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Hey all.... I like to spend my vacation time volunteering on tall ships. I was thinking of learning to play the concertina to entertain people during tours etc. I used to play trombone/bass back in highschool but haven't had much music experience since.

 

I was leaning towards getting an English concertina cause it just sounded easier to play with one button doing one note reguardless of whether you're pushing or pulling but my understanding is that in the age of sail (18th/19th century) Anglo styles were commonplace on ships.

 

Soooo, my big question is since my primary draw to concertinas is to entertain people with sea shanties on tall ships A) what kind of concertina would be most historicly accurate and B) are there any good song books or training videos out there specific to sea shanties/nautical music.

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I am a sailor and I have often puzzled about why (or more properly how) the concertina became popular on board - if it really ever did?

 

There is nothing quite like warm, moist, salt-laden sea air for promoting rust, especially in the tempered steel used for the reeds. In the tropics I imagine that the reeds would rust overnight. Many of the parts in a concertina are held together with glue that is not waterproof - not even close to waterproof.

 

Taking an expensive vintage concertina on a vintage wooden ship sounds like a recipe for concertina loss. I wonder if the seagoing concertinas of old were like the concertinas used for Irish dances - cheap and throw-away when done with. This would explain why there were no ECs on board as they have always been expensive.

 

If you are going to do this then I suggest that you invest in a Pelican case for your tina so that you can keep it in a sealed environment most of the time. Plus it will float if the worst happens ...

 

I have a Pelican Stormcase iM2075 which will just (only just) hold a standard sized vintage concertina.

 

Brass reeds would also be a good idea.

 

Edited afterwards:

 

Read this excerpt on Google Books, especially the interview with John Kirkpatrick on the 2nd-3rd. page. Concertinas at sea were largely a myth created during the folk revival. However, that should not stop you making up a show for the punters ...

 

http://books.google.ca/books?id=1-thWE5XRmsC&pg=PA322&lpg=PA322&dq=stan+hugill+concertina&source=bl&ots=5wKEsdfdwd&sig=Qrk23Qh5sF1tLONZA2V1C0HPVxI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mFpxUbGXOsbJyAHxt4GADw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=stan%20hugill%20concertina&f=false

Edited by sjm
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There have been earlier discussions of this topic which might be worth digging up. Walt Disney not withstanding, concertina is only historically correct for the end of the age of sale.

 

A friend made this same request before sailing down to the Bahamas for the winter, and we found him a fairly well built Italian 20 button anglo (c. 1960 I'm guessing) with brass reeds. Reasonably in tune with itself, so fine for ship board noodling and song accompaniment, and it only cost $100, so he won't be devastated if something happens to it.

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Read this excerpt on Google Books, especially the interview with John Kirkpatrick on the 2nd-3rd. page. Concertinas at sea were largely a myth created during the folk revival. However, that should not stop you making up a show for the punters ...

And then read the part right after that, where it says "We can now respectfully assert that little of Kirkpatrick's commentary has any real basis in historical fact." There were totally concertinas at sea.

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Hey all.... I like to spend my vacation time volunteering on tall ships. I was thinking of learning to play the concertina to entertain people during tours etc. I used to play trombone/bass back in highschool but haven't had much music experience since.

 

I was leaning towards getting an English concertina cause it just sounded easier to play with one button doing one note reguardless of whether you're pushing or pulling but my understanding is that in the age of sail (18th/19th century) Anglo styles were commonplace on ships.

 

Soooo, my big question is since my primary draw to concertinas is to entertain people with sea shanties on tall ships A) what kind of concertina would be most historicly accurate and B) are there any good song books or training videos out there specific to sea shanties/nautical music.

You might read chapter 4 (link) for information. This is the only fully researched view of the topic that I know of. You will see a lot of poorly-informed speculation around. Concertinas at sea were definitely NOT a myth....but the re-enactors using them for accompanying shanties are more than a little off the mark. Try using it for dance music, and get some waltzes and polkas going on the deck whilst at port......that is the ticket for authenticity.

http://books.google.com/books?id=1-thWE5XRmsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=worrall+concertina&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JnFxUavFOqGwygH13YGoAg&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

'Anglos' (to be more precise, German concertinas, but also Anglo-German concertinas) were far more numerous, but ECs were definitely around....I think I documented one or two in that chapter.

 

Concertinas are appropriate for any time between early 1850s and about 1920, peaking from the late 1870s to 1900 or so.

 

Cheers,

Dan

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Okay, so it looks like I stirred up the old debate about whether or not concertinas at sea were historically accurate or not. I'm sure a lot of people have done a lot more research into this then I have. However from the limited research I've done I've come to the following conclusions:

 

1) Concertinas were indeed used as we have pictures etc. to support this.

2) Jury is still out on early use, but at the turn of the century, definately.

3) Disney probably inflated our perception of just how much they were used.

 

The good news is I normally volunteer on the tall ship "Hawaiian Chieftain" which is a replica of a typical European merchant ship from the turn of the nineteenth century. Something else I consider good news.... sailors would probably have to buy an inexpensive anglo concertina cause it's all they could afford. Yay for that! A valid excuse to be cheap!

 

So my conclusions..... get an inexpensive anglo style concertina with brass reeds and a water tight container. That just leaves the question of if anybody knows any good song books they could recomend for my specific concertina endeavor.

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Okay, so it looks like I stirred up the old debate about whether or not concertinas at sea were historically accurate or not. I'm sure a lot of people have done a lot more research into this then I have. However from the limited research I've done I've come to the following conclusions:

 

1) Concertinas were indeed used as we have pictures etc. to support this.

2) Jury is still out on early use, but at the turn of the century, definately.

3) Disney probably inflated our perception of just how much they were used.

 

The good news is I normally volunteer on the tall ship "Hawaiian Chieftain" which is a replica of a typical European merchant ship from the turn of the nineteenth century. Something else I consider good news.... sailors would probably have to buy an inexpensive anglo concertina cause it's all they could afford. Yay for that! A valid excuse to be cheap!

 

So my conclusions..... get an inexpensive anglo style concertina with brass reeds and a water tight container. That just leaves the question of if anybody knows any good song books they could recomend for my specific concertina endeavor.

 

Okay, so it looks like I stirred up the old debate about whether or not concertinas at sea were historically accurate or not.

 

Did you read what I sent you? There is no 'debate', as its use at sea has now been well established and documented by very numerous recorded sightings. It is now not up for opinion whether it was used at sea or not in the last half of the nineteenth century, unless you question my scholarship.

 

I'm sure a lot of people have done a lot more research into this then I have.

Again, did you read what I sent you?

 

However from the limited research I've done I've come to the following conclusions:

 

2) Jury is still out on early use, but at the turn of the century, definately.

 

A third time, did you read what I sent you? The jury is not 'out', because there are numerous well documented period references to its use from the 1850s to about 1920, which I rather laboriously assembled. Your 'limited research' apparently didn't include reading that chapter!

 

Don't wish to sound pedantic, but you asked questions and I sent you the answers. Feel free to disagree with it, but at least read it before asking more questions.

 

As for Stan Hugill, he is an absolutely wonderful source for shanties...I agree with sjm, he is the source for them. But Hugill would be the first to tell you, as I did, that sailors didn't sing work shanties to the accompaniment of a concertina, scores of folk CDs to the contrary. If it is fun, by all means do it, but if you are looking for historical accuracy....

Edited by Dan Worrall
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I've been around this marina once or twice. Go to Amazon and check William Main Doerflinger, "Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman." There's enough stuff there to keep you busy for a while. Have a good squeeze and don't forget the rum.

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Thank you so much, Dan, for having made all that great stuff accessible for everyone's first (or second) grasp via google (and all the research prior to publishing the results as well)!

 

I had yet read some portions regarding South Africa - but this is all the more appealing to me (albeit having discarded the German-Anglo in favour of the English myself)!

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Read this excerpt on Google Books, especially the interview with John Kirkpatrick on the 2nd-3rd. page. Concertinas at sea were largely a myth created during the folk revival. However, that should not stop you making up a show for the punters ...

 

http://books.google.ca/books?id=1-thWE5XRmsC&pg=PA322&lpg=PA322&dq=stan+hugill+concertina&source=bl&ots=5wKEsdfdwd&sig=Qrk23Qh5sF1tLONZA2V1C0HPVxI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mFpxUbGXOsbJyAHxt4GADw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=stan hugill concertina&f=false

 

The author concludes on pp. 323, 324:

 

"We can now respectfully assert that little of Kirkpatrick's commentary has any real basis in historical fact, excepting the statement that concertinas were not used for shanties."

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Okay, got some great stuff to go on. Bookmarked some song books and I am leaning towards a Hohner D40. Doesn't have steller reviews but it's about the best I can afford and is marked down considerably on Musicians Friend. (http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/hohner-d40-concertina)

 

My apologies to Dan if he was offended by my poor choice in words. I did read what you sent. Very good information indeed. If I go threw with this venture I intend to read all the chapters for that matter.

 

I should explain, however, that when I was talking about "early use" I meant earlier in the age of sail. The other ship I volunteer with is a replica of the Lady Washington, the first American ship to reach the Pacific Northwest. The original Lady Washington sailed from 1787 to 1797. Far as my research has led me, that means she foundered in the Phillipeans about thirty years before the concertina was even invented. (Wikkipedia was a sorce on this so by all means correct me if I'm wrong!) Seems clear to me that the image of a 19th century sailor playing a concertina was very much spot on. But the Disney/Hollywood image of a happy pirate playing his concertina (golden age of piracy, 1650s to 1720s) onboard ship just didn't add up with the concertinas very existance.

 

Good news is the Hawaiian Chieftain which I normally volunteer on is an 1850s style hull with 1890s style rigging and definately NOT a pirate ship as I explain to guests all day long. That puts her not only in the right historical time period for the concertina, but smack dab in the middle of it's heyday according to Dan's research.

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I should explain, however, that when I was talking about "early use" I meant earlier in the age of sail. The other ship I volunteer with is a replica of the Lady Washington, the first American ship to reach the Pacific Northwest. The original Lady Washington sailed from 1787 to 1797. Far as my research has led me, that means she foundered in the Phillipeans about thirty years before the concertina was even invented. (Wikkipedia was a sorce on this so by all means correct me if I'm wrong!) Seems clear to me that the image of a 19th century sailor playing a concertina was very much spot on. But the Disney/Hollywood image of a happy pirate playing his concertina (golden age of piracy, 1650s to 1720s) onboard ship just didn't add up with the concertinas very existance.

 

So what is the Jury assigned to discuss then? :ph34r:

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