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Concertinas And Sea Music


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An aside about the meeting of Stanley and Livingston: Maybe, approaching Livingstones tent and seeing his concertina, Stanley really said: "Mr. Livingiston, Wheatstone, I presume."

In my case it was sitting waiting for a train in the Birmingham (England, not Alabama) station, when a voice from the other end of the bench said, "anglo or English," and I saw a man pointing to my concertina case. That was my first meeting with Peter Bellamy. :)

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A friend of mine here on Arran was in the (British) merchant navy and played an English concertina. He still has it, but it is in a state of disrepair. I alternately encourage him to fix it (he is an engineer, after all) or trade it in at Barleycorn. We need him to play oboe parts in a wind ensemble ... :o

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I find the perception that sailors played the concertina very helpful when trying to explain to people what a concertina is. When I mention it is the instrument that sailors played, well gee I thought that was true, most people know to what instrument I am referring. Well I am so proud I put that *to* in the right place that I might just stop here.

 

Well, I'll just add, now that I know sailors may have never played the concertina, perhaps never, and that many other instruments were played, I am very fortunate that my allusion to sailors has worked in my explanation of what is a concertina.

 

Well I have added nothing to this thread, but I wanted to mention that this perception about sailors has at least been helpful to me.

 

Helen

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Interesting that concertinas should go to sea, particularly as concertinas are effectively 'water-soluble'. I would think that the damp alone would have made them less than viable, particularly on the old sailing vessles. I wonder how long they lasted, and how many came back!

 

Dave

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Interesting that concertinas should go to sea, particularly as concertinas are effectively 'water-soluble'. I would think that the damp alone would have made them less than viable, particularly on the old sailing vessles. I wonder how long they lasted, and how many came back!

Many of them were probably "disposable" German models, but as I mentioned in a previous thread on this topic :

 

... I do have one concertina (an 1850's Wheatstone "Concert Model" English) that really does appear to have belonged to a sailor, on the Royal Navy cruiser H.M.S. Isis during WWI. Unfortunately he does seem to have attempted to "improve" it for shipboard use, but rather than removing varnish he added it: To the bellows ! Unfortunately this piece of d.i.y. had a terminal effect on the flexibility of the leather, and the bellows is now badly cracked.

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Re: Shackleton's Endurance Expedition and Concertina

 

Some time ago I came across a picture of four sailors on Endurance.

It was in the Hulton Archive, now part of Getty. I did a quick search today, and the picture was not returned. Don't know where it went.

I have the picture on my computer, but an unsure of my ability to share it

(copyright?). I will work further to find it again, and share info if I do find it.

 

One of the sailors had what looks to me like a 12 sided English concertina.

When I originally found the picture, there was information about the subjects, and the man who was listed as holding the concertina was discharged from the ship (with three others) in Argentina (for cause). Thus, he (and likely his concertina) did not accompany the expedition to South Georgia, the Weddell Sea, crushing, sinking, living on the ice, Elephant Island, etc.

 

There was a meteorologist named Hussey who played the banjo, and Shackleton

allowed him to keep it throughout the ordeal. The banjo playing is often mentioned as a morale booster in the accounts of the expedition. The banjo has survived, and I have seen it as part of Polar Exploration exhibits.

 

I have also read that Shackleton played the concertina (per The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music) , but have found no mention of it in any of my other readings

about him.

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So - has anyone else got any photos or eye witness accounts that would help with this?

Rod,

Have a look at this. Its fairly frequently quoted as evidence that concertinas were used on ship (its a 'spy' report on the crew of 'The Alabama', an American confederate ship, in Liverpool,UK). Personally, I think it shows that the concertina might have been used for general entertainment, but I've never seen anything to support the public perception of the Captain Pugwash style use.

http://www.lib.ua.edu/libraries/hoole/digital/cssala/spy.htm

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Its fairly frequently quoted as evidence that concertinas were used on ship ... Personally, I think it shows that the concertina might have been used for general entertainment, but I've never seen anything to support the public perception of the Captain Pugwash style use.

And whilst it is evidence for the use of concertinas by sailors, it is equally evidence that they also played fifes and cornopeans (the old English name for the cornet, another relatively new & fashionable instrument at the time). In that ensemble, it sounds like the concertina was probably pitched in Bb !

 

The more you look at the evdence, the more apparent it becomes that the concertina was just one of many instruments played by sailors. There was no exclusivity about it.

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Thanks for the link, Mike.

 

Great picture! But I count eight sides on the concertina.

 

The "Getty Images" logo appears across the button layout but the comparative size of the instrument looks to me to be in Aeola treble range.

 

Greg

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Great picture!  But I count eight sides on the concertina.

 

The "Getty Images" logo appears across the button layout but the comparative size of the instrument looks to me to be in Aeola treble range.

Sorry to disagree Greg, but I have downloaded the image & manipulated it as much as I could to get a clearer view. What I believe he is holding is a treble Edeophone, I can even see the large clips that hold the Edeophone thumb straps. However, the angle at which he is holding it, and the way it is tucked against his clothes, not forgetting the darkness of the original image and the "a" of "gettyimages", all render it hard to make out.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Great picture!  But I count eight sides on the concertina.

The "Getty Images" logo appears across the button layout but the comparative size of the instrument looks to me to be in Aeola treblerange.

Sorry to disagree Greg, but I have downloaded the image & manipulated it as much as I could to get a clearer view. What I believe he is holding is a treble Edeophone, I can even see the large clips that hold the Edeophone thumb straps. However, the angle at which he is holding it, and the way it is tucked against his clothes, not forgetting the darkness of the original image and the "a" of "gettyimages", all render it hard to make out.

I'm with Greg on this one. I first thought it was 6-sided, then 8-sided, then 12- sided, but I'm back to 8.

 

The sides next to the finger plate and (especially) the thumb loop look too long in proportion to the overall size for an Edeophone, while the angles at either end of the thumb-loop look too sharp for an Edeo. Meanwhile, the surrace between the thumb and index fingers of the man's left hand appears flat, not angled, which rules out a 6-sided end, and I think the angles do, too.

 

I find this easiest to see at 2x magnifiction in my viewer. At 100% the details are too small, and at 400% the jagged edges of the pixels compete with the real details for visual attention.

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I'm with Greg on this one.  I first thought it was 6-sided, then 8-sided, then 12- sided, but I'm back to 8.

Like I said, it is hard to make out and at first glance, before I did anything with the image, I wondered myself if it wasn't 6-sided.

 

The sides next to the finger plate and (especially) the thumb loop look too long in proportion to the overall size for an Edeophone, while the angles at either end of the thumb-loop look too sharp for an Edeo.

Unfortunately that wretched "a" totally obscures "The sides next to the finger plate" and I believe that the angle is causing the thumb strap to make the adjacent side appear elongated.

 

How do you explain the apparent metal clip on the thumb strap ? (Both it, and the buttons, become visible if you lighten the image by 100%.)

 

Meanwhile, the surrace between the thumb and index fingers of the man's left hand appears flat, not angled, which rules out a 6-sided end, and I think the angles do, too.

Not if you make the image 100% brighter, when a facet appears next to the tip of his left thumb, suggesting the instrument is 12-sided !

 

I find this easiest to see at 2x magnifiction in my viewer.  At 100% the details are too small, and at 400% the jagged edges of the pixels compete with the real details for visual attention.

Agreed.

 

We may have to order a copy of the print to resolve this one, the resolution of the online version isn't really good enough, and that "a" is in just the wrong place !

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