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German concertina

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The early form of German concertina.

At about the same time as Sir Charles Wheatstone was developing his concertina, C.F. Uhlig was working in Chemnitz, Germany to develop his instrument, which he called a Konzertina. Its internal construction is different from the Wheatstone invention, and it is bisonoric. It has bass on left, treble on right.

The first instruments had ten or twenty buttons, and were diatonic each row of buttons has the notes of one particular key and playing a scale requires alternating between press and draw of the bellows. On 20-button instruments, the two rows of buttons would play in keys a fifth apart (like C/G). Over the years the keyboards were expanded to extend the range, to allow accidental notes, and to allow notes to be played in both directions of the bellows, so that a scale could be played without alternating press and draw. Some expanded instruments have as many as 75 buttons.

Three main layouts developed: "Uhlig'sche," the layout created by Uhlig, "Carlsfelder," after the village of Carlsfeld, and "Scheffler'sche," after Max Scheffler, a merchant who sold such instruments. The layouts are conducive to playing in a few main keys, but some instruments are capable of a full chromatic scale within a certain range on either press or draw.

Many instruments have multiple reeds for each note. Sometimes the term "Chemnitzer" is mistakenly applied to the entire class. In Germany, the term properly refers to a 104-key Scheffler'sche instrument, while in the US, it refers to either the 76-key Scheffler'sche layout or the American layouts that grew out of it.

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German concertina
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