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The brusque Mr. Fix-It for Mexico City’s accordions (nytimes.com)
45 points by pseudolus 59 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments

Irish Traditional music makes amazing use of the accordion!

Some quick examples:



It's sound very... irish. I'm surprised how different it sounds to what I've listened all my life in mexican music. Definitely an underrated instrument.

There was a man from my city who made me (and millions of people more) like the accordion. He was called "El Rebelde del Acordeón" ("The Rebel of Accordion"). There are no people who won't think of him when the accordion is mentioned in Mexico. Here are some videos




“Agh,” one of the boys in the back whispered to another. “It’s beautiful.”

I played accordion as a teenager. I doubt that many of my peers would have deemed the sound (even expertly played on an exquisite accordion) as "beautiful". It was more of something to be mocked.

For that matter, as an adult, my peers still tend to mock accordions.

What a difference being a single country away makes!

I don't know, I've heard some accordion playing that really took my breath away: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rD8XO9XRoo8

Does it sound like that when I play? Absolutely not, but I can dream.

Not necessarily—my Mexican wife rather dislikes norteño and banda, not least because of the accordions.

For a while I played bass in a Gypsy jazz group which included an accordion player.

I grew up in Louisiana were the accordion player is usually the frontman for a Zydeco band, and Zydeco is more popular than ever there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L2fCgK1OGU

I had no idea accordions had any stigmas until moving away.

One of the sources of Zydeco is traditional French Canadian folk music...which features fiddles and accordians. You can definitely hear the roots in some of the music by bands like La Bottine Souriante which provides a wonderfully modern take on the art https://youtu.be/KYza0wxs7Ic

A curious fact mentioned in the article: the popularity of the accordion in norteño music is apparently ultimately thanks to the presence in Texas of German immigrants.

There are a lot of surprising bits of cross-pollination visible in Latin American culture.

Here's another one: "al pastor" meat was brought to Mexico by immigrants from Lebanon, as an adaptation of shawarma with local spices.

At the risk of sounding like a know-it-all I feel like these shouldn't surprise us that much. Americans like to think of themselves as kindred to Europe but Latin America arguably has more in common.

Likewise Tejano music north of the border.

Since people seem to be sharing accordion links, here is a YouTube playlist with my favorites:


Before I clicked I was wondering if that nation was Italy or Mexico? It was Mexico in this case. But Italy also loves accordions. When I was there in 2005 they had a TV station that seemed to be 24/7 accordion playing.

I also wondered which nation it would be, and guessed Argentina. But I guess a bandoneon isn't an accordion, technically speaking.

Accordion was very popular in Brazil and Uruguay when I was growing up. This deceptively cheerful song, "Asa Branca" [0] (four accordions in the lineup) is about the persistent drought in Brazil's Nordeste (Northeast) and the resulting diaspora ... millions left to go to São Paulo and other cities/regions in the 80s and 90s.

[0] https://youtu.be/zsFSHg2hxbc

In Europe the harmonica is widely accepted as the prominent instrument for folk music and since everyone is posting harmonica videos here's one of the most famous song (very difficult to play)


Too late for you to edit, but "harmonica" is a false friend; that word refers to a very different instrument in English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonica

Button accordions come in two kinds: classic piano full scale, and melodian, which is a harmonica attached to bellows and buttons. It's the same "what you get push and pull can differ" model, which real accordians don't do: same note push and pull.

I am unsure what a Bandonion does. Wheatstone concertina (yes, the guy who made the wheatstone bridge I believe) are also same note push-pull. More buttons. more. Wheatstone concertina sell for $10,000 or more. Melodions sell for $100

Zydeco typically uses the harmonica-aligned melodion. Bandonion music is what Astor Piazzola plays.

(can play a melodion. cannot play piano accordion or concertina)

Jimmy Shand is god. Just saying.

Just to show how confusing this can get, I’ll elaborate on this a bit.

One confusion is that the word “melodeon” is used more in the UK, Ireland, and Australia (according to Wikipedia) and “diatonic accordion” in the US, but they’re words often used for the same thing, I think?

Harmonicas have free reeds and so do accordions and concertinas, but they don’t use the same parts as someone might guess from the way you said it. Harmonicas (and melodicas) have many reeds cut out of a single metal plate. (Or plastic for some harmonicas.) Accordions typically have pairs of reeds (one push and the other pull) held into a wooden reed block by wax, so they can be individually removed by melting the wax. Some less expensive concertinas use accordion reeds and the crazy-expensive ones use hand-made concertina reeds.

Also, a piano accordion or chromatic button accordion could be tuned to play some notes differently on push versus pull. (For example “Arabic tuning.”) This is rare, though.

A fundamental reason to have different notes on push versus pull is to use fewer reeds, saving weight and complexity, which is more important on smaller instruments. But this resulted in different music and playing styles too so they’re also culturally different.

Very cool. Love the pedal notes on the left hand register.

Well if we’re going to bring in Sivuca and multiple accordions you really should listen to this version of “Feira de Mangaio.”


The accordion is very popular in Eastern Europe too.

The lead was playing an accordian for a heavy metal band at a local bar in Лесковац (Leskovac, Serbia), and I had a fantastic night there. Great people - rough but really friendly in my limited experience.

Personally I mostly hate the accordion, and too much time around any folk music drives me up the wall, but occasionally it is really beautiful.

It was Czech emigrants to Mexico who brought the accordion there. A lot of banda music sounds an awful lot like the polkas my grandparents listened to.

The weirdest thing though, was I remember in college coming across Bohemia beer at the local liquor superstore. I thought it was strange that the bottle had a Native American on the label, but I didn't think too much of it when I bought a bottle. It was only when I got back to the dorm and looked closer that I discovered that despite the name, it was actually a Mexican beer.

Oh. You’re gonna love this: Marko Brdnik https://youtu.be/O8wdFySW6mg Marko Hatlak https://youtu.be/XDqurD7WdIg

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