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Sometimes it was protected by termite-proof tin outer cases – an example of which can be seen in the collection here.Today Wheatstone is best known for his scientific inventions.The English-system concertina is also a very expressive instrument, with a considerable dynamic range.To play loud music the bellows must be pushed in and drawn out with more force than when playing softly.In 1829 he patented the symphonium, a free reed mouthorgan, operated similarly to the concertina by buttons linked to levers that control pallets admitting air to the reeds.He went on to develop the bellows-blown free reed instrument and his English system concertina became a very popular instrument.
The natural notes are the white notes in the centre of the column and on the outside are the accidentals, which are coloured black.
If you were to hear some of the concertina music by Giulio Regondi, such as Les Oiseaux (The Birds), composed for the Wheatstone's English system concertina in 1851, you would gain an idea of the instrument's potential.
Regondi, a guitarist who had learned to play a guitar-shaped free reed instrument called a mélophone, invented in Paris in 1827, soon became a concertina virtuoso.
These are from the collection of the Concertina Museum in Belper, Derbyshire, which was purchased with generous sponsorship from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 1996.
More numerous in the collection, though, are examples of the instrument Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) patented in 1844, the English-system concertina, which were aimed at the top end of the market.