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Cajun Accordion Or Melodeon?


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#19 bill_mchale

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Posted 10 January 2005 - 04:26 PM

[quote name='Steve Holley' date='Jan 8 2005, 12:28 PM']
Hi folks,
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Marriage, new home, lots of other things that have kept me too busy to hang around a bunch of squeezers.
Things have returned to a more relaxed pace and I’ve reached a point with my concertina that I would like to “stretch” (badoom-boom) my abilities a bit. I’m considering a try at the “Cajun accordion”. I’ve always loved the sound of one but have never even held one before. (I had never held a concertina before buying one either but have become fairly proficient with it).
There are several things that attract me to the Cajun style accordion. It’s diatonic system would make it easier to learn, since I already play an anglo, and the small size, unique sound and overall appearance appeal to my sense of something “different”.
I was wondering if any of you could answer a few questions for me.

1. Does anyone here have one and are they as enjoyable to play as they seem to be?
[/quote]
Well that all depends :) If you enjoy Cajun accordion music I imagine you would find it enjoyable to play. I play a B/C button accordion and an Anglo for Irish Music and I certainly enjoy playing both.

[quote]
2. Is it truly the same as a melodeon? Is the difference in tuning?
[/quote]
Depends on who you ask :) The Irish would call a Cajun Accordion a Melodeon. The tuning is a little different, but that is often true of various accordions used in specific genres of music. You could probably cheat and get a box tuned normally and still play Cajun music fairly well.

[quote]
3. Is the Hohner Ariette a good starter?
4. Would I be better off saving my money until I could afford a custom Acadian from Marc Savoy
(who has what I think is the most beautiful style of accordion out there. I want one bad.)?
[/quote]
If you have wanted one for some time, and want one bad, well there is probably nothing less than a Savoy that will satisfy you. On the flip side there is a wide range of instruments between the Ariette and the Savoy. I think some of the Cajun makers make boxes for about half of what the Savoy goes for; probably not as good but probably enough to keep you going for years.
[quote]
5. Are there any special considerations to think about in purchasing one?
[/quote]
Yes, mostly do you want an instrument you can only play Cajun music with or do you want one that you can use for Qubecoise and even some Irish Melodeon music?
[quote]
6. Renting one first? A good thought but where?
[/quote]
I doubt you could rent a Savoy.. but you might be able to rent a Weltmeister or a Hohner 114; both of which would be a considerable step up from the Ariette.

I recognize the oncoming fever to have one of these so I’m trying to gather as much information as I can. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]


Well start by doing as much research as possible. Look and see if there are any cajun music sites online and or mailing lists or forums. Talk to people who play Cajun Accordion and see what they would recommend. Oh and learn Acadian French :).

--
Bill

#20 Daniel Bradbury

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Posted 10 January 2005 - 04:38 PM

Steve,

You should call Marc. Many years ago he was offering Italian made instruments which he touched up a bit. I bought one for about 1/3 less than his hand-made boxes and it is fabulous. I had some friend who played professionally and loved to take my box when they had the chance because it sounded so "honking nice"

Marc offered flat tuning, and sweet tuning and an in-between. I love to play it!

#21 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 10 January 2005 - 06:13 PM

In case you want to indulge in some more chat like this, only centered around the Cajun end of things, take a look at  pub21.bravenet.com/forum/show.php?username=1722942123

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

And here's a link to that Cajun Accordion Discussion Group, where I found the following advice :

Maybe you can try Elton Doucet in Church Point La.. He makes an inexpensive accordion that is of good quality.

Like I said ............ :)

Oh, and thanks to Jeff H for recommending him to me in the first place !

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 10 January 2005 - 06:27 PM.


#22 Steve Holley

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Posted 10 January 2005 - 08:25 PM

Wow,
Thanks for all the great advice folks! You've given me a great deal to think about along with the research I've done on my own. One thing I have found (to no surprise) is that eBay is as full of cheap, rip-off "Cajun Style!" accordions as it is concertinas.

I have, through here and elsewhere, come up with enough reputable names that I will be able to end up with at least a decent starter. I'm afraid that the nice custom box, like the custom concertina, is still off in the future a bit.

Thanks again for the information. How did folks ever get by without the internet!
:rolleyes:

#23 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 10 January 2005 - 11:16 PM

5. Are there any special considerations to think about in purchasing one?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Steve,

I just thought of an important consideration that hasn't been discussed yet, and that is what key should you buy an accordion in ?

The commonest key for Cajun music is C, and that is the key all the instructional tapes, videos and workshops are in, so the best one to get to learn Cajun style.

However, if you want to play Irish or Quebecois music you will need a melodeon in D to play with other people.

Otherwise, D would be the second most popular accordion for Cajun playing.

Or you may have other criteria ? (They normally go as low as G and as high as F in pitch.)

#24 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 04:31 AM

Hey Steve,

This one has just come up on eBay. It looks to be a bargain, with a Buy It Now price of only $405 !

Falcon.jpg

Picture edited.

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 22 May 2005 - 09:55 PM.


#25 bill_mchale

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 09:22 AM

5. Are there any special considerations to think about in purchasing one?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Steve,

I just thought of an important consideration that hasn't been discussed yet, and that is what key should you buy an accordion in ?

The commonest key for Cajun music is C, and that is the key all the instructional tapes, videos and workshops are in, so the best one to get to learn Cajun style.

However, if you want to play Irish or Quebecois music you will need a melodeon in D to play with other people.

Otherwise, D would be the second most popular accordion for Cajun playing.

Or you may have other criteria ? (They normally go as low as G and as high as F in pitch.)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Actually even a D melodeon is not a great session instrument since G tunes only barely lag behind D tunes in popularity (at least around Baltimore that seems to be the case).

That being said, there are some really great Irish Melodeon players (Johnny Connolly and John O'Halloran to name 2), mostly from Connemara. I am not sure if they mostly play D, G or even C melodeons or whether they mix them up. I know I remember reading an interview with Johnny Connolly and he basicly said the trick was knowing the music really well so you could sort of play around the notes that your instrument didn't have; by that I took it he meant something along the lines of choosing notes that harmonically worked with the melody.

Ok, so I am arguing against myself.. so sue me :). I think the Melodeon is a lovely instrument and while it is probably not the best choice of session instruments for the novice, it can probably work really well in the hands of someone who is really accomplished with it.

Actually for more than a year there was a fight in my heart about whether my next instrument after the B/C button accordion was going to be a concertina or a melodeon. The concertina won, but it doesn't mean I won't get a melodeon at some point. :)

--
Bill

#26 Steve Holley

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 10:09 AM

Hey Steve,

This one has just come up on eBay. It looks to be a bargain, with a Buy It Now price of only $405 !

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Stephen, Thanks for the "heads-up". I BOUGHT IT! (Yikes)
I'm well aware of the Caveat of buying on eBay (that's actually where I got my concertina) but after much research it seems like a reasonable risk.

Everyone please feel free to help me maintain my cautious optimism (or blind delusion) by letting me know what a great deal it is. :D

I'll post a report when I get it.

Thanks again for pointing it out to me Stephen.

#27 Theo

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 04:00 PM

[/quote]

Everyone please feel free to help me maintain my cautious optimism (or blind delusion) by letting me know what a great deal it is. :D

[/quote]

It looks like a great buy to me. I don't know the makers name (that means little!) but from the picture it looks to be made from a nicely figred maple. Highly unlikely that a low grade box would be made of such nice timber. I bought a nearly new Louisiana made melodeon a couple of years ago for for a bit over double what you paid and thought I'd done well.

Theo

#28 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 07:35 PM

... it seems like a reasonable risk.

Everyone please feel free to help me maintain my cautious optimism (or blind delusion) by letting me know what a great deal it is. :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Steve, what you have bought is a genuine Cajun accordion, and you got it for little more than the price of an Ariette ! Even if it needs a bit of work doing to it (and it probably doesn't), it is still a bargain.

Frankly, I would have clicked the Buy It Now and bought it myself, but I already did that once this month on something rare and beautiful (made in 1926), which cost several times the price of this accordion (and it was still a bargain !) :

Wheatstone31205.jpg
Amboyna tenor-treble aeola #31205

I have only been looking for one for the last 30+ years ! :) :) :)

It looks like I will have to start playing English concertina again !

Picture edited.

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 22 May 2005 - 08:29 PM.


#29 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 08:08 PM

Actually even a D melodeon is not a great session instrument since G tunes only barely lag behind D tunes in popularity (at least around Baltimore that seems to be the case).

That being said, there are some really great Irish Melodeon players (Johnny Connolly and John O'Halloran to name 2), mostly from Connemara.  I am not sure if they mostly play D, G or even C melodeons or whether they mix them up.  I know I remember reading an interview with Johnny Connolly and he basicly said the trick was knowing the music really well so you could sort of play around the notes that your instrument didn't have; by that I took it he meant something along the lines of choosing notes that harmonically worked with the melody. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Bill,

The reason that Irish and Quebecois players have prefered the D melodeon, for the past century, is that it is the only one capable of playing in the three fiddle keys of D, G and A.

Admittedly, like the C#/D, G is not its best key, but then A is not a good key on the B/C either, and a certain amount of "fudging" may be required.

Time to buy a piano accordion ? :huh: :blink: :( ;)

#30 JimLucas

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Posted 14 January 2005 - 02:52 AM

Time to buy a piano accordion ?  :huh:  :blink:  :(  ;)

Yes, please.
Too many forte accordions, already. :o :D

#31 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 14 January 2005 - 04:30 AM

Time to buy a piano accordion ?  :huh:  :blink:  :(  ;)

Yes, please.
Too many forte accordions, already. :o :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I thought they ran Italian cafes and a Hotel Group, didn't know they made accordions. Surely they're from the wrong part of Italy ? :huh: :blink: ;)

(But I guess the Forte family is another British reference ?) :unsure:

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 14 January 2005 - 05:36 AM.


#32 spindizzy

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Posted 14 January 2005 - 04:41 AM

[Amboyna tenor-treble aeola #31205

I have only been looking for one for the last 30+ years !  :)  :)  :)

It looks like I will have to start playing English concertina again !

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


OOOhhh.... I fell in love with that one and put in a bid on it right at the start ... then realised that DH would be VERY ANNOYED and I'd probably have to sell my other concertina, the cats and any other unecessary possesions and I chickened out. Still at least I have the comfort of knowing it went to a good home. (and it wasn't me bidding against you at the finish - good way to make enemies)

Does it sound as good as it looks?

Chris

#33 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 14 January 2005 - 05:14 AM

OOOhhh.... I fell in love with that one and put in a bid on it right at the start ...

Chris,
I think it may have been another one you saw, nobody else got a chance to bid on this one, I clicked the Buy It Now just about immediately it came on the screen last week. I hadn't realised that there were advantages to having a broken ankle, but it has meant me using the computer a lot more than usual. :)

Does it sound as good as it looks?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I hope so, but the headwinds, that were causing Hilary problems last week, seem to have delayed it, plus the courier tried to deliver it to the derelict mill building across the street yesterday morning, instead of the converted one this side.

Dohhh! :huh:

I'm now expecting to receive it at lunchtime, and dying to get my hands on it.

#34 JimLucas

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Posted 14 January 2005 - 05:23 AM

I'm now expecting to receive it at lunchtime, and dying to get my hands on it.

Oh, please don't die without first willing it to me. ;)

#35 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 14 January 2005 - 07:37 AM

Does it sound as good as it looks?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

YES !!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :)

(Though it should sound even better after it is tuned & tightened up a bit.)

To be honest, it has brought a tear to my eye, it is so beautiful !

I'm now expecting to receive it at lunchtime, and dying to get my hands on it.

Oh, please don't die without first willing it to me. ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Sorry Jim, but I'm not "willing" to do that, in fact you would probably need crowbars and pulleys to lever it from my cold, dead hands ! :P

So Steve, your good fortune is because of my good fortune with this aeola, otherwise I really would have bought the "Bon Temps" myself. "Laissez les bon temps rouler !" :D

#36 JimLucas

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Posted 14 January 2005 - 07:55 AM

...you would probably need crowbars and pulleys to lever it from my cold, dead hands !  :P

Hmm. Not a very good selection on eBay.
I guess I should check the local flea market tomorrow. ;) :D




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