Irish Concertina


The Irish concertina is a musical instrument that forms a major part of the contemporary Irish music and is widely played around even to this day. Those who have seen a concertina being played know that one has to pull both ends and bring them back together. Although the movement looks very free, it is actually extremely well calculated and the bellows and buttons, which are strategically placed throughout the instrument is the cause of the melody that flows out from it. Since its inception and invention in the 1820’s, there have been quite a few modifications to this instrument, but in essence it has remained the same. The improvements have resulted in the organ being lighter and much easier to manage, but it has been the utmost endeavor of the specialists not to change its tonal quality.

The Irish concertina is actually more like its English counterpart rather than its German cousin. The English version was invented in 1829 by Charles Wheatstone and then he patented that in 1844. The German version was invented in 1834. It was from the English version that the Irish concertina evolved, because of its geographical proximity. Because of this, the latter is also hexagonal in shape, which can be seen in the English versions as well. The German is almost square in shape. It can be said that the traditional Irish music is best played on this as it brings out the simplicity and playfulness so well. The bellows and the buttons are also positioned in much the same manner. Whether the sound will come out from just one bellow or from both sides depend upon the models.

Another Anglo model was later seen in the market and this had both the traits of the English and German. This was nearer to the modern Irish concertina that we get to see today. The folk revival movement which happened during the 1960s was a major turning point and because of this many long forgotten instruments were again brought before the public eye. Apart from the concertina, the accordions and fiddles also made a comeback and the traditional music and folk songs were played all across. The radio covered some of the concerts as well. Moreover, because of the modifications in the Irish concertina, some of the tunes and melodies got a new touch because of the tonal changes that the instrument brought. The concertinas that are mass produced these days are checked thoroughly for correct pitching and tonal quality but somewhere, the initial touch has been lost. Moreover, there was a time when the piano and the genre of jazz and blues became very popular.

Hand made concertinas are still made today, but then they cost a lot more and the skill and labor to produce such instruments are also decreasing by the day as the young generation do not want to put in so much effort. But still, the place of Irish Concertina can never be diminished. So the Irish concertina is a very interesting instrument and those who have seen or heard it agree that it is unique and its lively sound is so very comforting. 

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