"Concertina" - Anglo Concertina
for the iPhone

by Michael Eskin

Concertina Icon

Go to the iTunes App Store to buy

If you are looking for an English Concertina, please check out Englitina, now available on the iTunes App Store.

Concertina is a series of very high quality Anglo Concertinas in multiple keys for the iPhone and iPod Touch (2nd Generation).

Anglo concertinas are commonly used for playing traditional Irish dance tunes, and is a much-favored instrument in County Clare, Ireland.

The Anglo concertina is bisonoric, meaning the instrument plays a different note for each button depending on whether you are pushing or pulling on the bellows.

In the app, to play, simply tip the iPhone/iPod Touch to the left for a bellows push note, or to the right for a bellows pull note, and press a button. The PUSH/PULL display on the bottom of the screen shows which direction the bellows is moving.

You may reverse the bellows while pushing a button simply by tipping in the opposite direction.

Multiple buttons (up to 5) may be pressed at the same time to play chords.

Learning mode (touch the '?' icon) shows the note names for each button when pushed or pulled.

On the C/G and Baritina C/G versions only, touch the '?' icon a second time for "Dynamic Learning Mode"

This shows the notes for each button in realtime depending on push or pull.

Adjust the tilt sensitivity, right vs. left handed bellows pull select, and volume on the settings page.

Enable "Tilt Click" to play a quiet click as a learning aid when the bellows are reversed. Click volume may be adjusted on the settings page.

The button layout is based on a 17-key modified Jeffries style for playing traditional Irish dance tunes in the most common keys.

Uses extremely high-quality audio samples recorded from a high-end Anglo C/G concertina.

Up to 5 buttons may be pressed at the same time to make chords.

Four different keyed versions of the app are available, "Concertina" in C/G, "Concertina Bb/F", "Concertina A/E", and "Concertina G/D".

"Baritina", is a Baritone C/G instrument, with a lovely tone one octave lower than standard pitch.

Includes five beautiful background skins inspired by classic wood, metal, and black lacquer sided instruments.

New features for the C/G version "Concertina" version 1.6:

You may create tremolo effects simulating bellows shakes by touching anywhere along the right or left edges while playing.

Concertina App Overview

"The Polka Challenge" (The introductory price was originally $0.99)

How to play "The Kesh Jig"

"Wood" skin (Janelle Shane)

Concertina 1.1 Wood Skin

"Maple" skin (Janelle Shane)

Concertina 1.1 Maple Skin

"Black" skin (Janelle Shane)

Concertina 1.1 Black Skin

"Art" skin (Art Tawanghar)

Concertina 1.1 Art Skin

"Lach" skin (Michael Eskin)

Concertina 1.1 Lach Skin

Multiple buttons (up to 5) may be pressed at the same time for chords

Concertina Chords

Learning mode (touch the '?' icon) shows the notes for each button (Push/Pull)

Concertina and Baritina (C/G version) - C#/C# Layout

Concertina 1.3 C#/C# Layout

Concertina and Baritina (C/G version) - C#/Bb Layout

Concertina 1.3 C#/Bb Layout

Concertina and Baritina (C/G version) - Bb/C# Layout

Concertina 1.3 Bb/C# Layout

Concertina (C/G version only) - Dynamic Learning Mode (touch the '?' icon)

Button note labels change depending on push or pull (tilt left or right)

This happens in realtime while you are playing:

Concertina (C/G version only) 1.3 Dynamic Learning Mode

Concertina Bb/F Layout

Concertina Bb/F 1.3 Button Layout

Concertina A/E Layout

Concertina A/E 1.3 Button Layout

Concertina G/D Layout

Concertina G/D 1.3 Button Layout

Settings Page for Concertina (C/G version with layout selection):

Concertina 1.7 Settings Screen

Settings Page for Concertina Bb/F, A/E, and G/D (no layout selection, fixed at Bb/C# equivalent on C/G)

Concertina Bb/F 1.3 Settings Screen

How to place your fingers on the buttons

Hand Position

How to hold the iPhone/iPod Touch

Here's the best way to hold the iPhone/iPod Touch while playing

Support the iPhone/iPod Touch between the top of the palm on the left and the thumb and little finger on the right. This allows the fingers to reach all the buttons. The iPhone/iPod Touch can face up or away from you.

On the left hand,the closest buttons are played with your left index finger, the next farthest with your middle finger, the next farthest with your ring finger and the farthest with your little finger. On the right, the closest buttons are played with your right index finger, the next farthest with your middle finger, and the farthest with your ring finger.

Holding the iPhone/iPod Touch

Using a soft rubber case on your iPhone/iPod Touch helps make it easier to hold and will allow you to relax rather than having to grip the device.

Suggestions for how best to play, particularly if you are having trouble

The Anglo Concertina can be challenging to play even on a real instrument, and developing the same skills on a small device where there aren't any physical buttons to feel and press will take some time and lots of practice. Be patient and give yourself time to learn your way around the instrument.

First and foremost, the PUSH/PULL indicator is your friend, I find that if I don't pay attention to it, its easy to forget that I have to tilt the device to change the bellows. If you're struggling, try watching the PUSH/PULL indicator when you're playing.

By default, the app ships with the tilt sensitivity set moderately low, so if you find yourself wildly tilting your iPhone/iPod Touch chasing the bellows, try turning up the sensitivity by adjusting the slider to the right on the settings page (touch the 'i' icon).

I find it easiest to play seated so that I have a more stable reference for tilting. If you lean or move around while trying to play standing, it can make it more difficult to play.

Questions and Answers

Q: I'm not hearing any sounds on my iPhone! Help!

A: Make sure your ringer switch isn't in the "mute" position.

Q: Why are the buttons on the right side higher up on the screen than on the left and why are there only three button in each row on the right?

A: The speaker on the iPhone is in the lower right corner, originally when I designed the app the buttons were the same on boths sides, but I found that my hand would cover the speaker, so I moved them higher on the screen. I've included the buttons that I use 99% of the time to play all the trad tunes, and find that I do not miss having the highest buttons on the rows, not sure I've ever used them on my real instruments. I also needed some room for the icons and status displays and didn't want players to accidentally hit those buttons.

Q: Are the fingerings the same as a real Anglo Concertina?

A: Yes! To show a comparison between the app and a real concertina, here is an animated diagram showing the evolution from the fingering chart for a modified Jeffries 30-button C/G instrument (dual C# on the right side) and the fingering chart for the app C/G version:

Concertina App Fingering Chart Evolution

App fingering chart, reoriented and compared to the app's user interface:

Concertina App Keyboard Evolution

The fingering chart for the app, with the exception of the the push/pull G# on the right side top row (button 8a), is identical to the standard 30-key modified Jeffries layout, but missing some of the less commonly required keys to allow it to fit on the iPhone/iPod Touch screen. Even with this reduced layout, I am able to play the vast majority of traditional Irish dance tunes with no alteration to my standard scale fingerings.

Starting with version 1.2 of the C/G tuned version, I added a setting to allow the choice of several possible note combinations for the bottom button of the right hand accidental row. The choices now are C#/C#, Bb/C#, or C#/Bb, with C#/Bb being the default.

The Bb/F, A/E, and G/D versions all now use the Bb/C# equivalent button layout in their respective tunings.

Q: What's the best way to play cleanly and quickly?

A: I find that the best way to play the app quickly and precisely is to use a staccato style. If you are changing fingers along with a bellows direction change, practice completely removing the previous finger from the button before the bellow change, tilt the device the other direction, and then put down your finger for the new note. This avoids "crossing" sounds and results in a very clean style of playing. With practice, you can play extremely quickly and cleanly using this method. This technique also translates well to the real instrument.

Q: Where can I learn more about how to play the instrument?

A: Please visit the following sites for more information and online learning materials:

Concertina.net - Learning to Play the Anglo Concertina


Q: Now that I've learned the fingerings for some tunes on the iPhone/iPod Touch app, I'd like to buy a real concertina. Who do you recommend?

A: I personally own or have owned instruments from the following builders and highly recommend any of them:

Frank Edgley

Bob Tedrow

Wally Carroll

Also The Button Box carries a wide range of new and vintage instruments.

Future Plans

I am very interested in any suggestions for features or improvements to the apps for future updates, please drop me an email anytime with your ideas!

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A huge thank you to Janelle Shane and Art Tawanghar for generously developing truly inspiring artwork for the new background skins.

Additional thanks to the beta testers: David Boveri, Patrick Maun, Mike DeSmidt, Ben Jaber, Steve Pribyl, Patrick D'Arcy, and Fel Bautista.


For more information, please contact Michael Eskin or visit the AppCordions website:

Visit AppCordions

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