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Sources of information for concertina building.


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This thread has also been very educational for me. I now know that all these years (11 years in college and 5 graduate degrees) I thought I had a profession. I appreciate Stevens input explaining that the proper way to prepare for this profession (sorry) trade, is by helping a carpenter for a few years. I should have known something was wrong since I've never been poor. I guess I should try to have all my publications in professional periodicals worldwide removed and hope my many lectures did not cause any serious harm.
I hope you realize that that's not what Stephen said at all. He wasn't disparaging your own education or knowledge, he was describing attitudes in England toward trades, professions and the trade/profession of instrument maker. So far as I know what he said was accurate. In my experience, attitudes in the US are not that different, at least among those in certain strata (college professors, medical doctors, attorneys, etc.).
Exactly so Daniel, I was in no sense meaning to disparage Wim's expertise or education and I'm truly very sorry if he feels I have done so. The path and the trouble he has taken to become a skilled instrument maker is very valid and highly praiseworthy, and I've every respect for him.

 

But I was confused by his use of the word "profession" (a term with legal meaning and implications in many countries, but which is frequently more loosely used) in his assertion that "150 years ago ... you could start in a lot of professions without much/any professional education" and I was seeking to clarify the term.

My own profession is the same as Stephen's former one. It typically requires a Master's degree, but there are lots of people, at least in the US, who feel that it's not a "real" profession either.
Well at least the Wikipedia article defining a Profession considers it to be one, though I wouldn't be so sure about some of the others on their list myself... :unsure:
Stephen: I did not take your post as personal, never crossed my mind. It was more my impulsive reaction to the different interpretation of such a common word. I imagine there might be a cultural reason for this. Like I mentioned before, I probably should have added an emoticon to clarify that it was meant jokingly.

There are definitely some issues of definition here: the words "profession", "trade" and "maker" (and even "luthier", which is defined in the Oxford, Random House, and Merriam dictionaries as a maker of stringed instruments) have different meanings to different people. And we haven't even got into "craft" and "occupation". Wim, you may well be using meanings that are standard within the community of academically trained instrument makers, but they're different from the standard usages. This sort of thing is common in the work world: when I say "materials", "catalog", "circulation" and "reference" when I'm at work, they don't mean the same thing that they'd mean to someone outside my field.

 

The whole occupation vs. trade vs. profession issue is a complex one. Here's a list of the characteristics of a profession that matches what I remember from when I studied this issue 25 years ago: "professional autonomy; a clearly defined, highly developed, specialized, and theoretical knowledge base; control of training, certification, and licensing of new entrants; self-governing and self-policing authority, especially with regard to professional ethics; and a commitment to public service." I don't know that instrument making would qualify for this - I think that it may not meet the criteria for control of certification and licensing and for self-governing and self-policing. I had more trouble finding a good definition of skilled trades, but I did find this: "occupations where the normal course to a fully trained journeyperson is a four-year apprenticeship of formal and informal training." I personally have just as much respect for a skilled tradesperson as I do for a professional. It seems that it's possible to either take the apprenticeship/trade route or the academic/professional one (or, perhaps best, a combination of the two) to become a skilled instrument maker.

Edited by Daniel Hersh
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The typical luthier has a minimum of a Bachelors degree in music, extensive additional education (usually one or more Master degrees) in performance, construction and history of that instrument, advanced knowledge of general acoustics, and at least several years professional experience as a performer and restorer. This combination is very important. It forms the basis of the building process.

Most makers continue with additional schooling in technical fields; courses in restoration, CNC programming, refinishing, and a long term apprenticeship before actually starting to build instruments. ...the above time line spans on average 10+ years.

 

There are a lot of people graduating from the music technical institutes each year (free reed technicians.....).

That’s why I always advise people who are serious about becoming a maker to start with a normal 4 year program. I don’t understand the problem with this advice…isn’t the normal way to go for most professions...

 

Let's say for a moment that we accept your description of these typical requirements to become a concertina-maker.Then the question remains:

Where are the seats of learning ( around the World) located where " There are a lot of people graduating from the music technical institutes each year (free reed technicians.....)." ?

Tell us where a "Bachelors degree" and "Master degrees" in "performance, construction and history of that instrument" (concertina/accordion) is achievable ?

In China?

 

I assumed that the above information would be general knowledge. I thought that it would be obvious that making a musical instrument, especially a mechanical one like the concertina, would require a certain amount of knowledge,.... However, it seems that this concept is quite new for some people.

 

No-one has denied "that making a musical instrument, especially a mechanical one like the concertina, would require a certain amount of knowledge".What is new with "this concept" of yours is that you recommend a path to that knowledge which seems unrealistic - unless, as I asked above, you also can specifically advise where to get the said high level education.

 

Having spent all of my professional life in this industry in different specializations, I completely misjudged how much/little people outside this little world know about it.

 

Depends which "little world" you refer to...but since I am truly illiterate myself would you kindly offer a fair chance to catch up by telling me where the said universities are located in your world?

 

Ardie: The way I formulated the question would be crystal clear to anyone with even a basic knowledge of the subject.

 

Sorry, but despite possibly lacking the necessary wit I still wonder what you meant by " 2 flatten the equilibrium of the bass reeds".I trust there are one or two readers in the forum who do have the required "basic knowledge of the subject" and are interested to know as well or might be kind enough to explain what you meant - if you do not want to brush off the dust from the crystal yourself...

By the way, you never answered the questions. "What is your own theoretical background in high level mathematics and technology?" and "Maybe you would like to present a list of all your "publications in professional periodicals worldwide"?

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Wim,

many thanks for your time and points regarding possible improvements to my working efficiency, I do really aprieciate that. You would no doubt think me a Dinosaur if you visited my workshop. I do produce almost every part by hand, very much in the same way as the old makers I try to emulate and have resisted all sugestions of Automation. However I was once employed in the research and developement department of a fine Engineering company who developed the first CNC machine, called SYSTEM 24. This was a 'throw billets of Aluminium alloy in one end and out come the finnished components at the other end' type of device which was used by Rolls Royce for aircraft engine manufacture. So I am conversant with the idea.

Many of my clients would be horrified at the idea of me going down this route and really at my time in life I am lothe to consider doing so, but I have asked one of my customers, who does use a machine of this type for his wood carving business, what he thinks I could use such technology for.

Not that I am in any way opposed to purchasing an instrument from someone who has applied the best of modern ideas. By what you are describing we all would like to think that your instruments are a fine improvement on the products of Wheatstone and Lachenal. I, for one, am very keen to try your Concertinas. I am in the market for a newly made English. I will send an email to your website to ask if there are any of your instruments in my area, well Europe generally.

Best regards,

Geoff.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Ardie: My personal information is private. Everything that I am willing to share is already on our sites and the internet.

 

You’re looking for a simple short answer to my example… there isn’t. As with most problems, solving requires knowledge and insight, which was my point to start with. If you’re really interested in the subject, I would recommend to start with these 2 books:

 

Akustische Probleme bei Akkordeons und Mundharmonikas

book 1: Einfuerung in die allgemeinen Grundlagen (ISBN 3-925572-00-7)

Book 2: Untersuchungen spezieller Phaenomene (ISBN 3-925572-01-5)

Both by Gotthard Richter and published by Schmuelling . They are in German, but so are many books on the subject.

 

Just a very short list of schools that offer classes for instrument makers and technicians. Some of them offer free reed classes. Since programs are cut/added according to demand, you might want to check before you enroll. With your permission, I limited my list to schools in Germany and surrounding countries.

 

Hochschule Zwickau

Musikinstrumentenmacher-innung Muenster

Hohner Musikinstrumente GmbH (internship only)

Comenius instututes (Sachsen) possibly under a diffenent name now

Hochschule Klingental

Instrumentenbauer ausbildung Berlin

Universitaet der Kuenste, Berlin

Organology: See universities with a musicology department. For free reed instruments: Berlin, Maria Dunkel is well known.

Google general music industry/instrument maker programs for a list of schools in the USA. With the strong decline of the free reed industry world wide, the number of institutes that offer technical programs is also declining.

 

Schools offering degrees (Bachelor and Master level) in free reed instruments (mainly accordion, bayan, and a few bandonion). There are at least 30+ institutes (probably more when you include the smaller schools) in Western Europe and at least that many in Russia, scandanavia, etc.. Degrees are in performance and education, but generally include (some schools intensive) theoretical courses on free reed physics.

Note: the European educational system is different from the US/UK system, in that the arts are separate from science. There are 3 common types of schools: Conservatories/universities/musikhochschule that offer the same level degrees.

 

A few well known European programs ( I picked one per country):

Brabants conservatorium, Netherlands. (I used to teach the concertina program.)

Rotterdam conservatorium (bandoneon)

Conservatorium Antwerpen, Belgium

Universitaet Muenchen, Germany

Conservatoire de Paris, France

Musikhochschule Basel, Switzerland

Musikhochule Wien, Austria

conservatory of Madrid, Spain

Conservatory of Bologna, Italy.

 

Universities that used to offer programs in accordion in the USA and Canada:

Un. Of Missouri (kansas)

Un. Of Denver ( I did my post grad. Work here)

Un. Of Houston

Royal conservatory of Music, Toronto

 

Wim

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Thanks a lot Wim for substantial information.I do wonder however which of these institutes that really offer a special program in the specific free reed technology sector (including reed physics and acoustics) and at which also scientific research is carried out in these fields.You say:"Degrees are in performance and education, but generally include (some schools intensive) theoretical courses on free reed physics." - and that means we do not find "high level" programs in free reed instrument technology among them.

Considering the decline in accordion industry ( except possibly Russia or China?) I would be surprised if we find much of the kind after all - and concerning 'our' concertinas I am pretty sure it is non-existing.Is any research on accordion/harmonium/concertina reed physics carried out somewhere today and reports being published? Where?

 

In these discussions you have stressed so hard the importance of "high level" (= formal academic) schooling in mathematics and technology ("usually one or more Master degrees) in performance, construction and history of that instrument, advanced knowledge of general acoustics"...) that I asked about your own background and you gave this answer:

 

Ardie: My personal information is private. Everything that I am willing to share is already on our sites and the internet.

 

It is not very private in real and it certainly belongs to your public image anyhow so I checked your website as you say and it says that you have academic degrees in music performance and education but seemingly not in mathematics or technology.This is no critics and you obviously have managed pretty well in practise all the same but according to your mentioned criteria maybe you are not yet a full-fledged "luthier"...? I am only joking! - but in some way maybe it reflects the essence of the discussion. In the end it is the actual and practical knowledge and experience that counts - not the academic degrees.

 

Concerning your publications your website says nothing as far as I can see and that would hardly be a private matter either.I am sure references where to find the publications would be of great interest for many forum readers.You say at your website: "2000-2007 Research and development of different reed scalings and air flow patterns".Is some of this published and where?

 

You’re looking for a simple short answer to my example… there isn’t. As with most problems, solving requires knowledge and insight, which was my point to start with.

 

As a matter of fact I was not looking for answers to your three examples at all ( although curious to hear them in the end) I was looking for some understanding of the questions first of all since I found them vague and I still do.In common technical language I can not recognize such a thing for instance as "flatten the equilibrium of the reed".Is it possibly a slang expression in the "little world" of reed trade but again what does it mean in such case? ( sorry for the nagging)

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Ardie: your assumptions and conclusions are incorrect. Please re-read my posts. I believe all the information I wanted to say is in there.

 

Regarding publications, you’ll need to subscribe to the periodicals if you’re that interested (some of them are in Dutch). The scaling research is business information and not available.

 

I feel I provided more than enough information to illustrate my point, and leads (books, educational programs) for anyone wishing to pursue further action.

 

Wim Wakker

Concertina Connection Inc.

Wakker Concertinas

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There are definitely some issues of definition here: ... even "luthier", which is defined in the Oxford, Random House, and Merriam dictionaries as a maker of stringed instruments) ha different meanings to different people.

 

Certainly that's what I've always understood the term to mean, and how I've always used it (having started making stinged instruments before I'd ever seen a concertina). But (as we both know) words can and do have differing meanings to different groups of people, in different places, at different times.

 

Mind you, I suppose any of us could (almost) be forgiven for wondering what the Whetstone School of Lutherie might teach... ;)

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