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Old style French sounds



As a lifelong listener to the French musette playing styles I see more and more that Italian branded accordions are being used by current players, and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Italian made accordions in France have been around since 1904 when Cavagnolo opened their factory in Lyon, having come there from Piemont in Italy. In fact without the Italian influence there would have probably been no accordions in France at all. 

Here is what a Paris tuned LMM (with tone chamber) Italian made Fratelli Crosio accordions sounded like in the 50s/60s. There were none better in terms of quality and sound:-

The name Fratelli Crosio disappeared forever in 1995, after 20 odd years of being run by another Italian company who never used their own brand name. 

These days we have carbon fibre and pure wood accordions, and they are now becoming very sought after as the instruments to go for. 

Dont know what Armand Lassagne would make of them, but the tone of that Fratelli Crosio in the clip epitomised the Parisian version of musette when the instrument was in its heyday.


Dingo40 pid=70020 dateline=1582146883 said:
A great sound and a great clip, John! :)

Heres another example:

Armand Lassagne was probably better known as a teacher rather than as a player. He was one of the relatively few Parisian accordionists who made it into the era of poser jackets and all that stuff. 

Here he is again on another Crosio:-

One other Parisian guy that needs no introduction is Jo Privat, also playing an Italian accordion here. Paul Beuscher is a Parisian music publisher who also sells musical instruments, and they used to put put their own logo on the accordions they sold. The box is actually a Piermaria.


Paris tuning was a term used in the UK to indicate that an accordion was either LMM or LMMH, and was therefore not suitable for Scottish or Irish styles, which once both required three voice musette, until Irish players began to favour swing Paris tuning!

Of recent interest is the fact that Serenellini now produce accordions for the Scottish market tuned at 30 cents, and their French MMM musette is between 24 and 26 cents! I think they come with a health warning and a link to a place that does deals on hearing aids!

Each to their own, etc.


Dingo40 said:
Good clips, John!
They make it look so easy! :)

Not long after that clip of Jo Privat was made he began to play seated at all his gigs. 

He was schooled in the old valse musette tempo and had learned the trade on a diatonic before he switched to CBA. Even when he was playing the more complicated stuff that "strict" valse beat cut through. His timing was impeccable and he just took it steady enough so that everything looked very relaxed indeed. 

Most people who try and play like him rush it and it doesn't come across very well. His son, Jo Privat Junior, is also a guitarist/accordionist like his father was, and is a great player. However, he just lacks that "x factor" that his father had.

Jo spent a lot of time among the manouche or gypsies on the outskirts of Paris and assimilated a lot of their music into his style. I cannot write here what his nickname was for fear of falling foul of the new generation PC types, but it was well enough known in France. In the navy we Scots were referred to as the Jockanese, and most of us never batted an eyelid. Don't think it would be fair and proper these days, but I now call a spade a "digging implement" just in case I offend somebody. 

Glad you enjoyed the clips, as my interest in all things to do with French accordion diminished rapidly when the old guys began to disappear. You'll know that I often look elsewhere for inspiration these days, especially to Italy and Brazil where accordions don't seem to have sell by dates on them. 

I just can't hack all that modern folky stuff like "Amelie" (no I haven't seen the film) and the face contortions of Galliano, when he's going at full belt. It might be typical French accordion to some, but they can't kid me at my age. I started listening to it about 1955, and by 1985 I had pulled the shutters down on everything they called French accordion. Mind you I had already shut the door on Scottish accordion before 1955, as it never quite "got" me at all. 

Dinosaurs aren't extinct at all. One of them just typed this post!


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May 1, 2013
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Always interesting details maugein96, thanks ...
Just curious, so did a google for "Jo Privat surnommé ..."
Never heard this before ... :D


Corinto said:
Always interesting details maugein96, thanks ...
Just curious, so did a google for "Jo Privat surnommé ..."
Never heard this before ... :D

Hi Corinto,

Not entirely sure what you mean, but in France "Jo" is the short or nickname for "Georges". His real name was Georges Privat.


losthobos said:
Most of my honky friends are right old gits...

 When my grandfather enlisted in the Army in Glasgow in WW1 they realised he was Irish and began to make the usual jokes.

"What is your name?"


"That won't do for your record. It will need to be Michael"


"What is your surname?"

"Not sure what that means, would it maybe be Sir Michael?" 

"Your surname is what your father's name was you idiot"

"Got it. That will be William in that case!"

No doubt he was singled out for "special measures" after that.

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