bookmark_borderTransposing Incy Wincy Spider using the Jankó keyboard

Knowledge of the Jankó keyboard has taught me how to do something that has until now been beyond me: transposing a tune. It’s really easy:

Incy Wincy Spider is most easily played on a piano using eight adjacent white keys: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. Here’s how that would look on the Jankó keyboard:

Let’s try to transpose it to start on F. We simply move our hands (the red box here) so that it starts there:

We see that the keys we need to play are F-G-A-A#-C-D-E-F, and you can test that by playing it on a normal piano.

Let’s look at another example:

Here we are starting on B, which leads to the sequence B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#-B.

Finally, here’s Incy Wincy starting on F#:

The sequence of keys is F#-G#-A#-B-C#-D#-F-F#.

So to transpose a piece on a normal keyboard, all you have to do is to imagine how you play it on a Jankó keyboard, shift your hands and see which keys you’d now be playing, which you can then find again on a normal piano.

bookmark_borderThe Jankó keyboard



Janko Piano
Originally uploaded by Ragtimer1

I am not a musician, although there are plenty of those in my family. I did play the violin for a year or so as a kid, but my piano skills were for years limited to one-finger versions of Incy Wincy Spider and one or two more other tunes.

However, a few days ago one of Dougie’s golf friends donated his old Yamaha PSR-530 keyboard to us, which made me study a couple of the GarageBand piano lessons that you get for free with a Mac.

After that experience, I felt a bit like I did when I was learning to drive – I kept asking myself why it was designed so badly.

However, a quick Google search taught me about the Jankó keyboard. You can read the details by following the link, but basically you can transpose a tune simply by shifting your hands.

It never seem to have become very popular, but there is a Japanese company making a similar MIDI keyboard. Here is a demonstration:

bookmark_borderVoting recommendations for all Scottish constituencies

Based on my recent discussion of the constituency vote, I decided to make concrete recommendations for all Scottish constituencies, based on the nominal results (i.e., the results from 2007 adjusted to the new constituencies).

Here’s an example:

Constituency Lab SNP LD Con Green
Eastwood Lab/LD Con/SNP Con/LD Con/Con Con/Green

This means that if you’re a Labour supporter in Eastwood, you should give Labour your constituency vote, but give your list vote to some other party, such as the LibDems (see below for the meaning of italics); if you’re an SNP supporter, vote Conservative and SNP, resp.; if you’re a LibDem supporter, vote Tory and LibDem, etc.

In many cases, all I can honestly recommend is not to vote for a given party. For instance, giving your list vote to Labour in Eastwood is a wasted vote. I’ve therefore suggested an alternative in italics. This alternative is the LibDems for Labour (because they probably are the party that are most likely to be willing to form a coalition with them; an alternative would have been the Greens, but they don’t often have a realistic chance of getting elected), the LibDems for the SNP (this was a hard one, but many SNP voters will hate the Tories too much to vote for them instead), the SNP for the LibDems (voting Labour is likely to leave them completely out of power), the SNP for the Conservatives (because they seem to be willing to work with them much more willingly than Labour), and the SNP for the Greens (because they share the objective of Scottish independence). However, wherever a recommendation is italicised, feel free to disagree. For instance, in Eastwood a Labour supporter might decide to give their list vote to the SNP instead of the LibDems; what’s important is not to vote Labour.

Anyway, here’s the table:

Constituency Lab SNP LD Con Green
Aberdeen Central Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Aberdeen Donside Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Aberdeen South and Kincardine North Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Aberdeenshire East LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Aberdeenshire West LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Airdrie and Shotts Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Almond Valley Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/SNP SNP/Con SNP/Green
Angus North and Mearns LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Angus South Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Argyll and Bute LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Ayr Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Banffshire and Buchan Coast Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Clackmannanshire and Dunblane Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Clydebank and Milngavie Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Clydesdale Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Coatbridge and Chryston Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Cowdenbeath Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Cumbernauld & Kilsyth Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Cunninghame North Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Cunninghame South Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Dumbarton Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Dumfermline Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Dumfriesshire Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Dundee City East Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Dundee City West Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
East Kilbride Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
East Lothian Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Eastwood Lab/LD Con/SNP Con/LD Con/Con Con/Green
Edinburgh Central Lab/Lab Lab/SNP LD/SNP Lab/Con Lab/Green
Edinburgh Eastern Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/SNP SNP/Con SNP/Green
Edinburgh Northern and Leith Lab/Lab Lab/SNP LD/SNP Lab/Con Lab/Green
Edinburgh Pentlands Lab/Lab Lab/SNP LD/SNP Lab/Con Lab/Green
Edinburgh Southern Lab/Lab Lab/SNP LD/SNP Lab/Con Lab/Green
Edinburgh Western SNP/Lab SNP/SNP LD/SNP SNP/Con SNP/Green
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Falkirk East Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Falkirk West Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Fife Mid and Glenrothes Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Fife North East LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Galloway and Dumfries West Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Anniesland Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Cathcart Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Kelvin Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Pollock Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Provan Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Shettleston Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Glasgow Southside Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Greenock & Inverclyde Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Inverness and Nairn Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Kirkcaldy Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Linlithgow Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/SNP SNP/Con SNP/Green
Midlothian North and Musselburgh Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/SNP SNP/Con SNP/Green
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale Lab/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Moray Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Motherwell and Wishaw Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Na h-Eileanan an Iar Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Orkney Islands LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Paisley Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Perthshire North Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Perthshire South and Kinross-shire LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Renfrewshire North and West Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Renfrewshire South Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Rutherglen Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Shetland Islands LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch LD/Lab SNP/SNP LD/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Stirling Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD Con/Con SNP/Green
Strathkelvin and Bearsden Lab/LD SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green
Uddingston and Bellshill Lab/Lab SNP/SNP SNP/LD SNP/Con SNP/Green

bookmark_borderThe (ir)relevance of the constituency vote



Scottish Parliament
Originally uploaded by JohnConnell

The electoral system used for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the so-called additional member system, is often misunderstood by many voters.

All the other electoral systems used here (FPTP for Westminster, STV for the councils, and d’Hondt for Europe) have the property that each voter gets only one ballot paper, but AMS gives you two, which leads to confusion about their relative importance.

The answer depends on where in Scotland you live. In Glasgow and the West of Scotland, Labour are dominating and thereby winning the majority of constituencies.

As an example of this situation, let’s look at the Eastwood constituency within the West of Scotland region at the last elections back in 2007. The result was that Labour’s Ken Macintosh won Eastwood, and that Labour got 0 list seats (but 8 out of 9 possible constituency seats), SNP 4 list seats (in addition to 1 constituency), the Tories 2 list seats and the LibDems 1 list seat, for a total result of Lab 8, SNP 5, Cons 2 and LD 1. The list MSPs included two candidates from Eastwood (the SNP’s Stewart Maxwell and the Tories’ Jackson Carlaw), so this constituencies in effect saw three of its candidates elected.

Now let’s look at some different scenarios:

  • What if the Tories had won Eastwood? The regional results would have been Lab 7, SNP 5, Cons 3 and LD 1. This would have been achieved by Labour’s Ken Macintosh being replaced in the Scottish Parliament by the Conservative Philip Lardner from the Cunninghame North constituency.
  • What if the SNP had won Eastwood? The regional results would have been Lab 7, SNP 5, Cons 3 and LD 1. Yes, that’s right: The over-all effect would have been another Tory MSP, and the people involved would have been the same as above.
  • What if the LibDems had won Eastwood? Guess what? The same again – the only difference being that the LibDem MSP would have been Gordon MacDonald instead of Ross Finnie.

It’s therefore clear that the only important question was whether Labour won Eastwood or not, and that it would have made sense for SNP and LibDem supporters to have voted Conservative if they wanted to hurt Labour.

So what about the effect of the list vote? Let’s again look at some scenarios, assuming that Ken Macintosh had won the constituency. Remember that the baseline scenario is Lab 8, SNP 5, Cons 2 and LD 1.

  • What if Labour had got 10,000 list votes more (without taking votes from the other parties, i.e., through an increased turnout)? No effect whatsoever. What if they had got 10,000 votes less? No effect, either.
  • What if the SNP had got 10,000 list votes more? No effect (they would have needed quite a lot more to take a seat from the Tories). What if they had lost 10,000 votes? They would have lost a seat to the Tories.
  • What if the Tories had got 10,000 list votes more? They would have taken a seat from the SNP. And if they had lost 10,000? No effect.
  • What if the LibDems had got 10,000 list votes more? They would have taken a seat from the SNP. And if they had lost 10,000? They would have lost their seat to the Tories.

What we are seeing here is the effect of the SNP having won the 7th and last list seat, and the Tories being due the next list seat, so when somebody wins a seat, it comes from the SNP, and if they lose one, it goes to the Tories.

However, the overall picture is clear: A vote on Labour is completely wasted when it comes to the list votes, whereas it makes a difference for all the other parties.

The conclusion is therefore clear. If you were a voter in Eastwood back in 2007, in retrospect these were your choices: For the constituency vote the choice was between Labour and the Conservatives, and for the list vote the only relevant choices were Conservative, SNP, LibDem or perhaps Green.

Given the notional results for 2011, it’s very likely that Labour will win so many constituencies that a list vote for them will again be completely wasted. This again means that the only real decision for the constituency vote is whether to vote for or against Labour. The voting recommendation for 2011 is therefore the same as for 2007.

On the other hand, in most Scottish electoral regions, one party does not win the vast majority of constituency seats, and the effect of this is that the constituency vote never matters. As an example, let’s look briefly at the results from the North East Scotland region.

The results in 2007 were SNP 6 constituency seats + 2 list seats = 8 seats in total, Labour 1 + 2 = 3, LD 2 + 1 = 3, and Cons 0 + 2 = 2. Here are the different alternative scenarios:

  • If the SNP had taken one constituency seat from Labour, the result would still have been 8/3/3/2.
  • If Labour had taken one seat from Labour, again the result would have been the same.
  • The LibDems taking a seat from the SNP? No change.
  • The Tories doing it? Again the same.

This is actually what the AMS system is supposed to do: The constituency vote is supposed to allow people to decide who they want to represent them (as opposed to which party), whereas the list vote is supposed the allow people to decide which party the want to represent them (as opposed to which person).

It’s just that it doesn’t quite work like that when one party is winning too many constituencies within a region, which is why the constituency vote in Eastwood is important for deciding how many MSPs Labour will get in total, rather than just on deciding on the personal merits of Ken Macintosh.

bookmark_borderWhat to vote in Eastwood



Eastwood High School
Originally uploaded by Gordon McKinlay

The old Eastwood constituency used to be a Lab-Con marginal: Back in 2007, Ken Macintosh MSP from Labour won the seat with 35.8% of the vote, ahead of the Tories’ Jackson Carlaw MSP who got 33.6% and the SNP’s Stewart Maxwell MSP who got 18.9% (with LibDem Gordon MacDonald far behind on 8.6%). The three top candidates all got elected anyway because of the list system used for Scottish parliamentary elections.

However, this time Eastwood has had a chunk chopped off, and the result is a much more conservative constituency (details from this boundary report [PDF]):

Conservative 12,825 41.1%
Labour 9,337 29.9%
SNP 4,912 15.7%
Liberal Democrat 3,141 10.1%

The bits that were cut off are Neilston, Uplawmoor and Barrhead, and they’re now in the Renfrewshire South constituency, which is notionally a safe Labour seat with the SNP as the main contender.

According to Labour, Ken Macintosh MSP will contest Eastwood again, and he’ll be joined by his old foes Jackson Carlaw MSP and Stewart Maxwell MSP. (I haven’t been able to find out who the LibDems are putting up, but I’d be surprised if any sitting MSP would be willing to run in a seat with so few LibDem voters.)

So it’s in effect an interesting contest between three MSPs: the one who won it last time, the one who won it notionally, and the one whose party has been in power for the past four year.

The boundary report is expecting Labour to get 0 top-up seats, the SNP 4, the Conservatives 2 and the LibDems 1 in the West of Scotland region, bringing the number of MSPs up to Labour 8, SNP 5, Cons 3 and LibDems 1.

In other words, Labour is getting too many constituency MSPs, which means they’ll get no top-ups, whereas the SNP, the Tories and the LibDems will get topped up.

What this means is that if the Conservatives, the SNP or the LibDems win Eastwood, they will lose a top-up seat, and the total number of West of Scotland MSPs will remain Labour 8, SNP 5, Cons 3 and LibDems 1.

If, on the other hand, Labour win it, they have no top-up seats to lose, so the Conservatives are punished instead: Labour 9, SNP 5, Cons 2 and LibDems 1.

So to some extent the only thing that matters for the constituency vote is whether to vote Labour or not. A vote for Labour is a vote for Labour, whereas a vote for anybody else is a vote against Labour (and for the Conservatives in their prediction, but it could just as easily be for anybody else – this depends fully on the number of list votes).

The choice is therefore quite easy: If you want to see Labour in power in Scotland, vote for Ken Macintosh; if you want to see the SNP remain in power, vote Conservative, SNP or LibDem – it really doesn’t matter.

On the other hand, using your list vote is of high importance, but I’ll discuss that in a another blog posting.