Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Accordion (Swiss Mountain Music)

Swiss Accordion Players
17" x 17"
oil on ceramic tile, 2011 

 During the 19th Century the accordion, which has done such severe damage to the folk music of Central Europe, penetrated every region of Italy. The Southern Italian folk musicians, however, have worked out ways of playing this pestiferous instrument so that it supports rather than injures their old tunes.
 —Alan Lomax, Music and Song of Italy, 1958

A big sale of records for a dime each made me buy records I usually leave for the next person. Included in the big haul were records, folk and popular music, from many European countries. I picked up records from countries I usually ignore: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Lots of yodels, lederhosen, and accordion music. If it's old enough, and recorded in the field (the Alps, in the case of the countries mentioned above), every geographical location is worthy enough to collect. The record Swiss Mountain Music meets these criteria and at least one tune is a true gem, and the picture on the back cover of a combo in which two accordion players, one in a polar bear costume, are featured, is too good to pass up. The gem, however, is one of the few tunes on the record that doesn't feature an accordion. It's a yodel with moving coins accompaniment performed by Franzsepp Inauen called Appenzeller Yodel. I've painted my share of accordions and without exception I have had a hard time doing it. Visually it's an annoying instrument to paint and when I had to do it again I just did the bare bones version. Kind of looks like a fish bone, doesn't it?

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