Exploring the Anglo

Dan Worrall

Contributions to the Concertina Library by Dan Worrall.

worrall-anglo-in-united-states Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834–1930
by Dan Worrall
Although the Irish are known for their long folk memory, the story of how of concertina playing began there has been largely lost; it is often tagged to a threadbare tale of mariners bringing them up the Shannon estuary to Clare. This paper reconstructs its history by using period accounts from newspapers, books and family histories to document the social gatherings where it was played, and the vendors who sold it. The Anglo-German concertina was enormously popular all across Ireland during its heyday, amongst people of nearly all social and economic groups. The concertina is a much-favored instrument in County Clare, Ireland, and a few players there bridge the gap in time between the instrument’s heyday in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and the current revival, which began in the 1970s. Its later concentration in Clare was not a result of how it arrived, but of local cultural and economic factors that aided its barest survival there while it was completely dropped—and all but forgotten—elsewhere in the country.
Posted 15 November 2007
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worrall-anglo-in-united-states A Brief History of the Anglo Concertina in the United States
by Dan Worrall
In the United States the Anglo-German concertina was very popular during the middle and late nineteenth century, but by the early twentieth century it had all but vanished from American popular culture, becoming only a Hollywood symbol of “the old days”. After the revival of interest in traditional music and in concertinas from the 1960s the Anglo has once again had some popularity in the United States, but without connection to any tradition of its earlier widespread use in America. This paper attempts to reconstruct a basic history of the Anglo concertina in the U.S. by using nineteenth-century tutors, newspaper mentions, anecdotes from family histories, and archival photographs. Topics discussed include the early use of German concertinas in the Eastern U.S., the use of Anglo concertinas by Mormon and other western pioneers, use during the War Between the States, use by African-Americans, use in nautical contexts, use by immigrant and other ethnic groups, and use by the American branch of the Salvation Army. Some previously unpublished photographs are included.
Posted 15 April 2007
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merris-minasi-german-tutor-1846 Earliest Known English-Language German Concertina Tutor: Minasi’s “Instruction Book” 1846
by Randall C. Merris and Dan Worrall
Carlo Minasi published the earliest known English-language tutor for the German ("Anglo-German") concertina by 1846 in London. This publication goes well beyond the basics; in it are instructions not only for the simple “along the row” melody line style, but also extensive discussions of octave playing, cross row fingering, and chord accompaniment. Numerous fully arranged musical selections are included, almost all in the “English” or “harmonic” style, where chords are played on the left and melody on the right, more or less as a duet concertina is played.
Posted 15 August 2005
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worrall-hoeselbarth-german-tutor Earliest Known German Concertina Tutor: Höselbarth’s “Anweisung das Accordion zu spielen”
by Stephen Chambers and Dan Worrall
Johann Gottlieb Höselbarth published the earliest-known tutor for the German concertina in Chemnitz Germany, in the late 1830s or early 1840s. All of the music in this tutor is in the key of C, and several of the tunes in the Appendix include modulation between the keys of C and G. Chords are typically rich, with up to four notes played at once on the left hand. All of the tunes are in the so-called harmonic style, where the melody is played on the right hand, and the chorded accompaniment is played (mostly) on the left. This and an early tutor of 1846 published in London by Carlos Minasi (see elsewhere on this site) indicate that the harmonic style of playing dates back to the earliest days of the German concertina.
Posted 15 August 2005
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worrall-william-kimber The Anglo Concertina Music of William Kimber
by Dan Worrall
This is the first thorough examination of the playing style and repertoire of William Kimber (1872–1961). Kimber played the Anglo in the "harmonic" or "English" style (melody on the right hand and chords on the left), a style which goes back at least to the earliest history of the Anglo concertina in England, is standard for the Morris dance tradition, and is typical of many leading contemporary players. Despite its importance the harmonic style of playing has not been accessible in recent tutors. But thanks to the fact that Kimber was the earliest player of the Anglo to be extensively recorded, his style can be studied here through the extensive annotated transcriptions of Kimber’s playing presented for the first time. Published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, October 2005. ISBN 085418194146, 96pp with b&w illustrations, forward by Roger Digby. Available at the EFDSS online shop, and at The Button Box.
Posted 15 June 2005
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Dan Worrall, holding
William Kimber’s Jeffries Anglo
concertina (with thanks to
Julie Kimber-Nickelson).