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Rhomylly

Pre-wheatstone History

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So did Wheatstone just invent the entire concertina from scratch or was he inspired by some bellowed instrument already in existence?

 

I'm curious about the pre-history of the concertina as we know it.

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So did Wheatstone just invent the entire concertina from scratch or was he inspired by some bellowed instrument already in existence?

 

I'm curious about the pre-history of the concertina as we know it.

 

Harmonica was patented in what, 1820es? Which means in was known for some time before.

But if to believe one famous Russian writer of historic novels, General Kornilov (yes, he was a general of the Imperial Army and fought against Bolsheviks in 1918), Russian sailors played accordions, bought in Marcelle as early as 1700s. :D

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nstruments resembling the modern harmonica had their genesis in the early 19th century. Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann bundled fifteen pitch pipes into a roughly square shape, approximately 4 inches wide and tall, to create the Buschmann Aura about 1820. This blow-only design allowed tunes to be played and became somewhat popular in Germany and Austria, but was a rather limited instrument due to its size and design. The next version of the modern harmonica came in America from a Bohemian immigrant known today only by his last name, Richter. He created a 10-hole, diatonic harmonica called the "Vamper" with two stacked reed plates that would produce a consistent tone when blowing or drawing air over the reeds. Its size, approximate 4 inches wide but only 1 inch tall, made it an immediate improvement over its predecessors. Still, the modern harmonica was more a curiosity than a respected instrument.

 

It took a German clock maker to catapult the harmonica to its current status. Mathias Hohner had manufactured "mouth organs" in his spare time since the early 1850's. In 1865

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How about the portative organs of the Renaissance? They had bellows, but I suspect we'd be more inclined to think of them as the ancestors of the harmonium than of the concertina.

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How about the portative organs of the Renaissance? They had bellows, but I suspect we'd be more inclined to think of them as the ancestors of the harmonium than of the concertina.

 

 

The organ is a complex wind instrument that employs one or more keyboards to operate valves that admit air into a series of individual pipes, which make the sound. Organs are related to the syrinx, or panpipes, with its row of individual pipes that are blown directly by the musician, and the bagpipe, with its bag storing and providing air to the pipes.

 

The ancient Greek engineer and theoretician Ctesibius (second-century B.C.) is credited with the invention of the organ, or hydraulis. The hydraulis was so called because the air pressure was controlled by a reservoir of water, and the player would use fingers or fists to depress levers or sliders to uncover the base of the pipe to admit the air. These organs could play long, sustained notes to accompany singers, but as organ music became more complex and polyphonic, keyboards were substituted for the sliders to allow the player greater facility.

 

Portative Organs

 

Portative organs were small and could be played on the musician's lap or set on a table. They were popular from about 1100 to 1650, and can be seen in works of art (Gubbio Studiolo, 39.153). They could be played by one person operating a bellows with the left hand and the keyboard with the right, or by two people, one pumping the bellows and the other operating the keyboard (Coronation of the Virgin, 1975.1.38).

 

But they were a bunch of recorders stuck together, rather than pitch pipes with reeds.

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So did Wheatstone just invent the entire concertina from scratch or was he inspired by some bellowed instrument already in existence?

 

I'm curious about the pre-history of the concertina as we know it.

Rhomylly,

 

That's an extremely complicated issue, delving into the murky depths of the 1820s pre-history of the free reed family of instruments, but in his 1829 Patent Charles Wheatstone made it clear that he was familiar with the instruments of the family that already existed and was only claiming the application of his fingering system to them. You can see examples of the simple æolinas (mund-harmonicas) and their keyed cousins in my Michaelstein paper.

 

But, though a bellows-powered version of the Symphonium/ion is described in the 1829 Patent, the first "proper" concertina (my avatar) appears to have been strongly influenced by Demian's accordions, which first appeared in London in 1830, and it was probably made in 1833.

 

Harmonica was patented in what, 1820es? Which means in was known for some time before.

Unfortunately, many of the early free reed instruments, including the harmonica and the German concertina were never patented but, in any case, it would not be possible to patent something that "was known for some time before". :(

 

My fellow researcher Pat Missin devotes a page of his very interesting harmonica website to the topic of "Who invented the harmonica?", and another one to Richter.

 

edited to add the word "proper"

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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I'm surprised I see no mention on this page of the Chinese sheng, a non-bellows free-reed instrument. It was my understanding that one was toured around Europe in the early 19th century and got people thinking about free reeds and how they might be utilized in "modern" musical instruments, leading to the inventions of accordions, melodeons, harmonicas and the various types of concertinas.

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I'm surprised I see no mention on this page of the Chinese sheng, a non-bellows free-reed instrument. It was my understanding that one was toured around Europe in the early 19th century and got people thinking about free reeds and how they might be utilized in "modern" musical instruments, leading to the inventions of accordions, melodeons, harmonicas and the various types of concertinas.

David,

 

Though Johann Wilde and Pere Amiot are believed to have brought Chinese shengs back to Europe in 1740 and 1777 respectively, there is published evidence from a century and a half earlier that the sheng was already known then, and there are those who doubt the importance of its role in the development of the Western free reed family as the principle on which it works is significantly different, though Wheatstone was certainly familiar with the related Khaen (from Laos and Northeast Thailand) and experimented with instruments of that type.

 

edited for clarification

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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Russian sailors played accordions, bought in Marcelle as early as 1700s. :D

And what about the end of a concertina found, apparently, on the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545. Bellows technology at that early date was not as effective as achieved in the 19th century, and there is some evidence that the bursting of the bellows of that early concertina set in train the events that led to the sinking of that proud vessel.

 

Ahem.

 

Chris

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Unfortunately, many of the early free reed instruments, including the harmonica and the German concertina were never patented but, in any case, it would not be possible to patent something that "was known for some time before". :(

Its also worth looking at Demian's Patent of 1829 and this article from the same year. An announcement of Wheatstone's patent may also be found on page 220.

Edited by wes williams

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Wheatstone was certainly familiar with the related khaen (from Laos and Northeast Thailand) and experimented with instruments of that type.

 

I heard a few khaen and talked with a khaen player, back when I was living in St. Paul and in contact with the Hmong community there. To us, my English concertina and my acquaintance's khaen seemed like distant cousins, at best.

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Russian sailors played accordions, bought in Marcelle as early as 1700s. :D

And what about the end of a concertina found, apparently, on the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545. Bellows technology at that early date was not as effective as achieved in the 19th century, and there is some evidence that the bursting of the bellows of that early concertina set in train the events that led to the sinking of that proud vessel.

 

Ahem.

 

Chris

 

After seen a documentary called "Pirates of Carribean", everything seems possible. Espesially if to accept the main premise, that "cause and result" principle is wrong.

There have been rumors about two swedish masters, working on the free reed, bellows driven instrument on the commission from the Empress Elisabeth. But Russian Beaurocracy is known for detailed avoidance of clarity.

On a related topic, a self-propelled dirigible, filled with hidrogen,has been worked on in Russia, on commission from the Emperor Alexander I , in 1812. The purpose of the project was to devise a battle airship, capable of throwing exploding packages on the heads of advancing French troops.

German master. Leppig, with the crew successfully built the ship, that had to be able to move independently in calm wethear at about 5 mls/hour, but was damaged during the inflation. Which rendered it absolete in the eyes of envious Russian Gentry, who were happy to mislead the Tzar. The project was abandoned. Instead, harsh Russian Winter was invented.

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On a related topic, a self-propelled dirigible, filled with hidrogen,has been worked on in Russia, on commission from the Emperor Alexander I , in 1812. The purpose of the project was to devise a battle airship, capable of throwing exploding packages on the heads of advancing French troops.

German master. Leppig, with the crew successfully built the ship, that had to be able to move independently in calm wethear at about 5 mls/hour, but was damaged during the inflation. Which rendered it absolete in the eyes of envious Russian Gentry, who were happy to mislead the Tzar. The project was abandoned. Instead, harsh Russian Winter was invented.

Sounds to me like the good Baron Munchausen might have been implicated somewhere! :lol: :D :lol:

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Wheatstone was certainly familiar with the related khaen (from Laos and Northeast Thailand) and experimented with instruments of that type.
I heard a few khaen and talked with a khaen player, back when I was living in St. Paul and in contact with the Hmong community there. To us, my English concertina and my acquaintance's khaen seemed like distant cousins, at best.

Brian,

 

They are indeed distant cousins, but if you take a look at figures 43 & 44 of Wheatstone's 1829 Patent, you will see diagrams of an instrument that looks remarkably like a cross between the two! :blink: (And it employs "English concertina" fingering! :huh: )

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I'm surprised I see no mention on this page of the Chinese sheng, a non-bellows free-reed instrument. It was my understanding that one was toured around Europe in the early 19th century and got people thinking about free reeds and how they might be utilized in "modern" musical instruments, leading to the inventions of accordions, melodeons, harmonicas and the various types of concertinas.

 

 

I remember at Sidmouth many years ago there was a Chinese band which included a sheng. It looked like a cross between a teapot and a miniature church organ, and made an amazing sound! We had a great session with them after-hours at the Balfour.

 

I also recall seeing Neil Wayne give a talk on the early history of the concertina, with examples from his collection. One of these was, I believe, one of Wheatone's early experiments and had a mouthpiece instead of bellows, although I think the button arrangement may have been similar to what became the English concertina.

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I remember at Sidmouth many years ago there was a Chinese band which included a sheng. It looked like a cross between a teapot and a miniature church organ, and made an amazing sound! We had a great session with them after-hours at the Balfour.

1985; my first Sidmouth!

 

I photographed the group in a "Beach Store" concert, and Maggie Holland was keen to have a photo for "Folk Roots" (as FRoots was then called). She was less interested when I said that I was shooting in colour. How things have changed.

 

Missed out on the Balfour session, although I probably had a ticket. Didn't discover the "pleasures" of these sessions until 1987, by which time I was within staggering distance back to the Family Campsite (great, apart from the slope).

 

Happy days!

 

Regards,

Peter.

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Wheatstone was certainly familiar with the related khaen (from Laos and Northeast Thailand) and experimented with instruments of that type.
I heard a few khaen and talked with a khaen player, back when I was living in St. Paul and in contact with the Hmong community there. To us, my English concertina and my acquaintance's khaen seemed like distant cousins, at best.

Brian,

 

They are indeed distant cousins, but if you take a look at figures 43 & 44 of Wheatstone's 1829 Patent, you will see diagrams of an instrument that looks remarkably like a cross between the two! :blink: (And it employs "English concertina" fingering! :huh: )

 

 

I'm thankful bellows were invented :wacko: :blink:

 

jig;the gold ring,played on khene//khaen

 

2 jigs in g played on khene

 

The rest are here:

 

Thanks :D

Leo

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