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frogspawn

Crane - Thoughts So Far

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Having now had my Crane for a month or so I thought I'd post my initial reactions. Bought from Chris Algar, it was in superb condition and has a sweet, mellow tone. The buttons are fine, and the bellows move supply and provide plenty of air. It didn't take too long to find the right buttons (to play in G), but having started on an Anglo, it did take some time to unlearn the urge to push and pull unnecessarily.

 

I think all the systems have their strengths and weaknesses and I wouldn't knock anyone else's preferences, but I think the Crane was the right choice for me. Rather than list the pros and cons which many of you will have heard before, I'd just like to mention that this is the first time I've successfully combined playing an instrument with reading music. This may owe something to the accumulated experience of past failures, but I also think it owes a great deal to the systematic logic of the Crane's layout and the resemblance of the button positions to the appearance of notes written on the stave. This has been an unexpected bonus, and I think it will prove to be a significant in making music more accessable and thus maintaining my interest.

 

Richard

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Having now had my Crane for a month or so I thought I'd post my initial reactions.

. . .

I think all the systems have their strengths and weaknesses and I wouldn't knock anyone else's preferences, but I think the Crane was the right choice for me. Rather than list the pros and cons which many of you will have heard before, I'd just like to mention that this is the first time I've successfully combined playing an instrument with reading music. This may owe something to the accumulated experience of past failures, but I also think it owes a great deal to the systematic logic of the Crane's layout and the resemblance of the button positions to the appearance of notes written on the stave. This has been an unexpected bonus, and I think it will prove to be a significant in making music more accessable and thus maintaining my interest.

 

Richard

I've been learning the Hayden Duet system for a couple years now, like it a lot, but admit it has certain limitations (especially where "black" notes and minor keys are concerned), and for a few months I've been considering trying to get a Crane/Triumph. From fingering charts it does seem logical.

 

How many buttons does yours have? I trust at least 48, so you can play the RH down to Middle C.

--Mike K.

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I've been learning the Hayden Duet system for a couple years now, like it a lot, but admit it has certain limitations (especially where "black" notes and minor keys are concerned), and for a few months I've been considering trying to get a Crane/Triumph. From fingering charts it does seem logical.

 

How many buttons does yours have? I trust at least 48, so you can play the RH down to Middle C.

--Mike K.

 

It's a 55-button version. Long fingers are advantageous. I find it difficult to reach the very top row on the RH without fouling the buttons on the row immediately below, but I don't think I'll ever need those notes. Obviously you have to stretch your fingers and/or move your hand to hit the sharps and flats. But the most difficult thing to do fast is to hit two buttons in the same column with the same finger, e.g. 'Maggie in the Woods' which starts G, D, G. It's possible to use the middle finger, but then you have to move it back which just delays the delay. At the moment I keep my fingers strictly in their respective columns.

 

Richard

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I have been playing a 48K Crane for about a year now. I picked up the right hand melody fairly easily, playing by ear. I am pretty sure I can learn any melody I can think of over time, although I still stumble a bit because my muscle memory is not totally intuitive yet. My main instrument is mandolin so I have years worth of tunes in my head. The hardest thing for me has been adding the bass accompaniement. I have systematized the bass pretty much into playing the first and third note of the chord to make up the chord. Mostly I have been working on waltzes with this method (My Cape Breton Home, The Lover's Waltz, When Summer Ends, Waltz of the Floating Bridge). I have also been working on some reels, once again playing the first and third note of the chord in kind of an oompah accompaniement. I learned the G part of the melody for Lover's Waltz on the bass and then switch to the right hand for the D part (with oompah bass chordal accompaniement.) Having heard some recordings of real Crane Duet players, I realize a lot more is possible with the instrument. So my progress has been glacial, but I am really enjoying the challenge.

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It's a 55-button version.

Good, you ahve a big one! Though as you say, some buttons are hard to reach. I've read postings that claim some number of buttons (around 50) as the upper limit for reachability, size, and weight.

Long fingers are advantageous. I find it difficult to reach the very top row on the RH without fouling the buttons on the row immediately below, but I don't think I'll ever need those notes. Obviously you have to stretch your fingers and/or move your hand to hit the sharps and flats.

Well, my fingers are not that long and I do have troulbe with the top row of my Hayden RH, mashing notes on the row below. I think this is a "feature" of any Duet system.

ISTR that the Crane groups the white notes in rows of three, with one sharp or flat on each side, so as you go up the rows you fall behind in supplying sharps and flats, so the very top row is all accidentals to pay off the accumulated debt. Hopefully you won't need those so often.

But the most difficult thing to do fast is to hit two buttons in the same column with the same finger, e.g. 'Maggie in the Woods' which starts G, D, G. It's possible to use the middle finger, but then you have to move it back which just delays the delay. At the moment I keep my fingers strictly in their respective columns.

Richard

I think for jsut about any Duet (or Anglo, or English) system, there are sequences of two or three notes that just can't be played legato (smoothly). Fifths and fourths are messy on the Hayden, unless you can start on the proper finger, which means maybe you have to jump off an earlier note. An expert player told me that it's not "cheating" or sloppy if you slide your finger off a button onto the button in the next lower row -- but this only works coming down, not going up.

 

Oh well, playing is more fun than whining :P so I'll get back to practicing.

--Mike K.

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I have been playing a 48K Crane for about a year now. I picked up the right hand melody fairly easily, playing by ear. I am pretty sure I can learn any melody I can think of over time, although I still stumble a bit because my muscle memory is not totally intuitive yet. My main instrument is mandolin so I have years worth of tunes in my head. The hardest thing for me has been adding the bass accompaniement. I have systematized the bass pretty much into playing the first and third note of the chord to make up the chord. Mostly I have been working on waltzes with this method (My Cape Breton Home, The Lover's Waltz, When Summer Ends, Waltz of the Floating Bridge). I have also been working on some reels, once again playing the first and third note of the chord in kind of an oompah accompaniement. I learned the G part of the melody for Lover's Waltz on the bass and then switch to the right hand for the D part (with oompah bass chordal accompaniement.) Having heard some recordings of real Crane Duet players, I realize a lot more is possible with the instrument. So my progress has been glacial, but I am really enjoying the challenge.

Those are some great waltzes -- out of Bill Mathieson's books, at least that's where I got them. For reels (and more waltzes), try "Along the River", a collection you can get from The Button Box.

 

From what I saw of the Crane layout, it shouldn't be too hard for you to add the 5th of each chord to your LH oom-pah. And try running parallel 3rds and 6ths to the melody.

 

Listening to "real" players gets me discouraged and inspired at the same time -- a funny comibnation, but it leads me to practice some more! --Mike K.

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I have been playing a 48K Crane for about a year now. I picked up the right hand melody fairly easily, playing by ear. I am pretty sure I can learn any melody I can think of over time, although I still stumble a bit because my muscle memory is not totally intuitive yet. My main instrument is mandolin so I have years worth of tunes in my head. The hardest thing for me has been adding the bass accompaniement. I have systematized the bass pretty much into playing the first and third note of the chord to make up the chord.

 

In the past learning by ear has been my only option but I'm now concentrating on tunes for which I have both a score and a recording, sometimes slowed down with Amazing Slow Downer software.

 

After a month of playing just RH melody I've just started to bring in the LH by playing in parallel octaves as I got that far on the Anglo. It may not be the most sophisticated use for a Crane but it gets the LH fingers working. It's easier on a Crane of course because the LH and RH patterns always correspond, while on the Anglo pull notes are offset a button. (Edited for grammar!)

 

I think I'll make your two-finger oompahs my next objective!

 

Richard

Edited by frogspawn

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ISTR that the Crane groups the white notes in rows of three, with one sharp or flat on each side, so as you go up the rows you fall behind in supplying sharps and flats, so the very top row is all accidentals to pay off the accumulated debt. Hopefully you won't need those so often.

--Mike K.

 

Mike: There's a Crane diagram here http://www.concertina.com/crane-duet/. Mine has an extra top row on the LH continuing the logical sequence and the two 'missing' buttons on the right. That gives me on the RH 18 naturals from C' to F''' filling the 3 central columns and all the sharps and flats in between immediately on the flanks of the corresponding naturals. Ingenious!

 

Richard

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From what I saw of the Crane layout, it shouldn't be too hard for you to add the 5th of each chord to your LH oom-pah.

 

I think the full triads are pretty straigtforward, but the two-finger approach will simplify things when attempting to overcome that initial LH-RH co-ordination hurdle.

 

Richard

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ISTR that the Crane groups the white notes in rows of three,...

True.

...with one sharp or flat on each side,...

True.

...so as you go up the rows you fall behind in supplying sharps and flats,...

True.

...so the very top row is all accidentals to pay off the accumulated debt.

False.

The "accumulated debt" is very small, being only one note after a 39-note (3-1/4 octave) chromatic run. I believe the standard solution on Cranes which exceed that limit is to add a single button where necessary, off to one side of the 5-wide array, to supply the missing accidental. But even an 80-button instrument shouldn't require more than 2 such additions in either hand.

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Hi all,

I have attached the keyboard layout for a Crabb built 80 Key (79 + Wind key) Crane Duet. It opens as a Word document. First time I have done this, so hope it opens OK.

 

 

Geoff

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Hi all,

I have attached the keyboard layout for a Crabb built 80 Key (79 + Wind key) Crane Duet. It opens as a Word document. First time I have done this, so hope it opens OK.

 

 

Geoff

 

Geoff: What an amazing instrument that would be. Orchestral in dimensions. So was this instrument ever built? I have a hard enough time keeping track of 48 keys, but I would love to hear an instrument like this one. Thanks for sharing this layout with us beginners. Charlie

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Hi Charlie,

Yes several were made, the last in 1972.

 

Here is a picture of one made circa 1950 by my father.

 

 

The family made this type of Duet from around 1900 and although specialising in the larger instruments, the records / plans show that about 55 variations were made of 35 - 80 buttons with various ranges and other base keys e.g. Eb,Ab,Bb etc.

 

It will be noticed that generally the key spacing and position on Crabb versions depart from the 'Crane' (properly Butterworth) original design as used by Lachenal, the Crabb being based on that of the English spacing.

 

If requested, instruments would be made with Crane spacing.

 

 

 

Regards

 

Geoff.

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Geoff: What an amazing instrument that would be. Orchestral in dimensions. ...but I would love to hear an instrument like this one.

Read and listen here.

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Quoting Geoffrey Crabb:

 

It will be noticed that generally the key spacing and position on Crabb versions depart from the 'Crane' (properly Butterworth) original design as used by Lachenal, the Crabb being based on that of the English spacing.

 

Geoff,

The buttons on my C. Jeffries 55 button Crane are 1 cm. apart vertically, and 1.5 cm. apart diagonally. This is about the same spacing as on my Lachenal and Wheatstone English concertinas. However, the buttons on the Crane seem to be about 0.5 cm wide, while the buttons on the English concertinas are about 0.3 cm wide. How do the button dimensions and spacing on my Jeffries compare with the spacing on the Cranes made by Lachenal and Crabb?

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Geoff,

The buttons on my C. Jeffries 55 button Crane are 1 cm. apart vertically, and 1.5 cm. apart diagonally. This is about the same spacing as on my Lachenal and Wheatstone English concertinas. However, the buttons on the Crane seem to be about 0.5 cm wide, while the buttons on the English concertinas are about 0.3 cm wide. How do the button dimensions and spacing on my Jeffries compare with the spacing on the Cranes made by Lachenal and Crabb?

 

Hi Brian,

the attached may be of help.

 

 

 

Regards

 

Geoff.

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Geoff,

Thanks for the diagram, and thanks for being so helpful.

Brian

 

On February 6, 2007 Brian Humphrey wrote:

 

Geoff,

The buttons on my C. Jeffries 55 button Crane are 1 cm. apart vertically, and 1.5 cm. apart diagonally... How do the button dimensions and spacing on my Jeffries compare with the spacing on the Cranes made by Lachenal and Crabb?

 

Geoffry Crabb replied:

 

Hi Brian,

the attached may be of help.

 

 

Regards

Geoff.

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I was looking at the different duet systems and I thought the Crane system looked the most like somethign I would like to try.

 

I would have thought with the Salvation army using the same system (or pretty close, I think the Triumph leaves offa few keys), there would be boat loads of these lying about, yet I see them come up for sale rarely and with a rather grandiose price tag (same with all duets for that matter).

 

I'm surprised we haven't seen any cheap duet knockoffs, perhaps the interest is not yet gret enough to warrant mass production.

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