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Tuning Once Again

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FOLKS: as a footnote of sorts to the discussion about the relationship between tuning (meantone) and layout of buttons. . . . . . . .someone mentioned that not all early concertinas had the duplicate buttons for A flat/G sharp and E flat/D sharp. . . . . . .and the question was raised about how that would affect, if at all, the tuning system. . . . . . . . .


went through some old notes yesterday. . . . . . .and can report that Wheatstone treble concertina No. 500. . . . . . .sold to the music dealer Chappell and intended for delivery to one Mrs. Baillie has a detailed note in place of the usual reference to the number of buttons. . . . . . .the note reads: "g to c, without A flat and E flat". . . . . .now, i have never seen No. 500 (does anyone out there own it. . . .is it one of the concertinas in the Horniman Museum???). . . . . . so i don't know how many buttons it had. . . . . .but in the early 1840s one finds many concertinas being sold with 44 buttons. . . . . . . yet to omit all A flats and E flats would have meant -- and i calculate from the "standard" 48-button instrument (though there really was no "standard" yet in the early '40s) -- leaving out five buttons (not four), since the very highest A flat is not there anyway. . . . . .


be all this as it may: it is still not exactly clear what effect the lack of A flats and E flats would have had on the tuning. . . . . . . .we don't know (at least i don't know) how the G sharps and D sharps were tuned. . . . . . and how, therefore, they would have sounded in pieces written in B-flat and E-flat major, for example. . . . . . .this leads to another question: just what music had already been conceived specifically for the concertina by this time (early '40s) and in what keys were the pieces written . . . . .it is difficult to date music from this period, since publishers generally did not include the date on the music itself. . . . . obviously, they cited themselves and gave their address (which can often help date the music, since publishers often moved around). . . . . . .most of the time, we can only go by the date of deposit in Stationers Hall or the date of acquisition in what is now the British Library. . . . . . however, there is no guarantee that these dates correspond precisely with the date of publication (though the best guess is that they generally did. . . . . .a very reliable guide to dating is advertising, since one doesn't advertise what one doesn't have for sale). . . . . . .


assuming all this: the pickings were still pretty slim in the early 1840s. . . . . .even pieces that we know had been performed by this time -- for instance, Joseph Warren's (and he's a fascinating guy) "Grand Fantasia on a theme from Bellini's Norma", which Regondi premiered at the Birmingham Festival in 1837 (and with which he sort of put the concertina "on the map") -- were not, according to the British Library acquisition date, published until later. . . . . presumably when the consumer market had increased in size. . . . . .


all in all, there is much that we don't know. . . . . . .and recognizing this is the beginning of wisdom................allan

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Dear Allan and all readers,


This is really interesting to me and I hope others with access to these early instruments and records will follow it up.


BTW I have read all your excellent postings but I have continued to post my responses to all related postings in the subtopic where the issue of meantone/ layout first came up, despite its unrelated title. On reflection I think you had a better idea in trying to start a new heading for this.



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