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Terry McGee

Journal Of Music Theory Article

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Came across this article which I haven't seen referenced here:


The Wheatstone Concertina and Symmetrical Arrangements of Tonal Space, Anna Gawboy, Journal of Music Theory, 2009, Volume 53, Number 2: 163-190


Abstract The English concertina, invented by the physicist Charles Wheatstone, enjoyed a modest popularity

as a parlor and concert instrument in Victorian Britain. Wheatstone designed several button layouts for the

concertina consisting of pitch lattices of interlaced fifths and thirds, which he described in patents of 1829 and

1844. Like the later tonal spaces of the German dualist theorists, the concertina’s button layouts were inspired by

the work of eighteenth-century mathematician Leonhard Euler, who used a lattice to show relationships among

pitches in just intonation. Wheatstone originally tuned the concertina according to Euler’s diatonic-chromatic

genus before switching to meantone and ultimately equal temperament for his commercial instruments. Among

members of the Royal Society, the concertina became an instrument for research on acoustics and temperament.

Alexander Ellis, translator of Hermann von Helmholtz’s On the Sensations of Tone, used the concertina as a demonstration

tool in public lectures intended to popularize Helmholtz’s acoustic theories. The English concertina’s

history reveals the peculiar fissures and overlaps between scientific and popular cultures, speculative harmonics

and empirical acoustics, and music theory and musical practice in the mid-nineteenth century.




Terry

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Came across this article which I haven't seen referenced here:
The Wheatstone Concertina and Symmetrical Arrangements of Tonal Space, Anna Gawboy, Journal of Music Theory, 2009, Volume 53, Number 2: 163-190

 

No time to look it up until later today, but I'm pretty sure that article was referenced/discussed here on concertina.net within the past year or so.

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I had a quick look before posting, but it didn't jump out. Let me know if you find it - I'd be interested to see what people made of it.

 

Terry

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No time to look it up until later today, but I'm pretty sure that article was referenced/discussed here on concertina.net within the past year or so.

 

I had a quick look before posting, but it didn't jump out. Let me know if you find it - I'd be interested to see what people made of it.

 

I find I had made a note of it, with the intent of responding when I had more time. I noted down the topic number, but that topic no longer exists. The only thing I know which would cause that is if the discussion degenerated into personal abuse. (Extremely rare, but it has been known to happen.)

 

So I'd say the best thing is to start a fresh discussion and hope that we can keep it civil.

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Now we're talking!

 

An excellent paper, and properly focused. Leaving aside various minor issues that could be disputed, I'd like to point out two great virtues of this work.

 

1) Documented history

 

2) A very broad understanding of different options for tuning and tempering the scales of fixed-pitch musical instruments. There are more tunings in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the philosophy of most concertina players. Some of the old tunings (despite being perceived by many today as "out of tune according to my meter or my ear" ) were very consciously chosen to enable powerful musical effects if properly employed.

 

Jim, years ago I remember having to convince you that the duplicate keys for D#/Eb and G#/Ab were originally included in what became the standard keyboard of the english concertina *because those duplicate keys were intended to sound reeds tuned to different pitches.* That idea was not original to me of course; I was reading about Wheatstone's 14-tone meantone scale in Montague and other 20th century works at the same time I was looking at concertinas with original tuning. Now that concept to understand the english concertina keyboard is a commonplace in discussions by modern amateurs and I'm reading concertina players and tuners throw around the names of mean-tone temperaments. But I hope Gawboy's article will help players and students of the instrument understand that there's more to concertina tuning beyond equal temperament and some familiar variations of mean-tone. The conception of the concertina pioneers (early inventors, improvers, and tuners) went far beyond superimposing one or another standard scale on a new kind of noisemaker. They were striving for new options that the new instrument might allow -- through different experiments in compromising layout, button number, size, many variables of sound production and assigning pitches -- all with a goal toward flexible, beautiful, and powerful sounds (especially harmonized sounds).

 

PG

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Jim, I think the person who brought it up earlier got banished and their content was removed...

 

Wow, eviscerated just for daring to mention a journal article? Gulp. Can I plead for a second chance?

 

Terry

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Jim, I think the person who brought it up earlier got banished and their content was removed...

Wow, eviscerated just for daring to mention a journal article? Gulp. Can I plead for a second chance?

 

Terry

 

No, but if you later have a hissy fit over some other issue which results in the mods banning you then I think that they delete all of your content. Which seems to me to be a bit of an over-reaction and detrimental to the rest of us. I would prefer it if the mods could simply moderate an offender's posts and leave useful posts alone.

 

Don.

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Jim, I think the person who brought it up earlier got banished and their content was removed...

 

Wow, eviscerated just for daring to mention a journal article? Gulp. Can I plead for a second chance?

 

Terry

 

Well, you can always come back in disguise, as the last then "banned" member promised... B)

 

[psshhh] Terry, is it you? [/psshhh]

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Nah. I have enough trouble maintaining my own persona without trying to impersonate someone else!

 

Paul, interesting we probably all find different things that attract us in the article. I was pleased to be reminded of some of Ellis' stuff, in particular:

 

“I play high notes, having a relative pitch of about a semitone
or less (16/15 to 25/24), on my concertina. By placing the ear against
the bellows you will hear the sharp rattle of the beat, and the low booming
differential, something like a threshing machine two or three fields off”
You can try this by playing say B & C in the far treble while listening at the bellows - the low grumble of the threshing machine is quite clear. It is a difference signal only audible to the ear and not the microphone, at least as far as a quick test reveals.
Terry

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Jim, I think the person who brought it up earlier got banished and their content was removed...

Wow, eviscerated just for daring to mention a journal article? Gulp. Can I plead for a second chance?

No, but if you later have a hissy fit over some other issue which results in the mods banning you then I think that they delete all of your content. Which seems to me to be a bit of an over-reaction and detrimental to the rest of us. I would prefer it if the mods could simply moderate an offender's posts and leave useful posts alone.

 

The wholesale deletion hasn't always happened. I can still find old posts of at least one banned individual. Leaves me wondering if it now happens automatically... a "feature" included in one of the recent software updates from Invision? (I could go on a long rant about the damage Invision has done to their editor, but I won't. It's time to get back to the topic at hand.)

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I think that the Anna Gawboy article will be reprinted in the 2013 issue of Papers of the International Concertina Association (PICA). It is now April 2014 and PICA 2013 (Vol. 10) is not yet out. In March 2013, my co-author and I finished an article on George Case. All articles for PICA 2013 were transmitted for publication in June 2013. I do not know why the delay. Allan Atlas has relinquished the editorship of PICA, but PICA 2013 was complete before he did so.

On a related subject: the ICA website (concertina.org) contains reprints of PICA, but the latest issue in the archive at concertina.net is PICA 2008 (Vol. 5). My co-authors and I have an article on Tommy Elliott in PICA 2008, but I also have the following:

Vol. 6, 2009 "Carlo Minasi: Composer, Arranger, and Teacher"

Vol. 7, 2010 " Notes on the Lachenal Sisters, Richard Blagrove, Ellen Attwater, Linda Scates, and 'Dickens'"

Vol. 8, 2011 "Frederick W. Bridgman and the Concertina"

Vol. 9. 2012 "Miniature and Semi-Miniature Concertinas" (I think this one might especially be of interest to those who are not ICA members)

 

I continue to draft an article on Joseph Warren and research other articles in hopes that I will find a place to publish them on a timely basis.

Edited by Dowright

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