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The accordion today is an instrument still struggling for total recognition.  Before it can be accepted fully by the musical institutions, it has to conform to requirements set by other instrumentation, and those musical institutions.  

The accordion is an instrument in its own right, not to be dictated to.  Did we ever tell the violin, to have more than 4 strings before it was accepted, or any of the other instruments woodwind or brass.

 After all most of these instruments, like voices  have a range which they can play within, but that has never halted their acceptance.  How much more should we take to satisfy the institutions.  It does not mean the majority of us would enjoy it more than we do with these changes. 

As a former pianist, my own entanglement with the instrument was a personal desire to play this wonderful instrument and enjoy its own special repertoire, being attracted by composers like Frosini, Diero, Anthony Gallerini,Toralf Tollefson, Ferrari Trecate, Adamo Volpi, Pozzoli, Fugazza, Charles Nunzio, arrangers/composers like Charles Magnante, Wolmer, Marcosignori, Pino Di Modugno, that is to name just a few of the greats, these were the intricate pieces designed to show the accordion in all its full harmonic splendor.  When I hear the instrument sounding more like a harmonica than an accordion, I frown.  Some of the finest music written for the Stradella accordion is more delightful and harmonically satisfying than most attempted by these instruments.

Remember that every register that is added, makes more weight, every feature added, which seems to be endless makes it  ultimately almost impossible to lift, the more we change the instrument, and add to it, the correct technique goes out of the window as a result, with the burden extra weight.  

I feel so sorry when I see youngsters trying to cope with these instruments, the repertoire in most cases reflective of piano, but why must we do that, why must we play piano works, that in most cases are best left on the piano, concertos, sonatas, when, as previously mentioned,  we have such a wealth of music specially written for this instrument.

There is a place for all instruments, but it seems the accordion has to undergo intensive surgery before it can be accepted finally, and then like any face lift, it just is not the same instrument after all that

I love all accordions, there are some incredible performers, who show such expertise on such as Bayan, but still I like the instrument in all its originality and see no reason why it can not be accepted fully in this form in these institutions, and its own compositions recognized.

Just a thought, what do you think?      Gina


The origin of the accordion from which the modern accordion evolved, is not in fact certain, much research has been done Very serious musicologists like Monichon have made very serious attempts to throw light on the birth of this instrument.  The exact date of its birth, and paternity remains uncertain.

The forefather of the accordion is however undoubtedly the 'Sheng', a very ancient Chinese instrument dating back 4500 years.  A copy of this instrument is preserved in the Museum of Castelfidardo.

This instrument was the first instrument to use the free reed, the principal on which the accordion is based. There were instruments produced with the use of this free reed, but the fundamental change was to occur in Italy.

In 1863 an Austrian pilgrim returning from Loreto with a mysterious sound box, stopped at the humble home of a farmer of Castelfidardo, the home of Paolo Soprani.  It is said that the visitor was persuaded to leave the instrument, and that is where the industry of manufacture of the Accordion started in Italy.

 Stradella, Castelfidardo, Recanati, Loreto, Macerata, Vercelli these were amongst the most important places for the early manufacture of the Accordion.

Names like Cesare Pancotti, Socin Fedele, Paolo Soprani, Savoia, Mariano Dallape, Chiusaroli, Antonio Ranco, Scandalli, Silvio Soprani, Piermaria, Cooperativa, Armoniche, Borsini, Buschillacchio, to name just a few were born.

The piano accordion, as the name implies is based on the pianoforte, but many different keyboards were constructed, in the 1930 to 40s the Frosini Keyboard, with extra rows of keys, there were curved keyboards, half curved keyboards.  These were created so that the hand remained on the keyboard, when held at a certain angle.  But since then we have perfected the idea of position, no longer requiring this feature.   When you look at the amount of work involved in the manufacture of the curved keyboard, you can seen the attention to detail, and quality of the work by the Italian factories at this time.

Registers, couplers used to change the voices were put on the side of the keyboard, sometimes with an indicator to show how many voices were being used.  140 bass buttons were often used, but 120 bass became more popular on a full sized instrument. Then Free Bass with extended bass, and converter bass was invented for the Classical Player. Keyboard can be 41 keys or a Cathedral Keyboard with extra notes, the registers are placed on the grill of the instrument for ease of use, sometimes even repeated on a second row for easier access.

available now 12,24,32,48,72,80,96 and 120 Stradella Bass Systems.

2,3,4 & 5 voice models, 4 voice in Piccolo and Musette.

Double Cassotto chamber, in bassoon and clarinet, an extra chamber for enriched sound

Single Cassotto chamber, in bassoon usually used in Musette Models.

Appearance, at one time extremely ornate, in the 50s plain was more desirable, now from the 80s ornate for musette models has been most popular, a return to the past in a way. For Classical Models Black and White has always been the preferred look.

Excerpts from the Museum of Castelfidardo documentation has been used in this outline of the Piano Accordion.

Gina Brannelli. Mail BoxAccordions 

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