Tag Archives: Concertina

A 3D-printed concertina

 

In an interview, Edward Jay described his invention:

“My concertina is almost entirely fabricated on a 3D printer, meaning that it’s made of mostly plastic. In the prototype, only the reeds and bellows are made in the traditional way, though I am quite close to fabricating these on a 3D printer too.”

“3D printing has been around for a while actually, but only recently has it become more accessible and affordable. For example, the printers I am using now cost £800 each. But 3D printers aren’t exactly quick; to give you some idea of speed, each part on my instrument can take between 1 and 12 hours each to print. So having a farm of printers beavering away can speed things up significantly.”

“That said, it takes just 2 days for 3 printers to print all the parts for a single instrument, which I think still is a significant edge on the time required to fabricate all the parts using traditional methods. Actually, I understand it takes something close to 3 months to make a new traditional concertina—as long as my entire prototype development period.”

“Interestingly, I’ve somehow managed to create a concertina sound, I believe, due to my material choice, because 3D plastic is hollow! If you didn’t know, early concertina insides were made of balsa wood, or similar woods, woods that were chosen rather for their lightness than their integrity, which I believe in part gave traditional concertinas their signature sound.”

“This is not a toy at all. Every part of it is engineered properly; the stresses and strains, the tension forces, and so on, everything has been accounted for. So it won’t break. This concertina is very solid.”

Quoted in “Concertone Instruments: Interview with Edward Jay” by Kait Gray (Concertina world 480 [January 2020] 37–45; RILM Abstracts 2020-3864).

Below, Jay demonstrates his concertina; his website for Concertone Instruments is here.

More posts involving concertinas are here.

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Filed under Curiosities, Instruments

Grock, concertina clown

Grock

At an early age Charles Adrien Wettach (1880–1959) ran away to join a circus; there he became a highly accomplished clown.

In 1903 he teamed up with Marius Galante, who was already performing under the name Brick; they decided to call their act Brick and Grock, and Wettach’s stage name was born. Around 1906 Grock switched partners to work with the the already-renowned Umberto Guillaum, who performed as Antonet.

Grock’s signature was comic stunts with musical instruments; he was an expert performer on the violin, piano, guitar, clarinet, saxophone, and—most memorably—the concertina.

He performed in various duo and solo acts around the world with great success, and in 1951 Grock founded his own circus. After he retired in 1954 he continued to take great pleasure in showing visitors the gardens at his Italian estate, often fooling them by pretending to be the gardener.

This according to “Concertina clowns. II: Grock” by Göran Rahm (Concertina world 458 [June 2014] pp. 30–33). Below, some memorable concertina moments.

Want more? Of course you do! Here’s a 45-minute set.

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The female accordion

The first concertinas to arrive in County Clare, Ireland, were inexpensive German instruments, a far cry from the elegant parlor instrument invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1829 and popularized among the social elite of Victorian England. They were disseminated by traveling peddlers and local and more distant shops—and probably by maritime traffic, given Clare’s position at the mouth of the Shannon estuary, the last port of call for tall ships about to cross the Atlantic.

By the end of the nineteenth century the concertina had all but replaced the uilleann pipes in popularity there, and Clare had already developed a reputation as a treasure-trove of concertina music and the home of some of the instrument’s finest players. After its completion in 1892 the West Clare Railway carried concertinas into formerly inaccessible rural areas, and before World War II the instrument became particularly popular among women musicians, earning it the nickname bean-cháirdin (female accordion).

This according to “Clare: Heartland of the Irish concertina” by Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin (Papers of the International Concertina Association III [2006] pp. 1–19). Above, Ó hAllmhuráin learns a tune from the 101-year-old Clare concertina player Molly Carthy in 1997. Below, the Clare concertina player Kate McNamara plays two reels: Sergeant Early’s dream and The plough and the stars.

BONUS: Read about the gendering of another traditional Irish instrument in The female harp.

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Filed under Europe, Instruments, World music

Concertina library

Concertina library: Digital reference collection for concertinas is an online collection of English, Anglo, and duet concertina resources, with entries ranging from research-based articles to instruction manuals, sheet music, and organological studies. Created by the computer scientist and concertina player Robert Gaskins, the library aims to compile and index all of the writings by leading authors on concertina matters, making them available to the public for free.

Above: Marie Lachenal with her concertina, ca. 1885.

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Carlo Minasi

Carlo Minasi (1817–91) was a London-based pianist and concertina player who also taught both instruments, a prolific composer and arranger for the concertina and other instruments, the author of 21 instrumental tutors (13 for the concertina), and a talented inventor. He produced 42 albums of songs and tunes—22 for the English concertina, 10 for the German concertina, and 10 for general use—and he obtained patents on concertinas of his own design and on several specific improvements. He also patented improvements in firearm and furniture design, as well as one for a poultry incubator.

Despite his accomplishments, Minasi is not profiled in any of the standard music encyclopedias; as far as we know, the only comprehensive source for information about him is Randall C. Merris’s Carlo Minasi: Composer, arranger, and teacher, concertina and piano in Papers of the International Concertina Association volume 6 (2009), pp. 17–45.

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Filed under Curiosities, Instruments, Romantic era

Patent applications

Patent applications for new instruments—or for improvements to already existing ones—usually involve one or more technical drawings. These can be of historical interest for several reasons; for example, the article Piano wars: The legal machinations of London pianoforte makers, 1795–1806 by George S. Bozarth and Margaret Debenham (RMA research chronicle XLII, 45–108) makes use of original drawings and descriptions for patents by William Southwell (1794) and his son, William junior (1837), to reconstruct the issues and outcomes of legal actions involving many of England’s top piano manufacturers in the early nineteenth century.

Reproduced above is a page from Brian Hayden’s 1984 patent application for a new way of arranging the buttons on a concertina.

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Filed under Iconography, Instruments, Publication types