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Unusual tunings for Englsh-system concertinas?!?


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Recently I saw a concertina for sale that had been tuned down a fifth, so that it would play in F instead of C, when fingered normally. It is a very useful range, especially if implemented in a treble-size concertina for power and quick response.

 

Has anyone come across English concertinas in other than the normal tuning system ( Piccolo, treble, baritone, bass - each with an octave in-between and based on C ).

 

Has anyone converted them??

 

I have heard of Clarinets, Oboes and other brass-instrument related tunings!?!

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Recently I saw a concertina for sale that had been tuned down a fifth, so that it would play in F instead of C, when fingered normally. It is a very useful range, especially if implemented in a treble-size concertina for power and quick response.

 

Has anyone come across English concertinas in other than the normal tuning system ( Piccolo, treble, baritone, bass - each with an octave in-between and based on C ).

 

Has anyone converted them??

 

I have heard of Clarinets, Oboes and other brass-instrument related tunings!?!

 

It's mine. Lachenal Tenor.

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Tenors (48 button) and Tenor-Trebles (56 button) typically add one row below a treble. My Aeola T-T has four octaves starting at the C below middle C. The middle two columns are still the white keys on the piano, so it plays just like the treble or baritone if you ignore that bottom row. It has the range of a viola, with the top notes of a violin as well. I suppose that a 64 button extended tenor treble would also include the piccolo range. English concertinas are chromatic rather than having a "home" key.

 

I'm not sure that the instrument in question (advertised by a member of this forum posting simultaneously) is actually tuned down rather than extending down. Were any of the keys in the middle two columns sharps or flats?

Edited by Larry Stout
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I'm not sure that the instrument in question ... is actually tuned down rather than extending down. Were any of the keys in the middle two columns sharps or flats?

The tenor concertina in question was made as a transposing instrument for a concertina band. It is pitched a fifth lower than normal, so F is where you would expect C to be, and it has Bb instead of B in the middle columns.

 

You'll see similar instruments in photos of the Oldham Concertina Band - indeed, maybe it is one of theirs?

 

I've also had a pair of "clarionet" concertinas in Bb and A.

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Couldn't that be made into a standard tenor just by swapping the B and Bb reeds?

Not if it's truly transposing, with all notes in the pattern differing by a fifth. Then it will be missing the D# (duplicating the Eb) of the C-pitched instrument and instead will have a Db (duplicating the C#).

 

I'd imagine that they would be in the same size reed shoes and should fit without much trouble.

Could be so, but not necessarily. Size change has to occur somewhere in the range. Could as easily be between Bb and B as between B and C, or somewhere else.

Edited by JimLucas
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Recently I saw a concertina for sale that had been tuned down a fifth, so that it would play in F instead of C, when fingered normally. It is a very useful range, especially if implemented in a treble-size concertina for power and quick response.

 

Has anyone come across English concertinas in other than the normal tuning system ( Piccolo, treble, baritone, bass - each with an octave in-between and based on C ).

 

Has anyone converted them?

There is at least one instrument in the Wheatstone ledgers with a notation that it is tuned in F. (I seem to recall that there are actually a few, but it's only a few days ago I saw the one, so I can at least be sure about that.) I would assume that such an instrument would have reeds that are standard for their pitches (the same as would be found in a tenor-treble in C), rather than having them "tuned down". No conversion necessary.

 

I've seen a couple of band instruments in Bb, presumably for reading the parts of trumpets, clarinets, or the like, and I've heard that Eb instruments were also made, though less often than Bb, for the same purpose. I believe the clarionet concertina I once got to try was also in Bb.

 

As I recall, a friend used to own an English in A, i.e., a minor third lower than standard. (I won't name him, but he's a member here, so if he wants to be identified, he can speak up.)

 

I once heard of an English which had a bottom note of E, like a guitar in standard tuning. I don't know, though, whether that was a transposing instrument or merely an unusual extension of the standard range.

 

I have heard of Clarinets, Oboes and other brass-instrument related tunings!?![/size]

Oboes?

Aren't they pitched in C?

 

Edited to correct an error in understanding.

Edited by JimLucas
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There is at least one instrument in the Wheatstone ledgers with a notation that it is tuned in F. (I seem to recall that there are actually a few, but it's only a few days ago I saw the one, so I can at least be sure about that.) I would assume that such an instrument would have reeds that are standard for their pitches (the same as would be found in a tenor-treble in C), rather than having them tuned down. The tuning-down of that instrument that was for sale is almost certainly not original, but an alteration after that instrument left the factory.

Jim,

 

Band tenors were made in F, to play tenor horn parts, and I don't think Michael's one has been altered - it's just that it's built like a (small) bass, as were most clarinet concertinas.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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The tuning-down of that instrument that was for sale is almost certainly not original, but an alteration after that instrument left the factory.

Band tenors were made in F, to play tenor horn parts, and I don't think Michael's one has been altered - it's just that it's built like a (small) bass, as were most clarinet concertinas.

Oops!

Seems I misunderstood the original post.

 

I thought when conzertino said "tuned down a fifth", he was saying that an instrument had actually been altered, not merely that its range was a fifth lower. I think I'd better go back and edit that mistake out of my earlier post. (Then it will only appear in the quotes in these responses. :D)

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Interesting stuff! I noticed that the Lachenal F-tenor ( or alto, as I would call it ) m3838 is selling is rather large and has lead-tipped reeds. That is surprising, as tenor reeds normally don't need lead-tips and a 32 key tenor should fit in a treble size?!?

 

Indead I converted a tenor treble to "alto" a few month ago by swapping all B and Bflat reeds ( no problem, as they have the same size! ). It is correct that I would have had to tune down all D# to Dflat, which I didn't. I can play all my stuff by using the replicated note on the other side.

 

Of course one has to play one row down to get the effect of the alto, which takes a little practise. On my last "alto" I moved the finger-rest back by one screw-hole, which helps!

 

I really love to play my music in the nice alto range without relearning the fingering. The response is much better than that of a baritone.

 

Where as I often find that the low notes of a tenor-treble drown out the higher notes, the alto range is perfectly balanced.

 

In fact I liked it so much, that I bought one of Wim Wackers 48-key-tenors and did the same little trick.

 

The 48 key tenor is only slightly larger than a treble and has a considerably faster response than the 56 key tenor treble!! Now I find myself playing this box all the time...

 

After that experiense I went ahead and changed an extended treble to play five notes up by swapping all F and F# ( and playing one row up ). It works, but the range is not as pleasent to the ears as the alto...

 

I decided to sell my ebony-ended 56-key Aeola-tenor-treble - currently tuned as alto ( which can be changed back within 10 minutes ). I will put it up at the buy & sell, if I find the time... Send me a pm if interested!

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[for songs and tunes]I think they are more useful,than baritone concertinas,which [imo]I find comparitively slow and sluggish.Dick Miles

Hello Dick,

 

I'm sure your right.

 

However, I just wanted to state for the record, that I personally don't actually find my own Aeola Baritone sluggish at all.

 

Of course, I don't have the experience of Bartones that you have, so mine may well be an exception. ;)

 

Chers

Dick

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