Digital, MIDI or?

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artelagro
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Digital, MIDI or?

Post by artelagro » Tue May 02, 2017 8:58 pm

In a recent thread, Matt Butcher asks if we can get lessons in music tech. I really showed my ignorance of this subject and instead of dragging his thread down to my level will open a new one here because I am still at the bottom of the pile.

OK, I have now read through the ‘Digital & MIDI’ section here, have Googled some, Googled some more, then browsed through the dealers’ sales literature. I am left with more questions than answers and the bottom line is that I am now fairly sure I am going to forget about it for now.
The attraction for me was the ability to do some silent practice using a lightweight, battery powered, 72 or 60 (even better) bass accordion plus a pair of headphones. I don’t think this is much to ask.
With this set-up my practice space could be any room in the house; therefore I don’t want any other ancillary equipment which would prohibit this. In a nutshell, I want the accordion equivalent of a Yamaha or Casio keyboard with a realistic price.
Going through the ads I see one shop selling acoustic, MIDI, digital, electronic and virtual accordions complete with amplifiers, expanders and anything else you can afford. Are the days over when you go into a music shop to buy an accordion?
What is the expected lifespan of your hi-tech purchase? When did you last see a FR2, FR3 or FR7? I thought the idea was that the electronics would be updated within the same carcase.
I note that a good number of our members own MIDI accordions as well as acoustics but no one, as far as I can see, has commented on their use. Is the Hohner or Scandalli etc. gathering dust? Or is the electronic one back in its case?

The sales bumph highlights features that I would never have considered before walking into the shop such as:-
Velocity sensitive bass buttons – My tutor has spent many hours teaching me how to press and release these – have I to start again?
Bellows action volume control – Of course - that’s how an accordion works.
Connection to computer – Why? I want a simple wee accordion.
The ability to imitate any or all musical instruments! – Why? - It’s an accordion.

A lot of my education on this topic came from TW’s 2014 thread entitled ‘Evidence’ and I thank all contributors for that.
Apologies for being so negative
Garth.

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by Glenn » Tue May 02, 2017 10:13 pm

Hi Garth.
I've said it before and I'll say it again.
I believe a pure digital accordion (e.g. Roland V) is a different instrument to an acoustic accordion.
I own both and enjoy using them both.
They have differing playing characteristics, limitations and strengths.
If you want silent playing then there is no other choice.
Of course there are lots of similarities in how they are played and that makes the learning curve much less steep but there is a learning curve.
When I first got mine I demonstrated it to my accordion teacher and she liked it (so I thought). A year later and I brought it around to her house again and she said that it sounded much better and that before and that I played it in a much smoother style with more confidence and control. It made me wonder what she really thought of my playing the first time. So you see, although she didn't comment on my smoother, more confident acoustic playing, my digital playing had improved. This sort of proved to me they were effectively two instruments.
(Sorry for the ramble. Hope it made some sense).


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1) Ballone Burini 46C (4+5) cassotto (LMMH) 3/3 PA; 2) Accordiola Piano V (5+5) cassotto (LMMMH) 3/3 PA;
3) Roland FR8X; 4) Hohner Vox 4k (LMMH) 3/3 CBA

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by pentaprism » Tue May 02, 2017 10:36 pm

artelagro wrote:The attraction for me was the ability to do some silent practice using a lightweight, battery powered, 72 or 60 (even better) bass accordion plus a pair of headphones. I don’t think this is much to ask.
No, that's not much to ask. I'm using my Roland accordions just for silent practice. One in a while I connect them to a digital piano and/or an arranger, but that is just for fun.
artelagro wrote:What is the expected lifespan of your hi-tech purchase? When did you last see a FR2, FR3 or FR7?
I don't really know what the expected lifespan of the Roland accordions are. But currently I have in my possession an FR-2 (from a friend who tried accordion and gave up), an FR-1X (I bought it with the proceed from selling the FR-3s when switched from PA to CBA), and an FR-7 (bought it because I could not refuse the low price). I think I don't need to buy any more digital accordions for the rest of my life (but what I want can be different).
artelagro wrote:I note that a good number of our members own MIDI accordions as well as acoustics but no one, as far as I can see, has commented on their use. Is the Hohner or Scandalli etc. gathering dust? Or is the electronic one back in its case?
Acoustic accordion with MIDI? I have one, a top of the line Fisitalia. The problems are (1) there is no way to turn off the voice from the "acoustic" part of the accordion (no silent practice) and (2) its MIDI capabilities are primitive compared to those of a Roland.
artelagro wrote:Velocity sensitive bass buttons – My tutor has spent many hours teaching me how to press and release these – have I to start again?
"Velocity sensitivity" doesn't bother me. If you don't like it, you can turn it off.
artelagro wrote:Bellows action volume control – Of course - that’s how an accordion works.
Yes, you'll have to learn the bellows action of the V-accordion. You'll be much less frustrated if you don't compare it with an acoustic accordion. Treat it as a different kind of instrument.
artelagro wrote:Connection to computer – Why? I want a simple wee accordion.
No need to. I don't do that.
artelagro wrote:The ability to imitate any or all musical instruments! – Why? - It’s an accordion.
You don't have to do it if you don't want to. But if you do, the choices are there. I once in a while do that to break the boredom.

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by JerryPH » Wed May 03, 2017 10:36 am

I own accordions of all 3 levels:
- Straight acoustic
- Acoustic-MIDI
- Pure 100% digital.

Each is a world totally unto itself, each has advantages and disadvantages. That said, the one thing that you mention, playing with headphones in "silence", is a trait that can only be done on the Roland V-Accordion.

Pentaprism and Glenn have well covered points you ask about, but I will say one thing... at first moving from acoustic to all digital can be frustrating and one has to practice patience and slow resolve more than getting used to making a battery powered box sound and feel like an acoustic accordion. It will never be a replacement for an acoustic, but it also goes places that an acoustic never can go, not even the MIDI powered ones (well not unless you connect your MIDI accordion to a V-Accordion... lol). However, once you get over this initial challenge, things start to happen fast... Like:

-your style of playing changes, mostly for the better
- you start to use more orchestral sounds other than the accordion and integrate them in to your music, making it better.
- you start to hear other sounds and equate them to other kinds of music and expand your musical tastes and repertoire

This does not happen fast, but it creeps in on you, and a year later, you find yourself a comp,etely different kind of player. :)

At least for me, the V-Accordion is in some ways making me a better musician... no, not technically better, just better rounded, and at the same time giving me a lot of fun and pleasure. :)
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by Rhelsing » Wed May 03, 2017 1:33 pm

Others have covered most of it very well. The only think I would ad is a counter to the post that in an accordion that does both you cannot silence the acoustical accordion - that is not exactly correct. My ElKA that I'm currently trading in for a Concerto both have a register on bass and keyboard side to silnce the reeds - so they can be played midi and acoustically. I have an acoustic accordion (a Pan-Jet with three Musette reeds) that I absolutely love (it is probably 75 years old but in beautiful condition. There is some music (polkas and some traditional French) that it is simply the "right" instrument. But, most of the timer Is like a mixture of Midi and regular accordion - it grows on you. Even if you are leading with the accordion (main sound) quieter midi sounds in the background add so much depth and quality. Similarly, leadintg with Midi and still hearing the reeds in the back ground is also awesome - and some songs (City of Lights, Mussetta's Song from La Bohme, Fron a Distance) are just beautiful with Midi lead or pure midi. Technique is different with midi - I find particularly on the bass side. Also, on the concerto you can control volume by either volume pedal, or bellows, or both. Using touch on the key board for piano, volume pedal for the strings, and bellows for the reeds takes a bit of getting used to - but like everything else after a while muscle memory kicks in. I think the thing that may actually also get me into a Roland some day is it is much more portable than the Concerto - but again everything is a trade off. I think if I will probably eventually end up like Jerry, one of each type because sometimes you just know what you want to play!

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by artelagro » Wed May 03, 2017 10:33 pm

Very clear answers - thanks guys.
I have learned a lot in the past couple of weeks and now understand the differences and the benefits but I was seemingly asking for the moon so will just have to come back to the real world.
Maybe next year I will have a different outlook - Who knows what's round the corner?
Thanks again
Garth

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by Alan Sharkis » Wed May 03, 2017 11:54 pm

One more small detail,Artelago, and then I promise to quit this topic.

You can play an acoustic accordion with midi using earphones and not disturb others IF the accordion is equipped with mutes so no reeds will sound. If the acoustic accordion isn't equipped with mutes, then depending on the model of midi installed, you might still be able to play an acoustic accordion with midi using earphones IF you lock up the bellows and use a foot pedal to control volume (mine is equipped that way.)

Alan

artelagro
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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by artelagro » Thu May 04, 2017 10:42 am

Thanks for that addition Alan. I had come across such a beast in the ads for a MIDI equipped box but I didn’t realise there was a foot pedal involved.
In the Charles Magnante tutor books, he recommends some daily practice with the bellows strap fastened. I certainly found this beneficial on the bass side where the dimples on some buttons ensured that I stayed on course but not for the keyboard.
Garth

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by JerryPH » Fri May 05, 2017 12:14 am

Alan Sharkis wrote:You can play an acoustic accordion with midi using earphones and not disturb others IF the accordion is equipped with mutes so no reeds will sound.
Only if you accept the fact that you cannot have any kind of accordion sound while doing this. I think Garth mentioned that of all things, the accordion sound was the most important for him, so, playing in silence with an acoustic is not an option... after all, you are muting the reeds, right? On the Roland, this is easily done... and not just one accordion, but with dozens of different accordions available to you to boot. :)
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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Re: Digital, MIDI or?

Post by Alan Sharkis » Fri May 05, 2017 4:32 pm

Jerry,

The midi on my accordion has 400 sounds, and 100 (I just checked the manual) are accordion sounds. Among those, I know that there will be some that are pleasing to an individual player :D

I actually decided on this midi unit because, at the time, I was playing music with four other enthusiastic amateurs. We had a drummer, a violinist who usually played lead, a keyboard guy, a really weak guitar player and me. Playing stuff like klezmer, Israeli dance tunes, and even American pop demanded instruments we didn't have. Therefore, the midi. Now the drummer and the violinist have passed away and the three remaining guys just can't find the time to get together.

I'll be darned if I can figure out how the sounds in my midi are produced, but I suspect that they're sampled, and you know how that goes -- one guy's idea of a good sample is another guy's idea of something that's totally unrealistic. What's interesting about the midi is that the list of sounds is identical to the list of sounds in the SEM Ciao reedless that I traded in. The Ciao's midi was produced by Logic System and the midi in my present accordion is made by Master Productions. Did the two companies, or one of the partners of Logic System after they split and the people at Master have a business connection? I don't know. Although the lists are identical, the sounds in the Master are of much better quality, even when played through the same amp I used with the Ciao, at least to my ears. And yet, the lists are identical ...

Go figure.

Alan

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