Accordions popular again in all of USA since 1950.
#61
I have heard it said that the accordion was once the most popular instrument in North America. I'm not convinced this was ever literally true. I think piano may have been taught more. Guitars were cheaper, etc.  It was really, really popular though.

I'm not sure I've seen numbers on the proportion of accordion students. There may have been a time when it was the most popular instrument as far as how many people were taking lessons. The adaptability of the required massive number of teachers may have been an issue when new music came along that wasn't covered in the printed instruction books a lot of teachers were using. If the kid wants to learn the latest Bo Diddley tune and you don't have it annotated in AAA (American Accordionists' Association) sheet music, what do you do? Easier to just hate rock and roll.

From my book (in progress, etc):
As late as 1960 there were still one hundred thousand accordions sold every year in the United States. By 1976 sales were down to thirteen thousand. The following year the industry journal Music USA stopped reporting on accordion sales at all, simply folding them into “miscellaneous other instruments.” There were still a million accordion players in the U.S., but by the mid-1970s they were older, with an average age of thirty. Meanwhile there were ten million guitarists and rising, with a median age of twenty-one.

Department of Commerce statistics had piano accordion imports swinging between 40,000 in 1947, and 132,000 at their peak in 1952, then falling to 57,000 in 1962.

Oh, here we go: Music USA (industry journal, 1966):

"Number of People Playing Each Type of Instrument:
Comparing: 1956 & 1966 (195-something would have been peak-accordion.)

Piano: 19,700,000   .....   23,300,000
Guitar: 2,600,000   .....   10,000,000
Accordion: 1,500,000   .....   1,000,000

[Image: p.jpeg?size_mode=5]



In the 1966 "Music USA" compared available sales numbers over time:
In 1950 (listed as the accordion's best sales year):
172,000 pianos were sold,
220,000 Guitars
123,000 Accordions

[Image: p.jpeg?size_mode=5]
Bruce Triggs
Accordion Noir Radio
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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#62
Everybody should have one. Or two. Or a few. They are delightful to have around.
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#63
As for the 'resurgence" of the accordion in America, I live in the largest city in Canada, with the largest dealership and repair shop
in the entire country. They have been in business for over sixty years. There is no resurgence in the accordion. It is pretty much
impossible to find an accordion teacher in this city which is so large even though we have the only University program where you
can do a graduate degree in accordion. We also house the Royal Conservatory of Music which hasn't offered accordion lessons in
decades. I studied with a woman in her eighties who used to tell me that in the late fifties there was an accordion store on almost
every corner, and schools. There are no accordion schools in this city anymore. The only music school that offers accordion has
teachers who also play piano, guitar and a million other instruments. That might be fine for a ten year old who is just starting
out but a serious player, there is just no one to study with. So how are these young resurgent students learning how to
play the instrument? And how are they going to develop if there is no one to guide them. Music stores are disappearing everywhere because of online shopping, but the only two music stores in the downtown core where I live had perhaps five accordion books in their bundles and almost all of them are Palmer Hughes. Punk groups and groovy twenty-somethings may be picking up the accordion, but the general population is old and not connected to one another. If you attend one of the numerous
accordion festivals or conventions around the continent-you would think everyone is playing the instrument-but if you really look around you see that 'everyone' is over sixty if not older. I love the instrument and I don't want to stop, I just don't believe there is
any resurgence of any kind going on.
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#64
To be fair, not sure how many "piano schools," "violin schools," "saxophone schools," or "trumpet schools" are around in big cities today. There are teachers around, but they're on CL, their own websites, or word of mouth. But one does take your point.

I will say that in my own huge US megalopolis there is an old-school accordion school that offers tuition, master-level repair/restoration, and instrument sales. Their long-term lease space has shrunk and its future is a bit of an open question due to the rapacity of burgeoning real estate market forces. But . . . they do not lack for students, juvenile and adult, including young adults. There IS interest out there.
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#65
I wouldn't contest anything Alans says really. The mainstream accordion world that collapsed in the 1960s isn't coming back.

There's no accordion shop in my city because it'd be irrational to open one. There's no way you could pay rent in Vancouver based on accordion repairs and the few people buying them. I found a music teacher who plays accordion so I'm lucky there, but I'm never going to be a pro so my needs are pretty minimal.

The "revival" such as it is, is a blip compared to the old days. And there's little reason to think that will suddenly change.

At least that's the case in mainstream pop/jazz/classical music. Mexican and Mexican American norteño players are filling up stadiums, but that flies under the white media radar. They certainly represent the most lively accordion revival in North America. But it isn't putting shops in every town and salesmen selling instruments door-to-door.

So, "resurgence?" Not going to happen probably. The old system of teachers, shops, etc, relied on selling new accordions. As long as youngsters can get other instruments cheaper, there's no way accordions can return to what they once were. The revival of interest among some younger players is reliant on cheap instruments left over from the old days. There isn't much money being made off them, so the economic driver for a real resurgence isn't there. Even hundreds of hobbyists can't support the infrastructure we once had.

So, no resurgence probably. But on the other hand, there is a remarkable amount of great accordion music being made. I know we keep sharing it on Accordion Noir radio every week with no end in sight. Being able to hear artists all over the world is an unprecedented fact today. We definitely have more access to the planet's great accordionists than they had back in the good old days. It's not live in person at my local concert hall all the time, but I'm glad to hear it.

It's weird. This lively global accordion culture has risen, but it's dispersed. There's no shop on the corner or local teachers, but I can listen to a thousand hours of modern virtuosic accordion on this phone in my pocket. Very strange world. It's probably worth looking into the funding and support structures for some of those places producing great players today. I've long said that in North America we may have some punk-rock accordion spirit, but in some countries they have folk music academies turning out real genius players. There's certainly no resurgence like that over here.
Bruce Triggs
Accordion Noir Radio
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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#66
(11-03-2019, 10:34 PM)OuijaBoard Wrote: To be fair, not sure how many "piano schools," "violin schools," "saxophone schools," or "trumpet schools" are around in big cities today.  There are teachers around, but they're on CL, their own websites, or word of mouth.    But one does take your point.

I will say that in my own huge US megalopolis there is an old-school accordion school that offers tuition, master-level repair/restoration, and instrument sales.  Their long-term lease space has shrunk and its future is a bit of an open question due to the rapacity of burgeoning real estate market forces.  But . . . they do not lack for students, juvenile and adult, including young adults.  There IS interest out there.

I'd definitely say that if somebody was able to open an accordion repair/lessons shop here in Vancouver,  they'd probably be kept quite busy. It's just the economics that prevent such a niche project from being sustainable. Maybe if they sold pot publicly as a front for the secret accordion shop in back? That might pay the bills.
Bruce Triggs
Accordion Noir Radio
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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#67
OujaBoard-how wonderful that there is an actual Accordion School devoted to the instrument. I would love to see such a thing. Would you mind sharing what city that is in?
There are many many music schools now devoted to piano/voice/guitar/etc. where I live. Even the totally dumpy mall closest to my house has a piano school. I think the conditions of studying there would be dreadful-probably tiny spaces with flimsy walls
separating the teachers from one another and I imagine the worst wages paid to the instructors, but there are easily seven in the
downtown core where I live or very nearby and that doesn't include the suburbs nor the Royal Conservatory of Music which is located near downtown. If you want to study these instruments or even brass-there are plenty of Mom and Pop schools you can still attend. There is one large one down the street from me, another not far from that on my way home from work-they are endless.
As I wrote in my original post the only accordion teachers at these schools-and almost none of them offer our beloved instrument, are people who play piano or percussion or a brass instrument and also happen to play the accordion. They may
be great musicians but I would rather not study with them.
As for Craig's list-no ads in the city where I live, neither on kijiji, nor when you do a google search. It's just a very weird
situation. There are some excellent teachers who teach via Skype-mostly eastern European instructors and they play beautifully
and their fees are not terribly high-but I'm not sure Skype is the best way to go. When you study an instrument sometimes the
teacher needs to touch your hand or the instrument to indicate a proper position-I can't see that being effective via Skype.

And yes-the world we live in now allows us to see endless brilliant accordionists from all over the world on you tube. I prefer
most of all classical accordion musicians and the number of exceptional Europeans-many playing in squares but also a lot in
concert halls is just mind-boggling. This is something previous generations never had we are so fortunate that we can spend
hours watching this stuff, and also get tutorials for free too.

According Rising-I tried to subscribe to your podcast over a year ago and nothing ever came up. I walk home from work and
would love to listen to your show so I will try again. I just assumed that it had died a long time ago. I haven't tried in some
time but I'm hoping I can find it again and listen to some great stuff on my way home from work tonight. Sadly Spotify has very
meager holdings of accordion recordings-at least very few that I could find when I did a subject search. Where I live and if you
are in North American I imagine many of you have access to this library streaming service called Hoopla-they had an enormous
collection of accordion albums-most of which were produced back in the day.

Accordionuprising-I just checked and the Accordion Noir podcast hasn't been updated since 2012. I guess when you say you
listen to thousands of hours of music on your phone you mean music you downloaded from other sites.
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#68
Hi Alans,

The Accordion Noir automatic podcast feed broke a few years ago (complicated, but hope to revive it later this year). But we continue to broadcast weekly from Vancouver's local terrestrial (100.5 FM) Co-op Radio station. The shows stream live online too, and my co-host Rowan has been posting them with playlists and artist-contact info on the AccordionUprising.org site (and the Internet Archives) so people manually download or stream most of the past ten+ years of episodes. I do hope we can get the old automatic podcast working again this year. That was convenient for a lot of listeners.
http://www.coopradio.org/content/accordion-noir


Also, after I posted yesterday about the popularity of Mexican/American norteño music, I saw this news-item about the California-based band Los Tigres del Norte pulling in 75,000 people for a show at the Houston Rodeo. If there's a really popular accordion resurgence happening, that's where I see it.

[Image: los-tigres-del-norte_music-1150x832.jpg]
http://remezcla.com/music/los-tigres-del...ce-record/
Bruce Triggs
Accordion Noir Radio
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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#69
If anyone cares to, we could make this a regularly repeating topic. Just put it on your calendar to stop by every couple of months if it hasn't already been done, and recycle a comment from earlier in the thread, so we can have the discussion over again.

My contribution, slightly restated: you can define "resurgence" so that it can certainly never happen, or define it so that it's practically guaranteed. The world with an accordion shop on every corner is a historical oddity that's highly unlikely to ever be seen again, and for that matter may have been somewhat localized back in its day - I know someone who in his youth was forced to learn accordion and play in an accordion band along with others his age, in his small midwestern town, and I'm sure this was not the universal experience of the time. (He detests the accordion, by the way.) There just isn't that much use for the accordion.

But I particularly think the abundance of teachers isn't a good index. Teachers will start showing up only after a prolonged period of popularity.
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#70
At one point there were over 250 piano manufacturers in the United States. This was in the day when people would buy the latest tunes at the music store, take them home and play them on the family piano while everyone gathered around and sang. Certainly not going to happen again. Unless......some horrible catastrophe destroys the worldwideweb. Same with the accordion. In the meantime, though, it is a LOT of fun!
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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#71
My former teacher who was in her late eighties when I last studied with her about six years ago told me a man used to go door to door offering accordion lessons to families. Who knows maybe this was the only enterprising instructor in the world. Fun to think of such a thing though.
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#72
Bruce, when will your book be released and what is the title? Did you read Squeeze This? And about a year ago I gave you the name of the largest dealer/repair man in the country
Rudy De Floria? Did you get in contact with him? he knows everything and everyone in this region going back almost sixty years. He's an unbelievable source of information.
I would suggest you come across the country and do a book launch at his store-but he really doesn't have the space. But Long and McQuade which is downtown has entered the accordion
business and they might be interested in sponsoring a book reading/signing. I would be sure to attend, and they are located down the street from where i live. A huge store in the
city (Toronto) where I live. Come on down!
Also I know that the big American conventions often invite writers to come and read/sell their books. A woman published a children's accordion book a few years back and she spoke
at the American Accordion Association Convention. And then maybe last year the woman with the funny hat who came out with a history on dvd spoke at another convention. I know now
of four (including yours forthcoming )histories of the accordion that has appeared in the last six years. Squeeze This (I believe it was based on a phd thesis), Accordions around the world,
the memoir from last year by a dealer who JerryPH first introduced us to, and the dvd by the woman with the funny hat. I know I will get booted out if I mention the so-called accordion
resurgance-but why all of a sudden four major works on the accordion after all this time? It seems so strange-could be the new interest in ethnomusicology in academia?
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#73
[[[My former teacher who was in her late eighties when I last studied with her about six years ago told me a man used to go door to door offering accordion lessons to families. Who knows maybe this was the only enterprising instructor in the world. Fun to think of such a thing though.]]]

This apparently did occur in the US for a time, say, midcentury pre-Beatles Explosion. It wasn't the solo instructor, it was through a company or accordion label (though of course your former teacher may have known an indie!). The Encyclopedia Britannica was sold door-to-door like this as well, in the same period.
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#74
(14-03-2019, 11:07 PM)OuijaBoard Wrote: [[[My former teacher who was in her late eighties when I last studied with her about six years ago told me a man used to go door to door offering accordion lessons to families. Who knows maybe this was the only enterprising instructor in the world. Fun to think of such a thing though.]]]

This apparently did occur in the US for a time, say, midcentury pre-Beatles Explosion.  It wasn't the solo instructor, it was through a company or accordion label (though of course your former teacher may have known an indie!).   The Encyclopedia Britannica was sold door-to-door like this as well, in the same period.

I've met door-to-door accordion salesmen (probably from the very end of that). And I gather that the (in)famous Weird Al Yankovic had a job as an accordion "repo-man," reclaiming accordions rented to students, who then stopped taking lessons, but never gave back the instrument. That might have been in the 1970s?

(14-03-2019, 06:16 PM)Alans Wrote: Bruce, when will your book be released and what is the title? Did you read Squeeze This? And about a year ago I gave you the name of the largest dealer/repair man in the country
Rudy De Floria? Did you get in contact with him? he knows everything and everyone in this region going back almost sixty years. He's an unbelievable source of information.
I would suggest you come across the country and do a book launch at his store-but he really doesn't have the space. But Long and McQuade which is downtown has entered the accordion
business and they might be interested in sponsoring a book reading/signing.  I would be sure to attend, and they are located down the street from where i live. A huge store in the
city (Toronto) where I live. Come on down!
Also I know that the big American conventions often invite writers to come and read/sell their books. A woman published a children's  accordion book a few years back and she spoke
at the American Accordion Association Convention. And then maybe last year the woman with the funny hat who came out with a history on dvd spoke at another convention. I know now
of four (including yours forthcoming )histories of the accordion that has appeared in the last six years. Squeeze This (I believe it was based on a phd thesis), Accordions around the world,
the memoir from last year by a dealer who JerryPH first introduced us to, and the dvd by the woman with the funny hat. I know I will get booted out if I mention the so-called accordion
resurgance-but why all of a sudden four major works on the accordion after all this time? It seems so strange-could be the new interest in ethnomusicology in academia?

My book, Accordion Revolution: A People's History of the Accordion in North America from the Industrial Revolution to Rock and Roll (whew), should be out by June if the schedule holds. I should be able to share the cover very soon. It's almost ready.

To get updates, feel free to sign up to my email list at www.AccordionRevolution.com 


I have read the recent books, except I don't have a copy of Accordion Stories from the Heart, the new book by Paul Ramunni from the New England Accordion Museum in Connecticut.

I'd say that the recent books indicate a long-delayed interest in the history of the instrument. The long anti-accordion prejudice has definitely lessoned, even if the glory days of instruments in every house are gone. There's quite a bit of curiosity and young people interested in the instrument, and I believe old negative stereotypes are falling away. With that has come interest like mine in understanding the history of where all these instruments came from.

I've definitely struggled with the fact that despite all the tens of thousands of books on music history and popular culture in the last half century, the accordion has been almost entirely ignored. It's very unfortunate, not just because we miss out on some reading, but because so few interviews and oral histories from that period were done. While "popular culture studies" was invented and elderly blues and jazz players were sought out and (thankfully) questioned about their history, almost nobody did that with accordionists. So we missed out on a huge number of artists. I know almost none of the folks I wrote about did many interviews. It's unfortunate.

So, if you know any long-time accordion folks, don't wait for me or some other writer to record their stories. For the sake of future authors, please sit them down and have them share the history, before it's lost.

I especially hope for more documentation of the details of the accordion industry: So much knowledge is shared right here on this forum, about specific instruments and companies. If nobody documents that, the history may disappear. I really wish there was a systematic way to document accordion makes and models. Like a wikipedia of accordion history. If anybody knows a grad-student who wants to start a project I'd be happy to share ides. (I even saved a website name for it: It would make me smile if there was an "AccordionDatingService.org" were everybody could ask about an instrument and put in what they know about the history of them. I think that'd be great.

Take care all, let the music be a light in this difficult world.
Bruce Triggs
Accordion Noir Radio
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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#75
Bruce wrote: Take care all, let the music be a light in this difficult world.

Amen, brother.
Yank Harrington, button accordionist in Butte, Montana, was such a light. He was named a Montana Living Treasure in 2000, and passed away at the age of 100. He worked the mines in Ireland, but never set foot in one once he reached Butte. He was a historian for the music and the town, and his early wax records are in the Library of Congress.
The more we know, the better we get. Preserving history in this time of petty criminals in power is a sacred task.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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#76
Bruce, my teacher gave me years ago this lamanated obit of Dixie Dean who was apparently a big player out this way. If you'd like I can mail it to you....I have no use for it. PM me.
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#77
Thank you for those thoughts, Mr. Triggs.

In this vein, are people aware of the lovely art book by Laurent Jarry of Montreuil, just outside Paris, displaying luscious photos and historical text focused on rare and unique accordions and bandoneons?

"Tresors de Lames": https://www.laboitedaccordeon.fr/tresors-de-lames/

The site for his shop, Le Boit de L'Accordeon, has recently had a re-do, and the cover page is charming, features a video or GIF of the storefront with him at work in the atelier:

https://www.laboitedaccordeon.fr/

I have no connection, just agreeing with Mr. Triggs' larger point, that documenting history as well as working at a fine craft with instruments that create joy and beauty are precious metiers in today's world . . .
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#78
Thanks for this, OuijaBoard!
A little deeper in the site is this fantastic instrument:
https://www.laboitedaccordeon.fr/accordi...gure/7249/
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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