Tim as Count Cobweb, Lulworth Castle October 2010

The Duet Concertina

I play a 55 key Wheatstone Crane System Duet concertina, and also a 65 Key Wheatstone Crane System Duet Concertina. The basic principle of the instruments is that you can play completely independently on either side of the concertina, in any key. The instruments are double-action, so that the note is the same on the push and on the pull, unlike a harmonica, melodeon or Anglo- concertina. It’s very easy to play a drone accompaniment, and also to play chords on one side and melody on the other. The only limit that the instrument has is the ability and imagination of the player!

There are at least 4 different fingering systems for Duets, but the Crane or Triumph system is the simplest. Duets were regarded as the Professionals’ instrument in the heyday of the instrument just before the First World War, and the repertoire and style of playing from that period is very appealing. Big influences on my playing are Percy Honri, Alexander Prince and Tommy Williams. I also admire the playing of Mike Hebbert on Jeffries Duet and Iris Bishop on McCann duet. I was lucky enough to appear in Nigel William’s play ‘Country Dancing’ with Peter Honri, Percy’s grandson, and learnt a lot about the history of concertina playing during that tour.