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Evolution of chromatic button accordion in China

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debra

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Many thanks for this summary of the Belgian situation with many links. My sister (brother at the time...) was a piano major at the Antwerp conservatory and took accordion as a minor, with PA, with Hubert Kicken. Jules Willems was starting an accordion class at more or less the same time, at the music school (rijksacademie) in Antwerp. It was a bit of a surprise when Roger Eggermont took over from Kicken because indeed he was much into light music. But later I heard from Ludo Mariën that Eggermont was actually very knowledgeable also about the more "serious" music and technique. I have met Ludo Mariën many times at accordion events, including some promotional events for Bugari. (I am actually in the Bugari company photogallery with my (now defunct) all-Bugari accordion sextet.
I had to choose between university and conservatory and chose university, keeping accordion as a serious hobby (and leading an orchestra/ensemble for 30 years). After moving to the Netherlands I discovered how different music education is in general, and accordion in particular.
 
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Deleted member 48

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You're welcome, all this information is online on the internet, but mainly in Dutch/Flemish, and it maybe interesting for English speaking persons to hear about some history of the accordion education in Flanders.

I can understand it must have been difficult for pianists or PA players when the teaching positions switched from Hubert Kicken (PA) to Roger Eggermont (CBA).
I can confirm Roger Eggermont was very serious about accordion education. While he played only musette on television and in shows, he had special attention to the accordion education in Russia. The first year program in Antwerp was all Russian bayan pieces for the students. This was because his main student, his assistant Ludo Mariën ( who is now the teacher in Antwerp) was all into classical accordion music and adored Russian bayanists. Who didn't, when you attended the recitals...

However, one of my questions was about free bass, and I never got a clear answer, but I think Roger Eggermont didn't either play free bass at all, or only very occasionally. He was not relaxed when I started about free bass education. In general he was a strict teacher, Ludo was present at the interview, but it was Roger Eggermont who answered all the questions. I always had the sense Ludo wanted to tell about the free bass, ... but he still had to pass his exams with Roger Eggermont. So wisely he was silent and listened. I only posed 2 questions directly to Ludo.
So I think Ludo Mariën was in some degree autodidact regarding to free bass.

Years later I talked regularly to Ludo Mariën, but we never really talked about Eggermont. It was all about the Russians, and the development of the accordion in Flanders.

But since 15 years I'm too busy professionally (not related to music) and have no time anymore to go to recitals or conferences. Occasionally I go to an accordion recital.
I would like to have more time to talk to accordion teachers, but alas... time is not on my side...

I was only a student back in 1990/1991, so I had no official influence on layout and accordion education decisions at all, but I had some sort of informal way of talking to teachers. Many knew me as an accordion student.
For me too, the accordion is a hobby, a passion.

The last important thing I want to mention is:
I wrote I had 4 accordion teachers in 2 public music schools. Well ... 2 of them (Thuriot and Flecijn) were C-system players. I started with Flecijn on C-system.
The other 2 were B-system players...

Now you guess what happened... My 2 B-system teachers could not give me any directions at all in fingering problems on C-system. I had to work it out myself.
I had an excellent start with Eddy and Philippe on C-system, but the B-system teachers focussed only on musicality and phrasing.
Simply because they didn't play C-system.

That is the result of the failure of choosing 1 single CBA-layout.
In the first years all went well, the C-system teachers close to France and in the West of Flanders.
The B-system players closer to the East and Germany.

But after a few years, some teachers changed schools, relocated, remarried, etc etc You can't force people to stay in the same region...
Then what you get is a mess. The systems got mixed up all over Flanders....

You see, a single CBA layout system may sound dictatorial and strict.
But the advantage is teachers can switch more easily between schools. Because all would play the same system.

Spain (C-system), France (C-system), Russia (B-system) made better decisions and opted for one single system.
 

debra

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I had to work out everything by myself (after changing from PA to CBA) but in fact I pretty much had to work out everything by myself on PA before as well. When I started on the accordion it was an absolutely forbidden instrument in music education. I got the very basics from the conductor of the accordion group I joined (and later conducted for 30 years). I did get very good music education though, all on piano (and a lot of theory). By the time people get to the conservatory they should essentially be able to solve their own fingering problems.
I do understand the reasoning for wanting just a single system. But alas that is not going to happen. In the Netherlands C system is the most popular in current music education (but still way behind PA) but in a more distant past B system was more popular. The result is that there are quite a few B system accordions on the used market and relatively few C system accordions. Having to buy new for lack of used instruments isn't helping either to make C system become more popular...
Turning back to the original topic of CBA in China... the dominance of B system there probably generates the same problem: no used C system accordions to get started on.
 
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maugein96

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Hi Stephen,

Thanks for the insight into the accordion in Belgium.

CBA players here in the UK are very few and far between, and we have to look to the rest of Europe for inspiration. A lot of the info we get back is based on "educated guesses", as almost invariably everything we read is in a language other than English. You'll obviously know that we Brits tend to be monolingual, although in my case I had a rudimentary knowledge of the French and Dutch language when I decided to start playing accordion in the early 80s. I opted to go for French musette, as I have always only ever been interested in popular music.

As the years progressed I tried to read everything I could find on French CBA, and it took me several years to work out that some players opted for the various B systems in Belgium as well as Belgian basses. Only top French player I can recall who played Do2 Charleroi was Edouard Duleu, but it was many years before I was able to work out what system he played. I wasted hours watching him on videos trying to work out what he was doing and had to give up.

Since I joined the forum I've discovered a lot of things I never knew about accordions of every description, and tried to piece it all together. Finally, it has all been explained to me by somebody who knows the situation and actually lives in Belgium.

Forgive my attempt at making a joke about people going into music stores. The humour was obviously lost in the translation, as your English is so good I never realised where you were based.

I appreciate that popular music is possibly not your main interest, and I have no idea about classical music teaching syllabuses in my own country, never mind yours.

Thanks again for providing such a detailed insight. I'll try and be careful what I say about CBA in future. As we say here in the UK. "A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing."
 

debra

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maugein96 said:
...
Forgive my attempt at making a joke about people going into music stores. The humour was obviously lost in the translation, as your English is so good I never realised where you were based.
I actually liked the joke. Reality is often so strange it actually becomes funny! (And perhaps in Belgium more so than in many other countries...)
I have often wondered how come almost all "classical" music instruments have a standardised interface, like piano's, violins, hobos, etc. whereas accordion comes with many different keyboard layouts on the lefthand and righthand size and even within the same system the sizes and spacing of keys all differ... How on earth did we let this chaos happen?
 
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Ganza

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losthobos said:
All I know is the more I play mine the more I evolve...

Reminds me of that great, bizarre book by Irish writer Flann OBrien, The Third Policeman, where some people become half man and half bicycle because they ride so much...

Wonder if that happens to accordionists?!
 
D

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At least, he's honest about his questions and wrote them out in the online interview.
If all male journalists would write down all the questions and the number and places they met with the persons they have interviewed...

What man wouldn't be impressed by Sidorova, I think I would be.
(But you sure have a point, not all questions are related to the accordion)
 
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Ganza

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Stephen said:
At least, hes honest about his questions and wrote them out in the online interview.
If all male journalists would write down all the questions and the number and places they met with the persons they have interviewed...

What man wouldnt be impressed by Sidorova, I think I would be.
(But you sure have a point, not all questions are related to the accordion)

Yes Stephen, thats true haha!
 

JerryPH

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Oh, if I was that reporter, I also would have my own question...

"So, Ms Sidorova, is your accordion tuned to C or B-flat... and would you consider bearing my children, please?" :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

AccordionUprising

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debra said:
maugein96 said:
... I have often wondered how come almost all classical music instruments have a standardised interface, like pianos, violins, hobos, etc. whereas accordion comes with many different keyboard layouts on the lefthand and righthand size and even within the same system the sizes and spacing of keys all differ... How on earth did we let this chaos happen?

I wonder about this too. We joke that somebody carrying early accordions over the mountain passes in Europe dropped them so all the buttons from the different countries got mixed up. (How did the Belgian 3/3 reversed stradella develop?)

I suspect it has to do with the recent invention of the instrument and its development in regional folk traditions, only later being adapted to formal classical education where a standardized system would have helped.

I also have yet to read a good history comparing the instrument in Russia and the West. It seems to me that after the Revolution the Russian/Soviet accordion developed separately from Western versions, only reestablishing contact when classical bayan players started making waves in the West. An awful lot of divergent design happened in that time I think.

The trouble now seems to be that none of the systems are decidedly better than the others, so inertia keeps people from standardizing to some other system. Only the piano keyboard has the benefit of its connection to the standard piano keyboard, but the various CBAs have significant advantages over the piano, but no one has enough advantages to overtake the others.

The other factor historically is how easy it is to change layouts on the instrument. The notes on a string instrument are restricted by their position on the strings. Accordionists can and have modified the button patterns of their instruments with almost no restrictions. That flexibility has led to great diversity, but also chaos as far as standards.
Mostly just my guesses though.
 

donn

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Pox on standardization. You know it would be piano accordion, with 2/4 Stradella.

Orchestral instruments aren't fully standardized, either. Particularly the lower pitched ones - bassoon, bass clarinet, tuba, string bass, bass trombone.
 
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