This is an extremely popular course with one of Europe’s finest instrument makers. Places are limited to 10, and these courses sell out well in advance.
Emmanuel will guide novice makers through the steps to build your own two and a half row melodeon. You will leave with your own professional standard instrument; whilst having a great sense of humour (and extremely good English) Emmanuel is also a demanding task master and will ensure that all instruments made are of the highest possible calibre. In addition to having a wonderful instrument, you’ll also benefit from the inestimable experience of working with a master craftsman and learn techniques for construction, maintenance and repair in the future.
The box you build will reflect your individual preferences and there is flexibility in terms of key, inlay and accidental layout (see below). Case wood is carefully selected for quality and beauty, and reeds are hand-made by Binci, Italy. Left hand chords have fundamentals and fifths – ie. no thirds – so work with major and minor keys.
This is an intensive course and you’ll be working long days, but Halsway is an excellent venue, secluded and peaceful enough to free you from distractions, but with superb facilities and a bar on site. Accommodation and all meals (and as much tea and coffee as you can drink!) are included, so all you need to think about is the build – and maybe winding down in the evening with a session or two (bring instruments!).
“One of the best weeks of my life, I’m so sad to see it end. The Halsway staff were an absolute delight.” 2017 Participant
Each participant will need to decide:
- a tonality: D/G, G/C, A/D, etc…
- a layout with 10/9/6 buttons or 11/10/4 and 14 or 12 basses.
You can view a D/G layout chart, a G/C layout chart here, a C/F layout chart and an A/D layout chart here with Emmanuel’s suggested layouts for each; if you are new to the 2.5 row, it’s recommended you take Emmanuel’s layout.
- reeds (Binci a mano): choose either MM (with one register to play with or without tremollo) or LM (2 registers, to play M, L, or LM).
- an inlay line (max 8mm, visit www.marechaux.fr)
- black or white buttons
- grille design – two available – standard or lyre
Air button is normally as on a Hohner melodeon.
The price includes a good melodeon bag and shoulder straps.
Who’s it For?
No previous experience required, although manual dexterity and basic woodworking skills are an advantage. All tools are provided, but it is helpful if participants can bring a few basic hand tools eg screwdrivers, craft knife, pliers etc. Emmanuel is experienced in working with novice makers, and support tutors will also be on hand to offer practical support and to make sure all builds are kept on track. Tuning is done on site by industry expert Theo Gibb.
“We all became friends over the course of the week, and those who could do things easily helped others. It was great to socialise in the bar at the end of the day.” 2017 Participant
Emmanuel Pariselle has run melodeon building courses across the globe as well as in his native France; musicians including Andy Cutting and Mairtin O’Connor have designed and built their own instruments with him in recent years. Emmanuel himself is a wonderful musician with a mastery of many styles and instruments, and a fine singer too.
You can hear an interview with Emmanuel (with Andy Cutting & Katie Howson) that was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2018 here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/b0b1r1d6
Listen to Andy talk about his experience making a box with Emmanuel – and hear it played:
Theo Gibb runs The Box Place, offering a repair, restoration and tuning service for melodeons and concertinas. The quality of his work is second to none, with countless delighted customers to recommend him. Theo has played melodeon since 1995, playing for ceilidh/barn dances, clog, and Morris. When not at the day job, he can be found playing with Sunniside Up! Ceilidh Band and chatting about all things squeezebox on melodeon.net and concertina.net.
Chris Mash and Mikas Dominas have assisted Emmanuel on previous courses and are an essential part of the team. Their practical hands-on experience means they can help students at every stage of their build, giving extra support as necessary to ensure no one drops behind.