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Maccann Duet


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Hi

I've been grappling with my Lachenal Maccann Duet 46 button (bought in July) and found all sorts of helpful stuff on this net and concertina.com

 

Some of the old tutors by Henry Stanley etc have been superb and Barry Callaghan's video of Reuben Shaw is an inspiration. (I note even he sold his instrument back in frustration at the outset!) The info on chords by Brian Hayden, David Cornell and Robert Gaskins and Roger Digby have been very useful.

 

Having got my button diagrams and relevant scales worked out and a fingering system I am finding it tricky, never having learned piano, to get my head round playing both sides together, let alone getting chords on the LHS.

 

Is it best to always practice both sides together once I've got the common scales worked out?.

 

Also, as a melodeon player and Anglo player I find it tricky knowing when to change bellows direction.

 

 

Any tips about ways to think about the button layout, new tutor books, godd CDs or instruction DVDs available yet?

 

I don't expect easy answers but my head hurts! What was Prof Maccann's logic for the layout?

 

I've just posted to ask Alan Day when we can expect Duet International but I can well believe he is well tired out after English International.

 

 

Cheers

Mike

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We have divided views about scales on Cnet. I've never learnt scales. I went straight to trying to play music. I'm sure they don't do any harm, I just think playing music's as useful (more useful?) and more interesting. For you, I'd suggest you get a tune you know well and add bass and 2 note chords. It could be your scales, I suppose; scale in the RH and '3 chord trick' bass accompaniment, just to get you used to it.

 

Duet players get very little credit for playing unaccompanied melodies beautifully, so you might as well get both hands working ASAP.

 

If you think of that awkward Eb that floats in the middle of nowhere as a D sharp it may help you remember where it is, next to (and below) the D.

 

There's some stuff about sitting 2 English keyboards next door to each other to get the layout, but I have no real idea where it comes from. The 1324 fingering is hard to get your head round but very comfortable to play once you have it, and I suspect Maccan might have the edge on speed over the other systems because of it, but, again, don't really know and don't much care!

 

You can get a bass D in by retuning one of the less useful accidentals. Without a keyboard diagram I can't remember which it is but there were postings about it and I know Malcolm Clapp tried it for a customer

 

There's not much in the way of tutors, no substitute for practice, and a lot to be said for moving on to a 57+key; the possibilities increase exponentially.

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Having got my button diagrams and relevant scales worked out and a fingering system I am finding it tricky, never having learned piano, to get my head round playing both sides together, let alone getting chords on the LHS.

 

Is it best to always practice both sides together once I've got the common scales worked out?.

 

Mike,

I'm in a similar position to you - I have taken up the duet after playing Anglo for decades. However, it's a Crane, whose layout is, of course, a lot tidier than the Maccann layout, and very chord-friendly. But perhaps some of my thoughts are transferrable.

 

First, you seem to assume that getting chords on the LHS is more advanced than just "playing both sides together".

I very quickly realised that the easiest way to get both hands working together is to play full, 3-note chords on the LHS while picking out the melody on the RHS. For the simple tunes that we as beginners play, the "three-chord trick" is usually enough, and 3 chord shapes are easier to learn and easier to switch among than the 7 notes of the scale. I also found Brian Hayden's all-system duet chording tutorial very helpful.

I'm now getting to the point where the chords for the tunes I'm practising come readily, and I can play partial chords or even single notes in the bass. I haven't got round to learning to sight read yet, but I can more easily name the note I'm playing on the Crane than on my old, familiar Anglo.

 

Of course, this is the technique that I'm familiar with from finger-style banjo - identifying the chords, then finding the inversion that fits the melody at a given point with the LH, and picking the correct notes with the RH. I chose the Crane system because it had a sort of "fretted string" look about its layout, and it has exceeded my expectations in this respect :)

 

Also, as a melodeon player and Anglo player I find it tricky knowing when to change bellows direction.

 

Yes!

The problem is, I think, learning how to deal with your new-found liberty after years of slavery to the diatonic system! ;)

My solution is phrasing. Looking for places where the flow of the music could use a little "push", rather than just running on, and putting my bellow changes there. While practising today, I noticed that I'm even using the air-button Anglo-style to get a bellows-full of air on a short phrase :)

At least, as a diatonic player, you're accustomed to changing bellows direction - even in the middle of a phrase - and can probably do it inconspicuously!

 

Cheers,

John

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We have divided views about scales on Cnet. I've never learnt scales. I went straight to trying to play music. I'm sure they don't do any harm,

 

I just have to get the old Doh Re Mi fixed , starting with the notes of the main keys I want to play

 

Then I do what you do, just choose tunes and play what I can

 

I don't spend ages playing scales as I find life is too short!

Edited by michael sam wild
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Just one more point. Can anyone explain simply how the 4 middle columns of the Maccann Duet relate to the two middle columns of the EC. Someone said 'think of the Duet columns as EC columns folded over. Beats me.

Never thought of it quite like that, but roughly, if you take the middle two rows of an English concertina (left hand) and the middle two rows of the English (right hand) and lay them side by side, then place an extra (accidental) row on the outside of each of these four rows, you have the Maccann system. I've just tried it!

 

Brian Hayden (C.net member inventor) could give more precise details regarding the development of the Maccann, since I recall him telling me that he had to go through the whole history of concertina development, when applying for patents for the Hayden system duet.

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Cheers Peter

 

I've just done that and it makes sense! Old Prof Maccann must have had a system going. I understand that the Jeffries Duet is based on an Anglo system, I wonder if I'd be better going for that as I'm a a diatonic push/pull merchant

 

however I love a challenge and will have a crack at the Maccann though the RH side is a bit shrill on a 46 button.

 

I must admit from what I read that the Hayden seems logical

 

What is the current thinking on the 'best' Duet system, or has it been done to death on this site in a period when I thought it was all a bit 'geeky' before I became one? It all seemed so simple as a melodeon player!

 

Mike

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Just a point for further discussion. I use 'columns' for up and down and 'rows' for side to side. Like a Roman phalanx.

I also use 'buttons' for the little ivory or metal studs and 'keys' for the musical dots; key of G, C etc

 

Maybe we could all agree some uniformity for the increasing number of new members. , or would that spoil the mystery and glamour. As a beginner it confused me, but at least it made me think!

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Just a point for further discussion. I use 'columns' for up and down and 'rows' for side to side. Like a Roman phalanx.

I also use 'buttons' for the little ivory or metal studs and 'keys' for the musical dots; key of G, C etc

 

Maybe we could all agree some uniformity for the increasing number of new members. , or would that spoil the mystery and glamour. As a beginner it confused me, but at least it made me think!

 

Too late I fear. As with many fields of human activity, you have one group of people using the words on one way and another using them in a different way. Nobody is going to change now. You could try to come up with a completely new set of terms and try to get everyone to use those instead but historical experience suggests that you are unlikely to succeed.

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What is the current thinking on the 'best' Duet system, or has it been done to death on this site in a period when I thought it was all a bit 'geeky' before I became one? It all seemed so simple as a melodeon player!

 

Mike,

I don't know about the current thinking, but my recent thinking about duets led me to buy a Crane. In the 2 months since then, I have not regretted the choice. Whether or not I would have regretted buying a Maccann or a Hayden, I cannot say, of course!

 

I studied button layouts of all the systems, did dummy scales and exercises on printed-out copies, and tried to grasp the system behind them. My assumption was that if could internalise the thinking behind the layout, I'd be able to find the notes I wanted when I wanted them after I started playing the actual insturment. People's minds work differently, and mine is influenced by fretted strings, so the Crane idea of having the scale along one row until you run out of buttons and then moving to the next row seemed obvious - to me!

With duet concertina systems, I think it's definitely a matter of "different strokes for different folks".

 

Another consideration was learnability.

I know that the top duet virtuosi in the music halls mostly played Maccanns, because they allegedly give the expert capabilities that other systems don't. But, starting at the age of 62, I have no illusions of becoming a virtuoso.

On the other hand, the Crane (as the Triumph) was adopted as the standard concertina by the Salvation Army. Obviously, the Salvationist is an evangelical social worker first, and a concertinist - at best - second. That is, a large organisation deemed the Crane suitable for players who did not need to achieve professionl virtuosity, but rather amateur competence.

And that was what I was aiming for! ;)

 

Up to now, it seems I made the right choice! :rolleyes:

 

Cheers,

John

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What is the current thinking on the 'best' Duet system, or has it been done to death on this site in a period when I thought it was all a bit 'geeky' before I became one? It all seemed so simple as a melodeon player!

 

Mike,

I don't know about the current thinking, but my recent thinking about duets led me to buy a Crane. In the 2 months since then, I have not regretted the choice. Whether or not I would have regretted buying a Maccann or a Hayden, I cannot say, of course!

 

I studied button layouts of all the systems, did dummy scales and exercises on printed-out copies, and tried to grasp the system behind them. My assumption was that if could internalise the thinking behind the layout, I'd be able to find the notes I wanted when I wanted them after I started playing the actual insturment. Cheers,

John

 

Hi John

 

I like the idea! Is there any kind of touch responsive programme that could allow messing about with different layouts. . I used to have a printed keyboard with a built in sound card, called a 'Wasp' ( cos it was black and yellow notes I reckon), in the 70s and I wish I'd kept it, like so much else you sling out as new technology comes along.

 

 

Maybe some genius can come up with a basic diagram that is touch sensitive for people like us to try out different concertinas . e.g. a basic Anglo, English and some Duet models. I envisage a hexagon with buttons and push or pull as necessary linked to the sound generator. I assume early inventors put out the idea to technical wizards to realize.

 

A piano keyboard isn't the same thing as you have to get your head round a lot of things.

 

I have no idea of how to go about it but I'll ask my son who uses such programmes for his composition and production of Dub Step, etc.

Mike

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  • 4 months later...
The Salvation Army tutor for the Triumph Concertina which is a Duet machine is available from this site.

 

http://www.concertina.info/tina.faq/images...tina_2nd_ed.pdf

 

Sincerely,

 

Pete

Morse Albion #677

 

Lovely, I'm sure ... and I'd love to buy something like that to assist in my endeavours, but although the Triumph/Crane may be a duet concertina, it ain't a Maccann.... even I as a newbie to playing the Maccann of 16 months' standing know that there's a difference ... wrong thread Pete, methinks ??

Edited by Irene S
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Is it best to always practice both sides together once I've got the common scales worked out?

One should ultimately aim to become accustomed to being able to play hands together much of the time, from the start of picking up a piece. But let's not run before we can walk, and acknowledge that there are often going to be tricky corners, and tricky long bits, that we can't play hands together well at the start. When you can't play a bit smoothly hands together (which might be rather a lot of it to start with, but hopefully should reduce) then I think it is a very good idea to play each hand separately to ensure it is entirely fluent and as near "automatic" as possible, and then put them together. Don't play long sections hands apart, just short sections (eg a bar+first note of next bar), then put them together. You are trying to poke this stuff into your brain's auto-pilot, and long bits won't go in very easily. Even top concert pianists practice in this way, and I don't see any essential difference between piano and duet concertina in this regard. Even if you have to go bar by bar through a whole piece, eventually it will come together. And you'll often find what you have learned to do will be useful for many future pieces.

 

Whilst I agree it is a way forward to play 3 note LH chords plus a tune, and good for learning chord fingerings, it does tend to sound rather heavy, drown the tune, and swallow the air in the bellows quickly. I think it is better to use a lighter texture a lot of the time. You can, for example omit the 5th, omit any out bass notes which is doubled in the tune, form the chords as arpeggio or oompah, etc, all to lighten the texture. It is worth observing that in David Cornell's arrangements he sounds only two or three notes together a lot of the time, and when he sounds more it is usually for effect or emphasis.

 

You would not retune a reed more than a semitone usually (though maybe a large flattening can be done with tip weighting, though it will sound different form the adjacent reeds). In general, we would want to change a reed. If you give up the low F# for it, well you probably want the F# to go with the D. The low G# seems more likely a thing to give up. But whether a D reed will fit in the slot for a G# half an octave away, I do not know. The chamber etc, may also be wrong for it, so may need a bit of woodwork. I think all this explains why so few people have done it. Another option is actually to give up the low C for it, after all there are 3 Cs on the LH of a Maccann, so you can afford to give one up, perhaps. But a tone is a bit much to retune. Maybe you can just replace the reed, and keep the C reeds for the day you need them. There are also people who have put in one D so it is one on the push and one on the pull, but that is rather tricky to manage. But in general, not many people have done such things, so far as I am aware.

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