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Steve Holley

Cajun Accordion Or Melodeon?

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Exactly how does one imitate a cajun accordian using a 30 buton CG anglo?

Jim,

 

The nearest you can get is by playing it in octaves, in cross-keys on the C row, like a Cajun accordion.

 

... if I orderd a Cajun accordian, what key what I want to get that deep, rich, Cajun sound?

There has already been some discussion of keys for different kinds of music :

 

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.)

It is normal for Cajun fiddle players to tune their fiddles down a tone to play with the C accordion, but if the accordion player has a second instrument it is usually in D and the fiddle player will have a second instrument in normal tuning.

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This [Globe "Gold Medal" melodeon] was the instrument played by the great Irish-American players in the 1920's, such as P.J. Conlon and Jerry O'Brien (before they both changed to the Irish-Model Italo-American Baldoni, Bartoli ). Both it (the key is labelled on the outside of the box) and the International (here) that I bought from Germany recently (which arrived today) are in the key of D, as these models commonly are.

And I would be extremely surprised if the Baldoni, Bartoli (here), which has got delayed in the New York blizzards, is in any other key either.

Well the Baldoni, Bartoli survived the New York snow and blizzards, and finally arrived here in sunny Co. Clare today. It's a wonderful piece of "Shamrockery", though in pretty poor condition, certainly not "playable" as the seller suggested, though about a third of the reeds could well have fallen off the blocks and into the bellows in transit. :( It looks like somebody just levered the original fretcut & engraved celluloid grill off it (instead of finding a screwdriver ?), leaving some remnants behind. :o Restoring it should keep me occupied for quite a long time to come, but hey, I'm not complaining, it only cost 28 bucks ! :)

 

But the significant, and unsurprising, piece of news is that it turns out to be in the key of D, as expected.

 

It's going to be an interesting tuning job though, as it turns out to have six sets of reeds, four in the middle, a piccolo and a low-octave set (not unusual for one of these boxes). That should make a bit of noise ! ;)

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Exactly how does one imitate a cajun accordian using a 30 button CG anglo?

The nearest you can get is by playing it in octaves, in cross-keys on the C row, like a Cajun accordion.

Listten to anything by the band Bayou Gumbo, where you'll hear Harry Scurfield doing exactly that with his Dipper C/G.

 

Chris

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Exactly how does one imitate a cajun accordian using a 30 button CG anglo?

The nearest you can get is by playing it in octaves, in cross-keys on the C row, like a Cajun accordion.

Listten to anything by the band Bayou Gumbo, where you'll hear Harry Scurfield doing exactly that with his Dipper C/G.

 

Chris

 

Stephen, Could you explain to me what you mean by cross keys? Thanks, Jim

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Stephen,  Could you explain to me what you mean by cross keys?

What I mean by "cross keys" could best be summarised as "using one key to play in another", or in the context of the blues harp or melodeon "playing on the draw instead of on the blow", blues harmonica players do it all the time, as do cajun accordion players. It is what gives both forms of playing so much of their flavour, without which they would not be as "blue".

 

It is why you buy a blues harmonica in G if you want to play in D, but if you actually want to play in G then you have to buy one in C. Take a look at the chart here on the Lee Oskar website.

 

Here is a "blue(s)" joke I came across : "Don't let cross keys make you angry ;)"

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Indeed, having come to concertina from years of playing blues harmonica, my first and still strongest instinct is to play on the cross. Playing mostly on the push, or "straight harp" still sounds too "sweet" to me, though 'tina has gradually changed my ear...sorta like RED was talking about in another thread a while ago.

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Iam looking for a pattern on building a cajun accoridion. Also, if someone has an old cajun accordion that is broken, I would appreciate if someone could donate to me to build my kid an accordion and help transfer the cajun culture to him , so he can continue. If you can help me, please email me at: david633@bellsouth.net

 

thanks

david

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Hi! If someone would have an old cajun accordion that is worn or broken and not in use, please would you donate to me so I can allow my son to learn to build the cajun accordion and learn to play. I hear in many programs on tv, radio, and from other sources about the kids in Louisiana need to know about our cajun culture and the music, foods, language. But, I have tried to ask many people out there for help in getting an old accordion to learn from. Many of the people out there are not willing to help. To get off the subject of accordion for a while, in our school that offer french immersion, many of the kids and maybe many, don't have textbooks or workbooks. How do you expect these kids to learn a language, if all the sources are not available? If you want someone to learn a language, it is essential that you teach how to write, read, and talk. But, without textbooks and workbooks, then our schools cannot help these kids learn and the course if not good for them and I think it is a waste of our tax dollar of the "working community". So, just think about what I am saying. If we plan to help our kids learn, we need to provide them the essential tools to do the job correctly.

Thanks for letting me give my post. IF you would like to contact me, please email to: david633@bellsouth.net

thanks and take care

dave

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I have an Ariette in C I got through Craig's list. It seems to work better the more I play it. Even the bellows seem to be loosening up. Also, some of the treble reeds weren't sounding and now they are. I bought some new valves from Hohner for the C bass and expect that small problem will be fixed. The thing I notice most is the use of the stops. It's really fun to change voices for different pieces. Also, I use Melody Assistant to change different keys to C or in some cases to keys where the melody doesn't use the sharp of flat note of that key but still fits in the range of the Ariette. Finally, just to be sure I got it right I use my Wheatstone 30 CG to play the tune in the original key and the new key. I suppose some might think what I'm doing is not going to work at a session. Could be, I wouldn't know, there aren't any concertina or melodeon players anywhere around so I play for myself, family, and a few friends. Sure is fun though. I really dig that one row four stop routine. :)

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"Pariser" shouldn't be eaten.

 

Not in Hamburg, perhaps, but in the Stuttgart area we eat "Pariser" every morning. Down here in south-west Germany, we don't just have breakfast rolls like in the rest of Germany - we have about half a dozen different kinds of them. And one kind is "pariser Weckle" or "Pariser" for short. They're white inside, and oval rather than round. Like a very short, thick baguette, hence probably the name.

 

For the non-Germans: "Pariser" is the general German slang word for what the English call a "French letter" or "frenchie" for short. So what you get in Stuttgart when you ask for a "Pariser" depends on whether you're in a bakery or a drugstore. B)

 

A bit like "concertina", in fact. For the Brits and Irish, it's small and hexagonal, for mid-west Americans it's big and square - and for soldiers it is coiled up and has nothing to do with music (it's barbed wire!) And lots more - just enter "concertina" as a search argument (unqualified, all categories) in eBay, and see what comes up!

 

Cheers,

John

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As far a playing the bass side of a cajun box: I use my index finger and little finger for the bass keys and I press the air button with the heel of my hand, not my thumb.

 

Rather than an Ariette, get a Hohner model 114, especially those made in Germany. The 114 is much better than the Ariette and can be "just" tuned to give it a real cajun sound..Don't get a Gabanelli "Cajun King". Better off with the Hohner 114 until you can get the "real thing" made by one of the several builders in Louisana and south east Texas.

Jude Moreau and Ed Poullard in Texas make very nice boxes at a good deal lower price than builders like Marc Savoy (Acadian). Savoy's boxes are fabulous if you can afford one or find one used. Junior Martin (Martin) is perhaps the builder with the next best known reputation other than Larry Miller, whose boxes are now made under his supervision by his son. Over all, you can't go wrong with a hand made Louisiana box from any of a dozen or more builders.

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