The English Concertina and and the Anglo

The English Concertina and and the Anglo

The first is unisonic, the Anglo is Bisonic.
They are two completely different instruments as different musically as a diatonic harmonica to a chromatic harmonica.
[whilst the Ango is fully chromatic 30 buttons upwards], its sytems of embellishments by its nature is very different from the English Concertina, players of the chromatic harmonica often employ different, forms of ornamentation to diatonic players, some play it as it was designed to be played in orthodox chromatic fashion, some play it like a diatonic in its home key using the slide to provide ornaments, the effects are very different from a diatonic harmonica.
The Duet concertina is also unisonic, it has an octave overlap left and right which can be useful for playing in a linear style, quality concertinas are often available at cheaper prices due to lack of popularity mainly because a lot of people are advised by their teachers that the Anglo is the best system, the disadavantage of the unisonic sytem is its lack of natural inbuilt rhythm can be overcome by changing bellows direction more frequently, for example irish polkas can be made more
rhythmical by changing bellows after every crotchet, or paired quavers,
jigs by changing either where one would tap foot, on first or occasionally fourth beats, variety within these systems can be obtained by occasionally breaking the pattern and in particular including lead in notes of phrases,and by reversing bellows at end of phrases this helps to prevent the sound from becoming predictable. the advantage of unisonic concertina becomes apparent when playing slow airs, where the player does not ruin the flow of the tune by a sudden reversal of bellows.
using a system like this can also be useful for playing Morris tunes, where more frequent reversal of bellows can provide the rythym needed for morris dancing, in fact is perfectly possible and is an interesting exercise to take a tune like young collins, and play it as an anglo player would using similiar reversals, or alternatively reversing after every 2 beats and occasionally every beat and at end of phrases.
st patricks day which is an irish jig and is closely related to a morris tune is an interesting one I have found is in my opinion fun to experiment with.

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Re: The English Concertina and and the Anglo

I´ve been playing English concertina for years, with intermissions. Yours is a very complete description of the differences between these two types of concertinas…is there actually a question/discussion topic that goes with it?

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It occurred to me that quite a lot of forum members know very little about the different concertina systems.

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That video also includes the hazard of videoing in a public place - the public !
"Er Indoors videoed me on Sunday playing in an acoustic quartet in a very small local festival, and the percentage of people who simply aren’t aware of someone holding a camera recording a performance, particularly with the modern minute cameras, is very large.
A friend was also recorded recently playing in a public square, and one old lady walked up to the camera and stared into it in the middle of the performance.

Re: The English Concertina and and the Anglo

Thanks for this Dick. Although I don’t play these particular instruments, I like to read such stuff. Same as I always enjoy Richard Cooks clear and precise advice on flute playing.

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Re: The English Concertina and and the Anglo

Lovely song and wonderful playing.

Thank you for taking the time to post such an informative and positive entry.

Re: The English Concertina and and the Anglo

Only because people are being sucked in by this I feel the need to warn you. The only true thing in it is the first sentence, except the word is unisonoric , not unisonic. If you want facts on concertinas the wikipedia page is not too bad. For example you may find there a one octave overlap in Duets only happens on one of many different types of Duet.

The rubbish about rhythm is just that. There is no natural rhythm available due to the need for bellows reversals on an Anglo. Yes, you can use bellows reversals but they often occur in the most awkward moments. Learning to use or disguise a bellows reversal is part of the skill, but they don’t make it easy. In Dick’s defence this is a commonly held myth, but it is an idea anyone who is pronouncing on anglos in a place such as this could be expected to understand to be, yes, a myth…

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“except the word is unisonoric , not unisonic.”

The OED has neither. Grove’s has both, but only “bisonoric”.

It’s verging on jargon, IMO.

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I only looked it up because I initially thought it might mean the same as ‘monophonic’ / ‘polyphonic’, but it obviously means something different.

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Yes it is jargon, but clearly terms are needed to refer to these properties of free-reed instruments. The older terms are “single-action” and “double-action” instruments.

These are unfortunately counterintuitive, because “single-action” actually means “bisonoric” or “push-pull” or “producing different notes on press and draw” (as in melodeon, anglo concertina etc.) and “double-action” means “unisonoric” or “producing same note” (as in piano accordion, English concertina, etc.)

IIRC from a discussion on melodeon.net, the term “single action” was introduced way back when by Wheatstone, inventor of the concertina, possibly in a patent application.

Re: The English Concertina and and the Anglo

single action means something different . Single action—sound only in one bellows direction (usually found only on English System bass instruments and some baritone Instruments).
I am not surprised at the lack of knowledge about concertinas that I find on this forum and else where, which was why I started this thread.
I have played all sorts of music on the concertina from ragtime to light classical , Ihave played in Concertina bands Using bass concertinas hence my knowledge about the instrument

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That makes sense, Dick. Nevertheless, and however unfortunately, the term “single action” has been widely used - maybe only in the accordion world? - to mean “bisonoric”, for many years.

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I quite like the idea of maintaining the magic of not knowing about concertinas, just listening to wonderful playing is enough!

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I really like Wikipedia, as long as you take it with a pinch of salt and check the sources.

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eiluned, I like your comment and attitude. I have the same with almost everything I really love or find beautiful. “The magic of not knowing.” It’s also interesting how many great musicians you’ll find who’ve intentionally or subconsciously preserved that “magic”, while others of a lesser standard construe this as ignorance.;) You’ll hear comments about these musicians like “s/he’s a natural…” They often couldn’t tell you much about the minutiae of music or even their instrument, but wow can they play.

On a different note….

Thanks for sharing some of your knowledge with those interested in learning more, Dick Miles.

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“From the much-hated Wikipedia ”

As I said, the words “unisonoric” and “unisonic” do not appear in the OED. Both appear in Grove’s.
Wikipedia is useful, but not an authority on anything.
In using the word “unisonic”, Dick is in agreement with Grove’s. However, “bisonic” does not appear in Grove’s, but “unisonic” must stem from somewhere, and, logically, it would be to “unisonic” what “bisonoric” (which does appear in Grove’s) is to unisonoric.

Re: The English Concertina and and the Anglo

Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!

I don’t know why but this reminds me of an epitaph I learned as a kid

Here lies John Bun
He was killed by a gun
His name was not Bun but Wood
But Wood would not rhyme with gun
But Bun would

😉

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I mentioned ‘subject matter’ in another thread. I think Dick certainly knows his.

I’ve learned a fair bit from the OP.

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with respect to everyone here, I played in a concertina band with Steve Dickinson who owns C Wheatstone and co, Steve played bass english concertina, he referred to it as single action. never mind wikepedia,
Single action in the concertina world means sounding in only one direction.

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“For example you may find there a one octave overlap in Duets only happens on one of many different types of Duet.”
Not so, it happens on the Crane system and the Hayden, as it does on the 57 key mcCann duet.

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In the words of Charles Wheatstone, in his patent “Improvements in the Action of the Concertina, &c. by Vibrating Springs”, 1844, where he describes the action of the English concertina:

[The instrument above described is called the double-action concertina, because two springs or tongues are employed for each note, so that the same note is sounded, whether the bellows be pressed in or drawn out, as before explained. The single-action concertina has only one spring or tongue for each note, and the sounds can be produced only when the bellows is moving one way, for instance, when it is pressed.]

http://www.concertina.com/wheatstone/

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Dick, of all the videos I’ve seen you post this one is my favorite. Fair play.

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For once, I read words I didn’t understand, and for good reason. Most people don’t use those words either. We should have more discussions on the yuses of yargon……
Meanwhile, I just explain that the english can play any note, whereas the anglo has a couple of harmonicas stuck inside it. That satisfies most people.
PS Were we meant to not notice the extra “and” ?