A few months ago I mentioned that I was determined to learn the Edith Piaf classic, “Sous le Ciel de Paris.” I had been asked to accompany a singer, but then decided I wanted to learn the Tune itself. I saw the Anders Johannson video and was thoroughly inspired. In the end, I did not use his arrangement. I based mine on the arrangement my singer was using. There are some techniques of Johannson’s that I would dearly love to get under my fingers — those descants! But I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made. I follow the example of fellow blogger Owen Woods who, in April, posted some “experimental” work he was doing with descants, and then just recently posted a piece about the joys of being “out of my depth.” Very joyful, indeed. Sigh.
Some technical points. I’m playing it basically in A minor, but there’s a lot of straying from typical diato chords. I pulled the thirds out of the chords on the left hand. My goal wasn’t so much to find the right chord for the song, but to find a dyad that fit with the chord.
The Dino Baffetti Tex-Mex II/34 arrived on Thursday! Very exciting! I had intended to do an internal examination of the box, a laOwen Woods or Daddy Long Les, but I found I couldn’t bear to take a screw driver to it, not even to remove the grill. I’m made of less stern stuff than that, it seems.
Instead, I’ve been playing the heck out of it. Here are some first thoughts:
Big one! Playing a three row is different from playing two or two-and-a-half row or even two-row-plus-accidentals. Possibly this is obvious. The three row quint box can do different things that I don’t yet know how to do. New frontiers!
The two row repertoire works just fine on this one. Even if it is obvious that playing up-and-down the rows is not what it was built to do, everything I’ve been learning for the last 15 years is essentially transferable!
At melodeon.net there is a recurring discussion about stepped keyboards vs. flat keyboards. Playing a flat keyboard for the first time in years has made no difference to me.
Even though this is an F/Bb/Eb box (which is exactly what I was after) I’m choosing to name it as G/C/F and recognize that it’s a transposing instrument. All of the sheet music and tab is for G/C/F, so this seems simplest.
It sounds AMAZING. Essentially, as one colleague mentioned, it’s a clone of a Hohner Corona, done to a absurdly high level of quality. The sound is so very sweet. And the touch is effortless. I do have fond feelings for Hohner accordions, but this is a cut above.
I love it.
It is a little silly that with five rows of box to my name, I still don’t have a D row. What sort of psychological block am I dealing with? Is it PTSD from the Minneapolis Irish sessions?
Here are three videos with the Baffetti. The first is a hanter dro written by Sylvain Piron.
The second is another hanter dro, traditional, that I learned from Steve Gruverman.
The third is a Breton March, traditional, that I learned from the playing of Daniel Thonon.
With much gratitude, I celebrate Yann-Fañch Perroches.
Owen Woods, who writes the fantastic Music and Melodeons, mentioned in passing that he’s playing a gig in support of the great Breton accordéonist, Yann-Fañch Perroches. After the wave of envy passed, it struck me that, even though I have Perroches’ link over there in the “Relevant Links” column, I’ve never actually written about him. This is a travesty.
This is a travesty, not only because his music is that good, but because he’s been a particular inspiration to me for over a decade. The first thing I heard of Perroches’ was An Droug Hirnez, which features Breton tunes in a chamber jazz setting, with piano, bass, cello, and winds accompanying the box. Very beautiful. That was about twelve years ago. Doing some research I found out that Perroches had been a member of the very prominent Breton group Skolvan since 1984. I sought out their work, as well. His work with Cocktail Diatonique was the first time I heard the sort of multi-accordion arrangements that are now redefining tradFrench (and tradBelgian) music. My favorite recording of his is the duo recording of Perroches with violinist Fañch Landreau, Daou Ha Daou. Something everyone should hear. All of this music, and more, can be found at Perroch’s site.
I should also mention that when I was starting out on the accordéon, Perroches very kindly corresponded with me and helped me work through some problems playing the basses. It’s worth noting that his tutorial is outstanding.
Listen to some of the man’s music, and celebrate.
A marvelous solo piece:
Scottish du Regret, perhaps Perroches’ best known composition:
In the United States, the fourth thursday of November is Thanksgiving. I love this holiday and love having the opportunity to express my gratitude for the extraordinary blessings in my life, many of which center on the accordéon, its music, and its masters.
Speaking of masters, first on the list would have be my wife, who has been generally and genuinely supporting of my accordéon efforts during the course of our marriage. Just as one example, she did NOT send back the Castagnari Nik when it arrived in the post last February, when I was at work. Instead, she sent a picture on my phone, and called me up so I could hear how it sounded.
Thanks to the friends of this blog — whether they know it or not — who have been willing to discuss issues with me as I developed posts. Some have actually written stuff that I’ve published here. Thank you, Andy of Vermont, Chris Ryall, Geoff Wooff, Owen Woods, Steve Mansfield, Chuck Boody, et many al. Tom McDonald — despite being a non-accordéonist — has been a real help just on the blogging and inspiration front.
Thanks to melodeon.net! Not enough to be said about that friendly, squeeze congregation’s influence on my quality of life! Just today, a quorum from that parish helped talk me off the ledge over a reed that seemed to be going sour.
Thanks to my kids — Max, Brigid, Emma, Julia, and Sarah — who somehow think that it’s cool that their old man plays obscure accordéon music. They continue showing up to my gigs.
Thanks to Amy and Rob, at the Water St. Cafe, in Gardiner, who have given me a place to play regularly in the past few months, so that I could get my chops into shape.
Thanks to everyone who reads this blog. Having just crossed the 40,000 hits line, I have no idea, really, who you all are (the occasional comment would go a long way!) … and I monetize the blog in only a very minor way … but this blog was started because I wanted to talk about accordéons with people who wanted to listen to me talk about accordéons. Thank you.