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It's Still A Konzertina!


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Friends, while the thread name is a direct quote from John / Anglo-Irishman, let me introduce the entire post, to which I will respond in this separate thread:

 

<<harpomatic, on 16 Jan 2013 - 22:49, said:snapback.png

... chemnitzer, last time I looked had "concertina" written on it. "German", I hope you know, is another half of "anglo's" name, sometimes comes as small as London made instruments, at times single reeded, with at least 38 buttons, which is a dream of any anglo player, and can be had for next to nothing. True, shape is rectangular, and reeds are not made in England, along with the remaining methods of construction

 

harpomatic,

Several thoughts about what caused your drift:

 

1. The name of an instrument should never be interpreted as a guarantee for certain characteristics - otherwise a recorder would be something for conserving music, whereas the name really means "keepsake" - which doesn't give any hint to its method of sound production. Even when it says "Concertina" on a large, square box, it's still a Konzertina! The English and German words are etymologically from the same root, but semantically quite different. If the German marketing department deliberately miss-spells the word because they think it will look less foreign to an English-speaking customer, this doesn't alter the actual cahracteristics!

 

2. The "German" feature of the Anglo-German concertina is the layout of the 20 central buttons - nothing else! The rest of it (including the timbre, which is why we started talking about vintage 20-buttons in the first place) is English.

 

I'm the owner of a small, square German Konzertina "in rheinischer Stimmung" - AKA Bandonoen. It's single reeded, but the reeds are traditional German, with several tongues mounted on one plate. It sounds wonderful, but more like a harmonium than an English-built concertina. It sounds even less like a small Lachenal than a Rochelle or Stagi do! And, although small for a German Konzertina, it's still too heavy to play without support, as DIrge was probably doing with his Maccann when he so impressed that passer-by. So I really don't think this is what he would be looking for - if he were still looking!

 

Cheers,

John>>

 

 

John,

undeniably, there are differences between German and Anglo-German, mainly in the construction methods and timbre, but there are more similarities when it comes to the playing and listening to both instruments, especially to an "uninitiated" observer, if we are talking about beginners here. I also have one of those early, single reeded bandoneons - love it, just like you do. Isn't it extremely light, small - in fact, exactly the same size as Rochelle, just a rectangular shape? May be yours is different, but mine is like that. I can play it supported or not, it actually has the "loop" in its frame for a strap to hook into, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. To me, it is every bit a concertina, different - sure, but a concertina. Same technique of playing. Twenty core buttons is all the 20b Anglo has, so essentially it is German more than "Anglo". Now, those deluxe models with more than 30 buttons are deluxe indeed, but as you know, Konzertinas start with 38 or so, and go up from there - real "deluxe" , and it is probably Anglo that borrows this yet another commonality from German. Those extra buttons have a peculiar layout, but there is more than one layout known among vintage Anglos of English origins, so fundamentally it is not that different of a story here. Just yet another slight variation. (BTW, I am mainly talking about Konzertinas, not bandoneons, though difference is not essential to me, as you may already see). These are all mainly diatonic concertinas of varying layouts. There are more differences between all of them together vs, English concertina - seems to be obvious to an "initiated' observer, in this case. Sound of German reeds - different from english-made, but so is every hybrid concertina out there, and some would say that every instrument has a sound of it's own, so... To an un-initiated listener, while the differences between instruments are still discernible, all of them will probably be lumped into a "cordeen" category, as they say down south...

To me, part of the beauty of this entire free-reed family is in how varied its specimens are, probably due to the relatively short history of its development, it may be the most experimental family of instruments out there. The instrument that we call "concertina" is not standardized to the extreme: anglo, english, german, duets, bandoneons(diatonic and chromatic), etc. The main beauty is the sound, which is very different from instrument to instrument, but unmistakably recognizable as that "free reed" sound in every case - be it a harmonica, or an Indian harmonium, and everything in between. From my point of view, Konzertina is as much of a Concertina, as at least any Anglo, vintage or contemporary, and definitely "beats" any chinese model, hands down - for a beginner or advanced player, despite my general appreciation of chinese made concertinas..

Mike.

PS. Thank you for your post, and Jim Lucas for prompting me to start the thread here - the level of intelligence, as well as respectful, friendly tone of camaraderie is something that i really enjoy here, feel free to go off on any tangents or drifts, as it is what makes any conversation "live", informative and inspiring.

Edited by harpomatic
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I'm not quite sure exactly what you mean by "Konzertina", but you mention chemnitzers. A chemnitzer has its roots in Uhlig's original design, just as the anglo does, but has evolved in a different direction. The instruments are clearly closely related but clearly different - 'cousins' perhaps.

 

It is true that there are differences in anglo keyboards, and individual variations to the standard Jeffries or Wheatstone layouts. The chemnitzer keyboard seems to be completely different, although they share a few core notes. An anglo player can usually pick up another anglo and quickly adapt to any differences from their own instrument - they can't easily do the same with a chemnitzer.

 

I'm not sure it would be helpful to a beginner to start on a completely different keyboard layout, even if the were to concentrate only on the shared buttons. This is similar to suggesting they start with mouth organ or melodeon (another word with different meanings) - there are similarities but are not the same.

 

You don't say where you're based, and in your location it may be possible to pick up these german konzertinas for next to nothing, but I'm not sure that's the case elsewhere.

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Howard, this thread is carried over from another one, so some of the context is lost, but you are right - I'm talking about chemnitzers here, when I use "konzertina" spelling. It started as a thread with beginners in mind, but drifted a bit into alternative tunings and chemnitzer discussion. I agree that if one, especially a beginner, wants to play anglo in particular, there is no reason to not actually get an anglo - they are out there, in all their glory. But (since I drifted a bit) I thought more about a general, average player, as well as a beginner who is not set on anglo specifically. To such a person, it seems, small German chemnitzer could be a great instrument to try. Again, not as a training tool for future anglo playing, but as a concertina in its own right. Cousins, you say - I completely agree, seems like a totally legitimate member of concertina family. I personally enjoy the tilt of this forum towards anglo & english, because (1) I play anglo, (2) it is related enough to chemnitzers, so I find all the anglo discussion totally relevant, or "transposable", and (3) even when duets and english are discussed, I still find it interesting and somewhat related in the larger sense of things. To someone like me, who is not set on playing Irish trad, or authentic English folk music, these chemnitzers are a very affordable, and more importantly, "capable" instruments. I was willing to adjust to a different layout in exchange for all those extra buttons - can't say the same about english and duet models, as the difference there is much more significant and I did not want to really split my practice into such unrelated "halves". In any case, not that I want to convert anyone to chemnitzers (though it would be nice to revitalize that playing tradition), just wondered if fellow Cnetters see them as a member of the family...

 

PS I am in USA, NYC to be exact, but ebay is where it's at, at prices that are funny, when compared to vintage anglos from England...

Mike.

Edited by harpomatic
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I also wanted to respond to David here, as the original thread is "off limits" in my case.

David, thank you for the insight - it did not occur to me at all that, indeed, it is a BC melodeon layout! I will listen to players of that system more closely, to hear what's possible with that layout. Whatever they do with one hand can only be expanded with two hands on the concertina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Barnert, on 17 Jan 2013 - 20:58, said:snapback.png

 

<<harpomatic, on 15 Jan 2013 - 13:39, said:snapback.png

I remember somebody once had an idea of retuning the entire row of a 20b to the sharps/flats that are missing.Is anyone aware of the success of such an endeavor?


Sounds like you're talking about a B/C melodeon. I'm sure someone's tried it with a concertina, but I've never actually heard of it.>>>

 

.

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There are members here who play chemnitzers, bandoneons and similar. Posts sometimes appear from people who have found their grandfather's concertina in the attic and want to know if it's worth anything - when they post a picture, they get politely directed to one of the more appropriate websites where they can expect a more informed opinion.

 

I think most would regard them as part of the same family, 'cousins' as I said earlier, but not particularly appropriate to this forum (although I dare say there's no harm in them making the occasional appearance). There are other related instruments which might also be discussed - quite a few members also play melodeon, for example, but similarly these only occasionally get discussed on here, and usually to do with how they compare with concertinas.

 

None of this should be taken to imply that we consider our concertinas superior to other free reed instruments, simply that to stay relevant a forum has to be focused. There are other places to discuss other instruments. There are some websites which try to cater for all accordions, or even all free-reed instruments, but they seem to me to be too broad, and the discussion forums invariable seem to end up categorised by specific instruments anyway. Better in my opinion to go to a site focused on your particular instrument.

 

German concertinas don't seem to be very common here in the UK. I've only come across a handful. This might be because they are used to play a different kind of music and so I don't move in the same circles, but I haven't seen many in music shops either, including specialist shops.

 

It's not really for me to say, as I don't moderate this forum, but I should think a discussion on, for example, the similarities and differences between chemnitzers and anglos and the difficulty or otherwise of adapting between them would be an entirely legitimate topic.

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I see these occaisionally at the antique malls here in Canada, and pick them up and can play within the central core of buttons (I play anglo) but they are always in such dreadful, wheezy condition that I don't bother. They are literally falling apart.

Are there better quality versions?

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[Are there better quality versions?]

 

yes. newly-made chemnitzers are very expensive.

 

You can google around for Echo Concertina and Bob Novak, who makes this brand. You can also see Bob Novak on the 'tube....

 

 

used chemnitzers in very good condition are also expensive, but less so than new ones... :rolleyes:

 

if you scroll down on this page, you can see some used chemnitzers for sale. there is also some nice chemitzer intel here....

http://www.gruetzmacherconcertina.com/

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chemnitzers and bandoneons are concertinas and you can yak about them all you want here. they don't get discussed a lot on this site, but that has nothing to do with gates being slammed shut by pedantic taxonomists. it is because this gang is largely into the little hexagonal and octagonal guys...but every now and then there is a burst of discussion about bandos and such...perhaps one of these days it will become a regular topic....

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here, just to remind us of the joy to be found in life and in concertinas....is bob novak, builder of the Echo Concertina, playing a duet with TUBA!!! at the North Star Concertina Club of beautiful Minnesota!!! Ain't life grand?

 

 

and a young wizard, also with tuba...

 

Edited by ceemonster
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Thanks for the links Ceemonster,

That Josh Eidsor is a fine player , and only 14 years old in these videos !

 

There must be a continuous tradition in the Minnesota area and such lovely performances we can witness these days on Youtube are a testiment to dedication.

 

Although young mr. Eidsor's rendition ( video entitled Josh Eidsor "Concert" - 14 years old) of Czardas is not as mature as Gregory Matusewitch's EC version (on English International) it is technically in the same league.....

 

To me this instrument sounds like a cross between a Bandoneon and an Accordion... it is just another squeeze box so why worry what people who play it call it. :)

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Great videos and "intel" - thank you ceemonster for those posts, as well as Geoff, Hjcjones, and Bill N, for supportive replies - good to know that those "germans" are allowed under the Cnet umbrella - there is really no other forum to discuss them. Bill N - those wheezy ones are really my favorite deals, as I can fix them to a fully functioning condition while they cost almost nothing at their "wheezy" state. As a harmonica player, I learned quickly that I better figure out how to trouble-shoot reeds or that humble instrument quickly becomes too expensive to play - concertina reeds do not get exposed to such an abuse, you can get away with playing for years without the need to inspect concertina innards. But, perhaps this is where my post is relevant to all the concertina players - do not be afraid to get into it, most reed problems are not that difficult to fix. I'd suggest you get a cheap harmonica and practice on it - tuning, reed centering, gapping, cleaning, etc. Very soon you'll be totally confident in tackling any of those problems, with a minimal set of super cheap tools needed. As to a good condition chemnitzers - ceemoster is right, new ones will be expensive, but used you can get for much less than a vintage Anglo, especially if you are not afraid to fine tune an occasional wheezy reed or two - it takes minutes, when you know how to do it. Also, there are tons of youtube videos on any fine points of working with reeds, made for and by harmonica people, but all the same intel is applicable to concertinas.

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the "Czardas," a big fave with bando players as well...i currently have the cd version of this lovely solo bando-only record going in my car....roberto di filippo does a gorgeous and very "mature" rendition; i'd like to hear the matusewich version....

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Intimo/dp/B003AGC5KE/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1358660367&sr=1-1&keywords=intimo+roberto+di+filippo

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Very fat playing by Mr. Roberto, and I love the bando only record - I'm now his fan! While playing today, I thought that one thing I will finally do to my anglo is enlarge the air hole - I love how I can quickly dump all that air out (as well as bring it into) the bellows on the chemnitzers and bandos, my anlo having a hole equivalent to the regular holes that open reeds is definitely too slow for my liking... If anyone has a word of caution on that idea, I'd appreciate the warning before I do this, though I do not see any negatives as I play it out in my mind.

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A smaller airhole is an aid if you wish to use it while also playing a button, sneaking the air in or out, so to speak, without losing the ability to make a full throated note. A large airhole makes this much harder to control. Bandoneon players sometimes play a complete phrase on the pull and then collapse the bellows between phrases. This is only possible with a large airhole. If you watch Irish concertina players who never seem to suddenly collapse the bellows but keep their thumb over the button then they are likely sneaking air a lot and enjoying a small airhole.

 

As long as there is room to enlarge it and you have a larger pad it can be done, you might need to increase the spring pressure to make up for the larger square area of the hole.

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Interesting how we differentiate between instruments built in the English and German free-reed traditions!

Purely from a linguistic point of view, I've been thinking about what makes a squeezebox a concertina/Koncertina or something else - like an accordion or melodion.

 

I would propose that in a concertina/Konzertina, the buttons on both ends form a continuous range of single notes, and both ends of a given concertina type are arranged according to the same principle. The most extreme case is the EC, in which the scale wanders from one end to the other and back; on the Anglos and German Konzertinas, the scales on the main rows run seamlessly from left hand to right hand; and on the Duets, the LH keyboards have the same layout as the RH, only an octave lower.

 

This stands in contrast to the accordions, which have two distinct ranges, bass and descant, with totally different fingerings and reed voicings, with chords on the LH and single notes on the RH.

 

Both (generic) concertinas and (generic) accordions occur in both chromatic and diatonic versions, and have several different button layouts, but there is this clear distinction between any member of the concertina family and any member of the accordion family.

 

So why are Bandoneons and Chemnitzers, which are concertinas by this definition, relegated to the role of visitors in this forum, whereas instruments as diverse as the EC, the 20-button Anglo and the Jeffries Duet merrily rub shoulders all the time?

 

I come back to a point I made before: the sound, or timbre!

Renaissance music, Baroque music, Classical music, Romantic music, traditional jazz, modern jazz, Klezmer, Irish trad., heavy metal, soft rock - you name it - each have a certain typical sound, engendered by certain typical instruments or mixes of instruments. This is just as characteristic of the genre as the musical idiom it uses.

And the traditional English-reeded concertinas - whatever their fingering system - are built to achieve one ideal timbre, whereas the large German Konzertinas - whatever their fingering system - are built to a different ideal timbre. They are not really interchangeable when you're looking for a specific sound.

 

This is an English-language forum, so certain genres of music are predominant: Morris, ITM, shanties, classical music á la Regondi, old music-hall pieces, etc. As far as the concertina goes, all these have been influenced by EC, Anglo and the Duets. The polkas of the Polish-American subculture, on the other hand, are influenced by the expatriated German Chemnitzer, as the Argentinian tango is by the expatriated German Bandoneon. The relevant forums for these genres probably don't mention the EC very often!

 

Cheers,

John

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Purely from a linguistic point of view, I've been thinking about what makes a squeezebox a concertina/Koncertina or something else - like an accordion or melodion.

 

I would propose that in a concertina/Konzertina, the buttons on both ends form a continuous range of single notes, and both ends of a given concertina type are arranged according to the same principle. The most extreme case is the EC, in which the scale wanders from one end to the other and back; on the Anglos and German Konzertinas, the scales on the main rows run seamlessly from left hand to right hand; and on the Duets, the LH keyboards have the same layout as the RH, only an octave lower.

 

Interesting perspective. I'm not sure I've seen that one before. Other descriptions I've seen are that on a concertina the keys are pressed in the same direction as the axis of the bellows, rather than perpendicular to it (as in accordions, melodeons, etc), and that the concertina is supported by the hands, rather than strapped onto the chest.

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I always thought that the musical difference was that a concertina has one note per button (although not always one reed per button) whereas an accordion has some buttons, usually or always on the bass side, which make predetermined chords.

 

I always though that the difference in construction was that the keys of a concertina move in and out parallel to the central axis of the bellows, whereas the treble keys of an accordion move at approximately right angles to this. That is, a concertina is always played with the palms facing each other, but an accordion is played with at least the right palm (and possibly both) facing the player's body.

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i would hope and believe that bandos and chemnitzers, etc., are not "relegated to the role of visitors" here out of any silly taxonomic sophistry. if the interest was there, we'd have all kinds of chatter going on about these beasts....i would hope and believe.

 

there is a yahoo group devoted to bandoneons. you don't hear anglos and ECs talked-of there, but then, they are not a "concertina" site. they are a "bandoneon" site, which would be analagous to us only if we were an "anglo and ec" site, and why would we want to be that and miss out on the "North Star Concertina Club" tuba love....??? even so, when the stray "einheits" person pipes up over on the yahoo bando groupo, they get told there is little interest there in anything but argentine "rheinlische" bando....... :rolleyes:

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