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Gibb Sahib Life on shipboard, 1889 (19) RE: Life on shipboard, 1889 25 Feb 20


Yes, Gurney, invented in 1829, NOT "NEW" in 1880s. It was one of the most popular (with accordions) instruments ever by then. 1880s, Germans had perfected the inexpensive accordion that was quite durable. Leather valves get ruined, reeds rot... you can replace them with glue and bits of scrap. Lot easier than having a fiddle broken or replacing its parts.

I'm talking about concertinas of then. Not coveted collector folk music revival instruments. [Not Chinese cheap instruments of today (Steve).] GERMAN concertinas were the leading instruments in the market then. GERMAN SYSTEM concertinas, and made with banked reeds like Steve said. You're basically attaching a harmonica to a bellows. That was (again along with accordion, which is very similar having banked reads and wooden levers) the working class instrument. It's cheapness and the ease with which novices could play the tunes of the day is what made it popular. Fancy toned English system instruments, etc that you'd worry about damaging are moot because working people (sailors) were not the market for those anyway.

Sailors brought these instruments to the far corners of the world. So, in the US for example, where a wide cross section of working people and amateurs played the instruments, there may be no cause to have associated the instrument with sailors in particular (that would come later, with media that Steve mentions). But if you were living in some other places, free reed instruments were introduced to you by visitors on ships--an association.

I just happened to be showing a lot of squeezeboxes to a class today, because we are in a unit on Northern Mexican music. A topic had to do with how accordion, a working class instrument, has come to remain at the center of the sound of Mexican music, whereas it was pushed to the margins in the US.
I brought in the Vietnamese jew's harp, dan moi -- ancestor to free reeds. The Laotian "khaen" and "sheng1", mouth blown free reeds that provide the model to Europeans. I have a restored French accordeon (1870s?), the first popular form of according. A turn of the century German accordion, then stepping up from there to the various accordions (1,2,3 row) of Hohner that are the base of most accordion traditions in the world. Photos from Colombia, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Easter Island, Cabo Verde, Mauritius, and the Arctic (Inuit) of their incorporation in local musics. Pages from the Sears catalogs in late 19th century selling all this stuff... You can go on Google Books and find 1880s mail order catalogs and see just how accessible the instruments were.


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