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I could read Daniel’s interesting note this a.m., but then once I had written the following reply, our net server went down! Sorry LDT for the drift….but somebody has to keep the barbarians in line! :rolleyes:

 

Daniel,

 

We do indeed disagree, I guess. Scholers and Stagi/Bastaris, as you say, use parallel levers and also gang up the reeds on accordion style reed blocks....those are hallmarks of German (style) concertina factory construction, as they always have been. It is cheaper and easier to factory-produce instruments with no individually mounted levers as in Anglos, as individually mounted levers takes more work. Making the racks of parallel levers out of metal instead of wood (a la post WWII) is an improvement (metal popsicle sticks instead of wooden ones), but again that makes them more readily factory produced. They are still parallel levers.

 

And the reeds are still ganged up in blocks...also cheaper and easier to make in a factory than trying to individually place them on a flat reed pan in specially sized slots, like an Anglo or Hybrid Anglo. It is an improvement to wax in mass produced two-reed accordion reed plates onto these reed blocks, but they are still ganged up on blocks. For that reason, they have much more of an accordion sound....quite distinct in sound from Hybrid Anglos, which are mounted flat on a reed pan, as Anglo Germans are. You might like that sound or not, but we should all agree that it is different, at least.

 

I understand John’s sentiment above that even knowing and agreeing with the distinctions among these instruments, one still has a tendency to call a Scholer an Anglo – I’ve done it myself and it is not a big deal. IMHO, this deterioration in nomenclature reflects a number of factors. One is the erosion in manufacturing of concertinas on the continent (Germany and Italy) - they are now a fraction of the market, instead of overwhelmingly dominating the market - and of course the general decline in numbers of players. At one time, in the late 19th century, there were 100 German concertinas built for every Anglo German, and the distinction was vivid in peoples’ minds. Today, people in general are doing good to call it a concertina, full stop – as LDT mentioned. And of course the continental instrument makers are always ready to call their factory built instruments Anglos, and always have been dating back to the 1860s...why not sell it to the rubes that way, if they cannot tell the difference or don't care about the difference? And then there are the players themselves, who now call anything six sided with push pull rows an 'Anglo'....thinking that the keyboard is the most important thing. Maybe it (now) is.

 

It is a bit of a buffalo vs bison thing. If the great unwashed masses (often including me) want to call those German style concertinas 'Anglos' (buffalos), there is of course nothing to stop them, and no particular need to...it is usually fine and only a nerd would correct them. If we are speaking in a concertina history or technology forum known for intelligent discourse, like this one, however, we should be encouraged to be more careful with our terminology (bison). Otherwise we have people running around saying that Uhlig invented the Anglo (Jody) or that Wheatstone invented the Anglo (a common mistake in the press). Aaaarrrrghhh!!! :wacko:

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A fascinating discussion, even for me, as an EC player.

 

I've always used the analogy that an English concertina is called that for the same reason that an acoustic guitar is called an acousrtic guitar. Before you had electric guitars, you just had guitars. Something different came along, "guitar" needed an adjective to explain what kind of a guitar it was. So Wheatstone's invention was just a "concertina" until other kinds came along, and it needed an adjective to distinguish it.

 

So, EC or whatever (and you all have gone to great lengths on the "whatever"), concertina talk is great!

Edited by Mike Franch
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Thank you Dan for correcting me on this notion that Uhlig invented the Anglo. I got carried away, please forgive me. If what you say is correct, I was also wrong in thinking that he invented the five button diatonic pattern of buttons playing push 1, draw 2, push 3, draw 4, push 5, draw 6, draw 7, push 8. It was unknown inventors before him in Germany that did that, right? For that ignorance also, I beg forgiveness. Yet, he did put that pattern in both hands by "sawing it in half", right? Good for him... for that I am grateful. Was Uhlig responsible for expanding the 10 button concept into 20 buttons having two rows pitched at one 5th apart? Did these progressions I mention happen quickly over the course of just a few years around 1823 as I imagine? How long did it take for the third row of accidentals to be invented? Was it the English who did that?

 

For me, it seems that the action, bellows, box shape and reeds and all are secondary considerations. It's interesting to see how various innovations and improvements over time make the Anglo better and better as an instrument, but... For me, the clever 20 button arrangement as it fits with the hand, it's pitches and intervals and how they translate into music... these are the fundamental essence of Anglo, regardless of how it is packaged and improved over the years.

 

To help consider my point of view, think about the various midi Anglos that have been made in recent years. The construction techniques for these midi instruments are completely different, yet they are still Anglos. Right? Whatever you want to call them, they share this button/pitch/interval sameness. I sort of like the term Chromatic Concertina, but it is sure a mouthful and despite the chromaticism, they are still very diatonic in practice.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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Hi Jody,

 

Thank you Dan for correcting me on this notion that Uhlig invented the Anglo...If what you say is correct, I was also wrong in thinking that he invented the five button diatonic pattern of buttons playing push 1, draw 2, push 3, draw 4, push 5, draw 6, draw 7, push 8. It was unknown inventors before him in Germany that did that, right?

 

Yes...there are various people accredited with that, but the harmonica clearly had that push pull before Uhlig made his first 'new type of accordion' in 1834.

 

Yet, he did put that pattern in both hands by "sawing it in half", right? Good for him... for that I am grateful.

 

Yep, that was his first 'big deal' invention.

 

Was Uhlig responsible for expanding the 10 button concept into 20 buttons having two rows pitched at one 5th apart? Did these progressions I mention happen quickly over the course of just a few years around 1823 as I imagine?

 

Very likely it was Uhlig himself, or one of his early proteges. Uhlig took in a number of adopted sons and relatives and apprentices who worked with him, many of whom later opened their own factories...I tried to give accounts of them in my book. Certainly by the 1840s (when the first English language tutor was published by Minasi) there were two rows; we don't know how much earlier. I think you will agree that this was as important as sawing the keyboard in half....absolutely crucial to put in that second row a fifth higher. Genius!

 

How long did it take for the third row of accidentals to be invented? Was it the English who did that?

 

It was almost certainly the English, building the early Anglo German. All this happened after the London Exposition of 1851. George Jones built a 22 button by 1852, and a 26 button by 1854....so things happened pretty quickly in adding the third row. We know too that Nickolds and Crabb, and Chidley, were all biuilding Anglo German instruments in the 1850s, but I am less certain how many rows they had. The third row was added out of 'chromatic envy'; they were painfully aware that the highbrow English concertina was chromatic, and needed bragging rights on this if they were to charge high prices for the AG.

 

For me, it seems that the action, bellows, box shape and reeds and all are secondary considerations. It's interesting to see how various innovations and improvements over time make the Anglo better and better as an instrument, but... For me, the clever 20 button arrangement as it fits with the hand, it's pitches and intervals and how they translate into music... these are the fundamental essence of Anglo, regardless of how it is packaged and improved over the years. To help consider my point of view, think about the various midi Anglos that have been made in recent years. The construction techniques for these midi instruments are completely different, yet they are still Anglos. Right? Whatever you want to call them, they share this button/pitch/interval sameness.

 

We all in this thread share that point of view. You use the generally accepted 'buffalo' form of the term Anglo, meaning a general term for the keyboard. When speaking of the history or technology of the instrument, it is probably best to use the more specific 'bison' form...Anglo is short for Anglo German and refers to the innards (and partly to the third row, although not all AGs have three rows, and some GCs have a third row).

 

I sort of like the term Chromatic Concertina, but it is sure a mouthful and despite the chromaticism, they are still very diatonic in practice.

 

John too mentioned the 'Anglo-Chromatic' term in an above post, and it deserves some comment. I put a story together on that term after doing some research for my book, and the results are in there. People started using the term Anglo Chromatic only very late, in the 1920s. I think what happened is that, after the bitterness of WWI, no one in England wanted to use the term Anglo German anymore (and the importation of German concertinas effectively stopped). So some folks started saying Anglo Chromatic instead. But as we have seen, the fully chromatic Anglo had been built for many decades before that term came into existence. I don't think much of that term, and prefer the buffalo form - simply, Anglo - for general use when referring to the keyboard.

 

So much blather about terms! Sorry for that, LDT....it is a can of worms, as I said. :mellow: I think I'll go play a tune.

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Thank you Dan for summing up of all the bits and pieces. I do appreciate it and all that delicious detail.

 

So to wrap it up, I think I could say to someone at a bar...

 

(I was doing just that a few days ago at a great session. I didn't want to just leave it there on my chair, so I took the concertina with me to get a beer. At the bar I got talking with someone who wanted to know all about that strange thing I had in my hand)

 

... I could say truthfully that Uhlig was this German guy in the 1830s who invented the button and pitch system that gives this concertina it's identity. The father of what we now call the Anglo.

 

I think I could manage that before the beer, but after... well, I might slip up. Personally, I like canned worms on occasion, but much prefer draft.

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I now own Ella Mae O'Dwyer's German concertina, having been given it by her son Sean, an excellent Anglo player. It is a 'Ceili' model from the early 1950s, and contains double (octave) steel accordion reeds that are individually mounted, very like modern hybrids. It and its bellows are in great shape, a testament not only to the instrument's quality but to the care taken of it by Mrs. O'Dwyer. It plays very well, especially considering that each depressed button plays two reeds instead of one, and that the bellows are much larger than those of most Anglos. These instruments are designed for, and well-suited to, playing the moderate tempo ballroom dance music of their era, not the frantic pace and reel-rich repertoire of modern revival sessions.

So far, I have read some of your articles, like the one about the concertina in America and the one about the concertina on the Seas. But I have not read your books yet. Do any of your books include full-color photos of this German concertina that once belonged to Mrs. O'Dwyer? If not then can you post some? I would like to be able to recognize one if I ever happen to have an opportunity to buy one.

 

I like the photos of the South-African one.

Edited by AlexCJones
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Here is a photo of it, Alex. It reads "Ceili Band" on the side, along with "Foreign Made". Doesn't look like much relative to a Jeffries, I suppose, but it has a tight bellows and plays really well for being double reeded.

 

By the way, I do not intend on keeping it. I'm hoping that someday an appropriate museum for Irish music will emerge, in Ireland, at which time this will be a gift. Meanwhile, I intend to keep it in playing condition with occasional light use.

post-976-0-56966500-1363063214_thumb.jpg

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Could very well be. Her son Sean said it was purchased in 1953.

 

After WWII there are few options for who might have built any particular German concertina. Industrial Chemnitz got completely flattened by Allied bombers in the War. The old Alfred Arnold Company - the heirs to Uhlig's factory and makers of bandonions, chemnitzers and German concertinas -- was forcibly dissolved by the Soviets in 1948. Lots of their workers were put on building diesel tractor parts. The rest were collectivised with some remnants of free reed builders in nearby Klingenthal to build cheap accordians for the Russian market. This one was made during that time period, but still by someone who still knew German concertinas...it plays very well. I own a somewhat similar-looking and similarly painted east German concertina purchased new in the 1970s that is complete junk in terms of playability....no comparison (brass reeds on a plate, and wheezy even though new and only single reeded). I guess that as old pre-war workers died off, new workers had nothing to learn except how to build cheap junk for the Commies.

 

It also was well cared for...the bellows look brand new.

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Just to add on to the above post, I can see the Scholers that Alex Jones posted about in post #11 in this thread: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=14093

 

O'Dwyers is similar only in the faux wood striped paint job. Differences are:

O'Dwyer's 1953 GC has individually waxed in accordion reed plates and steel reeds, not a harmonica-like brass plate of brass reeds as in Alex's Scholer.

O'Dwyer's has considerably more bellows folds than the Scholer and two bellows connectors among the folds that add substance to the long bellows.

O'Dwyers has no 'Scholer' metal badge on the ends, or any other sort of marking other than that I mentioned.

 

It is obviously of a considerably higher standard of production than that Scholer Alex showed. I wonder (doubt, really) whether the 'Scholer' company was in swing in 1953, but don't really know. I suspect that they got going a bit later, maybe with some of the earlier production machinery and some of the employees.

Stephen Chambers said in this post http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=1255 that Scholer in the 1990s was run by an elderly couple who sold it after German reunification to another outfit in Klingenthal.

 

So...based on this I suspect that mine is a pre-Scholer, and that the Scholers started up at some time after my O'Dwyer concertina was built.

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Hi Mark,

 

That is correct. I never knew whether she owned them or not. Sean only told me that the GC was hers, and that was the instrument she used on some of the tunes she recorded on Neal Wayne's Clare Set, back in 1974. I should ask Sean about the others sometime.

 

I guess she got respectable with an Anglo before those TV folks in Dublin got to her, in the 80s!

 

Cheers,

Dan

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That concertina looks like a Scholer to me. They turn up quite frequently on the internet, with the same woody decoration.

 

Just my very first thought on this photograph.

 

Yes, I could have easily mistaken one of these for a Scholer. I might have seen many of these and mistaken them all for Scholers!

 

It resembles some of the large Scholers in number of bellows folds and bellows connecters:

post-66-0-48950400-1363141940_thumb.jpg

 

The bellows have more folds than my Frontalini, which actually does have its reeds in individually waxed in accordion reed blocks or shoes and steel reeds. (Smallest single-reed Scholer on left, Frontalini on right):

post-66-0-82243300-1363142546_thumb.jpg

 

My Frontalini is actually assembled from the best parts of a few other concertinas, some branded "Frontalini", and some branded "Silvertone" but all pretty much the same instrument maybe from the same factory. In addition to the reeds being in pairs (just like O'Dwyer's Ceili Band) instead of bars of 10, they are also in-tune with modern standard A440 tuning, (or at least close enough), where the Scholers are all either all painfully sharp or painfully flat. I would guess that O'Dwyer's Ceili Band might also be in tune with the rest of the world.

 

Here is what the Frontalini looks like on the outside:

post-66-0-26770100-1363142610_thumb.jpg

Anyway, my whole point in bringing up these Frontalinis and Silvertones --obviously Germans-- is that they could be from the same time and place as O'Dwyer's "Ceili Band". So they are all examples of Germans that are of higher quality than Scholers. It is just that O'Dwyer's "Ceili Band" is double-octave-reeded.

 

Oh, and if I refer to my Frontalini as an "Anglo" in print, then I will use quotes, and explain that it is actually a German.

Edited by AlexCJones
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Good stuff, Alex; thanks. Clearly Scholer is a modern (probably less than 50 years old?) name for a larger outfit with a somewhat longer post-war history. When the Soviets collectivised a few of the remaining makers Klingenthal after WWII, they seem to have started churning out product under a variety of monikers. I'd guess that the earlier post-War ones, like O'Dwyers Ceili Band and perhaps your Frontalinis (that is a new name for me!), have a much better chance of being decent quality (though there was still a mixture). By the 1970s or 1980s, when the name Scholer came into use, quality seems never to have recovered.

 

None of these post War German concertinas, whether early or late, came close to the quality available before. The Arnold factory produced thousands of those wonderful bandoneons still played in Argentina, for example. That all came to a halt after WWII, from what I can see.

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I've been playing on an old Bastari because it is in Wheatstone tuning and all of my better instruments are in Jefferies tuning. This is to better aid a student of mine who plays a Rochelle, also in Wheatstone. Anyway, I wonder what the reeds look like inside? I've only opened it up enough to gain access to the action. Would I find that this Italian instrument is really a "German" concertina?

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None of these post War German concertinas, whether early or late, came close to the quality available before. The Arnold factory produced thousands of those wonderful bandoneons still played in Argentina, for example. That all came to a halt after WWII, from what I can see.

Dan--

 

It's my impression that none of the 20th century German makers of small concertinas made instruments that were close to the quality of the Alfred Arnold bandonions. ELA (a different Arnold factory) also made excellent bandonions and big concertinas. Arno Arnold (yet another Arnold factory) made big concertinas in the post-WW2 period that aren't considered to be as good as the pre-war Alfred Arnolds and ELAs. But one of the reasons that people don't like the Arno Arnolds is that they used the individual accordion reeds that you have been praising in this thread, while Chemnitzer players (and I believe bandonion players too) think much more highly of the long plate reeds that you have been criticizing. They especially like the long-plate reeds that use zinc plates, which they consider superior to the later aluminum plates -- though there are those who say that aluminum is just as good, much like the brass vs. aluminum reed shoe discussions that occasionally appear here on c.net.

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