Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

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maugein96
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Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by maugein96 » Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 am

There has been some talk lately on the forum with regard to how the French musette style has been very much in decline over the last few decades, as it has failed to keep up with modern trends.

However, accordionists are a fairly resilient bunch, and some have turned to other styles in the name of keeping the accordion alive.

Here is a clip which I have already put on another thread relating to accordion tuning. Hopefully it will illustrate how the accordion can be used to break away from the more traditional styles associated with it, and be used as an instrument in a new context to express just about any musical genre.

The instrument is a Mengascini F20, and this particular model is LLMM, with both bassoon reed banks being in cassotto.

The kitsch "musette" has gone and the Belgian player from Antwerp has also ditched the old fashioned Belgian bass.

The typical older accordion repertoires probably accounted for its bad image, but even although this is an old fashioned number, it should perhaps persuade some non believers that some great sounds can be had from something as antiquated as an accordion.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ8VaxkHtkQ

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by Morne » Wed May 16, 2018 9:26 am

maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 am
The instrument is a Mengascini F20, and this particular model is LLMM, with both bassoon reed banks being in cassotto.
I'm aware of the Art Van Damme accordions with the double L, but then one is out of cassotto at least. That is already a niche accordion.

In the other thread you mentioned:
maugein96 wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 10:59 pm
Here is an example of a modern French trend, the LLMM accordion, with both bass banks of bassoon reeds in cassotto.
Would you say that kind of instrument represents a popular/common shift in the kind of instrument people are interested in over there, or is this more just an example of an interesting instrument being useful in breaking away from the old genres?

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by Geronimo » Wed May 16, 2018 9:58 am

Morne wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 9:26 am
maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 am
The instrument is a Mengascini F20, and this particular model is LLMM, with both bassoon reed banks being in cassotto.
I'm aware of the Art Van Damme accordions with the double L, but then one is out of cassotto at least. That is already a niche accordion.

In the other thread you mentioned:
maugein96 wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 10:59 pm
Here is an example of a modern French trend, the LLMM accordion, with both bass banks of bassoon reeds in cassotto.
Would you say that kind of instrument represents a popular/common shift in the kind of instrument people are interested in over there, or is this more just an example of an interesting instrument being useful in breaking away from the old genres?
Well, it's sort like a tenor saxophone: in an accordion ensemble, having this sort of different disposition makes a lot of sense. It allows you to play cello voices without being restrained to one L as the fundamental component. As I said, I love what my MMM does in the cello range/function but it only reaches down to A, a sixth above what a cello can actually do.

It gives a bit more character/flavor to what fourth/third voice in an accordion orchestra tend to do (which are, particularly when based on PA range, registered LM most of the time).

But in a band and solo context, tenor saxophone is seen rarely because its solo function tends to be better matched by the alto range and response. And for ensemble/orchestra contexts, that kind of instrument is way too special and expensive. The one instrument that managed to establish itself in that context is a bass accordion because you just need all the space to get long reeds there with a good balance of loudness to moved air volume at those pitches.

So it's a great instrument for fitting a particular niche but I expect that niche to go mostly unfilled by that kind of instrument.

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by maugein96 » Wed May 16, 2018 10:23 am

Morne wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 9:26 am

Would you say that kind of instrument represents a popular/common shift in the kind of instrument people are interested in over there, or is this more just an example of an interesting instrument being useful in breaking away from the old genres?
Morne,

Maybe "trend" is not actually the correct term, as these instruments have been around for a while now.

Cavagnolo have had them on the market for some time (usually with one L in and the other L out of cassotto). I think they led the way with them in France, but most of their recent experimentation with sounds seem to have been with digital instruments. It can be difficult to tell the difference in sound between acoustic and digital Cavagnolo instruments, and unfortunately that includes their price tags. Their digital boxes typically cost twice what a Roland would.

What I can tell you is that the LLMM are standard production models, and not custom built. The F20 is available in other reed configurations and I've put a link to them on your thread about dry tuning.

Personally speaking, I don't know what it would be like to play with double L in a tone chamber, as it took me a while to get used to the extra effort needed to play an instrument with a single L in cassotto. Any other instruments which have bassoon reeds not in cassotto appear (to me) to be easier to play. Cavagnolo's "manouche" model does not have cassotto at all, but I don't know the reasoning behind that.

Sadly, I haven't really kept up with most aspects of accordion development in Europe or anywhere else, and that includes playing styles. I do believe there is a tendency to diversify from the old fashioned musette, and Galliano was "instrumental" in that, although there were several other big name musette type players who collaborated with him. Those players had been playing "jazz" styles for a long time, but weren't able to completely break away from musette. Musette would have paid better than jazz, at least in former times.

Jazz and swing influenced music has been played on accordions in France since the 30s, although the players usually maintained an element of "musette" in their repertoires.

In more recent times it seems that the word "accordeon" will not automatically be linked with "musette", as was previously the case in France. The mention of Belgium was made by virtue of the fact that the demo was being played in a well known store in Antwerp. I haven't scrutinised the video with a view to ascertaining whether it is a B or C system, but if it is a C system with normal Stradella basses, that would tend to indicate a departure from the older configuration of B system with Belgian bass.

As I say my lack of knowledge of the modern day scene makes it difficult to make any bold statements about present day trends.

Very recently I have grown to appreciate that the accordion is capable of a lot more than bashing out musette standards to people who aren't really interested any more. So long as the music is enjoyable, I suppose it doesn't really matter.

LLMM may well be a niche instrument, but they are around in numbers just the same. How big those numbers are is the mystery, and as I say two LLs in a tone chamber may make them unattractive to some.

To summarise, if you study the stock lists of any big French retailer, you probably won't find many for sale, although I doubt whether Cavagnolo and Mengascini would have them on their production lists if they weren't shifting them. I had almost forgotten about them until I found this clip.

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by Geronimo » Wed May 16, 2018 10:50 am

maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 10:23 am
Personally speaking, I don't know what it would be like to play with double L in a tone chamber, as it took me a while to get used to the extra effort needed to play an instrument with a single L in cassotto. Any other instruments which have bassoon reeds not in cassotto appear (to me) to be easier to play.
I think that is instrument dependent. I remember on a "lady-size" PA I sold being somewhat put off by the sluggish response of the L reeds particularly in its low range. In comparable range on my Morino-type CBAs, the L reeds are fine. Probably because they are significantly larger (they do get slower in their respective lowest ranges where you cannot sensibly combine fast play with p volume with L alone). The pseudo cassotto (déclassement) does not make much of a difference I think.

Theoretically I would not expect "LM" with L in cassotto to differ much in effect with "MH" outside one octave lower since in either case the overtones would be dominated by the higher reed outside of cassotto, but it turns out that I have both of those combinations on the Artiste VID and "MH" is a quite more tinny sound compared to the more woody quality of "LM" (obligatory Monty Python reference). The large Excelsior I have is without cassotto and I also find that it's a bit wheezy in the low L ranges. Maybe it's not as much the response I am frowning about as the (pseudo-)cassotto being good at swallowing the air noises. I'd have to do a detailed comparison.

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by maugein96 » Wed May 16, 2018 12:10 pm

I had a look at Cavagnolo's catalogue, and it only shows two models with double bassoon reeds, although I believe there are more than that. However, it gets more complicated. One model features a "gros basson" and a "petit basson", in either the same or two different tone chambers.

I tried to post a link to an advert for a Cavagnolo double bassoon model, but the store concerned has copyrighted its web pages!

Maugein are continuing to require you to fill in your personal details before they allow you to view their catalogue, which is not a good sign at all. I dont believe they have ever made LL boxes except to special order in any case.

As far as I'm aware, these instruments were ever intended for use as part of an "orchestra", and if my memory serves me right they appeared not long after Galliano's "New Musette" style was promoted. They seem to have been aimed at players who chose that style and who wanted a bit of extra boost on their bassoon. However, it seems some players who want any type of double bassoon sound may be opting for Cavagnolo digital accordions, rather than their acoustic models.

It may be as well to point out that most of the accordions supplied to the French market have always been markedly different from those found elsewhere, with regard to their construction and sound. Although I have spent many years listening to, and appreciating them, the fact remains that I live in the UK, so my knowledge is not as great as it would be if I actually lived in France.

I used to subscribe to a French language Accordion monthly magazine, and it was only by that means that I was able to try and keep up with developments. Maybe it's time I took out another subscription, as I feel the need to brush up on what is going on there these days.

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by debra » Thu May 17, 2018 10:37 am

maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 am
...

Opinions on the rear of a postage stamp please!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ8VaxkHtkQ
Listen carefully at 1:39 into this video. The G# note is clearly slightly out of tune and then you get an awful sound (well, to my ears at least). That's the problem with LL, MM or any other two-reed register when the dry tuning failed just a little bit.
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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by Geoff de Limousin » Thu May 17, 2018 12:36 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:10 pm



I used to subscribe to a French language Accordion monthly magazine, and it was only by that means that I was able to try and keep up with developments. Maybe it's time I took out another subscription, as I feel the need to brush up on what is going on there these days.
If you are refering to " Accordeon & Accordeonistes" then as far as I know it is finished, caput.

A friend who used to subscribe donated me his last issues, with the story of its demise.

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by maugein96 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:10 pm

debra wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:37 am
maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 am
...

Opinions on the rear of a postage stamp please!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ8VaxkHtkQ
Listen carefully at 1:39 into this video. The G# note is clearly slightly out of tune and then you get an awful sound (well, to my ears at least). That's the problem with LL, MM or any other two-reed register when the dry tuning failed just a little bit.
Hi Paul,

I've been away in Greece again where I couldn't get into the forum due to various Gateway Errors and warnings that the site wasn't secure. Sorry, but years of listening to musette "tuned" instruments has left me to expect notes sounding different from others, and I couldn't spot the discrepancy you mention. I defer to your knowledge and experience of tunings, but obviously the French cognoscenti feel there is still a need for such instruments, as they have been around for quite a while.

In Greece some players have bouzoukis with frets placed so they can play quarter tone "Asiatic" (Turkish) scales. It takes a very good ear to detect when they use those frets, especially in fast passages, and it takes me all my time to learn the normal "dromoi" with no quarter notes.

Greek accordion was once (relatively) popular in Greek Macedonia were I was, and you still often hear it there in music tracks played in the tavernas. However, the only accordion I saw in the flesh was at the hotel, where somebody had arranged a 72 bass 3 voice treble PA upside down in a display of "antique musical instruments" in the reception area. The owner of the instrument concerned had lost three fingers of his right hand, and had no further use for it. I believe it was of Chinese manufacture, but the lighting was too poor to determine the make.

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by debra » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:32 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:10 pm
debra wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:37 am
maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 am
...

Opinions on the rear of a postage stamp please!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ8VaxkHtkQ
Listen carefully at 1:39 into this video. The G# note is clearly slightly out of tune and then you get an awful sound (well, to my ears at least). That's the problem with LL, MM or any other two-reed register when the dry tuning failed just a little bit.
Hi Paul,

I've been away in Greece again where I couldn't get into the forum due to various Gateway Errors and warnings that the site wasn't secure. Sorry, but years of listening to musette "tuned" instruments has left me to expect notes sounding different from others, and I couldn't spot the discrepancy you mention. I...
The instrument in the video seems to aim at having absolutely no tremolo. At 1:39 there is a G# that does have a bit of tremolo. Clearly on this instrument that is not ok. But I know I am rather critical...
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by Geronimo » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:33 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:10 pm
Greek accordion was once (relatively) popular in Greek Macedonia were I was, and you still often hear it there in music tracks played in the tavernas. However, the only accordion I saw in the flesh was at the hotel, where somebody had arranged a 72 bass 3 voice treble PA upside down in a display of "antique musical instruments" in the reception area. The owner of the instrument concerned had lost three fingers of his right hand, and had no further use for it. I believe it was of Chinese manufacture, but the lighting was too poor to determine the make.
Rudolf Würthner lost admittedly only two fingers of his right hand before his career really started. He also displayed his B system CBA upside down from then on but did so while still playing it to considerable acclaim.

But, well, I don't consider it likely that what you saw was intended as a homage to Würthner.

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Re: Modern French and Belgian accordion trends

Post by maugein96 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:06 pm

Geoff de Limousin wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 12:36 pm
maugein96 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:10 pm



I used to subscribe to a French language Accordion monthly magazine, and it was only by that means that I was able to try and keep up with developments. Maybe it's time I took out another subscription, as I feel the need to brush up on what is going on there these days.
If you are refering to " Accordeon & Accordeonistes" then as far as I know it is finished, caput.

A friend who used to subscribe donated me his last issues, with the story of its demise.
Hi Geoff,

Saw this when I was in Greece (again) but couldn't reply due to issues I had with accessing the forum from there.

Yes, that was the magazine. Unfortunately the subscription was very expensive outside of France and as it got dearer by the year, and with an ever decreasing readership it was almost bound to fail eventually.

As the old stars died off IMHO they sort of ran out of material, as even the best of the younger players had no chance of achieving the fame of their predecessors.

The message that kept coming over was that the accordion had had its day, and that seems to be the status quo in most of France these days. In Greece our neighbours for a week were a young French couple in their early 20s from Rennes. When I broached the subject of the accordion in present day France they were bemused that anybody in the world would have any interest in the French accordion scene which they considered as very "un-cool". They also declared my Ch'Ti French accent as being un-cool, (eshpeshally the garshon of the couple), but hish girlfriend, Ophelie, ended up greeting me with "Shah Vaw" every time we met, much to the amusement of all the other guests, none of whom were French.

Jesse, the guy, had heard of Galliano but he never reckoned much to his music, and he never even flickered when I mentioned Verchuren or any of the old favourites.

Greek accordion has gone down the same road as the bouzouki it would appear. There is still an interest there, but the numbers are dwindling by the year. Most young Greeks simply cannot get to grips with their cultural links with Asia Minor (Turkey), which came to an abrupt end in 1921, but there is still a culture of popular Greek music played on guitars and Korgs that pays lip service to their roots. Bouzoukia and accordions are reserved for the living dead of the over 60s, but it seems there will always be a culture of youngsters, however small, who are keen to learn the traditional music. Ironically, there are probably as many bouzouki players in Australia and the USA these days as there are in Greece.

I am a member of two Greek bouzouki forums where you'd think there is no problem, as everybody is interested in the same music. Unfortunately it just isn't like that and arguments abound as to who makes the best instruments, and whether tri (6) or tetra (8) strung instruments are more appropriate to get the most "traditional" sound.

Basically, every one of the top bouzouki players develops playing skills and techniques that cannot be learned from method books, and that's what makes it all the more interesting for me. I haven't really had the chance to study much Greek accordion, but suffice to say that even in Greek Macedonia, the cradle of the Greek accordion, there is currently only one top notch female recording artiste, and she specialises in non-local styles.

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