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Celtic Accordion: Raw Notes for a Chapter of My Book

January 11, 2015
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I’m not sure this is a useful idea, but I have a hankering to share the long list of quotes and annotations I gathered by reading many fantastic articles, theses, and dissertations on Irish accordions and concertina (I also have Scottish ones). I think I’m just procrastinating to put off the task of incorporating them into the “Celtic Accordion” chapter of my history of the accordion book project. Oh well.

A bunch of books I read to learn about Irish and Scottish music, included here for colour.

I don’t know if anybody will find them interesting but I thought a look at the raw material I’m working with might appeal to a few, if only to critique my amateur print-out of the information. It’s long and does not have complete academic annotations of the sources. In my original they link to the full texts or at least full documentation. The book’s bibliography is going to be an epic separate job.

This is just a little look into what I’m trying to get my head around coming in as almost totally ignorant of Irish music. I will never be an expert here and hope for guidance and compassion from readers. I’m not much of a hoarder as far as sources. If somebody else wrote a book on Irish and Scottish accordion then I wouldn’t have to. (Maybe wait until I’m done this since I’ve started?)

So here’s a very long, boring-looking, stack of commentary and quotes I really liked about Irish Traditional squeezebox. It’s in vaguely chronological order starting in 1829 or so when the accordion was patented. Together I feel like they tell the story of how the accordion (and concertina) came into this music. Some of them I found profoundly insightful and moving. Let me know if any of this makes sense. My dream for he whole accordion history book is to inspire more work on neglected culture and artists. Maybe a pile of disorganized sources like this is just the thing to get somebody started? There, no more procrastinating.

(Sorry about the impenetrable layout we get here. I could throw in a bunch of random images to break it up, but I’m gonna let it go.)

A Few Topics:

Break it down by historical phase:
Introduction of the acc. or concertina.
Where it was popular first
Where it was popular when ti spread to N Am.
How it fell from popularity
What it replaced.

Quotes and Stuff:

“In 1829 Daniel O’Connell achieved Catholic Emancipation for the people of Ireland and in that same year Austrian instrument maker, Cyrill Demian, patented the accordion in Paris [sic; Vienna]” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 15, 26

The accordion “was a product of the expanding capitalism and modernization which transformed traditional societies” That is, the forces that invented the accordion, reinvented the Irish culture as well.  Modern-Style Irish Accordion Playing: History, Biography and Class, Graeme Smith (1997) pg 435

“By the mid 1830s, railways were beginning to be established” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 18

Accordion was ready made for modernity, it “proclaims its origins in the factories of light-metal engineering.” Only affordable with paid employment, which often meant it was a gift from a relative in America, or required emigration. Modern-Style Irish Accordion Playing: History, Biography and Class, Graeme Smith (1997) pg 442

“conceived for a mass market  of amateur musicians,” “style of playing developed from the interaction of the existing musical system and the restrictions and capabilities of the melodeon.” Modern-Style Irish Accordion Playing: History, Biography and Class, Graeme Smith (1997) pg 436“By the closing of the nineteenth century, this box with ten buttons and a bellows become one of the more popular instruments in Ireland.” Irish Button Accordion, Maire O’Keeffe ocr pg 96

“everyone was waiting to feast their eyes on this strange machine” Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé’s mail-order accordion. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 155

Pre accordion“The repertoire that they played was almost entirely created and conceived on other instruments,” Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 17

Repertoire of Irish, Scottish and other origin, developing and in flux over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 74-79

“Dublin was a musical capital of note during the eighteenth century.” (before the gentry all moved to London) Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010)  pg 48

“they moved as if dancing had been the business of their lives.” (Campbell in O’Neill, 1913: 419, Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 56

Dancing masters as the third important traditional entertainer. Staying in a place for six weeks before moving on in circuit. When? Did they teach the poor? Or only the gentry? Did they stay after the Famine?  Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010)  57

Note differences between “set dancing” and “step dancing” whatever they are. I think I just noticed that. Watch the newbie learn the basics….1800s and Early days

“although the accordion was available for sale in Dublin as early as 1831, it did not come into widespread use among the traditional music community until well after the Great Famine.” so what happened before that?  Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 283

Somewhere mention temperance and middle-class push to reform and improve lower classes. Note: “The consumption of alcohol was actually not great among the poorer classes because of its expense.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 50-53

Temperance brass bands putting pipers out of work prior to the Famine. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 81

English concertina was “played by the wealthy gentry” early on (1830s-1850). 13 year old child prodigy Giulio Regondi toured Eastern Ireland in 1835. Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 3More reports of concertinas early on because they were more popular with the upper and middle classes, and those were the audience for the papers and written accounts which featured the instrument. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 37

More concertina perhaps because it was a more capable instrument early on, promoted by virtuoso concert players. Whereas the early accordion remained an ungainly parlour instrument. “These instruments,with their quiet brass reeds, delicate cases with mother of pearl ornaments and highly decorative bellows were confined to the domestic setting and never challenged the popularity of existing instruments or the new English concertina which was consciously developed for professional concert use.” As Common as Blackberries: The First Hundred Years of the Accordion in Scotland, 1830-1930 Stuart Eydmann (1999) pg 596

The cost was still too high for the lower classes. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010)

English concertina maker and performer Joseph Scates performed in Dublin for “a very numerous and fashionable audience” in 1859. By the 1860s English/Scottish elites began to drop the English concertina. By the turn of he century it landed in the middle-class music halls. Never made it into Irish traditional music. Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 4-5.The concertina in Ireland lagged behind Scotland and England in the wake of the Great Famine, also possibly because the early German concertinas weren’t capable of playing faster-tempo dance music. English manufacturers began shipping improved models in the 1860s, combining the quality of the English instruments and reeds with the fingering of the German system, and thus we have the Anglo-German concertina by companies like the still highly prized Lachenal company. These sold for higher prices, and German companies adopted many features to make their own “Anglo-German” six-sided models. These improved German concertinas spread across Ireland and the globe. Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 6-7.

“…the accordion arrived in Ireland as early as 1831. For the first three decades, high prices ensured that the instrument remained the preserve of the wealthy. Falling prices from the 1860s onwards, along with the increased availability of mass produced German instruments and greater disposable income…” …started its rapid march into traditional music. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 102

German factories were producing cheap square-ended German concertinas in large numbers for export to England and by the 1840s (in the US and Scotland by the 1850s, growing in popularity in Ireland in the 1860s). English concertinas cost 24 times what the cheap German imports did. Sold in general stores, not just musical specialty shops.  Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 5-6.

“music for dance…was of paramount importance in developing a style of playing the accordion in an Irish way.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 10-11

Set dancing spread after Napoleonic wars (1803-1815). “dancing – and particularly the new sets which had evolved from the quadrilles introduced to Ireland after the Napoleonic wars played a major part in the ready adoption and spread of this new instrument.” “By the closing decades of the nineteenth century, the sets mentioned by Breathnach had spread throughout Ireland” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 109-110

“[The arrival of the accordion] coincided with the decline of the pipes and the spread of set dancing. [quoting Breandán Breathnach] “The melodeon could provide the marked, uncomplicated rhythms which admirably suited the sets, and…it could be heard…above the hubbub created by the dancers.”” Irish Button Accordion, an Overview, Maire O’Keeffe (2001).pdf

Able to play the music of and be heard over the set dancing then rising in popularity. Irish Button Accordion, Maire O’Keeffe ocr pg 96 Date? pre-famine?
1840s- Famine and Immigration

When was the first generation of traditional accordion players? Those who taught themselves, with no models?  They may have had printed tutors if they were literate in something besides Irish. “Second generation” was born in 1890s.  Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 100, 141

Concertina “was a bystander” to the Famine, the “rapid shift to English” and loss of Irish traditional culture, and the rise of the Irish Republic. I might add massive immigration?  Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 1-2

Must have been a comfort in those times of trial.
“the accordion was not in use by the traditional music community until later in the nineteenth century, although it co-existed alongside the tradition before eventually joining it.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) go 45Lovely passage on the popularity of the instruments due to the joy they brought people in a mass-produced, affordable way, in a new world just out of extreme hardship. “Excepting mouth harmonicas and jews’ harps, these little boxes were (along with melodeons) the first inexpensive, mass-produced consumer musical items, pre-dating future public love affairs with guitars, ukeleles, and mass-produced pianos.” Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008)  pg 13.

From lack of reports, before the Great Famine the accordion and concertina “had not yet reached the traditional music community” “free reed instruments were probably not in use by traditional musicians, to any great extent, until the latter decades of the nineteenth century.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 65

“On the eve of the Famine the poverty of Irish smallholding and labouring families, a rising share of total population, was legendary.” (Two thirds of the population was in poverty. “almost two and a half million people who were in distress for much of each year.”) O Gráda, cited in Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 23

Irish in America (Immigration)
Also, jump down to recording era in the 1900s-

“You’ll find that the Irish music that’s played mostly around the states is from the west of Ireland.”  Fiddler Paddey Cronin, from: See You at the Hall Susan Gedutis (2004) pg 41

“large amounts of musicians, singers and poets who left Ireland during and after the Famine, leaving in their wake an emptiness for the generation which followed:” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 82

see: The McNulty Family
“”the hottest Irish entertainment act on the East Coast, and perhaps in all of North America, from the 1930s through the 1950s”.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 217

She “Naneen” Ann McNulty was not permitted to join the musicians’ union “because the button accordion was not considered a real instrument,” or quite possibly simply as “an excuse to keep a woman out of the union.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 218

played accordion on almost all of their 155 sides Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 219

“owned five accordions and she “had all five accordions on performances – each tuned to a different key, and would switch accordions for different numbers” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 219-220

“combination of traditional music and vaudeville” (quoting Mick Maloney) Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 219
Post Famine Ireland

“By the early 1880s, a scarcity of agricultural labourers, due to the affects of large- scale emigration in the years after the Great Famine, resulted in weekly wages almost doubling” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 99

In the later 1800s, Concertinas and accordions filled the cottages emptied of pipers lost to Famine and emigration, and was used to sustain the traditional music, though on different instruments. Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 13

“the latter half of the nineteenth century was one of the most important periods in the history of the music as it was during that time that the instrumentation of the music was changed significantly…the accordion slipped almost unnoticed into the body of instruments on which traditional music is performed. [It had] travelled from the status of a middle class instrument to that of a new voice in Irish traditional music.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 9

“the 1870s ushered in a golden era for Anglo-German concertinas in Ireland,” Affordable to the working class and popular in English speaking and Irish speaking areas. Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 9

In 1868 two performers were “severely dealt with by the magistrates for playing Fenian tunes on a concertina” and were jailed for two months. Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 7.

brilliant. The interlopers save the music by making it assessable when the old system falls. Maintaining the old tunes thanks to the work of collectors, who disparaged the new instruments,
“the Anglo-German concertina came into Ireland at a low ebb of traditional music, after the departure of pipers had brought to a close a system where traveling professional experts (often blind) were supported by the largesse of local patrons. When that system collapsed, Irish music had to change in order to survive. In traditional music’s next era, the concertina did more than fill in part of the gap left by the emigrating pipers. Being inexpensive and commonly available, easy to maintain, and easy to learn, it was picked up and played by a very large segment of the populace as a whole…not just by a class of traveling professionals. This instrument, along with the accordion, fiddle and tin whistle, helped bridge Irish music to a new world, one that O’Neill could not imagine….
The people became their own teachers, and the cheap and easy-to-learn concertinas and one-row melodeons helped that to happen.” Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 24

On O’Niell’s neglect of the concertina. (disparaging it in 1913, Irish Button Accordion, an Overview, Maire O’Keeffe (2001) pg 96) He didn’t travel in Ireland until he was 40, and if he hoped to find more pipers, he was disappointed. They were all back in Chicago! So the best of trad music would perhaps not have been heard in Ireland at this point? Hmm. “Ireland had been emptied of its professional class of traveling pipers by emigration…. Part of the musical slack left by the departing pipers was taken up by the populace themselves, on the inexpensive German concertina.”  Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 23

“O’Neill found it hard to relate to new instruments that were emerging within Irish traditional music, so much so that they were regarded as things outside the tradition. The concertina was one of these, and to the extent that it and other new instruments were played in the absence of pipes and fiddle, they were seen by O’Neill as part of a dearth of traditional music, and as further evidence of the continued collapse following the Great Famine of the system of patronage of traveling musicians by the gentry.” So, the people were replacing the gentry as sponsors/sustainers of the music, but their choice of sustainable instruments made their (more popular) tradition not traditional? Interesting turn-around of the idea that traditional means folkloric (not of the gentry).  Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 23

“By the beginning of the twentieth century, the one-row diatonic accordion appears to have been well on the road to becoming accepted as a new voice in Irish traditional music.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 103“It seems quite remarkable that the concertina, which had been around in significant numbers for only three decades by this time, had been both accepted and honored with a poem for its ability to conjure up the “good auld days”” [in 1893]  Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 14

1870 until 1940 Classic era of Irish country dances

Traditional style, solo performances, before modern “sessions” (groups of musicians playing together from a shared repertoire).  See You at the Hall Susan Gedutis.rtfd pg 36

“The country house dance which incorporated the family setting and the wider community was the mainstay of traditional music for the latter years of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 157

“Hall (2001: 10) suggests that “the classic period of Irish country-house dancing was probably from about 1870 until 1940”” “Better economic conditions” and “cheap factory-made fiddles”  “in the days before radio”  Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 158

“the period of the country house dancing was the time of “the great flowering of traditional music-making”:”where the instruments and repertoire were solidified. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 164

Dancing sets. (Quadrilles, etc. Square dances, but without callers?)

1920s, recording era
and back to American immigrants

O’Byrne DeWitt Company was set up in New York in 1916.
Ellen O’Byrne “recognized the potential selling power of records of Irish music and song made by traditional Irish performers.” (rather than “stage Irish” imitations). “the accordion featured strongly in the early recordings… As well as its suitability for the recording process, this could also be an indicator of the popularity of the ten-key instrument among the Irish immigrant community in the America of the early 1900s.”
O’Byrne De Witt’s first disc was an instrumental with accordion player Eddie Herborn and banjoist James Wheeler. “Mouse in the Cupboard,” September, 1916
Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 202

It can be argued that the accordion arrived at the right time in history. I’d suggest that it might have been impossible prior to the industrial revolution which first created it, and then spread it far and wide. Like the accordion can’t it be said that “… Irish traditional music, actually benefited from the historical changes taking place in society during this time” goes on to talk about radio and phonographs  Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 120

“In the first decade of the twentieth century, the earliest recordings of Irish music on the instrument indicate that by the end of the previous century the accordion was firmly established as an instrument on which traditional music was performed.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 103

“Transmission of traditional music would be forever changed.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 123

“many skilled exponents of the instrument were available in the early days of the Irish music recording industry which began in 1916, just three years after the publication of O’Neill’s Irish Minstrels and Musicians.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 107

“the first time an accordion was recorded commercially in Ireland…the inclusion of the free reed instruments alongside the fiddle, flute and pipes could be taken as an indicator that the free reed instruments were well on the road to acceptance among the traditional music community by the end of the 1920s.” and maybe a commentary on the difference between recording companies’ goal to sell what’s popular, and a preservationists’ goal of saving what’s disappearing.  Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 125

“His [ Peter P.J. Conlon’s] sister, Mary Ellen Conlon, also played the single row accordion and recorded on 78rpm in New York during the 1920s” first Irish American woman accordion recording? Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 146

“Rory O’More (jig) and Miss Ramsey (schottische), Mary Ellen Conlon.  Irish Jig Medley and Redie Johnston’s Reels, Mrs. Redie Johnston, accordion.”PRESTO-Jan 17, 1925, Mary Ellen Conlon
“His sister Mary Ellen, also an accordion player, was living in Brooklyn, New York at the time and she paid for his [Peter Conlon’s] passage to America.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 204

Peter Conlon was criticized for playing too fast and “ragging the accordion” as his sister Rose put it years later. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 205Conlon had become a jazz-age Irish American player, making records and playing dance-halls in New York. No longer a country player in Ireland.
Changing the tune in subtle ways to fit the limitations of his instrument. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 214

Conlon had a one-row “eight voice Baldoni accordion” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 205

“the accordion really came into its own in the dance hall environment in America” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 214

“Accordions were made for what the dancers wanted, which was a heavy, driving beat” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 214

In the pre-amplification first years of the 20th century, what’s often called the “jazz age” with visions of saxophone-led dance orchestras, was also the age of immigrant music, and in New York “half a million citizens had Irish connections” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 204

The Aughrim Slopes Trio (later by the 1940s the Aughrim Slopes Ceili Band) auditioned for the Radio Eireann, (call sign 2RN) in 1927. The group included accordion player Joe Mills” played through the 1930s. Made records, and used the radio to get gigs. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 131-132

More traditional music on the radio from all over Ireland (especially more remote areas) in the 50s when folks didsn’t have to travel to Dublin to be on. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 133

Were American Irish getting on radio? yes
“in the Irish Diaspora, the radio was also a popular medium” In Philadelphia, reportedly the “world’s first broadcast of Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day, 1924”
Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 136As a child the prodigy Joe Derrane heard Jerry O’Brien on the radio “and just stood in front of the radio and stared at it and jumped up and down.” So at age nine his parents contacted O’Brien at the station to come give lessons to his young listener. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 137

Styles and development

“By the late 1920s, two-row accordions had become popular playing Irish music and by the 1930s two very distinct playing styles or systems associated with the two-row accordions had begun to emerge in Ireland.” “…with the addition of the second row, the accordion had changed from a diatonic to a chromatic instrument.” (still “press and draw” but with a full chromatic scale) Irish Button Accordion Maire O’Keeffe.pdf pg 100-101

“extended melodeon” [mostly on one row] style (or later chromatic style)
“[two row instruments in] C and C#, were used impressively by Scottish player Peter Wyper, and the recordings of Wyper and his brother Daniel from the first three decades of the twentieth century had considerable impact on early Irish players.” Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 19

F. H. Walters in New York. Single-row instruments with eight sets of reeds.  ourney into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 182

Two-Row Accordions and Different layouts in Ireland and the US.
Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 220-222

Fall of the concertina and survival in Clare (1920-)
Whole Concertina Sidebar? Or interwoven, as it was?

“squeaking pipes, hoarse fiddlers, derelict banjoes, and consumptive concertinas” “‘In deft hands, the concertina is, I think, the most deadly instrument.’” Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 12

fall of the Concertina: “Beginning about 1920, however, its use began to dramatically decline; this paralleled equally steep declines of that time in England and America.” Decline due to radio and phonographs after 1920.  also “the new chromaticism” in popular music (jazz and ragtime) with only a few holdouts like, “a jazz band, composed of two violins, a saxophone and a concertina,” in Kerry in 1927 Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 24

Concertina as amateur/popular instrument, which carried the tradition as professional piping faded. (who supported the pro-pipers in the old days? How did they use to get paid? Was it just poverty that changed that, or was the system disrupted some other way? (replaced by free downloads, or cheap accordions) “the playing of concertina in Clare filled the gap left by the emigration of most of the old class of traveling professional pipers during the Famine and later years. It is consistent with such stories of the pipers’ departure that these immigrant pipers in Brooklyn considered themselves professionals, and above playing for free.” Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008)

Concertinas once popular across Ireland, by the mid 20th century the few players left were concentrated in the western County Clare. Very hard to document the early history of these instruments in traditional music, because those who were working to preserve that music chose to exclude the developing instruments in the tradition. During the height of the concertina’s use in Ireland for instance, it was hardly noted at all. Press accounts help fill the gap. (Prisoner who used one in a crime.)  Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 1.

“The long heyday of the Anglo’s popularity, from about 1870 to about 1930” Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 1.
The concertina may have survived in Clare simply because there were more traditional musicians of all types in the area, so the number of concertina players was greater as well. The decline of the music after the 1930s left few in other regions but enough in Clare to maintain and pass down the instrument. An additional boost came from the influx of high-quality instruments picked up in thrift shops in other regions after WWII. Formerly prohibitively expensive Jeffreys and Wheatstones were purchased in London antique shops and carried back to Clare where they allowed players to develop unprecedented chromatic use of the instruments. Notes on the Beginnings of Concertina Playing in Ireland, 1834-1930, Dan Worrall (2008) pg 26

Public Dance Halls Act of 1935

Beginning in the period after the Famine. “A major factor, which exacerbated the position of traditional musicians in the aftermath of the Famine, was the renewed opposition of the Catholic clergy to Irish traditional music and dancing.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 82

One of the few places men and women would meet socially, the other was at mass on Sunday. Setting up by competing with the Church? Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 163

“”card-playing was held in one room of the house, the dancing in another.”” (quoting Brennan, Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 164
“many a house owner approached the church on a Sunday morning in fear and trepidation,” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 167

While many assume the dancing would cease under such pressure, “many people persevered and continued hosting music and dancing in their houses well into the late 1940s” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 170

Ironically “In the aftermath of the 1935 Public Dance Halls Act, for example, the accordion really came into its own in the transition from crossroads and country house dances to the newly constructed parochial halls, mainly because of the body of sound it could produce and the need for greater volume” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 11

Shift to dance halls in the thirties required more volume than a solo fiddle could produce, and the bigger spaces allowed for bigger dance sets than house parties. “longways dances, round-the-room waltzes and square set quadrilles,” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 172

“The button accordion, therefore, survived the changes in the transition from the house dances to the parish halls better than most other instruments,” :Volume was the main thing” Group playing led to the modern céilí bands. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 173

WWII and Post-War

Remaining in popularity all the way up to the swing-dance era in places like Boston (while in Ireland they were listening to big bands). See You at the Hall Susan Gedutis.rtfd pg 36

The golden age of Irish dance halls in Boston was from World War II until the mid 1960s. Young, unmarried, seeking success in post-war America.   Fiddler Paddey Cronin, from: See You at the Hall Susan Gedutis (2004) pg 41

(Born in 1930) Joe Derrane’s legendary 78’s from what year? He played the dance halls in Boston from the 1940s-1950s, then for thirty five years didn’t play button accordion at all. Returning in 1994 to acclaim. Irish Button Accordion Maire O’Keeffe.pdf pg 101

“pre-1950s England, Irish social dancing was dominated by the ideals of the Gaelic League who sought to promote all things Irish. This resulted in a rejection of the sets” but in the States, even more modern dances were accepted. (Twin dance floors, for trad and modern dancing, horns in bands.) Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 179

“with the end of the war in 1945 a new wave of young unmarried immigrants arrived,” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 178

Five ballrooms in two blocks on one street in Boston in the late 40s. Hundreds of musicians had work.

1950s and 1960s, rise of two-row Irish accordion thanks to Joe Cooley and Paddy O’Brien.  Máire Ní Chaoimh (2010) pg 235

“decline in traditional music in many rural areas.” Dance Hall Act, emigration, competing entertainments, class-prejudice against rural “backwards” traditions  “the period between 1940 and 1965 witnessed the almost total extinction of traditional music as a community-oriented activity” Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 237 “Dowling (1996: 64)”

Post-war Ireland was very economically depressed, with greatly increased migration from rural areas to cities and abroad (keeping down overpopulation by exporting it). Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 236

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ) 1951, “an organisation which would promote Irish traditional music and be open to players of all traditional instruments.” “Taylor (1988: 55) notes that “the early Fleadhanna must have been tremendously exciting and emotional for musicians who had been neglected for too many years”” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 239

“music competitions for young and more senior members were the main feature of the event” Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 240
“sessions involving group playing began in Camden Town in London as early as 1948”Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 237

Lack of respect for the music and shunning of traditional musicians helped create the inward-looking focus that led to the non-dance-oriented music of the small sessions, where individual experimentation and variation was the personal project of artists who had little to lose. Music for listening ironically created for lack of a mass audience.  Hmm, 1950s, same time as bluegrass? which had lost popularity and turned inward as well? Hmm.
“the fact that a lot of musicians do not play for dances any more releases them from a lot of constraints” (flautist Michael Tubridy)  Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 238

“music for listening was to be central to the development of the accordion in Irish music during the second half of the twentieth century” “stylistic changes which, although they had begun to take shape from the 1930s on, really started to gain momentum in the early years of the 1950s.” Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 238

Did “listening” changes develop earlier in Ireland where dancing fell off, while audiences in Boston for instance were still going to dances until the 1960s? That might explain why dancers crashed that Cooley session in New York, maybe he was used to the freedom they’d played with in Ireland? The overlap of these traditions is interesting. Be-bop overlapping with the tail of the social dance era.
But didn’t Cooley and O’Brien play lots of dances? How did that change?
“Joe Cooley of Peterswell, and Paddy O’Brien of Portroe, the two men who must mainly be credited for the sudden popularity of the ‘box’ in the fifties and sixties.” (MacMathúna 1976:11)  “only for Joe Cooley and Paddy O’Brien there’d be no box players in the country” (J. McNamara) in Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 244If it was just technology, i.e. “need to play loud,” than all the players would solve the problem the same way, i.e.. “get more reeds,” or “play in chords,” or “get two accordions in different ranges.” But they tried different things. The challenges were similar, but the responses were individual and regional.

“the earliest player of an accordion tuned in B and C was Scottish musician, Peter Wyper” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 229

“Peter Wyper…played the B and C system in Scotland as early as 1915” “B and C Hohner Double Ray Black Dot accordion became available in April 1934,” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 286

Individual players who brought the newcomer accordion into the tradition.

“the role of the individual musician is very often ignored when considering change.” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 192

If it was just the instrument, industrialization and such, or just volume, or electrical amplification, then all the music would sound the same world over. But it doesn’t. Different players and traditions had different demands and shaped the way they wanted the instruments to be made or to sound. They then each creatively added to their traditions as they added the instrument to the music already there. Each player moved it forward and changed the music and the instrument.
“you also enrich the experience of the instrument. Now it can play another kind of music.” (R. Santos.) Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 111

I think some change is from individuals, usually the clever creative kind, like playing a two or three-row accordion chromatically. Others, like the need for volume, change the music based on non-musical challenges.“Paddy O’Brien. His recordings for the Columbia Gramophone Company, made the night before he departed for America in 1954,” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 126

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (Association of Irish Musicians) in the 1950s took up the accordion as one of its sanctioned instruments for its “All Ireland Champion” competitions. Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 24

“the characteristic ambivalence to modernity that has been often been [sic] present in Irish accordion playing.” Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 23

“new chromatic style” which allowed “more exact copies of typical flute and fiddle ornamentation.” wet tuning Paulo Soprani Elite in B/C LMMM (1950-). Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 20-21

“Peter Wyper…played the B and C system in Scotland as early as 1915” “B and C Hohner Double Ray Black Dot accordion became available in April 1934,” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 286

“Cooley spent some years in Dublin and London during the mid to late forties, and also played with the famed Tulla Ceili Band in Clare from its inception in 1946. In 1954 he travelled to America where he spent most of the rest of his life, returning to Ireland shortIy before his death in 1973.” Irish Button Accordion Maire O’Keeffe.pdf pg 102

“Cooley ”combined elements of the newer, post-World War II accordion style developed and expounded by Paddy O’Brien and Joe Burke with the older style of box-playing that retained to a large extent the phrasing, articulation, and ornamentation used by players of the single-row melodeon”.” (Mucullough (1976: 469)) from Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 246

During the 1940s “Cooley was “using the techniques of extended melodeon style to create a distinctive personal style” (Smith 1992: 280)”from 6
“In 1954 Joe Cooley emigrated to America where he lived in New York, Boston and Chicago, eventually settling for many years in San Francisco. While in New York he played with Paddy O’Brien, who had also emigrated in 1954” Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 249

Came to San Francisco in 1965, was welcomed by the few trad musicians and at home with the hippies as well. “He was this man in his middle age and they were all maybe in their twenties and everybody had long hair.”Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 250

Paddy O’Brien already played fiddle but learned two-row accordion on one left at his parents’ house by a police officer who didn’t like to carry it back and forth on his bicycle. By the time he was fourteen he had developed “a mighty technique” (Joe Burke) and in 1936 was heard on radio all over Ireland. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 253-254In an attempt to extend the playing technique of the instrument to match that of the fiddle, (he was from a family of fiddlers) O’Brien developed a technique for playing in almost all keys on the two row B/C accordion, which became the standard for a majority of players. Spent eight years in America in the 1950s. Irish Button Accordion Maire O’Keeffe.pdf pg 103

“Paddy O’Brien (1922-1991), who made three 78 rpm recordings in 1954” used the bass side continuously too Modern-Style Irish Accordion Playing: History, Biography and Class, Graeme Smith (1997) pg 437-438

O’Brien’s modern style was regular and even, and did “transcend the instrumental limitations exemplified by the melodeon style” Modern-Style Irish Accordion Playing: History, Biography and Class, Graeme Smith (1997) pg 439
He chose not to play the dance halls in New York (where he could have made good money), instead developing his style at house sessions with other musicians. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 256

O’Brien returned to Ireland in 1962 and his style was widely imitated. His compositions too, were widely heard and followed.
I don’t understand his interest in ceílí bands but not dance-hall bands in New York. What was the difference?

Joe Derrane:
1995 played for the first time in Ireland. Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 228

The development of the “session” and other changes are part of the tradition. Changes become centres for the ongoing path….

Folk Revival and modern post 1960

The shift to acceptance in modern traditional Irish music.  Irish Button Accordion Maire O’Keeffe.pdf pg 98

1974, Jackie Daly, “push and draw” style reminiscent of the one-row players. Tuned dry. Played with Da Danann and solo.  Irish Button Accordion Maire O’Keeffe.pdf pg 103-4

Daly heard Kimmel’s recordings after he’d been working on the style for a while. Kimmel not available in Ireland much before  Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 28, 18

“a “folk”ideology which despite its avowed plebeianism found contemporary lower class tastes as exemplified in the modern style and the ceili band difficult to accept.” “its participants were the confident young urban or urban-oriented Irish of the 1970s,who had much to reject socially in the conservative, parochial, and limited post-war generation.”  Modern-Style Irish Accordion Playing: History, Biography and Class, Graeme Smith (1997) pg 451

“the Irish folk revival did not use the opposition between folk authenticity and popular entertainment emphasized by scholars, but took the image of “folk”and made it an ingredient of popular entertainment.” interesting.
Modern-Style Irish Accordion Playing: History, Biography and Class, Graeme Smith (1997) pg 451

Irish folk music movement of urban middle class youth, with “public anti-conservatism linked to a nostalgic populism typical of modern folk movements” Not interested in instrumental music originally, focusing on ballad groups like the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 25“A number of groups emerged which combined the highly developed skills of dance music players with a careful aesthetic of arranged performance” Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 26

Jackie Daly won the All Ireland championship on the B/C accordion, but then changed back to press and draw C#/D to promote the style from his home region Sliabh Luachra. Tuned dry, “closer to the straight one-reed tone of the concertina.” “The new dry tuning enabled a much better blend within a small group,”
“From the 1980s, a C#/D accordion became a typical component of the small group format which had been established by Planxty, The Botin Band and De Danaan, and which has become the main public performance form for Irish traditional music.” Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 27-28

“From the 1970s onwards, Irish traditional dance music had shifted from being the cultural property of provincial small farmers to become an accepted part of a new popular music movement. This required that it be disentangled from too close an association with the social group with which it was associated.” Like it was seen as country music, and had to be reclaimed by making it more traditional? Weird. Irish Button Accordion- From Press and Draw and Back Again, Graeme Smith (2008).pdf pg 32

“”the mid seventies… word kind of circulated that it was possible to have your accordion tuned” “I remember saying at the time – “if I ever have a band I won’t have an accordion in it – and that would have excluded myself…” dry tuning allowed better playing with fiddles (not just being loud) with amplifiers and microphones taking care of the volume  Máirtín O’Connor, Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 271

It’s a bridge between generations, rather than a divider. Young trad fans don’t alienate their parents as much as, say, pop music fans, with their changing fads of the day, each rejecting and moving on from the past.  Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010) pg 144-145

1970s era of TV’s “Roots” and ethnic heritage celebrations around the bicentennial (1976), with gatherings like that of the Smithsonian Institute’s Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife bringing fifty Irish musicians, singers and dancers for workshops and concerts (and after-hours sessions and camaraderie.) “It was the first time their music had ever been officially recognized.” “A pivotal event in the validation of the music among the community of Irish musicians.” Irish Traditional Music, Vallely “USA” pg 415

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