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Discussions => Instrument Makes and Models => Topic started by: Peadar on August 23, 2019, 08:43:11 AM

Title: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Peadar on August 23, 2019, 08:43:11 AM
MAD struck again... this time in the form of a 2x2 stop semitone box in C/C#.

It is of course unbranded & tuned to A435 but seems reasonably in tune with itself. By the tone and volume brass reeds. I have yet to open it up but expect to find long plates..

Nice lightweight but throaty back end. I think this was probably marketed as a ladies accordion- the straps both bass and thumb were of a green brocade webbing- not the oil cloth I have seen on other old unbranded/sales-branded accordions.

Being pedantic...is this technically a British Chromatic Accordeon?

Don't know why I thought a semitone box with a 2 x 2 spoon bass arrangement might be any different to a  single row with 2 basses (Fundemental on push/ 5th on draw)....it isn't.

So the basses are C/G  and C# G# and what use the sharp basses are isn't obvious to me right now.

It does occur to me that if I think of the box  as C#/D then  basses(not difficult if you have a poor sense of pitch and if my reading is correct a pre B/C practice in Ireland- also recommended by Peter Wyper before he invented the B/C tuning).  If I play it that way the inner basses become D/A and the outer C#/G#....which inverts the situation rather than making it go away.

This is something of an accademic question, since as yet I don't play across the rows at all.


(1st Edit to remove typos &c., 2nd Change title)
Title: Re: New Toy.....
Post by: boxer on August 23, 2019, 07:15:18 PM
I think that British Chromatics are usually 3-row B/C/C#
Title: Re: New Toy.....
Post by: Rees on August 23, 2019, 08:16:55 PM
The original British Chromatics were C/C#. I have several old tutor books here somewhere.
Title: Re: New Toy.....
Post by: boxer on August 23, 2019, 08:51:36 PM
I stand corrected
Title: Re: New Toy.....
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 23, 2019, 09:03:21 PM

This is something of an accademic question, since as yet I don't play across the rows at all.


I don't want to be contrary and it's nothing to do with me, but I think it's worth saying that, if you're still playing purely on the row it would be easy peasy for you to switch  to a DG. Chromatic systems don't actually involve cross rowing in the same sense. I'll leave it at that. Don't want to hijack your thread.
Title: Re: New Toy.....
Post by: Peadar on August 27, 2019, 12:29:57 AM
I think it's worth saying that, if you're still playing purely on the row it would be easy peasy for you to switch  to a DG. Chromatic systems don't actually involve cross rowing in the same sense.

Fair comment.  I have just been gradually (over  a period of months)  discovering that the B/C smitone box is as fundementally Highland as the DG box is English. When in Rome and all that. Not sure I really want to play a B/C box beyond learning how to fumble my way across the keyboard.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: richard.fleming on August 27, 2019, 07:32:30 AM
Lots of people talk on this forum about the BC box being difficult, but it would be best to ignore that as it is inherently no more difficult than any other system and has some serious advantages. Irish and Highland music is pre-harmonic anyway so restricted bass possibilities should not be an issue.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Winston Smith on August 27, 2019, 01:54:03 PM
"Lots of people talk on this forum about the BC box being difficult, but it would be best to ignore that as it is inherently no more difficult than any other system"

That used to be my (uneducated) opinion. But, from the assertions of other B/C players, it would seem that I was altogether wrong! See:

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,22326.0.html


Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Peadar on August 27, 2019, 09:27:51 PM
Savour this moment Winston Smith - today you are on precisely 1984 posts.
....and Big Brother still hasn't caught up with you!
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Anahata on August 27, 2019, 09:33:35 PM
Well played, sir!  :|glug
Title: Re: New Toy.....
Post by: Bill Young on August 27, 2019, 10:42:24 PM
I think that British Chromatics are usually 3-row B/C/C#

“The Hohner Melodeon and Button-Key Accordion Tutor for 1, 2 and 3 row instruments in BRITISH CHROMATIC TUNING by Capt. J. REILLY” (pub M. HOHNER LIMITED, London, 1954) equates British Chromatic tuning with a half-step or a semitone apart, i.e. B-C, C-C# and B-C-C#.

I thought this anachronism had died years ago. It makes more sense to describe a box by the row tuning e.g. BC, BCC#.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: richard.fleming on August 27, 2019, 11:53:41 PM
"Lots of people talk on this forum about the BC box being difficult, but it would be best to ignore that as it is inherently no more difficult than any other system"

That used to be my (uneducated) opinion. But, from the assertions of other B/C players, it would seem that I was altogether wrong! See:

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,22326.0.html
I don't think so. And that topic referenced above is pretty confused and confusing, to be frank.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Peadar on August 28, 2019, 08:11:52 AM
Lots of people talk on this forum about the BC box being difficult, but it would be best to ignore that as it is inherently no more difficult than any other system and has some serious advantages. Irish and Highland music is pre-harmonic anyway so restricted bass possibilities should not be an issue.

It is not a matter of the B/C (or any other semitone box for that matter) being more difficult, but it has a completely different dynamic once you try to play it in the most common key of Gaelic instrumental music i.e. D.
 It immediately becomes apparent as to why in Hiberno-English (and ITM worldwide?) a 2 row chromatic is called an accordion and only the 1 row is recognised as a melodeon.  Rather more subtley,the documented choice of G/G# by some early Irish players of chromatic button accordions also makes sense to me now.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: richard.fleming on August 28, 2019, 09:47:41 AM
I think  the C#/D is ideal for Scotland's music because D and A are fairly straightforward, and A is easier than on the BC. I don't think in the past the C#/D was something that occurred at all, certainly compared to the publicity for the BC from the Wyper brothers etc. If it had been on the radar 50 years ago (when the Highlands were maybe more isolated) it might have well been taken up. But I'm surprised, Peadar, to hear that D is the most common Key. I would have thought it was A?
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: havaLaff on August 28, 2019, 11:02:23 AM
The vast majority of Gaidhlig tunes I play are in D.
I wouldn't change from a B/C or B/C/C as I need a G#. Especially for pipe marches.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: xgx on August 28, 2019, 01:02:30 PM
(...) I'm surprised (...) to hear that D is the most common Key. I would have thought it was A?

Just had a quick scan through Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist by Margaret Fay Shaw ...loads with 1 sharp, 1 flat and neither sharps nor flats ... err nowt in A that I could see...

In other publications, usually specifically aimed at fiddlers, tunes are predominantly in A (maj) and D see Fiddle Tunes of the Scottish Highlands pub. by Taigh na Teud (Harp String House)

Most pipe music (GHB) is written with either no sharps or 2 sharps in the Key signature the latter is A mixolydian ... 7th note is G natural
.....quite easy, at first glance, to mistake it for D
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: richard.fleming on August 28, 2019, 03:06:27 PM
The vast majority of Gaidhlig tunes I play are in D.
I wouldn't change from a B/C or B/C/C as I need a G#. Especially for pipe marches.

There are 4 G#s on a C#/D. How many do you need?
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: havaLaff on August 28, 2019, 04:25:27 PM
 Seeing that the forum predominantly relates to D/G tuning, I never thought about the C#/D layout.
 It took me a while to sort the fingering on the B/C/C#, but now the only problem is the way I
 'Murder' a tune.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: george garside on August 28, 2019, 05:50:44 PM
not quite sure where this thread is coming from or where it is supposed to be going …….so for what its worth   the BC is relatively easy to play in the 'sharp keys' and the CC# is relatively easy to play in the 'flat keys'  . IN effect put the two together  as a BCC# box and itys easy to play in both the 'sharp' and the 'flat' keys and provides the advantage of having more 'reversals' which can facilitate greater control of bellows direction.  Learn just 5 scales (including one for the 3 on the row keys) and you have the wherewithal to play in 12 keys.


 disadvantage  of 2 row semitone compared to  4th apart eg DG lies in the formers lack of decent bass  v  the latters  ability to thump out a good rhythm in its home keys. 

Advantage of 2 row semitone over eg DG lies in  it being chromatic  with resulting access to more keys albeit without much in the way of bass/

Advantage of BCC# over 2 row semitone and DG.  easily chromatic ( 12 keys)  with usually full bass availability (limited on 12 stradella bass trichord  and fairly useless on 12 'melodeon bass trichord)   

Disadvantage of BCC# over 2 row semitone and 2 row 4th aprt box.--------  Size, weight and lack of portability.

T
he above probably explains why I play  DG, BC and BCC#  - horses for courses etc...….

george
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: richard.fleming on August 28, 2019, 07:24:28 PM
[quote author=george garside link=topic=24375.msg290644#msg290644 date=1567011044


 disadvantage  of 2 row semitone compared to  4th apart eg DG lies in the formers lack of decent bass  v  the latters  ability to thump out a good rhythm in its home keys. 

Advantage of 2 row semitone over eg DG lies in  it being chromatic  with resulting access to more keys albeit without much in the way of bass/


george
[/quote]

I play Irish and regard it as pre-harmonic music and think that 'thumping out a good rhythm' on the basses is a vice, but if you want to do that there are semitone boxes with mini-stradella bases. I have one myself, my favourite box as it happens. Best of both worlds.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Mike Hirst on August 28, 2019, 07:42:36 PM
I play Irish and regard it as pre-harmonic music

c.300BC Aristoxenus wrote a work entitled Harmonika Stoicheia, which is thought the first work in European history written on the subject of harmony; by the mid 16thC texts emanating from Palestrina in Italy were being widely circulated throughout Europe outlining harmonic theory.  Examples of these exist in Irish collections.

There are very few melodies played in the current Irish repertoire which can be proven to predate the late 18thC. Of those earlier melodies, the compositions attributed to Turlough O'Carolan (1670 – 25 March 1738), demonstrate a clearly sophisticated understanding of harmony and counterpoint.

I am a great lover of musics which ignore or confound the generally accepted harmonic paradigm, but I cannot let historical inaccuracies go unchallenged. 
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: george garside on August 28, 2019, 11:17:07 PM
[quote author=george garside link=topic=24375.msg290644#msg290644 date=1567011044


 disadvantage  of 2 row semitone compared to  4th apart eg DG lies in the formers lack of decent bass  v  the latters  ability to thump out a good rhythm in its home keys. 

Advantage of 2 row semitone over eg DG lies in  it being chromatic  with resulting access to more keys albeit without much in the way of bass/


george

I play Irish and regard it as pre-harmonic music and think that 'thumping out a good rhythm' on the basses is a vice, but if you want to do that there are semitone boxes with mini-stradella bases. I have one myself, my favourite box as it happens. Best of both worlds.
[/quote]

Indeed and I have a 12 stradella bass  BC double ray 2 voice box which is very useful. Didn't mention it because  they are fairly rare.

george
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: richard.fleming on August 29, 2019, 07:46:24 AM
I play Irish and regard it as pre-harmonic music

c.300BC Aristoxenus wrote a work entitled Harmonika Stoicheia, which is thought the first work in European history written on the subject of harmony; by the mid 16thC texts emanating from Palestrina in Italy were being widely circulated throughout Europe outlining harmonic theory.  Examples of these exist in Irish collections.

There are very few melodies played in the current Irish repertoire which can be proven to predate the late 18thC. Of those earlier melodies, the compositions attributed to Turlough O'Carolan (1670 – 25 March 1738), demonstrate a clearly sophisticated understanding of harmony and counterpoint.

I am a great lover of musics which ignore or confound the generally accepted harmonic paradigm, but I cannot let historical inaccuracies go unchallenged.
I'm sure you are right in all you say. Clearly O'Carolan bridges a great divide between European music of the courts of the aristocracy and that of the native Irish. But I don't think either he or Aristoxenes had much influence on people perpetuating a musical tradition in rural Ireland.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Peadar on August 29, 2019, 08:04:10 AM
The subject of the thread was actually an example  of a vintage/antique British Chromatic Accordion in,  by my standards, a playable condition.

It a 2 voice , with 2 stops on each register and spoon basses which is representative of a step on the road in the development of the button accorden/melodeon and it's integration into Ceol Gaidhealach.

Tha mi a'cluich/ag plè leis anns a'chointeacs sin.






Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: xgx on August 29, 2019, 09:22:36 AM
easy on the garlic  ;D
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 29, 2019, 09:24:19 AM
The subject of the thread was actually an example  of a vintage/antique British Chromatic Accordion in,  by my standards, a playable condition.

It a 2 voice , with 2 stops on each register and spoon basses which is representative of a step on the road in the development of the button accorden/melodeon and it's integration into Ceol Gaidhealach.

Tha mi a'cluich/ag plè leis anns a'chointeacs sin.

Have you any sound files? The few really old boxes I have come across sound pretty awful.

Do the four stops mean each voice is individually switchable? If so, I wonder why? You could turn them all off, for silent practice, I suppose.
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Peadar on August 30, 2019, 02:33:21 AM
Sound files...I will see what I can do.  Like I said playable by my standards.  :||: There might even be a "tune I have almost learnt" ... but probably not in multiple fingerings.

And yes each voice individually switchable- just like on a Hohner HA112.

Silent practice....only if you use the air valve as a bass drone. 8)
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on August 30, 2019, 09:17:39 AM
Sound files...I will see what I can do.  Like I said playable by my standards.  :||: There might even be a "tune I have almost learnt" ... but probably not in multiple fingerings.

It's not meant to be a test of ability. A tune would be great, but jut a play through the scale would be interesting

Quote
Silent practice....only if you use the air valve as a bass drone. 8)

My wife thinks I'm wheezy enough without any assistance. ::)
Title: Re: New Toy.....Old British Chromatic
Post by: Peadar on August 31, 2019, 01:14:42 AM
I have posted "Chi mi'n Tir 'san robh mi nam bhalach" in Theme of the month.

You tube is however kicking out the video that I have been trying to upload of sample scale/ bass sounds.