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Definition: accordion from Musical Terms, Symbols and Theory: An Illustrated Dictionary

a hand-held keyboard instrument with two headboards and a bellows. As the bellows is compressed and expanded, air causes metal reeds to vibrate and create sound. A keyboard on the right-hand headboard is used to modify those vibrations and create individual tones or tones in combination. A series of buttons on the left-hand headboard creates bass tones and chords. See also chord; concertina; keyboard instrument.


Summary Article: Accordion from Encyclopedia of Latin American Popular Music

The accordion is a generic term for different varieties of a handheld, bellows-driven instrument that is central to much solo and ensemble performance in Latin America. Accordions were introduced to Latin America primarily in the 19th century by German immigrants. The instrument's sound is a result of air, set in motion by the drawing and blowing out of air from a bellows, which passes through multiple, single reeds giving the accordion its characteristic sound. Because of this double action of drawing and blowing air, there are two basic varieties of accordion: double action (produces the same note or notes on both draw and blow modes) and single action (produces different notes on either the draw or the blow). Additionally, they may employ a keyboard for the right hand and buttons to play the accompaniment for the left hand (acordeón de tecla), or buttons for both hands to play both the melody and the accompaniment (acordeón de botón). Accordion-type instruments can be found in many South American traditions including Brazil (sanfona), Colombia (vallenato), and Argentina (bandoneón). In Mexico and the Northern United States, the acordeón de botón (button accordion) is commonly used in tejano and norteño music. This diatonic instrument, which has the capacity to play both melody and bass simultaneously, is arranged in such a way so that when adjacent buttons are played, the result is an interval of a third. Together with the bajo sexto the Mexican acordeón de botón form the backbone of the norteño conjunto. Two of the early pioneers of the instrument were brothers Narciso and Raul “El Ruco” Martinez.

Further Reading
  • Clark, Walter Aaron. From Tejano to Tango: Latin American Popular Music. Routledge New York, 2002.
  • García Méndez, Javier; Arturo Penón. Bandonion: A Tango History. Trans. Burnard, Tim . Nightwood Editions Gibsons Landing BC, 1988.
  • Tejeda, Juan. Puro Conjunto: An Album in Words and Pictures. CMAS Books San Antonio TX, 2001.
  • George Torres
    Copyright 2013 George Torres

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