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Little John

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Hello all,

I came across this forum on concertina.net. It was a lucky find. I play a Crane system duet concertina but I bought myself a small CBA as a retirement present. I'm completely self-taught on the concertina so I had no problem with the idea of doing the same on the CBA. Trouble was, after watching a few players on YouTube I couldn't decide whether to use my thumb or just fingers only and never progressed. I've had the instrument for almost a year and probably only played with it for three hours. Reading some threads on the teaching and learning section has given me some ideas so with luck I will start to take it more seriously.

Thanks,

John.
 

Tom

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Welcome John! Hope you get into the cba and have a great time!
 

TomBR

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Hello John and welcome.
I do hope you'll get into your CBA this time and really enjoy it. It's a magical system that works so well!

Just one suggestion - don't look down! As a concertina player you'll be used to not seeing the buttons. Keep it that way on CBA! When I first started I made a cardboard "shield" so that I couldn't look down at my right hand. Very soon I didn't need it, and I didn't look down.

Cheers
Tom
 

Little John

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Hello John and welcome.
I do hope you'll get into your CBA this time and really enjoy it. It's a magical system that works so well!

Just one suggestion - don't look down! As a concertina player you'll be used to not seeing the buttons. Keep it that way on CBA! When I first started I made a cardboard "shield" so that I couldn't look down at my right hand. Very soon I didn't need it, and I didn't look down.

Cheers
Tom
Thanks Tom! You're quite right - as a concertina player I'm happy with not looking at the buttons. Funnily enough, I ordered my CBA with black and white buttons and was annoyed when it arrived with all black buttons. But I straight away realised it didn't matter: I could hardly see them even if I wanted to. The other thing that carries over from the concertina is the use of the bellows; I haven't had to think about them on the CBA at all.

Over the past couple of days I've made a bit of progress - playing a few simple tunes and a couple of scales and trying to work out sensible fingering.

Cheers,

John.
 

Pipemajor

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Thanks Tom! You're quite right - as a concertina player I'm happy with not looking at the buttons. Funnily enough, I ordered my CBA with black and white buttons and was annoyed when it arrived with all black buttons. But I straight away realised it didn't matter: I could hardly see them even if I wanted to. The other thing that carries over from the concertina is the use of the bellows; I haven't had to think about them on the CBA at all.

Over the past couple of days I've made a bit of progress - playing a few simple tunes and a couple of scales and trying to work out sensible fingering.

Cheers,

John.
 

Pipemajor

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Hi John and welcome. With regard to fingering on the cba you will find that there are as many different methods as you have fingers!!
The older tutor books used mainly 3 fingers but more recently the custom seems to use all 5.
I would just find what suits you best and most of all, enjoy yourself.
I use all 5 fingers but even then find I could do with a couple more;).
 
D

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Hello John,
Welcome!
I hope you'll make good progress on your CBA and can play your favorite tunes with your CBA.
The monocolour buttonboard, in your case all black buttons, is an advantage on CBA. You'll probably make faster progress with monocolour buttonboard.
The freedom in bellows movements on CBA is also easier than with bisonoric instruments like anglo concertinas or melodeons.

Long ago I also had a Crane duet concertina, made by Crabb. A fine instrument, but difficult to play.

Of all the systems I have, CBA is the easiest to play.
 

TomBR

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CBA fingering has been discussed quite a lot on this forum. I think the system is so "robust" you can generally say that what works well is fine, there aren't the essential techniques that apply to piano keyboard.

Because I play primarily by ear I just followed a few principles (using all fingers and thumb.)
-Don't hop the same finger from button to button unless it's really unavoidable.
-Aim to use a fingering that means you have a finger or thumb ready for the next note.
-Aim to keep a comfortable hand and wrist position, wrist fairly straight and fingers pointing straight across the keyboard not cranked up or down.
 

Little John

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Thanks Stephen!

I've had a couple of Crabb Crane duets. Nice instruments, but not a patch on the Holden I'm playing now. I very much like the Crane system and will continue to play it as much as before.

I'm not interested in melody-only instruments and I wanted something portable. I play a couple of stringed instruments (but not very often). I enjoy listening a well-played melodeon but I'm not a fan of the diatonic system, so when I was looking for a retirement challenge the CBA seemed to fit the bill - and different enough in sound from the concertina to make the effort worthwhile.
 

Little John

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Thanks for the advice, Tom. The first two bullets apply to the duet concertina too, though the Crane fingering seems more systematic than CBA. The third bullet is more difficult to implement. On a piano you're taught to keep your wrist straight by passing the thumb under the palm, but with the CBA keyboard and the scale jumping back and forth from first to third row it doesn't seem possible without cranking the wrist to some extent. I've noticed melodeon players often have their hands angled to point down the keyboard. I haven't actually looked at myself in the mirror, but whatever I'm doing doesn't seem uncomfortable.
 

TomBR

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As I understand it Crane is extremely logical so long as you start from C major. CBA is completely logical whatever key you're in! Is that fair?

Fair enough ref my third point. It partly depends which CBA system you're on. C system players who use all five rows can tend to crank their wrist down to get diagonal rows of buttons under the fingers, and naturally enough some B system players do the opposite. I'd suggest aiming to stay comfortable in the middle (but I'm primarily a three row player.)
 

Little John

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As I understand it Crane is extremely logical so long as you start from C major. CBA is completely logical whatever key you're in! Is that fair?

Each system has its own logic. There are similarities and differences. On a (three-row) CBA there are three starting points for a scale leading to three different scale patterns. The same is partly true for a Crane duet. It has five columns of buttons; the two on the outside are accidentals (black notes) and the three middle ones are naturals. The accidentals are (generally) adjacent to their natural. (So, for example, F is in column 2 and F# is next to it in column 1.) To play C major you start at the on the bottom row and play 2, 4, 3, then move up to the next row and play 2, 4, 3 again and so on up the rows. To play D you play just 4, 3 from the first row then carry on the sequence of three buttons in each row as before, except that you move to the outer columns to find F# and C# instead of their naturals.

However, my point was really about the fingering patterns rather than the button layout. The Crane is basically a diatonic layout, so all scales progress in a similar way (three buttons from each row, then move up and repeat). But a chromatic scale jumps about with a much less discernible pattern. The CBA is a chromatic layout so playing a chromatic scale is consistent - play three buttons in a diagonal then move up and repeat. But the diatonic scales jump about in a seemingly random fashion, making it more difficult to find an easy fingering pattern.

I'm making no judgement here about whether either is a better system than the other - that's a pointless exercise. And logic isn't necessarily a good thing anyway. The anglo concertina is pretty much a random instrument yet there are more, and better, players of the anglo than there are of the Crane system.
 

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