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Author Topic: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?  (Read 1005 times)

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Peadar

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(In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« on: December 01, 2019, 09:45:31 AM »

A large proportion of elderly (pre streamliner) two row accordions coming on ebay from English sellers  are marked Chromatic, but of the rest a good number seem to be AD.

Accepting that for whatever reason (quite possibly the screechy end) the DG didn't exist in the British Isles before 1949 I just wonder if pre-war AD was a  preferred tuning for English diatonic 2 rows.

I am taking an educated guess that many of these are coming from house clearances - and likely to have been kept as momento's of a relative...but never played..finally parked in the loft and eventually disposed of by the executors of the previous owner. Their tunings - before the good ones get converted to DGs would tell us a lot about regional and national preferences. 

I just wonder if anyone through their own random aquisitions dotted across th British Isles has got a similar picture?

For the record - one of my more recent aquisitions - My 6 bass Vienna pattern International carries a stamped tin label indicating it was originally sold in Cardiff is in AD.

My other AD came from the Netherlands - so it doesn't count.



I
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Theo

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2019, 12:24:31 PM »

My experience is different and I've had a lot of ebay buys!   Pre 1950 Hohners I've found in England are most commonly CF or CC#, next GC and AD much less common.
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Peadar

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2019, 04:55:03 PM »

I wasn't just thinking of Hohners, though in the absence of evidence to the contrary it is areasonable assuption that these keys would be in the same proportion regardless of manufacturer - this would be demand driven.

Theo's experience echoes something Triskel wrote in the DG v C/C# thread recalling a  conversation with Peter Kennedy.

Which suggests  -- yes AD's were in circulation, but (even excluding C/C#) boxes with a C row were the common English - preference.
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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2019, 05:08:44 PM »

Which suggests  -- yes AD's were in circulation, but (even excluding C/C#) boxes with a C row were the common English - preference.
This was the case in the East Anglian tradition until fairly recently. In the 1950s and 1960s when the great traditional players like Oscar Woods, Percy Brown, Cecil Pearl and Dolly Curtis were active, tunes were usually played in C, either on one-rows in that key, or else on the C-row of B/C or C/C# instruments, these being the only melodeons readily available at that time. Later on, Percy Brown acquired a D/G box, but it's only in the last 20 years or so with the ubiquity of D/G melodeons coming in that the tradition of playing in C has gradually (and sadly) diminished almost to the point of dying out.
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Tiposx

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2019, 05:15:45 PM »

I have no doubt that in a decade or so c/c# and d/d# boxes will be rediscovered and sought after. Perhaps even piano accordions.. What goes round etc
« Last Edit: December 01, 2019, 07:52:32 PM by Tiposx »
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Jesse Smith

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2019, 05:36:30 PM »

In the 1950s and 1960s when the great traditional players like Oscar Woods, Percy Brown, Cecil Pearl and Dolly Curtis were active, tunes were usually played in C, either on one-rows in that key, or else on the C-row of B/C or C/C# instruments, these being the only melodeons readily available at that time.

Did other instruments play in C as well, or were mixed instrument groups and sessions less common back then? I don't know enough about fiddles to know if it's easy enough to play in C or if the fiddler would retune, etc.
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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2019, 05:55:13 PM »

In the 1950s and 1960s when the great traditional players like Oscar Woods, Percy Brown, Cecil Pearl and Dolly Curtis were active, tunes were usually played in C, either on one-rows in that key, or else on the C-row of B/C or C/C# instruments, these being the only melodeons readily available at that time.

Did other instruments play in C as well, or were mixed instrument groups and sessions less common back then? I don't know enough about fiddles to know if it's easy enough to play in C or if the fiddler would retune, etc.
Fiddle players could easily play in C, but whether they retuned or not, I can't say. Probably not. In East Anglia, dulcimers* were often tuned so that C was a common and oft-used key. Also the flute was a common instrument, with C a very convenient key; similarly with concertinas.

Just across The Wash, in Lincolnshire (sometimes thought of as the 'other' East Anglia) tunes notated in the Joshua Gibbons manuscript (1820s) often were in C, especially the quicksteps, which mostly had a military/drill/ceremonial purpose, with the fife being an important instrument.

*Hammered dulcimers, but EA players simply refer to them as 'dulcimers'.
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Peadar

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2019, 08:40:57 PM »

In the 1950s and 1960s when the great traditional players like Oscar Woods, Percy Brown, Cecil Pearl and Dolly Curtis were active, tunes were usually played in C, either on one-rows in that key, or else on the C-row of B/C or C/C# instruments, these being the only melodeons readily available at that time.

Did other instruments play in C as well, or were mixed instrument groups and sessions less common back then? I don't know enough about fiddles to know if it's easy enough to play in C or if the fiddler would retune, etc.

Sessions as we think of them today ..... non existent, certainly in rural areas - few people could afford cars and bus services didn't exist after 10pm.
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Anahata

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2019, 09:23:33 PM »

Sessions certainly did exist, and people walked or got on their bikes!
And... car ownership may not have been quite so widespread but people had them and I'd guess if someone had one they'd give their friends a lift.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2019, 10:13:59 PM »

Billy Bennington was a reknown hammered dulcimer player.
I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing him play when the Old Boys came to Sidmouth festival for the first time one year, and though then in his '80's played like someone who'd just learnt as was so full of the pleasure. It was glorious to see....
Afterwards I bought an lp of his and learnt he would cycle to sessions and village dances with it strapped to his back, and acquired the title Barfield Angel.
I've heard Alistair Anderson tell of one of the famous Northumbrian pipers cycling to learn tunes from his 'master tutor' after a shift down the pit, learning slow airs uphill and jigs down hill.
People were much tougher than we imagine and would go to huge lengths and distances walking or cycling to play.
We are cosseted by comparison with cars and public transport.
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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2019, 10:19:56 PM »

Did other instruments play in C as well, or were mixed instrument groups and sessions less common back then? I don't know enough about fiddles to know if it's easy enough to play in C or if the fiddler would retune, etc.

An awful lot of the people I know sing in C, for preference. Maybe it's more to do with that.
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Alan Pittwood

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2019, 11:49:33 PM »

Did the DG replace the AD?  The short answer is no.

The longer answer, conceding that we have relatively few documented examples to generalise from, is to point to the use of C, C/C# and C/F melodeons.  As previously mentioned, Bob Cann had a C/C# melodeon when he was recorded by Peter Kennedy, in May 1952 - and Peter specifically notes that Bob played in C#.  Jack Norris in Cuckfield, Sussex played a C/C# melodeon [see chapter 4 of Reg Hall's notes to Scan Tester's I never played to many posh dances]

As for other instruments, it is often overlooked that many people played mouth organs in C and C/G.   I started playing for Morris using my late uncle's double-sided pre-Second World War Hohner mouth organ in C/G.


Remember that the nineteenth century was a pedestrian century (and up to the Second World War was bicycles).  Annually, farm workers walked northwards for weeks, following the grain and vegetable harvests.  Cattle and ducks were walked to markets: but cows had to be kept in cities.  The mid and late 19C railway expansion moved both animals and fresh milk to markets, cities and towns.
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Gary Chapin

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2019, 05:13:32 PM »

Sessions certainly did exist, and people walked or got on their bikes!
And... car ownership may not have been quite so widespread but people had them and I'd guess if someone had one they'd give their friends a lift.

I've read a number of interviews with the revered Ancients (including Michael Coleman) who would talk about the five mile radius of a session or dance. They would go anywhere to play if they could walk there, play, and walk home in time to be ready for work the next day. The estimate was a five mile range.
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Peadar

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2019, 06:21:54 PM »

Sessions certainly did exist, and people walked or got on their bikes!
And... car ownership may not have been quite so widespread but people had them and I'd guess if someone had one they'd give their friends a lift.

I've read a number of interviews with the revered Ancients (including Michael Coleman) who would talk about the five mile radius of a session or dance. They would go anywhere to play if they could walk there, play, and walk home in time to be ready for work the next day. The estimate was a five mile range.

When I question the existence of sessions pre the 1960's aran jumper folk revival I am suggesting that there was usually a social catalyst be it a dance or some other event rather than instrumentalists congregating solely for the pleasure of playing mob handed...which seems to be the purpose of modern sessions.

The five mile radius makes perfect sense - though a country dancer in Fife told me that in the 50's she and her friends might walk (actually she said they would alternately walk and skip change a hundred yards) up to ten miles home rather than leave a dance an hour before the end to catch the last bus.
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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2019, 06:48:54 PM »

A bit late into this discussion, but I've very rarely come across an A/D box and certainly never bought one. As far as I can recall almost all the old boxes I've bought in/from UK, including scrappers, no-hopers and specimens for experimentation have been in C, G, C/F or  D/G. I've had the odd Bb/Eb, and a couple in somewhere round E from central Europe, but never met an A/D (though I do have a set of Weltmeister reeds in A/D waiting for a suitable box to live in...)

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Peadar

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2019, 07:54:03 PM »

Thanks for coming back to the thread Graham.

A couple of times people in the Gaidhealtachd have mentioned AD to me....though one of those melodeons proved to be a BC.

Subsequently, the only Vienna pattern two row I have bought off ebay - I wanted an International, regardless of tuning , turned out to be an AD. I have no idea of its date.

The assorted 1 rows that have arrived by the same route are, by county of seller  in, D (Hampshire), A (Lancashire), G (Durham), Bb (Glasgow), C (Leeds), G (Warwickshire).

The other assorted 2 rows via ebay I knew to be chromatics and they are all C/C# : County of seller and era (Made in Saxony = pre-Great War, Germany =1919- 39,
 Pre 1914: Edinburgh,Glasgow . Interwar: East Anglia, West Country.

So as Allan Pitwood said re AD- short answer : No.

But unless my sample of 1 rows is totally unrepresentative 1 rows were imported to GB in a wide variety of keys. Obviously the sample is too small to be statistically significant and far too small to give any hint of regional/county bias towards one key or another.

Statistical confidence begins to be established on simple Yes/No questions with a sample of about 13.



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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2019, 11:59:33 PM »

When I question the existence of sessions pre the 1960's aran jumper folk revival I am suggesting that there was usually a social catalyst be it a dance or some other event rather than instrumentalists congregating solely for the pleasure of playing mob handed...which seems to be the purpose of modern sessions.

The East Anglian "sing, say or play" pub nights go back to the '50s and quite possibly earlier, and were for their own sake, not attached to some other social event. Not so much "mob handed", except for some of the tunes, perhaps; they were often run by an MC who attempted to keep "best of order" and called on individuals to do a song, tune, recitation or step dance. The BBC famously filmed such sessions at the Blaxhall Ship, for example. I've lived in East Anglia and seen remnants of that format still surviving in the last 19 years, at the Middleton Bell and other Suffolk pubs.
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Peadar

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2019, 06:59:12 PM »



The East Anglian "sing, say or play" pub nights go back to the '50s and quite possibly earlier, and were for their own sake, not attached to some other social event. Not so much "mob handed", except for some of the tunes, perhaps; they were often run by an MC who attempted to keep "best of order" and called on individuals to do a song, tune, recitation or step dance. The BBC famously filmed such sessions at the Blaxhall Ship, for example. I've lived in East Anglia and seen remnants of that format still surviving in the last 19 years, at the Middleton Bell and other Suffolk pubs.


  What you describe looks like the type of social event which, in the Gaidhlig world,  is called a ceilidh.
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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2019, 11:38:39 PM »

 that sort of mixture was what I used when organising/playing for ceilidhs when living on the Isle of Anglesey. A mixture of (called) dances , non called dances eg waltzes, gay gordons etc etc interspersed with 'turns'  i.e songs, recitations,solo  instrumental tunes, community songs, step dances or whatever anybody thought they could do.  It made for  a great social night  that  involved those sitting out or too knackered to dance. 

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Re: (In England) Did the DG replace the AD?
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2019, 10:24:26 AM »

A friend who lurks here sent me a link to the BBC Blaxhall Ship film I mentioned:
http://www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/5

Melodeon content: there's a lot of singing, but towards the end a couple of 1-row melodeons are played for step dancing.
I'm very pleased to be able to say that I've played for some fine steppers in the same pub, about 50 years later.

And yes, it's very much like what I understand to be the Scottish meaning of the word 'ceilidh'
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