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robert stewart

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Posts posted by robert stewart

  1. Perhaps this has been commented upon before (?) but in one of the famous Goya paintings of witches and their goat god, a witch is playing a concertina.


    Look for the figure on the far right, with what looks like a typical Continental style concertina with the two-part bellows.


    Is 1798 early for a concertina of any kind ?


    So maybe the Salvation Army knew something about the concertina that needed redemption.



  2. It certainly looks like the famous "golden" Aeola: Alf Edwards had the bellows gilded, and I think this instrument matches various photos of same. The golden treatment gradually wore off over the years. As featured elsewhere, Alf Edwards had several sets of reed pans that he could exchange in the concertina according to musical need.


    best wishes, Robert

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  3. Richard is 100% right. It is strange, but so well established now, that concertinas are associated with sea shanties. I knew the late Stan Hugill slightly, in Britain. When he sang he was really LOUD. He learned some of his shanties before the mast, as an old time sailor. If the shanty is a work song, at sea, on deck, the sailors have to be able to hear it above the howling winds, flapping sales, roaring seas. The shanty is a work-song, not a relaxing entertainment. So our beloved concertina does not suffice (!). And no one would be playing a concertina while others worked.


    But the romantic association of concertina and sailing ships is very satisfying for song accompaniment on shore, so why not? Providing we do not confuse history with artistry .  Robert

  4. The traditional way to learn tunes in Ireland, Scotland, the Appalachians, was to learn to sing the tune first. In other words it was in the memory before you worked on the fingering. An older musician would sing the phrases to the younger, who would sing them back until they were correct. The instrument was not touched until the tune was learned.Then the fingering learning. Then the decorations...


    I would be fairly certain that many people on this list will be able to sing some tunes that they have not (yet) learned to play...so we still benefit from memory for music today. Memory before playing, before reading.


    Gradually this method, which is classic for an oral tradition, seems to have diminished.



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  5. Some years ago I had a full set of uilleann pipes (in C) made of lignum vitae by Alan Ginsburg. When the set was new there were some shrinkage movements and very fine hairline cracks. Over a few weeks of playing every day, the entire instrument settled down. The hairline cracks disappeared before there were any discussions about repair or replacement, and they never reappeared. This was in a classic wet English climate in Wiltshire, and the pipes were made in a wetter climate in North Wales. The chanter and regulators sounded magnificent, and the whole set had a warm expressive sound. And a distinctive "piney" odor. Lignum Vitae...the Tree of Life.


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  6. On English Concertina (56 button Edeophone) I always enjoy playing in Bb. I like the sound and the feel of Bb. I am thinking of having my concertina "dropped" a tone, so that the C scale sounds Bb, the D scale sounds C, and so forth. It would be interesting to hear input from the concertina makers, tuners, and experts on this idea (please?).


    Robert Stewart


    I started with the Maccann layout as shown on concertina.com, found where it matched, and added all the lower rows. Note that the F#, uppermost right RHS is not present, but a low F#, lower right  RHS is present.

    This instrument has a loud voice overall, and yet a good dynamic range. The highest note is the top RHS C.IMG_4982.jpg.04c410b4440326e657580a690b1a0d06.jpgIMG_4981.jpg.ca8b21fe0b34c1dec47403fe94222554.jpgIMG_4980.jpg.484f1b6e356b764a82ae77a865040d5e.jpg

    the lowest note of all is a (RHS) B which sounds like the horn of the gods. The air button is on the RHS, plus a whistle and a duck quack (helpful for Vivaldi's Four Seasons in vaudeville interpretation). Those three are in a small row additional on the far left, right by the thumb. Not shown in these diagrams



  8. Lachenal Edeophone, Circa 1909

    A large 60 button, plus air button, Lachenal Edeophone, MacCann Duet system.The "Rolls Royce" of concertinas. Serial number dates it to circa 1909.  Nickel plated raised ends, 9-fold (!) bellows. Old leather case, needs work, has the name of Harry Edson, a vaudeville entertainer. Completely and beautifully restored and tuned to concert pitch by maestro Greg Jowaisas, last year. Steel reeds in brass shoes. Offers over  $1950 plus shipping.

    LACHENAL Stamp.jpg

    Serial 2880.jpg

    Right Hand with Air Button.jpg

    9 Fold Bellows.jpg

    Left Hand.jpg

    REED PAN:Bed LHS.jpg

    Reeds RHS.jpg

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  9. Back in the late 60s early 70s in Britain there were a lot of these instruments with baffles in, found in junk shops for much lower prices than the high end instruments with ebony finish, ie for up to 3 UK pounds rather than   up to 10 UK pounds for something truly superb. If only we had a time traveling machine!


    Enthusiasts would take the baffles out and dispose of them, as no one understood that they were over-tone modifying plates, and not just for muting the sound.  I had an early Wheatstone with baffles and fourfold bellows, which certainly had a soft sweet sound (as Greg describes). Peggy Seeger told me that this was because some of these had "german silver" reeds.


    I do not think anyone knew much about fine tuning and temperaments in the folk scene of those days, so the level of knowledge today is, thankfully, higher.


  10. I have a 61 button MacCann Edeophone. When I had it restored (by Greg Jowaisas) I opted to keep the original squawk and whistle. Because large duets were often played by professionals, I like to think of the original owner/player maybe using these sound effects in the British Music Halls, or on the Vaudeville stage in the USA. Many of those comedic entertainers were highly skilled concertinists. 

    However, I can understand why it might benefit an Anglo, for modern use, to add extra notes if possible when the buttons are already there.


    Just think! Concertinas with squawks bells whistles frog croaks etc  were perhaps the first analog synthesizers.  best wishes, Robert.

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