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Something about Concertinas in China


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Here’s greeting from China.

 

Not surprisingly, any kind of Concertina is very niche in China.  Although this country produces many models that are common on the market, very few people play it there.

 

But bandoneon is an exception, because of the influence of tango music, bandoneon has a certain popularity.  But due to the generally high prices, bandoneonist is actually very rare in China.

 

But in Japan, Concertina has a large number of fans, which made me feel a little puzzled at first.  I guess it might be because Concertina was widely popular in the world when China was in a period of revolution and war, so this musical instrument failed to enter China.  At the same time, Japan was actively accepting new things in Europe, so Concertina has retained a certain degree of popularity in Japan to this day.  However, due to the influence of the Soviet Union after the war, the accordion (bayan) was actually very popular in China until today.

 

Recent days my friend bought a Bastari 40 keys Anglo from Japan(Taniguchi Gakki, recommended store by Toru Kato)for me as a gift and I’m struggling on it. It seems that it is impossible to find a teacher to learn, because there is no or it is difficult to find someone who can play this instrument in this country. What I’m thinking is maybe I should buy a 30 keys model first to practice and then try to shift to 40 keys later, since almost all the tune-books that I can find are written regard 30 keys. 

 

And here’s a discovery. Hohner is like the 1st famous foreign accordion brand in China and I thought they also have good concertinas. But when I browse a website of a Chinese instrument factory, Yuewei or Rowell of Tientsin(http://www.yueweimusic.com/list/1/385/), I found almost all the hohner model are actually re-labeled from their concertinas. Of course, like a common sense, Chinese Concertinas do not give the performers a good experience of play, but they are indeed, very cheap.

 

This really confuses me. If you guys have any suggestions for my situation, that would be great. 

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Ni hao! Don't worry about the 40 buttons - it's the same as a 30-button but with extra buttons on the side, so any of the books for 30-button will work just fine. 

 

I went looking for concertinas a couple of years ago in Tieling, Beijing and Puyang, the music stores knew what it was but that was it and didn't know anywhere that sold them, or anyone that played one. I think the Yue Wei folks are maybe wholesale only, and will make them if you order a large number at once, but the quality is pretty cheap. Which is a pity, since I've seen some amazing high-quality luxury goods made in China, but maybe the high end concertina market isn't big enough to get their attention.

 

One of my books has "The Moon Knows My Heart" in it - happy to send that song to you to get you started!

 

Gary

 

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25 minutes ago, gcoover said:

Ni hao! Don't worry about the 40 buttons - it's the same as a 30-button but with extra buttons on the side, so any of the books for 30-button will work just fine. 

 

I went looking for concertinas a couple of years ago in Tieling, Beijing and Puyang, the music stores knew what it was but that was it and didn't know anywhere that sold them, or anyone that played one. I think the Yue Wei folks are maybe wholesale only, and will make them if you order a large number at once, but the quality is pretty cheap. Which is a pity, since I've seen some amazing high-quality luxury goods made in China, but maybe the high end concertina market isn't big enough to get their attention.

 

One of my books has "The Moon Knows My Heart" in it - happy to send that song to you to get you started!

 

Gary

 

It seems that my concerns are unnecessary!  thank you for your reply.

 

But here is a problem I forgot to mention above: maybe because the size of 40 keys is too large, which causes the outcome is somewhat “obcuse” when play some brief notes. I don’t know if this problem is related to the reason I mentioned, maybe this is a difference in reed type, or maybe it’s just a quality problem? After check the pinned top topic “current make” in this forum, I assume the Bastari has no essential difference to a “cheap Chinese” even though it’s couple times higher on price, and maybe that’s the reason.

 

And also, could you please let me know which one of your book includes the “Moon” tune? That would be the best starter because that was one of the very first tunes I can play on an accordion decades ago.

 

Thanks a lot!

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1 hour ago, juris said:

Hi, You might also consider getting an English model as this might be more attuned to Oriental sensibilities. 

Hi Juris,

I just figured a little bit about the English layout, I think it’s a less challenging and maybe the Anglo can make more fun! But sure someday I’ll get an English and try. Thank you for your suggestion.

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3 hours ago, juris said:

Hi, You might also consider getting an English model as this might be more attuned to Oriental sensibilities. 

 

2 hours ago, LazyNetter said:

Hi Juris,

I just figured a little bit about the English layout, I think it’s a less challenging and maybe the Anglo can make more fun! But sure someday I’ll get an English and try. Thank you for your suggestion.

 

It’s not clear whether Juris was suggesting an English Concertina or an Anglo Concertina made in England.

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5 hours ago, David Barnert said:

 

 

It’s not clear whether Juris was suggesting an English Concertina or an Anglo Concertina made in England.

I guess what Juris meant was chromatic English Concertinas which more completed with sharp and flat notes, so they may have a better compatibility to play more moded scales.

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Hi, I definitely meant the English system as invented by Wheatstone. I understand from the internet that these are now being made in China so perhaps you could find one fairly easily. I didn't realize you had played accordion so if you're coming to the concertina with a background in diatonic accordion or harmonica you might choose to stick with that system. But, yes, the fully chromatic compass and the ability to bellow as one chooses is a great advantage to my way of thinking. 

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1 hour ago, juris said:

Hi, I definitely meant the English system as invented by Wheatstone. I understand from the internet that these are now being made in China so perhaps you could find one fairly easily. I didn't realize you had played accordion so if you're coming to the concertina with a background in diatonic accordion or harmonica you might choose to stick with that system. But, yes, the fully chromatic compass and the ability to bellow as one chooses is a great advantage to my way of thinking. 

What I used to play is bayan which is chromatic. As many Chinese do, I never knew there are diatonic or bisonoric squeezeboxes. Maybe many people have seen concertinas in European and American film or tv dramas and know there are instruments like those, but that's it. And actually, except harmonicas, diatonic western instrument are already very uncommon in China. However, it seems that there are few people can play garmons in the border areas with Russia or the countries of the former USSR.

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Given that you have a background in the bayan you owe it to yourself to try an "English" concertina if you're looking for something a little more simple and logical than a 40-button Anglo-German concertina. I'm not trying to be a proselytizer for the English model. For what it's worth I play the English and also have good examples of the Anglo-German and Duet system at home. Bellowing, for me anyway, is an important part of expression when playing the concertina and with an Anglo-German model it is dictated to you by the choice of note.  Also, I think the "lay-outs" on chromatic Anglo-German concertinas are variable which can be confusing to a beginner. Personally, I can't make much sense of the Anglo-German system as I have no background in the harmonica or diatonic accordion. 

I believe the Chinese are manufacturing English models at a reasonable price but maybe these are for export only, but maybe not. I really don't know.

Good luck in your concertina endeavors. It's a wonderful instrument.

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  • 3 months later...
On 5/14/2021 at 2:47 PM, LazyNetter said:

And also, could you please let me know which one of your book includes the “Moon” tune? That would be the best starter because that was one of the very first tunes I can play on an accordion decades ago.

 

Thanks a lot!

Hi, LazyNetter,

 

It seems that Gary has failed to answer this part. 

 

You can find "The Moon Knows My Heart" on p. 45 of Gary's Book "Anglo Concertina in the Harmonyc Style"

As usual, Gary's performance is on YouTube.

 

I have seen you play Ryo's "Elemental of Rain" on bilibil. Well played!

 

 

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6 hours ago, seanc said:

As the concertina connection jack/ Rochelle/ Elise, and I suspect the mcneela models, all come from the same factory in China, maybe you could track one down that way?

 

I don't think the McNeela models come from the same factory as the Concertina Connection Jack/ Rochelle/ Elise models.  I also think that the McNeela Chinese-made ones may be adjusted in Ireland after they arrive from China.  

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Maybe not ALL are made in the same factory.. but looking a at the jack and sparrow. Sure leads one to speculate..

 

there may be hundreds of factories in China pumping out concertinas.. doubtful but, possible. 
 

but either way, if they are made in China, it may be possible for someone in China to contact the factory, or maybe source locally.

 

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1 hour ago, seanc said:

Maybe not ALL are made in the same factory.. but looking a at the jack and sparrow. Sure leads one to speculate..

 

there may be hundreds of factories in China pumping out concertinas.. doubtful but, possible. 
 

but either way, if they are made in China, it may be possible for someone in China to contact the factory, or maybe source locally.

 

I was told by a reliable source in 2009 that there were four factories in China making concertinas at that time. 
 

If someone wants to buy a Chinese-made concertina from a Chinese source, this web page in China might be helpful: https://www.alibaba.com/products/concertina/CID100005383.html?spm=a2700.7724838.galleryFilter.3.60124047DRBrrJ&IndexArea=product_en .  Most of the instruments listed there can only be purchased in quantities of 5 to 100, but there are a couple that seem to be available for purchase one at a time.  However, I wouldn't vouch for the quality of any of these and I would not assume that they would be as good as a Concertina Connection or McNeela instrument, even if they appear similar from the outside.

Edited by Daniel Hersh
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As LazyNetter already has the 40 key Bastari, my advice would be to try playing that for a while before looking for a different instrument. Either it will begin to make some sense to him, and he will be playing some tunes, or it will remain confusing. Then he can decide whether to try a better quality Anglo, or an English, or perhaps even a duet; or to abandon the concertina after all.

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On 9/6/2021 at 10:59 AM, gtotani said:

I have seen you play Ryo's "Elemental of Rain" on bilibil. Well played!

Thank you! It's quite a shock to have any appreciations here for a bilibili posting.

On 9/6/2021 at 10:59 AM, gtotani said:

It seems that Gary has failed to answer this part. 

Gary the nice guy send me partial of his book with the Moon and the note chart to me by email very soon after this posting.

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3 hours ago, Richard Mellish said:

As LazyNetter already has the 40 key Bastari, my advice would be to try playing that for a while before looking for a different instrument. Either it will begin to make some sense to him, and he will be playing some tunes, or it will remain confusing. Then he can decide whether to try a better quality Anglo, or an English, or perhaps even a duet; or to abandon the concertina after all.

Thank you for advising. I've practiced on this bastari for months and had a lot of fun. It's a fabulous instrument to me and I'm surely not going to abandon it! Btw, switch to a better Anglo is on my to-do list already......

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