Saving the concertina from extinction

Saving the concertina from extinction

N otenblatter? He does not need it. Luckily. Because in the meantime gunter froba's eyes are not the best anymore. It's convenient that the notes have always been stored in the teuschnitzer's memory.

"I hear every wrong note!", says the frankenwalder and begins to pull apart the wrinkled instrument on his slide. At the same time his fingers run over buttons on both sides, on the right for the melody, on the left for bass and accompaniment. An old cowboy hit is already sounding. Froba closes his eyes, pulls, prints and grins. "This is 'tobacco& you young people don't know that at all," he says, he says to the group as he pushes the instrument together again. Now he is in his element. The 80-year-old is a concertina player with body and soul, heart and brain. One of the last of its kind. The konzertina is threatened with extinction.
But there is hope: gunter froba's grandson aaron, for example. He also plays – but according to notes or numbers of buttons. "The bad thing is that he needs notes", says his grandfather, shaking his head. Aaron laughs. "That's my grandfather. He knows all the pieces by heart and he is a strict teacher." Despite this – or perhaps because of it – the grandson has always had the musical talent of the former "lapalomas" singer admired and wanted to emulate him. "When we visited, grandpa always gave me lessons. We started with easy pieces, where I only had to print one note", tells the 17 year old student, who lives with his parents in bayreuth. "Then we raised the level more and more." Gunter froba adds: "the difficult and also dangerous thing about concertinas is that when you print it, you get a different sound than when you pull it. And that you can combine several tones."

Concertinas look similar to accordions, but there are differences in their construction. In both, the sound is produced by the air stream vibrating elastic metal tongues attached to the frame. Unlike the accordion, however, the concertina produces only one tone at a time, to put it simply. This means that on the concertina you always have to press three or more buttons at the same time to make a chord sound.

"Concertina is more difficult to play than schifferklavier", finds froba, who has a good seven decades of concertina experience. 15 years ago – when aaron was just two – gunter froba celebrated his 65th birthday. And wanted to play a little song for himself and his guests. Before that, he pulled out a chair next to him, sat aaron on it and put his smallest concertina on the boy's slide. Aaron pulled firmly to the right and left – and visibly enjoyed it, as the photos prove.
When aaron was six years old, his grandfather gave him something very special: the concertina, which he had also received from his grandfather many decades before. "For me it was like this: the langenbacher always played konzertina", recalls gunter froba. Since his grandfather came from langenbach, he also wanted to initiate his grandson into the secrets of the typical french-saxon culture. "At that time a teacher always came to our home and taught me."
Gunter froba never lost his passion for the rare instrument, which is hardly ever made today and costs 3000 euros per piece. He learned countless pieces by heart and developed a soft spot for the many decades old boxes, which are artistically handcrafted with ornaments, silk lining and wooden inlays. "He plays every day on one of his seven concertinas", reports his wife annette, who has been married to him and his music for 57 years.
Aaron, who is actually into cloud-rap, now wants to play harder again. "Until I was about twelve or thirteen I really stuck with it. You can also play rock songs, country or even something latin american. In the pubertat it fell asleep a bit. But now I like to play more often again. I still can't really keep up with the grandpa."
Whether it is true? At the weekend everyone can judge for themselves. In neudrossenfeld, a rough public concertina meeting takes place, where you can see gunter froba and aaron jakob live.

Meeting of the concertina players

Neudrossenfeld – fine, snappy concertina and bandoneon music will be played on sunday, 5. November, in neudrossenfeld (district of kulmbach) in upper franconia: at the 23. Concertina players meeting. This meeting on the land of drossenfelder brauwerck AG (marktplatz 2a) is one of the most important contact points for players of these instruments and interested parties from all over germany.
Start is at 13 o'clock (after the instrument borse from 11 to 12.30 hrs) .
The entrance is free. Seat reservations are only possible for active musicians, say the district of upper franconia as co-organizer and coordinator carolin pruy.