ACCORDION Files - SARC Sonic Ar by fjzhxb






melodeon and accordion differences. The colloquial term for all melodeons and accordions is simply 'melodeon', regardless of construction. But in any case, the button accordion and melodeon are basically the same instrument: both use button fingering, both are single-action (different note on push and pull). However, the term 'accordion' in Ireland usually means 'two-row' accordion. Melodeon and accordion are distinguished by style, nationality of construction and use of terminology. The melodeon is 'German' style, the accordion is 'Viennese' style. The melodeon normally has one, but in the past has had two or three rows of melody buttons, and it can come in different pitches. The accordion may alternatively have piano keys, and two or more rows of buttons; the more buttons, the greater the playing potential and range of possibilities.
Stylistically the melodeon is 'open action'

Irish music are usually style eschewing and rudimentary, utilitarian in construction and appearance - a 'poor-person's instrument'. Accordions traditionally have been asimpressive as their power is commanding: highly decorative veneers and plastics, chrome grilles and name-badges,sometimessequinned, boldly proclaiming either the manufacturer's name (in the manner of motor cars and designer clothing) or (in the US) that of the player. button accordion structure. The typical accordion has two rows of buttons set in a flat keyboard. All have lowest notes at the top, twelve buttons on the outer row, eleven on the inner. There is a semitone interval between the button-rows (those for the continental and English markets are a fourth apart, or otherwise). The 'flat' keyboard facilitates the
decoration favoured in traditional music




mechanism is often visible, sometimes decorated, and its left-hand bass notes will be attached externally on a box. The accordion is modesdy 'closed in' and streamlined, a grille covers the levers, and its left-hand bass notes are built in, hidden ftom view. The melodeon generally. reed-engaging 'stops' on top, the has accordion generally not. Melodeons as used in

rolling - the 'stepped' keyboard found on continental accordions favours a different style of playing. The button-rows are described by the home key of each row - e.g. B/C, C#/D, etc. The standards in Ireland for playing most conveniently in concert pitch are B/C and C#/D, but there are different fashions depending on player, and sometimes area. Each of the two major styles of playing use the button rows differently. In B/C playing the player picks the note conveniently, smootWy playing 'across the rows'. In the C#/D style (also known as 'press and draw') the player will work on one row, thus demanding much in-and-out bellows work and so a 'choppy' style. Depending on the instrument used in this style the player can choose either the inner or outer row as the main playing row, hence the expressions'inside out' (C#/D) and 'outside in' (D/D#).


(ED I)

Freeman's Journal advertisement for accordions, 22 December 1855


manufacturers.Today the instruments played in traditional music are made mostly in Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia and China (and, latterly, in Ireland and England, but using Italian reed-plates and other components), In this century it is the Italian and German models that have been of most significance in Irish music. The most widespread use of button accordions is in folk musics of Europe and the Americas. Hohner of Germany, after 1905, were the mass producers but there are now many specialised craft makers manufacturing instruments designed specially for the demands of faster, more intricate playing of Irish, Cajun, Italian, French and Newfoundland musics. Hohner make and supply their own reeds, French and Italian accordions use Italian reeds, and around the town of Castelfidardo, near Ancona, Italy, are concentrated perhaps fifty or more accordion and reed-plate makers. Paolo Soprani (oldest Italian maker, began in the 1850s, but now only a brand-name of the Menghini company), Mengascini, Baffetti (who make Saltarelle) and Castagnari are located in Recanati;Serrenellini is further south at Loreto. In the 1940s the grey, Paolo Soprani, two-row button-accordion became the standard instrument in Ireland. By the mid-1950s the red-coloured model (internally different) had taken over. With its button rows starting with BjC, CjC#, C#jD, DjD# and GjG#, it offered great flexibility and adventure to curious and skilled players. A three-row accordion - the Hohner 'Shand' Marino - was produced for Scottish dance band leader Jimmy Shand but made only a brief impact in Ireland. (ED!) See bandoneon; Burke, Joe; concertina; Cooley, Joe; Daly, Jackie; Derrane, Joe; free reeds; harmonica; Kimmel, John; O'Brien, Paddy; O'Leary, Johnny. Ireland. The 'ten-key' accordion or 'melodeon' appeared in Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century. The adoption of the instrument into Irish traditional music coincided with both the decline of the pipes and with the spreadof set dancing. By the turn of the century in Ireland the instrument with ten buttons had become known as a 'melodeon'. It was played in the 'push and draw' system which gave the player two notes


on each button and created a staccato, bouncy phrasing because of the articulation achieved from the bellows-work. Often referred to as 'the poor man's pipes', the melodeon quickly became popular as an instrument played for dancers,this for severalreasons:it was new and modern and easyto carry; its reeds would hold their tuning for longer than the pipes during inclement weather; it had a bright clear tone, and enough volume to cut through loud crowd noise in pre-amplification days. The first evidence we have of the sound of the accordion is from the early cylinder and disc recordings made in America at the start of this century. The first person to be recorded playing Irish dance music on it was John J. Kimmel. One of the first Irish-born players to record in America was Peter J, Conlon whose prolific output of recordings between 1917 and 1930 shows exceptional performance. During the early decades of the 1900s, the instrument came into its own in the Irish emigrant dance halls of America where it was one of the dominant instruments in the early dance bands, its powerful volume and consistency guaranteeing it favour. At this time instruments which could withstand the pressuresof playing seven nights a week in humid, hot, noisy dance halls were developed, with some single-row models having up to six setsof reedsfor extra loudness. Baldoni-Bartoli and F. H. Walters were two of the most popular New York manufacturers of these. By the'late 1920s fully chromatic two-row accordions were common in Irish traditional music, and by the 1930s in Ireland two very distinct playing styles were emerging on instruments pitched in keys of CjC#, C#jD, DjD# and GjG#. The 'press and draw' style was still used, but with the addition of the second button row the accordio,nhad changed from a diatonic to a chromatic instrument. The musician usually played on the inside row and moved to the outside for necessarysemitones and descriptive notes such as C natural and F natural. In America the 'outside in' system was used - where the musician played on the outside row and moved to the inside row for the semitones. Boston accordion player, Joe Derrane, is one of the best-known exponents of this. 3





In Ireland Joe Cooley played the 'press and draw' style on a D/D# accordion and is credited with advancing the popularity of the instrument through the 1950s and '60s. playing styles.In recent decadesthe accordion pitched in B and C has been the most popular of the many instruments in this family. In use in Ireland since the late 1920s, popular among the B/C players were Michael Grogan (one of the first to be recorded by Regal Zonophone when they began recording in Ireland in the early 1930s) and Sonny Brogan (who played with Sean 6 Riada in Ceoltoiri Chualann). The name most associated with the B/C style however is Paddy O'Brien from Newtown near Nenagh, Co. Tipperary who developed a method which became the standard during the 1960s, one of its most renowned current exponents being Joe Burke. The B/C system requires less bellows-work than the old 'push and draw' system and allows for a much more legato style. But the 'push and draw' system is much closer to the older rhythmic melodeon style and is therefore preferred by set dancers. Among the noted 'push and draw' players are Jackie Daly, Mairtin O'Connor, Charlie Harris, Paul Brock, Tony MacMahon and Johnny O'Leary. Some musicians use both systems, playing B and C on a two-row accordion aswell as also using the 'press and draw' system on a single-row melodeon. Among these are Bobby Gardiner and P. J. Hernon. The 'sound' of the ~ccordion in Irish music has undergone major changes since the mid1970s. Prior to then, a two-row instrument
produced a 'wet' sound


this the result of the

(Ossian) 4

reeds in each note-group being 'widely' tuned, so creating a vibrato tone. JackieDaly has been credited with introducing a 'dry' sound, achieved by tuning the reeds in each notegroup to the same pitch, making the sound close to that of a concertina. This was first heard on Jackie Daly agus SeamusCreagh in 1977, and numerous variations on it can be heard among today's younger players. From the early 1980s the accordion has been a main feature in many of the most prominent groups playing traditional music, such as De Dannan, Patrick Street, Buttons and Bows, Altan, Arcady, Four Men and a Dog and the Sharon Shannon Band. Many different makesof



accordion are in use: Hohner and Paolo Soprani are still used, but Saltarelle and Castagnari are becoming popular. Accordions are now also being manufactured in Ireland in recent years by 'Cairdln' in Co. Tipperary, and 'Kincora' in Ennis, Co. Clare. SeeKimmell, John. (MAO)

Piano-key accordion


piano accordion. Accordion with piano-keyoperation, using double action (same note on push and draw). This has been used in Irish celli bands in the past, but like modern-day, electr~nic 'keyboards' and their immediate predecessor electronic accordion (Cordovox the etc.), the piano-appearanceis not favoured in present-day traditional music. Invented by Bouton of Paris in 1852 and greatly improved in the 1920s, there are both short and long keyboard piano accordions, the former less domineering. The piano accordion's note production is not, however, favoured in what is the well-defined current aesthetic in Irish music. The piano accordion is the standard in Scottish music, howe~er, a legacy from fiddleorchestrasand 1940s-50s dance bands perhaps,

but like the five-row 'continental' instrument, and despite the existence of top-class players (e.g. Alan Kelly, Seamus Meehan, Karen Tweed), it remains of peripheral interest in the south of Ireland. Northern counties have produced many piano- and button-accordion players, making the instrument somewhat emblematic there, the piano-key instrument more favoured in past years. This was due to the dominance of the instrument in ceil! bands, and to the popularity of ceili dancing in Northern nationalist culture. Indeed in the 1950s and '60s Donegal brothers Richie and Barney Fitzgerald's band won a national poll run by Mitchelstown Creameries asthe favourite band in Ireland. The Fred Hanna (Portadown), Malachy Doris (Cookstown) and Vincent Lowe (Newry) 'ceili' bands influenced many through BBC broadcastsand recordings. But all played mainly for ballroom dancing, and Irish music for them was a sideline. The same was pardy true of five-row player Jackie Hearst (Newry), although he did for a time participate in a 'tunes' band, The International, with piano-accordionist Fintan Callan. Sean O'Neill's Aughnacloy, Co. Tyrone, Inis Fill Ceili Band produced two LPS Ember records for in the 1960s and toured the USA frequendy. They recorded in the 1980s and '90s (40 Irish Accordion Favourites, 40 Irish Pub Songs, etc.). From Antrim there was Wilcil McDowell (AllIreland champion) and Leslie Craig. Francie Murphy of Fivemiletown played with the prizewinning Pride of Erin Ceili Band; Tommy Maguire from Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, played both the two-row and five-row accordions. Accordion is particularly strong in Fermanagh and its older exponents include Larry Hoy (Derrygonnelly) and John McGurran (Garrison), the latter long-time chairman of Belfast CCE. Tyrone is strong on accordion too - Billy Rushe of Drumquin, John O'Neill from Donaghmore (who led the Old Cross Ceili Band), Patsy Farrell of Ballygawley, and SeanMcCusker of Dromore. Tommy John Quinn from Derrylaughin, Coalisland (accordion and melodeon) has been a wellknown sessionplayer all over Ireland. Johnny Pickering from Markethill, Co. Armagh was also leader of a famous band which featured regularly on broadcastsfrom Raidi6 Eireann. In



Antrim there was Dan Doherty (Loughguile), while JamesMcElheran (Cushendun) plays for set dancing, and Ronnie Bamber of Cullybackey is an instrument repairer aswell asplayer. Today there are many younger players, notably Gerry Lappin of Armagh, John Hendry, Co. Derry and Damien McKee of Dunloy, Co. Antrim, Jim McGrath of Monea and Annette Owens Tempo. Accordion remains a significant element in traditional music in the northern part of Ireland. (SEQ) 'ac Dhonncha, Sean. (1919-96). Sean-nos singer. Third youngest of ten children from Carna, Connemara, close to the birthplace of life-long friend Joe Heaney. Encouraged by teacher Brid Ni Fhlatharta in Aird National School to sing and learn old Irish songs and their background, he won a scholarship to a preparatory college for teachers, and qualified as a primary teacher in St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin in 1940. He taught in CashelNational School, Connemara from 1943 where he established a friendship with Seamus Ennis who was collecting songs and music locally. J;!e taught in Co. Cavan from 1947 and won a county medal with Mullahoran football team in 1949. Twenty-five years followed as principal in Ahascragh National School near Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. One of the first traditional singers to record on the Gael-Linn label, he won a gold medal at the 1953 Oireachtas and received Gradam Shean-nos Cois Life in 1995. On his seventy-fifth birthday in 1994, Clo Iar-Chonnachta issued a special CDselection of his songsin Irish and in English, Sean )ac Dhonncha: An SpailpinFanach.His songs are also available on Gael-Linn, Columbia, Claddagh and Topic. (LIM) acetate disks. See reproduction acetatediscs. of musi

are also usually part of studio recordings. 'Session' playing is by definition without FA, and so is described as 'acoustic'. A venue may also be described as having a good or bad acoustic. aerophone. Literally 'instrument the tone of which is produced by wind'. Aerophones are sub-divided according to how the sound is produced: 1. flutes, 2. trumpets and 3. reeds and reed-pipes. flutes. The sound is made by directing a stream of wind against a sharp edge, the resultant turbulence producing an 'edge tone'; the pitch of the note is regulated by the position of finger-holes, as in a flute, or by the length of individual pipes, as in pan-pipes. The stream of air may be made directly at the lips (as in concert flute, or East Europe 'kaval', etc.), or it may be focused by a narrow channel in the mouthpiece of the instrument (as in tin whistle, recorder, etc.). Flutes may be blown from the mouth, or the nose, they may be long and slender (tin whistle), or globular (ocarina); they may be end-blown or side-blown. trumpets. The sound is made by setting up a vibration with pursed lips (as in trumpet, or ancient-Irish horns, 'adharc', 'dord', etc.) Blown animal horns - used still in many African countries - had some currency in ancient Ireland. One of these, preservedfor many years in a wall at Coolea, Co. Cork, and stolen from a car in Dublin in the 1970s, was attributed to 6 Suilleabhain Beara; it was of the kind described as 'barra bua' in the tales of the Fianna. Today some Irish-music players use Australian didgeridoo to produce a fixed-pitch Cirone with tongue, vibrato and mouth-cavity effects. Trumpet notes are achievedby a combination of 'overblowing' harmonics (adharc, hunting horn) and/or shortening and lengthening the air column in the instrument (with a 'slide' in trombone, with valves in trumpet). reedsand reed-pipes. The sound is made by air vibrating a metal or wood 'reed'. Reedsmay be 1. single idioglot (as in uilleann pipe drones), 2. double (as in uilleann pipe chanters and regulators), 3. free (as in accordions, concertinas,melodeons), or 4. single tongue (as in clarinet, saxophone). Among the ancient

acoustic. The term used to describe nonelectric/electronic instruments. It is also used to describe a performance which does not use microphone amplification. All traditional music instruments are 'acoustic', but in band situations and sophisticated solo performances, electronic keyboards and electric bassare often used. Such. and other electronic interventions,

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