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Author Topic: Semi tone boxes.  (Read 2590 times)

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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Semi tone boxes.
« on: May 04, 2015, 08:34:37 PM »

So, tell me about semi-tone baxes. How difficult or easy are they to play, as opposed to something like a D/G, or a C/F ?


John
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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2015, 09:31:39 PM »

Why don't you tell us, John? You had a BCC# but gave up trying to learn it, didn't you?  (:)
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2015, 09:51:53 PM »

Well I never really got on with the bass side, so the treble end passed me by. Then again, now you come to mention it, I hadn't thought of it in those terms. I'll crawl back into me corner now.
It's a bugger when you get old, 2 and 2 quite often make 7. ;)

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2015, 11:05:17 PM »

As "semi tone boxes" are you trying to talk about boxes that has the complete # scale between its buttons? (all the # notes present)?

Like the most popular in this case, the B/C for example? That's it?
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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 12:21:08 AM »

So, tell me about semi-tone baxes. How difficult or easy are they to play, as opposed to something like a D/G, or a C/F ?

About the same ...but making the change from say, DG, isn't easy but rewarding nonetheless  ;)

Find a pal with a guitar and forget about the bass ;D
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Graham

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george garside

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 09:12:31 AM »

 The Dg can and often is played intuitively on the row like a mouthie  without  the driver needing any musical theory or even the names of the notes - a bit like a manual version of operating the gob to hum or sing!

A Bc can of course be played in B or C on the row in exactly the same way.

 Many do just this for a lifetime and if it suits them that's absolutely fine.

However to play a BC in a veriety of keys it is essential to know the location of all notes including alternative B & E's  and to   practice scales in  eg CFGDA.

However however!  much more can be done on a DG if the location of all the notes is known  and which goes with which to form a right and chord and where to cross the row to get better bass harmony etc

So in a sense both can be as easy or complicated as the individual wishes to make them!

george
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Boyen

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2015, 09:41:49 AM »

I'd imagine that going from D/G to C#/D isn't so hard. Playing in D on a C#/D is more restrictive if anything. Learning to play in G on the C#/D is like playing on the D row and only using the C from the G row.

B/C is a totally different though. It's changing from diatonic limitations to a chromatic approach (sort of).
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2015, 09:47:54 AM »

I had been looking at a nice wee C/C# box on E Bay, but it's gone now, anyway.


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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2015, 12:46:08 PM »

Looks like the OP is no looking for an answer but I wanted to put in my two cents.

I think it depends what style you play on a semitone box. I play C#/D and I have a G/C box now that I've begun learning. For the sake of this comparison I'm going to pretend I have an A/D box and everything is coming out a tone higher than my G/C box.

In that case, the bass side of box C#/D box and A/D box are the same and the inside row (D) is the same. The C#/D box has two reversals (F# and C#) and both of these are found on the A row of the A/D just in different locations. That being said, everything I play in D (or its related modes) on my C#/D box I can play on my A/D box without changing much.

I don't play in A much with the basses on my C#/D but perhaps that's a good thing for me to look into. One thing that stands out is that the G# is a different direction on both boxes.

Back to my original point though, this is for C#/D box playing mostly in D and similar keys (G and A). I started on B/C but didn't play long enough to get far with the bass side but the B/C box isn't just a the layout of a C#/D transposed down a tone. The bass side of the B/C box is set up to play in D and related keys. Again I didn't really play much bass on B/C but I imagine there's a lot more in common with the C#/D box and a quin/quad box than a B/C box.

As for C/C# I suppose it depends on the bass layout and whether it's set up to be a transposed B/C box so the bass is set for playing D# or if its set up to be a transposed C#/D for playing Db.
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george garside

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2015, 12:58:47 PM »

it is just a fact of life that 8 bass on  a semitone box  provide very limited , if any, accompaniment both in the sense of half decent harmony or a 'driving' rhythm  to  go with the chromatic treble side.

The only way round this is to have some sort of 'same both ways' bass  such as stradella or trixitixa (or whatever it called!)

george 
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2015, 01:12:17 PM »

Thanks for both of the last two posts, as they both make sense to me, and fill gaps in my musical knowledge. Being an 'Ear player', the finer points of notes and scales, is lost on me.

John
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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 05:50:56 PM »

I played a very ordinary quint (D/G) style for several years, then much later took up semitone (B/C), so I'm speaking from experience.  I have found two main differences:

The limitations of melodeon type basses means that they have only a very occasional place in my B/C playing style.  This means that for most of the time the tune's rhythm has to be generated and sustained on the treble keyboard, because the regular bass/chord alternation that seems to underpin a fair proportion of D/G playing styles (my own included) isn't available.

This means that on my B/C I don't (as some D/G players have described on this site, and as I too once used to) have the advantage of being able to superimpose a layer of right-hand melody on a previously learned harmonic and rhythmic structure for the left hand.

On B/C, the tune's basic rhythm, the stresses on beat notes and the phrasing all have to be planned into the right hand keystroke patterns, right from the start.  Playing without basses robs my right hand fingers of any of the left-hand timing prompts it could respond to on D/G.  It also demands slightly finer control of bellows, on whatever tuning.

As well as melodeon bass models, I have a stradella bass B/C box. Although the basses are the right ones and ought to work, I find that using them interferes with bellows of pressure and spoils the tune - my Irish tunes end up sounding English.  This might just be lack of skill on my part.
 
The other difference is fingering.  On D/G, the use of all 4 fingers allowed me to use a relatively static right hand position (with thumb behind keyboard) to cover the range of many traditional tunes.

It isn't really possible to do this on B/C.  My right hand has to be more mobile and agile than for D/G to cover the same range.  I use only 3 fingers to avoid tangles, and my thumb rests lightly on the outer edge of the keyboard. 

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 06:01:48 PM »

I believe the presence of the complete flat notes scale, it theoretically enriches your sound and possibilities. To form chords and giving more option of variation on it... for example nice chords with the seventh (C7 - B7 - E7 ...) and also minor chords and stuff. Specially in a 2 row model let's take as example a 2 row in CF or GC for example... I find so "poor" the possibilities and with so many repeated notes... In these tunes, having a 3rd row available so, that's ok, because you will have a 3 row full of flat notes.

But in a box 2 row, in my opinion, is really better when it is in B-C tune.
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Stiamh

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2015, 06:50:01 PM »

I had been looking at a nice wee C/C# box on E Bay, but it's gone now, anyway.

If you had said so to start with you might have got some more useful replies.  8)

Now, any tuning of 2-row semitone box is exactly as easy or hard to play as any other tuning of 2-row semitone box. All the fingerings that work for one will work for any other.

The crunch comes when you decide on the keys you want to play in.  (:) If you want to play in the most keys most often used in British Isles and Irish trad, my cursory dabbles lead me to believe that C/C# is overall, and by a wide margin, the worst choice of all the common (or once-common) tunings - B/C, C/C#, D/D# and C#/D-D/C#. 
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george garside

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2015, 07:20:57 PM »

CC# is handy for those who  want to  play mostly in the flat keys but keep to a light 2 row box as it effectively the ''flat half'' of a BCC#!

george
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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2015, 07:28:06 PM »

I played a very ordinary quint (D/G) style for several years, then much later took up semitone (B/C), so I'm speaking from experience.  I have found two main differences:

The limitations of melodeon type basses means that they have only a very occasional place in my B/C playing style.  This means that for most of the time the tune's rhythm has to be generated and sustained on the treble keyboard, 

 the rhythm and phrasing of a tune should always be inherent in the way the treble/melody is played .   The bass , if any, being used to add a rhythmic and or harmonic overlay. No amount of arty farty bass playing will work well on top of a tune in which the melody is being played ?unrhythmically 

george
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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2015, 10:02:59 PM »

yes George, I couldn't agree more.  Are there any youtube examples of the exquisitely flatulent style that you cite?
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george garside

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2015, 08:48:56 AM »

probably on there somewhere!

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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2015, 01:46:13 AM »

Boxer has given the clearest explanation of the basic differences between the D/G and the semitone box player's approach to playing Irish tunes that I've ever read. He's reminded me that I need to play a tune well with the right hand before loading up the basses if I'm hoping to achieve the 'Irish sound'. Bit of a pity this gem is hidden away here as it deserves a wider viewing in my opinion.

...
The limitations of melodeon type basses means that they have only a very occasional place in my B/C playing style.  This means that for most of the time the tune's rhythm has to be generated and sustained on the treble keyboard, because the regular bass/chord alternation that seems to underpin a fair proportion of D/G playing styles (my own included) isn't available.
...

And unfortunately there are lots of examples around of D/G box players overloading the basses when attempting to play Irish-style dance tunes (myself included).
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Re: Semi tone boxes.
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2015, 08:55:08 PM »

In all fairness, I've often seen Irish tunes played exceedingly well by D/G and A/D/G players, and sometimes with greater precision and restraint on the bass side of things than some B/C players I've seen.

My very mediocre D/G playing was very much left-hand driven, which served for the NW Morris tunes I played in those days.  I genuinely couldn't play a dance tune on D/G without an alternating bass left hand accompaniment. That deadening personal limitation prompted my decision to take up B/C for Irish tunes - which, despite the long shallow learning curve, is something I've never regretted. 

Getting hold of a stradella bass Black Dot has allowed me to reclaim most of my bass-laden English tunes with relative ease.   
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