using not just the first two fingers, while with the standard concertina, you would often cross the rows with the other hand.

What seems to make sense on paper, often is impractical when you actually try it out. I just made a 24 button for a gentleman who is an engineer. he had me make him an instrument same note both directions going up a half step on each button from left to right on the left side, and right to left on the right side. I guess it made sense to him on paper, but I couldn't play a tune on it, and had difficulty even playing a scale. It also had less than a two octave range!

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A C/D would not be fully chromatic. You would need a C/C# as far as I can tell. I also affirm what Bill has said---

 

Actually for the Hooves tuning I was not considering being fully chromatic, I was using the reference to B/C (or C#/D) as an example of a possible alternate tuning that might yield advantages, and in those cases achieve chromaticism with only 2 rows.

 

The Hooves tuning is designed to emphasize specific keys I find myself in all the time. Although not fully chromatic, C, D, and G are prominent, also I would imagine this would yield many duplicate notes which would find benefit.

 

I had also considered C/A: my real posting should have been less balistic and raised the query "Why always a fith?"

 

Now off to find an abused 20 button and put concept into practice - soon the masses will be flocking for a "Hooves' Tuned" tina.

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I have a lovely Jeffries Ab/Eb whose the top row ( that are usually the accidentals) is in fact a complete Bb scale.I use very few accidentals in my "English" style playing but this scale provides them and is a useful addition.

Anyone ever seen this before ?

I used to have a Lachenal which -- if I recall correctlly -- was A/E and the "accidental" row in Bb, i.e., a half step above the A (middle) row. (I have since regretted parting with it.) That would correspond to a C/G with the third row in C#. Robin, yours would correspond to a C/G with the third row in D, which would really only have two accidentals (D and A, corresponding to F# and C#) outside the "main" key of Ab. Mine had all the accidentals, but yours has more of the "regular" notes in both directions than either mine or the standard layouts.

 

One of the advantages of "my" layout is that several chords can be modulated -- e.g., between major and minor, major and agumented, or minor and diminished -- by a shift of only one finger to the adjacent button in the next row. I imagined that it was used to do harmonies of sorts used in jazz or barbershop.

 

I think it's been mentioned in prior discussions that some C/G/C# (or C/G/B?) anglos have been built by modern makers, though very few. For whatever reason, it seems to be an idea that hasn't caught on. I would think that if it had significant playing advantages, the current makers would be getting several requests for more, as other individuals got a chance to try the few that do exist. I don't think inertia alone can explain the lack of demand, since it's clear that many folks -- including many of us here -- are not afraid to "buck the trend".

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I think it's been mentioned in prior discussions that some C/G/C# (or C/G/B?) anglos have been built by modern makers, though very few. For whatever reason, it seems to be an idea that hasn't caught on. I would think that if it had significant playing advantages, the current makers would be getting several requests for more, as other individuals got a chance to try the few that do exist. I don't think inertia alone can explain the lack of demand, since it's clear that many folks -- including many of us here -- are not afraid to "buck the trend".

 

Well, at least part of the issue, I would guess is that at least Irish Players don't tend to make heavy use of the accidental row. Its been comented on here more than once that a 24 or 26 button concertina would suit the needs of many Irish Players. Heck, when I was up in the Catskills this year, one of the instructors actually commented on the fact that I used the push A when playing the Silver Spear! Since Irish players really often only use the accidentals necessary for playing in D G and A, I think there is really not much thought on making changes to the accidental row except in ways that will facilitate playing in those keys. Now regarding English and Other style of Concertina playing, I don't know if there might be similar or related reasons.

 

--

Bill

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What seems to make sense on paper, often is impractical when you actually try it out. I just made a 24 button for a gentleman who is an engineer. he had me make him an instrument same note both directions going up a half step on each button from left to right on the left side, and right to left on the right side. I guess it made sense to him on paper, but I couldn't play a tune on it, and had difficulty even playing a scale. It also had less than a two octave range!

Indeed, my own layout had to be built before I could tell if it would work at all. It will take at least a month of acclimation before I can say anything definite on its ease of use---I will also have to tweak the reedpans, which for one reason or another result in a couple less responsive notes. It is much harder to evaluate when something is mechanically off.

 

In the end, there is no way to tell if something will really synch with someone's brain, and we know that even with popular layouts, which are all known to work, the layout results in different playing styles etc.

 

Caj

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Why not C/D? For irish music wouldn't this be just dandy? You would have a nice solid C, a very accessible D, and lo and behold a G mixed in the works. No fussing about F# and no whining about losing D Dorian.
Chemnitzers & bandonions are essentially this, transposed: The core rows are G and A... Of course they're loaded with seemingly-random accidentals all around, which is not what you're suggesting.
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C/C# and the likes will not be easy to play exactly because of the fixed hand and lots of playing with the same finger across the rows.

The solution is real thouth: put naturals and their semitones on different sides of concertina.

It makes fingers untangled, lots of chords possible and scales in many keys easy to play.

The only disadvantage of the system is shorter range for most keys except Cmaj. (if it's in C)

I've done this and the result can be listened to on our tune page. Listen to my rendition of Bach's Minuet on 20 button Chromatic Anglo Concertina. Not bad. Now I've lost interest in it: case is proven, problem solved, time to move on.

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