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Definition of "American tuning"

wirralaccordion

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I have just come across this terminology and thought maybe one of our American forum members could advise on what it is and what kind of music, with examples, benefits from it. Thank you in anticipation.
 
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maugein96

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wirralaccordion pid=64469 dateline=1553108398 said:
I have just come across this terminology and thought maybe one of our American forum members could advise on what it is and what kind of music, with examples, benefits from it. Thank you in anticipation.

Hi Phil,

Americain tuning is actually a French term to describe MM tuning what is somewhere in between swing and musette, typically around 7/8 cents.

I doubt whether any American members would actually know what it meant at all, as it is a French term not generally used elsewhere.  

The tuning refers to a hybrid between swing (celeste on your Brandoni) and French musette, in an attempt to give the best of both worlds. 

Cavagnolo took the tuning on board and developed it into their signature sound for all of their acoustic accordions that featured MM reeds, from MM, LMM, to LMMH. Maugein, Piermaria, and Fratelli Crosio all had their own versions, but the vital element in all of them is reeds nailed on cork or leather, and not waxed as per your typical Italian built accordion. 

Having said that some Italian makers were nailing the reeds on leather before their technique was copied by French manufacturers, and it should be noted that the Cavagnolo brand was taken to France by an Italian family of the same name. The only real mainstream large scale French manufacturer has been Maugein, and it appears they copied Cavagnolos construction methods. 

Since the 1940s the French accordion scene has been divided between the players of three voice musette, and the players of swing and americain tuned instruments. The most common French accordions for many years have been the three voice LMM, and the less popular MMM musette pur accordions. LMMM were popular for a time, but they generally fell out of favour in the 50s when most of the musette guys went for LMM with the flutes tuned to their requirements.

MMM is still popular in the Nord region, and with various retro and folk players who still play the old musette classics, but by and large the modern set have no use for any version of MMM reeds at all. 

Heres what americain tuning sounds like. Youll probably have heard it before, but perhaps thought it was just swing. It actually is swing with a little bit of extra vibration, so it cuts through the mix. It can be quite light, as here, or a little bit more pronounced. This is the closest to musette that most French players get. 


Heress his friend with a digital version of americain tuning.


If you like american tuning check this guy out, as this is the sort of stuff I turn to when I tire of playing the box:-


Gretsch pancake Jet guitar (I have two), and no basses to bother about!
 

OuijaBoard

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I never knew tremolo Americain was 7/8 cents.  The 8-cent range is getting to be a fave on this front.  The 4-cent swing is just missing something, IMHO.


Cliff Gallup--YEAH! DeArmonds Rule!   In the Aspirational Fantasy Dept:  The Gretsch Cliff Gallup model---I usually hate namesake guitars, but this is so cool, though pricey as heck.     https://www.gretschguitars.com/features/cliff-gallup
 
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maugein96

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OuijaBoard pid=64475 dateline=1553126978 said:
I never knew tremolo Americain was 7/8 cents.  The 8-cent range is getting to be a fave on this front.  The 4-cent swing is just missing something, IMHO.


Cliff Gallup--YEAH! DeArmonds Rule!   In the Aspirational Fantasy Dept:  The  Gretsch Cliff Gallup model---I usually hate namesake guitars, but this is so cool, though pricey as heck.     https://www.gretschguitars.com/features/cliff-gallup

Accordage americain can actually be between 6 and 10 cents. It is rare for tuners to use odd numbers with tuning, so you have light, medium, and accentuated americain at 6,8, and 10 cents respectively. It then goes up to moderne starting at 10 cents going up to about 14, with the same three categories of light, medium, and accentuated. Musette tends to start about 14 up to 20 plus, so there is a bit of an overlap between the tuning categories. Please note that were only talking about two MM reeds and not three. Its always one straight tuned flute (or M) and one sharp flute. Three voice French musette is perhaps more frequently heard now that digital accordions offer that tuning, but the typical and very popular French Cafe accordion music is most usually played on PA by highly skilled Eastern European players, using accordions with 1940s style MMM tuning. That French Cafe style has actually overtaken the local accordion styles, and most people who profess to like the music are often disappointed when they hear French players tackle the same tunes with their tinny sounding two voice boxes. Ive posted various examples of French Cafe style music played by native French players on French accordions, but nobody made any comments about which version they prefer.

I suppose it doesnt really matter at the end of the day, and its all just accordion music, whoever is playing it. Ill reiterate that some French players still play MMM accordions, as people seem to baulk at the suggestion that I have hit three voice musette with a big hammer and buried it, and remind me that it still exists. It has never gone away, and in some areas it still is, and always has been, the most common type of accordion. However, you only have to browse the internet to discover that the vast majority of French accordions for sale are configured LMM. The default tuning for those accordions from both Cavagnolo and Maugein factories is americain. Try as I might I have been unable to convince people that is the case. Most peoples perception of French musette is that typical old 1940s movie MMM, pure and simple, and there is nothing wrong with that, but all Im doing is highlighting the fact that it is not currently the most popular register configuration, and hasnt been for many years.

I personally find anything less than 6 cents to be a bit lacklustre on a Cavagnolo. I have one tuned about 4.4 cents and it just doesnt do it for me. Next time I have it serviced Ill get it sharpened up a bit. 

Ill try not to dwell too much on electric guitar, but its a shame that guys like Cliff Gallup and Hank Garland were hardly known outside of the US. Cheapest Ive seen that Cliff Gallup Gretsch model in the UK is about $3000, and although I have spent more than that on an accordion, I doubt if Id even go to half that amount for a guitar.  

The US music media reports a decline in electric guitar popularity, and one retailer reckons that as its customers get older their sales are down by a fair percentage, maybe 20%. Young kids just dont seem to have the interest they once had. Apparently they are still buying acoustic guitars, but not electric. By my reckoning that means that the novelty of electric lead guitar has lasted about 70 years, which is not quite as long as the accordion. A fair percentage of new models, such as that Gretsch, are marketed at we older players with features on them harking back to the 50s and 60s. All of my guitars are 50s/60s models. 

Will the electric guitar take over from the accordion as an outdated (musical) instrument of pleasure for pensioners? Probably not in my lifetime, although it seems the signs are there.
 
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maugein96

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losthobos pid=64482 dateline=1553189028 said:
 just saying .. ?

Hi Terry,

Not may people knew Jeff Beck could do that stuff! Check out the accordion work in this Hank Garland track, especially just after the steel guitar solo!

Accordionist was Elbert Eggy McEwen.

 

AccordionUprising

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That Hank Garland tune is great! I think Elbert McEwen also played with the Missouri Mountaineers when they were the house band at the Grand ole Opry in the 1930s. Sadly they never recorded, because they were the studio band at the local radio station so they didn't need to sell records on tour.
 
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maugein96

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AccordionUprising said:
That Hank Garland tune is great! I think Elbert McEwen also played with the Missouri Mountaineers when they were the house band at the Grand ole Opry in the 1930s. Sadly they never recorded, because they were the studio band at the local radio station so they didn't need to sell records on tour.

Bruce,

Largely due to the efforts of one Hank Marvin, none of those early electric guitar pioneers got any exposure over here at all, except maybe Chet Atkins, although a few LPs could be had which featured them. One of them (don't know who) went under the name of "Lightnin' Red", and I used to sit with an old guitar trying to play like "he" did, until an uncle of mine who played Rockabilly told me what multi-tracking was!

I though the guy had another 5 fingers on each elbow, but that's what got me started on guitar when I was maybe about 12. 

Needless to say I hadn't heard of Elbert McEwen until I discovered that accordion part by accident. It doesn't feature on some other recordings of the same tune.  

You'll probably know better than I do that there are a lot of great players who rarely, if ever, made any recordings, and it's always nice to discover something you weren't expecting. The accordion is actually comping from the start but I was too busy listening to the guitar work to notice it at first. Apparently Garland was only 18 when he recorded it, although I don't think that was the original version. His connection with Elvis would also not be apparent to most Brits, same as Cliff Gallup with Gene Vincent. In Scotland everybody thought Gene Vincent was a woman, until they heard him sing, as the first name Eugene is still virtually unheard of here, but Jean is a very common girl's name!

Instrumental music has always been my preference, although the singers are what most people want to hear. I just can't work out song lyrics at all. The Beatles era killed off a lot of would be instrumental bands in Europe, yet they were great instrumentalists when they had to be.
 

losthobos

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Sweet... They recorded with such warm tones back then..  
Thought for a minute there we were gonna bust out of the cents tuning talk and bust into the difference between Scott Moores 126ms of delay vs Cliff Gallups 96ms at one repeat... ?
 
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maugein96

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losthobos pid=64491 dateline=1553243425 said:
Sweet... They recorded with such warm tones back then..  
Thought for a minute there we were gonna bust out of the cents tuning talk and bust into the difference between Scott Moores 126ms of delay vs Cliff Gallups 96ms at one repeat... ?

If they hadnt managed to introduce those sound effects the electric guitar would probably never have caught on as it did. 

Echo and reverb gave those solos that punch that made people sit up and listen. I know some of the big name French musette players used subtle effects to enhance their sound, whilst others used drastic effects that ruined their sound, as aptly demonstrated here by Emile Carrara:- 


He is revered as one of the greats of French musette, and was almost entirely self taught. If he could only have taught himself to record!

IMHO his brother, Freddy, was the better player of the two, but his rather downbeat appearance and unusual style caused him to remain in the shadows. 



I may not have got this absolutely correct, but in my memory when electric guitarists first began to dabble in lead playing it was those who showed individuality who succeeded, after the public cottoned on to the fact that it was capable of being more than just a backing instrument. Yet in a large part of the accordion world it seems that individuality is somewhat suppressed by audiences who demand that players stick to tradition.

If you dont stick with tradition this is what happens, as demonstrated by Little Charlie Baty. Just take all the styles and mix them all together! The guys the same age as me. Time he settled down! Sorry Phil, last guitar clip! So far off Topic its not even near a Mars bar (two UK chocolate snack bars).

 

JeffJetton

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maugein96 said:
I doubt whether any American members would actually know what it meant at all, as it is a French term not generally used elsewhere. 

So it's like "French Toast" or "English Muffin", eh? A term not actually used in the country the term is named for?

When traveling in Europe, I'm often amused to see the most-gluttonous breakfast option at the hotel referred to as "American". :p
 
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maugein96

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Jeff,


Any Dane will tell you that Danish pastry is actually from Vienna, and what we call Belgian buns in the UK are actually Swiss buns. 

Im not entirely sure how the French dreamed up americain, but it is by far the most common type of MM accordion tuning currently found in France. It may have dated back to the time when American jazz found its way into French accordion styles, when the then ubiquitous three voice musette tuning just wouldnt do for that type of music. The decision to tune up a bit from swing is the French way of finding a tuning that is suitable for all types of music, and in recognition of the fact that the musette genre often sound better when played with a bit of vibration. 

The problem with americain tuning is that most non French types have already made the assumption that all French accordion music should sound the way it did in the 1940s films, and a whole industry has been created in Eastern Europe, where talented PA players knock out French cafe CDs by the ton, all delivered in the old musette pur style. There is nothing wrong with that at all, as it is probably easier on the ear than what the locals play on their tinny sounding boxes with loads of staccato button trills. 

Somebody said on here once that French musette, as played by French accordionists, wasnt exactly easy listening, and most people seem to prefer the cafe music from Eastern Europe, played smooth legato. 

What doesnt make it any easier for we listening types is when we get situations like this:-

CD sold under genre of French musette. Player is Belgian (you can hear it in his musette tuning), and the tune is German. The big Hohner is a clue, but he played French boxes as well. His son, Guy Denys, is quite well known as player of French musette, but like his father a significant amount of his repertoire is Belgian and German. 

 

On the days when he could be bothered walking the short hop over the border into France youd get him playing some real French accordion, and very good he was at it:-


I would wager that hardly a living soul will have heard of Oscar Denys. One of lifes quiet types but but very few of his better known contemporaries could hold a candle to him.
 

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When traveling in Europe, I'm often amused to see the most-gluttonous breakfast option at the hotel referred to as "American".


Well Jeff, obesity is a very weighty problem here in the USA
 
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maugein96

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StargazerTony said:
When traveling in Europe, I'm often amused to see the most-gluttonous breakfast option at the hotel referred to as "American".


Well Jeff, obesity is a very weighty problem here in the USA

Think we've caught up with you here in the UK, as we're now the fattest nation in Europe. However, our medical experts have nailed it. Until early this year a whole load of us were classed as obese, but the British Medical Council have now worked it all out for us. They tell us that due to us having a more sedentary lifestyle, coupled with genetic tendencies for weight gain, all we have is a serious hereditary illness. These guys are brilliant, and we're all now coping a lot better with our new illness. Just throw the scales away and buy bigger clothes. We've got the green light!  

In Scotland, particularly, our diet is pretty poor, and when I was a kid most fruit and vegetables were seasonal treats, if they would grow at all in our climate. These days we can vary it a bit as we import a load of "healthy" food from all over the globe. However, we're talking about a country where we deep fry chocolate bars and pizzas, and any other type of sausage other than pork could be classed as a "vegetable". Also, food here costs more than it does in healthy England due to the logistics of transportation. Might explain why we're no good at sport. If they keep our food prices high they'll always beat as at soccer and rugby!   

I have seen "American" breakfasts in some places in continental Europe, but don't think I've ever seen them in Scottish hotels. With our food prices the cost of two American breakfasts each would be prohibitive!
 

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JeffJetton said:
When traveling in Europe, I'm often amused to see the most-gluttonous breakfast option at the hotel referred to as "American".

While here, if they want to serve you breakfast for free but can't really afford to, they'll make coffee and warm up a roll, and call it a "Continental breakfast." I wonder if this goes back to a time between wars when Europe was short on food. In the US, the good breakfast might come from the days when a lot of the population was farming, an occupation that starts early in the day and uses a lot of calories. I think only a minority of the population eats a big breakfast, and I'd bet that in general it correlates negatively with obesity.
 

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[quote pid='64535' dateline='1553590631']
Think we've caught up with you here in the UK, as we're now the fattest nation in Europe. However, our medical experts have nailed it. Until early this year a whole load of us were classed as obese, but the British Medical Council have now worked it all out for us. They tell us that due to us having a more sedentary lifestyle, coupled with genetic tendencies for weight gain, all we have is a serious hereditary illness. These guys are brilliant, and we're all now coping a lot better with our new illness. Just throw the scales away and buy bigger clothes. We've got the green light!  

[/quote]

Sort of like clothes. Women all want to wear the size dress, zero here in the USA I guess, but hardly anyone fits in them anymore . So dress makers have increasing the actual size of the dress but leaving what size they call it as zero
 
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maugein96

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Tony,

Clothes sizes are a nightmare here in the UK, as the system we us is unique to this vast country of ours. 

A lot of our clothing and shoes comes from continental Europe, and usually has two, or more, relevant sizes on the label. 

Eastern Europeans are generally thinner than us in the west, and I've bought "Extra large" trousers in Bosnia and Croatia marked as XXXXXL. They must not have heard of American or Scottish breakfasts there.  

Mind you they put an extra 6th row in their CBA accordions, so maybe they just like to feel comfortable. When I buy clothes in Croatia I just ask for "velik velik" (big big) size and they maybe try three or four neighbouring stores until they find something to fit me. The number of Xs on the label varies from place to place.

My wife took me into a clothing store in the town of Trogir and asked the staff if they had a jacket to fit me straight off the rail (I'm 5'11" and weigh about 260 pounds). The guy replied that if they had the person who made it would be sacked immediately for using too much cloth, and we all had a good laugh. No wonder a lot of the stores in Croatia still have bullet holes in the walls. Most of them are from the recent civil unrest there, but you wonder if some of them were put there by insulted customers!
 

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Well, Jeff, Sounds like buying clothes in eastern Europe is as much of an adventure as a 6 row CBA would be. Anything labeled with that many xs would be considered pornographic here in the USA by some and draw quite a crown until it was determined is was just clothes.

Back to the topic somewhat. Somewhere I came across this list and stole it fare and square. Now I realize that wetness is sort of a personal thing but...

[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]0 hz = 0 cents = Unison[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]0.5hz = 2 cents = Concert[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]1hz = 4 cents = Swing[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]2hz = 7 cents = Demi-Swing, Irish[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]2.5hz = 10 cents = American, Cajun, Quebecois[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]3hz = 12 cents = Slovenian, Tex-Mex [/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]4hz = 15 cents = German, Italian[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]5hz = 18 cents = French[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]6hz = 22 cents = Old French, Old Italian[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]7hz = 25 cents = Scottish[/font]
 
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maugein96

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StargazerTony pid=64562 dateline=1553772384 said:
Well, Jeff, Sounds like buying clothes in eastern Europe is as much of an adventure as a 6 row CBA would be. Anything labeled with that many xs would be considered pornographic here in the USA by some and draw quite a crown until it was determined is was just clothes.

Back to the topic somewhat. Somewhere I came across this list and stole it fare and square. Now I realize that wetness is sort of a personal thing but...

[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]0 hz = 0 cents = Unison[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]0.5hz = 2 cents = Concert[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]1hz = 4 cents = Swing[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]2hz = 7 cents = Demi-Swing, Irish[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]2.5hz = 10 cents = American, Cajun, Quebecois[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]3hz = 12 cents = Slovenian, Tex-Mex [/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]4hz = 15 cents = German, Italian[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]5hz = 18 cents = French[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]6hz = 22 cents = Old French, Old Italian[/font]
[font=Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]7hz = 25 cents = Scottish[/font]
Well, at least we now know that a dollar equals 4 Scottish accordions or 10 American accordions. It seems the louder they get the more cents they cost, or have I got it all wrong?

Guy walked into a music store in Glasgow and asked which instrument would be most likely to annoy his neighbours. They sold him a set of bagpipes, and said they should suffice, but the last thing the salesman said was, If they dont work, come back and see us, and well sell you a big Scottish tuned accordion. If that doesnt do the trick then nothing will!

I once asked a solo Scottish player what the attraction of Scottish accordion tuning was. He told me that it saved the clubs having to hire 12 piece dance bands and big PA systems. 

Each to their own as they say. Let there be music. Years ago a friend of mine blew my little 15w bass guitar amp trying to be heard over a Scottish ceilidh band. He told me he was going to play it at a jazz venue, and I believed him. 

I suppose that never helped my love affair with Scottish musette tuned accordions.
 

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Well, at least we now know that a dollar equals 4 Scottish accordions or 10 American accordions. It seems the louder they get the more cents they cost, or have I got it all wrong?

Don't know if you got it right or wrong, but I've been senselessly trying to make some sense out of this entire senseless matter but don't have enough sense to give a cent for it. What was the question again?
 

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