This post is to ask for help. What can we discover about this not very humble accordion?
I was able to score this old squeezebox online for about $50 which is pretty cool. It’s what historians call “pretty old,” and I’m willing to guess it’s from about 1900, but there must be more details somewhere. It certainly has some distinctive things that should help identify a maker or era. So I’m asking for any help readers can offer.
April Foolish episode of Accordion Noir Radio tonight playing music by artists I wrote about yesterday who played accordion upside down. Good fun.
Playlist: Read more…
Going to see Daniel Kahn tonight at the Electric Eye on Main tonight?
Got to play a little Russian garmon last night at the squeezeboxcircle.org I thought “garmon” was Russian for “little diatonic accordion,” but it is more complicated than that!
I didn’t realize how different they were from our diatonics. Wikipedia is actually pretty helpful right now. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garmon
Have you seen one? They look like small two-row accordions with a lot of bass buttons. But the buttons are all unisonoric (same note played pumping in and out). The treble is laid out in a diatonic do-re-me scale, with three accidentals added on top. So it’s diatonic but unisonoric (and maybe chromatic with the accidentals, I haven’t counted). Fun to play! Holding three notes next to each other gives a major chord, but the pattern changes as you move around. I gather they come in different keys. I’d love to have one of these to mess with. Pretty nice sound on the master with LMH (low, middle, high reeds).
The bass side is weird too with the inside (of three) row all individual basses in a do-re-mi scale, and the outside two rows are bass-chord combos (like more familiar diatonics I think, but still all unisonoric.)
Russian accordion history has sort of a parallel development with the West through the long distance and separation. I assume they think our slew of diatonic systems are weird too. (I gather they have some bisonoric in-out systems as well, but this one is really popular.) All the world’s people should solve their differences by inventing the widest variety of accordions they can. Keep people too busy to fight.
I know there’s some folks in the Azeri community in town who play what Wikipedia calls the “oriental” garmon. My favourite unique design with piano key layouts on both hands. Right side is a tiny piano keyboard, while the left side is buttons, but laid out like piano keys! Totally unique in the world as far as I know. Somehow the design made its way from some experiment in a factory in Russia and caught on in Azerbaijan and Iran.
I just realized it’s Johnny Grande’s Birthday! Every week when it’s time to do Accordion Noir radio, (listen Wednesday 10-11 PM PST) my phone reminds me with this song. Now you can have it to prepare for Accordion Noir too!
Download ringtone thing: Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rocking Little Tune,” featuring Johnny Grande on accordion.
Someone suggested we share ringtones to remind folks to support Accordion Noir and help us make our fundraising goals to keep our home Co-op Radio on the air. So let this be Accordion Noir ringtone #1.That’s fitting since Johnny with Bill Haley and the Comets had basically the first Rock ‘n’ Roll hit records back in the 1950s. If we get just a fraction of the 20 million listeners that single had, we’d be doing pretty much all right.
“Rockin’ Little Tune” is a cool number. It has that familiar “Rock Around the Clock” beat. But with accordion. Grande only played piano on the Comets’ big hits but usually live he played accordion so he could move around on stage.
The song’s from one of their later records, and it’s a treat if you can find it. Rock and Roll Stage Show gave the rest of the Comets (not just Haley) a chance to shine. What a treat! We played it on Accordion Noir Radio back when we did a “Rock ‘n’ Accordion History of Rock and Roll” episode a few years back. Worth taking a listen.
And get back to us later if you want more squeeze-tones.