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US Accordion history help!

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AllisonA(Animaterra) 07 Mar 06 - 04:58 PM
Peace 07 Mar 06 - 05:21 PM
Skipjack K8 07 Mar 06 - 07:04 PM
georgeward 08 Mar 06 - 12:19 AM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Mar 06 - 02:31 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 08 Mar 06 - 06:05 AM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Mar 06 - 06:19 AM
GUEST 08 Mar 06 - 06:41 AM
GLoux 08 Mar 06 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Dazbo 08 Mar 06 - 11:07 AM
Dave Ruch 08 Mar 06 - 12:06 PM
mg 08 Mar 06 - 03:28 PM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Mar 06 - 09:31 PM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Mar 06 - 09:38 PM
GUEST 08 Mar 06 - 09:58 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 17 Mar 06 - 05:40 AM
Little Robyn 17 Mar 06 - 02:58 PM
catspaw49 17 Mar 06 - 03:30 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 17 Mar 06 - 06:50 PM
BuckMulligan 17 Mar 06 - 08:03 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 17 Mar 06 - 08:38 PM
Bob Bolton 18 Mar 06 - 01:16 AM
georgeward 18 Mar 06 - 02:55 AM
catspaw49 18 Mar 06 - 06:29 AM
Little Robyn 18 Mar 06 - 03:05 PM
georgeward 19 Mar 06 - 01:39 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Mar 06 - 06:57 PM
georgeward 22 Mar 06 - 03:25 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Mar 06 - 06:11 PM
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Subject: US Accordion history help!
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:58 PM

Hello, friends. I've been mostly lurking for some time now, but I'm still around! Once again, I need your help!

My Darling Daughter was given a list of names as part of an American Studies class project (Junior Year, age 17, honors student). She has to choose one US inventer or patent owner and write a paper on this person. The DD decided to choose Anthony Faas, the holder of the first US patent for the accordion!
Now she wails that she can't find anything about him, beyond the fact that he gained the patent by making a few changes to the original.

She has requested that I post a query here, in case anyone knows of sources of info. Can anyone here help her find some biographical info, and perhaps a little more on the history of the accordion in the US? She's supposedly a Google Whiz and doesn't seem to be finding what she needs that way.

Many thanks!


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: Peace
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:21 PM

Wikipedia has some info.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:04 PM

Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx is a remarkably well researched novel centreing on the various musical traditions of the accordion in North America, and would certainly be excellent background reading. The sting in the tail is one of the best.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: georgeward
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 12:19 AM

First off, I've got to assume she has found this site (scroll down to find stuff about Faas and a link to his patent app):

http://accordionguy.blogware.com/blog/AccordionInstrumentoftheGods

Second, don't be mislead by the picture of a modern pianobox player that Accordian Guy
has stuck next to Faas's picture. AF was *not* proposing imporvements to the piano accordian, which was some years away in 1851 if I recall correctly.

Think diatonic buttonbox (Good thing DD has a squeezer for a mum). That's what Faas describes and what he wants to improve. And as he says, he proposes improvements which will enable an original diatonic and push-pull instrument to:

1) be played chromatically (it sounds on a quick reading as though he is proposing
   to do this much as modern Irish players do, by putting a B major diatonic row - and hence all the "black keys" adjacent to the diatonic C row);

2) To provide the "missing" notes, when the bellows of the diatonic box is moving in
    one direction or the other, by means of an alternate set of reeds tuned to provide them which are accessed by his shift-lever design.

It all sounds to me like a more complex version of a modern chromatic harmonica. More complex because his shift-lever design can access either of two complimentary systems to the original diatonic plan.

Do read the patent app. more carefully than I have (it is late). I think I have it right, but I'm trusting Mudcatters to correct me if I'm not.

Now then, there were boatloads of patent instruments bursting forth like spring crocusses in the mid-nineteenth century. Many are weird and wonderful. Most sank with few bubbles. The autoharp being one of the exceptions. I can't hazard a guess whether any of Faas's very interesting proposals sank or swam.

DD may have better luck trying to contact folks who repair old boxes and/or who know of collectors. There is the Button Box (e.g.), in Sunderland, MA, makers of my anglo and - am I right - yours, Allison. They might give a desperate student a lead.

There are some mighty box players on Mudcat - Skipjack K8, Foolstroupe, Alan Day and others. But the three I named are not Yanks at all, at all. Does DD know whether any of Faas's accordians were ever commercially manufactured ?

If anything good turns up, I hope you or DD will post it.

_ George


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:31 AM

I know very little about the history of US accordions. The assumption that the patent discussed refers to a 'button box' sounds reasonable to me. Piano accordions always had the same note in both directions as far as my research has shown. I do believe that the Stradella bass was not necessarily standard on all early piano accordions, but was adopted fairly early (it apparently originated in the town of Stradella).

I remember seeing in a documentary about WWII (I think it may have been to do with old colour films being available) in which a (german) guy is playing an accordion with a piano keyboard, but what seems like a 'button box' style bass - or else it was a very limited set of about 12 or less bass buttons. The picture was not all that clear, he was not close up, and it was a very short segment of people (possibly including some soldiers) dancing and singing.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 06:05 AM

Thanks so much for your help! The DD is now on the path to enlightenment! And we have Accordion Crimes on our shelf, unread, so I'll pull it out and she can skim it at least, if she has time, before the paper is due next week.

I'll post her findings here!

Allison


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 06:19 AM

Yes, if she can be persuaded to post her finished paper here, I for one would appreciate it! (if she wants to amend it after grading before posting it here to remove any little things - that's OK too)


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 06:41 AM

I think the film clip foolestroupe is referring to is of soldiers of the soviet red army celebrating their conquest of Berlin.

Would russian accordians be different? would the red army have taken accordians with them to the front, or had it been looted from the Germans?


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: GLoux
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 08:29 AM

Faas was from Philadelphia...Well this certainly cements Philadelphia's pertinent place in history, doesn't it?

-Greg


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 11:07 AM

Foolestroope,

I have my father's piano accordion that I think he got before WW2 but it may have been shortly after as my mum remembers his playing it very well. It has only 8 bass buttons for the bass note and the chord (F, C, G, and D) but they are set out like a piano bass rather than melodeon in that the pairs of buttons are the fundemental notes on the outside (nearest the edge of the box) with the chords closer to the bellows. I don't know the maker but unlike piano accordions (and like the melodeon) the buttons are not staggered. I wonder if it was a melodeon bass cabinet but set up to play like a pa?

I've seen quite a number of clips of WW2 showing both German and Soviet soldiers playing various types of squeezebox (in fact weren't the small Hohners - Lilliputs and Preciousas - marketed at German soldiers?) but I doubt they were with them in the front line.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 12:06 PM

If still looking for info, Jim Kimball at SUNY Geneseo would be an excellent resource. Feel free to PM me for his contact info.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: mg
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 03:28 PM

I have recently seen a Russian accordian in a music shop. It had lots of little buttosn and no keys..it was full size. I read that when the Russians crossed the Elbe they liberated the Hohner factory and played joyous (for them, at least). I would have loved to have heard that. There is a very sad clip of an African-American POW in Vietnam playing the accordian at Christmas "party" under captivity. I happened across the chin3ese web sit and they said that I believe the accordian was invented there and there were more accordian players in China than anywhere else in the world..so take that Wisconsin...also someone was importing accordians from China a few yeas back for about $25...not a bad sound although made out of cheap materials. mg


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 09:31 PM

"I think the film clip foolestroupe is referring to is of soldiers of the soviet red army celebrating their conquest of Berlin."

No - this was not russians - it was used during some pre-war German scenes - german clothing etc. (and I DO know that doco makers use film clips that are not always 'kosher')

The Chinese supposedly did invent the free reed instrument - but they did NOT invent the concertina/accordion as used in the West. There may well now be more accordion player in china most other single countries nowadays.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 09:38 PM

Dazbo

That is a common early strad type bass - an 8 bass. They can be played with limited rhythm keyes - 3 chorders (I IV V) in C & G and a 4 chorder (I II IV V) in C. you don't worry about 7th chords - just get the 7th from the melody. useful for simple folk tnes in restricted keys and for beginners and children.

How many black and white keys? and any regiser switches (to change the sound thru switching in/out banks of reeds)?


"I doubt they were with them in the front line. "

Soldiers always manged to carry entertainment with them.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 09:58 PM

Of course, DD, immediately went to the U.S. Patent Office website for information: http://www.uspto.gov

Accordion: This subclass is indented under subclass 1. Design for a portable box-shaped musical instrument with bellows and keys or buttons. It is there, but you have to dig.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Do you still clean her butt ... or ... will she write the paper herself?


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 05:40 AM

Well, it turns out this was a fairly silly and fun project! What I hadn't realized was that the students had to write a song or poem about their inventor, and make a poster with facts and pictures. Here's the DD's composition:

THE EPIC SAGA OF THE GREAT AND MIGHTY ACCORDION

In eighteen-twenty-two in Germany
A man named Friedrich Buschmann
Patented the hand-aeoline,
Which was a little box-thing
Comprised of bellows and a keyboard
Which one squeezed to make a sound—
Something quite akin to music,
As his audiences found!

The year was eighteen-twenty-nine,
And in fair Vienna-town,
A Mr. Cyrillus Damian
Got a patent of his own.
He called it the accordion,
And, like that German fellow's,
There was a keyboard on one side.
The other hand worked the bellows.

(And we must mention Charles Wheatstone,
Who, in eighteen-forty-four,
Patented the concertina,
But of this I'll say no more.)

Let us proceed to the U.S.A.,
In early eighteen-fifty-four,
On the thirteenth of January,
In fair Philadelphia.
Anthony Faas had a vision
Of a new accordion.
He'd changed the sound and keyboard
And the patent he had won!

Never before this winter day
Had an American
Gained a patent for this instrument.
Well, there's a first for everything!
Faas' improvements did not survive
And are not used today,
But the accordion is still revered
As a worthy instrument to play!


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: Little Robyn
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 02:58 PM

I love it! The kid's a genius!
Thanks for the info - I had heard that the piano accordion was patented in 1856 but obviously not.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 03:30 PM

Hey Double L......that's a great job by a sharp young woman. I am sorry though that she took some info from George (Ward) because although he is always so reliable and knowledgeable, in this case he has it wrong. Fortunately I doubt this affected your DD's grade, but I am here to set the record straight.

The accordion did not exist prior to 1931, other reference sources to the contrary. As we all know, necessity is the mother of invention and there was no need for such an atrocious, disgusting, annoying, raucus, and nauseating instrument before that time as it was only then that "Lady of Spain" was written [Written by Erell Reaves, Music by Tolchard Evans, Robert Hargreaves, Stanley J. Damerell & Henry B Tilsley (1931)]. As we all know, all accordion players know only two songs......the first of which is "Lady of Spain."

The other one isn't.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 06:50 PM

.... now that I've cleaned up the keyboard (thanks a lot, Spaw!)

And thanks to all for your help, especially George. I'll let you know the grade on this project when she gets it (she just showed me her mid-quarter progress report. Darn girl only got 3 A+'s- the other grade was only an A! I've really got to get that kid to establish some good work habits or something!)

...not proud or anything. Nope, not me!


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 08:03 PM

It is with significant trepidation that I undertake to correct the Venerable Catspaw49, but - as a onetime squeezer of the mechanism of interest - I must correct his correction. All accordion players know THREE songs: Lady of Spain, The Beer Barrel Polka, and something else.


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 08:38 PM

Several years ago, my late beloved and I went to the Northeast Squeeze-In, a September weekend for lovers of bellows-activated instruments. We were there for the concertinas, but how well I remember lying in bed late at night, listening to a late-night jam of accordions, listening to yet another renditon of Lady of Spain... and another... and another...

and they were at it again in the morning!


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 18 Mar 06 - 01:16 AM

G'day Little Robyn,

"Thanks for the info - I had heard that the piano accordion was patented in 1856 but obviously not.

Robyn
"

I have a copy of Le Fisarmonische ("Piano-Accordions"), Fermo Galbiati & Nino Ciravegna, initerari d'imagini, Milano, 1987 ... basically a "catalogue raissoné" of a collection of "fisarmoniche" = "bellows-accordions" at the Museo miscellaneo Galbiati, in Brugherio. This collection actually holds example of a wide range of instruments: from ancestral button accordions (eg 'flautinas'), through all types of accordions, concertinas and portable reed harmoniums.

Although the museum's information (given in Italian and rather dubious English!) is often flawed - it is a useful gloss of the history of the accordion class of instrument. The fifth instrument ... after a c. 1835 Wheatstone prototype of his 'English system' concertina, an (alleged) 1840 Lachenal 'English system' concertina, an (allegedly) 1850 (and, presumably French) Harmoniette - very like the current Indian table "accordions" with a piano keyboard and no bass chords, a very complicated (and well-bassed!) c. 1850 Austrian button accordion ... is a (presumably French) Harmoniflute, which has a piano keyboard and may have some sort of bass system, but it is not described by the compiler.

It is my understanding that the French first applied an arrangement of piano keyboard giving a full chromatic range of several octaves, with reeds sounding the same note on both press and draw, in the mid 1850s ... but they did not devise a satisfactory system of bass chord and/or notes. The Italians solved the problem with the Stradella Bass System ... and the first such instrument in this catalogue is dated 1880 - and made in the town of Stradella.

If this "Harmoniflute" had any sort of bass system, it could be acurately described as an accordion (unlike the Harmoniette, with no bass chords) - but it was far short of a workable piano accordion.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: georgeward
Date: 18 Mar 06 - 02:55 AM

I am quite charmed by DD's observation that the accordian produces "something akin to music," a point which some observers (Spaw ?) appear to miss.

In Spaw's defense, I have played accordian for most of my life, but never realized the amazing toxicity of "Lady of Spain" until an accordian-playing friend signed up for one of my pennywhistle classes. She straightway suggested that, for the final gathering of all the Old Songs classes this spring session, the* whistle* players should all play "Lady of Spain"!

Bird flu be damned! Someone should wise the Center for Disease Control up to LOS.

And thanks to Animaterra and DD for posting the quite wonderful results of all this. Is it to be recited or sung ? Is there a tune ?

Thank goodness it doesn't really fit as a lyric to "Lady of Spain."

- George


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Mar 06 - 06:29 AM

Thank goodness it doesn't really fit as a lyric to "Lady of Spain."

- George


LOL!!! Ya' know the only thing that makes my joke funny at all is there actually IS a grain of truth in it!

A great laugh to start my day.....Thanks George!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: Little Robyn
Date: 18 Mar 06 - 03:05 PM

Hi Bob,
It was in one of those 'Today in history' things in the paper a few years back. It caught my interest because my folks originally came from Padstow, where various squeeze boxes are in over abundance every Mayday. I wondered if it was in my blood because of my ancestors but changed my mind when I found the accordion was patented while my family were on board a sailing ship coming out to NZ - sometime between 2 July and 20 October 1856.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: georgeward
Date: 19 Mar 06 - 01:39 AM

A grain of truth there is indeed, Spaw. But I'm glad you had a good laugh. I owe you a few.

This would be a thread creep, but is there a "Lady of Spain" for every instrument, a tune so overdone and overidentified with the instrument as to diminish the instrument's merit in the eyes of the larger world ? At one time, "Listen to the Mockingbird" might have done that for the fiddle, for example.

Or does "Freebird" pretty much do it for all of music ?

- G


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Mar 06 - 06:57 PM

Hot Canary - violin


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: georgeward
Date: 22 Mar 06 - 03:25 AM

Of Course!


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Subject: RE: US Accordion history help!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Mar 06 - 06:11 PM

Golden Wedding - Clarinet.


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