2010.09.02-04: Effected Accordion Solo

September 10, 2010 7:02 PM

Perhaps the best thing you can ever do to an accordion. Accordion by Tommy Scheurich, live effects manipulation by me, Timbill Corder.

There is video, but I feel that, unlike the cello or viola solos, the accordion lacks the visual impact, and, since the mix is wet only, it doesn't make sense with what you hear, so at best, it doesn't add anything.

posted by askmeaboutLOOM (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Ah - but the video does add something, because briefly at 3:27 or so we get to see you actually doing the effects and manipulation!

This is great, by the way. Lots of fun. You're really tearing that thing apart.
posted by koeselitz at 8:13 PM on September 10, 2010

Yeah, it's just confusing up to then, I think, but I was able to get some really great sounds. The accordion's fantastic crappiness helps, too. It tends to play slightly different (microtonal) notes, depending on whether you're squeezing or expanding the bellows. It's not supposed to.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 9:19 PM on September 10, 2010

Accordions do that, it is true. Mine in particular. It looks like his is rather nice, and it still does it; mine is very old and wheezy. I'm going to post a song here today that has a big accordion part, and it's a rather nice solo except for the fact that *WHEEZE!* it's not really actually playing, y'know, notes that exist on the 12-tone scale.

But I need to get into that more. That's why New Orleans was the place that invented Jazz, and why all those cats from down there blew so many minds when they went north in the 1920s and recorded - because they were adept at using blue-note microtones. I am not so good at it, I should say.

Maybe because piano is my first instrument, and because it's... er... rather hard to coax microtones out of a piano without doing drastic things.
posted by koeselitz at 11:12 PM on September 10, 2010

Nah, that's easy! Just play it a lot, and don't ever get it tuned, you'll have a hard time not playing microtonally.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 8:10 AM on September 11, 2010

Heh – yeah!

In fact, I actually tune my own piano – it's not that hard to learn how to do it yourself, if you have an old piano, so last year I made myself a little tuning wrench and went to it – so I was thinking about that when I said "drastic things." It's not easy to detune in a musical or interesting way, though, and I've been so intent on trying to tune properly that tuning improperly on purpose isn't something I've tried.

Keith Jarrett says this – he claims that one of the central aspects of playing jazz piano is learning to identify the points on a particular piano where it's out of tune, and to use those points as musical springboards for invention. I think that's really interesting.

I wish I could remember his name – in fact, I'll have to spend some time digging up who exactly it was – but a few years ago I saw this amazing performance of a guy who'd written a whole modern classical suite of music for 'plucked piano.' The suite itself happened to be a brilliant and very complex piece of music regarding the Pacific Islander civilizations which island-hopped halfway across the world in canoes a thousand years ago. However, the instrumentation was the most interesting bit; he was a high school teacher at a private school, so at the performance about a dozen of his advanced students stood around the piano that they performed on and did the plucking – which actually involved hammers (like, real metal hammers), dampers, plectrums, bows, strings, and various other implements they plucked, strummed, and banged on the piano with. Nobody touched the keys at all, and they put a weight on the pedal so the strings were undamped the whole time. One of the more interesting things was that sometimes they'd sort of 'fret' the strings at certain places to get different tones from them. It was amazing, and really, really interesting – this group of all these people standing around playing a complex piece of music on a piano together. It felt like I was watching a symphony orchestra, but they were all playing one instrument.
posted by koeselitz at 11:49 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tommy Scheurich (the accordion player here) has written at least one piece for 17-tone Equal Temperament piano (the white keys are tuned to the same tones in the 17-tone scale for both pianos, and the black keys are tuned differently to make up the other 10 tones).
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 10:04 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you familiar with Kimmo Pohjonen, askmeaboutLOOM? Lots of effects on his accordion.
posted by kenko at 9:21 AM on September 12, 2010

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