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Discussions => Instrument Design, Construction and Repair => Topic started by: Peadar on February 13, 2020, 07:49:09 PM

Title: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Peadar on February 13, 2020, 07:49:09 PM
This seems like a way of approaching the B/C box from the general direction of the one row....without needing a brain transplant to also play an A/D or any other fourth apart box.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: David Summers on February 13, 2020, 08:10:25 PM
Isn't that like saying that a fourth apart box only able to play in two keys?

A semitone box means you can do all 12 notes, and a choice on two notes if you push or pull.

If you don't get a semitone box, and spend some time playing it, you won't know what it does.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Graham Wood on February 13, 2020, 08:40:38 PM
Would this be suggesting that a semitone box would be the ideal starter box to learn on because it allows an easier transition to fourth apart boxes as opposed to starting directly on a fourth apart box?
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Peadar on February 13, 2020, 08:42:01 PM
Isn't that like saying that a fourth apart box only able to play in two keys?

A semitone box means you can do all 12 notes, and a choice on two notes if you push or pull.

If you don't get a semitone box, and spend some time playing it, you won't know what it does.

No not really.....and having learnt that the B/C is the traditional melodeon tuning in Mull and Moidart to the South and Uibhist to the West I am going to have to at least experiment in that direction.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: boxcall on February 13, 2020, 09:43:11 PM
D/C# is that system basically or style of play.
C#/ D maybe
B/C not sure , but don’t think so.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Tufty on February 13, 2020, 09:51:39 PM


No not really.....and having learnt that the B/C is the traditional melodeon tuning in Mull and Moidart to the South and Uibhist to the West I am going to have to at least experiment in that direction.
[/quote]

When did the B/C box appear? I had thought it was quite recent, post WW2.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Peadar on February 13, 2020, 10:58:41 PM


No not really.....and having learnt that the B/C is the traditional melodeon tuning in Mull and Moidart to the South and Uibhist to the West I am going to have to at least experiment in that direction.

When did the B/C box appear? I had thought it was quite recent, post WW2.
[/quote]
I really don't know- Peter Wyper certainly promoted the inside out style with the C/C# effectively treating it as a B/C and some of the "P Wyper's Patent" Internationals were labelled "B"  they will date from circa 1920.
There have been suggestions that B/C accordion was making headway in middle class Ireland in the 1920's but that the single row melodeon lasted longer in the less affluent Gaeltacht areas. In the parallel universe of rural Scotland the farm labourer's "bothy box" appears to have remained common into the 1950's ( Referring to my Antoria 3 stop, Janet Graham a band leader who must be about 80 and is from a farming background [Cumbernauld]  recently told me  "they were all around the farms when I was a child") The B/C boxes may well not have been common in the West Highland areas until after WW2.

Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: george garside on February 13, 2020, 11:41:15 PM
The semitone boxes BC ,cc# etc  are chromatic instruments although some keys can be  more difficult than others.  The 3 row semitone box i.e. BCC#  are easlily chromatic and just require the learning of 5 scales to play in 12 keys and with  stradella ( same both ways) bass have the bass for all keys. The 2 row semotone boxes are somewhat limited as far as bass is concerned.

To me the 4th apart boxes DG etc are essentially 2 one row boxes  with reasonable bass for the home (on the row keys) They can also be played quite easilyu  a third up on the row  eg  D on the G row and A on the D row but with less precise bass.   The fact that  notes can be used from both rows in certain circumstances to ease fingering  or get more appropriate bass is in some ways    incidental 'I am not refering to t;he continental use of eg CF boxes where accross the row playing seems to be the main way of doing things.

Whilst its both fascinating and wholly legitimate to  get as much out of a  2 row 4th apart box as possible there are inherent limitations  and some distinct advantages.   However there is perhaps a point where a change to or the addition of a chromatic box will better answer the needs of some - there is a choice of BCC# which retains the 'diatonic' push pulliness or the  continental chromatic  1 scale for 12 kyes on the 5 row or indeed the piano box.

Perhaps for these reasons I play 1 row 4 stop, 2 row DG 2 row BC and 3 row BCC# plus occasional piano box and occasional c system continental. All have both merits and disadvantages
1#
george
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: David Summers on February 14, 2020, 12:33:50 PM
Original post changed slighly, and I've more time now, so lets give a more expansive answer. George is of course right. Have to say I'm learning BC layout, and don't have a fourth apart box.

Really I think the question is compare a fourth appart layout (e.g. DG) with a semitone layout (e.g. BC).

Both have two rows, with each row playing in a single key; so both devices can clearly play in at least two keys, DG for a DG device, and BC for a BC device - so this already says a semtone box is more that the original question, e.g. it has a B row - and this can be taken as the main row.

Now DG, the two rows largly have the same notes, the only difference is the C or C# that are on one row or another. Now this  repeating of notes, on one row is a pull, and the other is a push. This means in tunes in D or G you have almost total freedom to play the note in either push or pull - and that is what DG players will use to their advantage.

Now BC players only have a B and an E on both rows, so for almost all notes you have no choice in what button to use for a note, there is only one and it is fixed to either pull or push. But what this choice means is that you have access to all 12 notes, a DG box can only play 8 notes, but a BC has access to all 12. This gives the BC player chance to play in all keys, e.g. to play in G a BC player plays mainly on the C row and takes the F# from the B row; to play in D he also uses the C# from the B row; and so on.

Now this shows the difference, a DG play has almost total choice over playing a note on push or pull, a BC player has almost total choice of key.

But its worth digging into why, driven by the circle of fifths (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/Circle_of_fifths_deluxe_4.svg/400px-Circle_of_fifths_deluxe_4.svg.png). You can see that D and G are next to each other, with only a C/C# difference between them. But to access the next keys round (C and A) - and you can't do this, you can't play an F in a key of C; and you can't play an G# in a key of A. So a DG box without additional keys can't play in any key other than DG, that is there limitation and so why they have helper keys.

Now on a BC box, B and C on the circle of fifths are almost opposite sides, with almost no notes in common, but this also shows how to access other keys, e.g. a key of E would larly be on the B row, with the A note taken from the C row. Now although a BC box has all notes, some keys will get a bit silly, e.g. Eb and Ab are both almost 50/50 on both the B and the C row.

So a DG box gives more choice in how to play the tune, but limited key choice without helpers. A BC box gives no choice, which makes it harder to play; but has access to far more keys.

I'd say its swings and roundabouts, forth boxes, and semitone boxes, are different beasts each with their own advantages, and also their own disadvantages.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 14, 2020, 12:44:05 PM
Original post makes very little sense, in my opinion. Not at all a useful way of looking at the BC box.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Chris Rayner on February 14, 2020, 01:06:36 PM
Original post makes very little sense, in my opinion. Not at all a useful way of looking at the BC box.

I see your point, but it’s an interesting idea.  I think the results in the hands of excellent players speak for themselves.  They use the two rows as a single instrument.  A single row with helper row is more of an organetto.

I heard somewhere that Jimmy Shand once said that if he were starting again he’d take up the CBA.  Dunno how true that is.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Gena Crisman on February 14, 2020, 02:08:16 PM
But its worth digging into why, driven by the circle of fifths.
You can see that D and G are next to each other...
Now on a BC box, B and C on the circle of fifths are almost opposite sides
This approach was very interesting to read since that's exactly how I think about it.

I think it raises a few interesting questions, too - If a narrow gap gives maximum choice but the largest key restriction, and the widest gap gives the least choice, but 0 key restriction - are there... other choices?

Something I like to do is consider if it is possible to at least partially describe what people consider useful accidental rows as (almost) being a row of some other key, and does that approach help inform what direction the notes on it should be in?
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Chris Ryall on February 14, 2020, 02:24:30 PM
Yes, it does. My C# based accs row is very much predicated on C# being the most “different” key from G, and second most different from D.

Fair to recognise that one might say the same of a C# row reversed (pull/push), or either configuration based on Ab. So no to question B. That’s about whether your style of play tends to sharpen notes (ie modulate up a key), or flatten (you like Blues)

The concept of playing “out” in improvisation is closely related … 🤔 If you’ve recently been with Anne Neipold you might have picked up on that 😉
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: David Summers on February 14, 2020, 03:01:51 PM
But its worth digging into why, driven by the circle of fifths.
You can see that D and G are next to each other...
Now on a BC box, B and C on the circle of fifths are almost opposite sides
This approach was very interesting to read since that's exactly how I think about it.

I think it raises a few interesting questions, too - If a narrow gap gives maximum choice but the largest key restriction, and the widest gap gives the least choice, but 0 key restriction - are there... other choices?

Something I like to do is consider if it is possible to at least partially describe what people consider useful accidental rows as (almost) being a row of some other key, and does that approach help inform what direction the notes on it should be in?
To my mind, yes on a fouth appart box, when you add helper rows and accidentals, then yes use the circle of fifths, go to the next key either left or right from the key you have, see what the extra note is - and thats useful to have as an accidental, as it gives access to an extra key. All other keys will need access to at least two accidentals.

Another way of looking at it, is choose tunes from close by keys on the circle of fifths, and you'll find many that don't use the note with the accidental. We had that recently on the old adam was a poacher, for the first part in d minor, but the tune didn't use a Bb at any stage, so this could be played on a C major melodeon with no duff notes.

Its also why in tunes, the dominant and the subdominant are so critical. Being a fifth or a fouth away, they are only one step round the circle of fifths, and so only have a single note that needs an accidental. It means that many tunes, you can move up a fouth or a fifth, and not have to change the key. So you find many tunes do that.

I guess, you may have guessed, I'm a theory person - but to me whats good about theory is how it brings understanding. So when I do practical music, either singing or melodeon, you use the theory to help you do practice better. :)

And a wierd idea I had last night, on a three row box, how well would C E Ab do - as then the three rows are maximally appart on the circle of fifths. But really next need to draw the layout, and see what the implications are. Initially it seems bad, becuase the notes are major thirds appart - but all would be in the same direction. Now thats not a chord due to all thirds being major.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Peadar on February 14, 2020, 07:18:52 PM


Really I think the question is compare a fourth appart layout (e.g. DG) with a semitone layout (e.g. BC).


No it wasn't - The direct comparison I was making is with a 1 row. Which is my melodeon reference point.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: mselic on February 14, 2020, 07:25:10 PM
B/C would only be “like a one-row melodeon with accidentals” if your one-row was in the key of C. For ITM, only the C#/D and D/C# would be like what you’re describing.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: folkloristmark on February 14, 2020, 07:56:48 PM
If you come from one row playing then yes the original statement is correct, nay understanable,but as the posts say once you have played G from C and D from C you will end up with a fully chromatic approach.At the moment I seem to be treating my G and C semitone boxes as one rows. But the Bc seems different which is wierd but it is very early days.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Rees on February 14, 2020, 09:15:06 PM
Before the D/G was invented the old folks used to play in C on anything with a C row.
They were coming from a one-row perspective so yes B/C and C/C# were one-rows with a helper row.
Dolly Curtis from Dennington, Suffolk is an example of this style.

https://eatmt.wordpress.com/dolly-curtis/ (https://eatmt.wordpress.com/dolly-curtis/)
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: boxcall on February 14, 2020, 09:15:57 PM
Original post makes very little sense, in my opinion. Not at all a useful way of looking at the BC box.
A single row with helper row is more of an organetto.
It is if you want reversals for your helper row, not if you want extra helper / semitone apart notes, which I do believe is what the OP means.
Correct me if I'm off please.

really the only (true) semitone with helper is a 1.something, e.g. 1.3 , 1.5, etc. IMO
all the others could be played as Mselic said play your B/C as a C box using B row as helper, suppose if nobody minded you could reverse that and play in B using the C row as helper.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Rees on February 14, 2020, 09:21:08 PM
way back in the day, Mrs Crowley of Kenmare, Co. Kerry played her Double Ray for me. She played the tune on the B row with C basses.
An acquired taste!
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: bellowpin on February 14, 2020, 09:21:53 PM
This seems like a way of approaching the B/C box from the general direction of the one row....without needing a brain transplant to also play an A/D or any other fourth apart box.
      at first there seems to be a gulf between the two system types ,(semitone and fourth apart ) . the connections are there when you look at their one-row roots .  as the fourth apart systems expand to include a row of accidentals,    new connections and parallels appear.
 modern style French music seems to require a G C +accidentals .  what started out as a instrument keyed G, as changed, with  the clever stu
ff being played mainly  C+ accidentals.     C. C# semitone if you see what what I mean.     there is nothing new under the sun!!
    brian
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 15, 2020, 07:51:35 AM
way back in the day, Mrs Crowley of Kenmare, Co. Kerry played her Double Ray for me. She played the tune on the B row with C basses.
An acquired taste!

And what exactly is that anecdote telling us? You met someone who didn't know how to play the box properly?
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 15, 2020, 08:07:40 AM
Both have two rows, with each row playing in a single key; so both devices can clearly play in at least two keys, DG for a DG device, and BC for a BC device - so this already says a semtone box is more that the original question, e.g. it has a B row - and this can be taken as the main row.


I don't think it is at all helpful to look at the semitone boxes from the peculiar perspective of the DG player.  A B/C box is not used to play in B or C, or almost never. Once you have learned and understood the fingering it becomes a single keyboard, with different fingering patterns for different keys. None of the DG preoccupations like ('helper rows', 'chin end accidentals', 'fourth button start' and so on) have any relevance.

Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Mike Hirst on February 15, 2020, 08:16:10 AM
Once you have learned and understood the fingering it becomes a single keyboard, with different fingering patterns for different keys. None of the DG preoccupations like ('helper rows', 'chin end accidentals', 'fourth button start' and so on) have any relevance.

Richard, I could not agree more.

Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 15, 2020, 09:36:32 AM
I don't think it is at all helpful to look at the semitone boxes from the peculiar perspective of the DG player.  A B/C box is not used to play in B or C, or almost never. Once you have learned and understood the fingering it becomes a single keyboard, with different fingering patterns for different keys. None of the DG preoccupations like ('helper rows', 'chin end accidentals', 'fourth button start' and so on) have any relevance.
Oh - but we love our peculiar perspectives and preoccupations. They give us something to talk about at parties, in pubs, and in sessions. They justify 90% of the existence of this board, allow joyous and athletic displays like this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p0s_-DPwTg) to thrive and such beautiful, sensuous, occasions like this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XytcQovGT-U) to suddenly happen.
How can you not envy us? (https://youtu.be/lFIMNYDafNo?t=46) >:E


Yes I know, I'm very naughty...
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Rees on February 15, 2020, 10:18:59 AM
way back in the day, Mrs Crowley of Kenmare, Co. Kerry played her Double Ray for me. She played the tune on the B row with C basses.
An acquired taste!

And what exactly is that anecdote telling us? You met someone who didn't know how to play the box properly?

Well, she was about 80 years old and had been playing all her life. Apart from playing the wrong basses she was quite a good player.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Rees on February 15, 2020, 10:22:18 AM
Both have two rows, with each row playing in a single key; so both devices can clearly play in at least two keys, DG for a DG device, and BC for a BC device - so this already says a semtone box is more that the original question, e.g. it has a B row - and this can be taken as the main row.


I don't think it is at all helpful to look at the semitone boxes from the peculiar perspective of the DG player.  A B/C box is not used to play in B or C, or almost never. Once you have learned and understood the fingering it becomes a single keyboard, with different fingering patterns for different keys. None of the DG preoccupations like ('helper rows', 'chin end accidentals', 'fourth button start' and so on) have any relevance.

True in Ireland but not so among musicians from the English tradition.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 15, 2020, 10:41:00 AM
I don't think it is at all helpful to look at the semitone boxes from the peculiar perspective of the DG player. 

Quite possibly no more relevant or helpful than it is to look at D/G, or other fourth-apart tunings, from the peculiar perspective of the semitone box player but that doesn't seem to stop people from doing so, live and let live perhaps?
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Anahata on February 15, 2020, 11:19:01 AM
Once you have learned and understood the fingering it becomes a single keyboard, with different fingering patterns for different keys.

This.
They are different instruments. (and I know, because I've played both systems.)
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 15, 2020, 11:38:37 AM
quote
True in Ireland but not so among musicians from the English tradition.

Is it possible that in Ireland for many years there was a vital tradition with many accomplished players to listen to on the radio and on the old 78s and some sort of infrastructure of ceilidh bands and recording studios so there was a standard set for people to follow (in terms of the keys to play in) when  they picked up and tried to play the box, even if they had no musical knowledge. I've had an Irish BC player try to explain the BC system to me terms of 'mixing in a few notes from this row if you can't get them on that row', and he was a good player who played in the standard key for whatever tune he was playing.

I wonder if rural players in, say, East Anglia, who picked up the box and learned to knock out tunes on it without much support from a wider musical tradition, had very little understanding of keys and suchlike. So if a box had a C and a B row  row they probably played in C or B, and used that fingering for any melodeon they came across, however it was tuned. And, with a nod to Peadar here, I don't suppose there were many shops in England selling Wyper's tutor books.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Howard Jones on February 15, 2020, 11:45:35 AM
Perhaps I've misunderstood the OP (I play 4th-apart) but surely his suggestion applies only if you're playing a semitone box in one of its home keys?  Viewed that way, you have the home key plus all the accidentals on a 'helper row'.  However in practice these boxes are usually played in different keys, meaning the whole keyboard has to be regarded as one. Or have I missed something?

The same can be said for 4th-apart boxes, where the two rows offer alternative choices for most of the notes.  I disagree with George when he suggests that this used mainly by continental players, many modern players of English music use cross-rowing extensively and treat the keyboard as a whole, rather than as two one-rows.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Lester on February 15, 2020, 11:48:12 AM
I wonder if rural players in, say, East Anglia, who picked up the box and learned to knock out tunes on it without much support from a wider musical tradition, had very little understanding of keys and suchlike. So if a box had a C and a B row  row they probably played in C or B, and used that fingering for any melodeon they came across, however it was tuned.


Many of the old players from East Anglia did more than 'knock out tunes'. I realise that in your view anything not ITM is substandard but please don't disparage other's traditions.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 15, 2020, 11:50:50 AM
'Home key' is another of those DG concepts that are quite irrelevant when talking about semitone boxes. Semitone players don't think in those terms. :M
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 15, 2020, 11:55:45 AM

Many of the old players from East Anglia did more than 'knock out tunes'. I realise that in your view anything not ITM is substandard but please don't disparage other's traditions.

Please don't misunderstand me. I used the phrase 'knock out tunes' to describe the early stages of the learning process - you pick up a box and try to knock out a tune on it without much thought at that stage about keys and so on. I had no intention to disparage anyone, so please accept my apologies even if, in terms of my actual motives, I have nothing to apologise about.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Howard Jones on February 15, 2020, 12:02:25 PM
'Home key' is another of those DG concepts that are quite irrelevant when talking about semitone boxes. Semitone players don't think in those terms. :M

They do, in the sense that they describe their boxes as B/C, C/C#. C#/D, etc, based on the home keys of the rows, but I agree not when it comes to playing.

However that was sort of my point.  The OP's suggestion only makes sense (to me) if looked at from the perspective of home keys, but that is not how these instruments are usually played.  And whilst I don't play a semi-tone box, I assume players think of a key in terms of the notes of the key itself, and not as accidentals to the keys of the rows.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: boxcall on February 15, 2020, 12:21:19 PM
'Home key' is another of those DG concepts that are quite irrelevant when talking about semitone boxes. Semitone players don't think in those terms. :M
Some might.
I play D/C# and consider the D row as the main / home key row , every key played gets played mainly on the D row or with its notes for different keys. Using the other row for a few reversals and accidentals.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 15, 2020, 12:28:40 PM
If I'm recalling right from my youth in Tyrone, my dad and visitors who played his melodeon when they came on their ceilidh largely played on the row on his semitone box. None of them were fancy musicians, in fact I suspect they had no training whatsoever, but they certainly enjoyed 'knocking out' tunes on it. My dad doesn't play anymore, due to age and the state of the box (leaky as a sieve), but I might try to persuade him to give it a wee go to see if my memory is right.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: David Summers on February 15, 2020, 01:30:00 PM
Both have two rows, with each row playing in a single key; so both devices can clearly play in at least two keys, DG for a DG device, and BC for a BC device - so this already says a semtone box is more that the original question, e.g. it has a B row - and this can be taken as the main row.


I don't think it is at all helpful to look at the semitone boxes from the peculiar perspective of the DG player.  A B/C box is not used to play in B or C, or almost never. Once you have learned and understood the fingering it becomes a single keyboard, with different fingering patterns for different keys. None of the DG preoccupations like ('helper rows', 'chin end accidentals', 'fourth button start' and so on) have any relevance.
I totally agree with this - for me as a BC player, the concept of helper keys is a tad alien. So I'm not sure what the original question is, e.g. in when a button is called a "helper button" what does this mean?
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 15, 2020, 01:37:08 PM
I totally agree with this - for me as a BC player, the concept of helper keys is a tad alien. So I'm not sure what the original question is, e.g. in when a botton is called a "helper button" what does this mean?

Hey, I'm a D/G player and the concept is not on my radar either  :|||: :M
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Larry Powers on February 15, 2020, 01:41:00 PM
As a beginner single row player I think approaching the semitone box as a one row with a helper row is a valid concept.  My original box is a D box with a few accidentals.  The G# and C natural being the most useful for playing in G and A.  I wanted a smaller travel box that I could practice on so I selected a D/C# box.  The accidentals fall in nearly the same place and allow me to transfer my patterns between the two boxes.  At some point I can learn to use the D/C# box as a semitone instrument and take advantage of the chromatic nature of that system.

So from a single row players view point I agree that a semitone box can be viewed as a single row with a helper row, as long as one of the rows is in a key you normally play on a single row. 

Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Winston Smith on February 15, 2020, 02:03:56 PM
Thank you so much, Larry! At last someone who is willing to write sensibly in answer to the OP. I cannot help but notice that your reply is from a 1 row beginners perspective, and that, just maybe, most of the other respondents are rather "over egging the pudding" because  of their wide musical knowledge and possibly higher playing skill levels. (And not just for the sake of being antagonistic, heaven forbid!)
Thanks again?
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Steve_freereeder on February 15, 2020, 06:54:16 PM
...for me as a BC player, the concept of helper keys is a tad alien. So I'm not sure what the original question is, e.g. in when a button is called a "helper button" what does this mean?
The term 'helper buttons' is a hang-on from the original Hohner Club instruments, where there was an additional 'helper' row as well as the two main rows. The additional row could consist of a number of buttons but 2, 4, or 7 buttons was the most common. The notes consisted of accidentals and reversals. There are some examples here:
http://www.forum.melodeon.net/index.php/page,keyboard_25_row.html

Over time, 'helper row' has become a convenient synonym for 'half row'; I don't think it is applied to a full third row, even if that consists of accidentals and reversals.

Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: David Summers on February 16, 2020, 12:26:59 PM
...for me as a BC player, the concept of helper keys is a tad alien. So I'm not sure what the original question is, e.g. in when a button is called a "helper button" what does this mean?
The term 'helper buttons' is a hang-on from the original Hohner Club instruments, where there was an additional 'helper' row as well as the two main rows. The additional row could consist of a number of buttons but 2, 4, or 7 buttons was the most common. The notes consisted of accidentals and reversals. There are some examples here:
http://www.forum.melodeon.net/index.php/page,keyboard_25_row.html

Over time, 'helper row' has become a convenient synonym for 'half row'; I don't think it is applied to a full third row, even if that consists of accidentals and reversals.
Thanks Steve, yes I guess that fits in with what I'd have guessed. If I was to summarise I say something like

"A row or a button, that is outside the standard layout, that gives access to either accidentals or reversals."

Now just writing that, has expanded the concept. What is "standard layout", to me for a melodeon its that a row on push gives the repeating notes 1,3,5 of a key, and on pull gives 2,4,6,7.

Standard layout, means that a 1 row player, can pick up a two row box, be that a fourth appart, or semitone, and play a tune on either of the two rows, and it will work - all be it in a different key.

And this has already reached a point where I don't understand the original question, on a semitone box, both rows have standard layout. So I wouldn't call either row a helper row.

But if we start from half row on a 2.5 machine, and its typically giving access to accidentals that aren't in the main keys of the melodeon, and their layout isn't standard (e.g. 1-3-5 and 2-4-6-7). And maybe this is what peadler was thinking of, a helper is a button that gives access to accidentals. If you take a semitone box, as being in just one key, then yes the second row is a row of acidentals, all be it in standard layout.

And this is where things differ, in fourth apart boxes, there the second row mainly gives access to reversals, so options to improve bellow motion. A semitone box necessary has the bellows going back and forth; whereas a fourth apart box, can have long draws on a phrase. So the second row is very different on a fourth apart box.

Whats interesting though, is that many fourth apart boxes, have buttons at the button each row that aren't in standard layout, indeed offten not even in the key of the device. These buttons truely do give access to accidentals that you wouldn't otherwise have. So why then wouldn't these buttons be called helper buttons?

And I guess this is where I'm coming full circle, I'm not sure "helper row" a helpful  expression to use in the context of a semitone box. Yes its how a player accesses accidentals, but for a semitone box player - its just how they access notes in a key outside the home two. And for a semitone player, the circle of fifth sharp and flats, on a semitone box are in a standard position on the box, due to both rows being in standard layout. As a player moves to keys round the circle of fifths, he just adds more notes from the second row - and this is just how the box works. I think this is why to me the original question that started this thread is flawed - it doesn't look at how semitone players use their boxes.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: gettabettabox on February 16, 2020, 01:13:17 PM
If I'm recalling right from my youth in Tyrone, my dad and visitors who played his melodeon when they came on their ceilidh largely played on the row on his semitone box. None of them were fancy musicians, in fact I suspect they had no training whatsoever, but they certainly enjoyed 'knocking out' tunes on it. My dad doesn't play anymore, due to age and the state of the box (leaky as a sieve), but I might try to persuade him to give it a wee go to see if my memory is right.
Yep, the term  “knocking out a tune” would not be considered derogatory in my world.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: george garside on February 17, 2020, 12:12:28 AM
[
[/quote]

I don't think it is at all helpful to look at the semitone boxes from the peculiar perspective of the DG player.  A B/C box is not used to play in B or C, or almost never. Once you have learned and understood the fingering it becomes a single keyboard, with different fingering patterns for different keys. None of the DG preoccupations like ('helper rows', 'chin end accidentals', 'fourth button start' and so on) have any relevance.
[/quote]
I totally agree with this - for me as a BC player, the concept of helper keys is a tad alien. So I'm not sure what the original question is, e.g. in when a button is called a "helper button" what does this mean?
[/quote]

I agree, the notion of helper row on a bc or bcc# is well off beam!   The logical way of looking a t a bc is to view the C row as akin to the white notes on a piano keyboard and the B row as akin to the black notes ( with a couple of spare white notes chucked in for good measure.   Viewed that way it is a simple matter to learn scales for FCGDAE on a BC box  whilst the same fingering on a C#D box will provide the equivelent 'flat' keys.   The BCC#  being if effect a BC and a CC# enables 12 keys for 5 scales/

george
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Alan Pittwood on February 17, 2020, 12:36:29 AM
A B/C box is not used to play in B or C, or almost never.

Quite, the one marvellous exception being:

Rose Murphy  Milltown Lass  Old Time Irish Fiddle and Accordion  Topic Records 12TS316 [LP](1977)  Topic Records TSDL316 [digital download] (2010)

Rose Murphy (née Conlon) [sister of P J Conlon, who recorded in the USA] plays all the accordion tracks on the outside, B, row of her Hohner Double Ray Deluxe
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: tirpous on February 17, 2020, 02:28:28 AM
Quote
The logical way of looking a t a bc is to view the C row as akin to the white notes on a piano keyboard and the B row as akin to the black notes ( with a couple of spare white notes chucked in for good measure.   Viewed that way it is a simple matter to learn scales for FCGDAE on a BC box  whilst the same fingering on a C#D box will provide the equivelent 'flat' keys.

I don't really see a difference between what you're saying here and  "a semitone box is a 1 row with a helper row".  The C row is the 1-row and the B row is the helper row where you go get your accidentals.  Is it the term 'helper row' that is causing problems ?? 
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Winston Smith on February 17, 2020, 05:38:36 AM
"The C row is the 1-row and the B row is the helper row where you go get your accidentals"

Never having tried a semitone box, and being chastised for entering the fray before now for that very reason, I'm somewhat hesitant to do so again, but; Tirpous's above stated opinion seems to be bolstered by Mr Garside's;

"A B/C box is not used to play in B or C, or almost never."

If it's not used as a normal (normal to 1 row and 4th apart players, that is) B row, and reversals aren't really needed to match the basses, which hardly seem to be played anyway, then surely its only purpose is to support the C row in a manner which makes it a "helper" row, i.e. "helping" the C row by offering accidentals, or reversals which allow faster or smoother playing.

Of course, it has been made abundantly clear that semitone box players don't
recognise this viewpoint, but I believe that the OP was directed at folk who 's understanding stems from the fact that they play either 1 rows or the 4th apart system, where such terminology is straightforwardly understood and accepted. 
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Chris Ryall on February 17, 2020, 07:26:50 AM
Well, we’ve certainly discussed it. I hope Peadar might advise himself as to whether we answered the question

I think this is a matter of attitude. My half tone setup is very much used as a helper row, except in Bb blues … the scale goes like a rocket across my C#/D rows.

However everyone else I know with half tone setup plays the instrument as a whole. It seems to be much more of a “use the Force” way of playing. Amazing how fluid, and fast it can be!

There’s a theory of Irish v British music that one is melody based, the other chord based. My brain approaches music in chords. I think that underlies my ways.  It’s a totally different approach. I could perhaps have mentioned my Bb experience in the parallel “Ahah!” thread 🤔
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 17, 2020, 08:23:32 AM
I believe that the OP was directed at folk who 's understanding stems from the fact that they play either 1 rows or the 4th apart system, where such terminology is straightforwardly understood and accepted.

All I, at any rate, have been trying to say is that while it is understandable for 1-row or 4th-apart players to see semi-tone boxes in the way suggested by Peadar, it is not at all helpful.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: richard.fleming on February 17, 2020, 08:28:17 AM
Quote

I don't really see a difference between what you're saying here and  "a semitone box is a 1 row with a helper row".  The C row is the 1-row and the B row is the helper row where you go get your accidentals.  Is it the term 'helper row' that is causing problems ??



I think the point is that the 'helper row' idea arose to make up for some of the limitations of (say) a DG box. The semi-tone boxes don't need 'help' because they don't have those limitations. (Before someone jumps in, I'm not saying they don't have any limitations, merely that they don't need 'helper rows'). 'Going to get your accidentals' doesn't mean much either, because in any key on a semi-tone box the 'accidentals' are in a continuous sequence of buttons for whichever key you are playing, so you don't have to go anywhere else to 'get' them. I suspect, though I'm not that hot on musical theory, that strictly speaking many of these notes that melodeon players call accidentals are not really accidentals at all, but simply notes not in what is seen as the 'main' row. You'll correct me if I'm wrong, I hope.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: JohnS on February 17, 2020, 09:23:22 AM
Quote
I believe that the OP was directed at folk who 's understanding stems from the fact that they play either 1 rows or the 4th apart system, where such terminology is straightforwardly understood and accepted.

If that's the way you want to think about it then you are free to do so.  No B/C player would ever describe it in those terms, any more than a piano player would describe the black keys as 'helper keys'.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: george garside on February 17, 2020, 10:51:38 AM
could say more but won't!

george ;)
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 17, 2020, 11:08:45 AM
Quote
I believe that the OP was directed at folk who 's understanding stems from the fact that they play either 1 rows or the 4th apart system, where such terminology is straightforwardly understood and accepted.

If that's the way you want to think about it then you are free to do so.  No B/C player would ever describe it in those terms, any more than a piano player would describe the black keys as 'helper keys'.

But, I've always thought of the black keys as helper keys. That's what they are, aren't they?   :D

Enabling might be a better name than helper.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: baz parkes on February 17, 2020, 11:22:22 AM
could say more but won't!

george ;)

Not feeling well George  >:E :|glug
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: tirpous on February 17, 2020, 04:23:48 PM
Quote
Quote
    I don't really see a difference between what you're saying here and  "a semitone box is a 1 row with a helper row".  The C row is the 1-row and the B row is the helper row where you go get your accidentals.  Is it the term 'helper row' that is causing problems ??

I think the point is that the 'helper row' idea arose to make up for some of the limitations of (say) a DG box. The semi-tone boxes don't need 'help' because they don't have those limitations. (Before someone jumps in, I'm not saying they don't have any limitations, merely that they don't need 'helper rows'). 'Going to get your accidentals' doesn't mean much either, because in any key on a semi-tone box the 'accidentals' are in a continuous sequence of buttons for whichever key you are playing, so you don't have to go anywhere else to 'get' them. I suspect, though I'm not that hot on musical theory, that strictly speaking many of these notes that melodeon players call accidentals are not really accidentals at all, but simply notes not in what is seen as the 'main' row. You'll correct me if I'm wrong, I hope.

Well, on a B/C box the inside C row is all straight notes and the outside B row is mostly accidentals that will HELP to play in other keys.

Granted on a C#/D there are C#s and F#s built into the D row, but again the C# row provides supplementary notes (you're correct -accidentals may not be the best term in that case) needed to play in other keys.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Winston Smith on February 17, 2020, 04:30:08 PM
Are flats and sharps not normally referred to as accidentals in other areas of music? "Other areas" being those not closely melodeon/accordion related. 
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Theo on February 17, 2020, 04:57:27 PM
Sharps and flats are only accidentals if they are not part of the scale in which you are playing.  So for example if playing in D the scale includes C# and F#  so those are not accidentals, but F natural would be an accidental in the context of playing in the D.

And referring to Tirpous above if you were to play a tune in the key of B major then none of those notes on the B row would be accidentals in that context.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: george garside on February 17, 2020, 05:49:04 PM
Quote
Quote
    I
 quote]

Well, on a B/C box the inside C row is all straight notes and the outside B row is mostly accidentals that will HELP to play in other keys.

 .

the NOTES on the B row are not accidentals  they are sharps and flats  . They are there to enable rather than help playing other than in B or C in exactly the same way as the black notes on a piano.  Strange assortments of  ''Accidentals''  on 4th apart boxes  are often not entirely logical for a paaticular type of mussior to suit the desires of a particular player.   Tn other words on a  BC box both rows  are an integral  in the sense of enablling the box to be played chromatically  which ,as far as I am aware is not possible on a 4th aprt box - an instrument is either chromatic or it isn't - it can't be a bit chromatic!

george
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: JohnAndy on February 17, 2020, 06:28:23 PM
Well, on a B/C box the inside C row is all straight notes and the outside B row is mostly accidentals that will HELP to play in other keys.

But it would be equally valid to say that the outside B row is all the straight notes you need for playing in B major, and the inside C row is mostly accidentals that you need for playing in keys other than B major!

(I'm not suggesting that you'd really want to think of it in that way, just trying to highlight the assumptions in your way of looking at it)

The point is that it's a question of mentality. The B/C player (with possible exceptions as noted earlier in thread e.g. East Anglian tradition) just doesn't think of one row as being "straight" notes and the other being "accidentals". Whatever key they want to play in, they'll find some of the notes on one row and some on the other row, and I guess one or two notes would be available on both rows. (Except of course if playing in C or B then they will find all the notes on the same row)

The D/G (or 4th apart) instrument is designed to play primarily in specific keys and any notes lying outside those scales of those keys will be thought of as an "accidental". But that way of thinking is not helpful for a B/C player.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 17, 2020, 06:29:54 PM
We definitely seem to be going round in circles now... please make it stop  :|||:
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Theo on February 17, 2020, 06:32:04 PM
[[ADMI]]

Agreed Helena

Topic closed.
Title: Re: A Semitone Box Is A 1 Row With A Helper Row: Discuss
Post by: Theo on February 19, 2020, 09:30:16 AM
A last contribution from the Peadar who started the topic:

I was about  to respond to Chris Ryalls suggestion that I answer as to whether the discussion had answered my question when Theo drew the debate to a close, so I am asking him to edit this message into the last post on the topic.

There was of course the inevitable digging in to established positions but I took something away from the points made by almost eveyone who engaged with the question.
I concluded yes you can look at it in that way, but regardless of how I see it myself, the approach makes most sense if you are coming from a musical tradition in which there is a predominant key to which your main row is adapted. Notwithstanding the Peter Kennedy's views on D&G as the most useful keys for folk music I personally think (probably wrongly) of C as the home key of traditional English music.
The B/C had seemed to me a rather strange choice for Irish and Gaidhlig traditional music, where instrumental keys have long been influenced by the easier settings for fiddle music (G, D, A) and the pipes (D). I found Richard Fleming's explanation that he sees the semitone keyboard as a single entity rather than two rows was genuinely enlightening, and though I doubt my psyche will ever comprehend it in that way it explained how the B/C works with Irish Traditional music centred round the key of D.
Others demonstrated quite different ways of understanding the keyboard...and I would like to say a personal thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion.
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