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Accordion Emoji 🪗: Coming in 2020!

January 30, 2020

The Accordion Emoji 🪗 has just gone public! It took more than a year to be approved, so today is a happy day. ♬😻🎶 That’s right, a real-live Accordion Emoji will roll out onto digital platforms between now and Fall 2020. Exactly when will they be available? Twitter tends to update to the new emoji early, Apple Mac and iOS usually not until later in the year.

#AccordionTwitter responded with glee to the announcement, especially after Weird Al shared his support. Click Here to watch the fun.

Red cartoony Accordion Emoji as seen on
The Accordion Emoji on Emojipedia
(there will be other versions)
(Emojipedia misspelled Accordion 🤣)

Setting the stage: this year has many great new emoji, but we dearly miss the Disco Ball that didn’t quite get accepted yet. I wanted to celebrate with a disco-accordion emoji party. Perhaps with tunes by our friends Hey, Wow! the greatest traditional French-Canadian disco-accordion band.
(Listen while reading:)

(If you want more, there’s like 1,800 accordion videos over here.)

The Accordion Emoji Process

Some have asked: Where do emoji come from?

We’d joked about an #AccordionEmoji for a while, but my Accordion Noir Radio co-host Rowan said the process was daunting, with lots of paperwork and bureaucracy. He wasn’t wrong, and it would have been much harder without help.

Emoji decisions are made by a combination of tech interests and community advocates who work together in the Unicode Consortium.” (I love saying that in a commanding voice.) Unicode sets standards so everybody’s fonts look the same on different computers and phones. They meet at least four times a year, with a few days spent on new emoji.

I started working on the project after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeted something by Jenny 8 Lee. Jenny’s organization EmojinNation provided templates, sample proposals, and editorial advice. They connected me with emoji-artist Aphee Messer and basically made the long process as easy as possible. If you have an Emoji on your wish list, no need to start a petition, write it up and propose it!

How long does it take?

I started on the Accordion Emoji proposal while my book was in copy-edits last winter. It took about a week to put a draft together. It would be a lot longer, though, before the emoji would arrive on any phones.

It takes a remarkably long time for an emoji to be born. Usually more than a year. After exploring the idea in November of 2018, I submitted the final proposal in February of 2019. It then took until this week for the approved emoji to go public.

It will probably take up to six more months for the new emoji to be usable on everybody’s phones. Companies will update the emojis at different times over 2020. As I said, Twitter often comes first, and Apple usually doesn’t update them until the fall.

Each platform designs their own

Every emoji looks different on Twitter, Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, etc. Emojipedia will track different versions. It’ll be fun to watch each one come out.

Screenshot detail of Unicode site, chart showing four different designs for the accordion emoji, above four different "long drum" emoji with congas and djembe
Unicode has several different versions on their “Recently Added Emoji” page, including @Emojipedia‘s cartoony one, and the button version from the original @AccordionEmoji proposal

Highlights from the Emoji Proposal

Front page: "Proposal for Emoji: Accordion" with draft images, color and black and white

The Accordion Emoji proposal included ideas about how the accordion emoji might prove useful, and statistics on the frequency of the word “accordion” in online searches. We started, though, with some background on squeezeboxes around the world, and a run-down of the different instruments. Then a few more amusing arguments.

Why an Accordion Emoji?

Accordions have existed since the 1800s, and their popularity grew for more than a century. The instrument lost popularity in some English speaking cultures as amplification boosted new electric instruments, but the squeezebox remains part of the common culture and language. Since the 1980s the instrument has risen in popularity again and is widely recognized, with no sign of fading.

Piano accordion

Two photos of piano accordions. A nice black Victoria model, and a photo of a woman in Ia parade playing accordion, next to another woman playing fiddle

Common in many traditions including Brasilian forró, North American zydeco, Jewish klezmer, Egyptian Baladi and Korean trot music.
(For public-domain photo sources, click on photos and look for footnotes in the proposal. The one on the right is from Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin)

Diatonic button accordions

two photos of diatonic button accordions. A three-row Dino Baffetti, and Nigerian jùjú accordionist I.K. Dairo – black man playing a one-row button-box
R: Nigerian jùjú accordionist I.K. Dairo

Dozens of different types of these button accordions have unique names in different traditions. “Trikitixa” in Basque Music; “Melodeon” in Irish and English folk music; “Acordeón” in Colombian cumbia, vallenato, and Mexican norteño. They play Cajun music in Louisiana, Jùjú in Nigeria, Inuit music in the Arctic, merengue típica in the Dominican Republic, rake ‘n’ scrape in the Bahamas, and many other styles globally.

Smaller Concertinas

Two photos of smaller concertinas, a hexagonal Anglo-German model, and an octagonal English concertina

Several types of hand-held concertinas are played in various folk styles including Irish traditional music, and traditional Sotho and Afrikaans music in South Africa.

Bandoneons and Chemnitzer concertinas

two photos, one a man with longish hair, playing a black bandoneon, and a white, decorated Chemnitzer concertina
L: Bandoneon player Matias Rubino

The larger concertina-like bandoneon is used in tango and chamamé in Argentina and Uruguay. The related Chemitzer concertina is played in European folk styles and in polka bands in the United States.

Chromatic Button Accordions

Two photos, a large black concert chromatic button accordion, and Finnish metal accordionist Netta Skog with her face painted, playing a white five-row Finnish chromatic
That’s Finnish metal-accordionist 🤘🏽 Netta Skog

These larger button keyboard instruments are used for folk, popular and concert (classical) music. Notable designs include the Russian Bayan, the French musette accordéon, and the Finnish harmonikka.

The Multilingual Accordion

Accordions are central to traditional and popular music styles around the world, so an emoji would serve many regions and people. Similarly, an ACCORDION Emoji might stand in for related squeezeboxes played internationally. These include instruments called:

AccordionBayan / баянLootspill
AkkordeonGarmon / гармоника手風琴

Metaphorical and Other Uses

The “accordion” concept is often used metaphorically too. It describes articulated “accordion busses,” “accordion folders” and wallets, “accordion pleats” in clothing, “accordion menus” in digital GUIs, “accordion window-shades” and doors, “leporello” or “accordion-fold” books (Japanese, 折本; Korean, 折帖裝; Chinese, 摺子裝, 經摺裝), and the “accordion effect” in physics, traffic jams and collisions.

There is no other emoji that represents the instrument’s compressing / expanding action. Thus the Accordion emoji would be useful for both musical and non-musical users.

Other uses include the effect of expanding and contracting continents and mountain-ranges, the solar-panels on the International Space Station, and anything that gets squashed like a cartoon character.

The related “Concertina” is also used informally in English as the verb “concertinaed,” for compressing something, and as an adjective in descriptions like “concertina wire.”

Use in Sentences and Sequences

The accordion idea is often used as an adjective and could be combined as ACCORDION + 📖 BOOK, , 👗 DRESS, 🚌 BUS, 📂 FILE FOLDER, among others.

Regional and national traditions might add flags: Irish 🇮🇪, Colombian🇨🇴, Azerbaijani 🇦🇿+ ACCORDION. Various instrument types could be indicated using: Piano Keyboard 🎹+ Accordion, or Button 🔘+ Accordion.

Who Helped Make the Accordion Emoji Happen

"EmojiNation" logo, with a flag that looks like the United Nations' with olive-laurel leaves around a smiley emoji

The Accordion emoji wouldn’t have happened without lots of help and inspiration from the folks at EmojiNation, especially Jennifer Lee, and concept-artist Aphee Messer.

Working to increase multicultural representation, Emojination has shepherded many emoji through the complexities of the Unicode process. Their Slack and AirTable tools track and organize the process, with lots of tips and examples to take inspiration from.

Screenshot from page: "Emoji We've Helped Pass" with images of: Hijab, Sauna, Red Envelope, Dumpling, broccoli, and DNA emoji.

Who will adopt the Accordion Emoji?

"Official Gold Sponsor, Unicode Consortium, Adopt a Character" "Vinton G. Cerf" (Vulcan "live long and prosper" hand sign)

Unicode takes donations to help “sponsor” individual characters. People and organizations can then use these cool badges!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2020 11:52 am

    Note that the original proposal image was a button accordion.

    It was cool for adding a 🎹 if needed.

    I figured big-tech would get in bed with the piano monopoly, but I could tell partisans it wasn’t my fault.

    The bandoneón lobby is still glowering 😒

  2. December 25, 2022 8:17 pm

    May 13,2020
    First report of the Accordion Emoji in the wild was from a blind user when a speech screen-reader as the Unicode code was read out as “Accordion”.


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