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Author Topic: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows  (Read 1067 times)

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Eshed

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Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« on: March 28, 2018, 10:29:23 PM »

So, my box's rows sound a bit different.
I'm not sure how pronounced it is, but I think it's very noticeable when playing the same sequence of notes on different rows (e.g., when doing bass variations).

For a demonstration, check this video: https://youtu.be/J7m8EtYIijY
The same sequence of notes is played on the inner row on 0:24, 0:27 and on the outer row on 0:35 and 0:38.

Is this a bug or a feature? Can the sounds be made more similar? Am I insane and no one will ever notice this (the difference, not my insanity)?

Thanks!
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2018, 10:41:22 PM »

Nearly all melodeons have this difference in sound between the two rows, but it's more noticeable on some compared with others.

The difference is due to two main features:
1. The inside row of buttons opens pallets which are partly obscured by the keyboard and hence prone to some degree of muffling.
The outside row of buttons opens pallets at near the top of the grille, which is largely unhindered and hence with minimal muffling.

2. The difference in radius of the lever arm sweep of the inside row compared with the outside row also means that the inside row pallets tend to open just that bit less than the outside row pallets, again with similar differences in the sound volume. Some instruments have a double pivot lever system for the inside row which ensures that the pallets on both rows open by similar amounts.

However...
What is perceived by the player as very unequal sounds is often not noticed by the listeners just a couple of metres away. In your Youtube video, the difference between the two rows seems to me, the listener, to be negligible.
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Lester

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2018, 10:43:08 PM »

In addition to what Steve said on some boxes the row whose reed block is nearer the back of the box can have its sound muffled by the keyboard which is why it is becoming more common to see piercing of the fingerboard on boxes For Example

Stiamh

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2018, 02:21:42 AM »

I can remember when this phenomenon struck me soon after starting - I was convinced the box must be a lemon. :-)

Demonstration of this "feature" and a couple of different possibilities in this clip: https://youtu.be/Gdkb4o7R3-Q?t=12m33s

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2018, 02:49:58 AM »

The tremolo may also be set slightly different for the different keys, as well, and that would contribute to a perceived difference in tone.
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Eshed

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2018, 05:13:37 AM »

Thank you all for your detailed answers!
It seems there's not much I can do about it, so I'll just continue grinding my teeth  (:)

I can remember when this phenomenon struck me soon after starting - I was convinced the box must be a lemon. :-)
A lemon?
I'm not a native speaker, so while I can probably understand the spirit behind what you're saying, I have no idea what that should mean.
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triskel

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2018, 06:57:52 AM »

A lemon?

= something that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, something bad, a dud...
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Eshed

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2018, 08:15:50 AM »

= something that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, something bad, a dud...
Ah, makes sense! Thanks :)
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2018, 08:39:07 AM »

The tremolo may also be set slightly different for the different keys, as well, and that would contribute to a perceived difference in tone.

That would be unusual, and for any cross-row player, undesirable.
It's just faintly possible someone might try setting a wider tremolo on the inside row in order to compensate for the tendency to sound duller on that row. Not sure if it would work, though. A box with varying amounts of tremolo from note to note tends to just sound out of tune.
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triskel

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2018, 02:02:38 PM »

Another consideration is that the press and draw ("blow and suck") reeds always sound different on any free reed instrument, because the press ones are sounded by pressure of air and the draw ones by a vacuum. It's the basic difference between a harmonium (pressure) and an American organ (suction), and why tango Bandoneon players commonly play "on the draw" because it's considered to be more expressive.

There are ways it may be possible to balance the sound better between buttons on different rows, but you can't change the essential difference between pressure and a vacuum... :-\
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2018, 02:35:05 PM »


There are ways it may be possible to balance the sound better between buttons on different rows, but you can't change the essential difference between pressure and a vacuum... :-\

I'm sure there is more too it than that Stephen.   Piano accordions have much less difference between press and draw than the differences that are apparent on some diatonics.  On piano accordions there can also be  noticeable difference in tone between the black notes - reeds nearest keyboard, and the white notes - reeds furthest from the keyboard.
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triskel

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2018, 09:37:38 PM »

I'm sure there is more too it than that Stephen.

Of course there is Theo, but I didn't want to go into "chapter and verse" on the subject, only to point out it was "Another consideration"...

But it's the main reason why American organs and harmoniums sound different to oneanother, and the American organ is considered "more expressive", whilst tango Bandoneon players learn to play their (bi-sonor) instruments chromatically "on the draw" (which is hard to learn) because they find it more expressive, and it's why I prefer playing my C#/D in G (which is "on the draw") to D (which is "on the press"), because there's "more nee-agh" in it that way.

In the 1840s/'50s the difference was already perceived and there were various attempts made by Wheatstone, Scates, Lachenal, Case et al. to equalise the press and draw sounds on the English concertina - but none of them caught on.

Quote
Piano accordions have much less difference between press and draw than the differences that are apparent on some diatonics.

I hear it on all free reed instruments, though being on different rows would tend to make the same note on press and draw sound even more different on diatonics.

Quote
On piano accordions there can also be  noticeable difference in tone between the black notes - reeds nearest keyboard, and the white notes - reeds furthest from the keyboard.

Yes, and usually for the exact same reasons that affect diatonic accordions, though many better-quality piano/CBA accordions, as well as similar quality Cub models and 3-rows (British chromatics), tend to intersperse the notes between the reedblocks.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've recently been busy trying to even up the sound between the two rows on my 4-voice Casali, which had been seriously compounded by the way the tuner had gone about converting it (against my instructions! >:() from C/C# to C#/D, and I'm planning on starting a thread about how I went about that once I've finished going on about "streamlining"... ;)
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Theo

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2018, 09:41:10 PM »


I've recently been busy trying to even up the sound between the two rows on my 4-voice Casali, which had been seriously compounded by the way the tuner had gone about converting it (against my instructions! >:() from C/C# to C#/D, and I'm planning on starting a thread about how I went about that once I've finished going on about "streamlining"... ;)

I'll look forward to that!
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Martin P

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2018, 01:02:30 AM »

Another consideration is that the press and draw ("blow and suck") reeds always sound different on any free reed instrument, because the press ones are sounded by pressure of air and the draw ones by a vacuum. It's the basic difference between a harmonium (pressure) and an American organ (suction), and why tango Bandoneon players commonly play "on the draw" because it's considered to be more expressive.

There are ways it may be possible to balance the sound better between buttons on different rows, but you can't change the essential difference between pressure and a vacuum... :-\

Not sure I agree with your physics here. The flow of air across a reed is governed by the pressure difference between the two sides of the reed. The reed doesn’t know which side is high or low pressure. What would make a difference is that the flow of air will be different in opposite directions because of difference in pathways air has to take before it passes around the reed.
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triskel

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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2018, 02:00:20 AM »

Not sure I agree with your physics here.

I'm not claiming there's ANY "physics" in my post. It's all empirical, but long-accepted amongst instrument makers and players...

But we may be saying basically the same thing, only expressing it differently.  :-\
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2018, 09:36:44 AM »

One might observe that the pressure in the bellows is above ambient on the push, and below on the pull, which is what I think Stephen was saying. The pallet end is at or close to ambient. 
Sound propagation is affected by pressure.  Also the reed is swinging in more or less dense air, according to the bellows direction and velocity. 
Any difference in frequency is of course compensated by the fettler.  But it is quite reasonable to state that the working conditions of push and pull reeds are different.

The difference in operating pressure between push and pull reeds is the sum of the two differences.
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2018, 11:18:43 AM »

That all sounds plausible, but whether it means anything will depend on how much the pressure difference is, and whether the resulting change in air density is enough to produce a difference in pitch that the human ear can detect. Can you put some numbers to your observation?
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2018, 11:22:16 AM »

...But it is quite reasonable to state that the working conditions of push and pull reeds are different....
Indeed. And the actual physical shape of the environment surrounding the reeds are very different. The pull reeds are in the almost completely enclosed space of the reed block chamber, whereas the push reeds are situated on the outer surface of the reed block, surrounded by a much larger, more open space.
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2018, 12:29:23 PM »

That all sounds plausible, but whether it means anything will depend on how much the pressure difference is, and whether the resulting change in air density is enough to produce a difference in pitch that the human ear can detect. Can you put some numbers to your observation?
Well, that is the question - a bit like choice of wood  >:E is the difference discernable? There seems to be, as Triskel points out, empirical evidence that it is.
You can phrase the question two ways: Here are some physical differences, do they affect the sound? or: Something is thought to be affecting the sound, what physical differences might be causing it? This thread is tending to the latter, and I am simply offering some candidates. Whether the points I commented on are the root cause I can't say.
Atmospheric pressure does have a measurable effect, I tend to leave the calculations to the scientists in the day job, and the attenuation is greater at higher frequencies. The fundamental should be on pitch, depending on who tuned the box  ;D but harmonics will be affected more. So the timbre, if that's the right choice of word, may differ without pitch changing.
On the other hand, we are talking about generally low frequencies and short distances so it's equally reasonable to say that the differences (for any given physical condition) are negligible to the point of being undetectable - or maybe just to better trained ears than mine.
The equations are all Google-able. If you want figures on bellows pressures, my first thought would be Mr Rouse who I'm sure has looked into it.
I may have test equipment at work to measure all of these, but I'm off sick for at least ten more weeks following a second hip replacement and even then won't be able to divert it to more interesting purposes for a couple of months.
I suppose, as a nod to the original topic, that the push/pull effects would be largely common to both rows so are unlikely to explain any difference between rows. There was an earlier post on this topic - I may have started it - where the sound of my Morris co-muso's box is noticeably different between G and D rows, on a standard Pokerwork tuned a few years ago by Mr Bailey of this parish.
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Re: Different sound of buttons in inner and outer rows
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2018, 04:50:52 PM »

Whatever theoretical difference may exist between push and pull, the audible difference (as tested on a piano accordion or English concertina where the pitch is the same so comparison is easy) is much less than the difference often heard between inner and outer rows of a melodeon, which is what the original question was about.
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