Hello from France !



Hello from France !

Postby Corsaire » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:57 pm

Before coming to live in France nearly 20 years ago, I played the piano accordion in a folk band in Dorset. Since moving to France, I looked for people to play with for 3 years - nothing. All I could find was musette tea dance stuff which wasn't what I was after ! So I stopped, only picking up my beloved Excelsior 92 bass occasionally.

We moved to Brittany a year ago and to my delight, I have been accepted as an accordionist in an all-male vocal group who sing sea shanties. So, hugely inspired, and finding my Excelsior had become too heavy to lug around, I went to the UK to see if I could find something smaller and lighter (Excelsior + hard case weighs around 16kgs!). I found a good secondhand Delicia 72 bass compact which is ideal, both in weight and in tone for accompanying singers.

There are lots of interesting postings here though some of it is a bit over my head. I look forward to reading more and learning :D

Sally
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby Soulsaver » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:09 pm

Hi Sally - wishing you a warm welcome... and happy 2017. I love France, I love the way that in the provincial towns the buildings are just left in their natural quirky condition, and not restored. And I like quite a lot of their café music, too.
PS 92 bass? Or 96 bass (16x6)?
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby maugein96 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:31 pm

Hi Sally,

Welcome to the forum and glad that you have found a way to perform in public. Interested to hear that you came back to the UK to buy an accordion from a country where they are usually much cheaper than they are in the UK, although I suppose you might have had more selection of piano accordions over here.

I've played French musette on and off on French and Italian chromatic button accordions for many years, but only as an amateur player. I suppose in Brittany musette will take second place to the excellent folk genres in the area. Only time I was ever in Brittany I never heard an accordion of any description being played in the 2 weeks I was there, even on the radio.

There are a lot of very knowledgeable and interesting people on here and hopefully you'll be able to get any assistance you might need. Quite a few of us have individual tastes not shared by many others, although I do know that there are several members on the forum who are interested in the same kind of music that you play.

Sea shanties are something I was taught when I was in the Royal Navy, but I was an airman so never did a lot of sea time. We never had "air shanties", which was a pity!
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby Corsaire » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:15 pm

Soulsaver wrote:PS 92 bass? Or 96 bass (16x6)?

Ooops - I meant 96 bass !!!

The only accordion shops in this area (Saint Malo - Rennes) specialise in diatonic and button chromatique. I tried the button chromatique for a couple of years (a Maugein, no less !) but I found it difficult to change after years of playing the piano then the PA.
So the UK was the logical place to look as I didn't want to risk sending for something without being able to try it. As I had a Delicia years ago, I had no hesitation in seeking out the 72 bass compact. It's ideal for the shanties and is easy to play with expression.

Getting back into practice is hard work and I've a long way to go to get back to the level I was before - but I'm just happy to be able to play with other people again.
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby losthobos » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:01 pm

Ha ha...funny the grass is always greener.....i' be quite happy playing tea dances with a bottle of wine by my side...but instead i've a sea shanty and and traditional folk festival on my doorstep...
WELCOME :D
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby Corsaire » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:08 pm

Thank you all for the welcome !
It's very different accompanying singers - I read a helpful posting on this forum about just that. However, although I've around 150 songs to learn yesterday, I don't want to play just shanties. The smaller keyboard of the compact will be a limiting factor (as I've found already with a couple of the songs in strange keys).
Everyone seems to like tea dance music but I was horrified to look at what I played 15 years ago and find how little I remembered. But a glass or two of sine will help ... :)
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby Ganza » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:58 pm

Welcome!!! Interestingly, what is a tea dance musette?! Listening to Jo Privat talk I thought it was all cigarettes and hard liquor for the likes of him haha!!
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby losthobos » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:04 pm

Even better ;)
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby Corsaire » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:59 pm

Ganza wrote:Welcome!!! Interestingly, what is a tea dance musette?! Listening to Jo Privat talk I thought it was all cigarettes and hard liquor for the likes of him haha!!

Alas, no longer with the no smoking laws ! But the music doesn't really change - musicians like Jo Privat will last forever even if it's the oldies that enjoy the tea dance musette waltzes. (they'll get onto the hard stuff when they get home !)
Musette still gets played at local village do's though quite often they'll start off with musette but change to disco later on. Fortunately there are some great young musicians like Jerome Richard (I had the good fortune to have some lessons with his brother Mickael in Saumur) who keep up the traditional music but are also innovative.
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Re: Hello from France !

Postby maugein96 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:04 pm

Sally, I have been listening to French musette since the 50s and it has undergone a lot of changes in that time. I remember the big name players used to compile tea dance records, but I bet most of them never really liked some of the tunes they had to play. It was the same when they recorded folk tunes. Their hearts were never really in it, even if guys like Verchu made a fortune out of playing them.

Jo Privat was probably the last real musette player with a Parisian background. He hung on for as long as he could to the "musette pur", but eventually ditched the three voice musette, especially when he became hypnotised by the "Manouche" music. His playing was a revelation at the time, full of gypsy influenced runs. He was also influenced to a degree by classical music, and some of his compositions reflected that. Towards the end of his playing career he hardly played anything other than manouche tunes on his Piermaria Gala, which became his signature instrument and his son now plays occasionally. To be perfectly honest I began to tire of his style, as it drifted away too far from the mainstream musette genre. Regardless of my feelings, some of his compositions were legendary and will obviously remain musette classics for a long time to come.

Appreciate you have only been in France for 20 years, so the musette would already be well down the road by that time. Interesting that it is still played at dances, even although they stop playing before it gets dark! Guys like Jerome Richard had their work cut out to keep people interested in the accordion, although they are lucky that the instrument still has a degree of popularity in France. In a lot of countries even the best accordionists can do no better than play part time professionally.

I haven't kept up to date with the modern musette scene at all, as I'm afraid I don't really like it. The music has become very technically orientated, compared to the popular accordion in Italy, the repertoire of which is still "do-able", even if your name isn't Manu Maugain or Ludovic Beier. Both of them have exceptional ability, but it would take me about a year to have any chance of working through some of their compositions. I usually play most stuff by ear, but I'd need better ears than I've got to follow these guys. Musette used to be fairly simple easy going music, but it isn't any more. It probably needed bringing up to date, but I just wish they had given it a makeover, rather than demolishing it and starting again!

One of the few places in France where the musette hasn't changed drastically is in the far north, where they still seem to persevere with the old fashioned stuff. Or am I wrong there? You also get some trad sounding stuff in Limousin and The Auvergne, and I like listening to Basque players like Louis Camblor, even if his playing is not exactly electrifying. The Spanish influence makes a change. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you've got the picture.

Start learning those sea shanties and be careful you don't go "overboard" with them. I'm sure you like playing other styles as well!
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