Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Kind of Instrument is an Accordion?

accordion reeds

the reeds inside a vintage accordion
(photo by Nathan McKnight from Wikipedia)

You might think that since the piano accordion has keys, that it is a percussion instrument like a piano. In a piano when you strike a key a hammer strikes a string. However, the accordion is a reed instrument. Yes, like a clarinet or oboe. The sound is produced by air passing over reeds inside the accordion box. The air is produced, not by blowing, but by the motion of the bellows.

The bellows are sealed. If you try to force them open or closed without pressing a key or button you can damage the instrument. (There is also an air button to release the air and safely close the bellows with no sound.) If there is a leak in the bellows you will get sound, but it will be hard to complete musical phrases with one push or pull of the bellows.

I know this is blowing your mind! I'll stop for today.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Funnies

You didn't think that I was going to be all serious about this did you? If I can't laugh at accordion jokes, I'd better go back in the closet. Accordions are on the minds of the biggest analysts!

You know, Mr. Bug-Eye Green Tie might be wrong. An accordion might have cheered everyone up! (ok, maybe not...)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Accordion on the Amazing Race

Did you notice that there was an accordion being played to welcome the finishers in Interlaken, Switzerland, on the Amazing Race, Season 14, Episode 1 last Sunday?

This is called a chromatic button accordion. See, it has buttons for the right hand instead of keys, as mine does in the post from yesterday. Chromatic accordions are more popular in Europe, while Piano accordions, like mine, are more likely to be seen in the United States.

Here's a closeup of the "keyboard," in this case called a buttonboard.

If you start watching and listening, you'll discover accordions being used in LOTS of places on television!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

(Not Quite) Where it All Began

14th birthday gift of accordion

I have been playing accordion since I was four years old. I really didn't have any say in the matter. My grandmother was the one who paid for the instrument and the lessons, and so she chose what I would do. We don't seem to have one single picture of me playing that 12 bass accordion.

I quickly progressed to needing a 120 bass, but wasn't big enough to hold one, so switched to piano. But for my 14th birthday, Granny made sure that I was back on the track of her choice. Accordion, a red accordion. See picture. Please note that I am wearing a red dress, also selected by Granny. I hate red. Do I hate accordion? Sometimes.

Can I play well? It's not great. Not nearly as good as I should be able to for all the years of music lessons I had. Let's face it, I am a mediocre musician.

The collective attitude toward accordion, in the United States at least, is one of almost complete derision. But, hey, I'm no longer a closet accordionist. You can love it or hate it. But come along for the ride.

There will be history, jokes, personal experiences, education, album and perhaps sheet music reviews. What the heck. I've got more than enough stuff for another blog, so why not?