A variety of instruments are used in Traditional Boer Music. The instruments
mentioned here represent a brief summary only. For more information on
the various combinations of instruments and their usage, have a look at
the page of some typical
The concertina is mostly the lead instrument in a Boer Music Band. The
folk names for concertinas in South Africa divides them in two broad categories.
They are commonly referred to as "English concertinas" and "Boer
The types of concertinas that fall in the "English concertina" category
covers concertinas made according to the English construction practices.
Their folk names, with optional phrases in parenthesis, are stated, and
the international identification thereafter.
Photo (click to enlarge)
|2 row (English concertina)
||20 key Anglo chromatic
|3 row (English concertina)
||30 key Anglo chromatic
|3 ½ row (English concertina)
||36 key Anglo chromatic
|3 ¾ row (English concertina) This is the
most popular model for Boer Music.
||40 key Anglo chromatic
|4 row (concertina)
|5 row (duet concertina)
||Crane Duet concertina
|6 row (duet concertina)
||McCann Duet concertina
This identification method therefore refers to the layout of the keys
rather than identification by type of concertina. It induces the least
confusion, and reference is quite easy. The 5 and 6 row instruments are
also collectively referred to as "Duet concertinas". The amount of keys
in the 4, 5 and 6 row concertinas is seldom stated. The usage in conversation
might be something like this: "The most popular instrument is the "3 ¾",
although Hans plays the 4 row and Nico a duet."
Wheatstone is the most popular manufacturer, although other makes like
Crabb, Lachenal, and Jefferies do occur.
There are also concertina
manufacturers in South Africa.
The concertina referred to as "Boer Concertina" differs by appearance
and sound. The ends are mostly wood, brilliantly painted in red, orange
or yellow, with no fretwork but rather slots or holes. The ends as well
as the bellows are decorated with paper and chrome or brass pressings.
Two or three reeds per note produce the sound. "Sholer" and "Galotta"
are two brand names and were manufactured in the former East German Democratic
Republic. An Italian make, "Bastari" also falls in this category. Some
of these are purchased with some of the rows of notes reversed. (i.e.
compressing the bellows produces a sound that is normally produced by
pulling the bellows). I am aware of at least one of these used by a Traditional
Boer Music Band. Other makes are "Gallotone" and "Wizzard".
If anybody has any info regarding this type of concertina,
please e-mail me. I would
like to hear from anybody that has any information and if these concertinas
are used anywhere else in the world.
Piano Accordions as well as Button Accordions and Button Harmonicas are
mostly used for accompaniment. There are also bands that feature them
as the lead instrument.
As with Accordions, pianos and harmoniums are mostly used for accompaniment.
There are also bands and individuals that utilize them as the lead instrument.
The instrument that is most commonly used for rhythm accompaniment is
the guitar. Other instruments used are the mandolin, banjo
and ukulele. There are also bands and individuals that utilize all these
as the lead instrument.
The instrument that is most commonly used for bass accompaniment is the
double bass. Other instruments used are the cello and the acoustic bass
Harmonicas are also used for accompaniment or as the lead instrument.
The bandoneon is not a well-known instrument in South Africa. I know of
only two people that own and privately play the bandoneon.
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