Sunday, December 14, 2008

Richard Galliano On the Accordina


The history of the


Things change a lot in the free-reed world. Accordinas are reappearing since few years. It went unnoticed for a long time. Accordion-players ignored it and public did not even know it. This hybrid between accordion and harmonic
a was born from André Borel’s imagination, in the late 30’. Today, it is made again and people develop a passion for it, going against the fate which surrounded the story of this instrument.

A strange mix between the accordion and wind instruments,
the accordina appears to some people (maybe as a fashion effect) as a mythical instrument created to play jazz.
The history of this little “mouthed-accordion” (although hard to reconstitute) proves us the contrary.
Invented by A. Borel in the 30’, the accordina was patented in December 1943.
It borrows its free reeds and its chromatic keyboard from the accordion; it inherited the breath produced by the musician and
the principle of its two side shutters which allow to modulate the sound (like a harmonica-player does with his hands) from the harm
We had to wait until the 50’ to see it made, when Borel created his commercial society (dissolved in 1954). In 1950, he gave a radio broadcast concert of accordina, undoubtedly with a prototype or one of the very first models!
Borel favoured a very important partner to market this instrument: the Beuscher organization, which
followed him until the mid 70’, when the manufacturing stopped.

A lukewarm public
Ingenious and well-made, the accordina is not that successful, contrary to what we could think today.
Borel and Beuscher are probably partly responsible for it, as they introduce it as a travel accordion, a training instrument. Basically, a gadget.Second mistake: they targeted a public of accordion-players, entirely excluding the wind instrument field. As weird as it can seem, this misunderstanding remains today; Francis Jauvain, who is a saxophonist, accordion-player and experienced accordina-p
layer, testifies: “I consider the accordina as a wind instrument, it is even one of those rare ones which allows polyphony. If you think of it this way, it requires a specific technique. For example, he accepts blown air only; therefore the inhalation must be rhythmic to integrate with the musical sentence. Something which is hardly conceivable,

if we think of it as an accordion ersatz.”. Jauvain continues his researches about the accordina, in order to “develop it as we would for a peculiar unique instrument.".
He concludes that there is a vital need for the accordina not to be “reduced to the accordion-players ".
Victim of this reception, the accordina left only few traces: the only old recording left is André Astier’s 45. On the contrary, today, Richard Galliano,
Francis Jauvain, Daniel Mille, Jean-Louis Matinier, Roland Romanelli or Jacques Bolognesi use it to explore numerous musical universes: jazz, French songs (Moustaki, on tour, preferred Jauvain’s accordina rather than the traditional accordion.), movie soundtracks (Romanelli recorded Alexandre Arcady’s next movie soundtrack with the symphonic orchestra in London.), contemporary music (Jauvain conceived five creations for the choreographer Régine Chapirot, which show the accordina on stage in improvised sessions with the dancers.)

The differents models
Along its history, the Borel accordina knew different shapes. The funniest thing is that it seems it never appeared the way it was patented : like explained by Laurent Jarry, the patent of the instrument is quite different from what Bo
rel made. The reeds are not planned to be single-chassis but they were assembled on plates. A mechanism is planned at the bottom of the instrument to activate both side shutters by a sort of button ”.
A mechanism is planned at the bottom of the instrument to activate both side shutters by a sort of button ". We can see changes,"

notably in the mouthpiece of the instrument. It is no longer a triangular metal part welded on the
air duct and "split", but a little longer mouthpiece where a plastic part is integrated.” Music also changes, probably in the same time: the brass reeds of the first models are then replaced by others, which are steel stainless.

The accordina also knew other manufactures, as the models "gold" and "silver" realized by Paolo Soprani undoubtedly during the second
half of the 1960s.
It remained untraceable for a long time. Today the instrument is made by Laurent Jarry since 1995 and by Marcel Dreux since 2002.
Blaise Goldenstein

Other extracts of the article Accordion and accordion-players:
"Technically, this accordina (the accordina Marcel Dreux) looks exactly like Borel’s, except for some innovations as music in stainless steel and a ledger in synthetic material (no longer wooden), which solve the problems due to the condensation."

Olivier Manoury, bandoneon-player and accordina-player:
"I adopted the instrument right away. From the beginning, it was exactly as a Borel. Moreover, I take both of them for my concerts, in case of one of them would have a problem. Personally, I even prefer the tone of the accordina
Marcel Dreux, richer than my Borel’s. The colours of the keyboard are very practical: the first row, the one who is visible when we play, makes everything clearer."


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