Here are some concertina recordings mostly from the first quarter of the
20th century. At that time, recordings were made mechanically (usually termed
'acoustic') using sound captured by a large recording horn, which
indirectly drove a needle and inscribed the sound onto a wax disk.
Recordings made this way do not have the quality of the later
(after 1925) electrical recordings, and most of the 78rpm records used for transcription
were badly scratched and worn. While most later or unworn 78rpms will play
well with stylii of around 2.5 to 3 mil diameter, I have had to use huge 3.5 and
4 mil 'diamond nails' to bring out detail and reduce wear distortion. The
transcriptions have been processed to try to increase the audibility of the
notes played, rather than a good sonic reproduction of the perfomance, and all
transcriptions are new.
If you would prefer copies of the unprocessed transcriptions, please contact me,
although be aware that (for archive purposes) the files are
each around 140Mb (32 bit, 96KHz, stereo). A discography of Alexander Prince
recordings was published in the ICA's PICA (and also here) at the end of
2012, followed by a discography of other players in 2013.
For dating information I have used various internet sources (some now
forgotten!), and published label discographies,but currently the most
comprehensive internet resource seems to be The AHRC
Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM)
database available here
Stephen Bartle (English Concertina)
Bartle was probably the first English system Concertina player to be
recorded. He is credited as being "The World Champion Concertina Player" prior
to Alexander Prince (so roughly pre 1895), and a short article on his daughter
Barbara appears in the ICA's PICA Volume 1,
Blue Bells Of Scotland
Recorded 26 June 1906 This release on Zonophone X-49105
10" single-sided from November 1906
We normally think of 78rpms as 3 or 4 minutes, but Norman Field
has kindly provided two rare Musogram recordings of Bartle, each lasting in excess of 5
minutes, as well as a Grammavox recording. Norman has a very informative website -
Early British Disc Record Labels 1898-1926 which
is well worth dipping into. Thanks, Norman!
Empire March This release on Musogram 185
12" double-sided from c.1910
Harry Boyd is probably better known as a concertina dealer in
Newcastle around the turn of the 20th century. His 'Boyd' customised concertinas
from Wheatstone and Lachenal are high quality instruments. However he did record
a few sides and this record (originally released on Jumbo 600 c.1911) shows he was a very
Bramwell Thornett was a stalwart of the earlier days of the
International Concertina Association, joining in 1969 although he had made
many visits to meetings earlier, and a fine duet system
player. He was a Brigadier with the Salvation Army, and this recording is part
of the Salvation Army MF Series released on Regal and Regal-Zonophone.
Archie Burgess is credited as popularising the duet concertina
in the Salvation Army. The 'Triumph' duet was a name used by them for the duet
system also known as Crane or Butterworth. These recordings are part of the
Salvation Army MF Series released on Regal and Regal-Zonophone.
A Salvation Medley
a.Calm is my resting
c.I am happy,glad and free
Recording date unknown This release on Regal Zonophone MF269
10" double-sided released 1936
Sweet And Low
Recording date unknown This release on Regal Zonophone MF292
10" double-sided released 1940
Dutch Daly (Anglo Concertina)
William 'Dutch' Daly (1848-1924), was born in St. Helier,Jersey,in the Channel
Islands,and became a major music-hall artist. His life and career have been
documented in an extremely well researched article written by Randall C. Merris
for the ICA's PICA Volume 4,
Although most well known as a concertina player, Alf Edwards was a
multi-instrumentalist, playing trombone, saxophone, violin, drums, and even
bagpipes and ocarina. He became a professional musician in April 1918, joing his father in
a duo. After his father retired, Alf was very much in demand, but fulfilled a
longtime ambition to join a dance band and joined Jack Payne's Orchestra in
November 1934, remaining with the Orchestra until it was disbanded in 1947. He
was often featured on the concertina playing with the Orchestra's string section.
He recorded on concertina for HMV before WW2 with both Jack Payne and Bonnie
Monroe, and after the war was also featured on records from the growing Folk
movement. The Harmonic disc below (a very late 78rpm) was used for short introductions on radio
and television stations, etc. so I've included it in full.
J. Eastwood, accompanied by The Heywood English Concertina Band Titania
The Heywood English Concertina Band The Crown Of Scottish Song
Recorded 31 January 1932 Regal MR579
10" double-sided released July 1932
Percy Honri (Duet Concertina)
Recordings of Percy Honri are rare. I've not seen any on
general sale in the last 10 years until I got the Zonophone below in early 2016,
and the Winner in 2018.
The two Nicole discs came from somebody who knew of my interest. They are early
7 inch indestructibles. Unfortunately these paper based discs are very prone to
warping and their surface produces a lot of noise. I had thought that this
warping caused the apparent speed changes you hear, but another youtube
transcription of the same disc showed exactly the same speed changes.
Jim Hume is mentioned as one of the leading players
circa 1920 in a letter to the Accordion Review magazine in the early 1950s.
Although his style may appear a little simple compared to the other players on
this page, it should be remembered that the English concertina is primarily a
melody instrument, and his double octave and harmonised playing shows a
considerable talent on the instrument.
'Professor' Maccann was the inventor of the Maccann system duet,
patented in 1884. The recordings below were kindly provided by Peter Adamson,
an expert on early British recordings. Peter researched these transcriptions very
throughly to establish their true replay speed and he notes : "... both with some measure of noise reduction and filtering, but (I hope)
preserving all of the recorded sound. As I mentioned a while ago, 70 rpm turned
out to give 'sensible' keys for the two pieces: C and D major (at A=435)"
The label images show the earliest type of records issued by The Gramophone Company
(later known as 'His Masters Voice') and handwritten details are engraved into
the disc itself.
The Coral Pearl Gavotte
Recording date 12th September 1900 This release on Berliner 9118
7" single-sided from
The Gramophone Company
'A Frangesa March
Recording date 12th September 1900 This release on Berliner 9119
7" single-sided from
The Gramophone Company
Walter Mitchell and Willie Shepherd (Anglo? Concertinas)
I have no information on this duo or their instruments, but Stuart Eydmann notes in Chapter 8
The Life and Times of the Concertina
that 'Blaze Away' was recorded on a 78 rpm disc by the concertina duet Messrs. Mitchell and Shepherd.
They recorded this at least twice on different labels with a gap of almost 10 years.
When I know little about a player, I always ask other
enthusiasts at concertina.net for information before I start any research. This
time some of them went off and did the research for me (see
Frank's real name was Francini Olloms, and he was an acrobat as well as a very capable
player. I've found only two records by him (see A
Poet and Peasant Zampa
Recording date unknown Released on Parlophone E 5232
10" double-sided in September 1924
Ernest Rutterford (Maccann Duet Concertina)
very little information on Rutterford, other than his father (Charles) was also a
player and teacher, and Harry Minting (the last manager of Wheatstone & Co.)
was one of Charles' pupils. Ernest and Harry later played together in the
Ernest Rutterford Band,
where Harry normally played banjo.
I was very pleased to win this 78rpm on ebay, thinking that I
could add a new English player with recordings from around
1925-30. But things were not as they seemed. The recordings on this disk are not by
Walter Dale, but in fact by Alexander Prince and were made
for the Zonophone label in 1908/9. If you look carefully at the
label for Adminstration March, you can see the stamped Zonophone catalogue code
X49146. Both sides have the Zonophone matrix numbers stamped on them. But
at least the disk produced better transcriptions than those on the Alexander Prince
Administration March Honest Toil
Recorded 1908/1909 by Alexander Prince for Zonophone This release on Homochord D1057
10" double-sided from circa 1925-1930.