The accordion is a fairly new instrument, being invented in Berlin by Friedrich Buschmann in 1822. The accordion is able to make a sound when you pull the bellows in and out. This builds up pressure causing reeds of varying size to vibrate, creating the classic tone to ring out. Accordion music is used in myriad of different cultures. From the tango melodies of Argentina to the folk music of Russia, the accordion is a staple instrument of almost every culture.
The accordion was popularized in America at the turn of the century. Everyone wanted to learn to play one. It was the like the guitar of the 1930s. By the 1960’s, rock bands such as the Beatles caused accordion popularity to plummet. By the 70s, accordions were completely out of fashion. America had replaced accordions with drums, keyboards, and guitars. Accordions have started to make a comeback in some small music groups and a bit of main-stream music though.
France is known for including accordions into its culture. The picture of a black and white striped shirt and beret capped man on a street corner resonates with us all as the quintessential Parisian scene. Accordions came to France via Italian immigrants, but soon they were heard in almost every cafe and cabaret in Paris. In the 1930’s the Musette waltz became a principle genre of French music.
Accordions are still a major instrument in many different countries and they are starting to make a comeback. Hopefully this has sparked some interest in this amazing and versatile instrument.