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Author Topic: choosing a secondary instrument  (Read 1665 times)

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Ceazy Peazy

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choosing a secondary instrument
« on: May 21, 2020, 12:41:44 AM »

I've been playing melodeon for almost 2,5 years now on an old CF Hohner pokerworks with Dutch reversal I quite literally found in an attic. I feel like it's time to look for a secondary melodeon to diversify my possibilities in playing. Last year I bought an old hohner club in CF for a reasonable price but it's bellows are too leaky to properly play at the moment, and also really similar to the pokerworks in general.

I'm thinking of buying a new melodeon but it's hard deciding on what to get, because I have too many wishes to fullfill. I'd like to be able to sing and accompany myself whilst playing but the keys of c and f are too high for me to comfortably sing in (although I don't know what key my voice is naturally in). I'd also like to have an instrument that's more expansive than the regular 21 button 8 bass 5th apart melodeon to allow for more "jazzy playing".

I'm but a student so I'm limited in my budget so I couldn't just buy everything I want. What do you box veterans recommend me getting first?
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Fred

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 01:10:12 AM »

melodeon to allow for more "jazzy playing"

Quick and dirty answer: Get some kind of Hohner Club model in Bb/Eb. Those have a glorious sound, allow for a lot of versatile playstyles and can be had relatively cheap (either as-is from ebay or retuned from a melodeon workshop).
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Dick Rees

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 01:59:10 AM »

 Small box to accompany singing, capable of "jazzy" styles and a student budget?

48 or 60 bass PA.

Play that for a few years and save up for whatever diatonic box you find offers the more comprehensive chords and keyboard for that jazzy stuff. 
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Peadar

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2020, 07:25:01 AM »

Buy a fiddle?

Or an A&D - baby steps - the A&D would give you sharp keys at concert pitch and a lower pitch to try matching your voice to.

Diatonic instruents are by definition limited in range - that's part of their attraction - they have strengths and weaknesses which make them inherently brilliant instruments for some things and incapable of others.

Instruments like the bagpipes in their  different national forms have over centuries been influenced by and have influenced the traditional music of the national culture they belong to. That variety is something infinitely precious in human terms. I would be very wary of trying to find the one instrument that will do everyhing for you.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 07:38:35 AM by Peadar »
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Re: Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2020, 10:42:13 AM »

All you need in one box .... 72 Bass 2 voice CBA
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Howard Jones

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Re: Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2020, 11:48:09 AM »

If you want a melodeon to accompany your singing, it's really important to find out what your natural singing keys are.  If you can't work that out for yourself, do you know a guitarist or piano player who could help? Only then will you know what pitch melodeon to buy.

For more extended playing, the melodeon is limited.  Part of the pleasure is finding ways around those limitations.  A 2.5 or 3 row with additional basses may go part of the way to resolving this, and you can also explore right hand chords.  However sooner or later you will come up against the limitations of a diatonic instrument, in which case you would have to go for a chromatic instrument which is another beast entirely.

Chris Ryall

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Re: Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2020, 12:01:34 PM »

Believe me, singing with melodeon ain’t easy either. You tend to breath with the bellows. I play mainly a “pavement” of pull chords, sin* against that.

My tips are to get same system, in your case the very logical dutch reversal, and move on to 2½ or 3 rows. The key to “jazzy” playing is to learning scales and chords on the pull, where 7ths tend to be flat, and to extend the right hand chords.  You’ll need those, and a full row of accs to accompany your song. The extra accs open up all manner of keys when played “in chords”. Tunes …rather harder

Your CF will jazz/blues best playing in G, where the pull F makes for a natural G7, a pull A extends that to a 9th, and if you modulate to the minor you have a full Gm7 chord in touching buttons across the 2 rows. [edited, brain was on wrong box 🤯)

Try to get to the Grenoble Improvisation course, usually 3rd week in February. It’s in French, always oversubscribed, and they tend to Do Ré Mi the notes, but the Folk/Blues/Jazz boundaries are fully explored. They use the same chord notation as we do. They are song friendly 😀

Yes, on a CBA “everything is possible” but you don’t get that subtle bellows flick feel 😉 and they weigh a ton

« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 01:53:15 PM by Chris Ryall »
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chris hall

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Re: Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2020, 12:47:27 PM »

Try playing your CF in G. firstly use the C row to play in G. you wont have an F# but that's ok. you'll have an F instead, so a flattened 7th which is good news as that moves you into the blues. Once you have that, explore playing on the pull across both rows. start by pulling on the G on the F row this time and play the button next to it on the pull (a Bb) and then move across to the C row for more notes on the pull. youve now added another note not in the G scale. The Bb. but thats good because its a flattened 3rd which takes you further down the bluesy/jazzy road. Once you got that drop the whole pattern down one button and you got some cool jazzy minor riffs in Eminor! not sure what key your voice likes. instead of trying 20 different accordions record yourself playing a few songs on the CF. dump them tunes into "amazing slow downer" (PC) or "Audiostretch" (IOS) and flip the keys til you find what feels good to sing against. Simples (ish). go listen to some Zydeco on triple row melodeon.....thats what those guys are doing (amongst other things). If thats not jazzy enough for i guess you might need a different system as folks have said.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2020, 01:40:58 PM »

Indeed, if you are serious on the instrument ‘going chromatic” is a wonderful thing. A 2 row, clubbed or Dutch is great in it’s own row keys, and their modes

  https://chrisryall.net/modes/

But the stability it offers makes “jazz” difficult. The intrinsic structure of eg a ii V I progression is a rise in tension, hold for that delicious … moment … and relax. (The explore this on the course). Cool notes and Blues come playing the box on the cross, generally on the pull.

As for weight … 3-4 2-rows weigh more than xgx’s CBA, and really tire you out at festivals. One of my best decisions was to go “one box per weekend”

The ultimate unstable cross scale incidentally is Blues, a semitone below the inner row tonic, so E blues for you.

E, G, A, Bb, B, D E, all on the pull, in a series of “knight move” L shapes, alternating rows. Best played with index, middle and ring fingers only. The instability is emphasised by only 1 bass being of any use, or if you hit a wrong button  😉
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Theo

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2020, 12:53:52 PM »

[[ADMIN]]

Off-topic posts removed.

The original question was about finding a "secondary melodeon".   Please respect the question.
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chris hall

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2020, 11:35:44 AM »

great analysis of modes in that link chris. wow lots to think about there!
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RogerT

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2020, 08:17:13 PM »

I assume you are relatively young, so you have plenty of time to try something different. In which case I strongly advise you to find a chromatic instrument. There are a few choices out there. To stay in the spirit of this forum, a diatonic box in this category is a semitone instrument, either the BC/C#D/CC# two row, or a three row BCC#. But...if you take a look at (say) the folk band Faustus, their box player Saul Rose knocks out a fair tune on his three row DGacc box...i.e. the third row has all sorts of accidentals useful for playing in keys other than DG. From your perspective an instrument like this would be halfway house.. you can play on two of the rows and get used to the third row. Which brings me on to the subject of switching instruments. If you’ve spent your 10,000 hours learning to play a particular type of instrument, it’s best to move by increments into something new. On the other hand, if you are a student you have time enough to try several completely different instruments. In the free reed world the CBA springs to mind, or even the PA is if you are a pianist. But this is a diatonic forum so stick to that. However...you really should try some bagpipes too... (:)

Chris Ryall

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2020, 02:33:00 PM »

Spot on Roger 👍
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Ceazy Peazy

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2020, 09:54:02 PM »

Thanks for all the replies!
I've asked one of my keyboard friends for help in identifying my singing key and it's about between g and c, depending on the day. I'll try more playing in C on my pokerworks to experiment with it, as I've mostly played in F/Dminor because of extra bass options of A and Gm so it's a bit of a change for me.

In the time since the first post I found a great offer on a second hand CBA (B-griff, 5 rows, 120 bass). It's hard to get the grips on and the thing weighs a ton but it's a start. I do miss the "fluent" feeling of the melodeon though so I don't think it's ever going to fully replace it. In the process of buying the CBA I also found that the owner was selling a small Hohner Student PA, that I also bought. My initial idea was to "cannibalize" PA to create some sort of "Frankenstein" Club with stradella bass, but there was a 7mm difference in width and thickness between the bellows that prevented that. Now I'm thinking about selling the Club that I currently have (my room is running out of space for instruments) and scouring the online marketplaces to find a Club that is from the same generation as the Student that I have so that I can create this abomination of an instrument. 
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playandteach

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2020, 08:42:33 PM »

Personally I've never quite understood the 'singing key' thing. It depends on the song. But maybe I'm just missing the point - it is commonly raised. Perhaps a lot of folk tunes stick closely to one octave. And if it's somewhere between G and C, that covers a lot of ground. No harm in looking at accordions, but I'm glad I moved away from the big ones.
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Lester

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2020, 08:45:11 PM »

Personally I've never quite understood the 'singing key' thing. It depends on the song.


Yep!

Dick Rees

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2020, 09:03:14 PM »

"Singers key" depends on vocal range.  You want the one which allows for the least strain.  In past years I could fit into the G/C pocket.  As I've aged it's dropped to Eb/Ab.
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Lester

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2020, 09:05:17 PM »

"Singers key" depends on vocal range.  You want the one which allows for the least strain.  In past years I could fit into the G/C pocket.  As I've aged it's dropped to Eb/Ab.
But it also depends on where the song sits in octave

Dick Rees

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2020, 09:09:10 PM »

"Singers key" depends on vocal range.  You want the one which allows for the least strain.  In past years I could fit into the G/C pocket.  As I've aged it's dropped to Eb/Ab.
But it also depends on where the song sits in octave

Indeed.  That's why the "fourth apart" choice I cited.  If the basic octave span is Do-do, I'll go Ab.  If Sol-sol, Eb.
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Squeaky Pete

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Re: choosing a secondary instrument
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2020, 10:29:51 PM »

You'll be very lucky to find ANY bass end that is compatible with a club box.
JNM SY has done it and it looks original, but there is a step at the back to accommodate the difference in depth.
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