Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Just getting started with playing the accordion and have questions? Have a question about a technique? This is the place.
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Robert W
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:53 am

Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Post by Robert W »

While reading This is Your Brain on Music, I came across this offhand remark in the midst of a discussion of timbre:
"..to me all accordions sound alike, and the sweetest, most enjoyable sound I can imagine is the sound of them burning in a giant bonfire."
I was enjoying the book up to that point, but that remark cast a pall over the rest, and I finally put it down. The author is a distinguished psychologist and an accomplished musician; I can find no fault with his writing, other than that remark. I'm wondering now, are there technical reasons, aside from personal taste, that so many musicians and others dislike the accordion?
I'm probably posing this question to the wrong audience, but I think we'd all be interested in the answers.
Philippe
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:21 pm

Re: Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Post by Philippe »

I would put it down to personal dislike and perhaps ignorance. The first counter argument would be to ask: now which type of accordion do you think we should burn. Which music played on the accordion did you hate...Etc ;) ;)
Robert W
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:53 am

Re: Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Post by Robert W »

I'm not concerned about arguing; if you don't like a certain type of music, you don't. But I wonder if there are any technical, theoretical reasons why a lot of musicians dislike accordions, aside from mere personal taste.
Philippe
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:21 pm

Re: Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Post by Philippe »

One cannot argue taste and preferences, indeed. However there seems to be a degree of ignorance in the statement that you are refering to. The accordion is the instrument that has arguably gone through the greatest evolution over a short period (mid 19 th to 21 st century) . It was built first as a pretty simple accessory to performing singers in churches or in public ballrooms. Up until WW 2 the reputation of the accordion was that of a working class crude instrument which was not considered as a serious instrument by the musical community. Then in the 1950 a trend that had started marginally in the 1930 gained momentum in mostly two countries: the USSR and Germany where the accordion design evolved to include what is called today free bass left hand button systems. Unlike the traditional accordion which considered the left hand as merely a means for accompaniement (based generally on a single octave and a given selection of chords, as in the Stradella system), the free bass system was offering single notes mirroring that of the right hand , opening the instrument to a wider range of music comparable to the piano's for instance. Since that period the accordion has gained a wider acceptance among the music community, including in classical music performance. I for one play the piano , and used to play the chromatic harp and the classical guitar. I recently chose to make the accordion (both the free bass and the Stradella) my instrument of choice because I enjoy among other things the powerful range of expression provided by the air pressure modulation in the bellow.

The bottom line to go back to your question is : if any one dislikes a sound it is their right even if there is no rationale to it. They should however show respect towards alternative interests ;)

Are the performances below in some way inferior????

www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Toccata+in ... &FORM=VIRE

www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sarabande+ ... &FORM=VIRE
Last edited by Philippe on Fri Jul 23, 2021 3:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Robert W
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:53 am

Re: Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Post by Robert W »

Beautiful sound- I wouldn't call it "inferior" to anything! Thanks for all the interesting background. I didn't even know that free base existed.
CodyOutside
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:41 am

Re: Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Post by CodyOutside »

What do you call a topless woman playing accordion? Lady in pain.
What do you call accordions at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.
Someone broke into my car with my accordion in it. When I came back I saw the worst thing imaginable: a second accordion.

True story: I had to go buy a new accordion case because someone stole the case but left the accordion (lucky me I guess?).

The part of that anti-accordion statement that strikes me as nonsensical is that all accordions sound alike. That means this guy has not listened to enough accordion music. That's just as ridiculous as me saying classical music is too relaxing for me to listen to. Which those of you who listen to a lot of classical know that some pieces are not relaxing at all.

The reasons I stick with accordion is 1) The amount of sounds and folk music from different countries you can play. I find it super interesting that I can get the sensation of traveling that much with a single instrument. And 2) I can play so many songs solo. I don't need to be in a band or have other instruments back me up. Sure people can have a preference but it is just an instrument.
Jessica L
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:50 pm

Re: Why the anti-accordion sentiment?

Post by Jessica L »

The book 'Accordion Revolution' by Bruce Triggs is an amazingly detailed look into the rise and fall (and rise?) of the accordion's popularity. I have read it several times and often pick it up just to delve into the history of the accordion within different genres of music over the years. It offers such an insightful look into the socioeconomic and cultural reasons for its decline in popularity. . . and Canadian, to boot!! Highly recommend!!

"Accordion Revolution is the squeezebox remix of music history. Discover how the “Beer Barrel Polka” saved the record industry during the Great Depression; the highest paid instrumentalist in show-biz was an accordionist who secretly married sex-symbol Mae West. And a psychedelic accordion band almost played Woodstock..."

https://accordionuprising.wordpress.com/about/
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