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Concertinas modified by Chinese

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It's been almost two years since I started paying attention to concertinas. In the past two years I have met many people in China who are interested in the concertina through the Internet. I've noticed that among enthusiasts in this country, there seems to be an idea of reworking the instrument, not just adding or replacing a few notes, but an overhaul where they almost take the Anglo or English into Some kind of duet concertina. Here's the modification by Guoping Wang, an accordion maker from Beijing:


The buttons within the red dashed box is his 20 buttons model. Buttons plan generated with Anglo Piano by Luke Hillman. I used to put this layout in this forum at here.


And two modifications by Jun Yang, a music composer and professor from Wuhan, one is based on an English:



Yang abandoned the air valve and made the button of it a note (C7.) He also rotated his concertina 90 degrees and installed hand rests and straps on it, to play it like an anglo or duets. (The hand rest was made by me, it was a spare for my Anglo.)



His next overhaul will be based on an 40b Wheatstone/Lachenal layout Anglo, like this:


Wang's layout is a bit like to split a two-row C/B melodeon to two ends, quite similar to a Franglo concertina, except his reversed row for 33b model. And Yang's layouts, according to him, are based on the piano keyboard and his major appeal of such a concertina is to accompanying other instruments. I've read and seen photos that concertinas were made many years ago with piano-like layouts, but I can't figure out why they didn't catch on like those systems are more popular.


In some Chinese social media, I have seen more than once that someone has the idea of renovating the concertina. I personally agree with this idea a bit, because the various layouts of anglo are compromises for different needs to some extent, but similar improvements for English are not seems so necessary to me. (I don't play English, please point it out if I'm wrong about this.) However, such a large-scale renovation that completely overthrows the existing system makes me feel a little tangled. I think what Yang really needs is a baritone duet. But maybe he has no choice, because any kind of duet cannot be easily bought here in China. 

Edited by Yuxin Ding
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Thank you for this fascinating writeup, Yuxin. As far as piano-like layouts go, my personal sense is that the ergonomics don't quite translate to concertina, where your hands are fixed and almost all the motion is in your fingers. Others will have better-informed views; I'm only a novice pianist. I seem to remember a recent thread about a Jones piano duet that had a lot of constructive feedback (too late for Jones to take into account, alas). Edit: this thread


Here's a transcription of Yang's 40b system. I note the accidentals for the top row of the left-hand side are all on the bottom of the right-hand side, which would take some getting used to. You mention its intended use is accompaniment—would that mostly mean multi-line harmonies, or sustained chords, or something else? I'd love to hear an example of the type of music he has in mind.

Edited by Luke Hillman
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On 1/4/2023 at 12:02 PM, Luke Hillman said:

would that mostly mean multi-line harmonies, or sustained chords, or something else?


Yang made a super long bellow with about 15 folds for his English-based "duet" concertina, to play sustained chords that last very long. Isn't the bellow reaches that length quite similar to some of the "real" duets?


To be honest, I actually feel a little tangled to this kind of improvement, or should say renovation of the concertina, especially to who don't really can play or have a comprehensive understanding of the original instrument. However, for the situation in China, and maybe many countries in the world, this is probably the only option for some needs. And, any great design has to have a way to go!

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