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#19 wim wakker

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 12:35 AM

The reason a concertina sounds like a concertina and an accordion like an accordion is not only because of the reeds. As Dana pointed out, an accordion reed in a concertina, will sound (much) like a concertina. It also works the other way around: when you install a concertina reed in an accordion, it will sound like an accordion.

The ‘family’ of free reed instruments consists of several individual instrument groups, each with their own characteristics and construction principles. In ‘our’ family we distinguish between 1 Accordion, 2 bandoneon, 3 concertina, and 4 harmonium type of construction. Each group has subdivisions (accordion: bayan, schweizer oergli, etc.) Instruments in these subdivisions share the same basic technique/construction.

Each group has a fundamentally different way of activating a metal reed by means of an air column. Just as you cannot turn a violin into a guitar by installing guitar strings (both members of the string family), you cannot change a free reed instrument to one from another group just by changing the reed….

Although materials have an effect on the sound quality, they do not determine the type of sound. For example, you cannot change an accordion into a concertina or harmonium just by using the materials used in those instruments. Except for the concertina and harmonium groups where the density and structure of only certain parts do have a measurable effect on tone/harmonics, for most free reed instruments materials do not play an important role. Research has shown only a 2% effect in accordion type instruments (prof. Richter, 1985). In all free reed instruments materials are basically used for sound reflection, not resonance (as string instruments do).

This means a concertina uses different principles of sound production than an accordion. The reeds themselves are only a small part in the process. It doesn’t matter whether you install brass, german silver or steel reeds in a concertina, either high or poor quality, it will always sound like a concertina. You can even use any material you like; wood, metal, plastic, etc. without changing the characteristics of the sound. You might prefer certain materials, but you will always recognize the sound as being a concertina. It will never end up sounding like a bandonion or accordion. The same goes for the other instrument groups.

The reason a concertina sounds like a concertina is because of the way the instrument is constructed. Key parts that make a concertina sound like a concertina are:
-the reedpan: the opening under the reed (vortex), chamber size, position of the reed in the chamber, air column shape.
- reed frame(shoe): shape of the vent in relation to the reedpan.
- the way energy is transmitted from the reed to the reedpan.

If you install an accordion reed in a concertina, the only aspect you change is the vent. As a result, it will sound like a concertina. The reason it needed more pressure (in Dana’s example) is because the accordion reed was designed for a higher pressure chamber.
If you start with accordion construction principles, as all hybrid concertinas do, you can change certain aspects to mimic a concertina.

If I am correct, Frank (Edgley) now uses accordion reeds with a vented frame, somewhat like concertina reeds. This does imitate the way a concertina reed cuts the air column, but the column shape, air flow pressure, energy transmission, etc. still follows the principles of accordion construction.
The altered reed frame changes only a very small part of the whole process (maybe 15-20%?). The sound structure is, and always will be that of the accordion group (harmonic structure).
It doesn't mean that a concertina sounds better (many people prefer the sound of an accordion) it just sounds different.

It doesn’t make any difference in the harmonic structure of the sound which type of accordion reed you use (export, typo a mano, a mano). This standard classification only indicates the level of quality, (e.g. gap size, hand or machine riveted). Hand finished reeds ( a mano) are only finished and riveted by hand, not ‘cut’ by hand. They have a better reed/frame fit and a better reed curve (hand corrected if necessary), but produce basically the same harmonics as the other types.
N.B. most vintage concertina reeds do not meet the quality/fit standard of a mano accordion reeds. If you would classify them according to this system, they would be export or typo a mano. The quality and hardness of the steel is also comparable to the vocal steel used nowadays in accordion reeds…

By the way, the vented frames, that I assume Frank means, are developed by Harry Geuns in the 1990s. Harry abandoned the project we both worked on because it was only one aspect of many (as explained above) and did not come close enough to the concertina sound. Harry ‘gave’ the technique to a befriended reed maker in Italy for use in a new model jazz accordion… Harry never patented this design.

Wim Wakker
Concertina Connection Inc.
Wakker Concertinas

#20 Rod

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:32 AM

Could someone please explain in just a few words, for someone who should know, but doesn't, the basic difference between a Concertina reed and an Accordian reed ?

Rod

#21 Henrik Müller

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 02:25 AM

Could someone please explain in just a few words, for someone who should know, but doesn't, the basic difference between a Concertina reed and an Accordian reed ?

Rod

Seems like there is a basic need for photographs here - I'll see what I can do over the weekend :)
/Henrik

#22 TomB-R

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 03:23 AM

Could someone please explain in just a few words, for someone who should know, but doesn't, the basic difference between a Concertina reed and an Accordian reed ?

Rod


Wim Wakker's own wonderful page is a great place to start
http://www.concertin...rtina reeds.htm

#23 Rod

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 03:59 AM

Could someone please explain in just a few words, for someone who should know, but doesn't, the basic difference between a Concertina reed and an Accordian reed ?

Rod


Wim Wakker's own wonderful page is a great place to start
http://www.concertin...rtina reeds.htm


Thank you Henrik and Tom. I shall now study the Wim Wakker article in detail. In the meantime I am still having difficulty getting my tired old brain round the actual basic physical difference between the construction and operation of the Accordian reed/frame as opposed to the Concertina reed/frame. Wim's photographs seem to suggest that the Accordian version incorporates a valve flap ? I apologise because this is little more than a matter of idle curiosity to me.
Feel free to ignore me !

Rod

#24 TomB-R

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 05:06 AM

Could someone please explain in just a few words, for someone who should know, but doesn't, the basic difference between a Concertina reed and an Accordian reed ?

Rod


Wim Wakker's own wonderful page is a great place to start
http://www.concertin...rtina reeds.htm


Thank you Henrik and Tom. I shall now study the Wim Wakker article in detail. In the meantime I am still having difficulty getting my tired old brain round the actual basic physical difference between the construction and operation of the Accordian reed/frame as opposed to the Concertina reed/frame. Wim's photographs seem to suggest that the Accordian version incorporates a valve flap ? I apologise because this is little more than a matter of idle curiosity to me.


Replying with hesitation when others so much more highly qualified than I are participating in this discussion!

The accordion version "incorporates" the valve in the sense that because accordion reeds have the two reeds for press and draw on each side of one plate, the valves are attached to the reed plate itself. With concertina reeds the valve is on the other side of the reed pan board, on the far side of the hole under the reed.
Apart from the obvious differences such as the reed plate/frame shape, and the fact that accordion reeds are rivetted in place whilst concertina reeds are screwed, other differences include:- Accordion reed plates have squared edges and are held onto the reed block by wax, sometimes nails or screws.
Concertina reed frames have a "dovetail" section so that they are firmly held as they are slid into a slot of the right size and shape. No other fixing is used or needed. As described on Wim's pages the slot under the reed is straight sided in an accordion reed. With a concertina reed the slot tapers outwards so that as the reed swings down into the slot, the clearance between reed and frame increases quite fast.

Edited by TomB-R, 27 May 2009 - 05:09 AM.


#25 David Levine

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 08:49 AM

...concertina makers still don't know what exactly influences the sound, and ...accordion reeds are generally more responsive and provided... much higher level of professionalism among players...

Considering this I don't know why you even bother to post, much less read other posts...

#26 ragtimer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 09:05 AM

I don't think anyone has mentioned yet, that the single reed plate (or multi-reed plates) can make for a more compact design.

Valuable when you need to cram a lot of reeds into a box, as in a Duet concertina.

The abortive Russian Hayden Duet was to be made this way, and Rich Morse was looking into a single plate design for his Hayden.

Since the reeds lie flat, rather than stood up in cells, a single-plate concertina would qualify as a proper hybrid.

I'll leave it to others to decide whether the savings in space is worth the tuning and repair issues.
--Mike K.

#27 m3838

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 05:48 PM

...concertina makers still don't know what exactly influences the sound, and ...accordion reeds are generally more responsive and provided... much higher level of professionalism among players...

Considering this I don't know why you even bother to post, much less read other posts...


I never mentioned you have to know, did I?
But for those who wonder, I have always searched to find concertina players, whose professionalism was on the level what most other instrumentalists have reached. It's been discussed here before. I have an impression, that response of concertina as instrument, it's dynamic range , combination of weight and shape, ergonomics, cost and production design prohibits it from becoming a full fledged instrument. And I'm reading these posts with interest. After all, if I'm not mistaken, Wim Wakker draws much of his theoretical knowledge from free reed research, done in USSR, where accordion, particularly Bayan, is considered a national musical emblem. Nowhere else, it seems, free reeds were actually studied by scientists, receiving salary for such an activity.
It also looks like concertina production is controlled by paying patrons, whose musical abilities are inferior to their financial, and (production) is stuck in outdated shape/form/sound favored by these patrons. A promising musician, having picked up concertina, will soon find he/she has to move on to other type of free reed instrument, to progress, or play Irish. I have seen very small Bandonions, not bigger than large concertina, which sound was outstanding by it's tonal range, uniformity from low to high end, etc. So the size definitely doesn't matter. It's true, concertina sounds differently, but it shouldn't inhibit anything. Why then average seasoned Bandonion player sounds more sophisticated than average seasoned Concertina player? It may not be lack of skill. Harrold Herrington tried to produce square concertina, more ergonomically fit - no success. Bob Tedrow followed some 10 years later - how's that coming? Nobody is doing anything for handle ergonomics, a big one. Because nobody will buy any of these. We want steam engine, we want looks. It may have consequences for playability.
My best responding concertina was Morse Ceili. An off the shelf Weltmeister accordion quality at best. My best sounding accordion is Russian made Bayan with hand made reeds. A far cry way above all concertinas I heard, but the beast is heavy.
I actually think single reed plate may add this missing quality to sound, be it other reeds' resonance or whatever. So it will become richer, still a concertina sound, whatever it means, but richer, with nuances, making it possible to employ in wider variety of styles. I really like the sound of Frank Edgley instruments, they have that other element.

#28 Daniel Hersh

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:27 PM

The best answer I've seen was written by the late Rich Morse here. The key differences, according to Rich, are in the shape of the reed and the shape and the thickness of the reed frame/shoe.

Daniel

Could someone please explain in just a few words, for someone who should know, but doesn't, the basic difference between a Concertina reed and an Accordian reed ?

Rod



#29 wim wakker

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 11:51 PM

But for those who wonder, I have always searched to find concertina players, whose professionalism was on the level what most other instrumentalists have reached. It's been discussed here before. I have an impression, that response of concertina as instrument, it's dynamic range , combination of weight and shape, ergonomics, cost and production design prohibits it from becoming a full fledged instrument. And I'm reading these posts with interest. After all, if I'm not mistaken, Wim Wakker draws much of his theoretical knowledge from free reed research, done in USSR, where accordion, particularly Bayan, is considered a national musical emblem. Nowhere else, it seems, free reeds were actually studied by scientists, receiving salary for such an activity.
It also looks like concertina production is controlled by paying patrons, whose musical abilities are inferior to their financial, and (production) is stuck in outdated shape/form/sound favored by these patrons. A promising musician, having picked up concertina, will soon find he/she has to move on to other type of free reed instrument, to progress, or play Irish. I have seen very small Bandonions, not bigger than large concertina, which sound was outstanding by it's tonal range, uniformity from low to high end, etc. So the size definitely doesn't matter. It's true, concertina sounds differently, but it shouldn't inhibit anything. Why then average seasoned Bandonion player sounds more sophisticated than average seasoned Concertina player? It may not be lack of skill. Harrold Herrington tried to produce square concertina, more ergonomically fit - no success. Bob Tedrow followed some 10 years later - how's that coming? Nobody is doing anything for handle ergonomics, a big one. Because nobody will buy any of these. We want steam engine, we want looks. It may have consequences for playability.
My best responding concertina was Morse Ceili. An off the shelf Weltmeister accordion quality at best. My best sounding accordion is Russian made Bayan with hand made reeds. A far cry way above all concertinas I heard, but the beast is heavy.
I actually think single reed plate may add this missing quality to sound, be it other reeds' resonance or whatever. So it will become richer, still a concertina sound, whatever it means, but richer, with nuances, making it possible to employ in wider variety of styles. I really like the sound of Frank Edgley instruments, they have that other element.


From USSR research? not really… I got my ‘theoretical’ knowledge from my 9 years of college education in this field (I hold 5 European graduate degrees (including one in English Concertina), and my practical knowledge and experience from about 20 years of teaching and working in this field.

The most important centers for free reed development and study since the 1930s have been in Germany, France and Italy, not the USSR. The USSR has produced some of the world’s greatest bayanists, but the bayans they made were rubbish (sorry). I have played on those Bakelite bayans. The 32 foot bass reeds were beautiful, but the equilibrium was very poor. They also use about twice as much air as their European counterparts.

This might be a bit off topic, but I’ve noticed the opinion that the concertina is inferior to other instruments pops up frequently.
I do agree to some point with your remark that most concertina players are not professionals. I think it is fair to say that all 3 forms (anglo, english and duet) are mainly played by amateur musicians. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, as a former professional classical musician, I think playing music for fun is definitely the preferred way to go…
The fact that the concertina is mainly used in folk and ethnic music does not mean that it is inferior. It just happens to be the kind of music most players prefer.

The english concertina is the only one with an ‘art music’ or classical repertoire. In classical/art music, the quality of the repertoire is important, not how fast one can play or how popular the music is. All ‘classical’ instruments are still being played today because of the role they play in certain musical periods and styles, not because they are easy to play or ergonomically correct. The english concertina also has repertoire (both 19th and 20th century) that is considered valuable and of high musical (and technical) quality. I have premiered and performed many excellent original works for this instrument in Europe and the USA that are equal to repertoire written for violin or piano (e.g. Moliques sonata in Bb, Cohn’s concerto for concertina and orchestra, works by Alla Borzova, Oliver Hunt, etc.).

I designed the bachelor (Ed.) program for classical english concertina in Europe back in 2000/2001, with help and supervision of several free reed departments in Europe. It was the first and only EU recognized program for this instrument. However, it turned out to be impossible to find students with enough technical and musical skills to meet the entry level requirements set by the school and the supporting institutes. The average piano, violin, etc. student starting their freshman year was miles ahead of the concertina students. Not because the instrument was inferior, but because the eng. concertina lacks sufficient educational programs to prepare for a professional education. When a student found a way to dodge these requirements, the supporting schools pulled out and the inspector closed down the program. I am afraid that was the only shot the concertina had at an internationally recognized college level program.

Concertinas don’t need any ergonomic changes. These remarks usually come from players with very limited technical skills. They often blame the instrument for their limitations. I’ve played very demanding repertoire on standard Wheatstone and Lachenal instruments without any problems.
You’ll hear these remarks from beginning players of almost every instrument, it is not unique to the concertina.
In my experience the limitations are always from the player, not the instrument. For years I used to challenged players complaining that the Jackie or Jack was too slow for them to play a C major scale on my instrument as fast as they could. I would play the same scale on their Jackie or Jack. If they won, they could have my concert instrument. If I won, I got to keep the Jackie or jack… In the end I always gave back their instrument. I could have won dozens of Jackies and Jacks….

Wim Wakker
Concertina Connection Inc.
Wakker Concertinas.

#30 david_boveri

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 02:16 AM

Concertinas don’t need any ergonomic changes. These remarks usually come from players with very limited technical skills. They often blame the instrument for their limitations. I’ve played very demanding repertoire on standard Wheatstone and Lachenal instruments without any problems.
You’ll hear these remarks from beginning players of almost every instrument, it is not unique to the concertina.
In my experience the limitations are always from the player, not the instrument. For years I used to challenged players complaining that the Jackie or Jack was too slow for them to play a C major scale on my instrument as fast as they could. I would play the same scale on their Jackie or Jack. If they won, they could have my concert instrument. If I won, I got to keep the Jackie or jack… In the end I always gave back their instrument. I could have won dozens of Jackies and Jacks….

Wim Wakker
Concertina Connection Inc.
Wakker Concertinas.


here here! thank you. even though it may be off topic, it is a good divergence. if you look at the complexity of fingering a piano or bassoon scale, all types of concertina are very simple. it is the players that need work, not the instruments.

although i must add that your instrument can limit your mindset. they say if you play a stradivarius once, it will change how you play your own violin. i believe this is true... i played a hand made brannen brother's flute once that was so good (even in comparison to other flutes which were more expensive) that it changed my flute playing forever. likewise, although i can get good music out of my stagi NOW, when it was my only instrument it limited my perception of what was possible, and was inexorably frustrating.

#31 m3838

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 02:17 AM

From USSR research? not really…

I took it from your own post a few years back. And I doubt Germany, France and Italy had anything close to centrally financed "Scientific Research Institutes for Free Reed Instruments", with hundreds of PHDs and masters to support the labs. A friend of mine was a scientist in such an Institute in Moscow.

The USSR has produced some of the world’s greatest bayanists, but the bayans they made were rubbish (sorry). I have played on those Bakelite bayans.


Before 1970s Russian Bayanists played on Russian made bayans, that were made superiorly. I have one of those, last batch of true Tula bayans, made in 1969. Superb machine, far surpassing any instruments I held in my hands. After 1970s and into the late 1980s Russian pros favored DDR's Weltmeisters, the only available foreign brand. Now they have anything, of course, but Jupiter has pretty good reputation too. You probably played on off-the-shelf cheap serial made garbage, thinking it's what those Russians play. Never! USSR had double economies, one for official record and another for people to use.

I do agree to some point with your remark that most concertina players are not professionals. I think it is fair to say that all 3 forms (anglo, english and duet) are mainly played by amateur musicians. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, as a former professional classical musician, I think playing music for fun is definitely the preferred way to go…



Wholeheartedly agree.

The english concertina is the only one with an ‘art music’ or classical repertoire

.

I'm not talking about classical music. I'm talking about quality of performance. And suspect it's the ergonomics.

I have premiered and performed many excellent original works for this instrument in Europe and the USA that are equal to repertoire written for violin or piano (e.g. Moliques sonata in Bb, Cohn’s concerto for concertina and orchestra, works by Alla Borzova, Oliver Hunt, etc.).


Very interesting point. What would you pick, if your life depended on the performance, a concertina or any other instrument?

The average piano, violin, etc. student starting their freshman year was miles ahead of the concertina students. Not because the instrument was inferior, but because the eng. concertina lacks sufficient educational programs to prepare for a professional education.


I don't know the details, but I would doubt it. Accordion and Bandonion are free reeds, bellow operated devices, much like concertina. Any aspiring student, who has some brains, may use accordion or bandonion set-up to hone his skills on concertina. The approach is the same.
Musical talent is the same. Music is the same. Either concertina students are dumb, or there is something with the design, that is behind modern standards.

Concertinas don’t need any ergonomic changes.


Everything needs ergonomic changes, and these changes are being done, implemented and demonstrated with good success. How can you ignore them? From simple improvement, making anglo concertina's wrist supports angled, to more sophisticated devices of Goran. How can you logically say what you said, when Wheatstone's idea was to place 2 fingers on "pinkie" rest and play melody with only two fingers on each side?
Not only players use 3 fingers per side, they often dismiss pinkie rest alltogether and use all four fingers. It's dramatic change of style and possibilities, much like 3 row Bayan versus 5 row and complete redesign of playing school. And I saw a photorgraph of you with concertina on thin neck strap. Very dangerous adventure and God help you.

For years I used to challenged players complaining that the Jackie or Jack was too slow


Whether Jack or Jackie are slow or not is irrelevant. But when four sided reed banks are jammed into 6 sided cabinet, with plenty of free unused space and no place for air valve - that's a biggie for me. It's not an issue of aestetics, just following that principle, that contents influence the shape. I understand market demands though. You have to make a living.

#32 david_boveri

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 03:54 AM

I don't know the details, but I would doubt it. Accordion and Bandonion are free reeds, bellow operated devices, much like concertina. Any aspiring student, who has some brains, may use accordion or bandonion set-up to hone his skills on concertina. The approach is the same.
Musical talent is the same. Music is the same. Either concertina students are dumb, or there is something with the design, that is behind modern standards.

huuuuge assumption here. there is a huge difference between the instruments. try this: concertina is as similar to accordion as clarinet is to saxophone. saxophone players call the clarinet the black stick of death--learning it can seriously hamper your saxophone technique, because they are that different.

you can NOT use an accordion to hone your concertina skills. plain and simple. violin players cannot play the cello by default, and vice versa. mandolin players cannot play the guitar by default either. take a guitarist who has never played a banjo and ask him to play the banjo, and see how well he does. i bet you paco de lucia could hardly even pick out a melody on the banjo.

the key point here is that the instrument went out of favor for at least 100 years, and is still out of favor. there are not a lot of good players, so people's mindsets are limited. there are no conservatories which teach the concertina. the amount of emphasis on virtuosity in your living room versus at a prestigious classical music conservatory is hugely different.

the uniform keyboard for the piano ( http://squeezehead.c...iform-keyboard/ ) is vastly superior to the keyboard we use today. liszt thought it was brilliant. the problem was that you have to start from scratch--just as accordion players have to start on scratch on the concertina. no one was willing to do this for the piano, and hugely virtuosic players are not willing to do this for the concertina.

the boehm system for the silver flute is vastly superior acoustically and technically. it took over 80 years for all the major orchestras in the world to switch over, because it would reduce the worlds most proficient flute players into rank amateurs instantly. and the fingerings between the boehm flute and the 8 flute are much more similar than that of the concertina and the chromatic button accordion.

it takes a huge pool of musicians all competing against eachother to up the standards. i know people who bought their jeffries or wheatstone concertinas in pawn shops in london 30 years ago for 50 pounds. this is not an instrument where anyone is competing against anyone.

#33 david_boveri

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 04:01 AM

i am adding further replies to the idea of whether or not the concertina is flawed or it is the players' fault to another thread here.

#34 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 06:45 AM

Not only players use 3 fingers per side, they often dismiss pinkie rest alltogether and use all four fingers. It's dramatic change of style and possibilities, much like 3 row Bayan versus 5 row and complete redesign of playing school. And I saw a photorgraph of you with concertina on thin neck strap. Very dangerous adventure and God help you.

Actually, neither of those techniques are anything new or revolutionary - they go right back to the playing/teaching of the concertina's greatest virtuoso, Giulio Regondi, who started performing professionally on the instrument as recently as 1835. :rolleyes:

#35 m3838

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 05:34 PM

Not only players use 3 fingers per side, they often dismiss pinkie rest alltogether and use all four fingers. It's dramatic change of style and possibilities, much like 3 row Bayan versus 5 row and complete redesign of playing school. And I saw a photorgraph of you with concertina on thin neck strap. Very dangerous adventure and God help you.

Actually, neither of those techniques are anything new or revolutionary - they go right back to the playing/teaching of the concertina's greatest virtuoso, Giulio Regondi, who started performing professionally on the instrument as recently as 1835. :rolleyes:

Thats' precisely my point: original design needed improvement right away. Still awaiting a bright mind to get at it.

#36 Fergus_fiddler

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 08:00 PM

Not only players use 3 fingers per side, they often dismiss pinkie rest alltogether and use all four fingers. It's dramatic change of style and possibilities, much like 3 row Bayan versus 5 row and complete redesign of playing school. And I saw a photorgraph of you with concertina on thin neck strap. Very dangerous adventure and God help you.

Actually, neither of those techniques are anything new or revolutionary - they go right back to the playing/teaching of the concertina's greatest virtuoso, Giulio Regondi, who started performing professionally on the instrument as recently as 1835. :rolleyes:

Thats' precisely my point: original design needed improvement right away. Still awaiting a bright mind to get at it.


We're snxiously waiting about your virtuoso playing that`s going t get all of of us out of the ignorance. In the maintime - BTW, spaniards are usually the same, - don´t talk about something it's not your knowledge. It's a lot betterc for everyone's sanity. Are you a builder? no? Well, stop talking at such. You' d have a pretty good choice to push-off ( spellng?) an english one.




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