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#1 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 08:00 AM

Due to thread creep (how unusual around here :rolleyes: ), a very interesting and useful (it has made me look hard at, and re-evaluate evidence I already had) discussion about how early French accordions/Flutinas were held arose, here in the "Concertinas On Ebay Questions" thread, and Jim Lucas commented :

Meanwhile, all this wonderful history of the flutina is not appearing in the History subForum.

Oh, well!  (Hard to find a smiley that shrugs, when they don't have shoulders. ;))

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

So I thought I would post my latest evidence here. (Alright Jim ? ;) )

An interesting, and rare, Daguerreotype (early photograph on glass) of a young woman playing the French accordion vertically has now appeared on eBay. As is always the case with these, the picture is a mirror-image, and sadly it is very poorly reproduced in the listing, so I have attempted to improve it as much as possible and have reversed it, so that it now appears the "right" way round.

VerticalAccordionGirlDetail.jpg

. . . Demian's first model, which played "on the draw". . . the wind key of those could only have been used if the instrument was played horizontally . . .

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

On the other hand (so to speak) I think I have come to understand just what they are getting at (not easy) in some of the earliest tutors for the Demian accordion, which is a "reverse-vertical" grip with the the left-handed keyboard underneath, facing downwards, and the right hand on top manipulating the bellows. Curiouser and curiouser ... :blink: :o :wacko:

#2 Mark Evans

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 08:12 AM

Stephen, I'm going to drift a bit further...

A couple of friends with a very successful duo (fiddle/guitar) have started a mission to learn and play Musette as it had developed from the middle to late 1800's in Paris. I know originally the musette is a type of bagpipe which is later replaced by a button box.

I have been asked to try the genre on EC. Okay, but I would like to know what sort of button box was refered to as a Musette Accordion so that I might have the correct idea as to sound. What am I up against here?

#3 Henk van Aalten

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 10:05 AM

I have been asked to try the genre on EC.  Okay, but I would like to know what sort of button box was refered to as a Musette Accordion so that I might have the correct idea as to sound.  What am I up against here?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Mark,
As far as I know the musette-machine sounds "very wet" as opposed to the EC. Listen to the style at the the site of Karel de Leeuw (from Holland!).

#4 Mark Evans

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 10:21 AM

Thank you Henk, that is what I suspected. The EC can do the articulation, but without the multi-reeds...Lets face it...this dog won't hunt. For a lark perhaps, a possible recording...that I must ponder. When one hears Musette on the proper instrument it rings...yes.

Oh had I the scratch to own one of each type of free reed instrument (even a nice PA Helen).

#5 Richard Morse

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 02:39 PM

I think I have come to understand just what they are getting at (not easy) in some of the earliest tutors for the Demian accordion, which is a "reverse-vertical" grip with the the left-handed keyboard underneath, facing downwards, and the right hand on top manipulating the bellows.

I've had a hard time trying to describe how I think it was held.... It sounds like we were not quite connecting there? So now you're trying a different way? I'll try to describe again the way I think flutinas were designed to be held....

Seated, press your hands together as if praying and elbows akimbo... now rotate your hands in place such that they are heel to fingertips and with the left hand facing upward and the right hand facing downwards... now lower your left hand to your lap and insert flutina between (and relax your arms)!

BTW, could you post a larger version of the bottom picture in one of your earlier posts? The way the guy was stretching it out seems as if he started by holding it the way I premise.

#6 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 06:34 PM

I think I have come to understand just what they are getting at (not easy) in some of the earliest tutors for the Demian accordion, which is a "reverse-vertical" grip with the the left-handed keyboard underneath, facing downwards, and the right hand on top manipulating the bellows.

I've had a hard time trying to describe how I think it was held.... It sounds like we were not quite connecting there? So now you're trying a different way? I'll try to describe again the way I think flutinas were designed to be held....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Richard,

I think we may have got our purposes slightly crossed. I was writing about Demian's early accordions, not the French ones that developed directly out of them, but I'm now starting to think that the "vertical" playing style was a French adaptation/inversion of the way that Demian's accordions were already being held.

I believe I have understood completely what you have been describing, and I do not for one moment dispute that some players did use that grip. As I have stated, it is described by M. Pichenot in his "Méthode pour l'Accordéon", the first tutor for the French accordion, and in various other methods.

However, only six months later Reisner's "Airs choisis pour l'Accordéon, précédées d'une Instruction Méthodique" appeared, and that very clearly advocated the horizontal playing position.

So right from the beginning (the first two known French tutor books) both ways of playing had their advocates, and were in use. In some cases, it seems that the most obvious indicator which style is intended lies in the recommended finger for working the wind key ! (Index finger = vertical, little finger = horizontal.)

There seems to have been considerable controversy/confusion about the best way to play the accordion in its early years, and that is what I have been trying to illustrate.

BTW, could you post a larger version of the bottom picture in one of your earlier posts? The way the guy was stretching it out seems as if he started by holding it the way I premise.

He quite possibly did, and I'm posting as large a version as I can for you (larger than life-size, as the original is only a carte de visite), but the definition is poor.

HorizontalAccordionDetail.jpg

If I had a scanner, I would post the plates from various early tutors (which I have mentioned), which are perhaps the most compelling/convincing evidence.

Edited for typo.

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 22 May 2005 - 11:41 PM.


#7 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 09:59 AM

On the other hand (so to speak ;) ) I think I have come to understand just what they are getting at (not easy) in some of the earliest tutors for the Demian accordion, which is a "reverse-vertical" grip with the the left-handed keyboard underneath, facing downwards, and the right hand on top manipulating the bellows. Curiouser and curiouser ...  :blink:  :o  :wacko:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I was above referring to the earliest English-language tutors for Demian's accordion, all of which seem to derive from German originals, but having found my photocopies this morning, and taken another look at them, I have changed my mind about that speculated "reverse-vertical" grip with the the left-handed keyboard underneath, facing downwards, and the right hand on top manipulating the bellows. I have gone back to my original thinking that what they are really describing is playing the instrument left-handed, horizontally with the keyboard facing downwards (so that the instrument is itself both horizontal and inverted, that is to say at 90 degrees to the players body, with the keyboard facing the floor :huh: ), no wonder they needed a thumb strap to support the Demian accordions :blink: , but it became unnecessary on the French ones, which derived from them.

I have transcribed from those tutors here, so that you can see the difficulties:

"Anweisung für das Accordion/Information for playing the Accordion/Méthode pour l'Accordion", H.A. Probst, Leipzig [c. 1829-30].

This instrument is to be held in the left hand, so that the five keys are directed below. The thumb passes in the slur of leather and the rest of the fingers touch the keys as the numbers or notes require. The right hand takes the other side of the instrument and moves the bellows by drawing or pressing it. Below each key two accords are placed, the one sounds by drawing, the other by pressing the bellows. If an accord is to be repeated or if perchance no key is lifted, the index of the left hand must be employed in pushing softly the valve, which is fixed on the middle of the face.

By neglecting this rule, the instrument suffers considerably, the air having no other vent.


"The German Æolian Tutor", I. Willis & Co., London 1830 : "Addendum. Instructions for playing the Organ Æolian, or Accordion" is clearly copied (or plagiarised ?) directly from the above, even featuring the same tunes !

HOLD the instrument in the left hand, turning the keys downwards. Place the thumb in the leather loop, the rest of the fingers touching the keys as the numbers or notes require. The right hand takes the other side of the instrument, and moves the bellows by drawing or pressing it. Below each key are placed two chords ; the one sounds by drawing, the other by pressing the bellows. If a chord is to be repeated, or if no key is lifted, the fore-finger of the right hand must be employed in gently pushing the valve underneath. By neglecting this rule, the instrument suffers considerably, the air having no other vent.

DemianFirstModel.jpg
Demian accordion, first model c.1830

"Fundamental Directions for playing the Accordion", A. Berka & Co., Vienna [early 1830's], is for an accordion with "mutation" (a bass harmony key on one end of the keyboard, and a similar chord key on the other, similar to the "bascules d'harmonie" of a French accordion) and is the most informative tutor, or at least would be if it was in better English. I have transcribed it with all its glorious idiosyncrasies. :rolleyes:

DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCORDION.

The accordion has upon the upperpart the form of a touch_board; on bothends is fasted a key, by which it opens and shuts. On the side of the touch-board are fastened 5 or more keys, which are opened by touching or pressing the same; every key will open it self. The underpart of this Instrument is a sort of a balloon (or a ballows) and by drawing it up and down with these keys il produces the tunes and accords.

At one of the ends of the touch_board is fastened the keys, which will sound, by open the same, both the ground bafs tunes, _ namly, but one, and afterwards the second, by drawing up, and the first by drawing down of the bellows, when the other is opened, gives the accord to each of these ground_bafs_tunes.

It can be opened in playing one or no one of the keys.

The rest of the keys one the side which are differently, contain the tunes of the scala for the representation of the melodies in some proper accurad orders of the structure of the instrument, and it is also; each key sounds two tunes, of which the first is sounded by drawing up, and the second will sound by open the same. The two ground bafs tunes, namly but one, and afterwards the second, by brawing up, and the first, by drawing down of the bellows, and each of the same inclined aigen of the soundet accord.

DIRECTION

By every playing the instrument is hold in the left hand, and the keys must be always downwards.

The thumb is put in to the loop and the above four fingers prefs the keys upwards. The thumb of the left
[surely right ?] hand hold the bellows above, but with the third, fourth and fifth finger, holding them below agitating them, by a continual movements.

The forefinger of this hand, romains fue, and is ordered to give vent to the aer of the bellows. If some one after another following tunes should be played with one draught, or when the closed keys should shut the bellows, it might be hurtfall for the instrument, if it may happen that no ventil is placed. The open of the same is remarket with (+)

Being made pofsible, aswell for those, playing this instrument who are not known with musical letters, nor with some other musical sings; the tunes of the keys are remaked with numbers. ...

PARTICULARS REMARKS.

The accordions with 6 keys have two, those at 7 have 4 higher tunes more, than those from 5 keys. The accordions with 8 keys have 2; those with 9 keys have 4 deep sounds, (or tunes) more than those from 7 keys; and the accordions with 10 keys have two higher tunes more, than those with 9 keys. ...

There are some accordions which sound by drawing the first and by drawing down, the second ground accort, and there fore the keys give the sound every time the contradict tune, by this indirect order.
:wacko:

DemianWithMutation.jpg
Demian accordion with mutation, early 1830's.

"Accordion Unterricht/Directions for playing the Accordion", Fr. Kistner, Leipzig [c. 1835] is one of the earliest for an accordion with basses.

You hold the instrument in the left hand, the thumb of it you put in the loop at the back of the keys, the latter of which turned downwards: The right hand moves the bellows and plies the valves fixed at the bottom as accompaniment with chords.

Prowse_Demian_Vichy_2.jpg
Demian accordion with bass buttons c.1835.

Edited to add photos.

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 11 April 2005 - 03:27 PM.


#8 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 05:28 PM

Imagine my surprise today when I found my own copy of Reisner's "Airs choisis pour l'Accordéon, précédées d'une Instruction Méthodique", and discovered that it has a different page 2, Instruction pour apprendre à jouer de l'Accordéon to the copy in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (reproduced in Planche XXX of Pierre Monichon's Petite Histoire de l'Accordéon) from which I have been quoting so far, and which reads :

L'Accordéon se joue avec la main droite, on pose le pouce au dessous des touches, en l'accrochant à la petite barre en cuivre qui est posée au dessous des touches de manière que les 4 doigts se trouve au dessus du clavier. On posera la caisse de l'instrument horizontalement sur le genou gauche après avoir mis le pied sur un petit tabouret. On tire le soufflet avec la main gauche, de manière que le petit doigt soit libre au dessus de la grande clef derrière l'instrument, pour être à même de l'ouvrir quand il est besoin.

My copy appears to be from an earlier print run and, though much of the text is the same, it very significantly says :

L'Accordéon se joue avec la main droite, on applique le pouce derrière les touches, en l'appuyant sous la rampe en cuivre qui leur est opposée, de manière que les quatre autres doigts viennent former la voùte au-dessus du Clavier et soient prêts à la frapper. On pose la caisse de l'instrument verticalement sur le genou gauche, après avoir mis le pied sur un petit tabouret. On fait mouvoir le soufflet avec la main gauche, de laissant le petit doigt libre au-dessus de la grande clef, pour être à même de l'ouvrir quand il est besoin.

And adds :

Il y a une autre manière de tenir l'Accordéon et qu'on employe plus volontiers quand on veut jouer debout. Elle consiste à placer la main gauche de telle sorte que ce soit l'index et non le petit doigt qui ouvre la grande clef de la soupape. Beaucoup de personnes preféreront peut être cette seconde manière, mais la première est moins fatigante pour les commençans.

Hence recommending that the instrument be played vertically, but with the little finger working the wind key, though using the index finger will be found less tiring for beginners !

I must take my copy with me, next time I go to visit Pierre Monichon, he will be intrigued ! :blink:

#9 Richard Morse

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Posted 31 March 2005 - 11:25 AM

Hence recommending that the instrument be played vertically, but with the little finger working the wind key, though using the index finger will be found less tiring for beginners !

The translation seems more like he's recommending use of position of "placing the left hand so that it is the index and not the small finger which opens the large key of the valve." That that is the method of operating the wind key when playing vertically, and notes that the horizontal method is the less tiring way of bellowsing.

I wonder if the original flutina design was heavily influenced by small portatives which were played in flat in front of a person with the bellows further away (operated by another person) - or the smaller ones with the bellows operated with the players left hand, again all on the flat though horizontally rotated a bit.

It's a much smaller design change to rotate such an instrument downwards to play vertically than to change the position of the left hand AND rotate the box to be played vertically as well.

I find it interesting the shruti boxes are still designed to be played as portatives were/are. And early shruti boxes seem near identical to Demian's invention....

#10 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 31 March 2005 - 09:43 PM

Hence recommending that the instrument be played vertically, but with the little finger working the wind key, though using the index finger will be found less tiring for beginners !

The translation seems more like he's recommending use of position of "placing the left hand so that it is the index and not the small finger which opens the large key of the valve." That that is the method of operating the wind key when playing vertically, and notes that the horizontal method is the less tiring way of bellowsing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That may be your conclusion from the way that babelfish translates it, but my own translation would be :

There is another way of holding the Accordion which is more easily used when you want to play standing. It consists of placing the left hand in such a manner that it is the index and not the little finger which opens the large valve key. Many people will perhaps prefer this second way, but the first is less tiring for beginners.

I wonder if the original flutina design was heavily influenced by small portatives which were played in flat in front of a person with the bellows further away (operated by another person) - or the smaller ones with the bellows operated with the players left hand, again all on the flat though horizontally rotated a bit.

There are illustrations of ladies playing them that way, but the later harmoniflute would be closer to what you describe. The design of the French accordéon seems to have been copied, in most respects, from Demian's accordions. Indeed, French sources, such as a June 1834 article in Le Ménestrel stated that :

L'accordéon est un petit instrument qui nous est arrivé de Vienne il n'y a pas longtemps. (The accordion is a small instrument which arrived to us from Vienna not long ago.)

It's a much smaller design change to rotate such an instrument downwards to play vertically than to change the position of the left hand AND rotate the box to be played vertically as well.

I'm not sure that I understand your meaning, but having examples of very early models of French accordion, I find it easier to play vertically on those than on the much larger and heavier, later instruments like my flutina (which is very similar to Alfred Titchcombe's). I also find it easier to play vertically, with my little finger on the wind key, if I am using a "first generation" instrument without a socle (contemporary with Reisner's "Airs choisis pour l'Accordéon, précédées d'une Instruction Méthodique").

French_semitones2a.jpg
Wind key of an accordéon without a "socle".

I find it interesting the shruti boxes are still designed to be played as portatives were/are. And early shruti boxes seem near identical to Demian's invention....

I'm not familiar with any version of the shruti box that uses an accordion-style bellows, or finger keys, but certainly Indian harmoniums are modelled on 19th century European originals, there is one version that has obviously been copied from Debain's harmonina.

Sadly, the latest models of shruti box are now 100% electronic. :(

#11 AndyG

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 09:41 AM

Greetings,

This information is very interesting to me. I would like to know if someone could direct me as to how I would find some of the books that are mentioned such as the Pierre Monichon Petite Histoire de l'Accordeon, the Pichenot, and Reisner writings. Are any available electronically, or have any been re-published. I am in the USA. Thank you very much in advance.

Andy

#12 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 05:21 PM

This information is very interesting to me. I would like to know if someone could direct me as to how I would find some of the books that are mentioned such as the Pierre Monichon Petite Histoire de l'Accordeon, the Pichenot, and Reisner writings. Are any available electronically, or have any been re-published. I am in the USA. Thank you very much in advance.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Andy,

Pierre Monichon's "Petite Histoire de l'Accordéon" was published in 1958 (E.G.F.P., Paris), so you will only find it through the secondhand book trade or a library. His more recent work, "L'Accordéon", came out in 1985 (Van de Velde, Paris/Payot, Lausanne) and may still be available. Extracts from it (without illustrations) can be found here on the web, and a Resume (with illustrations) here. He is presently working on his fourth accordion history book, which will have a more encyclopaedic format.

Here's a picture of the two of us (and their cockerel) in the Monichons' garden, at la Ferté sous Jouarre :

Monichon_Chambers.jpg

You will have great difficulty trying to find a copy of the Pichenot and Reisner tutors, which may only be available to be seen (in their entirety) at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, in Paris, but there is little descriptive text in them and it is all quoted by Monichon.

It has taken me many years, so far, trying to put together a representative collection of original, and photocopied, tutors for these instruments, from numerous sources. It ain't easy !

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 01 April 2005 - 09:19 PM.


#13 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 09:17 PM

A couple of friends with a very successful duo (fiddle/guitar) have started a mission to learn and play Musette as it had developed from the middle to late 1800's in Paris.  I know originally the musette is a type of bagpipe which is later replaced by a button box.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Mark,

If your friends want to "play Musette as it had developed from the middle to late 1800's in Paris", then no kind of accordion would really be deemed "correct", but then neither would a fiddle or guitar (though accordion with fiddle/mandoline-banjo and guitar-banjo could be appropriate for music from the teens and twenties). The Musette genre started with Auvergnats (people from the Auvergne region) who settled in Paris, bringing their "cabrettes" (their regional name for the "musette" bagpipe) and traditional dances with them. They held "bals musette" (dances to the musette) in their back yards, in places like the rue de Lappe, at Bastille, which later became famous for its dancehalls, and where there are still Auvergnat shops to be found. I usually make a little pigrimmage there, whenever I'm in Paris, but then it's only just around the corner from the Fnac shop at Bastille where you will find the best selection of French accordion recordings anywhere.

It was only at the very end of the 19th century that migrant Italian accordionists introduced their instrument into this music, and since then many of the leading accordionists in Paris have been Italian, or of Italian extraction.

In the early 20th century the music, and the dances, started to change, the traditional Auvergnat repertoire being joined by fashionable tunes and dances, as well as Italian songs, and new "jazzy" instruments from the U.S.A. (banjos, Saxophones, "Swanee" whistles and drum kits) were introduced, so that gypsy banjo players started to accompany the accordionists (which is how Django Reinhardt started his career).

I have been asked to try the genre on EC.  Okay, but I would like to know what sort of button box was refered to as a Musette Accordion so that I might have the correct idea as to sound.  What am I up against here?

The typical accordion, in those early years, would have been a three-row diatonic instrument with Stradella bass (like a piano accordion), but these later gave way to Continental chromatics. The tuning was always very wide, to produce a shrill-enough sound to penetrate a noisy "bal musette" dancefloor before the introduction of amplification, and this caused the name "musette" to be given to that style of tuning.

In the 1930's the influence of swing music, mixed with musette, produced another style called "accordéon swing", that saw the introduction of the guitar. These swing accordionists preferred a much tighter tuning for their instruments, which became known as "swing".

If you want to get a taste of this music, from original recordings, you can do no better than have a listen to the double-CD's "Accordéon 1913-1941" and "Accordéon Vol. 2, 1925-1942", on the Frémeaux label, DH002 CD and F&A005 CD. I'm listening to one of them as I write. Or for a more recent take on this music, there is the Denécheau Jâse Musette's album "Le Musette à Paris", Auvidis Ethnic B 6817, which features diatonic accordion, banjo and "jâse" (drumkit).

(Edited for clarity.)

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 30 June 2005 - 08:56 AM.


#14 allan atlas

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 09:02 PM

ANDY: we might have a copy of the Monichon book in our Free-Reed Center at the CUNY Grad Center. . . .check the website: http://web.gc.cuny.edu/freereed

click on the library/archive button. . . ..then dig through the various categories. . . .it should be somewhere under literature. . . .probably under accordion within literature.............if i remember correctly, we also have some music by Reisner...................allan

#15 aeolina

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 04:21 PM

There is a very early tutor for accordon by Wheatstone in one of the Scottish libraries. I must check the reference.

Stuart
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#16 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 03:20 PM

There is a very early tutor for accordon by Wheatstone in one of the Scottish libraries. I must check the reference.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Stuart,

I'm aware that it exists (and have a photocopy of the title page), but I have never seen it. Mind you, I would not be at all surprised to find that it derives from a German, or French original ...

#17 Boney

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Posted 18 April 2005 - 10:32 PM

I pretty much can't follow any of this accordion stuff. But I like the pictures. Here's one I just found. Is it relevant to what y'all are talking about? The guy on the right has two fingers of his left hand at what looks like an awkward angle.

Posted Image

I can't seem to link to pages on the site directly, but to see this photo in its native habitat, go to http://www.asaplive.com/archive/ and search for "butterknowle." Here's another nice picture from around 1910 with a concertina, to find it search for "kipling."

Posted Image

#18 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 08:49 AM

Auvergnats ... held "bals musette" (dances to the musette) in their back yards, in places like the rue de Lappe, at Bastille, which later became famous for its dancehalls, and where there are still Auvergnat shops to be found. I usually make a little pigrimmage there, whenever I'm in Paris, but then it's only just around the corner from the Fnac shop at Bastille where you will find the best selection of French accordion recordings anywhere.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Having just returned from France, I was sad to make my "pilgrimmage" this year and find that the famous Balajo "bal musette", in the rue de Lappe, has finally succombed to becoming yet another nightclub, and that the Auvergnat shops were closed and shuttered. Even the Fnac shop at Bastille no longer has such a good accordion section as it used to, and the branch at Les Halles is now the best for both Gypsy Jazz and French accordion music.

C'est la vie ... sad.gif

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 16 January 2014 - 07:55 AM.





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