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Concertinas and Sailors

meself 24 Feb 20 - 07:34 PM
RTim 24 Feb 20 - 07:38 PM
RTim 24 Feb 20 - 07:42 PM
Steve Shaw 24 Feb 20 - 09:02 PM
RTim 24 Feb 20 - 09:12 PM
cnd 24 Feb 20 - 09:16 PM
cnd 24 Feb 20 - 09:26 PM
cnd 24 Feb 20 - 09:34 PM
meself 25 Feb 20 - 12:40 AM
Jack Campin 25 Feb 20 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,kenny 25 Feb 20 - 04:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 Feb 20 - 07:04 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Feb 20 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Mark 25 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Feb 20 - 11:35 AM
The Sandman 25 Feb 20 - 11:46 AM
Brian Peters 25 Feb 20 - 12:33 PM
Brian Peters 25 Feb 20 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,kenny 25 Feb 20 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,kenny 25 Feb 20 - 03:36 PM
Howard Jones 26 Feb 20 - 04:45 AM
Manitas_at_home 26 Feb 20 - 06:07 AM
The Sandman 26 Feb 20 - 06:16 AM
Mo the caller 26 Feb 20 - 06:24 AM
Dave Hanson 26 Feb 20 - 06:42 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 26 Feb 20 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,SB 26 Feb 20 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,SB 28 Feb 20 - 02:36 AM
Howard Jones 28 Feb 20 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,SB 28 Feb 20 - 08:42 AM
Dave the Gnome 28 Feb 20 - 09:11 AM
EBarnacle 28 Feb 20 - 10:26 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 28 Feb 20 - 03:30 PM
Howard Jones 29 Feb 20 - 08:33 AM
meself 29 Feb 20 - 12:07 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Feb 20 - 02:07 PM
GUEST 03 Mar 20 - 12:38 PM
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Subject: Concertinas and Sailors
From: meself
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 07:34 PM

Anyone know, or have an entertaining theory, about how the two became associated in the popular mind?


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: RTim
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 07:38 PM

I found this web page - I have NOT read it all.....

https://www.quora.com/What-musical-instruments-are-most-associated-with-pirates-and-other-seafarers


Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: RTim
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 07:42 PM

The earliest Concertinas were after 1829...Pirates existed...When......Shanties really only existed 1830 to 1880...so believe what you will!

I DON'T think Shantymen played Concertinas....or that Pirates sang Shanties...

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 09:02 PM

I expect the pink oboe was fairly popular on those long and lonely voyages...

I'll get me coat...


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: RTim
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 09:12 PM

Is that the same as a Upright Organ....

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: cnd
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 09:16 PM

The article The Concertina At Sea" by Dan M. Worrall, a concertina historian, writes:

"These writers reveal that the concertina was indeed very commonly played, and much beloved, on a very wide variety of ships from the 1850s to the First World War: whaling ships, clipper ships, merchant and passenger sailing ships, large schooner yachts, early sail-assisted steamers, commercial steamships, vessels of Arctic exploration, and warships of the British and American navies."

The article is pretty fascinating as a read. It includes a list of known incidents of concertinas on ships from the 1850s-1920s, as well as a detailed history. Very well written and well researched, and exactly what you're looking for


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: cnd
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 09:26 PM

Oops, messed up the link.

But this subject has also been discussed pretty thoroughly on concertina-specific forums. See Concertina.net thread 1, thread 2, thread 3.

Wooden boat forums

Even on Mudcat! Sea shanties for fiddle and advice on concertina


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: cnd
Date: 24 Feb 20 - 09:34 PM

I give those mostly as sources for anyone who wants to do some additional reading - not trying to sound snarky! Interestingly, most of the discussion (that I read) disagrees with the Dan Worrall write up above.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: meself
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 12:40 AM

Thanks, cnd.

Btw, in the first link in this thread, one contributor, with an African-sounding name, suggests that the instruments played on pirate ships might not be much different from those played on cruise ships: "guitar, keyboard, and drum set". He's probably right.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 04:04 AM

Dan Worrall's monograph has SO much documentation it's pretty hard to argue with.

The Salvation Army sent whole regiments of concertinas out to die in winter blizzards. They probably didn't last long but they were cheap enough to earn their ticket price. Shipboard can't have been worse for them than playing hymns on a street corner in Chicago at Christmas.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 04:52 AM

A concertina is smaller than a piano.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 07:04 AM

I read somewhere that concertinas were popular with cowboys too. Certainly more portable and robust than the guitar as portrayed in Hollywood cowboy films!


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 11:18 AM

Not having read Dan's books I hesitate in offering an opinion, but I would imagine cheap concertinas would have been as popular on board as any other cheap portable instrument, just as ashore.

Some more modern musicians however have found to their cost that taking a free-reed instrument onto the briny is not a good idea. They tend to rust the reeds very quickly with all the damp air. Be warned. expensive instruments have been ruined. (That's without taking into consideration all the pirates and sharks.)


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST,Mark
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM

Steve Gardham: You don't have to worry about the sharks - they all play melodeons (at the dawning of the day).


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 11:35 AM

Nice one, Mark!

Of course pirates play concertinas. The one on Peter Pan did before Hook shot him.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 11:46 AM

Fiddles were defintely used a fiddle player was liseted as being on the bounty[blighs ship


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 12:33 PM

That was Barry Dransfield!


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 01:27 PM

I must say hat I found Dan Worrall's evidence pretty persuasive, though it's clear that it wasn't just concertinas. Quite a few banjos, as I remember - anything that was cheap, really. In the case of a concertina, cheap and loud, which would be handy in a maritime setting what with all those howling winds, creaking sails, cursing sailors, cackling parrots, and the chink of pieces of eight.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 03:35 PM

Just beat me to it , Brian - but I doubt very much that "Joe Cooley's reel" was around in those days !


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 03:36 PM

https://youtu.be/ZtVZCtdlW58


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Howard Jones
Date: 26 Feb 20 - 04:45 AM

Dan Worrall is well-known in concertina circles and has written a number of books and articles, all very thoroughly researched. On the other hand, the "professional pirate" linked to previously is clearly talking nonsense. The 'golden age of piracy' was roughly from the mid-17th to mid-18th centuries, a good 100 years before the concertina was invented (and for that matter, before the golden age of shantying). The association of the concertina with pirates is entirely a Hollywood invention.

Concertinas were pretty ubiquitous in the 19th century. The ones the sailors (and other members of the lower classes) played were usually not the expensive fancy instruments you see played today, but cheap German-made ones which were more or less disposable. However the were small, light and fairly robust which made them ideal for taking on board ship (although the fiddle was far more common). They probably had brass reeds rather than steel, which would avoid the issue of rust.

Given that concertinas were found everywhere, it is nevertheless interesting why they are particularly associated with sailors. I wonder whether it is because sailors are seen as distinctive and romantic, and captured the imagination in the way that the 'Arries and 'Arriets playing concertina on charabanc trips to Southend or Blackpool did not.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 26 Feb 20 - 06:07 AM

I've always thought that the association may have arisen with concertinas being brought back as gifts by sailors.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Feb 20 - 06:16 AM

more likely hornpipes were played than reels


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Mo the caller
Date: 26 Feb 20 - 06:24 AM

Unless they'd been at the rum


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Feb 20 - 06:42 AM

Dave Swarbrick appeared as a fiddler in ' Far From the Madding Crowd '

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 26 Feb 20 - 02:31 PM

"Yankee Jack", shantyman John Short of Watchet was one of the main shanty sources for C Sharpe, and his concertina is preserved at Watchet museum.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST,SB
Date: 26 Feb 20 - 04:11 PM

"and his concertina is preserved at Watchet museum." Likely not 'preserved' per se. That would imply being kept in playable condition. I doubt whether anyone gives it an airing.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST,SB
Date: 28 Feb 20 - 02:36 AM

References (now lost) were that music for shanties came from a fiddle played whilst sitting on a capstan such as by a sailor who might have become disabled from falling out of the rigging.

Latterely I would opine that accordions would have been more prevalent than concertinas.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8053427/New-artifacts-discovered-doomed-HMS-Erebus-arctic-expedition-1845-left-128-men-dead.html

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/erebus-wreck-exploration-franklin-expedition-mystery-artifacts-1.5469843

"Artifacts pulled from the wreckage of HMS Erebus, including an accordion, hairbrush with human hair, and a bottle of mustard, shed light on what life was like on the ship's doomed voyage through the Arctic in 1945"

And Shackleton's expedition had a banjo on board belonging to shipmate Leonard Hussey.

===


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Howard Jones
Date: 28 Feb 20 - 06:18 AM

According to Hugill, in the British Navy a fiddle was used instead of singing to accompany work, (shanties were generally forbidden) and the fiddler was an official member of the ship's company. In the merchant marine I think shanties were usually unaccompanied, if only because the shantyman was often participating, however lightly, in the work - Hugill expressly says that when pumping the shantyman would take one of the handles. Very occasionally a fiddle might be used to accompany.

Worrall's article says that instruments were used by sailors mostly to provide music for dancing. He also gives figures for the occurrence of various instruments on board ship, taken from a digital search of written references. These show that the "accordion" (probably usually meaning melodeon) appears 331 times compared with 262 for concertina. However top of the list is fiddle (1315 references).

Franklin's predecessor Capt Parry famously took a barrel-organ on his Arctic expeditions in the 1820s. Both the melodeon and concertina are traditional instruments among the Inuit, which were introduced by sailors from whaling ships (and I recall hearing a recording in Ottawa museum of an Inuit song which sounded remarkably like "What shall we do with the drunken sailor?")


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST,SB
Date: 28 Feb 20 - 08:42 AM

What kind of dancing? And pease don't say Sailor's Hornpipe.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 Feb 20 - 09:11 AM

Well, if it was a hornpipe and a sailor was dancing it...

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: EBarnacle
Date: 28 Feb 20 - 10:26 AM

The only problem with a concertina or melodeon is that you cannot put your rum on top a you would with a pianer.
The similarity in range between a treble concertina and a fiddle is deliberate. There is a story, probably apocryphal, that Wheatstone invented the concertina because of the poor quality and high prices of fiddles then available.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 28 Feb 20 - 03:30 PM

And also concertinas were "acceptable for ladies" as they did not have to use their arms vigorously as with the violin:)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Howard Jones
Date: 29 Feb 20 - 08:33 AM

"What kind of dancing? And please don't say Sailor's Hornpipe."

They did dance hornpipes, how do you think it got its name? Possibly not the stylised dance as it is known today, but step-dancing was commonplace on shore as well as shipboard, and they would dance usually to jigs and hornpipes. Worrall refers to a description of "a score of barefoot sailors dancing a hornpipe to the tune 'Jack's the Lad'" on HMS Excellent in 1872. They danced to amuse or exercise themselves, to perform for passengers for tips, and to attract women when in harbour!

He says that when playing for dances in harbour or for passengers they would play the ballroom dances of the period, including schottisches, quadrilles, waltzes and polkas.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: meself
Date: 29 Feb 20 - 12:07 PM

You'd hardly think that sailors would need a lot of "exercise" - but it does seem to have been required or at least encouraged on some ships in the 1800s.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Feb 20 - 02:07 PM

Depends what you mean by sailors. There's a world of difference between MN and RN.


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Subject: RE: Concertinas and Sailors
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Mar 20 - 12:38 PM

did they wear those dinky little blue caps you see in hundreds at Shanty weekends ?


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