Posts posted by chrism
To add to the confusion -- or p'rhaps knowledge -- I have a Lachenal 32 button (plus air), now G/D, probably Ab/Eb in its youth. Serial number is 179577. I have no knowledge of its date but it was evidently made for the Salvation Army -- there's "S A" in the metal end plate -- and if anything is known about when the Salvation Army bought such bespoke instruments perhaps a date could be derived from that.
I got the instrument from Malcolm Clapp, luminary of this parish, who might know more of its history.
There's the Baring Gould Festival in Okehampton -- W/E 24th to 26th October -- that's always fun.
Dragging the thread back to the original topic ---
I've come accross a current one-handed player -- he only has one hand that works, and plays a concertina with that one hand (rather well) for Morris dancing. The instrument's basically the right hand end of a duet, lightly modified because his good hand is the left. The other end is simply blanked off with a strap to go round his thigh -- he's wheel-chair bound.
Just to add to the collection: Robert Louis Stevenson, in his short story "The Isle of Voices" in "South Sea Tales" has a character Keola so desperate to acquire a concertina that tries to blackmail the island sorcerer into buying him one. Not a good idea it turns out.
Just a few comments to add to this --
I've attd the layout for a Dickinson 40 button C/G -- just for interest. (no I haven't -- the site doesn't like my format -- Open Office spreadsheet -- but the layout is nearly identical to the one Geoff gave above)
Noting Dave Elliott's comment on chamber sizes etc -- this instrument is a tad bigger -- 8 sided, 6.75 inches A/F rather than the standard 6 sided 6.25 in A/F -- I assume this reduces the difficulty.
It's instructive to listen to John Kirkpatrick's playing on this topic (as on all matters Anglo) -- he makes his bellows reversals where the phrasing of the music requires it, not allowing the instrument to dictate them, particularly on song accompaniement. He plays (I think) a 40 button Crabb.
Some of the comments about concertinas on board ship are a little too pessimistic -- I've played mine while sailing pretty often and it seems to survive reasonably. (Mostly I use a Lachenal D/G that escaped from the Sally Army a while back). It is huge fun -- sweeping into Binic for a festival on a 3 masted wooden lugger, two concertinas playing in the bow as we did so -- cheered from quay to quay; or playing for a Remembrance Service on Tenacious while crossing the bay of Biscay two or three Novembers back -- concertina box floating as the seas came over -- many more occasions like those.
P'rhaps add "For those in Peril on the Sea" to your list -- also, someone already mentioned "Fiddlers' Green", it's good because it contains the line "I'll play my old squeeze box as we sail along" -- and you can.
Wishing you a fine and pleasant gale.
Can't offer an opinion on this particular box but I have seen/heard someone playing an Anglo back-to-front. He was part of a little ceilidh band in, I think, Tolpuddle -- quite some years ago. I asked him how come he played like that and he told me he was left-handed and self-taught and that way came most readily to him. I seem to remember he sounded pretty good at it too.
Those two lines are in Henry Lawson's "Good Old Concertina" -- thussly:
’Twas merry when the hut was full
Of jolly girls and fellows.
We danced and sang until we burst
The concertina’s bellows.
From distant Darling to the sea,
From the Downs to Riverina,
Has e’er a gum in all the west
Not heard the concertina?
’Twas peaceful round the campfire blaze,
The long white branches o’er us;
We’d play the tunes of bygone days,
To some good old bush chorus.
Old Erin’s harp may sweeter be,
The Scottish pipes blow keener;
But sing an old bush song for me
To the good old concertina.
’Twas cosy by the hut-fire bright
When the pint pot passed between us;
We drowned the voice of the stormy night
With the good old concertina’s.
Though trouble drifts along the years,
And the pangs of care grow keener,
My heart is gladdened when it hears
That good old concertina.Henry Lawson
I caught, and liked, that "Last Word" piece as well -- The other contributor was Sam Lee, very much younger but also a great singer of traditional song.
There is also a couple of pages in the current EFDSS magazine.
Yes -- as has been said -- a great loss.
I remember, perhaps around five years ago, Louis was the visiting tutor at the Baring-Gould song school down in Devon and on the last night we were all in the pub in Bridestowe, doing the usual singaround with the usual mixed quality of such affairs. When it came round to Louis he (as she was then) sang the "Flying Cloud" -- stunning. There were 'civilians' as well as song-scholars there but you could most certainly have heard the proverbial pin drop. One of those occasions when a chunk of music happens by and it just knocks you back on your heels.
I've been playing concertina while sailing for a good few years and haven't found any problem with rust or rot -- decent instruments too. My sea-going box is now a Lachenal 32 button G/D anglo. There's some of it in this clip:
My feeling is that there's no fun in keeping these instruments at home in cotton-wool -- sure, there's always risk of damage but a reasonable level of care and a bit of luck should see you right. (Isn't there a story somewhere of a rather nice Jeffries drifting ashore from a wreck ? Surviving better than its owner.)
While we're talking about Morse Code -- which, really, we're not, but what the hell -- have you noticed that Morse Code is now in more general and widespread use than ever ? Just two letters I'll admit, but that's a start. That little song the mobile 'phone sings when it gets a text message "dit dit dit dah dah dit dit dit" -- SMS in Morse Code. Now doesn't that make the World seem a nicer place ?
It's a really good excercise to draw up a lay-out of your own box. It's not hard to do (you can even shuffle it into a spread-sheet so's you can print lots of copies to scribble cords and such-like on.) Start with the 'C' row; you know what the notes must be -- just play thru the Do, Ray, Me tune & note where each note comes. Then do the same on the 'G' row. Once you've written all of these down you can explore the outer row -- some of the notes are the same, often going the other way, as those you've found already -- some are inbetween the notes you've found already -- sharps and flats. If you do this you'll get a better understanding of where stuff is -- also, when you've found a difficult piece to finger you can look at your chart for possible ways round.
Of course, this will then help you into other keys -- 'F', 'A' and further exotica.
Just adding to those comments: I've a very pretty little 26 button Lachenal anglo -- metal ends and metal buttons. The buttons are flat-topped however and they quite quickly become uncomfortable to play.
I've come across the comment that it's actually the transients, the overtones produced before the steady state note, that give instruments their particular 'colour' -- I wonder if that matters here. The sample notes were played for around half a second each -- would the same experiment, but playing, say, a fast jig give a different result?
I have a Lachenal box with flat buttons -- it's a very pretty little box, metal ends & buttons, 26 button, C/G, small size (5.3" AF) with a serial No. of 166861. (1919 p'rhaps).
I find the flat buttons uncomfortable to play for any time -- maybe that's why they're not common.
I've recently acquired a 42 button Jones Anglo -- there's a few things I'd be grateful for help with:
I'd like to date it: -- the S/N is 15381 -- in this site & elsewhere I've found a S/N 15266 dated as 1884 and another S/N 16340 dated 1885 -- Am I right to date mine as 1884 or 5 ?
The layout is that given in Jones' patent 9314 dated 23rd June 1884 -- so it must have been made quite soon after the patent was granted. Is it known if he made many of these? -- I've never seen another -- could mine be one of the very first ?
It is wooden ended (fretwork still intact) and bone (or ivory ? -- how might I tell ?) buttons. Nearly all of the buttons have numbers engraved on them -- corresponding to the numbers given in the patent layout. The two that have no numbers I'd guess were replacements at some time -- they're a different colour and also slightly larger (2/10s of a millimeter greater diameter) so they tend to stick. It'd be nice to replace them -- any suggestions for a source ?
I think the bellows are original -- and in very good nick -- I suspect it hasn't been played much. Should I give the bellows any kind of dressing before playing it a lot ?
It came with a box. There's no marking on this but it's distinctive -- hexagonal shaped, side opening (not at all like the top-opening boxes that are quite common) -- the hinge runs along the middle of one flat and the top of the opposite flat also hinges up. It's a little tatty but sound. My guess is that it was original with the concertina but how to be sure ?
There's a baffle within the action box -- the material of this has the texture of baked heavy paper. Should it be like that ? If I removed the baffles from both ends what might that do to the sound ?
A couple of thoughts occur:
The seamanship in the Royal Navy must have been pretty good -- if you've ever sailed in the area around Ushant (where they kept the blockade off Brest)-- all fog, gales, tides & rocks; lee shore exposed to the Atlantic -- even with a modern yacht with an engine it's intimidating, in those old square-riggers with years of weed growth on the hulls it's astonishing what they did. The skills would have been different -- the RN always had plenty of men, needed for the guns of course, so the rigs were different and they handled them differently but they must have known their business. Also, the officers joined as mid-shipmen -- very young -- and a good many became consumate seamen.
And also, most of the time most of them must have been drunk. A gallon of beer and a half pint of rum (so strong as to be almost pure alcohol) was the daily ration -- Admiral Vernon ("Old Grog" because of his grogram coat) as First Lord ordered that the rum should be diluted with at least four times as much water, so diluted the rum ration equalled little less than two bottles of 70 proof per man per day. -- and with all that, they still wiped the floor with the French & Spanish fleets.
Here's a few more bits & pieces:
A while ago I set that Henry Lawson poem "Good Old Concertina" to a trad. tune "Shearer's Lament" -- somewhat inaccurately in that I ran out of words before running out of tune -- therefore added this chorus to fill in the gap:
You idle blokes may make your jokes & call it constant screamer -- you can keep your string and your rattling things, give me the concertina.
There's also Brian Peter's "Accordion" -- it's a Robert Service poem Brian put to music & although it calls the instrument an accordion it may well mean an Anglo -- I gather there's a picture of RS somewhere clutching an Anglo.
There's also the tale of Trilby Tabitha Mewlina
Trilby Tabitha Mewlina
Played the German Concertina
Played it on the roofs at night
Which, of course, was hardly right
When a piercing note she drew
People woke at half-past two
And - which much increased their pain
Couldn't get to sleep again
Fifty cats with bushy tails
Must be practicing their scales
Groaned those people as they lay
Waiting for the dawn of day
They are wrong as you're aware
Only one small cat was there
Trilby Tabitha Mewlina with her German concertina
I've no idea where I got that from -- nor do I know of a tune.
I've a Lachenal that came from Chris Algar -- but a while ago so here are the details:
It's an Anglo, C/G. Small size, that is 5.3" A/F of its hexagonal ends. Metal ends. 26 metal buttons, flat topped. The right hand end has an oval label with "LACHENAL & Co PATENT CONCERTINA MANUFACTURER LONDON". Seven-fold bellows, black, quite heavy leather with papers. Papers are black with gold star pattern. Where the leather of the bellows overlap the ends it is gold embossed. The hand straps carry the same gold pattern. There's a serial number inside the bellows, it's hard to read but I think it's 166861.
In summary -- it's a very pretty little box and I'd like to know more about its history.
I'm already booked in & will be there. As you say, last yer was a bit thin but it looks like there'll be more going on this year - tho Tom's absence will leave a huge gap.
A few of us had a chat with Dymphna O'Sullivan during the Willie Clancy Summer School lamenting the fact that the Eigse Mrs Crotty no longer took place.I understand that the Kilrush CCE are organising a traditional music festival over the usual weekend ie 13th,14th & 15th August and there are going to be music classes including the concertina.I undertook to try to get as many concertina players there as possible and in Ireland D O'S and a few others will try to create some interest.So if you are considering going over please let me know.You should be able to
get accommodation fairly readily.I may have some room at my house in North Clare but you will need your own transport.Although last years weekend not as lively as the old Eigse we had a few good sessions in Buggles,Crotty's and O'Brien's(?)
PS:The large gap in this posting is caused by a "font type" box appearing as I type.How do I get rid of it?
'conventional' Representation Of Anglo Buttons
in General Concertina Discussion
I find writing the layout into a spreadsheet works very well -- no special diagrams or software needed -- it happens I put the push on the top but I had to check a layout to confirm that.