The Concertina

It’s a very Victorian instrument (though invented nine years before her ladyship ascended the throne). Its very name – concertina – sounds like a Victorian neologism. Concertinas also have the pre-electronic mechanical miniturization beloved by Victorian tinkerers with lots of parts stuffed into a small space – good goods in small parcels. And they were relatively inexpensive.

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Encontro de concertinas em Montalegre 2011

Of course, it was may have been Clare’s isolation that allowed for the preservation of the concertina’s role in ITM there. Linguistic and cultural archaisms frequently survive in peripheral and/or remote areas – witness the survival to this very day of Elizabethan English on the isolated Smith and Tangier islands in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

No instrument is at the same time so portable, powerful, cheap and easily manipulated as the concertina.

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The Adoption of the Concertina into Irish Traditional Music

From the earliest days of country-house dancing in west Clare, it is perhaps the concertina that can claim to be at its musical heart … Although the fiddle and flute can claim honoured places in west Clare’s musical history, the modest German concertinas were the people’s favourite concertinas to buy for the best part of a hundred years.  (Taylor: 209)

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