Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Chris Timson

G/d Anglos

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

There has recently been a discussion on melodeon.net about the antiquity (or lack of) of the D/G melodeon, which of course nowadays is the dominant melodeon system in England. It makes interesting reading (and includes a contribution from our resident polymath, Stephen). Here is the nub of it:-

Reply to : mitch the bass

    Some years ago I asked Peter Kennedy to relate the story of the introduction of D/G melodeons into England as his name always seems to come up.He said something like:In the 1950s most melodeons were based in C with either F or G as a second row and the half row, often in the club format, to give more chromaticity. He was collecting songs and tunes in Northumberland and found strangely that much of the repertoire played by fiddlers in particular was of Irish origin and in G or D and sometimes A. He investigated and found that an anomolous reception of Radio Eirrean (sp) occurred in the NE and local players were picking up Irish tunes for their repertoire from the radio.

 

    Now Irish melodeon players had adopted chromatic instruments based on C with either B or C# as a second row to enable them to play in other keys but this was not generally popular in England and the local melodeon players couldn't join in with this repertoire. So to help local melodeon players Peter arranged for Hohner to produce a batch melodeons in G/D, I believe that they were stocked and distributed by Bells of Surbiton and the EFDSS shop.

Howard,

 

This would fit in with what I have found out on the subject, though I hadn't heard the story about players in Northumberland before (and most Irish accordion players had yet to solve the problem of playing in what they would term "concert pitch"). Certainly Peter Kennedy seems to have been behind the general introduction of the system, though I have been told that it originated with a couple of players on Dartmoor who had had their accordions converted to play in D/G. However, I can take the introduction by Peter Kennedy back a few years earlier, as the following announcement appeared in "English Dance & Song" for March 1949 (Vol. XIII, No. 2):

 

The New E.F.D.S.

Club Melodeon

 

The Society have been fortunate in securing a licence from the Board of Trade for a limited number of Club Melodeons, to be sold only to Members of the Society for Folk Dance work. These instruments are to be manufactured by Hagstroms, at Darlington, and will cost about £19. Many members have already placed their orders for these instruments, and it is suggested that any more people who want to order one should write to the Sales Department as soon as possible . . . These particular melodeons ordered by the Society have Italian reeds keyed in G and D ; these keys are considered the most useful for Folk Dance work . . . . PETER KENNEDY

 

Due to post-war rationing and import restrictions, not to mention that German and Italian manufacturing needed to get going again after the war, it was not possible to buy a new accordion in Britain until the Swedish manufacturers Hagstrom's set up a factory in Darlington (and my friend Nils Nielsen came with them as a young tuner)in the late '40's.

 

It was not possible to buy a new Hohner accordion until about 1951 and they seem to have soon started to supply models in D/G (hence Reg Hall bought the first one from the second batch, about 1953). However, it is perhaps significant to note that a 1957 article (Playing for Dancing - III ; What you can do with the Melodeon, by Roger Marriott) in English Dance & Song (Vol. XXI, No. 4) doesn't even mention the system, so it was still not well known amongst players at that stage.

 

Stephen

Now I am aware that the G/D system for the anglo hasn't been around for all that long, and that most of what are, are conversions and retunes. But I would be very interested to know what the history actually is.

 

- Was it around before the 1950s?

- If not, when did it first appear?

- Who introduced it?

 

The rapid rise to dominance of the D/G melodeon in English music hasn't been paralleled by the G/D anglo, there are plenty of C/G players around, but it is now a very popular system. As a G/D player myself I would be very interested in whatever history it has.

 

TIA

 

Chris

 

Sounds like a job for Stephen...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The rapid rise to dominance of the D/G melodeon in English music hasn't been paralleled by the G/D anglo, there are plenty of C/G players around, but it is now a very popular system. As a G/D player myself I would be very interested in whatever history it has.

Though I can't tell you anything about the history, I would suspect that the reason there wasn't a mad rush to the G/D concertina was that it wasn't necessary. To play in D and G on a melodeon (English definition :)), one pretty much needs a D/G instrument, while one can already play in those keys on a 30-button C/G anglo, even if the key of D isn't quite as handy as G.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sounds like a job for Stephen...

I was rather hoping somebody else might like to "jump in", as I have already said what I know on previous occasions.

 

- Was it around before the 1950s?
It seems to have existed, but wasn't at all popular/well known. I have a German example that appears to be in high pitch G/D, assuming that it was made at English (half a semitone sharp), rather than German (half a semitone flat) pitch, and Jeffries seems to have made the odd one.

 

- If not, when did it first appear?

I, and other tuners converted plenty to G/D in the 1970's, though I suspect that this was mainly for people to play with their mates' D/G Pokerwork Vienna accordions (players knew the term then, as it was in the Hohner catalogues and there wasn't anything else available). Fortunately there were plenty of Ab/Eb's made for the "Sally Ann", and they weren't of much use at the time unless converted to G/D.

 

- Who introduced it?

Dunno. :huh: :(

 

I would suggest that Geoff Crabb might be a good person to ask about "the rise of the D/G" ? (Sorry Geoff !)

 

Or Roger Digby ?

Edited by Stephen Chambers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a sweet little Jones Sally Ann anglo (serial #25367) that appears to be D# G# .

I belive that this is original tuning, as it is well worn, bellows patched, and had come from the family whose grandfather had been in the Sally Ann.

When I play Rock of Ages in D# my cat Leroy has to climb onto my lap and will stay as long I keep playing this song. D# seems to be the key that Leroy growls in. If I make a move to pick up my Lachanal C G he gives a few growls and runs. :)

 

Wade Collins

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a sweet little Jones Sally Ann anglo (serial #25367) that appears to be D# G# .

I belive that this is original tuning, as it is well worn, bellows patched, and had come from the family whose grandfather had been in the Sally Ann.

That sounds like one of those Ab/Eb's alright. George Jones had the Salvation Army contract and had to dress in uniform to go and visit General Booth (had to mind his "language" too !). Ab/Eb allowed them to play in Bb across the rows, so they had the right keys to play with the brass instruments.

 

Does it have the letters S A worked into the right-hand fretwork ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does it have the letters S A worked into the right-hand fretwork ?

My Jones G/D certainly does, so I guess that was another Ab/Eb. That's a fascinating detail about George Jones in uniform, thank you.

 

Colin D has told me he thinks that Kilroy, my 45-button Jeffries, may always have been a G/D. This leads me to the following hypothesis: melodeons/button acoordions/whatever have always largely been made abroad. This means that purchasers have had little chance to request special orders or layouts, whereas in this country everyone and their uncle has taken the opportunity to make special orders of the concertina makers. Thus there are few special melodeon layouts around - it took someone like Peter Kennedy ordering a batch to get the D/G started. But there have always been oddities in the anglo world floating around, including the odd G/D.

 

As some evidence of this, now people can get to makers direct odd melodeon systems are getting made, such as my Anglodeon.

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as a footnote: I've a little rosewood Lachenal 20 key (1910 ish) that looks like it's always been in G/D - certainly that's what the reed frames are stamped up as.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just as a footnote: I've a little rosewood Lachenal 20 key (1910 ish) that looks like it's always been in G/D - certainly that's what the reed frames are stamped up as.

It is, of course, possible that it might have been "retuned" by swapping reeds around. I've no idea how prevalent this practice has been, though. Anyone any ideas?

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To play in D and G on a melodeon (English definition :)), one pretty much needs a D/G instrument, while one can already play in those keys on a 30-button C/G anglo, even if the key of D isn't quite as handy as G.

I'm not convinced that it would be any more difficult for a G/C melodeon player to play in the key of D than for a C/G anglo player, and for the same reason, i.e. the required C# is present, but in an odd place. You'll see what I mean from this keyboard layout.

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just as a footnote: I've a little rosewood Lachenal 20 key (1910 ish) that looks like it's always been in G/D - certainly that's what the reed frames are stamped up as.
It is, of course, possible that it might have been "retuned" by swapping reeds around. I've no idea how prevalent this practice has been, though. Anyone any ideas?

Without retuning, only 10 out of the 40 reeds could be re-used in a rearrangement from Ab/Eb to G/D on a 20-button. If the markings indicate they haven't been retuned, then they would have to have been taken from some other instrument(s). So I agree with Stuart that it was probably in G/D from the start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To play in D and G on a melodeon (English definition :)), one pretty much needs a D/G instrument, while one can already play in those keys on a 30-button C/G anglo, even if the key of D isn't quite as handy as G.

I'm not convinced that it would be any more difficult for a G/C melodeon player to play in the key of D than for a C/G anglo player, and for the same reason, i.e. the required C# is present, but in an odd place. You'll see what I mean from this keyboard layout.

Assuming that's the standard layout (only 1 of my 3 melodeons has the equivalent note anywhere), it's still only in one octave, while there are 3 octaves of C, and 3 octaves of B... in both directions.

 

At least as important, I think, is the the matter of chords. On such a G/C, the A bass and the C# are in opposite bellows directions, while the A chord is a minor chord, not major or 7th. On a 30-button C/G anglo, you can get all the chords you need and then some, and the C# in 3 different octaves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I played a D/G melodeon in the 1950s and took up an Anglo in the 1960s.

The Melodeon was the last of the 2nd batch mentioned above. I also remember Reg Hall getting his D/G Melodeon (I was in his Morris Side in Gravesend at the time - 1955). The Anglo was in C/g. At that time (1965-67) I was playing sometimes for the Hammersmith Morris Men. Phill Ham (C/g anglo) was their chief musician, and another member of the side was John Kirkpatrick, who played a British Chromatic Accordion, i.e. a large Melodeon in B/C/C#, with a stradella bass; almost the same as the one he now plays. He also used to borrow Phill's Anglo (or mine) on occasions. He had an Anglo specially made for him by Crabbs, who were the only makers of special concertinas at the time. (The semi-defunct Wheatstones was then owned by Boosey and Hawkes ! long before Steve Dickenson's time) This concertina may have been the first to have been made as a spin off of the riseing popularity of the D/G Melodeon. I don't think Wheatstones, Lachenal, or Jeffries ever made G/D as standard production but there may have been the occasional one off.

Inventor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
He had an Anglo specially made for him by Crabbs ... This concertina may have been the first  to have been made as a spin off of the riseing popularity of the D/G Melodeon.  

I shouldn't have thought so. The Crabb (which he still plays) is a 40 button C/G. As John tells the story he went to Crabbs shop and asked for an anglo concertina without any real knowledge of what he wanted. They pulled the concertina out of a shipment bound for South Africa and sold it to him then and there.

 

Chris

 

Edited to add apology: the above sounds a little confrontational on re-reading, it wasn't meant to.

Edited by Chris Timson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh dear my mistake, I relalise I hadn't examined this instrument, personally at the time. Nevertheless I think G/D anglos did start to appear around the mid 60s.

Inventor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I played a D/G melodeon in the 1950s and took up an Anglo in the 1960s.

The Melodeon was the last of the 2nd batch mentioned above.  I also remember Reg Hall getting his D/G Melodeon (I was in his Morris Side in Gravesend at the time - 1955).

That's interesting, Reg wasn't sure about the date and I was working from memory as I can't find my notes at the moment anyway (most of my things have been in storage for the past year), so it sounds like he probably didn't get his D/G until 1955 either ?

 

 

He had an Anglo specially made for him by Crabbs, who were the only makers of special concertinas at the time.  ...  This concertina may have been the first  to have been made as a spin off of the riseing popularity of the D/G Melodeon.

John's Anglo is Crabb No.18264, bought new in December 1968, but it is a C/G. There is a fingering chart for it here in his article How to Play the Anglo - Part 1.

 

... there have always been oddities in the anglo world floating around ...

Sure have! :rolleyes: B) ;)

Edited by Stephen Chambers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edited to add apology: the above sounds a little confrontational on re-reading, it wasn't meant to.

'S okay. I just won't re-read it. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I regret that I do not contribute as much as I would like to but I find time reserved for the computer is usually taken up dealing with mail.

 

Regarding Crabb instruments, perusal of the records that I have, show that the earliest recorded date for Crabb G/D 'Anglos' was June 1890, when two 31 Key instruments were made probably for resale by others (Jeffries etc.) as no number is recorded.

 

Of course instruments were made in several key combinations. Of the 'Anglos' made for resale between 1889 and 1895,

222 were in the keys of C/G

14 were in the keys of Bb/F

2 were in G/D

Interestingly 48 were made in B/F#. I believe there was some discussion in another thread regarding instruments in B/F#. It appears that there was some demand for these.

 

It is difficult to estimate how many G/D instruments were made during the life of the firm as, after 1895, the key was rarely entered in the records but purpose built G/D's have appeared over the years.

 

Obviously the resurgence of interest in the concertina resulted in more G/D instruments coming to light that filled a need and as a result the G/D became a more regular order.

 

Instruments were made in other unusual key combinations and these were generally required by 'professionals' and supplied in sets.

 

Note. Many Crabb instruments were made using the correct size reed frames for the intended Keys but usually they would be stamped for C/G. My forbears found this easier when tuning, transposing as they went. This means that an instrument in G/D A/E Bb/F etc. may not have been altered although the reeds are stamped for a C/G.

 

Other Special 'Anglos' were made during the existence of Crabb Concertinas but to go into them at the moment would take too much time.

 

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×