MUSIC LESSONS - ACCORDION
Accordions are found all across the globe. China, where the free reed aerophone the Sheng has been known since the 2nd millennium BCE, has become a major manufacturer of the instruments. But the accordion has a particularly long history in Africa, where the instrument first arrived in coastal cities with European and West African sailors, merchants, and settlers, and was carried inland by migrant workers.
The earliest version of the modern accordion emerged in the early 1800’s and one can still find it on many street corners today. The modern accordion was developed by Paolo Soprani in Castelfidardo, Italy. Castelfidardo is the preeminent centre of accordion manufactures. Numerous companies producing accordions and their parts are based there, including Borsini, Bugari, Castagnari, Excelsior, Menghini, Pigini, Scandalli, Victoria, and Zero Sette.
Accordions are free reed aerophones, which produce sound through the expansion and contraction of folded bellows. Pitches are controlled by keys or buttons manipulated by the fingers while the bellows are moved. Accordions can be either diatonic, which are controlled by buttons and typically used in folk musics, or chromatic, which are controlled by what looks like a piano keyboard and used in a wider variety of musical genres, including jazz and concert music.
The bellows are the section of cloth, cardboard, leather, and metal located in between the two manuals (keyboards and buttons). The bellows are expanded and contracted by the accordionist, which creates vacuum and pressure and drives air through the reed chambers to create sound. The accordion is able to sustain sound for a much longer time than most other instruments.
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