Discussions > General Discussion

The rise of D/G (and the fall of "English Chromatic" C/C#) since 1949

(1/35) > >>

triskel:
Not wanting to drag the Tasmania. An odd question thread even further off topic, I've opened this new one about a subject arising from it:

Hitherto, the Old "English Chromatic" C/C# system (going back to the 1880s) was prevalent amongst English 2-row melodeon players, played in C (with a row of semitones, much as an Irish D/D# player might play his instrument in D), and indeed, C might be considered as "concert pitch" amongst the old-style players recorded in East Anglia (like it still is amongst the Cajuns in Louisiana). In fact I'm reminded of a number of instruments I bought after the death of Suffolk melodeon player Cyril Stannard - who had single-row C's, and double-row G/C, C/F, C/C# and B/C boxes that had all quite evidently been played exclusively on the C row...

I've been told that D/G (in English music) originated with a couple of dance players on Dartmoor in the 1940s, who got their Club Model C/F accordions (which were themselves a new introduction in the 1930s) converted to play in D/G, to suit the keys of the fiddle players. Peter Kennedy then took up D/G and seems to have been behind the more general introduction of the system.

It was Peter who got the first D/G instruments manufactured for the English folk market - a batch of Club Models built by Hagstrom, a Swedish firm who had set up an accordion factory in Sunderland after WWII and brought Nils Nielsen with them as a young factory-trained tuner. Those boxes were made (subject to a Licence from the Board of Trade, in those immediate post-war years of restrictions, rationing and 100% Sales Tax on musical instruments!) especially for the English Folk Dance Society in 1949, and they could only be bought at that time by members of the Society who had pre-ordered them.

The very first Hohner D/Gs for the English market (and the first D/Gs to be commercially available in Britain) only appeared in 1955, when Bell's of Surbiton ordered a small batch of Pokerworks, and then another of Ericas (which were then a new model) - one of the Pokerworks was bought by Reg Hall, and the last of the Ericas by Brian Hayden - but the second batch sold much more slowly than the first, and Brian ("Inventor" of this parish) has reported that he was told they might not be getting any more made.

The system was so new, and little known, that a 1957 article in English Dance & Song magazine, "What you can do with the melodeon", doesn't even mention it!

I commented in the Tasmania. An odd question thread that;


--- Quote from: triskel on October 03, 2016, 10:18:35 PM ---... people might be surprised to learn that even my latest Bell's catalogue, from May 1968, only lists the Erica in C/C# - and no Pokerworks, or D/Gs, at all!

--- End quote ---

But tonight I came across an even later, January 1971, Bell's catalogue that I bought recently.

It still shows the Erica as being in C/C# as standard, but adds (almost as an afterthought, below the main body of the description) "Also available in D and G tuning."

There are still no Pokerworks in that catalogue though, and there are altogether 4 different models in C/C#, four in B/C and 4 in B/C/C# listed, as well as 2 models in C#/D and 2 in D/D#, but only the Erica in D/G!  :o

Early days for D/G, even then!

Edited title

ACE:
When I got my first soprani in D/G from accordions of London I got it cheap as the salesman said he would not be able to sell it to any of his regulars, this was  years before the internet, so I  suspect advertising the thing country wide was not an option and Kilburn then being termed as the Irish Quarter, his regulars would not be seen dead with those tunings. My very first D/G was a pokerwork purchased in the early seventies from the West Midlands Folk federation who had managed to obtain a batch of pokerworks and a couple of Coronas in A/D/G.  For us players out in the back woods it was still 20 years plus after the 1949 intro that we came across the weird beasts. Playing in C was the norm up to then or a very squeaky G on a cheap old lachenal anglo.

Pearse Rossa:

--- Quote from: triskel on October 10, 2016, 02:04:31 AM ---...But tonight I came across an even later, January 1971, Bell's catalogue that I bought recently.

It still shows the Erica as being in C/C# as standard, but adds (almost as an afterthought, below the main body of the description) "Also available in D and G tuning."

There are still no Pokerworks in that catalogue though, and there are altogether 4 different models in C/C#, four in B/C and 4 in B/C/C# listed, as well as 2 models in C#/D and 2 in D/D#, but only the Erica in D/G!  :o

Early days for D/G, even then!

--- End quote ---
It seems obvious that the supplier was catering mainly to Scottish and Irish box players?
Which begs the question...how many English folk musicians were actually playing the button box at the time? Very few maybe?

Which models were available in C#/D and D/D#?

Pearse Rossa:

--- Quote from: ACE on October 10, 2016, 07:52:04 AM ---When I got my first soprani in D/G from accordions of London I got it cheap as the salesman said he would not be able to sell it to any of his regulars, this was  years before the internet, so I  suspect advertising the thing country wide was not an option and Kilburn then being termed as the Irish Quarter, his regulars would not be seen dead with those tunings...

--- End quote ---

If an Irish player wanted to play like Paddy O' Brien or Joe Burke or Finbarr Dwyer (and they all did!),
then it had to be B/C or some other semi-tone.
You just can't get the ornamentation that those players get, on a D/G.

Steve_freereeder:

--- Quote from: Pearse Rossa on October 11, 2016, 12:07:32 AM ---Which begs the question...how many English folk musicians were actually playing the button box at the time? Very few maybe?

--- End quote ---

In the 1970s, probably quite a lot, but I suspect they tended not to be documented very much. Certainly in East Anglia (where the eponymous Traditional Music Trust has done so much research) there were Oscar Woods, Dolly Curtis, Percy Brown, George Craske, and others. They mainly played two row melodeons in C/C# or B/C using the C rows only, although latterly, Percy Brown played a D/G Erica. The one-row four-stop melodeon in C was also popular and came to be Oscar Woods' iconic box.

I've no reason to doubt that there were similar players in other parts of England at the time, the Dartmoor area of Devon especially coming to mind.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version