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Kelteglow

Italian Squeezers

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Hi All .Wondering if anyone can help .Many of our squeezed instruments are made in Italy .I am interested to know what the folk music scene is like there. For example are there lots of good concertina players and what is there style? Do they play all systems ?Are there notable concertina makers apart from the ones we here about? How can I meet other players and where ? ATB Bob

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i have never heard of any modern, italian concertina playing tradition. there are indeed "italian branded concertinas," but please note that there are no high quality concertinas being made in italy. we are lucky enough with concertinas that when there is a top tier maker, they don't ever go unnoticed!

 

of course, this does not mean there are no good players--after all, there are no newly made traditionally reeded concertinas being made in ireland today.

 

i would suspect most eager youth in italy would be steered towards the accordion. there is a dearth of awesome accordion manufactures and craftsman in italy, and many top players irregardless of genre play italian accordions.

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there is a dearth of awesome accordion manufactures and craftsman in italy

I think you mean the opposite of "dearth," maybe "wealth"?

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there is a dearth of awesome accordion manufactures and craftsman in italy

I think you mean the opposite of "dearth," maybe "wealth"?

30 years ago I was traveling in Italy and visited the village of Castelfidardo near Ancona where I bought a Bastari (now Stagi) 30 button C/G Anglo concertina that was made in the town. That was the instrument I first learned on. I asked around at the time to try to hear locals play the concertina but was told that they were only made for the export market and that there was no local tradition of concertina playing. I was shocked and wondered if I just did not know where to look or perhaps not being able to find musicians was more a matter of my meager Italian language abilities.

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there is a dearth of awesome accordion manufactures and craftsman in italy

I think you mean the opposite of "dearth," maybe "wealth"?

30 years ago I was traveling in Italy and visited the village of Castelfidardo near Ancona where I bought a Bastari (now Stagi) 30 button C/G Anglo concertina that was made in the town. That was the instrument I first learned on. I asked around at the time to try to hear locals play the concertina but was told that they were only made for the export market and that there was no local tradition of concertina playing. I was shocked and wondered if I just did not know where to look or perhaps not being able to find musicians was more a matter of my meager Italian language abilities.

And is there a similar shortage of German Anglo-concertina players: I think there may be. Odd isn't it?

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And is there a similar shortage of German Anglo-concertina players: I think there may be. Odd isn't it?

 

Dirge,

Yes, there is!

 

If you look at German folk and traditional music, there's a lot of brass, a lot of clarinet, a lot of fretted strings (including zither), fiddle and harp. There's a lot of free reeds, too, but almost exclusively accordions, either the ubiquitous PA or the diatonic Steyrische Handharmonika. But no concertinas.

 

I frequent a rather small German concertina Internet forum in which some members are ITM fans, others are duettists who just want to make good music, and a few play the "German Concertina" - a 20-button Anglo, usually of East German origin. They play German folk tunes on this, and it sounds quite attactive. But there's not much of a scene for this kind of "freelance" German folk.

 

I believe there's an old-style Konzertina Orchester in Chemnitz - probably just because the city is proud of being the home of the concertina type of the same name. (At the beginning of the last century, I've heard, there were more Konzertina Clubs in Germany than football clubs!) They play the Large (square) German Konzertina and the Bandoneon. (I don't know what they did for the 40 years in which Chemnitz was officially called Karl-Marx-Stadt dry.gif )

 

So, yes, there are individuals playing German folk on German anglos, but no German-Anglo scene. Certainly if, like Jody in Italy, you walked down the street asking people about Anglo-German concertina players (even if your German were perfect) you wouldn't have much luck.

 

Cheers.

John

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This thread reminds me of a conversation I once had with a man from Switzerland. He mentioned that those big multi dialed watches called chronographs were rarely seen in Switzerland, altho they were manufactured there. He said they were jokingly referred to locally as "American watches," but he never saw a local actually using one.

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There are some truly great ITM flute and fiddle players in Germany (and in Italy as well). Isn't it probable that there are some pretty hot concertina players too? If so, why aren't they here?

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There are some truly great ITM flute and fiddle players in Germany (and in Italy as well). Isn't it probable that there are some pretty hot concertina players too? If so, why aren't they here?

 

It really doesn't necessarily follow. I expect Germany and Italy also have many great players of chamber music on the flute and violin-- that doesn't mean anyone there plays English concertina.

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Ha. Or from the other side-- Germany and Italy might be observed to have a shortage of ITM players of the pennywhistle and Uilleann pipes. Isn't it probable that nobody there plays the concertina? =)

 

As an outsider to the Irish tradition, this apparent presumption of the interchangeability of instruments strikes me as somewhat particular to Irish music. Think about it: when you're playing a tune, everybody's playing the melody. Maybe somebody will put in chords if their instrument is particularly suited to it, but they seem (from here) to be the exception rather than the rule. Ornamentations may differ from instrument to instrument-- then again, they may not differ all that much, depending who's playing. If a fiddler puts down his fiddle and picks up a flute, the concertina player keeps right on whipping out the tune.

 

Contrast that with some other musical tradition. Say, blues. You might not have anyone playing the melody *at all*. Maybe somebody's doubling the vocalist... but maybe not. What you've got is chord changes. Everybody's playing I - IV - I - V - IV - I, and every note you play is an "ornamentation" on the chord changes, and every instrument has to approach it from their own angle. The harmonica player might steal a riff from the sax player, but he's /got/ to harpify it. The big sound of a saxophone won't come out of a harmonica-- but the harmonica can add double stops and tongue blocks. If the bass player walks over and sits down at the piano... you've just changed the whole song. The harmonica player's going to stop chugging on chords, and start wailing on the 5th. For example.

 

Seems like a "fiddler" who decides to start to branch out might ask himself "what else could I play?" and then goes and plays fiddle tunes on his pipes and his concertina and his whatever else. Then a "violinist" asks himself the same question, and (setting aside his baroque arrangements) tries to play gypsy jazz and ITM and country-western on his same violin. And thinks he's better than he really is.

 

Now, I know I don't know anything about ITM, so I'm sure there's something I'm dead wrong about, and you're all welcome to tell me what it is. I think what I'm trying to say is that I perceive within Irish music a rather more instrument-agnostic attitude than I see in other places. Within the melody instruments at least. I guess that might be part of the controversy that seems to surround non-melodic instruments. Banjos, bouzoukis, piano accordions, even bodhrans seem to be met with a certain wariness. Like if you're bad on the fiddle then keep working until you get it, but if you're bad on the banjo, why are you even playing it?

 

Now, I'll stop here before I make a bigger fool of myself.

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there is a dearth of awesome accordion manufactures and craftsman in italy

I think you mean the opposite of "dearth," maybe "wealth"?

 

indeed i did!

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I think what I'm trying to say is that I perceive within Irish music a rather more instrument-agnostic attitude than I see in other places. Within the melody instruments at least. I guess that might be part of the controversy that seems to surround non-melodic instruments. Banjos, bouzoukis, piano accordions, even bodhrans seem to be met with a certain wariness. Like if you're bad on the fiddle then keep working until you get it, but if you're bad on the banjo, why are you even playing it?

 

 

Ransom,

I think we'd all agee that music is made up of melody, harmony and rhythm.

However, different forms of music place different emphases on these three elements. European classical music is very heavy on harmony, with a good portion of melody but very basic rhythms. Aftrican music is predominantly rhythmic - when you get a band of West Africans playing drums and other pecussion, they produce such complex poly-rhythmic structures that you don't need melody, let alone polyphony. Oriental music is strongly melodic with a good deal of rhythm (think Indian classical). The typical instrumentations of these broad traditions reflect this.

 

European folk music is almost as diverse. Wheras the Slavs revel in minor-key harmonisations, the Bavarians prefer a clear melody with a chorded um-ph-pah accompaniment. The Scots have their pibrochs, with (like the Indians) a distinctive melody interplaying with a steady drone.

 

And the Irish? A Russian fellow-musician who once sat in on a rehearsal of my group remaked (unsolicited) that Irish music seemed to be wonderfully melodic.

I see what he means. In jigs, reels and horpipes, the rhythm is composed into the melody, and the harmony is implied by the little shifts of mode that often occur. The decorations also do their bit in suggesting harmonies without actually playing chords. The latter applies to traditional, unaccompanied singing, too.

 

My theory on why Irish rural music developed this way is that it was influenced by the social structures during the period in which "our" traditional music was emerging. The country popultion was scattered, social gatherings were small, and you were lucky to have just one fiddler to play for your dancing and one singer to entertain you. Obviously, this solo music had to be complete in itself, although fiddle and voice are basically single-line melody instruments.

 

So, basically, the traditional Irish material (the tunes themselves) required no more than a melody instrument, and which melody instrument - fiddle, flute or latterly concertina - didn't really matter. If you had a big social gathering with a fiddler and a fluter and a concertinist in attendance, so much the better. Playing in unison, they were just louder - what more do you want!

 

In the 20th century, with the population becoming more affluent, mobile and media-aware, the ubiquitus guitar and awareness of its use in Americam folk music came to Ireland, and began to be integrated. The bouzouki came later - to my mind as a backlash against the rather too "lush" guitar. The bouzouki is just as supefluous, but rather less obtrusive in the traditional material. And it left its Greek playing style behind it and developed a new style in the context of the homophonic tradition. (Let's leave out the banjo(s), which are a topic unto themselves!wink.gif )

 

Cheers,

John

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There are some truly great ITM flute and fiddle players in Germany (and in Italy as well). Isn't it probable that there are some pretty hot concertina players too? If so, why aren't they here?

I know there are at least a few. Why are they not here? Well, it's also been noted that very few Irish concertina players are on Concertina.net. I presume they have other priorities.

 

But I thought the question was not necessarily about Italians or Germans playing Irish music on the concertina, rather about the existence of concertina traditions in the native folk musics of those countries. In Germany there does seem to be such a tradition, as there have been classes in such a tradition at the Bielefeld concertina weekends. But like the hammered dulcimer tradition(s?) in the US, it's not a dominant part of the national music, and quite possibly most of the population don't even know what the instrument is. On the other hand, "everyone" in both Germany and America knows about both Oktoberfest brass bands and bluegrass string bands.

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Sorry for reviving this thread, but I happen to be Italian, so maybe I can give a more detailed inside view. I don't know if Italy has had a concertina tradition in the past, but certainly there is not a scene now. The presence of concertina makers here is actually a mystery to me, being an instrument with apparently no players and tradition. The only tutor in italian I found (a very basic introduction to the anglo concertina found on the net) asserts that "the anglo concertina is an instrument that fits particularly well to italian traditional music - and even if it cannot be considered a typical instrument within the circle of italian traditional music, some players have been reported which probably had it learned and imported after a working experience abroad".

 

In fact, Italians mostly play accordions, a very few play bandoneons (tango players), but no concertinas. I know of one which actually owns one, but actually plays bandoneon instead, and most of the non-playing people don't even know what a concertina is. I recently bought an english concertina and, while I'm still learning the basics, friends keep asking me what it is and they call it something like "that little accordion".

So, everything makes me think that we have no tradition in concertina, despite the fact the we make them! Not saying that there are no players, but certainly not enough to become a tradition, at least in my part of Italy.

Maybe in southern Italy, where the musical tradition is much stronger, there are more players and a different situation.

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Recalling my late fathers recollections of discussions with accordion importers based in London, it would seem that originally Italian made concertinas were a byline of the Italian accordion makers. Their existance probably due to requests of the export rather than the home market.

 

Some history of accordion making in Italy Here no mention of concertinas though.

 

Geoffrey

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Recalling my late fathers recollections of discussions with accordion importers based in London, it would seem that originally Italian made concertinas were a byline of the Italian accordion makers. Their existance probably due to requests of the export rather than the home market.

 

Some history of accordion making in Italy Here no mention of concertinas though.

 

Geoffrey

 

Thanks Geoffrey, interesting reading. Your memories seem to confirm that we do not have a real concertina tradition here in Italy, just a business for makers. Bizarre :)

Edited by rebus

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