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21-Aug-2017 18:50

These are from the collection of the Concertina Museum in Belper, Derbyshire, which was purchased with generous sponsorship from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 1996.

More numerous in the collection, though, are examples of the instrument Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) patented in 1844, the English-system concertina, which were aimed at the top end of the market.

Here the reeds play different notes depending on whether the bellows are pressed or drawn, as in the mouth organ or harmonica.

We have many fine examples of this type of concertina, most of them dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1829 he patented the symphonium, a free reed mouthorgan, operated similarly to the concertina by buttons linked to levers that control pallets admitting air to the reeds.

He went on to develop the bellows-blown free reed instrument and his English system concertina became a very popular instrument.

Most people today associate the concertina with traditional music and the bright sound of an Anglo-German system instrument, free of baffles to dampen it.It was produced in 1858 and has rosewood ends inlaid with brass decoration, and glass buttons.It also has very decorative papers on its leather bellows.Like the majority of English-system concertinas, it's a "double action" instrument, meaning that the free reeds controlled by an individual button play the same note, regardless of whether the bellows are pressed or drawn.

I think the concertina is a classic piece of Victorian invention – what's so clever about it is that it’s a small instrument with a wide compass of notes. Instruments of a similar range developed in continental Europe at the same time were quite unwieldy – the accordion is a much heavier and larger instrument.He applied his knowledge of resonating bodies to his concertina, where each little metal free reed that produces a note has its own resonance cavity that's acoustically coupled to the note of the reed.

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