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mazebo

George Case Serial #695?

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Paul: Thanks for the confirmation of it being a George Case. Yes, the bellows paper seems identical to your concertina #2760 and the green coloured leather too.The design of the inlays are, if not identical, quite similar.

Would you have any idea on how to extrapolate a manufacturing year for serial number 695?


Patrick/Jim/Geoffrey: I checked in on the concertina yesterday and tried the material of the reeds with a magnet, as Patrick suggested, and it's magnetic, so definitely steel.

I also tested its pitch against a tuning fork (A=440), and my guess would be that it's tuned to around A=430, which would make perfect sense with Jim's reasoning that that was a brass tuning standard: The legend has it that the 2:nd Corps in Stockholm, my grandfathers Corps, had the best brass ensemble in Sweden (or was it Northern Europe...), and my grandfather would have liked to be able to play with them.


On the other hand, as Patrick pointed out, and is also confimed by Geoffrey, and in linked article: Any official SA standard pitch would have been A=452. Could it be that the Swedes used their own tuning standard, similar to the one used by brass bands in the US?


It seems standard pitch is a real mess, as this article in wikipedia shows.

I'll have to get my hands on a Tuning Machine to find out the exact pitch of the instrument.

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How important would it be that brass instruments and concertinas were tuned to the same pitch?

 

Some time ago, in this forum, I asked how the quiet brass-reeded concertinas would do for street playing. The response, from a SA officer (or perhaps the son of a SA officer) was that they didn't use the concertinas for street work, but for indoor meetings.

 

As I recall, the photos of SA concertina bands that I've seen were composed of just concertinas and drums. (I know nothing of drum tuning!)

Edited by Mike Franch

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And don't forget the tambourines !!

 

I was forgetting that this was a Swedish SA member. That makes it more difficult to speculate what tuning they would have used.

According to the author linked below, the USA like the British originally used the old high pitch, but standardised on A=440 earlier than Britain, so that it became known as "American Standard Pitch" in 1917.

 

And he has a collection of US civil war brass instruments that are all made in the old high pitch of A= 452

 

http://www.rugs-n-relics.com/Brass/brass-images/High-Low-Pitch.html

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According to the author linked below, the USA like the British originally used the old high pitch, but standardised on A=440 earlier than Britain, so that it became known as "American Standard Pitch" in 1917.

 

And he has a collection of US civil war brass instruments that are all made in the old high pitch of A= 452

Interesting. I wonder where my junior high teacher learned what he told us... and how widespread (narrowspread?) his "band standard" of C=256 actually was. I'll be especially curious if Mats' concertina actually matches that standard.

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Thinking back, I've seen many SA concertinas performing in the streets here i Sweden - But together with guitars, rather than with brass. The guitars, of course, would use a concertina as reference pitch for tuning, so no pitch problems would arise, whatever the concertina pitch was.

I just assumed the low tuning had some logical explanation, hence my guess on low brass tuning.

 

As I mentioned, I'll get back with the exact pitch later, when I've had it measured.

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If you have a smartphone, there are various free tuner apps available.

I have a couple on mine. It took just a few minutes to download them free from the app store.

 

They work perfectly, just like my korg tuner.

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Patrick: Thanks for the tip, I'll try it out. Right now, I don't have access to the concertina, though. It'll have to wait 'til next week.

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The response, from a SA officer (or perhaps the son of a SA officer) was that they didn't use the concertinas for street work, but for indoor meetings.

 

And yet, in the 1970s, I witnessed a Salvation Army parade up my street (in East London) that had both brass instruments and a large duet Aeola being played together...

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And yet, in the 1970s, I witnessed a Salvation Army parade up my street (in East London) that had both brass instruments and a large duet Aeola being played together...

Do you recall whether you could hear the Aeola? (Can't get the smiley-face thing to work!)

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Allright, so I finally got around to testing the tuning pitch of the concertina.

It's actually tuned to the absolute non-standard of A=436 (Or rather 436.1 pull and 435.6 push).

The needle of the tuning app fluctuates somewhat, so it's hard to set a definite pitch.

 

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In that case, as it's that close to concert pitch, I'm guessing that it's meant to be tune to concert pitch, and is a bit out of tune.

Is it just the A that's low? I would check some of the other notes, and see if they are low to the same degree.

 

Maybe someone tuned it against an out of tune reference, or maybe it's just had the worst notes adjusted over the years so that they sound ok by ear.

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I checked a few more notes, and it seems the overall tuning is so-so. I haven't got around to playing anything, apart from trying to find the C major scale (and in my scale practices I found the tuning to be satisfactory), but I reckon anyone with a good ear, trying to play a musical composition, would like it to be better tuned.

So tuning to a standard A=440 is on the to-do list, but first we'd have to fix the two broken bolts, i guess.

Here are the measured pitches:

A4 = pull 436.1, push 435.6

A5 = pull 874.2, push 873.0

C5 = pull 519.0, push 518.7

C6 = pull 1033.4, push 1034.6

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Since the tuning is fairly consistently slightly lower than today's concert pitch, it's probably tuned to the French standardised "Diapason Normal" mentioned in the earlier linked article. That was the early attempt at a world standard tuning, and it was A=435, it applied from about 1859 onwards.

 

At least your concertina is not in need of drastic work to the reeds to put it in concert pitch, so you shouldn't affect the performance of the reeds with that small degree of re-tuning.

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Due the many changes in pitch internationally over the years it is very difficult to establish a name for a particular pitch but as far as I know, based on family involvement in concertina manufacture over a number of years, it appears that whilst makers offered instruments in various pitches :

 

Pre- circa 1895 the predominant pitch was A 452 (C 540). (Philharmonic Pitch) for concertinas.

 

Post- circa 1895 (A 436, C 518) was also adopted and became known as 'New' Philharmonic Pitch.

 

Consequently, the Pre- circa 1895 pitch came to be referred to sensibly as 'Old' Philharmonic Pitch.

 

I would suggest, therefore, that Mazebo's instrument, was tuned, unless specifically requested at the time, prior to the adoption of the of the interim A 439 (C 522) or the 1939 Standard A 440

(C 523.3) Concert Pitches.

 

(The frequencies above are rounded up or down for simplicity.)

 

Geoffrey

 

 

 

 

 

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And yet, in the 1970s, I witnessed a Salvation Army parade up my street (in East London) that had both brass instruments and a large duet Aeola being played together...

Do you recall whether you could hear the Aeola? (Can't get the smiley-face thing to work!)

 

Mike, you're expecting me to remember too much! It's something that occupied only a few seconds of my life on a Sunday morning 40 years ago, and I witnessed it (all too briefly) from a closed upstairs window. I wish I'd followed them up the street now, so I'd be in a better position to answer you.

 

But the point remains - I saw a concertina being played along with Salvation Army brass instruments, and I don't suppose for one moment that it was for the first, or only, time...

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Mike, you're expecting me to remember too much! It's something that occupied only a few seconds of my life on a Sunday morning 40 years ago, and I witnessed it (all too briefly) from a closed upstairs window. I wish I'd followed them up the street now, so I'd be in a better position to answer you.

Forget about the Aeola. What a beautiful, evocative scene those three sentences conjure up. The young you behind the window, the band marching down the street, the music becoming distant. A minute on the street, 40 years in your mind. Ever think of taking up poetry writing? You could be the Dylan Thomas of concertinas.

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Hej Mats,

I'm in Stockholm occasionally, and I know three other concertina players there. Would you like to meet sometime?

I live in Stockholm, so I'd be delighted if we could meet when you're in town sometime! Please let me know when you're coming by the next time.


Did you get the PM I sent you? I'll be in Stockholm next week, Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. I'm hoping to hear from you. (The PM included my email and phone number.)

 

Vänliga hälsningar,

Jim

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