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So What Sort Of Duet System Do I play?


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Some time ago we discussed a Wheatstone duet from the 1860's that was up for sale. You remember? It was unusual in being rectangular. (It didn't go for much and I wish I'd scraped around the coffers and had a punt at getting it, but it's too late now. If anyone finds another one let me know.)

 

The keyboard layout was published here and what I saw was completely a 'Maccan' layout. Evidently all that Maccan did was to start with a Wheatstone duet and extend the pattern further at the edges. No wonder Wheatstones never described it as a Maccan keyboard; they must have been fuming to see the opposition get a patent on something they designed.

 

Now if you'd asked me before we discussed the early instrument I would have told you what a clever man the 'Professor' was to have invented 'his' keyboard. But now, the more I think about it, the more I feel that Maccan doesn't deserve the privilege of having his name on the things; given the background it offends my sense of fair play. But how can I describe myself otherwise? Wheatstone duet player?

 

Editted to add: Lest anyone think this is some sort of dig at Brian Hayden; I have never doubted that Brian genuinely did invent his system from scratch with no idea that anyone had been there before. Whereas from my impression of what the 'Professor' got up to he was a bit of a rogue and quietly forgetting that he borrowed the basic principle for his system seems entirely in character.

Edited by Dirge
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Yes Dirge, but you have to admire his foresight and that alone may justify calling yourself, and me, a Maccann player.

What I'm uncomfortable with is it's my impression is that he was a bit of a ne'er do well and up for the main chance; and it seems likely that this was a bit of fraud on his part; don't know where foresight comes into it really, he just found a way of extracting money from Lachenals under false pretences.

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Yes Dirge, but you have to admire his foresight and that alone may justify calling yourself, and me, a Maccann player.

What I'm uncomfortable with is it's my impression is that he was a bit of a ne'er do well and up for the main chance; and it seems likely that this was a bit of fraud on his part; don't know where foresight comes into it really, he just found a way of extracting money from Lachenals under false pretences.

 

Dirge,

 

Replace "ne'er do well" with "enterprising risk-taker" and you describe a huge portion of the pillars of history! Just off the top of my head -- Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and, of course, Christopher Columbus. That puts Maccan in pretty lofty company!

 

B

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Dirge,

 

Replace "ne'er do well" with "enterprising risk-taker" and you describe a huge portion of the pillars of history! Just off the top of my head -- Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and, of course, Christopher Columbus. That puts Maccan in pretty lofty company!

 

B

True but I didn't say that. Particularly I can't see Edison and Franklin as companions for the good professor; they're genuine inventors. I think they'd be very sniffy about finding themselves lumped with Maccan.

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Dirge,

 

Replace "ne'er do well" with "enterprising risk-taker" and you describe a huge portion of the pillars of history! Just off the top of my head -- Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and, of course, Christopher Columbus. That puts Maccan in pretty lofty company!

 

B

True but I didn't say that. Particularly I can't see Edison and Franklin as companions for the good professor; they're genuine inventors. I think they'd be very sniffy about finding themselves lumped with Maccan.

 

 

Well, I know I'm off topic, so I'll leave it be, but some time read up on Edisons industrial espionage and Franklin -- well, anyway.

 

B

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Well, I know I'm off topic, so I'll leave it be, but some time read up on Edisons industrial espionage and Franklin -- well, anyway.

 

B

 

 

I'm not saying they were saints but both did a fair amount off their own back too (didn't they?). Maccan just nicked someone's idea. And got his name put on it.

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So, firstly we discuss ,at some length, how we should spell the fellow's name (is it Maccan,Maccann, MacCann or McCann etc) and then go on to discuss at length here, if he was some kind of a Crook, faker, charleton ?

 

Is it not all a bit "Anorak-ish"?

 

Perhaps Dirge you could elaborate on these raffish dealings of the Prof. that cause you to suspect his integrity.

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he was a bit of a ne'er do well .

 

Well yes ... he was a concertina player :)

 

The development of all the free reed instruments seems to have been largely a matter of tweaking and refining existing ideas. There don't seem to have been many actual inventions. Maccann's actions may not have been creditable by modern standards, but seem to have been normal practice in what was a competitive business. Presumably Wheatstone would have taken legal action if they fwlt they had grounds.

 

He doesn't appear to have been real professor either.

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He doesn't appear to have been real professor either.

 

Well, yes, he was a music hall performer, and by all accounts a good one. The Professor moniker for someone wishing to stress their musical abilities was always an accepted thing in that context.

 

Chris

 

PS I'm in the MacCann school, because that was how Peter Honri always spelled it and I thought he should know if anyone did. The good professor doesn't help because he seems mostly to have spelled it MACCANN ...

Edited by Chris Timson
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I think the professor thing is playing with words; he called himself a 'Professor of the concertina', which he probably was...one day I might use it.

 

The clips I've heard of him aren't that earthshaking. Cue my mate Duncan's story: he's a dead keen guitarist and Eric Clapton was his hero when he was learning. He said to me once, "Of course, everyone can play like Clapton NOW; but he was the first to go there." So by the same principle perhaps it's of no consequence that I wasn't impressed by his playing. Maybe it sounded earthshaking at the time. (Clapton stopped being Dunc's hero when he met him; conceited and churlish is a good phrase apparently)

 

Didn't he leave his wife and child so that he could pursue his interests in alcohol without impediment? (Maccan, not Clapton)

 

He had competitions and handed out medals for excellence; Percy Honri won one and added it to his CV prominently. I'm sure Wes suggested that the competitions were another regular and useful little earner...(Come on Wes where are you?)

 

I wonder why Wheatstones didn't contest the patent. Maybe they'd failed to sell duets earlier so they 'knew' there was no market for them anyway.

 

I thought he wrote it Maccan; maybe capitals made it more professorial, Chris.

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Yes Dirge, but you have to admire his foresight and that alone may justify calling yourself, and me, a Maccann player.

What I'm uncomfortable with is it's my impression is that he was a bit of a ne'er do well and up for the main chance; and it seems likely that this was a bit of fraud on his part; don't know where foresight comes into it really, he just found a way of extracting money from Lachenals under false pretences.

 

Dirge,

 

Replace "ne'er do well" with "enterprising risk-taker" and you describe a huge portion of the pillars of history! Just off the top of my head -- Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and, of course, Christopher Columbus. That puts Maccan in pretty lofty company!

 

B

 

 

And more recently, what about Bill Gates?

 

http://apple-history.com/gui

Edited by tony
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PS I'm in the MacCann school, because that was how Peter Honri always spelled it and I thought he should know if anyone did. The good professor doesn't help because he seems mostly to have spelled it MACCANN ...

 

Errmm ... yes the good Professor did spell it Maccann as Robert Gaskin has pointed out elsewhere... and I suspect that he more than anyone should have known how his own name was spelled? :rolleyes:

 

http://www.concertin.../images/I01.htm

 

As to his raffish ways, without reverting to a previous thread about his history ... he certainly seems to have indulged in a bigamous marriage, according to census returns ... and appears at another point to have had a third "wife" in tow. Must have been all that trotting around the music halls and abroad which allowed him, like some sailors (or indeed one of my bosses - now deceased) , to have a wife in every port. (The boss had a job travelling up and down the country, and had a fiance in Bristol, and one in Manchester - and never the twain did meet! LOL),

 

Oh, and agreed by the way that the honorific term "Professor" was a recognised usage for somebody in his position (rather like "Maestro" is used today, I suppose)

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Yes Dirge, but you have to admire his foresight and that alone may justify calling yourself, and me, a Maccann player.

What I'm uncomfortable with is it's my impression is that he was a bit of a ne'er do well and up for the main chance; and it seems likely that this was a bit of fraud on his part; don't know where foresight comes into it really, he just found a way of extracting money from Lachenals under false pretences.

 

Dirge,

 

Replace "ne'er do well" with "enterprising risk-taker" and you describe a huge portion of the pillars of history! Just off the top of my head -- Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and, of course, Christopher Columbus. That puts Maccan in pretty lofty company!

 

B

 

 

And more recently, what about Bill Gates?

 

http://apple-history.com/gui

 

Tony,

 

Of course you're quite right about Bill. I didn't put him on the list because I've never felt that he qualified as a pillar of history. A silver-spooned petulant brat with a foot-stomping sense of entitlement who stole every good idea he had.

 

B

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Excellent stuff; I'm enjoying all this. Don't worry about the thread drift Brian. As if I needed more reasons to dislike Microsoft. (It's just occurred to me that my attitudes to Microsoft and Ebay are very similar)

 

Mind you I think my initial premise that Maccann doesn't really deserve to be immortallised remains unchallenged. I'd better be a Wheatstone duet player.

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Oh, and agreed by the way that the honorific term "Professor" was a recognised usage for somebody in his position (rather like "Maestro" is used today, I suppose)

 

Yes, I have that straight from the horse's mouth - my professor told me :) . In the UK, "Professor" is not an academic degree that you have to pass exams to get, so it's not protected in any way, and anyone can use it, e.g. in his stage name, like Professor Maccann or Professor Jimmy Edwards (the comedian that you older UK folks may remember).

On the other hand, you can't call yourself "Dr." or "LLB" or BSc" without having the degree awarded to you by a university or college. (Unless you're a physician, in which case "Doctor" is a job description, like "Professor" is.)

 

By the way, we've had a couple of political scandals here in Germany recently, after prominent politicians have been shown to have plagiarised other people's findings in their doctorate theses, i.e. citing existing work without giving the source of the citation. A cabinet minister had to resign, and it caused quite a stir in the examination commitees of the universitsy involved.

 

So Professor Maccann is no isolated case!

 

Cheers,

John

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