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Author Topic: BC vs BCC#  (Read 1991 times)

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RogerT

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BC vs BCC#
« on: August 30, 2016, 09:45:47 PM »

I've had a fairly long tinker on a BC, over the last year or so, but reckon it'd take me a fair few hundred hours to get fluent on it to play fast-ish. I can see why it's good for Irish tunes. But it's not the most intuitive of layouts. Does a BCC# box naturally make things any easier? I've had a look at the layout and I'm not sure really. Would i get any more out of a BCC# than a BC (of which I have several...)?  Looks like you get most of the common keys on push or pull, but there is only a push G. And  if you have few(er) bellows reversals to get a scale, what's the advantage over a two and a bit octave PA?

KLR

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2016, 02:20:07 AM »

There's a B/C/C# Forum where they covered the topic of whether anyone played 2 rows, and why.  These are all Scottish players far as I know so their reasons might not be why you'd want a 2 row for Irish music.

I play Irish music on the B/C/C#, I don't own a B/C but have a bunch of old 2 row or 3 row 12 bass Hohners so am familiar with playing smaller boxes.  My old Hohner Gaelic IVS B/C/C# weighs about 8 kg so be ready to lug around a lot more accordion.  The stradella bass I can't do without but a lot of what it has to offer isn't necessarily anything you'd be interested in - the capability to play in keys like Bb and F.  You have major and minor chords which might offend people with guitars in DADGAD tuning etc.  "Doesn't sound Celtic!" 

Playing in A major on the B/C is a bit of a struggle as most of the scale is pull notes, you have to strategically use alternates a lot.  The C# row on the B/C/C# helps you get out of that jam, it's very handy for other things like smoothing out arpeggios too, or you can actually play a roll on F#.  I have an old Hohner Trichord B/C/C# that's just 2 voice and 12 bass, that cost about $600.  It isn't working at its best though.  Hohner make newer boxes in B/C/C# but I gather there not all that great - it's a Chinese build.  Look for reviews.  The Gaelic IVS is much nicer but the tuning is about as wet as can be imagined, you'd get chased out of a session toot suite with such a thing.  You could tape off the reeds to have just 2 dry voices maybe.  That one cost me about $950. 

All of which is to say that for the demands of Irish music a B/C should be more than enough for anybody but diehards.  If you have a lot of cash burning a hole in your pocket you can pick up an oldie to see what you think.  Box players who try out my instruments usually can't get past just how much heavier they are.

I can't enjoy playing dance music on a PA at all, it's just completely unsatisfying.   :||:
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RogerT

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2016, 10:17:48 AM »

Thanks. Very informative.

george garside

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2016, 11:29:47 AM »

on a BCC# there is only one D(pull) A (pull) &G push. Also two Bb's but both pull!.  All other notes are duplicated in both directions of the bellows.

On the (liked to here) button box forum I have drawn up  a set of scale charts that as well as providing a basic scale for each key also shows which alternative buttons could be used for a particular key.

The BC has  only 2  duplicated  notes  B and E  and the use of  either or both of these greatly facilitates bellows control when playing in A making playing in A quite easy.

A BCC# is effectively a combination of a BC and a CC# with the common C row being shared.  Learning on a BC enables you to play readily in the flat keys on a BCC# merely by doing the same thing on the inside  (CC#) rows so  G scale becomes Ab,  D = Eb,  A=Bb 
E =F in other words  8 keys for the price of 4.  C played on the row is obviously the same as  B and C# so that brings us to 1 kes for the price of 5.  F# is  more or less the same as G but using the outside row as the 'home' row.

for non BC players taking up the BCC# learning it as a 2 row initially is therefore advantageos  as it is then  readily chromatic.


When using all 3 rows  all the accidentals fall readily and logically to hand  in much the same way as the black notes on a piano  and this is of course useful for tunes  with accidental accidentals here and there as well as those forming part of a scale.

Once playing on 2 rows is mastered  the full range of alternative notes can be used to taste!  This can be to ease tricky fingering  aand/or to facilitate control of the bellows be eg playing 3 or 4 notes out followed by three or four in thereby  keeping the bellows tight  without a lot of use of the air bar  ( Jimmy Shand was a pastmaster at this) .

The key to learning the BC and BCC# is to become really fluent at the various scales ( this applies probably to every instrument)  .  A scale is a bit like a 'road'  and just as you an drive along a road you know well on 'autopilot'  it is important to be able to move up and down a scale as the dots or the ear demands without having to apply any conscious thought as to which button to press and which bloody way to work the bellows!

As to the bass most BCC# boxes use the stradella set up with between 12and 20 bass and as the bass are same both ways  they do not govern in any way how the treble is played whih makes life easier.

nearly all BC#s  have 8 'melodeon' bass which are not particularly useful and are indeed ignored by many players. An exeption is the relatively rare version of the little  Erica size double ray with 12 stradella   bass giving bass for CGDA and a bit of something for F and E

As an example the G scale on a BC is simply a different push pull sequence to C on the row as per a DG  - start on G and just pick up F# from the B row.  D starts on D again with a different push pull sequence and picks up F# and C# from the B row.  A the same but also picking up G# from the B row.

george

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RogerT

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2016, 08:25:57 PM »

Thanks George. Very interesting.
I think my diatonic melodeon learning was helped a bit by sight reading and knowing where the note is/which bellows direction to use. I've found the same technique helped with the mandolin - looking at the stave and knowing where to find the note on the instrument, without thinking too hard. I thought perhaps I needed to know more precisely which button/bellows combo gives me which specific note, on the BC, rather than the more intuitive approach that works on a diatonic 4th apart box. So I got pretty familiar with scales of D and G on the BC; but one needs really to work on some of the musical building blocks, like arpeggios or familiar folk tune structures. But the BC (and by extension the BCC#) is not easy to master after years of diatonic playing, which is hugely frustrating. There are fewer bellows reversals (it seems to me) on a BC when playing irish/folk tunes (than on an ordinary melodeon), plus you can add little semitone grace notes, and you hear this from irish semitone box players. But getting the bellows going in the right direction....takes ..a...lot .. of  practice  (:)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 08:27:35 PM by RogerThomas »
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george garside

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2016, 08:44:16 PM »


 . But getting the bellows going in the right direction....takes ..a...lot .. of  practice  (:)

scales,scales and more scales does the trick!

george
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RogerT

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2016, 09:02:16 PM »

Yes I just got off the phone with someone who said exactly that same thing...

Gromit

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2016, 09:24:51 PM »

I find practicing tunes more use than scales, with scales you're using different fingering patterns/positions than you do with tunes so I don't find scales that useful.
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george garside

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2016, 10:42:39 PM »

practicing tunes only enables you to play a particular tune . Practicing scales enables you to play any tune you know or can read the dots for with the fingers and bellows movements becoming natural and without conscious thought. It also enables you to play tunes you know in any key i.e to transpose on the hoof!

Once a tune can be played  it does obviously need to be practised/polished to bring it up to performance standard if required or just kept as is  for possible use in a session

george
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Gromit

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2016, 11:37:25 PM »

I find playing scales useful with my guitar, flute and (when I played) sax but not so much with the box because I'm never playing a tune as I would a scale, my fingers are in different positions depending on where the tune is going. I know where the notes are, I play mainly by ear and folk tunes are relatively easy so I didn't/don't see the advantage of learning scales.


Sorry I meant practicing scales, obviously it's good to know scales but practicing them regularly is not me - life's too short.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 08:26:15 AM by Gromit »
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Winston Smith

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2016, 12:01:58 AM »

I'm finding that I, too, feel that playing scales wouldn't benefit me (playing folk and old hymn tunes, by ear) as I would find it interminably boring, which would make me lose interest as well as heart.
However, I cannot help but concede that the famous and well respected Mr Garside, is undoubtedly right! So, how can "by ear" players move on when even the terminology of scales is Double-Dutch to (some of) them anyway?
I must say, though, that the more I play tunes which are familiar to me, the easier I find playing a tune for the first time becomes. The basses are still somewhat of a haphazard mystery, mind. Some day......????   
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KLR

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2016, 02:14:26 AM »

I practice parts of tunes that give me trouble, slowly and repeatedly for a while, then move on.  The muscle memory seems to kick in later.  I'm busy enough trying to make the music sound the way I want it to, especially with playing the basses at the same time.

8 basses will keep you more than busy with a B/C, English players' protestations to the contrary.  Accompaniment is almost standard issue in Irish music creating the false impression that box players aren't interested in the bass side - which is sometimes true, but besides the point.  Oom-pah and the like aren't there with all the reversals you have to do with semitone boxes, but skilled players make all sorts of noises with them anyway, patterns that emulate what uilleann pipers do with their regulator chords, for instance.

A good new B/C/C# will set you back something like $7000 USD.   :-[

Have you tried one of those B/C/C# Compadres, George?
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RogerT

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2016, 07:27:09 AM »

$7000?  eeeeek!! There is a nice looking Trichord on sale on this site (at the time of writing this) for £350, though obviously it's on the wrong side of the pond for American players...(:)

george garside

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2016, 08:56:00 AM »

I practice parts of tunes that give me trouble, slowly and repeatedly for a while, then move on.  The muscle memory seems to kick in later.  I'm busy enough trying to make the music sound the way I want it to, especially with playing the basses at the same time.

 Have you tried one of those B/C/C# Compadres, George?

The treble side of the compadre is Ok but the bass is not.  A BCC#  in my opinion needs stradella bass  and the trichord with stradella is afar better bet but beware a few trichords were made with 'melodeon bass aand are to be avoided!.  I also think that the double ray BC is transformed into a much more useful instrument in the relatively   the 12 stradella version

It might be possible to graft a 48 bass end from a piano box onto a caompadre as has been done with trichords

george
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george garside

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2016, 09:10:59 AM »

I'm finding that I, too, feel that playing scales wouldn't benefit me (playing folk and old hymn tunes, by ear) as I would find it interminably boring, which would make me lose interest as well as heart.
However, I cannot help but concede that the famous and well respected Mr Garside, is undoubtedly right! So, how can "by ear" players move on when even the terminology of scales is Double-Dutch to (some of) them anyway?
I must say, though, that the more I play tunes which are familiar to me, the easier I find playing a tune for the first time becomes. The basses are still somewhat of a haphazard mystery, mind. Some day......????

Scales to the by ear player with absolutely no musical theory knowledge can best be thought of as do re me fa so la te do   which I think most people will have come across.  So on a DG box starting on the 3rd or 4th button from the chin (depending on the box) its blow suck, blow suck, blow suck, suck blow for the D or G scale depending on which row you are on.  carrying on towards the feet it slightly  different  but needs to be worked out so that it sounds the same as the lower octave.  Playing/practicing scales over the 2 otaves makes playing at the dusty end much easier!

Another advantage of spending  just 4 or 5 minutes playing quick scales is it strengthens the fingers and makes them more flexible.

On a semitone box eeg BC the C scale is just the same as the G or D scale on a DG.  The G scale starts on G and can be worked out by trial and error ( using one button on the outside row) until the do re me etc scale is working.

It is however simpler to use a keyboard chart  and look for the sequence GABCFEF#G,  same goes for other scales.

george
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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2016, 12:15:41 PM »

OK George, thanks for the mini "crash course for beginners", lol! I'm sure that I can manage a couple of minutes each time I pick a box up. I'm able to play scales, I just don't know what they are.
As for the "do re me" I remember an old WW1 veteran who used to sit next to me in the bass line of the chapel choir; he pointed at the notes (dots) for me as I learned to sing the line. When one of us picked up a Tonic Sol Fa book by mistake he'd always take it and sing from that, he was the only one left who could!
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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2016, 01:17:50 PM »

So what stands out for me is that getting to grips with a BC(C#) instrument is similar to learning other (harder to master) chromatic instruments, and it's about fingering, muscle memory and lots of traditional style  practice, like scales etc. Eventually you get to know where the notes are and learn to play faster, if you put in enough time. Whereas, the DG melodeon is easier to knock out a tune on - a bit like strumming a guitar - which is one of its charms - and you don't really need to know anything about musical theory to play a simple tune. That's not to say that it is easy to play harder tunes, but getting started is as easy as puffing on a mouth organ. However, to stretch the analogy, if you've ever tried playing a chromatic mouth organ (which is similar to a BC box) you are entering a whole new, more complicated world. That's how I see it anyway....
(Oh yes....and then throw in a stradella bass, which I can manage on a PA...but on a button box...!!)
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 01:21:02 PM by RogerThomas »
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Bill Young

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2016, 02:24:25 PM »

The main advantages of most BCC# instruments over BC ones is not the treble keyboard but other attributes of the instrument. Certainly, after a while, the additional row is useful for providing alternative fingerings, but there's much more to it than that.

1. Stradella bass. Provides a much better selection of bass notes and chords. Although the array of up to 120 buttons looks complicated, its logical layout, closeness of buttons and same notes on push and pull actually make for easier playing. Lack of Stradella bass is a reason why some small BCC# instruments have not been market successes (Hohner Compadre, Weltmeister 5??, some Hohner Trichords).
2. Voices. Typically, BCC# instruments have 4 treble and 4 or 5 bass voices. These allow more reed combinations, selectable by
3. Couplers (or registers). Many BCC# boxes have 5 to 9 treble couplers and 2 or 3 bass couplers.

BCC# boxes are more comprehensive musical instruments than BC melodeons. That is their appeal to many players who started out on BC.

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Re: BC vs BCC#
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2016, 07:22:26 PM »

I think that whether B/C/C# is worth it depends on what sort of music you want to play, and who with

If you only want to play dance music, particularly Irish, and, as a bonus, expect to be playing with competent accompanists, B/C ticks most boxes and I doubt that B/C/C# would add much apart from weight and expense. 

The relatively light 8-bass left hand side of the 2-row makes it easier to make the many rapid, precise bellows changes needed to play dance tunes at full speed, and makes it easier to get lift into a tune.

I've tried playing dance tunes properly on multi-bass stradella 3-rows, and found it to be damned hard work in comparison.

If I wanted to play clever tunes in odd keys, and do a full left hand accompaniment, I'd consider a 2-voice 60 bass 5-row chromatic, which would weigh in about the same as stradella 3-row and, to my naive eye, looks a more straightforward prospect for learning and playing.

Good luck 
 
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