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Ten facts about the accordion

Whether you dub accordion music annoying or enticing, you cannot deny the instrument’s persistence. The earliest version of the accordion emerged in the early 1800’s and one can still find it on many street corners today. Certain universities, museums, and soloists have assisted in the accordion’s longevity. We’ve assembled 10 facts about the instrument that may satisfy our enduring curiosity about the instrument.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Castelfidardo, Italy is the preeminent center of accordion manufacture. Numerous companies producing accordions and their parts are based there, including Borsini, Bugari, Castagnari, Excelsior, Menghini, Pigini, Scandalli, Victoria, and Zero Sette.

4. Franz Walther from Vienna created the first chromatic button accordion in 1850.

5. The first chromatic button accordion had 46 buttons for the right hand, arranged in three rows of minor 3rds, each row a half-step apart. The bass section had eight diatonic buttons divided between single bass notes and two-note chords.

Accordion by adaoaalves, Public Domain via Pixabay.
Accordion by adaoaalves, Public Domain via Pixabay.

6. By the early 20th century, the accordion was associated around the world with traditional music, cafés, dance halls, and music halls.

7. Hugo Herrmann composed the first piece for a solo accordion entitled Sieben neue Spielmusiken in 1927.

8. One of the most important composers of new music for the accordion was Wolfgang Jacobi (1894–1972).

9. Ernst Hohner founded and directed the Harmonika-Fachschule in Trossinge in 1931 with the help of Hermann Schittenhelm, Armin Fett and Ly Braun. It was probably the first official state academy.

10. Accordions are found 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 in the 19th-century with European and West African sailors, merchants, and settlers, and was carried inland by migrant workers.

Did we leave out any fun facts about the accordion?

Featured image credit: “Accordion playing boy in Rome” by Per Palmkvist Knudsen. CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Recent Comments

  1. Chuck Anderson

    No. 9 is wrong. There’s an accordion museum in Seattle inside the Petosa accordion factory and store.

  2. dm10003

    Did t use of accordion in Mexican music comes from Germany or Eastern Europe? It sounds like a polka.

  3. iam he

    Actually, unless you are zenophobic, China Has more accordion players, and makes more accordions than any other country..

  4. Brett

    You should mention the fact that the Cajun accordions are all made in Louisiana and are the best quality of single diatonic accordion made.
    Cajun and zydeco music are great examples.

  5. iam he

    the only accorions made in America are made in Louisiana and Texas… mostly one row button accordions

  6. iam he

    there is also an accordion museum in Connecticut

  7. Janet Fisher-Hughes

    Number 9 is wrong. The museum is in Superior, Wisconsin. I was there this past summer. It is wonderful.

  8. Lizzie Furey

    Thank you for the input! We’ve adjusted the text.

  9. Lizzie Furey

    Thank you! We’ve adjusted the post.

  10. Lizzie Furey

    Thank you! Great point, and we’ve corrected the post.

  11. Lizzie Furey

    Thank you! We’ve corrected the post.

  12. Christian

    I didn’t like the instrument much in the past, but recently I listened to some songs from a Czech accordion player who lives in Germany and changed my mind – a bit. Its a cool instrument, but for me it depends on the music style. I researched something and found this interesting facts here. Nice. I have no more fun facts, except that you can also play “accordion” on a tablet. That made me smile when I discovered it.

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