The English concertina, invented by the physicist Charles Wheatstone, enjoyed a modest popularity as a parlor and concert instrument in Victorian Britain. Wheatstone designed several button layouts for the concertina consisting of pitch lattices of interlaced fifths and thirds, which he described in patents of 1829 and 1844. Like the later tonal spaces of the German dualist theorists, the concertina's button layouts were inspired by the work of eighteenth-century mathematician Leonhard Euler, who used a lattice to show relationships among pitches in just intonation. Wheatstone originally tuned the concertina according to Euler's diatonic-chromatic genus before switching to meantone and ultimately equal temperament for his commercial instruments. Among members of the Royal Society, the concertina became an instrument for research on acoustics and temperament. Alexander Ellis, translator of Hermann von Helmholtz's On the Sensations of Tone, used the concertina as a demonstration tool in public lectures intended to popularize Helmholtz's acoustic theories. The English concertina's history reveals the peculiar fissures and overlaps between scientific and popular cultures, speculative harmonics and empirical acoustics, and music theory and musical practice in the mid-nineteenth century.
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Anna Gawboy; The Wheatstone Concertina and Symmetrical Arrangements of Tonal Space. Journal of Music Theory 1 October 2009; 53 (2): 163–190. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-2010-001
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