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2davidc8's avatar

Why is the accordion such a reviled musical instrument?

Asked by 2davidc8 (10136points) March 22nd, 2012

I mean, I like accordion music just fine. OK, maybe not all the time, but I see people often roll their eyes or pinch their noses or cover their ears when accordion music is mentioned. What’s not to like?

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24 Answers

harple's avatar

I haven’t had that experience – but perhaps there is an association to such things as morris dancers that put people off?

But, as a harpist, I can’t respond to this question without sharing this cartoon!

thorninmud's avatar

It’s kind of like how they say Kim Kardashian is famous for being famous—the accordion is reviled for being reviled. As soon as something gets stigmatized as “uncool”, people are automatically predisposed to ridicule it.

Coloma's avatar

I’ll take accordian over tuba any day of the week, but, IMO he ultimate most reviled instrument has to be the kazoo. lol

Oh god, this makes my non-linear brain zing over to what instrument would be the most torturous to be trapped listening to for days on end. I pick kazoo. I’d have to chew my own leg off to get away. lol

gailcalled's avatar

i loved listening to French folk songs and also dancing the polka and schottische..all unthinkable without an accordion.

filmfann's avatar

I think it has a bad rep because so many people play it badly.
My friend John plays beautifully, and when he comes to family functions, everyone hopes he brought it.

Earthgirl's avatar

Accordian is popular in French Swing music. Maybe it’s negative connotations came form the Italian organ ginders pan handling with their monkeys?? Just guessing.

It has become more popular of late in folk music. Some musicians who use accordians include Lisa Hannigan and Patrick Watson
It is also popular in Balkan Gypsy music.I love Devotchka
L’Oparleur are really great too! I saw them in Stuttgart.They really give a great show!!! So high energy.

Sunny2's avatar

And then there’s the bagpipe. I wonder what a trio of accordion, bag pipe and Kazoo would sound like. Yikes.

Coloma's avatar

@Sunny2 Like the 3 Stooges marching band. Gah!

Brian1946's avatar

The 3 Stooges were the originators of head-bangin’ music. ;-)

ro_in_motion's avatar

A certain amount of it’s anti-charisma stems, I think, from the unique result of putting it down. Most instruments go quietly when you put them away. The accordion makes this horrid, wheezing, ‘I’m dying’ sound. It calls attention to itself when it shouldn’t.

Secondly, it resembles a child’s toy. This never helps.

It’s a wind instrument that looks like a piano. Perhaps people have issue with instruments that are gender bending.

Finally, it’s an instrument almost exclusively used in French folk songs: that alone is damning enough! Also, if the ‘best’ song you hear an instrument play is ‘Lady of Spain’, you have some problems in being taken legitimately.

Coloma's avatar

@ro_in_motion LOL very funny! Welcome to Fluther, looks like you’ll fit right in with the rest of the zanies. ;-)

TexasDude's avatar

Not been my experience.

Also, there is a very talented street accordion player on Fluther.

lifeflame's avatar

My flatmate plays it, so I get to hear it a lot. Honestly, I think it’s pretty cool and distinctive. She plays tango pieces… we’re even thinking of hosting milongas in our sitting room!

gailcalled's avatar


This doesn’t sound French to me

And this, known as The Sauerkraut Polka.

Welcome to fluther; you’re going to fit in just fine.

dabbler's avatar

I like accordions actually, they’re so… polyphonic!

@Sunny2 “Trio of accordion, bag pipe and Kazoo” Ow! Ow! Ow! Hurts to think about it.

ro_in_motion's avatar

@gailcalled Thank you – I had successfully expunged those memories from my traumatic childhood. I shall now have to either join a 12-Step program or dink heavily to get rid of them once again.

Seriously, thanks for saying I will fit in. :)

gailcalled's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard: Who’s the fluther accordionist? Is that public information?

Earthgirl's avatar

I have a funny accordion player memory! In second grade one of my classmates played the accordion. I still remember his name, it was Robert Wortel. As a special treat my teacher, who was a Francscan nun hard as nails, but apparently with a soft spot in her heart for accordian players, would prevail upon Robert to get up in front of the class and treat us to a song. I don’t know if he was proud and happy to do it or felt embarrassed. I can still picture it. I think that Nun, Sr. Matthias was her name, was a real music lover. She must have transfered some of that spirit to me that year because I remember all the songs she taught us. My favorite one was You’re a Grand Old Flag!” complete with hand mannerisms to accentuate the grandiosity of it all.

cockswain's avatar

I think the hatred is proportional to how long you live in a Polish or Latino neighborhood, provided you aren’t one of those ethnicities.

wundayatta's avatar

A musician I play with a lot plays accordion and keyboards. I like it fine.

I think the accordion with all the Polish dances, perhaps as played by the Lawrence Welk orchestra became such a horrible cliche. It’s an easy instrument to get a hold of. It’s maybe not so easy to play well. A lot of that will give an instrument a bad rep. But really, I don’t understand it and I don’t think it deserves a bad rep.

2davidc8's avatar

@harple Your cartoon is exactly why I asked this question. Personally, I don’t play the accordion, so I don’t mind that it is made fun of. But I’ve always wondered, because I see it often.
@Coloma and @Sunny2 Ouch, the kazoo! I wouldn’t call the kazoo a musical instrument!
@ro_in_motion Yes, welcome to Fluther.
@Earthgirl Thank you for all those links. Yes, I love the accordion in folk music. You can find it in music from Poland to Ireland to Argentina to French Canada!
@wundayatta I don’t either. I don’t think it deserves the bad rep.
All jellies, do you think Lawrence Welk and Weird Al Jankovic had anything to do with the bad rep?

tom_g's avatar

Because it rocks so hard, people can’t handle it.

Strauss's avatar

I am an accordionist, and I can’t believe I didn’t see this question earlier. I learned how to play when I was about 7. My father’s parents immigrated from Slovenia, so it was part of the family culture. About the same time, in the mid-fifties, Accordionist Dick Contino had a highly successful recording of “Lady of Spain”, which was covered by Lawrence Welk, featuring his accordionst, Myron Floren. The popularity of this song, especially by these artists, inspired many young boys and girls to want to play “Lady of Spain”, attempting (in many cases, poorly) to use many of the advanced techniques that made the Contino and Floren versions so popular. It got to the point that I couldn’t take my accordion out without someone shouting “Play Lady of Spain!”, kind of like the ”Free Bird” of the accordion.

What most folks don’t realize is the breadth of cultures that have used the accordion in their music. Of course, we all know about the polkas, such as those recorded by Frank Yankovic and Walter Ostanek, and if you live in the right neighborhood or region, you know about NorteƱo or conjunto styles. I think Flaco Jimemez is a good example of this. In addition, you have ”Cajun”, and it’s younger brother zyedeco. Then there’s the music from Texas, Brazil, Africa , or a whole list of styles and genres.

Needless to say, my embarrassment for playing the accordion has long been replaced with joy and celebration!

(edit for punctuation)

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