comment 0

The Chemnitzer Concertina

As most of you know, I enjoy all kinds of musical instruments. The Chemnitzer Concertina is one that is on my list to learn one day. It’s a free reed instrument like an accordion, it’s diatonic and it’s bisonoric. Diatonic only means that it’s tuned to a particular scale so it  has some built-in structural limitations which help give the instrument its character. Bisonoric means that you get one note when you depress a button and push air through the bellows but a different note when you pull air through the bellows. In that way, with the bass and chords on the left and the melody notes on the right, it’s sort of like a diatonic button accordion. It’s really closer to a bandonion though than any other instrument I can think of. In this next video you can see a tango orchestra with a row of bandonion players. The tune is La Cumparsita, perhaps the most famous of the tangos and this video is fantastic.

Quite a number of American polka bands use Chemnitzer concertina as a key melody instrument. In those bands the accordion is treated as a rhythm instrument and the accordionist shakes the bellows to drive the beat. A good example of this type of instrumentation is one of my fave polka bands, a group from buffalo called The Dynatones. Sometimes this group has been referred to as Scrubby and the Dynatones. Scrubby is Dave “Scrubby” Seweryniak, and he played the Chemnitzer concertina and sang for this group for many years.

Here they are performing Blondie’s Polka…

The following video I’ve posted before but it’s so good it deserves a little more attention. It’s from 1966 and features Li’l Wally on concertina playing Johnny’s Knocking on the Lawrence Welk television show – sung in both Polish and English

What’s better than one Chemnitzer concertina player? Two in one band of course. This features Jerry Minar and Dale Pexa on concertinas and this combo even has a banjo player!

Have your say...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s