Birth of the Concertina

The novelty of the accordion consisted in playing a predefined harmony (chord) with one single button on opening the bellow and a second one on closing. After the privilege for building accordions ended in 1834, the name and the instrument became very well known and the great commercial interest for the new instrument among other builders was based on the ease of its use, specially for the accompaniment of dance music. This made the accordion very attractive, particularly for non musicians. But the fact that the harmonies were fixed was criticized by some people. Several constructors introduced switches to shut off single tones from the chords, others, like C. F. Uhlig placed the single notes in groups that way to easily combine them to chords, this in contrast to the usual systematic distribution of the notes like keyboard instruments. The fact that the bisonoric action of a button was preserved and chords still were playable, let people like Höselbarth, Zimmermann or Band continue to call it accordion.

The individual selection of tones to form individual chords for several tonalities, was the enhancement of Band's advertisements in 1844 for his 40 and 56 voice accordions. In many countries the term accordion is also used for concertinas. In Germany a distinction came up when later versions of Band's instruments with many voices were labeled Bandonion. Similarly Leclerc in Paris presented a melody instrument he called mélophone and which was often confused with a concertina despite of its guitar shape. A special valve control allowed action of the same voice on opening and closing with the invisible bellow.

It was perhaps A. Debain of Paris to use the term concertina for the first time in 1839, before he sold his rights to J. Alexandre for the construction of concertinas or piano-concertinas. R. Blagrove used an instrument of Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802 - 1872) to publish in 1839 a Verdi melange ``...for the Concertina with an accompaniment for the piano forte''. Regondi presents in 1840/41 his Wheatstone instrument, which he had bought in 1837 as a mélophone but in 1846 calls it concertina.

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last update: 2017-02-07

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