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The Different Types Of English


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Could someone tell me how to tell the different types of English, treble, extended treble, tenor treble, etc apart from each other? I've never needed to think about this before but I've just acquired a Lachenal New Model, 56 keys, (tenor treble?) and not only want to know what I've got but realised that I probably ought to know anyway.

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I'll explain as best I can but I've not played all of the different types. What most people would call a 'standard' English concertina is a 48 key treble. This can be extended in two different ways to 56 key. An 'extended' treble has eight extra notes at the top that go into the piccolo range. A tenor/treble has eight extra notes lower than the normal treble range.

 

A baritone English has 48 keys and sounds a full octave lower than the treble. I've seen references to a 'tenor' English but I'm not sure what that means - perhaps it's a shorthand way of saying tenor/treble or perhaps it's range is between baritone and treble.

 

There is also a single action bass English (only plays on the push), sadly I've never had the pleasure of trying one out.

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Could someone tell me how to tell the different types of English, treble, extended treble, tenor treble, etc apart from each other? I've never needed to think about this before but I've just acquired a Lachenal New Model, 56 keys, (tenor treble?) and not only want to know what I've got but realised that I probably ought to know anyway.

 

Hello,

 

I think, I´ll give it a try although I am sure additions are going to follow:

You´re talking of a standard layout when you´ve got 48 keys intirely, 24 on each side. Treble means you are playing in the range comparable to a violin, starting from G and than three octaves up ending on c´´´.

Extended instruments have most of the time 56 buttons (exceptions are rare) - added either further up or down. Extended treble (in most cases) means you´ve got 8 more notes above c´´´ (bit squeeky up there, shall I say). The other possibility is downwards. Tenor treble concertinas go further down compared to the standard range. And baritons have the same button layout as trebles but sound in general one octave lower.

 

So, what type of instrument is it, you´ve got? And what is it playing like? I´ve got a New Model as well and I think it´s fabulous...

 

Greetings

Christian

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The Wheatstone price lists are a good source of what was available and the range of notes on each instrument.

http://www.concertina.com/pricelists/wheat...t-Eng-c1915.pdf

 

There are also 60 and 64 button arrangements to contend with. I'm not sure which direction (or both!) that the extra notes might have encompassed.

 

The price lists also mention bass and double bass concertinas! Someone who is more familiar with the bass cleft will have to help here.

 

Greg

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There are also 60 and 64 button arrangements to contend with. I'm not sure which direction (or both!) that the extra notes might have encompassed.

 

Greg

 

My son has a 64 key New Model which compared with a 48 key treble has 8 extra high notes and 8 extra low notes and is describes as an "extended tenor treble" or should that be "extended treble tenor"?

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... I've just acquired a Lachenal New Model, 56 keys, (tenor treble?) and ... want to know what I've got ...

Dirge,

 

It should be possible to tell simply by looking at the instrument: If your 56-key is the same size as a 48-key treble, then it's an extended treble, but if it's around 3/4" bigger, then it's a tenor treble.

 

Congratulations on getting a New Model, they're lovely instruments!

 

I've seen references to a 'tenor' English but I'm not sure what that means - perhaps it's a shorthand way of saying tenor/treble or perhaps it's range is between baritone and treble.

A tenor would usually have the lower 48 notes of a tenor-treble (from tenor C to F) and is only a little larger than a treble. I'd consider it a very useful instrument for playing folk/traditional music, but unfortunately they were rarely made, most of those I know of having been made by Wheatstone's for the Salvation Army in the late 1930s, though Steve Dickinson lists them and occasionally makes one. Tenors of smaller compass were also made as band instruments, and sometimes those are single-action, but they are less useful.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Could someone tell me how to tell the different types of English, treble, extended treble, tenor treble, etc apart from each other? I've never needed to think about this before but I've just acquired a Lachenal New Model, 56 keys, (tenor treble?) and not only want to know what I've got but realised that I probably ought to know anyway.

Here are the distinctions, as I understand them to have been used by the Wheatstone company:

For 48-button English concertinas
  • treble
    - lowest note is G below middle C (same as a standard violin)

  • tenor
    - lowest note is C below middle C (same as a viola)

  • baritone
    - an octave lower than the treble (no orchestral string counterpart)

  • bass
    - an octave lower than the tenor (same as a cello)

  • contrabass
    - according to an old Wheatstone price list, this is an octave lower than the bass, but I've never seen one; however, I've played a few that are an octave lower than a baritone, and I'm used to applying this term to those

  • piccolo
    - an octave higher than the treble (no orchestral string counterpart)

For other numbers of buttons, the term used is generally one of the above, based on the lowest note. E.g.,
  • A 35-button instrument with the same lowest note as a "bass" above would also be called a "bass".

  • And 50-button instrument with the same lowest note as a "treble" above would also be called a "treble".

However, instruments with lower ranges can come in two (or more?) variants:
  • A
    baritone
    which sounds an octave lower for the same fingering as the treble is simply a "baritone".

  • A
    baritone
    on which notes in the treble range have the same fingering as on the treble but which continues the pattern of the English keyboard downward into the baritone range is called a "baritone-treble", "baritone" at the beginning to indicate the low end of the range, but followed by "treble" to indicate that the fingering in the treble range remains unchanged. (And for the same geometrical pattern of buttons on the two sides, such an instrument extends down to F at the bottom, rather than G. However, old Wheatstone price lists indicate 56-button baritone-trebles going down "only" to G, i.e., "missing" the lowest two buttons in the right hand.)

  • And thus a "tenor-treble" is an instrument which continues the pattern of the treble English keyboard down into the
    tenor
    range, "tenor" at the beginning to indicate the low end of the range, but followed by "treble" to indicate that the fingering in the treble range remains unchanged.

  • Oops!
    That description fits even a standard 48-button "tenor", as described above. And in fact, it seems that Wheatstone did call them "tenor-treble" on at least some price lists. Either name seems to be OK for an instrument with 48 buttons and a tenor's bottom note.

  • A
    bass
    which sounds two octaves lower than the treble for the same fingering is simply a "bass". (But since its lowest note is C two octaves below middle C, it will seem to be "missing" the lowest row of buttons in each hand.)

  • A
    bass
    which sounds an octave lower than a tenor-treble for the same fingering as the treble is called a "bass-baritone", "bass" at the beginning to indicate the low end of the range, but followed by "baritone" to indicate that the fingering in the
    baritone
    range is the same as the standard "baritone".

  • A concertina in which the treble-range fingering remained unchanged but which extended downward through the tenor and baritone ranges to the bass's bottom note would presumably be called a "bass-treble". I've only seen one of these, a 72-button instrument, and at the time it didn't seem necessary to discuss a terminology for it.

"Standard exceptions":
  • Treble
    instruments with 55 or more buttons, all extending the range upward, are commonly called "extended treble". A 64-button
    tenor-treble
    could also be called a "tenor-extended treble".

  • Though I've never handled one, I have heard of concertinas with a
    tenor
    range, but tuned in F (i.e., the center columns of buttons contain the Bb's of the F scale, with the B-naturals being found in the outer columns). It seems reasonable to me that they should be called "tenor in F", though I know of one individual who feels that these are the "real" tenors, and that it's the tenors in C which should be specially designated.

  • Extremely small instruments (2-4" across the ends) with only a few buttons (usually 12-18) are known as "miniatures", or simply "minis".

Other exceptions: There are no standard names for concertinas which are exceptional or unique. They must be described, e.g.,
  • English concertinas tuned to a central key other than C are rare and are generally designated "concertina in A", "concertina in Bb", etc., rather than "treble in A", etc. But descriptions such as "baritone in Bb" or "tenor in Eb" are also reasonable.

  • I've seen a few English concertinas with a lowest note of middle C and 30 or fewer buttons. Just as the standard "treble" has the range of a violin and the standard "tenor" (or "tenor treble") has the range of a viola, these have the range of a flute. So while these could be classified as "treble", something more specific and descriptive seems warranted.

  • I've heard of one instrument that had a lowest note of Eb below middle C. It must have been a special request, since it also had gold plated ends. I don't recall asking how many buttons it had or whether the central key was other than C (probably not), but it clearly isn't covered by the simple standard terminology.

Once final comment... on the number of buttons:
Certain numbers of buttons were standard, regardless of the range of the instrument. On vintage English concertinas 48 buttons was most common, 56 was next, then 64. Continuing the same sequence, 72 would be next, then 80. I've seen 72, heard of the existence of 80, and seen a photo of one supposed to have 84 buttons, but the player's hands were in the way, so I couldn't verify the count. In the other direction, 35 buttons seems to have been not uncommon for low-pitched English concertinas (basses and occasionally baritones), especially those intended for marching band use. Of course, other button counts are possible. A number of 60-button English concertinas can be found in the Wheatstone ledgers, and I have one with 50 buttons.

Now aren't you sorry you asked? :unsure: ;)

Edited by JimLucas
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So a Tenor_treble has the same fingering as standard treble but, extends downwards?

Great! Does it mean that one has to shift the fingering upwards a bit? So after learning standard treble, aquiring Tenor-Treble will not cause you either to re-learn the fingering or play in different key? But aquiring Tenor would?

Extended Treble places especial importance on the qualtiy of piccolo reeds, but Extended Tenor doesn't.

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Thanks for that folks very helpful. I seem to have a 56 key tenor treble New Model 'Ebony Finish' Lachenal (metal buttons but I expect 'New Models' all do being upper range instruments, don't they?), and I will know what I'm looking at next time someone offers me an old English concertina.

 

For those of you that are curious, I have it as my 'cosmic pay back' for presenting a 'lecture illustrated with music' on the concertina to the Hawkes Bay branch of the Vintage Car Club of NZ. I stood there in front of 100 people and played the expert; next day I have to ask the difference between the various English types...don't tell them.

 

Anyway, at the end someone came up and asked if I wanted to buy his grandfathers' instrument and I duly did. I'm busy with Maccans (and the Buy and Sell forum will demonstrate that I've got too many of them already) so I had it in mind to tidy it up, get it tuned and sell it on to fund the duet obsession. If anyone wants to save me the work, contact me and I'll do the expected donation to Cnet if a deal is done.

 

It's actually very good indeed, the wood all looks tidy, not split or shrunk, the bellows appear completely airtight on first look (well polished on grandad's knee at one corner but it's not through) and it's leather case is in good nick- hasn't even had the straps torn off. Valves are still white, chamois is still furry; I'll be looking to sort out the broken springs and generally assess it further in the next day or two, so if you're interested let me know and I'll organise some pics.

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So a Tenor_treble has the same fingering as standard treble but, extends downwards?

Yes.

 

Great! Does it mean that one has to shift the fingering upwards a bit?

Not necessarily. On my 64-button TT all the 48 treble notes have the exact same placement relative to the thumbstraps, and the button array extends both downward and upward (an extra row of buttons in each direction). I don't remember whether the 56-button TT shifts at all, but I can probably check that out tonight, as a friend with one is performing in a Swedish production of Checkov's Måsen (Чайка, or The Seagull). If there is a shift, it's no more than a button's worth, and I can say that the first time I had a TT in my hands, I didn't notice any difference... except for being able to play notes that weren't there when I had tried reaching for them on my treble. :)

 

So after learning standard treble, aquiring Tenor-Treble will not cause you either to re-learn the fingering or play in different key?

No.

 

But aquiring Tenor would?

Not if it's a tenor in C, which is what I consider "standard". A friend of mine has one of those.

 

If it's a tenor in F like the one the Button Box had recently, then aside from all treble notes being shifted up one button, the B's and Bb's would be interchanged. If it were strictly transposing, the D# would also become a Db, but I understand that that wasn't always done.

 

In any case, your chances of finding a vintage tenor-treble are probably at least 100 times as great as your chance of finding a vintage 48-button tenor. And if you have a new tenor made, you can specify whether you want it in C or F. (Steve Dickinson's Wheatstone web site says the model 5E tenor is "Also available as Tenor in F", which suggests that C is standard.)

 

Extended Treble places especial importance on the qualtiy of piccolo reeds, but Extended Tenor doesn't.

Not sure what you mean by that. Is "piccolo reeds" an accordion term? And by "Extended Tenor" do you mean a 64-button tenor-treble (encompassing both the tenor and extended treble ranges), or do you mean a 48-button tenor "extended upward" to be a standard 56-button tenor-treble? A 64-button tenor-treble has the same top to its range -- and so the same requirements for its highest reeds -- as the 56-button extended-treble. Notes of the same pitch should have the same quality requirements regardless of what other notes are present in the instrument.

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[[*]A bass which sounds an octave lower than a tenor-treble for the same fingering as the treble is called a "bass-baritone", "bass" at the beginning to indicate the low end of the range, but followed by "baritone" to indicate that the fingering in the baritone range remains unchanged.

[*]A concertina in which the treble-range fingering remained unchanged but which extended downward through the tenor and baritone ranges to the bass's bottom note would presumably be called a "bass-treble". I've only seen one of these, a 72-button instrument, and at the time it didn't seem necessary to discuss a terminology for it.

 

 

Jim, there are two forms of the Bass compass. the 'C' or 'Cello bass' as you have described, this is a transposing instrument transposing the Tenor instrument by one octave. The other is the 'G' bass, AKA as the 'full bass' which transforms the Baritone by a full octave, or the standard treble by two full octaves. The baritones and bass instruments both transpose the standard treble fingering by one or two octaves, whereas the piccolo transforms the treble up by an actave.

Interestingly there are bartitones extended to treble which have the same compass as the treble extended to baritone. The former is a transposed instrument and the fingering is entirely 'wrong' in the treble range, whilst the latter is an extended, but not transposing instrument, which cannot be played as say a baritone band instrument without engaging in sever mental gymnatics.

 

My own bas is a 'G' bass and its highest note is middle 'C' Its actually quite good for signalling ships at the seaside.

 

Dave E

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[[*]A bass which sounds an octave lower than a tenor-treble for the same fingering as the treble is called a "bass-baritone", "bass" at the beginning to indicate the low end of the range, but followed by "baritone" to indicate that the fingering in the baritone range remains unchanged.

[*]A concertina in which the treble-range fingering remained unchanged but which extended downward through the tenor and baritone ranges to the bass's bottom note would presumably be called a "bass-treble". I've only seen one of these, a 72-button instrument, and at the time it didn't seem necessary to discuss a terminology for it.

Jim, there are two forms of the Bass compass....

Sorry, Dave, but I think that either your description of the 'C' bass is wrong, or there are at least three kinds.

 

...the 'C' or 'Cello bass' as you have described, this is a transposing instrument transposing the Tenor instrument by one octave. The other is the 'G' bass, AKA as the 'full bass' which transforms the Baritone by a full octave, or the standard treble by two full octaves.

My own "cello" bass has its lowest C placed in the left hand, in the position of the treble's middle C. All the treble fingerings (except those "missing" below that low C) sound two octaves below the treble. Or would you call mine "a 'G' bass that doesn't go down to G"? Your description of the 'C' bass as being an octave lower than the tenor would have its lowest C in the right hand, no? That's what I (and I believe the Wheatstone ledgers) call a "bass-baritone".

 

My own bas is a 'G' bass and its highest note is middle 'C' Its actually quite good for signalling ships at the seaside.

I have one of those, also. 35 buttons, yes? Mine's a "stretch" hexagon, by Lachenal, double action. My "cello" bass is a 56-button Æola, also double action. The two have identical fingering in the 2-octaves where their ranges overlap.

 

What you describe as a 'G' bass is what I and others I know are used to calling "contrabass" -- since it's lower than the cello range, which my old Wheatstone price lists call "bass", -- even though it's not as low as what those price lists identify as "contrabass", which is yet an octave lower than the "bass" (cello).

 

The baritones and bass instruments both transpose the standard treble fingering by one or two octaves, whereas the piccolo transforms the treble up by an actave.

That's the same as what I said in my description. Those are what I have called the "standard" baritone and bass, for which those terms are used without modifiers.

 

Interestingly there are bartitones extended to treble which have the same compass as the treble extended to baritone.

"Interestingly"? You make it sound as if there's something strange about that. It's a standard model, identified as "baritone-treble" in the Wheatstone ledgers. I own one; so do other players that I know.

 

The former is a transposed instrument and the fingering is entirely 'wrong' in the treble range, whilst the latter is an extended, but not transposing instrument, which cannot be played as say a baritone band instrument without engaging in sever mental gymnatics.

The only thing I'll disagree with there is your editorializing. "Wrong" fingering and "severe mental gymnastics" are not at all what I experience. The pattern of the "English" keyboard is so completely consistent that octave transposition is almost trivial (there's my own bit of editorializing ;)).

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All, hopefully this offering will not end the thread prematurely as usually happens.

 

The following attachment may be of use. It gives a pictorial comparison of some of the ranges of various English system concertinas made by Crabb and others. Bass ranges are not included but others have given general information on these in other contributions.

In the comparison, reference will be seen to transposed and non-transposed instruments. In most cases, the notes on baritone instruments appear on the opposite side to higher ranged instruments (Transposed). Non-transposed instruments were available to order so that transition from say treble to baritone was easier regards note appearance but the standard position of the keyboard in relation to the thumb straps and finger rests could make reaching the lower notes a little more difficult.

 

There have been many variations in range, number of buttons etc. from the ‘standard’ or stock instruments supplied by the various makers of English system concertinas. Each of these variations as they exist or appear must be considered and accepted for what they are.

 

English_Ranges.doc

 

 

Geoff

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I must say this is fascinating to someone who primarily plays anglo (though I own a Lachenal treble). Such a variety of low ranges are rarer (it seems to me?) among anglos, or if they are common they are all still in the British Isles. It is fun to watch folks play all these baritones and basses, but I am going to find some music paper and draw myself some notes to sort it out in my head!

 

Ken

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Looking at Geoff's chart the 72 key treble baritone has exactly the same bottom bass note, an F, as my 71 duet but goes higher in the treble to make up for the duplication of notes between the hands you get in the duet.

 

I think the top notes are unpleasantly shrill on my duet; it's hostile territory to approach with caution, up there, and I wouldn't miss the very top ones, but I use the low F regularly. I'd have had a couple more bass notes and lost some bat calls yet the equivalent English goes half an octave higher. Is this because there isn't room for any more big reeds, perhaps?

Edited by Dirge
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I must say this is fascinating to someone who primarily plays anglo (though I own a Lachenal treble). Such a variety of low ranges are rarer (it seems to me?) among anglos, or if they are common they are all still in the British Isles.

Piccolo, baritone, and bass anglos have been discussed in these Forums, but they do seem to be much rarer than among Englishes. But note placement on the English is rigidly constrained by one most elegantly consistent principle -- there's no Wheatstone vs. Jeffries and almost no customization, so we have to find some other route to variety. :D

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The former is a transposed instrument and the fingering is entirely 'wrong' in the treble range, whilst the latter is an extended, but not transposing instrument, which cannot be played as say a baritone band instrument without engaging in sever mental gymnatics.

The only thing I'll disagree with there is your editorializing. "Wrong" fingering and "severe mental gymnastics" are not at all what I experience. The pattern of the "English" keyboard is so completely consistent that octave transposition is almost trivial (there's my own bit of editorializing ;)).

 

Jim,

In my circles and experience, the 'G' bass is as per the treble, transposed down two octaves, AKA 'full Bass', conta-bass if you like- but I always understood that this was name of the third bass format. The 'C' bass is as per the Treble, transposed down by two octaves, but missing the two lower notes on each side, plus accidentals. eight keys in all. So as you say, the lowest note is in the 'middle 'C'' position.

 

As to baritones, to me the baritone is a single octave transposing instrument, and thus be easily played in a band setting, when I (and others) have tried to play a treble extended down to baritone in that context, we all struggled. Yet playing it as a treble instrument and using its extended range for chords was relatively straightforward. I know someone who bought a treble ext. to Baritone thinking to play it as both a baritone and a treble and it was not successful. Hence my warnings to others about the difficulty factor, or pehaps its just not being such an exeptional player myself.

 

I think that the baritones extended up are quite rare, but I have seen several trebles extended down, although neither are exactly common by anyone's stretch of the imagination, hence the interest.

 

Dave E

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