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Stephen Chambers

Bandoneon

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I just got notification of a new BANDONEON website, so here are the details for those who (like me) are interested:

 

Dear Bandoneon-friends,

 

At the 2006 Bergen International Music Festival the bandoneon became a very visible instrument, thanks to the fact that Per Arne Glorvigen (
), the internationally reknown Norwegian bandoneonist, was chosen as "The Festival Musician". However, the instrument also became visible because the Department of Cultural History at Bergen Museum arranged an exhibition of bandoneons, with instruments from my private collection. The actual exhibition lasted from May to August 2006, but it has now been published on Internet, thanks to Kari Klæboe Kristoffersen.

 

If you go to
you will see that in addition to 32 different instruments, where many of them can be "opened" to get a look inside, we have also published quite a bit of bandoneon documentation, both on the history of the bandoneon
and on its technical details
. Much of this information is taken from existing web-sites, and we are very grateful to some of you for having made this information available on the Internet. We have tried to give credit by including the appropriate links. At the end of the history file we have included links to sellers of new and used instruments. Please give us a notice if you don't want to be mentioned here, or if you have more information on this.

 

Those of you who have your own web-site or blog, please consider the inclusion of a link to
!

 

When you have the time and opportunity to look trough these pages, and find things that are not correct, or important information that is missing, we would like you to send us a message about this, by using the contact page at
, or to the e-mail address from which this message is sent.

 

In fact, all kinds of feed-back are very welcome, also praise!

 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

Sincerely,

 

Olaf Gjerløw Aasland

 

Olaf Gjerløw Aasland MD MHA

Director, The Research Institute

Norwegian Medical Association

Professor, Institute of Health Management and Health Economics

University of Oslo

Address: P.O.B. 1152 Sentrum, N-0107 Oslo, Norway

Telephones: +47 23 10 90 65, +47 90 66 73 20 (mobile)

Fax: +47 23 10 90 60

e-mail:

web:

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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I've often wondered -- is there any difference in tone between a bandoneon and a "German concertina", or is the difference only in the layout of the buttons? I'm completely fascinated by bandoneons, and am a big fan of Astor Piazzolla. I'd love to one day get one, but that's even more of an investment than my English concertina was. It seems the "concertinas" (which I think a lot of people refer to as Chemnitzers?) are a lot more accessible/affordable, but other than button layout I'm not sure what the difference is. Can one still play tangos and such on the German concertinas?

 

I've been meaning to ask this for awhile, just never got around to it. :)

 

Thanks,

 

Anthony

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I've often wondered -- is there any difference in tone between a bandoneon and a "German concertina", or is the difference only in the layout of the buttons? ... Can one still play tangos and such on the German concertinas?

Anthony,

 

To play tangos properly you even need a particular type of Bandoneon. Tango Bandoneons are tuned with two reeds an octave apart and have extra notes, they are played only the draw!

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I've often wondered -- is there any difference in tone between a bandoneon and a "German concertina", or is the difference only in the layout of the buttons?
If (and only if) the German Concertina in question is voiced like a bandoneon (two reeds: one playing as noted, one playing an octave above), the tone color is likely to be as close to any given bandoneon as any two bandoneons are to each other. Other voicings are common, though so you have to find out.
It seems the "concertinas" (which I think a lot of people refer to as Chemnitzers?) are a lot more accessible/affordable, but other than button layout I'm not sure what the difference is.
There are a few keyboard layouts (e.g. Scheffler, Karlsfelder) besides the Chemnitzer layout, although the term "Chemnitzer" does sometimes get applied to all the large German concertinas. The 52-button layout popular in the US is closest to the bandoneon layouts and will get you closest, but is still 19 buttons short of the 71-button "Rheinische" a.k.a. "Rio de la Plata" layout the Tangueros generally use. The Karlsfelder & Scheffler layouts are much less flexible in the left hand. If you're concerned about cost, you can also look for an Einheitsbandonion: It is a 72-button bandoneon with some differences from the Rheinische layout, but generally similar and having about the same range. Like the other German concertinas, you have to make sure the instrument is voiced properly.
Can one still play tangos and such on the German concertinas?
Of course the bandoneon is a German concertina. :)

On the other German concertinas, you certainly can play tangos, but maybe not exactly as written or as performed by others. If you're playing for yourself, or trying to introduce some tango character into other types of music you should be fine. If you're trying to play orthodox tango for a purist audience, save up your pesos for a "doble A."

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I've often wondered -- is there any difference in tone between a bandoneon and a "German concertina", or is the difference only in the layout of the buttons? ... Can one still play tangos and such on the German concertinas?

Anthony,

 

To play tangos properly you even need a particular type of Bandoneon. Tango Bandoneons are tuned with two reeds an octave apart and have extra notes, they are played only the draw!

 

Please!

Are you talking about traditional tango with fixed rhythm, or tango nuevo? Or you are talking about liking to play dry tuned instruments or wet tuned?

Of course Bandoneon and Chemnitzer is the same instrument with slightly different layout. They originate from the same place and time. The only difference is the behaviour of Heinrich Band, who pushed his layout by placing his name on the instrument, whicih Uhlig didn't - loser. On the other hand, Uhlig was a white bone - professor and stuff, and may not have cared about financial cuccess of his concertina.

Astor Piazzola played mostly on the pull - very cool indeed.

But if you check Bandoneon on Youtube, you'll see lots of older Argentinian gentlemen, playing tango on the push as well.

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Of course Bandoneon and Chemnitzer is the same instrument with slightly different layout.
At least they started that way. American- and Italian-made Chemnitzers ended up a lot different.
The only difference is the behaviour of Heinrich Band, who pushed his layout
Pun intended?
But if you check Bandoneon on Youtube, you'll see lots of older Argentinian gentlemen, playing tango on the push as well.
This is especially true when playing solo. Here's a good example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrKYIHKJre4

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Of course Bandoneon and Chemnitzer is the same instrument with slightly different layout.
At least they started that way. American- and Italian-made Chemnitzers ended up a lot different.
The only difference is the behaviour of Heinrich Band, who pushed his layout
Pun intended?
But if you check Bandoneon on Youtube, you'll see lots of older Argentinian gentlemen, playing tango on the push as well.
This is especially true when playing solo. Here's a good example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrKYIHKJre4

Pedro Maffia? :D

No, didn't intend any pun. I don't even know what "Pun" is. Kind of understand, but not literally.

In what way though Chemnitzers ended up differently from bandoneons? I picked up Chemnitzer some time ago and could play a simple tune with accompaniment within 15 minutes, because of the similarity between it's core layout and Anglo's. Same with push/pull bandoneon. In a way, PA and CBA are the same instruments that look a lot differently, as compared to concertinas, which differ greatly from each other, while looking the same.

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No, didn't intend any pun. I don't even know what "Pun" is. Kind of understand, but not literally.
We were talking about playing only on the "pull" and you said that Band "pushed" his layout.
In what way though Chemnitzers ended up differently from bandoneons?
In construction, reed types, etc., so they sound different from bandoneons.

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No, didn't intend any pun. I don't even know what "Pun" is. Kind of understand, but not literally.
We were talking about playing only on the "pull" and you said that Band "pushed" his layout.
In what way though Chemnitzers ended up differently from bandoneons?
In construction, reed types, etc., so they sound different from bandoneons.

 

It took me awhile to understand the "pushing" pun part. I've become slow. I guess it's a beard. Anyways, those new makes from Germany, with B-system, and other new models, are their reeds also different from Chemnitzers? The reeds are on individual plates. So it's, say, a B-system chromatic without basses and with split keyboard. Is it still a bandoneon? Probably not.

http://www.bandoneon-maker.com/harrygeuns.htm

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I've often wondered -- is there any difference in tone between a bandoneon and a "German concertina", or is the difference only in the layout of the buttons? ... Can one still play tangos and such on the German concertinas?
To play tangos properly you even need a particular type of Bandoneon. Tango Bandoneons are tuned with two reeds an octave apart and have extra notes, they are [often] played only the draw!

Anthony,

 

My internet access is very limited at the moment, and that was my brief and hasty answer in the two minutes remaining to me on a library computer yesterday. I was trying to quickly explain how authentic tango Bandoneons/Bandoneon playing are "different", and today I'll try to explain a bit more:

 

I should have started by saying that it is possible to play tango music on any instrument, but the point I was trying to make is that though the Bandoneon is only a variant of the German concertina, the Rio de la Plata (River Plate) players developed their own very particular model which was built specially for them in Germany, and that that instrument would still be considered "the Tango Bandoneon".

 

There are several different systems of Bandoneon, both diatonic (bi-sonor) and chromatic (uni-sonor), but the Tango version developed out of the diatonic 130-Toniges Rheinische Lage (130-note Rheinish Layout) and is a 142-note model with four extra buttons on the right-hand and two on the left-hand side, button 11 (common to both) is also different.

 

Coincidentally I received an old catalogue today, from Uruguay, of "Bandoneones" sold by the importers "Antigua Casa Importadora Alemana Alberto Oehrtmann" in Buenos Aires. Every instrument listed in it is the special "142-voces" model I have described, and all but the student version is double-reeded (invariably in octaves, whereas other Bandoneons and German concertinas may be tremolo-tuned).

 

Tango players would usually take advantage of the alternative fingerings of their layout and tonal differences between press and draw notes for expession, often playing only on the draw.

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So it's, say, a B-system chromatic without basses and with split keyboard. Is it still a bandoneon? Probably not.

 

It might sound like one to the untutored ear (e.g., mine). Tango traditionalists will probably not deing to discuss the issue.

 

ocd

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The only difference is the behaviour of Heinrich Band, who pushed his layout by placing his name on the instrument, whicih Uhlig didn't - loser.

I wonder if there aren't more players of Uhlig's system (Chemnitzers) in the world today? :unsure:

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The only difference is the behaviour of Heinrich Band, who pushed his layout by placing his name on the instrument, whicih Uhlig didn't - loser.

I wonder if there aren't more players of Uhlig's system (Chemnitzers) in the world today? :unsure:

 

Probably not. Argentina has very large population, and it seems like tango style is quite common and bandoneons are not rare site. Although It may have declined in popularity.

Chemnitzers are rare beasts, looks like it's a Polish Ghetto thing.

All can be researched nowadays.

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I wonder if there aren't more players of Uhlig's system (Chemnitzers) in the world today?
I would bet there may be more amateur players anyway.
Probably not. Argentina has very large population, and it seems like tango style is quite common and bandoneons are not rare site. Although It may have declined in popularity.
There may be more professional bandoneon players. Since they were never really manufactured in Argentina, though, I think it may have kept them out of the hands of the masses to a degree, unlike the US, where there were many makers.
Chemnitzers are rare beasts, looks like it's a Polish Ghetto thing.
Maybe many decades ago it was. Where would I even find a "Polish Ghetto" now? The Polish-americans playing them have largely left urban areas. The instrument is also found among descendants of Polish, German, Czech, etc. immigrants in rural areas.
All can be researched nowadays.
I don't know how it's any easier to locate an elderly retired farmer or mechanic playing for his own enjoyment in the age of the internet than it was in the age of the Pony Express.

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I don't know how it's any easier to locate an elderly retired farmer or mechanic playing for his own enjoyment in the age of the internet than it was in the age of the Pony Express.

 

Sales stats? Manufacture orders or backlogs. Number of makers quantity of instruments as compared to last decade or two?

Number of events where Chemnitzer is presented as compared to Accordion events?

From all the above we may safely say that small concertina is very unpopular in the States, to the point of total unfamiliarity. I showed a few pictures of Chemnitzer to my coworkers a few years ago, and they were astounded by such contraption.

I'm sure in Argentina it is not the case.

As for prices, as I recall, 100 years ago Argentina was not much poorer, than the US (if at all) in it's economic development and the level of life, at least in urban areas.

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I showed a few pictures of Chemnitzer to my coworkers a few years ago, and they were astounded by such contraption.
Aren't you in California, though? I brought my (Chemnitzer) concertina into work (in downtown Chicago) a few years ago and two said "my uncle played one of those". Another said "I haven't seen one of those in a while!"

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Probably not. Argentina has very large population, and it seems like tango style is quite common and bandoneons are not rare site. Although It may have declined in popularity.

Chemnitzers are rare beasts, looks like it's a Polish Ghetto thing.

All can be researched nowadays.

One useful measure of such things is to search eBay internationally, as I do almost every day. That will reveal that Tango Bandoneons are rare and fetch very high prices, whilst other Bandoneons and Chemnitzers are much more common and can hence be purchased much more reasonably.

 

The Tango Bandoneon may have the highest profile worldwide today, but I was involved in the exhibition Sehnsucht aus dem Blasebalg in Chemnitz in 2001 and can tell you that the research for that indicated that historically the chief market for the German concertina makers (who also made the Bandoneons) was the North American one for Chemnitzers. Chemnitzers were also manufactured in the United States, which would not be the case for Bandoneons in Argentina.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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