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Author Topic: Old Hohner C/C# Accordion  (Read 3239 times)

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Kiwi

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Old Hohner C/C# Accordion
« on: December 16, 2007, 02:32:37 AM »

Hello from NZ. I am a newcomer to the forum and  this may be a dumb question.
I have come across an old 2 row Hohner, wooden button board with scrolled ends, 8 basses, and a pearloid finish with a pinkish colour. It is tuned C/C#. I would guess it is from the late 1940's?. The original box is included and the tuning is confirmed on it. The box is labelled 'Hohner Chromatic Accordion'. But the action is certainly 'Diatonic'. A tunebook of the period is also there and it also refers to the 'Chromatic' accordion. Would this be because if it is played across the rows it would have the sharps and flats on the C# row and the 'white' notes on the C row? And therefore would be chromatic? As you have probably guessed by now my knowledge of music nonation is wretched but I would be interested in any answers the forum may have.
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Stiamh

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Re: Old Hohner C/C# Accordion
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2007, 04:19:35 AM »

Would this be because if it is played across the rows it would have the sharps and flats on the C# row and the 'white' notes on the C row? And therefore would be chromatic?

That's exactly right, Kiwi. This is one of several tunings in which the two rows are a semitone apart. Apparently the system was invented in the 1880s by an English concertina and melodeon maker, George Jones.

These days "half-step" system boxes are mainly played by Irish and Scottish musicians. C/C# has gone out of favour - the predominant system for the past 50-60 years has been B/C, with C#/D making a strong comeback more recently. In these systems, unlike the C/C# (and another older system, D/D#) , the inner row is the main one.

These boxes are chromatic in that you have every note in the chromatic scale. But playing in keys that are very remote from the key of the main row is difficult. Most players don't go beyond a fairly small range of keys - quite a few more than are available on a D/G or other "quint" box, though. And you're never stuck for accidentals. If you wanted to learn this system, esp. for  Irish or Scottish music, you might want to think about tuning it down a semitone to B/C or up a semitone to C#/D.

Cheers - and welcome to the forum!
Steve
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Kiwi

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Re: Old Hohner C/C# Accordion
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2007, 07:05:32 AM »

Steve... thank you very much for your most comprehensive reply. You have increased my melodeon musical knowledge by about 100%.
Thanks also for the welcome to the forum.
John
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Matthew B

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Re: Old Hohner C/C# Accordion
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2007, 03:24:17 PM »

You'll also find the C/C# sometimes shows up as instrument of choice on old field recordings.  The English singer Bob Roberts played one, tuned to the pre-war A435, if I'm not mistaken.  And from what I can deduce he played his tunes along the row in either C or C#.  This can slow you down a bit if you try to learn songs by playing along to his records.  What remains a mystery is why he chose one row or the other for any particular song.  I can't imagine his robust singing would have been thrown off by a half-tone.  I also heard some recordings from Sweden a few years ago where the player was using a B/C, and played everything in B. 

In both cases the results sound great.
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