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Oren

Alistair Anderson's Concertina On "english International"?

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Greetings all--a newbie here in the land of concertinas. My question is about the sound of Alistair's concertina on "English International". It has an interesting tone that sounds rather like a harmonica, and I wonder if anyone can tell me about that instrument and/or the type of reeds, etc.

 

Another question: I notice that the tuning on most of the EC's that I've tried (Morse, Stagi, Jackie--accordion reed EC's) seems to make playing harmonies in thirds rather harsh. I suppose this has to do with "equal tempered" tuning or something like that? Or is it just the nature of single reeds playing in close harmony? Accordions don't seem to have quite the same harshness when playing on a single-reed stop--maybe because of the larger instrument body? Or something?

 

If it has to do with tuning, is it possible or desirable to have an English concertina fine-tuned for playing in "folk keys", like C, G, and D?

 

Any insights or speculations are welcome.

Edited by Oren

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A hearty welcome to the land of concertinas!

As to the harsh thirds, this has been discussed a lot here. The effect increases due to the free reeds' complete lack in decay but is in fact a result of equal temperament.

 

In order to avoid the harshness an EC can be tuned in one of the conventional meantone temperaments because many of the enharmonic substitutes are available for differenced tuning.

 

Some fellow members, for instance Geoff Woof, will have more to say on this subject. As for me I would however be critical of the sounding of (open) fitfths (which I make a lot use of).

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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Many years ago I sat down to dinner with Alistair at my folk club and talked about concertinas after which he performed. I went out afterwards and traded my anglo for an EC. As I recall he had an Aeola at the time but details as to its range, age, etc escape me now.

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I've been to several workshops with Alistair, and performances, over the last 20 plus years and he's always played his Boyd Wheatstone, a model 21 I think. Although I've never had the courage to ask to try it. I do know someone who has. He tells me that it's an incredibly responsive instrument, whilst the tone is the one we have all heard. This same chap, a WCCP member. also plays a Boyd Wheatstone of similar vintage which is a very fine instrument but not, he assures me, up to the same standard as Alistair's.

Edited by John Adey

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I've been to several workshops with Alistair, and performances, over the last 20 plus years and he's always played his Boyd Wheatstone, a model 21 I think. Although I've never had the courage to ask to try it. I do know someone who has. He tells me that it's an incredibly responsive instrument, whilst the tone is the one we have all heard. This same chap, a WCCP member. also plays a Boyd Wheatstone of similar vintage which is a very fine instrument but not, he assures me, up to the same standard as Alistair's.

 

That's his main instrument, 6-sided with metal ends. He also has an amboyna Aeola that he uses for certain pieces, I assume because of the different sound. And I know that years ago he had a tenor-treble, but I never saw him use it much, and I don't know whether he uses it at all these days, or whether he even still has it.

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That's his main instrument, 6-sided with metal ends. He also has an amboyna Aeola that he uses for certain pieces, I assume because of the different sound. And I know that years ago he had a tenor-treble, but I never saw him use it much, and I don't know whether he uses it at all these days, or whether he even still has it.

 

 

 

 

I am open to correction, but my recollection is that the amboyna instrument was in an old pitch. Alistair used it for specific pieces such as "the darkening"

 

My memory of past events has been corrected recently for at least one occasion, so I will not state this as a cast-iron certainty.

 

- John Wild

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so, the "harmonica" one is probly the Boyd, eh? that is the sound i think i want. but in Tenor or TT config, want those lower notes...

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I'm not up to speed on the history of Wheatstone concertinas. I assume (Mr?) Boyd was an employee of the company but why is his six sided utility model (not an aeola) so good. And when was he making them? Could mine, number 32453, be one of his? I'd guess not, the tone is nothing special.

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Hi Steve,

 

I seem to recall that this Mr. Boyd was a retailer (was it in Liverpool?) commissioning instruments from both Wheatstone and Lachenal, mainly metal ended English in the extended treble range. Apart from having his name in the fretwork it was just that the best craftsmen had been assembling those specimen from the best parts available (at least this seems to be what is assumed today). Other members will know more...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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I'm not up to speed on the history of Wheatstone concertinas. I assume (Mr?) Boyd was an employee of the company but why is his six sided utility model (not an aeola) so good. And when was he making them? Could mine, number 32453, be one of his? I'd guess not, the tone is nothing special.

 

I seem to recall that this Mr. Boyd was a retailer (was it in Liverpool?) commissioning instruments from both Wheatstone and Lachenal, mainly metal ended English in the extended treble range. Apart from having his name in the fretwork it was just that the best craftsmen had been assembling those specimen from the best parts available (at least this seems to be what is assumed today). Other members will know more...

 

The Boyd instruments have been discussed at length in more than one previous thread. If the built-in search comes up short, try using Google.

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Thanks Wolf and Jim, you fellas are always so on the ball, much appreciated.

 

I've satisfied my curiosity about the Boyd instruments and also discovered from the ledgers that I have a wheatstone number 21, nothing too special but OK for me at present.

 

Cheers Steve.

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The Boyd Wheatstones, including Alistair's are model 22 not 21.

 

 

Edited by Theo

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As Alistair's instrument has 56 keys, if I recall correctly, that would make it a model 24.... but that is just Anorak-ism after all.

 

I did get to try it on one occasion ,about 30 years ago a distance of time which puts any impressions I had then in the unreliable category. The type of reeds in these Vintage instruments ( Alistair's probably is at least 100 years old) would be Steel tongues in Brass frames, the frames fit into the Tapered Dovetail Slots of the Reedpan and thus are quite different to Accordion reeds.

 

There is a certain Harmonica like tone quality to some of the Model 22's and 24's....

 

Coming to your other point Oren: if the Equal Tempered Thirds on the Accordion reeded EC's appear to be harsh then I'd expect the Concertina reeded instruments, especially the metal ended variety will grate on your sensibilities even more.

 

I have chosen to tune my EC's to a Meantone Temperament which sweetens these thirds but still allows for playing in a good varierty of keys... I think Ab,Eb,Bb,F,C,G,D,A,E should all be possible on the EC tuned to a Meantone.... ( and their related Minor keys as well)...

 

There are quite a few varieties of these Meantone Tempéraments, Quarter Comma being the one with the Perfect major thirds and is the one I like the best but because the spread of the pitches deviate quite a lot from ET this can make playing with other fixed pitch instruments a little difficult. So I chose to opt for the next stage closer to ET ( but still a Meantone)... called One Fifth Comma. With the 1/5th Comma each of the notes is about half the distance away from ET that they would be in Quarter Comma. I have yet to have complaints from other musicians... which might suggest that they don't listen closely or that they assume I'm playing in ET like 99.9999% of the rest of the world.

 

You can hear how these different tempéraments sound ; see if you can find recordings of Danny Spooner (singer with concertina accomp.) if that is he still has his concertina tuned in 1/4 Comma (which I tuned during the '80's).... or Adrian Brown ( a member here) on the Dapper's delight album where he also plays concertinas in 1/4 comma. Also there are several tracks of my playing in 1/5 Comma on the first four months of "The tune of the month" forum here on C.net.

 

Geoff.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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And there is always a possibility of "studio induced" tone color.

 

One of my great concertina thrills and disappointments :D :o :blink: was to sit next to Gearoid O hAllmhurain at Irish Arts week in the Catskills. I was in love with the sound of Gearoid's Bb Jeffries on his Traditional Music from Clare and Beyond CD. Toward the end of the week he got out his beloved Bb and played several tunes for us. Very nice! Nice instrument. Well played! But it was not eliciting the same thrill I got when listening to the CD :huh:

 

Still puzzled about this several months later I listened to Gearoid's CD in a professional recording studio. Best guess was that what I was really in love with was the tweaked, compressed, enhanced sound of Bb as produced during the recording sessions and mix. I still love Gearoid's playing and that particular CD, but I have given up trying to find a Bb Jeffries "in the flesh" that sounds like the recording. (Doesn't mean that one doesn't exist....Hope springs eternal! :P)

 

Greg

Edited by Greg Jowaisas

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Thanks for all the responses. It will take me a little while to absorb all the info that has been imparted.

 

Just in case I do decide to go to a "meantone temperament", where can one get it done? The instrument would probably be a Morse Geordie tenor/treble. Would it be best to send it back to the Button Box (which would be fine if they do it), or are there other options?

 

Oren

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I have chosen to tune my EC's to a Meantone Temperament which sweetens these thirds but still allows for playing in a good varierty of keys... I think Ab,Eb,Bb,F,C,G,D,A,E should all be possible on the EC tuned to a Meantone.... ( and their related Minor keys as well)...

 

There are quite a few varieties of these Meantone Tempéraments, Quarter Comma being the one with the Perfect major thirds and is the one I like the best but because the spread of the pitches deviate quite a lot from ET this can make playing with other fixed pitch instruments a little difficult. So I chose to opt for the next stage closer to ET ( but still a Meantone)... called One Fifth Comma. With the 1/5th Comma each of the notes is about half the distance away from ET that they would be in Quarter Comma. I have yet to have complaints from other musicians... which might suggest that they don't listen closely or that they assume I'm playing in ET like 99.9999% of the rest of the world.

 

 

Geoff.

 

Thanks Geoff, you have answered the question I posed on another thread(started by Ixnx) about 1/5 comma mean tuning. Very interesting, I may have to investigate further. I listened to one of your tune of the month recordings, your very first posting I think, and it sounded as if you might have been playing duet rather than english.

 

Cheers Steve

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Thanks Geoff, you have answered the question I posed on another thread(started by Ixnx) about 1/5 comma mean tuning. Very interesting, I may have to investigate further. I listened to one of your tune of the month recordings, your very first posting I think, and it sounded as if you might have been playing duet rather than english.

 

Cheers Steve

 

If it sounded like I'm playing a Duet then I am pleased because that was my intention but beware because the last two tracks ,on Sound Cloud were on Duets (' La Luna' on the Maccann and 'Josefin's' on the Hayden) and in fact it is possible to here that the Duets are tuned Equal Temperament.

 

A good comparison between the two tunings can be heard with ' Boda Waltz' (STE-031 on Sound Cloud) played on my Meantone tuned Aeola and 'Josefin's Dopvals' played on a Wakker Hayden tuned in Equal Temperament.

 

Going to all the trouble of changing the temperament is only worth it if one uses lots of chording. I like using thirds to bulk out dance tunes, somewhat like 'double stopping' on a Fiddle, so for me it is a resonable choice.

 

The extent of the usefullness of these meantone tunings can be heard on my submission for Tune of the Month for May 2013.... where I try to play Parsons Farewell in 7 keys !

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