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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:48 pm 
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Hey everyone,

I'm contemplating getting a button box and the only real question I have is which key combination is the best for me? The music I generally play, be it song or Irish tune, is usually in the key of D, C, G or A.

Unless I'm wrong my research tells me that some of the original two row diatonic accordions were in B/C. But in more recent decades some Irish musicians are playing C#/D or D/D#. So which keys can I play in with any of these three combinations?

If this is a redundant question, I apologize, but feel free to reply with a link to another thread. :tomato:

Cheers!

Matt

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:57 pm 
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A B/C box gives easy access to all those keys. D,G,A across the rows, and C on the C row as a melodeon. Also F if played like a transposed C#/D box.

A C#/D box gives easy D,G,A, Also E if played like a transposed B/C box. C is awkward (equivalent to transposed Bb).

Of course, it's not just those major keys, but the related modes as well.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:21 am 
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MTGuru wrote:
"...and C on the C row as a melodeon."
Everything you said made sense to me except this comment. Am I to assume that the only difference between a diatonic two row button accordion and a melodeon, is the melodeon is a single row instrument?

Matt

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:19 am 
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Here's a post I wrote on the subject some time ago on another forum. Probably a little confusing in the present thread, since it was written in response to a particular question, but it might help.

Cheers
Steve

PS melodeon is the Irish term for a one-row diatonic accordion. In some parts of the English-speaking world, esp. England and Australia, melodeon is used for any diatonic accordion.

============================================

Basically the difference between the two systems is two sharps, or two degrees of accidentals in either direction, since one has a home row of C with no sharps and the other a home row of D with 2 sharps.

Now on C#/D I would say that the truly easy keys are any that have between one and three sharps (Gmaj D maj and A maj with their relative minors and dorians and mixolydians etc.)

That ought to mean that the truly easy keys for the B/C would be between 1 flat and one sharp (F maj, C maj and G maj with all the related modes).

But some adjustment for common practice on each system is required here. Most B/C players don't learn Fmaj early on so they may not think of it as an easy key. But they do learn Dmaj and Amaj and will tell you that those keys are easy.

If they are, then Emaj and Bmaj ought to be easy on the C#/D. But neither of these are places most C#/D players will go unless they are trying to get a handle on B/C style. So to some extent it's a question of habit.

Going even sharper still one could jump to the outside row and say that Bmaj (5#) ought to be easy for B/C and C#maj (7#) are easy for C#/D. But as we saw in the other thread, nobody much goes there. Except professional Scottish box players maybe (:).

Going flatter, no sharps for C#/D (Cmaj, Ddorian) is initially a bit of a pain but doesn't take too long to get used to. Which would mean, to my mind, that playing in Bbmaj shouldn't be any more difficult for B/C players.

1 flat for C#/D (Fmaj, Gdorian) = 3 flats for B/C (Ebmaj) is doable as well. I haven't really got beyond waltzes and slow airs in these keys, but the mind does gradually wrap themselves around them, so reels remain a possibility - when I get round to putting the work in.

In all the keys I've mentioned so far, the inside row is still the predominant row. Moving into keys where the outer row predominates but notes on the inner row is necessary, such as Bb or Eb on the C#/D, is like going into another world or level in a Mario Bros game or something.

Does this help? I suppose it doesn't. Can I summarize it as a continuum where for C#/D keys with 1 - 3 sharps are soon learned and going beyond this range in either direction (i.e. more sharps or more flats) takes a bit of effort. The continuum of easy keys for B/C is probably the same, since players too learn these same keys first off!

To a C#/D player it would seem easy for them to go a couple of steps flatter of course. And to B/C players, a C#/D player should have no trouble putting in a couple more sharps!

Steve


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:46 am 
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In my country B/C or C#/D boxes are extremely rare. Are there any other two-row diatonic tunings that cover the most common keys (in irish and scottish trad)?

Like G/C or A/D.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:51 pm 
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Rhadge wrote:
In my country B/C or C#/D boxes are extremely rare. Are there any other two-row diatonic tunings that cover the most common keys (in irish and scottish trad)?

Like G/C or A/D.


For Irish trad, D/G would be better than either of those, and I suspect for Scottish too, although not being able to play in proper A major would be a bit of a handicap.

Halfstep boxes are very rare where I live too, but rather than settle for something less than what I wanted, I ordered from outside the country. Done it several times now!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:05 pm 
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StevieJ wrote:
For Irish trad, D/G would be better than either of those, and I suspect for Scottish too, although not being able to play in proper A major would be a bit of a handicap.

Yes ... Dave Mallinson famously plays a D/G box for Irish trad, and his Irish tune books reflect what can be done (as well as a relative absence of A tunes). Many A tunes are gapped or Mixolydian anyway, or the missing G# can be substituted or worked around.

A three-row A/D/G would also pretty much cover the ITM bases.

Of course, you can play anything on anything, melodeon style, if you don't care what concert pitch you're actually sounding.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:12 am 
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StevieJ wrote:
For Irish trad, D/G would be better than either of those, and I suspect for Scottish too, although not being able to play in proper A major would be a bit of a handicap.

Halfstep boxes are very rare where I live too, but rather than settle for something less than what I wanted, I ordered from outside the country. Done it several times now!


Thanks. I will be on the look-out for D/G's at a fair price.

I would never buy a box that I didn't try, but that's just me.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:08 pm 
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Rhadge wrote:
Thanks. I will be on the look-out for D/G's at a fair price.

I would never buy a box that I didn't try, but that's just me.
I'd love to try a button box, but living in So Cal where the only accordion shop I know seems to only carry piano accordions, I doubt I 'd have any options for testing one out.

The rest of the information provided by Steve, MTguru and the rest of you has been very helpful. I think I'll probably stick with my guns and get a B/C box per the original reply from MTguru. Or maybe a three row wouldn't be a bad idea. I can just take my sweet time getting used to each row! :D

Matt

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:57 pm 
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projektio28 wrote:
Unless I'm wrong my research tells me that some of the original two row diatonic accordions were in B/C. But in more recent decades some Irish musicians are playing C#/D or D/D#.

A box player assured me that in Ireland, C#/D was actually the first; but then, that's what he plays, so...

D/D#....that would be yer box for playing in Eb sessions, right? (assuming you were normally a C#/D player)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:00 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
A box player assured me that in Ireland, C#/D was actually the first; but then, that's what he plays, so...

It's probably generational, no? I think C#/D became the shizzle in the last 20 years or so, for whatever reason. Who can account for the hive mind of das Volk? So many of yer 20-somethings are going to think C#/D. But tradition being what it is, and younger players learning from older ...

It's like the D/C#, which was apparently a hot box back around the 50s/60s in the New York area. A friend of mine of that generation tried to replace his old original D/C# a few years ago, and faced re-reeding of anything he looked at.

I've tried his D/C#, and talk about mind games. Irish box is like playing an upside-down piano anyway. And D/C# is like playing upside-down upside-down. :-)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:12 pm 
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C#/D might be 100 times more popular in Ireland than it was 30 years ago, but I would be very surprised indeed if more young people are adopting it than B/C. And the "installed base" of B/Cs must still be vastly greater.

Even in North America I think B/C still rules the roost. The only demographic segment where the C#/D is more popular might be middle-aged North Americans. :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:40 am 
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If you buy a half-tone box (ie B/C or similar) check out the bass layout or you'll find that you can't play basses for most tunes except those in it's home keys.

Steve


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:59 am 
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[Am I to assume that the only difference between a diatonic two row button accordion and a melodeon, is the melodeon is a single row instrument?]

"melodeon" is sometimes used in a [i]specific[/i] sense to mean, a single-row instrument which is BOTH:
diatonic
AND
bisonoric

however, "melodeon" is also often used in a [i]general[/i] sense to mean ANY button box regardless of how many rows, if it is:
bisonoric

SOME bisonoric button accordions are
diatonic....
and OTHERS are
fully chromatic

people often ignorantly or (in cases such as my own) sloppily use the term "diatonic" when what they really want to say is, [i]bisonoric[/i].

two-row "semitone" bisonorics, where the row keys are a half-tone apart, such as b/c, c#/d, etc, are not diatonic. they are fully chromatic, just like piano accordions and chromatic button accordions. however, PAs and CBAs are [i]unisonoric[/i].

with a "semitone" two-row, because it is fully chromatic, you can play in any key. you will not have basses for every key, because the basses are very limited. but you can play treble side in any key, if you have the stuffing to tough it out and learn the scales and fingerings, which are not that hard, but which [i]are[/i] counter-intuitive and have a steep initial learning curve.

finally, semitone boxes have equal capability to play an equal number of keys in a "smooth, flowing" style (often ignorantly called "b/c style"), and equal capability to play equal number of keys in a "pumping, back-and-forth" style (often ignorantly called "c#/d style"). it's just a question of [i]which[/i] keys in which box tuning.

if you are dying to be "pumping, back-and-forth" style in D, A, and their relative minors, you might like C#/D. on c#/D, E major and B major will be more "smooth." you can play those in piper "B sessions" if you are so inclined.

on b/c, you get to be "pumping back-and-forth" ish in the east clare-esque keys of C, F, a minor. you get to be "smooth and fluid" in e minor, D Major, E Major, A Major, and kind of in d minor. G, g minor, and B flat are kind of 50/50.....and you can play "on the row" on your B row for those super-flat piper seshes, and teach yourself e flat, a flat, and b flat on your B row as well. (of course, you can learn those keys on your c# row of a C#/D too)....

i do notice that b/c seems to lend itself quite well to playing in ALL keys, which i really love. theoretically, c#/d can of course do the same. but you do see plenty of c#/d-ers lugging b/cs around to play "back and forth" style on when they play in flat keys. i love using only one box and sometimes playing smooth, sometimes back-and-forth.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:41 am 
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Most uilleann pipes flat sets are in B, some in C. And Bb is rare (but trendy amongst flute players).

Have a look out for Peter Laban & Kitty Hayes' CD "They'll Be Good Yet" as an example, pitched in C.


I suspect the "which buttonbox?" thread is worthy of a "sticky" as lots of folk will drop in here for that very reason :)


Boyd
(here for the Paddy Richter harmonica playing, if you must know) :oops:

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