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When Is A Concertina Not A Concertina..?

Button accordion squeeze box German Melba

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#1 HansiRowe

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 10:10 AM

I'm sorry, I know that I shouldn't be posting an accordion here and I hope that I'm not breaking any rules but, I have been given this small diatonic, button accordion today by a friend and I just wanted to ask what actually makes this an accordion? It does have 3 stops and 2 bass buttons, as well as the other 10 buttons, but, basically there's not a lot of difference, apart from the stops and the shape, from an anglo concertina… is it the stops that classes it as an accordion? It's not much bigger than my anglo.

 

I've tried searching on line for this 'Melba' accordion, it's made in Germany, but I can't find any information about it… for example its age, or a fingering chart. Does anyone have any ideas or info about it? It has an amazingly deep and rich tone for such a small instrument...

 

IMG_2068.JPG  IMG_2069.JPG  IMG_2070.JPG


Edited by HansiRowe, 30 October 2014 - 10:13 AM.


#2 sqzbxr

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 10:16 AM

The deep and rich tone is caused, in part, by the three reeds per note controlled by the stops.  The chords and basses on the left hand end make it an accordion.  Fingering charts and more information is readily available at http://melodeon.net.



#3 HansiRowe

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 10:38 AM

Thanks a lot for the link & information sqzbxr… I'm still faithful to my anglo but I'm just interested in this accordion/melodeon… it would be nice to be able to squeeze a tune out of it now and then!



#4 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 10:55 AM

What makes it belong to the accordion family is the direction of button action in relation to the bellows movement. In general - accordions have perpendicular action while concertinas have parallel. [This is true for any tradition and region… except for Portugal - "concertina portuguesa" is a portugese 2-3 row diatonic accordion, most closely related to the melodeon. ]
All concertinas (including chemnizers and bandoneons) are also built with a same general principle of having single note buttons on both sides of the instrument, allowing couter melody play, while accordions have a left hand side built to play full chord/bass accompaniment, hence the name (a-chord-ion in western or harmon(y)ia in eastern languages).

Concertinas are also single reeded, except from German concertinas (which include chemnizers and bandonions), which have two or three reeds per note (which in case of bandoneons are tuned in octaves and not as a dry/wet unisono like in melodeons). 


Edited by Łukasz Martynowicz, 30 October 2014 - 10:58 AM.


#5 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 10:56 AM

In British Isles parlance what you have been given is a melodeon and, as such, it is made a lot like a German concertina (the instrument that the Anglo-German concertina developed out of).

 

Both the German concertina and the melodeon can trace their origins to Cyrill Demian's original accordion of 1829 - the essential difference is that Carl Friedrich Uhlig (1789-1874) of Chemnitz, the inventor of the German concertina, became frustrated with the original accordions because he wanted to make his own harmony, so in 1834 he split the 10-key scale in half and (originally) mounted a single row of 5 buttons on each end of the instrument (concertina fashion), instead of having them all on a keyboard at right angles to the end (accordion fashion). So the fingering is the same on both instruments, but the German/Anglo concertina has low notes on the left side and high ones on the right, whilst the melodeon has them all on the right.

 

"Melba" was an Australian brand of melodeon, produced in Germany for Allan & Co. of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide & Bendigo, who were also well-known for their famous "Crackajack" mouth organs and their more-expensive "Mezon" melodeons.



#6 HansiRowe

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 11:28 AM

Wow… thanks so much for all that information Lukasz & Stephen! That's all very interesting and amazingly informative and has answered my query far beyond my expectations! Also interesting that it's an Australian brand, it has made in Germany written all over it and it used to belong to a friend's husband who was Swiss, so I presumed that it may be a cheap, East German, mass-produced item...

 

Very interesting too about the 10 keys being split and 5 mounted at each end… thanks again for all your help!  :)



#7 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 12:15 PM

... I presumed that it may be a cheap, East German, mass-produced item...

 

That's almost right, in that it would have been made in Saxony, except it predates (post-war Communist) East Germany...

 

The definitions that Lukasz and myself have supplied are the "normally accepted" differences, but there are always odd exceptions - including a Kalbe German concertina that I have "Made Especially for the Australian Climate" with accordion-like 90° keyboards on each end!



#8 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 12:46 PM

 

... but there are always odd exceptions - including a Kalbe German concertina that I have "Made Especially for the Australian Climate" with accordion-like 90° keyboards on each end!

 

 

 

Do you have any pics of this instrument? I'm very interested in how this instrument is held and played, since it sounds like having very odd ergonomics..



#9 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 03:00 PM

... but there are always odd exceptions - including a Kalbe German concertina that I have "Made Especially for the Australian Climate" with accordion-like 90° keyboards on each end!

 

Do you have any pics of this instrument? I'm very interested in how this instrument is held and played, since it sounds like having very odd ergonomics..

 

It does, in fact it was held more like a melodeon, with a thumbstrap for the right thumb and a hand strap on the left, the wind key is also on the left and operated by the little finger of that hand:

 

003-5.jpg

 

I'm sorry about the poor quality of the image but the instrument is currently in an exhibition at the OaC here in Miltown Malbay.

 

Another one that challenges accepted definitions is my Ivan Blagin Russian Odessa Duet Concertina, or (in the light of subsequent research) perhaps that should be "Melharmonium", with the keyboards on its bevelled sides:

 

IvanBlaginOdessaConcertinaLH.jpg


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 30 October 2014 - 03:02 PM.


#10 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 03:39 PM

I just tried to imagine how this Kalbe would feel, and that is indeed a very strange wrist position. But this second one looks quite comfortable (apart from it's strange note layout) an Harry Geuns makes modern bandoneons based on the same principle: http://bandoneon-mak...stem-bandonion/



#11 HansiRowe

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 08:09 PM

Thanks again Stephen… it's very interesting to see these instruments and how their designs faltered for a moment between a complete change to the current positioning of keyboards… the Kalbe is like you stated earlier with the keyboard split in two and positioned either end. I'm presuming that you have actually played this instrument, how did you find the positioning of the hands… I can imagine that if the concertina was held at a slight downward angle it wouldn't be too bad?







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Button accordion, squeeze box, German, Melba

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