The Accordion in the AmericasKlezmer, Polka, Tango, Zydeco, and More!

The Accordion in the AmericasKlezmer, Polka, Tango, Zydeco, and More!

Helena Simonett

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780252037207

Publisher: University of Illinois Press

Abstract

An invention of the Industrial Revolution, the accordion provided the less affluent with an inexpensive, loud, portable, and durable “one-man-orchestra” capable of producing melody, harmony, and bass all at once. This book considers the accordion and its myriad forms, from the concertina, button accordion, and piano accordion familiar in European and North American music to the more exotic-sounding South American bandoneón and the sanfoninha. Capturing the instrument's spread and adaptation to many different cultures in North and South America, the chapters illuminate how the accordion factored into power struggles over aesthetic values between elites and working-class people who often were members of immigrant and/or marginalized ethnic communities. Specific histories and cultural contexts discussed include the accordion in Brazil, Argentine tango, accordion traditions in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, cross-border accordion culture between Mexico and Texas, Cajun and Creole identity, working-class culture near Lake Superior, the virtuoso Italian-American and Klezmer accordions, Native American dance music, and American avant-garde.