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Title: A LA RECHERCHE DE L'ACCORDEON Narratives of the Accordion's Travel and Identity in Cajun Louisiana and Paris
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Farr, Mollie
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2013
Publication Date: 2013


Subjects / Keywords: Accordion
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theses   ( marcgt )
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Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This thesis is an exploration of the accordion's existence in the cultural music of both Cajun Louisiana and Paris. Throughout this project I have attempted to reconstruct the narratives that contribute to each of these French-speaking cultures senses of identity in relation to the instrument, which has become a symbol in each milieu. As the protagonist of multiple narratives in different sociohistorical contexts, the accordion is involved in a complex series of networks and relationships in history and folklore that create around it a distinctive "social life" that can be discussed as such. By exploring the nature of the instrument's arrival and inclusion into the musical cultures Cajun Louisiana and Parisian bal-musette where these social lives developed, I theorize the accordion's existence as both a traveler and a tourist. Stemming from my own narrative of travel and experience with the instrument as a symbol of a culture I choose to identify with, I attempt to position the story of the accordion's search for identity in relation to my own. The purpose of this thesis is not to create a solid history of the accordion or to determine its ultimate worth as an object, but rather to merely explore the movement and mythology surrounding its existence in both French musical contexts.
Statement of Responsibility: by Mollie Farr
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2013
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Clark, Maribeth

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
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Material Information

Title: A LA RECHERCHE DE L'ACCORDEON Narratives of the Accordion's Travel and Identity in Cajun Louisiana and Paris
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Farr, Mollie
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2013
Publication Date: 2013


Subjects / Keywords: Accordion
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This thesis is an exploration of the accordion's existence in the cultural music of both Cajun Louisiana and Paris. Throughout this project I have attempted to reconstruct the narratives that contribute to each of these French-speaking cultures senses of identity in relation to the instrument, which has become a symbol in each milieu. As the protagonist of multiple narratives in different sociohistorical contexts, the accordion is involved in a complex series of networks and relationships in history and folklore that create around it a distinctive "social life" that can be discussed as such. By exploring the nature of the instrument's arrival and inclusion into the musical cultures Cajun Louisiana and Parisian bal-musette where these social lives developed, I theorize the accordion's existence as both a traveler and a tourist. Stemming from my own narrative of travel and experience with the instrument as a symbol of a culture I choose to identify with, I attempt to position the story of the accordion's search for identity in relation to my own. The purpose of this thesis is not to create a solid history of the accordion or to determine its ultimate worth as an object, but rather to merely explore the movement and mythology surrounding its existence in both French musical contexts.
Statement of Responsibility: by Mollie Farr
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2013
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Clark, Maribeth

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2013 F2
System ID: NCFE004758:00001

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LA RECHE Cajun Louisiana and Paris By Mollie Farr A Thesis Submitted to the Division of the Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Maribeth Clark Sarasota, Florida May, 2013


ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost I would like to thank Maribeth Clark and Amy Reid for continuing to be supportive and inspiring throughout the cour se of my entire career at New College of Florida. Without their help and guidance, not only would I probably never have gotten the life changing opportunity to live in Paris for six months, but I also very likely would not be here today presenting a passio nate piece of work in partial fulfillment for graduation. Without their patience and cooperation with my unorthodox relationship to the college experience, the unconventional, yet endlessly educational and fruitful senior year I have just experienced would not have been a reality. Special t hanks also to Karian n Goldschmitt for coming along as a knowledgeable figure in the ethnomusicological world whose attitudes towards travel and music I found inspiring for my own future as an avid traveler. To my partner in crime, travel, life, and love, Andre Sas, thanks for helping me achieve everything I always knew I could, including this silly thesis. And finally, endless thanks to my family, and to my father in particular, who m I single handedly credit for my exposur e to culture and music. Without the love for music he instilled in me, and the numerous vacations to musical festivals and concerts around cannot express enough gratitude. And to all the musicians from the Louisiana bayou and all over the world that have inspired me, appreciation for just existing and making the world a little brighter.


iii LA RECHE Identity in C ajun Louisiana and Paris New College of Florida Mollie Farr ABSTRACT This thesis is an exploration of the accord music of both Cajun Louisiana and Paris. I have attempted to reconstruct the narratives that contribute to each of thes e French speaking cultures senses of identity in relation to the instrument, which has become a symbol in each milieu. As the protagonist of multiple narratives in different sociohistorical contexts, the accordion is involved in a complex series of networ ks and relationships in history and folklore that create around it a distinctive By exp loring the nature of its arrival and incl usion into Cajun Louisiana and Parisian bal musette culture ler and a tourist as James Clifford defines these terms Stemming from my own narrative of travel and experience with the instrument and an understanding of the accordion as a symbol of a culture I choose to identify with, I attempt to position the story search for identity in relation to my own. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the movement and mythology surrounding its existence in both French musical contexts. Under the sponsorship of Maribeth Clark For the Division of the H umanities


iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Ackno i i Abstract iii List of Figures v Introduction 1 Travel and Identity: Accordion as Global Tourist? 9 Chapters I. History of the Accordion 1 6 II. 2 1 III. 3 1 IV. 5 3 V. Modern Day Life of the Accordi on in Louisiana 6 7 and France Conclusion 72 Reference List 7 6 Appendix A. Different Types of Accordions 7 8 B. Timeline of Relevant Dates 81


v List of Figures 1. Sketch of German Lighthouse Keeper 3 2 Every Saturday 2, No. 75 (June 3, 1871): 524 525 2. Map of Acadiana P 3 4 3. Daguerreotype titled Accordion Player 3 8 The Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans, Tisserand, Michael. 1998, The Kingdom of Zydeco New York: Arcade (55) 4. Sketch of Afri can 3 9 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper 1886, May 15, 206. 5. P ostcard of 5 7


1 Introduction When I look back over my childhood, I often find myself revisiting the hazy memories of standing in extremely loud, crowded spaces st aring at the dancing legs of what seemed like an infinite abyss of people, and being utterly confused as to why my dad would drag me to this strange place. To me as a child, the music was nothing but loud noise, and the crowds were intimidating herds of people that might very well run me over if I wa chair in the back of the hall and impatiently count how many songs had passed. I sided with my mother, who would always stand back in awe that my father, or anyone for that matter all of the sudden, one day as a teenager at yet another concert with my father (although I ell you the exact one), the fiddle and accordion playing together up on that stage mesmerized me with their sound and began to touch me on a very soulful and fundamental level, as if the music I heard was literally a part of who I am. Suddenly instead of b eing a child on the outside of the music, I began to participate to dance with all the other attendees in their close coupled two steps and waltz, to bring my friends along to dance with me, and I began to feel the utter joy that exists inside the music, e ven when the words they sang were sad as could be. I grew older, and began to go to concerts on my own late night Cajun music festivals where the accordions play until three in the acoustic trance


2 Every time I hear a Cajun band today, I feel that special brand of happiness and that certain one anything else. An d that is, in the most sentimental sense of the story why I am undertaking this project. Perhaps my feelings of closeness with Cajun music come from the association of it from my childhood, so that now when I hear it, it brings back all of those nostalgic good feelings from the state of childhood itself tha t get lost in our aging Freudian egos. Or perhaps it is, as Dvorak would probably say me distinguishing and emotionally connecting with my true heritage through the folk songs of my ancestors ( Music in America 1895) ; because although I grew up in a world far removed from that of the southern Louisiana bayou, without any hints of the French language or regular helpings of tou f fe raised in Lake Charl es, Louisiana (outside of Baton Rouge) to a family that believed itself of true Acadian heritage Or, maybe it is simply because Cajun music, with its bold instrumentation, bright chords, dancea ble rhythms, and sing able melodies, makes me happy just with the way it sounds, and with the good times that ca n be found surrounding it. W now to devote a very large portion of my undergraduate studies to its mixed up history and cultural connections with Cajun music 1 The love of Cajun music and its cult ure is at the very roots of this work, and my ctions with a concept of Acadia/Acadians that for them was partially imbedded in the sound of Cajun 1 In addition to this thesis, throughout my time here at New College of Florida I have completed an ISP for which I translated Cajun songs and also composed a creative electronic music piece which incorporated Cajun influenced accordion.


3 music However, the process that I undertook to determine my question and the resulting grou nd that it would cover has been a long process that is also very close to me personally to my passions in life, as well as to my academic pursuits. Integral to th is project is not only a love of the two step, sweltering bayous, and swamp moonshine, but also a love of 1940s European bohemian sentimentality, Edith Piaf, and the magical city of Paris and all it contains. The place where these two areas of passion inte rsect was in the French language and in music, and so these are the subjects I decided to concentrate on during my time here at New College of Florida. As time went on and my interest and expertise in both of these areas continued to grow, I began to try t o determine what it was that could connect these two passions of mine, and suddenly it came to me it was the accordion. So my quest became to focus in on this instrument so integral to the music I love of both Paris and Southern Louisiana, and to find o ut how and why they were connected. At the beginning, it seemed as if the connection should be obvious both utilize the same instrument, are of French origin, and speak the same language, so how difficult could it be to explain their relationship in term s of their musical connection? Somehow the French people and this buttoned and bellowed instrument traveled from the metropolitan cultural center of Europe to the backwards bayou of Louisiana. I often imagined this connection between the European city and the American country to be extremely romantic 2 and I began my project with the idea of immersion and travel writing deep in my mind. Consistently seeing the importance of experiential learning in my life 2 Romantic meaning here where imagination creates an idealized version of reality. I mean to suggest a self creat ed narrative that is at once nostalgic, appealing, and perhaps constructed with similar elements to a work of fiction or a dramatic film; Dream like, aesthetically pleasing yet intangible directly. Travel and adventure in an exotic and foreign country, eve n with the subsequent struggle and alienation they sometime entail can be which creates a bias that is slightly removed from reality.


4 always preferred to observe culture first han d, and travel has always been my favorite past afternoon walking around the sweltering st reets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, called The Blue Moon Saloon in downt own Lafayette where spontaneous jam sessions accordions in the United States found their homes. In short, I feel like I am well acquainted with the cultural landscape o f Louisiana. So in August of 2012, I decided to take an adventure into that ancient other world of my story. I moved to Paris, France for an entire semester, with the idea of finding the roots of the Cajun accordi on in my mind. Obviously, Paris is an entir ely different world than Southern Louisiana. While living there I was swept up by the city life of metro musicians and intimate outdoor cafes, meeting accordion players wherever I could find them. Interestingly, I found that the imagery of bal mus ette 3 mus icians playing Edith Piaf songs on small streets in Montmartre was harder to find than I expected. It seems that accordion players in the other countries in Europe that I visi ted (Germany, Belgium, Italy, Czech of my mind that somehow the Acadian people, who migrated from France to Canada to 3 See Chapter Four for a complete explanation of this term. The bal musette music of Paris is used to refer the translation


5 Louisiana, had somehow originally picked up this instrument h ere in France, and brought it with them on their long journey over seas. I assumed that the music, like the people, was a direct descendant. Living in Europe for so long, existing day in and day out in a world hundreds of years older than my own country, I b egan to get lost in the romantic notion of my story, and to slant my focus unintentionally to the European centric social life of accordion music While living in Paris I focused on the evolution of sounds in European accordion music and on making connec tions with the sounds I heard in Cajun accordion music. Through suggestions from some Parisian musicians, I found a body of accordion music from rural Auvergne in the South of France that had descended from instrumental folk music and vocal danse rondes of the late eighteenth century (Ancelet 1989 15). This music has a sound with a gritty, folksy tone, much closer to that of Cajun music than the Parisian accordion music of the 1920s bal musette and I thought that undoubtedly I was hot on the trail. The mu sic, while sung in French, is sometimes accompanied by the fiddle as in Cajun music, but also often by the bagpipes, whi ch creates a feel that is very C eltic. Here I realized that this character if not this influence from the South of France was also very strongly heard in Quebecois accordion music, which like Irish music, is often characterized by jigs and reels. After some research I found that there was ind eed cultural exchange between the French and the Irish in the years of Canadian colonization, which to me, both geographically and sonically, made perfect sense from my vantage point in the heart of Western Europe. When analyzing the sounds of Cajun musi c, I could hear perfectly how the Acadians had taken their jigs and reels from Canada and combined th em with the southern blues tha t they encountered in Louisiana. I thought that I had


6 created the perfect origin story for the sound of Cajun accordion music, direct from France to Canada to Louisiana, just like the people. However, when attempting to conne ct this auditory analysis with my review of the literature concerning the history of the Cajun peopl e and the accordion, I recognized one major discrepancy in my origin story: manufacture and distr ibution of the accordion only began in 1822. By that time, the Acadian pe ople had been exiled from Canada and established in Louisiana f or more than fifty years. I recognized that t here was much more at play in my question than I had originally understood My goal in this project was originally to somehow connect Cajun accordion music to the bal musette music of Paris, France, but I discovered that there is no direct connection. Through this search, however, I recognized the greater complexity of both the question and the potential answers to it. In the search fo r this connection there is not only the issue of musical influence and stylistic relationships, but also the issue of historical fact and the history of how both the Cajun people and the instrument itself are connected to Fra nce. One must simultaneously ta ke into consideration the circumstanc es which arise around the nature of the Cajun people as a displaced culture and their relationship to an instrument that holds enormous associative power in many different sociohistorical contexts world wide. While I ha d my own assumptions based on personal experience with the music, I found that these differed greatly from the vague histor ical facts that remain and from the narrative that the Cajuns themselves have built around their history. A music that at once seemed so simple and beautiful comes with hundreds of years of tradition and heavily loaded cultural baggage. The landscape of Louisiana is one of the most difficult to understand, as there have been many different cultural influences at play there over the past two


7 centuries. I always had it in my mind that the ancestors of the Cajuns must have played the accordion from the beginning of time, but my realization here is that the people and the instrument, although both related to and descended from strong elements of French culture, arrived in the bayou of Louisiana independently from one another. Thus, since the narrative surrounding these two distinct types of music does not follow a linear progression (with movement in the same direction as the people over time) and details instead their simultaneous development, attention is immediately shifted from the history of the people and onto the impact of the instrument itself in its respect ive climates. While both Cajun music and bal musette music undoubtedly, as I previously conjectured, share roots inspired by centuries of similar Western European musical i nfluences, the accordion itself is an esoteric object of transculturation. Since it s invention less than two hundred years ago in 1822, cultures world wide have claimed it as an integral part of their musical identity (Mexican Norteo, Argentinean Tango, Eastern European Polka, Italian folk music, Texas Conjunto, just to name a few) of which, France and sout hern Louisiana are only two; it seems to be merely some grand cosmic coincidence that these two French speaking cultures picked up the instrument at around the same time. So where I originally imagin ed this project as the journey of Evangeline (Longfellow) and her ancestors sailing from France over the cold seas of the north and traveling down through the United States singing their French folk tunes and playing accordions all the way, I have had to modify my poetic vision due to the sporadic nature


8 of narrative; one where the accordion itself is the romantic heroine. This widening of world view has forced me to consider the reality that coloniza tion of the Caribbean and Louisiana and the enslavement of West A fricans whose music arrived into the se new geographical areas may have actually played a larger role in the inclusion of the accordion in Cajun music than anything directly descended from Fre nch musical culture. I have had to re evaluate my question in order to fit the reality that the relationship of the accordion to Cajun music and Parisian bal musette music may not even really exist outside of the shared origins of the people and the consc ious choices made by both to include it as part of their musical cultures. Because these styles of music developed and flourished at the same time (circa 1880 1930) instead of one growing out of the other, the focal point of my question becomes awash in a sea of accordion mythology and travel stories. So now, my main goal has shifted. Rather than create a clear and linear description of Cajun music, the one that existed in my head before I began this research, I attempt to explain the ins and outs of thi s convoluted story of the acc ordion and how it represents Cajun musi ca l identity, and, simultaneously and seemingly coincidental ly, is heard and seen as symbolic of a certain type of Parisian musical identity. I have attempted to explain all the different elements that make up this patchwork and disjointed narrative as the people themselves understand it, while also shifting away from the attempt to find specific historical facts for a linear French connection. Instead I hope to explain the touristic nature of the accordion as an instrument of transculturation 4 and its 4 Ryan Andr Brasseaux refers to Cajun music in connection with transculturation as a process that occurs erials transmitted to them by a


9 adventures in Paris and in Louisiana, where the complicated cultural and historical landscape became the perfect breeding ground for the people and the instrument to create the music of the ba you that is so very dear to my heart. TRAVEL AND IDENTITY: The Accordion as Global Tourist T ravel is an ongoing theme in this project: the movement of my subject, the accordion, to Loui siana and Paris, as well as my own visits to the same locat ions. As h istorian Ja mes Clifford defines it, travel can have two meanings: 1. figure for different modes of dwelling and displacement, for trajectories and identities, for storytelling and theorizing in a postcolonial world of global contacts. d -2. Travel: a range of practices for situating the self in a space or spaces grown Since the mid twentieth century, travel has bec ome a privilege that many people have become eager t o appreciate. With this travel however come many issues of authenticity and contentions of arbitrary identity in movement as well as questions of travel as tourism Stories of our own personal heritage become stories within the larger historical facts an d trends that we choose to identify with; while the exact dates and names of our ancestors may never be known, we create our own myth of origins based on voluntary associations, and are able to use thes e as fuel for avid tourism. The thirty year old woman with a Sicilian last name who makes her grandmothers recipe for red sauce erstanding the adoption of the accordion into Cajun music.


10 and has distant relatives in New York will be excited to travel to Sicily to listen to Italian Opera and dream of her ancestors deciding to leave their countryside home for a better life in America. Or, the young Floridian girl with a grandfather from Baton Rouge will fall in love with Cajun music and decide to learn French in college and study the accordion for her thesis as an excuse to feel slightly more justified in travel to Loui siana and France. In many ways we as individ uals create our own narratives and situate them within a chosen history Musical i nstruments, in their relations to specific musical cultures, have this same capability wh ere in they contribute to individual s chosen narratives of heritage and identity As sociologist Ian Woodward has written, an object together, g 2009:60), and it is these narrativ es associated with the world travel of the accor dion that I am interested in. The p ath of investigation that I have followe d thus far has unavoidably taken me into the realm where folklo re and historica l fact collide, where interpretation is paramount. The notion of travel is a romantic concept that we can all identify with, and in creating a meaning for travel, the search for something in your identity be it tangible or not, is something that ofte n can be inadvertently created. While I traveled I searched for the accordion. I searched for it everywhe re I went, whether or not it had anything to do with the story I had created in my mind, and it created a purpose explorations outside of si mply searching for experiences As Paul Fussel once distinguished ( and Clifford brought to my attention ) there are three different roles that one can assume in a journey: explorer, traveler, or tourist:


11 No traveler, and certainly no tourist, is ever knighted 5 for his performances although the strains he may undergo can be as memorable as the e but the explorer seeks the undiscovered, the traveler that which has been discovered by the mind working in history, the tourist that which has been discovered by entrepreneurship and prepared for him by the arts of mass publicity. The genuine traveler is, or used to be, in the middle between the two extremes. If the explorer moves towards the risks of the formless and the unknown, the tourist moves toward the security of pure clich. It is between these two poles that th e traveler mediates, retaining all he can of the excitement of the unpredictable attaching to exploration, and fusing that with the pleasure (Fussel 1980, 39) That being said, with the accordion and my researc h as a focal point for my travels, in a way second definiti on of travel and seeking to move beyond tourism into the realm of a true traveler. As I traveled, I was s earching for answers, mediating between the unknown and the known and actively seeking the history of the accordion, that is. Ultimately though, t hrough these experiences I realiz ed I was also searching for proof of a story I myself had invented surroundin g an ins trument that could actually be said to exist in itself as a kind of global tourist taking objects such as musical instruments seriously, but not simply as passive arti facts 5 (Clifford 1989)


12 myriad situations where instruments are entangled in webs of complex relationships between humans and objects, between humans and humans, and between objects and other objects. Even the same instrument, in different sociohistorical contexts, may be In this e ssay, Bates argues ept that provides a frame for the accordion and its travel narratives Although it is an arrivals and i nclusions in the cu ltural music of both Ca jun Louisiana and Paris, it embark s on its own version of an identity seeking narrative U pon arrival at various destinations, it created a distinctive social life for itself in each milieu. But is the accordion an explorer, a trave ler, or a tourist? Can it be thought of as any of these things? In certain ways which we will see, t he accordion can be said to have had a predetermined path laid by dance music and lower class celebration s, making it easy for it to enter its cultural nich es in both Louisiana and Paris. These situations have allowed the accordion to serve as a cultural symbol for both Cajun and Parisian lower class music of the 1920s 5 0 s F rom a modern vantage poin t, then, the accordion is in many ways doomed to take on the given that through its original travels the accordion also acted as an important instigator of exploratory musical innovation in the hands of its newly found players, it is important to note that its mediation between th e three mediums over the years has become a part of its narrative as well. Whereas the Cajuns may be more inclined to look at it as a cultural symbol making contributions to music worthy of tions among the three categories in their relation to the instrument remain fairly vague.


13 And so, t he ch allenge of how to draw these theoretical ideas of Clifford, Bates, and Fussel together into a cohesive format remained. Thus, p art of my inspiration for the shape of this acc ount became Annie Proul book Accordion Crimes In this book Proulx uses a simple green accordion as the perpetuator and connector of eight different stories in different pa rts of the world from 1840 1990. I n these stories we begin to get a feeling for h ow an object like an instrument can actually begin to create its own social life and become a repr esentation of a chosen history. In these stories, the accordion becomes the evident protagonist amongst a complicated network of relationships and contexts in which it participates. In studying the detailed social con structs, it becomes clear t hat the historical events that relate people (and the music they create) to one another are perhaps less relevant connectors than the narratives that surround the presenc e of the instrument itself. Here the accordion becomes a perfect example. the accordion as symbol of my own identity, the accordion itself in its relative youth as an i nstrument has traveled around the world creating new social identifications and cultural clichs for itself in its wake. In short, historically there may be no way to determine exactly where or how the first accordion found its way into southern Louisia na and Cajun music, nor does it matter. This was the dead end I continually approached in searching for an answer to my question of how Cajun music and bal musette are connected in a linear sense. So here instead, I have opted to look at the social lif e of the accordion itself as a touristic


14 ( Bates 2012 364 ), especially as it relates to the chosen stories of the French and their descendants in Southern Louisiana, the Cajuns. Chapter 1 begins with a basic description of the accordion its historical antecedents, invention, and birth into the world beginning in Europe. Fro m her e I move on into Louisiana; in Chapter 2 I discuss th e story of the Acadians, the stories of ancestry that the Cajuns themselves clai m as part of their narrative before the accordion, that s haped who they are as a diasporic culture In Chapter 3 I discuss the multiple myths of how the instrument arrived in the hands of the Cajuns through travel and relationships with the Germans and neighboring African American communities. I discuss these legend s and attempt to unpack the social life it created around itself in Louisiana where it became so thoroughly integrated that it soon became the identifying fe ature of their sound. After a discussion of the Golden Age of Cajun accordion in Chapter 4 I focus on the accordion in Europe and explain how it visited Paris and created for itself an entirely new music that revolved around the accordion alone, which subsequently became part of Parisia n identity. Beginning with a discussion of how the accordion first traveled through the rural territory of Auvergne and originally made its way to Paris as part of distinctive dance music, I highlight how the acc ordion continued to exist as a voice of the lower class es. Finally, I discuss the modern day life of the accord ion in relation to my own travel experiences in both Louisiana and Paris. My focus will be on reconstructing these narratives created around the instrument in these French contexts one where it was chosen and integrated into an already established cultur ally identifiable music and became its heralding symbol, and the other where it alone created a music that the culture chose to identify with. I n


15 more theoretical terms, I demonstrate the cultural impact of the accordion as an object within these two heter ogeneous networks and the multitude of attitudes towards and engagements with the instrument that arise in the process of tell ing its story. With the work of Clifford, Bates, and Proulx in mind t hrough out this narrative, I show that the accordion can be th ought of as a global tourist who arrived on the scene in both Louisiana and Paris to create a social life that would change their musical cultures forev er, and in the end, I pose the question of whether this musical influence has indeed created a new symbo


16 Chapter I : History of the Accordion When I think of an accordion maker deep at work at his craft, I imagine his workshop to resemble that of a clockmaker A delicate, careful man hunched over a table with the utmost concentration and interest in his project, surrounded by a table messy with unique pieces of metal, cloth, and tools. On the wall behind him are the remnants of piece s old and new, dusty and sh iny. The man knows exactly how to arrange each pi ece, which piece is right for his project that day. Lo oking over his shoulder, I see into the guts of the accordion, all the intricate pieces so beautifully interwoven like cogs that lead directly in to one a nother. The inside of every accordion has the potential to look slightly different and the craftsman gets to know each instrument intimately from the inside out some have parts made out of steel, others are mostly cloth, and the various inlays and button formations are always slightly unique to one another. Almost every instrument has a feel and elegance that only the maker and the owner know 6 Th e main components of an accordion the reeds, bellows, keyboard, and bass section work together to create t he soundscapes the instrument is capable of, and each piece has its own unique purpose. Inside the accordion lies the story of each of these pieces and how they came together in invention to live inside the frame of a unique new instrument. Although the ac cordion itself is relativel y young, the story of its components can be traced back as far as 1000 B.C. to ancient China with the invention of the first free reed ( Marcuse 1975: 730 731 ). A free reed can be thought of as a small flap or tongue (usually made of metal) that sits inside of a frame and creates noise when vibrated by the 6 Although today there do exist accordion factories in China, the majorit y o f European and American manufacturers still do a large amount of the work by hand.


17 passing of air over top of it. Reeds of different masses, sizes, and placements create different pitches. The ancient Chinese played an instrument called the Sheng w hich is one o f the first examples of a free reed aerophone instrument, making it the oldest known ancestor to the accordion. The Sheng was said to have been intended to imi tate the sound of a Phoenix giving it a place in nature with folkloric imagery and purpose as ma ny free reed aerophone instruments throughout history have been seen to possess. Although the free reed was employed in the folk music of the East for centuries, the concept was slow to arrive in Europe where instruments such as clarinets and horns more co mmonly em reed where the reed is in a fixed position so that the air i nteracts in a different fashion European instruments employing free reeds did not begin to appear until the 1700s (Ibid ). The bellows of the accordion are the mecha nisms by which air is pumped through the instrument and over the reeds to create the sound. Their function strongly resembles and seems to have been inspire d by hand pumps used to heat furnaces and stoke fires (intended to substitute blowing air by mouth). Bellows are fitted with a valve that allows air to fill the cavity when expanded, and in the case of the accordion, the air is forced out historically been made of cloth, and although their design has strayed very little from the original design, some today are made out of vinyl and small pieces of cardboard. Evidently, the keyboard section of the accordion was influenced by the piano ; it produce s melody and works in a simila r fashion, where the pressing of one button/key attaches to dampers and springs which open a grill and allow for the air from the bellows to pass over a specific reed, creating the desired note. In some ways, then, the accordion


18 might be understood as a po rtable organ with only one stop. Instead of sharing in the history of the organ as a church instrum ent, its portability lent it to dance music and informal entertainment in the home and on the street. In its flexibility as an instrument for secular enterta inment, the accordion more closely resembles the harmonica. Invented just decades before, the mechanics had a direct and immediate influence on the invention of the accord ion. It was the first instrument to make use of the diatonic system of Ri chter tuning in a free reed instrument, where one pitch is produced from the blowing of air over the reeds and a different pitch from the drawing of air away from the reeds (bl ow/draw mechanism) (Ariondo 19 94). The diatonic accordion functions in the same manner, where a different pitch is produced by the pressing of one diatonic harmon ica or accordion exist within only one key or key combination 7 The relationship between the two instruments in timing and mechanics suggests that the accordion was developed as a direct response, and perhaps improvement to, the harmonica. With the additio n of the bellows, musicians were able to conserve energy by creating air flow with their hands instead of their lungs, and could also accompany themselves with a bass line, omitting the need for other instruments and allowing for the possibility of singing or speaking while playing This freeness offered to the performer, along with its loudness, made it a useful instrument for those who acco mpanied dance and played in noisy venues. The instrument has never been varied in tone color, but its 7 See Appendix A: The diatonic accordion was the first to be invented and is the focus of this thesis as it is still the primary type of accordion used in traditional Cajun music. There exist other types of accordions, however, including the chromatic accordion which was invented later and can be played in multiple keys.


19 ability to play a bass line a melody, and harmonies in between, as well as its volume and portability, made it an immediately attractive instrument. Although the mechanisms that make up the accordion, in particular the free reeds, the bellows, and the keyboard, have bee n around for centuries, the instrument itself as we know it today only emerged during the 1820s. Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann invented the handaeoline in Berlin in 1822, and in 1829 Cyril l Demian an organ maker from Vienna patented the first instr akkordion Although model was the first to implement the complete system of bellows operating the passage of air over free reeds by hand, was the first to possess fixed chord buttons for the left hand (bass notes ) as well as buttons for the right hand to produce melody ( Macerollo 1980: 8 13) Most historical records credit Demian with the original in vention due to his patent. Just months later in 1829, Charles Wheatstone from England patented the concertina (later used in Argentinian Tango music) and by 1835 there were at least six varieties of accordion available (Marc use 1964 : 2) After the release of ntions resembling the accordion. This rapid devel opment led to mass commercial pr oduction and by 18 40 the accordion was being exported internationally from Austria (Tisserand, 53). From this moment the accordion began its life as a world wide tourist. Between the different manufacturers and distributo show up and root itself firmly in the cultural music of distant lands. By 1886, American newspapers had accordions for sale ( Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper 1 886: 206) and by 1898 travelers reported he aring the instrument in every village in Madagascar (Tisserand, 53). Before the turn of the century the accordion had already visited countries


20 in Africa, North America, Europe, and Latin America and had begun to create an active social life for itself in each of its new destinations. Due to its appeal of durability, volume (in a time before modern amplification techno logy), portability, independence of sound, and its ability to remain in tune, the accordion was able to make itself an instant popular charac ter to cultures around the world who quickly adopted it as one of their own. The social life of the accordion began in Eastern Europe in the 1830s, and it was from here that the many narratives in which it is the protagonist truly begin. The free reeds, t he bellows the buttons, and the bass traveled together all around the world inside a fram e connected to a strap over the borders to rural France and over the Atlantic ocean to Southern Louisiana, where it found its way into the hands of a people singing i n a similar language, but emitting an entirely different sound.


21 Chapter II : The story of the Cajuns and their ancestral connection to the French begins as far back as 1534, far before the invention of the accordion. It was then that King Francis I of France sent an expedition led by Jacques Cartier to exp lore the northern lands of the New W orld in the hope of discovering gold, spices, and a passage t o Asia. Cartier entered the es tuaries at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and ascended up the channel, claiming all of modern day Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Quebec as New France. Although the first colony established by Cartier failed, the colonial waterways between France and Nouvelle with th e First Nation ( river regions. One such Frenchma n with interest in fur trading monopolies was Samuel de Champlain, w ho in 1604 helped to found Port Royale, the capital of Acadia, and the first official French colony in North America located in modern day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Ile de Prince Edward ( Ancelet 1989, 5). Over the next 100 years, French immigrants co ntinued to pour in to Acadia, populating the fishing communities in the south and Indians and subsequent waves of Celtic and Scots Irish immigrants. This mixture led to the Acadian culture that was uniquely North American in identity and mentality. Th is Acadian culture that developed between 1610 and 1740 amongst the landscape of N ova Scotia became the basis for a cultural mindset that would preva il for


22 centuries. Despite the unruly maritime topography of Canada, the ethnic group was able to thrive in their agrarian lifestyles, and solidarity began to grow as the fur trade expanded and more immigrants from France continued to arrive in the colony ( encouraged by Louis XIV). Essential to understanding the Acadian culture is the geographic isolation of the community as a whole due to their remote location. The Acadians developed la rge, close knit families where G od, land, and economic self sufficiency were of the utmost importance, and social classes and formal educational institutions did not exist. Because of their tenuous communication with other European North American settlements, living by these tenets was how they survived, and as a result their community became clannish, self contained, and culturally independent ( Lavergne, 1991). Based on this relative isolation and the unique blending of cultural influences present in the area (including Indian and Celtic), the Acadians began to foster a persis tent sense of identity, a rich oral tradition and a repertoi re of songs and dances associated with this identity. Most histories of the Cajun people, the term describing the Acadians once they arrived in Louisiana 8 begin in 1755, when British military t roops deported approximately 8,000 11,000 of the regions 15,000 Acadians during several waves of an ethnic cleansing exercise commonly referred to as Le Grand Drangement or, The Great Upheaval 9 The 8 cadien a contraction of the word Acadien (F rench for Acadian) come until 1879. The term was originally coined as an ethnic slur against the Acadians by Anglo Americans in the area, and this negative connotation wo uld last until the 1960s, although the name stuck (Brasseaux 2009, 11) 9 Colonial war between the French and Great Britain over North American territ ories was constant during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and governmental shifts were frequent as the two countries transferred control over Acadia. The French (and participating Acadians) fought a series of six colonial wars on Acadian soil against the British over a period of seventy four years. These concluded in 1755 with


23 British completed this expulsion of the Acadians as a sy mbolic action against France and as a purging of the Catholic religion, French language, and a population with frighteningly high birthrates. They shipped many Acadians back to France, where they found themselves unw elcome. T hese deportees then traveled fr om there south to the British and French colonies in th e Caribbean Later, even Acadians who were given the option to stay in the north voluntarily left their homeland in a refusal to pledge allegiance to th e English king and renounce their language and re ligion. The isolation and close knit nature of the Acadian community over generations had created stubbornness towards int egration with any national rule. D etermined as they were to maintain their cultural independence, this attitude found them unwanted wh erever they went. I n 1764, after a long period of aimless wandering and migr ation, the exiles arrived in Louisiana with the deliberate intention of recreating their society on French territory. Louisiana at this time was already a focus of colonial interes t and a point of intersection for many different cultur al interests that would pl ay a role in Cajun culture and consequently, Cajun music. First esta blished as a French colony in 1682, when explorers f or Louis XIV sailed down the Mississippi River from Ne w France (modern day Canada), France had a strong hold on the cultural landscape of the state. However, due to its advantageous location at the mouth of the Mississippi and on the Gulf Coast (making it a port easily accessible to both the Caribbean and the m ainland), Great Britain, Spain, and Germany all entered the battle for control of the territory. Upon arrival of the Cajuns in 1764, they were surprised to find the territory under Spanish rule, as the French had ceded Louisiana to Spain just two years e arlier in 1762. However, Spanis h language the American phase of t he European Seven Years War, known as the French and Indian War which resulted in British control of the settlements and sealed the fate of New France.


24 and culture was only prevalent at the highest administrative level, and daily life in the colony continued to be essentially French (Ancelet, 16). The Spanish, happy to boost their Catholic population, welcomed the Acadians into the territory on the condition that they would build their settlements along the Mississ ippi River The idea was that placing side of the river and New Orleans. Not given any other choice, the Acadians accepted the offer and set themselves about the difficult task of rebuilding their fractured society. After this establishment, exhiles continued to flock to the land to join their fellow Acadians in establ ishing La Nouvelle Acadie today 10 During these first years the Acadians were given land and supplies, but had difficulty adjusting to the new tropical climate and the poor quality of the la nd surrounding the Missi ssippi R iver (otherwise known as bayous), and their first years there were not without significant losses due to illness and an inability to quickly adapt to the new territory. Again the Acadians, now in the process of becoming Cajuns, had been placed in a rough and isolated environment that required them to become self sustained and self reliant. From th e long winters and rocky shores of the Canadian countryside to the swampy, marsh covered bayous of humid Louisiana, their insular way of life continued to be a determining feature of their culture, even after years of wandering in exile. 10 For more detailed information on the relocation of exiled Acadians into Louisiana, see The Founding o f New Acadia Brasseaux


25 B La Musique de s Acadiens : Imagining Cajun Music before the Accordion I have come to realize that the cold historical fa cts of how the Acadians came to Louisiana as a r esult of French, British, and Spanish warfare are only relevant to the development of their musical culture in so far as their effects perpetuated the insular nature of their community and simultaneously turned them into a diasporic cult ure of exile mental ity. Cajuns themselves still cite these long ago events as influential factors in the narrative of their development. The Cajuns today also seem to construct their history aesthetically: through the perpetuation of oral tradition and family rituals like so ng and dance. Song and dance were a prominent part of their heritage far before the arrival of the accordion on the scene. T he Acadians traveled to Louisiana with a rich musical and choreographic repertoire already instilled. Ethnomusicological research o n Acadian music prior to arrival in Louisiana has corroborated the prevalence of Europe an musical traditions cultivated and adapted through the influence of Indian an d Celtic cultures including narrative ballads (chans ons) and instrumental music Historic ally, the fiddle has always been at the center of Cajun music and this tradition began in Acadia where simple melodies were played in an open tuning for dance music. Usually, two fiddles would be played together with one playing the melody and the other p laying the rhythmic accompaniment. By the time of the exile, there is evidence that Scots Irish jigs, reels, hornpipes, and contredances were strongly influential on the fiddle music repertoire, and the spirit of these dances was surely present in the furt her development of musical culture. Only the European waltz, which ascended in popularity to the international ballroom shortly before the accordion in 1815 is still


26 practiced today (Ancel et 1989, 15). Historical record of th e Acadian people preserves the ir extreme passion for song and dance, even in the face of dispersion and exile. In a letter to his attendant dated March 12 th 1764, Saltoris describ ed a communal wedding and baptism ceremony among the Acadian exiles in Saint Domingue (organized during a two day repose from labor before lent) toast. They danced, the old and young alik e, all dancing to a fast step. The merriment continued into the night and again the next day, and at least two barrels of wine were consumed (Colonial Records Collection, Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern LA). Even when instruments were unavailable or music was forbidden, the Acadians are said to have managed to dance anyway, producing music with their voi ces, clapping their hands, and stamping their feet for percussion. If the repertoire of round dances became boring, they would use their voices as instruments to produce dance tunes called des reels bouche (Ancelet 1989, 16). Even in the wake of disaster dancing and music were seen to emphasize and nourish the cohesive ties that held Acadian society together. B ecause the musical tradition of the Acadians and the Cajuns has always been the realm of amateurs (or professionals with little if any formal mus ical education) hardly any written music i s extant from pre exile Acadia. Imagining what music carried d own South to Louisiana sounded like can be difficult. Far before the advent of recording tec hnology, this rich musical fabric had been preserved only w ithin the inner circles of the oldest Cajun families in Southern Louisiana. In 1934, a young Alan Lomax venture d deep into the bayous to record the music of the people and capture these elements of old family traditions that were in danger of disappearing In his wor k he put particular focus


27 on recording the unaccompanied singing and indivi dual instrumental performances by real people on the bayous that were not represented in contemporary commercial Cajun recordings. Using this method, Lomax was able to tap into the oldest living traditions of narrative French ballads, fiddle tunes, and dance rounds that had been preserved. the ethnomusico logical facts already known about Acadian music and provide a window into t he European connection that exists at the core of Cajun music. Through many of these songs, the Acadian history of hundreds of years can be pieced together, and we can begin to see how t he Cajuns themselves preserve and continually reconstruct their ancest ry through a continual recycling and augmentation of music. a glimpse into a culture that is hundreds of years old. Disjointed fiddle tunes, comic drinking songs, and tradit ional ballads with roots in seventeenth and eighteenth century French folk songs make up the majority of the recordings. Many of these ballads were unaccompanied and told stories of wars, wives, and faraway lands. Songs La Belle et La Capitaine War and the maritime li festyle of fishermen in Acadia. More int erestingly, Lomax was able to record which are assumed to be the way that many of these t unes were preserved. In some cases, the songs that Lomax recorded were traced back to French folk songs where changes in melody or lyrics had been made to reflect the New World and/or Louisiana contexts. French chansons such as s like he references to


28 European Wars. It was the oldest French songs that saw the most adaptation a complainte (lament) about two lovers separated during the 1934 collection). T he mes such as these where the progression and changes in French culture are clearly demarcated with the travel of time and space can be seen all o ver the Cajun music repertoire. The details about traditional Acadian music (from Canada and Louisiana pre 1800 ) that the Lomax collection and subsequent research reveal, indic ates musical influence between French, Quebecois, a nd Cajun cultures. However, this simple lineage of song styles and d ance traditions represents Cajun music before it became well acquainted with the rich and diverse cultural landscape of Louisiana. For example, these songs reflect the tendency in European musical tradition to keep songs and instrumental music separate. Dance music was almost exclusively instrumental and ballads or folksongs w ere textually oriented, telling a long and poetic story focused on content. This traditi on changed drastically during the nineteenth century when Cajun music as we know it today began to take shape with the persistent influence of African American musical traditions, where music, song, and dan ce were all inextricably entwined. Cajun music results from the combination of these two traditions. Instrumental parts were added to old ballads whose lyrics were shortened, and simple words were composed for fiddle t unes both contributing to a wid er variety in style s of music for dancing (Ancelet 1989, 19).


29 Cajun music indeed has its roots in a long tradition of French and Canadian song and dance music which can be specifically identified, and some hints of this can even still be seen today, especially in basic thematic choices such as the long standing relationship with drinking songs 11 However, Cajun music as it has come to be defined on its own today and as Cajuns themselves understand it differs substantially fr om this traditional music of its sister French cultures in France, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. None of these places had the unique blend of ingredients found in Southwestern Louisiana that shaped who the Cajuns became, and it was the Cajuns alone who were exi led and underwent the changes in mentality of a diasporic culture. Although no songs exist that directly reference the experience of the Grand Drangement of 1755, the upheaval had a strong effect on their music and on their sense of identity which is stil l a huge part of their personal narratives. The sufferings and upheavals they had endured endowed the music they began to make in Louisiana with a subtle mournful quality that today distinguishes their sound and is absent from the sister musical cultures o f their past. The Cajuns, indeed, seem to have a tendency to experience their own history through their musical traditions, but today that history is much more closely associated with the esteemed experience of re building a fractured society with pride ag ainst the influential backdrop of Louisiana than with an ancestry of E uropean colonization in Canada. While their musical roots can still be seen if you dig beneath the fresh mangrove s of the bayou, the Cajuns cultivated a new musical culture that is au ton omous, unique, and adaptive Upon their arrival in Louisiana they began to nurture their musical culture and grow together from their experiences of exile, aided in part by the arrival of an extremely important 11 include nous boire Both have lyrics loosely related and purposefully in allusion to the universally popular French drinking so


30 character in their story who would set them a part from the traditions of their ancestors


31 Chapter II I : W hen Cryri l l Dem ian patented the akkordion in 18 29 he released into the world a n instrument of cultural identity that traveled into the h ands of innovators in a variety of political and social environments At this time Louisiana 12 having just become an official state in the uni on, was part of a country teetering on the brink of civi l war T he slave population in Louisiana was higher than ever, some say even as high as 4:1 blacks to whites in the western provin ce s where our story takes place. W hen the accordion was invented in 18 29 the hardworking Cajuns had just begun to root their c ommunity amongst the other inhabitants of the bayou the immigrants, the slaves, the free people of color, the lower classes, the outcast, the struggling. At the time, most of them probably could not even afford accordions, but as the instrument became ma rketed to the New World and progressively less expensive, eventually they would. 1764 had a large effect on how the a ccordion made its way into Cajun hands and sparked a m usical conversation that revolutionized their tradit ional music. New Orleans was a hub of imports and exports, a hub of arrival for immigrants from Europe, slaves, and free peopl e of color from the Caribbean. I t was the permanent home of the Spanish and Fr ench military and aristocracy both before and after the Louisiana Purchase 13 To the north along the banks of the Mississippi River the lower classes farm ed amongst the 12 See Appendix B for full timeline of historical events concerning Louisiana and the accordion; all relevant dates 13 This populati on of upper class white Frenchme n living in New Orleans at this time was of a class complete ly separate from that of their Francophone counterparts t used to classify them; however, this word holds many different meanings and changes upon context. In general in Louisiana, it is used to describe a person of Eu ropean or African decent that was born in the New World and speaks French.


32 sugar cane plantations. Here was where the Cajuns made their home, sharing the land and their culture with what was left of the local Indian populations, a large population of German immigrants, and a s ubstantial community of African American slaves. A s the accordion was shipped from Austria for the first time in 1840, it made its mysterious way over the Atlantic Oce an, and arrived in Louisi ana somewhere just before the Civil War. We will never know the name of the first man to bring an accordion for a visit in Louisiana or the exact date that this occurred, but this matters little in the fas cinating The mythology of its arrival is often debated perhaps it stopped in for a vacation in the Caribbean, perhaps it went straight to the mouth of the Mississippi Riv er. Legends have it arriving as soon as 1850, others not until closer to 1870. Was it the French colonists who brought it to the Caribbean? Was it German immigrants joining their families up the coast of the Mississippi? The truth lies for now in how the p eople choose to tell this story, and through them, this much is certain the accordion found a niche within the landscape of the Mississippi River bayou, where neighboring populations of German immigrants and African American cultures were essential compo nents of the social life that the instrument began to create for itself there that ultimately lead to its introduction to the Cajuns. A. The German Influence One night in the South Bay at the mouth o f the Mississippi River in 1871, t wo adventurous travel wri ters traversed the bends of the muggy coastline when they encountered barking dogs on a rotting wharf near a one room shack. Behind them was a gray haired lighthouse keeper, a disabled Civil War veteran, who stood armed with a gun


33 and shouted into the moon invitation into umerous glas ses of cheap wine. As Ralph Keeler and A.R. Waud recounted in the 1871 Journal Every Saturday : In reply to our question as to how he passed the time alone, he said he had music for company, and pointed to an accordion which from its unwieldy size and mysterious age was a very megatherium of musical instruments. He began to line out the famous old German hymn, Nun danket alle Gott accompanying himself on the instrument when he sang [See Figure One] By the ti me he had reached the second stanza he was so carried impressive thing in that swampy wilderness to come up on such heroic words and airs (Keeler and Waud, 1871) Figure One : D rawing d one by A.R. Waud of German Lighthouse Keeper encountered at mouth of Mississippi This anecdote demonstrates how we can choose to create the imagery of our own stories. A seemingly insignificant detail in a path of discovery along the Mississip pi, this story serves as an important account of the accordion in Louisiana. Because G ermans were the


34 first major manufacturers and exporters of accordio ns, it is believed that they were the first immigrants to distribute them in Louisiana. Since these imp orted accordions would have followed normal trade routes from the mouth of the Mississippi upstream to New Orleans, this lighthouse keeper can actually be seen as a literal and figurative cultural gatekeeper marking the entrance for the accordion to both c omm ercial and cultural exchange. German immigrants to the United States may well have invited, accepted, and perpetuated the existence of the instrument in the bayou country where it was adopted by the Cajuns. Figure 2


35 Following the acc into the north western parishes of present day Acadiana (See Figure 2) the German influence already had a long history and lasting influence which drew the instrument towards it. A large group of German pioneers had first settled the area as farmers in 1721 and for a long time this strip of land on the Mississippi just north of New Orleans was area roughly forty five years later, the two groups of lower class immigrants were forced to share the land an d adapt to living together. Some of these immigrants were originally from the German Alscase/Lorraine region of France, so languages were exchanged and intermarriag e was common. The Acadians became Cajuns with the help of their new German neighbors, who taught them agriculture in the harsh new environment and shared cultural practices, such as music, with them. Solidarity and exchange between the Germans and the Ac adians was partially aided by their common feelings of hatred toward the recent Spanish regime and the actions of the Spanish colonial governor, Antonio de Ulloa. Harsh conditions on the bayous where the governor had directed them to settle were worsened b y their arrival as they had to share the land with the established German community, and a shortage of supplies was quick to take hold. Provided with little supplement from the government, the Acadians were convinced that they had been led to the colony on false pretenses. With this and other criticisms of the regime, the Germans and the Acadi ans were so angry that in 1768 just four years af ter the arrival of the Acadians more than 500 took up arms together in a marc h on New Orleans to oust Ulloa known as th Alth ough ultimately they were subdued


36 forced to flee, their combining of forces on this matter represents the strong feeling of communication that was set up between the two groups, as w ell as their ability to travel into the realm of New Orleans (which was for the most part a very separate world from that of the northern bayous) (Brasseaux 1987, 88) and into the music stores that existed there. So if the gray haired lighthouse keeper s erves as a symbol for gatekeeper of German influence, it can be imagined that from the time of their first arrival, he was apt to see accordions sent up the trade routes to New Orleans and farther, to the German communities on the northern bayous of the Mi ssissippi. Perhaps his friends and family were there; perhaps he introduced fellow Germans on their way to the beautiful instrument invented in their homeland. Or perhaps, German tradesmen and merchants who had already been tipped off to the gro wing market s in Louisiana gave him an accordion in 1871 as they traveled up the Mississippi with their shipload of the new Cajuns is seen to be most relevant in terms of the commercia l distribution of the accordion, where they were the first to create a market and bring in the instruments from established stores in many small Cajun towns, most notably t he Mervine Kahn store in Rayne, established in 1884 (just four years after the railroad arrived), which is documented to have carried varieties of accordions (Comeaux, 1999). It believed that these merchants had close connections with eastern firms and Ger man manufacturing companies and began importing the accordion speculatively to their rural, French


37 goods. While the commercial aspect of the German role in the acceptance of the accordion by Cajuns is significant, our lighthouse keeper also sheds some light on the cultural influence they may have played. As represented in the story, the accordion was the perfect instrument for solo accompaniment, and lent itself generously to the European styles of music so popular in Germany at the time polkas and mazurkas not to mention waltzes and quadrilles It is assumed that German s playing the instrument near the Cajuns would have been playing these styles, and this influence can be v aguely seen in some traditional Cajun music tunes. Dennis McGee, one of the most renowned Cajun to the tune of a European mazurka. However, the over whelming presence of a blues influence in this tune brings forth the implication widely held by most Cajun music scholars that the Germans, while perhaps responsible for the presence of the accordion in the region, did not teach them how to play it. The Germans intermingling with the Cajuns allowed for them to pick up on the existence of the accor dion as they bega n importing it in d roves through the trade routes of the sea and by rail. But the dem and for the instrument that the se Germans were responding to and the musical influences that ultimately began to define the Cajun accordion style was a direct result of the vastly influential third group sharing the Mississippi bayous the African America ns.


38 B. African Americans and the Accordion on the Bayou Figure 3 nce in the hands of the African American communities of Southern L ouisiana during the nineteenth century. A dusty old daguerreotype titled Accordion Player dated 1850 was uncovered by the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans. The man in the image is wearing checkered pants with a waistc oat and tie, and sits beside a vas e of flowers. On his knee rests an ancient looking accordion, with twelve buttons on the treble side. His right hand is stretched upon the buttons in a fashion that indicates he knows how to play it, but there are no details explaining if he is a free man or a slave, or even if the accordion is his (See Figure 3) A blurry and vague drawing from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of 1877 (See Figure Four) shows two black men playing an accordion and a banjo surrounded by others on the banks of the Cane Ri ver in Central Louisiana. In a short story written by Kate Chopin in 1897 the characters routinely attend white dances where the music is provided by a black trio two fiddlers and an accordionist who play all


39 night and drink whiskey from a quart bottle (Tisserand 1998, 53 54). These vague representations are the beginnings to the story of a long relationship be tween the accordion and African Americans in Louisiana which began very shortly after its invention. Again, these sto ries leave the original introduction of the instrument a mystery. Canray Fontenot, a popular African American accordionist born in 1922, once told stories of how his father and grandfather learned to play the accordion during slavery i n the houses of their mas ters Frenchme n who owned accordions and other musical instruments (Ibid). Perhaps some of these instruments were bought from the German Jewish merchants living on the German Coast who had passed by our lighthouse keeper on their way u p the Mississippi. S ome African Americans, such as the one in during drunken encounters in bars or shipyards while passing through New Orleans. Some accordions perhaps made their way into France an d became stowaways on the ships of French colonists heading towards the Caribbean, where the Haitians picked up on its existence. Louisiana African Americans are impossible to pinpoint. Fi gure Four


40 Whatever the case, the Cajuns were quick to appropriate the instrument and to incorporate its sounds into their existing traditions alongside the black Creoles 14 and make it their own. When the Cajuns first arrived in the bayous and prairies in t he Southwestern regions of Loui siana in 1764, they worked side by side with the Creoles, sharecropping in the same areas. During the turbulent years leading up to the Civil War before the accordion was introduced on the scene, Cajun communitie s grew and fo rged a solidarity with the Creole slave community. After all, both were of a lower class and downtrodden societal rank, and most importantly, shared a similar language due to French plantation owners and French colonization of Saint Domingue, or present da y Haiti, from where many of the slaves had arrived M any Acadians were familiar with the island due to their virtual imprisonment there for s ome years following the Grand D ra ngement of 1755. According to Acadian historian Car l Brasseux, cultural exchange between the two groups was so common before emancipation that plantation owners began to get aggravated that Acadians were disrupting the division of power dividing white planters and black slaves: American sugar planters generally viewed the Acadian smal l farmers and the far less numerous petits habitants (subsistence farmers possessing no slaves) as nuisances who hard as they themselves 14 important. Creole culture as I use the phrase here, in contrast to the definition given earlier, is meant to refer to that culture of people of African descent born in the New Worl d who were most influential include s slaves in Louisiana and gens libres de couleur from Haiti, where French Language, African culture, and Caribbean traditions were all an important part of identity. The Cajuns an d Creoles, while often confused, are in fact very differ ent cultures who have interlocked histories and culture s due to their neighboring positions and shared languages in the bayou region of Louisiana.


41 sters did not wish them to have (Brasseaux 1992, 92 93) Over time, this feeling of solidarity and willingness towards c ultural communication grew. As Cajuns and Germans in the area continued to be against the Southern forms of government, the area saw large increases in the black population. In 1809 following the success of the Haitian Revolution, more than 10,000 refugees flooded the city of New Orleans. More than one third of these refugees were gens libres du couleur (free people of color) who inundated the surrounding parishes looking for work and places to settle (Brasseaux 1987, 103). This migration not only led to an increased population of French speaking Creoles for the Cajuns to intermingle with, but also sparked the largest slave revolt in U.S. history along the German Coast in 1811. The landscape in which the accordion arrived was a turbulent one, where widesprea d poverty and racism were a reality faced daily by both African Americans and their friendly neighbors, the Cajuns. Perhaps it is due to the chaos of the Civil War that the accordion does not really begin to show its face regularly until after 1865 When the war ended and cultural exchange between Cajuns and African Americans became less strained as the poor whites worked alongside their black neighbors as equal sharecroppers, the communities were forced to aid one another through the tough transitions. T he two groups were often lumped into the same category during this time, and this is when the confusion between indicates the discrimination lumped towards bo th groups


42 (Tisserand 1998, 4). 15 However, in the long run, it seems as if this social stratification allowed for the prosperity of the accordion within these realms. For one reason or another, the accordion has always been an instrument of the lower classes, as we will see again in the context of the Parisian bal musette T he extension of cultural exchange between the two groups into the realms of musical interaction accelerated grea tly after the end of the Civil W ar and the arrival of the accordion. At this time, the diatonic nature of the accordion was familiar to the Caju ns and the African Americans as the ha rmonica had already become a popular form of entertainment. S mall, inexpensive, and widely available in most general stores, the mechanics of the harmonica made the introduction of t he accordion logical. The African A mericans would adapt the accordion to their traditional musical styles in a similar way that they had adapted the harm onica. Many historians site this use of the harm onica as an indicator that Creoles adapted the accordion to local musical tradition before their white counterparts (Comeaux 1999). It took a while for the Cajuns to begin incorporating the accordion into their musical repertoire on a regular basis, but when they did they n Europe, but rather they began playing with fast choppy rhythms in a syncopated style that had many fast runs. It evolved into a style not found elsewhere in the world, and based on the style, was probably first developed by black Creoles and then taught Indeed, this completely new approach to rhythms and improvisation developed by African Americans revolutionized Cajun music. 15 Such discrimination and generali zations even carri ed into the twentieth century, when Cajun and Creole Folk Festival in the 1960s.


43 By the turn of the twentieth century, Cajun music was beginning to take on many qualities of traditional Af rican American music, as well as elements of the Caribbean and rural Southern blu es that were developing at the time. Cajuns were beginning to adapt their traditional ballads for dance music and to combine singing, music, and dancing together in th is new s ty le. This new approach to music seems to result from the influence of African American traditions of making music in which words, melodies, and dance were inextricably related. The use of polyrhythms became more noticeable, and the syncopated style which is now indicative of Cajun music was incorporated into the old European styles of waltz and two step. By listening to African Americans, the Cajuns developed their signature singing style by adapting the use of the call and response, improvisational, and e motive qualities that they heard. Instead of focusing on the telling of a narrative story, their singing became more concentrated on repeated vocalizations of sufferings or loneliness with a rhythmic quality. During this time they also began to experiment with the inclusion of notes in the minor pentatonic scale used in blues music. As rural Louisiana was also at this time a breedi blues movement, the influence of these proto jazz melodic transitions were in communicatio n with the musical world in which the accordion was beginning to thrive. guitarists of this era first heard and learned the accordion as a child living in Louisiana n orth of Shreveport. Although he would bring the sounds of his acoustic blues around the country on his guitar, he continued to play the accordion for the rest of his life, and often frequented the dance halls in Southwestern Louisiana as an accordionist as well as a guitarist.


44 The camaraderie and musical exchange that occurred between the Cajun and Creole communities comes to an apex in the exceptional relationship between white Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee and black Creole accordionist Amd Ardoin who toget her laid the groundwork for Cajun music as we know it today. B orn in 1898, Ardoin, an African American, was the first legendary personality of Cajun music, and the first er circle about the Cajun and Creole (Zydeco) musical world today and range from tales of selling his soul to the devil at midnight in the crossroads to learn how to play the accordion (Tisserand 1999, 50), to drinking half a bottle of whiskey every night in the midst of a show between the second and third song, to how he always kept a lemon in his pocket to keep his vo ice sounding so sweet (Ibid 68). His personality lives on in the Cajun music tradition as the mysterious accordion player who started it al l and disappeared in a tragic whirl of dust, leaving only the recorded sounds of his accordion behind. Amd Ardoin and white Cajun fiddle player Dennis McGee met in Eunice, LA while sharecropping the same plot of land, as many personal and musical relati onships were forged. The two struck up an immediate friendship and began playing wildly successful shows along the bayous and prairies. Ardoin became a sort of traveling musician, growing in popularity as he traveled all the way from the Texas border to Ne w prize winning performance in an accordion playing contest in Opelousas, the duo was invited to New Orleans to


45 create the first record ings of Cajun music 16 On e of these recor dings, nice Two is considered to be a land mark in Cajun music, one of the first fiddle and accordion duos, representing and preserving the substantial influence of the Creoles on the accordion playing and singing style used regularly by Cajuns t oday While this epic duo signified the fluidity of musical culture, Southern society in general was trying to build a dam. During the first three decades of the 1900s, as the entertainment industry grew to include the record ing industry and large venue v ariety shows, traditions of late night dances held in dance halls or nightclubs amongst the Southern Louisiana bayous and prairies remained the most popular form of entertainment amongst both the Cajun and Creole communities. What is most intriguing is tha t at this time when the music played within both contexts began to sound more and more similar, the scenes at the dances became increasingly segregated. As their popularity drew members of the white communities from outside the area who were not Cajun, the y evolved into some of the most dangerous venues for racial violence in the South. Ultimately, Dennis McGee and Amd Ardoin had to come to terms with this violent reality, as the duo made a habit of playing both white and black dance halls. Usually the wh ite dance halls in the countryside would pay musicians more for an evening of music than the black and because those hiring the duo were always e nchanted with their music, the duo w as happy to oblige regularly. However, legend has it that one night at one o f these dances Ardoin was spotted by two white men receiving a handkerchief to wipe his head in the middle of his performance from the white hand of a respected field 16 birth following the invention of were sending talent scouts into the rural communities hoping that people would buy the records of their favorite local musi taken 1928, just a year earlier, of Joe and Cleoma Falcon from Lafayette.


46 daughter. The two men followed him outside, and no one got in their way when they corner ed his small black frame, beat him unconscious and left him crumpled by the side of the road in a ditch. Although these blows did not kill Amd he was never seen with an accordion in hand again. His family sent him up north to an institution where he died some years later, suffering from dementia. a ccordion live on as the embodiment of the relationship between the Cajun and Creole musical communities that was forged in t he bayous for over a century and a half. The spirit he put into the keys of the accordion has lasted in the sounds of Louisian a accordion music to this day night he would dream, and then he would take his accordion and play that dream, and like, trance like, sound of the accordion has today become not only a defining feature of Cajun music, but also of the closely related m usic of Zydeco. Ardoin brought the blues into Cajun music like nobody else before him, but he also paved the way toward Zydeco music with his impassioned vocals and embodiment of the Creole style. Due to the heavy violence experienced first hand by Ardoin, it was at about the time of his passing when th e Caj uns and Creoles began to go their separate ways in terms of musical devel opment. The Creoles honed Zydeco, today a popular musical style in Louisiana played almost exclusively by African Americans Zydec o is often easily confused with Cajun music as both traditions use the French language and accordions in their songs, but the instrumentation and pacing of Zydeco could not be more different, usually featuring washboards, electrified instruments, and chromatic piano keyb oard accordions in place of


47 the fiddle, acoustic guitar, and diatonic accordion found in Cajun music. However, these two traditions share a common ancestor in Amd Ardoin and the landscape of the Louisiana bayous. The lives of people that found an accord ion in their hands in Louisiana were not always easy. It could be argued, however, that as an instrument it bridged the gap between strong racial tensions and the pressures of poverty. It might also be said that the the social life of the Cajuns and the Creoles in which it was a character from its first arrival in the latter half of the nineteenth century was rife with historical and societal challenges. However, the accordion has always been seen by Cajuns as a symbol of their abi lity to adapt and thrive in a new an d challenging cultural context, and as an impo rtant part of their identity in becoming Cajuns. The role of the Creoles in this development and the exposure to the instrument has never been shunn ed or ignored in the Cajuns narrative. As Cajun bandleader Chr arge part of what we consider Cajun music came from the influence of the Creoles. It is something we should be proud of ( Tisserand 1999, 8 ). C. The Golden Age s of Cajun Accordion Although the accordion began to circulate around the Cajuns regularly following the end of the Civil War, it was no t until after the turn of the twentieth century th at they began using the instrument in their traditional music on a regular basis. One major reason for this hesitation towards full integration was that the first accordi ons to be imported to


48 the area were in the keys of A and F only, which prevented their use as easy accompaniment to music which was played on fiddles. The fiddles could not be tuned reliably to these keys, as the strings (in their open tun ing) would have b een strung tight ly and in danger of break ing and so the accordion was at first singled off as a solo instrument. With the increase in trade and outside communication ushered in by new t echnologies such as trains and steamboats Cajuns began to gain access to good quality appeared, which was to become the basic model for all Cajun accordions after its time, cobson Co. of New York. These accordions were nicknamed (the little blacks) due to their color and were widely accepted by Cajuns, Amd Ardoin in particular. By th e 1920s, these models were imported in the keys of C and D, which allowed for their easy use with Cajun fiddle songs and caused an explosion in accordion popularity amongst Cajun musicians (Savoy 1984, 13). The accordion quickly began to prove itself as a welcome member of the Cajun ensemble Not only could it now accompany fidd le tunes, but it soon began to show its convenience in areas where the fiddle fell short. The accordion was durable and could with stand the semi tropical climate (dampness from humidity, extreme and quick weather changes) of Louisiana which caused frequent tuning problems and often permanent damage to the delicate fiddle. Whereas a broken string on the fiddle could cause a major set back due to the isolation of the Cajun communities, the accordion was virtually indestructible because each note possessed fou r reeds which could compensate for


49 well as its ability to accompany itself by supplying both a bass and chord section, which provided a full sound even in a packed and n oisy dancehall. And so the accordion began to revolutionize Cajun music, a nd the fiddle took a back seat as a percussive or harmonic can be attributed to the adoption o f the accordio n, because its si mplistic scale co uld not reproduce the delicate complexities that defined the old melodies. However, many new dance styles and traditional tunes were inspired by the accordion and ushered in th e era betw een 1915 and 1940 whic h was by Cajun historians such as Anne Savoy (Savoy 1984, 14). During the Golden Accordion Era Amd Ardoin and Dennis McGee laid the groundwork for many of the great accordion players that followed. This was the time wh en the Cajun band as we know it today c onsisting of an accordion, a fiddle, and a guitar or triangle for rhythmic backup began to take shape, and the time when the first Cajun music recordings were made for radio circula tion. These three factors created a niche for numerous Cajun accordion bands along the popular state circuit, and yielded some of the most popular s ongs in all of Cajun music, songs still played in dance halls regularly today. Cajun accordion player Joe Falcon gained an audience on an intern ational level, and the presence of the accordion and its association with Cajuns from Louisiana was engrai ned in the Anglo American conciousness Although this booming period of accordion popula rity would wane wi th the onset of the Great Depression and Wor ld War II, its i nfluence was lasting During World War II the accordion became unfashionable and shrank back into the midst of the smallest communities in Louisiana, where locals first began to


50 manufacture accordions themselves since all import s from Germ any had been stopped (Comeaux, 1999). The quality of these accordions was often very poor as they were usually composed of t he pieces of old or broken accordions found in the area, and this partially contributed to the instrument s fall from stardom. It was also during war time that Cajun music in general took a back seat to the popularity and mass appeal of other forms of music in the South such as the String Band, which incorporated elements of western music, swing, and jazz. Many Cajuns even began to participate in th is style of music and made a major comeback as weary GIs returned home full of pride a nd ready for a dose of traditional homeland culture. The accordion was again widely available, and the old, primitive sound returned to replace the hit parades in the dancehalls with the discovery of accordionist Iry LeJeune, today held by most Cajuns to be the best accordion player of all time (Savoy 1984, 152). LeJeune was a disciple of Ardoin, having said to have spent all his days as a youth listening to his records and practicing the accordion since he was nearly blind and could not work in the fields with his family. In said to be the sonic embodiment of all the pain, loneliness, and hardship of the isolated prairie farmers. Like Ar d oin, LeJeune also met a tragic end at a young age when he was killed in a highway accident one night at the peak of his career. B efore LeJ eune died he made a plethora of recordings that are today some of the most sought after of Cajun album eflection of t he People ne Savoy


51 pop ular in Southern Louisiana then as they are today, inspiring a revival of the acco rdion sound that continues to be popular. It remains an interesting point, though, that outside of Louisiana the ethnic stereotype of the accordion and its use by French Cajuns continued to be perpetuated as a negative portrayal of an un educated, backward s ( non E nglish to fellow Cajuns, to the greater population of Anglo Americans, and particularly record companies these records were understood the same w ay were understood Even the recordings taken by Lomax in 1934 of music from the Louisiana bayou s were used to further situate the Cajuns in opposition to modernity and perpetuate this feeling of separatism, as his very approach to the recordings inherently cast the community as the living embodiment of an idealized and exoticized past that they When these recordings were used as the soundtrack to the popular documentary drama Louisiana Story in 1948, which portrayed in moving pictures the struggles o eotype of isolated other ness was crystallized in the public eye forever. And so, f or the outside eye, the accordion continued to be a symbol of this lower nues to this day. Even with the appearance of Laurence Welk on the popular scene, who in th e 1950s represented a new, middle class association with the accordion to Americans its inclusion in the poor French speaking backwaters would not be easily forgott en.


52 However strongly these associations ignore the cultural complexities and nuances of the associative power inadvertently, and for some reason or another, this fact holds true for the accordion throughout many of its world travels, including those in Paris, France.


53 Chapter IV : France At sunset on a warm hand with you r lover down the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, overlooking all of Paris. T he domes of Sacre Coeur rise behind you. I n front of you, as far as you can see, the rooftops and slim chimney stacks are illuminated in the pink glow of the evening sun. In the distance, the Ei f fel Tower rises above the skyline, watching over the great city and distinguishing it from all others The swift and delicate cadence of the French language fills the air as does the cigarette smoke as it drifts from the small tables outside the caf s on every corner. Your face is warm and flush from the bottle of Ctes d u Rhne you just drank the robust earthy taste still lin gering on your lips. Now as you ponder these imaginary moments of an adventure through a romantic past, what is the musical a ccompaniment that comes to mind? What sounds are drifting down the narrow streets to your ears? That man on the corner with a mustache and a copper cup full of coins, could he be serenading you with anything but? Mais bien s That lo nesome tremolo ech oing down the pathways provides the perfect atmospheric soundtrack, in all its clich glory. Far across the Atlantic Ocean from the swampy Louisiana bayou, the accordi on simultaneously began to occupy and dominate the sound scape of the urban wonderland that is Paris. Again it made its way into the area in the hands of immigrants and assume d the role of the voice of the lower classes It was an instrumental voice that they could identify with and claim as a marker of their condition. The accordion nested itself in the lower social milieu of Paris and drew to it an entirely new form of music known as the


54 bal musette which became forever integrated into the mythological ideal that is the Paris of our collective imagination. Despite an enti rely different backdrop and cultural network from that of Louisiana, in Paris the accordion again managed to find itself as the central character in a social life of smoky dancehalls where the yelps and slurs of the French language could be heard late into the night. Somehow, from across the ocean, the 1920s saw these two distantly related cultures of people synchronically adopting the instrument and arrivals into their de stined musical nich es are unrelated to one another. While the those o f the Cajun bayou, the narrative that Parisians have constructed for themselves concerning their relationship to the accordion and the bal musette comes from the cultural and historical vantage point of Western Europe. To tell this story we must again return to Vienna, Austria, 1829 when Cyril l Demian first received his patent for the new akkordion which would spark a craze of similar musical inventions all throughout Europe. Within the dense cultural network of the European art world centered at this time in both Paris and Vienna, it seems logical that a decent amount of communication concerning ins trumental innovation in the two hubs would be commonplace 17 However, the accordion of the Parisian bal musette has a narrative of its own which highlights the importance of its rural adventures between Austria and France, before arriving in the metropolis of Paris. While it is easy to hypothesize that all a ccordions simply traveled directly across Western Europe in the 17 Indeed, there is evidence that an accordion like instrument was seen in Paris in a classica l music setting to the use of the accordion in the French folk music context which resulted in the well known and established Parisian bal musette.


55 hands of musically educated Germans, this tale takes us instead on a touristic journey through the southwest countryside. Due to the unnavig able, mountainous topogr aphy of the Swiss Alps, this ro g u e folk accordion chose to make its way into rural France throug h Italy, where it picked up a stylistic flair that would later influence its ultimate path towards bal musette in Paris. The relationshi p of the accordion to Italy has always been a salient and important one. On this original journey out of Austria circa 1840, it seems the Italians became immediately infatuated with its sound and began adopting it into their musical culture almost at once. It was at about this tim e when the Italians became serious about the manufacture of fine accordions, a craft which exploded in popularity and added to the circulation and advancement in technology of both diatonic and chromati c piano accordions during the nineteenth century in Western Europe. To this day, Italian accordions are argued to be of the highest quality available, rivaling and often exceeding those made in Germany. In fact, the accordion is still very much a part of modern Italian culture, where in Venice today, it can be seen that Paris was not the only mystical European city that claimed the accordion as its accompaniment to an age now idealized and reproduced for romantic effec t. F loating down the Grand Canal in a gondola, take note of what ins trument is being played in the distance. As we will continue to see, the original passage of the accordion through Italy in the first decades of its life was influential not only in the impact it made in its wake, but also in the mannerisms and tendencies that it picked up along the way like aesthetic souvenirs Through this path to the s outh, it danced its way over the southwestern border of Italy and into the Massif Central region of France just years after its invention, where it was quick to converge


56 w ith the traditional music of the French countryside. It was here, in Auvergne, where the accordion first became popular and planted the seeds that grew to inspire a new music that would become so closely identified with Paris. A. Les Auvergnats et l origine de la Bal Musette The region of central France known as Auvergne is one of the least developed, rural pr ovinces in the country. Historically a home to agrarian com munities, Auvergne stretches over mountain ranges, dormant volcanoes, and miles upon miles of rolling green hills which are home to some of the purest lakes and finest cheeses in France. Upon the arriva l of the accordion in the decades 1840 1850, Auvergne was a small, rural farming region with a unique and l i vely musical culture. In Paris at the time, the popular strains in music tended to be classically minded compositions stemming from either the long standing tradition of French chanson or the new and exciting strains of Romantic operas and symphonies. But in the provincial territories such as Auvergne, an entirely different form of grassroots musical culture had taken shape where the main purpose was dance. The sound of this folk music from Auvergne may come as a surprise to many, as the unique instrumentation is centered on the cabrette a C eltic influenced instrument in the same family as the bagpipe, and with an almost identical sound (Ancelet 1989, 15). This instrument created a style of folk dance which sounds Irish in origins, incorporating jigs, waltz, and the identifying 3/8 rhythms th at could keep the entire village dancing late into the night. The other characteristic instrument in these dances, which were primarily only duos, was the French vielle roue or hurdy gurdy, with its distinctive drone called a bourdon which was accented in the slower regret dances of the style. The sounds of the


57 cabrette and vielle roue playing together created a sound that laid the groundwork perfectly for the entrance of the accordion, however frustrated with its arrival the Auvergn at musicians were at first. Afraid that the new instrument would ruin their beloved folk dances, the musicians took up arms for its prohibition when it first made its little more than accompanying a dancing bear, and are absolutely unworthy of limbering the legs of our delightful Cantal 18 Figure 5 Unfortunately for these musici ans, however, the accordion had pushed its way into their rural folk music and could not be ignored. Although bo th the cabrette and the vielle roue were equal to the accordion in their capacity for volume, the sweetness of the new squeezebox and its abil ity to stay in tune far longer and with much more ease than these rural instruments eventu ally won them over. The vielle roue was the first to go, as its 18 Canta l was at this time a territory in Auvergne


58 complicated and delicate design was already archaic and difficult for the outdoor conditions of danc es. The accordion could imitate the hollow bourdon drone that accompanied the cabrette easily with just a push of the bass chord buttons (See Figure Five) both the cabrett e and vielle roue at the same time, as the instrument also had bellows like the cabrette which created a similar sound and had an equal pitch for the playing of the melody. While the Auvergnats would hold onto the original construction of their music as instrument that had arrived on the scene. They warmed up to it slowly, a process which was violently sped up when in 1880 the difficult conditions of rural Auvergne forced many of t hem to pack up their instruments and move to Paris. What the accordion would inspire with their rural folk dances there, no one could have guessed. When the Auvergnats arrived in Paris with accordions and cabrettes in hand although they were French 19 they were nonetheless considered im migrs and forced to settle amongst other immigrants in the outer lying, lower class arrondissements of Paris. For them, this meant on the east side of Paris, near Place de la Bastille, Montreuil, and Charonne, where a large po pulation of Italian immigrants had already settled. The Auvergnats had moved to the large city looking for opportunity and work, bu t also sought to keep their sense of community alive, and with it, their rich musical t raditions. With these two things in mi nd, many opened up small shops in the 11 th 12 th and 19 th arrondissements that sold coal and wine during the day, and doubled as cafs or small 19 A t the time, many Auvern ats spoke a dialect of French that would have been different from that spoken in Paris.


59 dancehalls at night. This arrangement allowed for a maximum profit as both coal mer chants and caf proprietors could also provide a suitable venue for their Auvergnat dances. Much to the pleasure of their insular community, at first these dances featured primarily traditional Auvergnois music, complete with blazing cabrettes. Soon however, tensions rose as prof its dropped and complaints against the music from the local Italian neighbors and Parisi ans became more frequent. The music of the Auvergnats, even with their rudimentary inclusion of the accordion, was not perfectly suited to the fast pace and refined taste o f Paris (Dewale 1995, 23). Coincidentally, the Italian factions of these eastern neighborhoods in Paris had already developed their own unique connection with the accordion (more than likely as a result of its travel to Italy prior to arrival in Southern France) and its presence in the Auvergnat consciousness became more pronounced than ever. The Italians played the accordion with a much mo re melodious flair than their new neighbors, and one thing was certain ong before the Auvernats stubbornly started to look toward these playing methods to boost profits in their dancehalls, and by 1900, the cabrette had disappeared completely to leave the accordion as the star of the show ( Tchamouroff 2010). In 1905, Antoine Bouscatel, a small time merchant/dancehall owner from Auvergne married the daughter of an Italian accordion prodigy and manufacturer by the name of Perugi. When Bouscatel invited his father in law to lead the nightly Auvergnat band in his dance hall, a so cial and musical harmony that symbolized the birth of a new genre was instantly forged (Dewale 1995, 26). What emerged was a waltz centric music


60 with bright interludes that featured the melodic runs and tremolos of the accordion as the dominant lead. Altho ugh the collaboration was strained at first, the Italians and Auvergnats living in Paris together managed to take the accordion and create an entirely new form of music around it that would come to be known as the bal musette after the pet name for the da nce halls where it was played. The accordion had successfully created for itself a new social life in the urban landscape of Paris where it would thrive and grow musette st arted a tradition that not only brought in a golden source of income and provided danceable entertainment for the lower classes of Paris, but which also chan ged the sonic atmosphere of the city forever. B. Age d Or de la Bal Musette Paris Paris of the ni neteenth and early twentieth centuries had the habit of acting like a great commercial machine that absorbed the cultural information it was given and mixed it around to create something slightly new that was uniqu Such is t he case with bal musette By the end of World War I, the sweet sounds of the accordion had lured both Parisian musicians and community members from across the entire city into the dark, smoky bal mus ettes of the Italian/Auvergnat im migrs in the outlying ar rondissements of the northeast. As their popularity grew to envelope more and more of the lower class Parisian population, so too did the music absorb more and more bal musette ensemble and so und became more distinctly defined as a Parisian staple. Paris took hold of the accordion musette and turned its sound urban, florid, and smoky to fit the pace of the bars


61 and the dancers in them. The standard ensemble grew in size and usually consisted of one or two accordions, a piano, a violin and/or a clarinet, and a guitar or banjo playing rhythm (Newton 2010). With the appearance and usage of the fleeter, more harmonically flexible, chromatic accordion on the scene, the music grew quicker and more orn amented than ever before. The dancers on the floor cried out for the new craze known as the to develop its sounds to the movement of their feet. As the city moved into t he 1920s, the bal musette continued to be a scene of the Parisian underground where the influence of larger trends in music and dance trickled in often been discussed a where the women wore flapper dresses and the American intellectual elite, the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter, found cultural worth and refuge in the bohemian brasseries of Montmartre where they could drink whiskey and flner throughout the decadent streets with the likes of Pablo Picasso 20 Yet while the American influence on the world wide po pularity of jazz and swing at this time cannot be denied, the relationship of the lower class Parisians and the bal musette moveme nt with this so represented by an idealized portrayal of the time perio d from this American viewpoint Although it is easy to let our imagi nations m ake the association with this film when we try to envision the night life of Paris during the 1920s, the re ality of social life where the accordion and the bal musette thrived was far darker and much more difficult to romanticize than the world of our 20 Of note of the analytic cubism while living in Paris.


62 bohe mian intellectuals. Being the mainstay of entertainment for people from the low end of Parisian society, the bal musettes were rough and tumble places where the polite did not regularly travel. These were small, smoke filled caves where scrap dealers, sail ors, immigrants, transients, factory workers, Pigalle prostitutes, musicians, gypsies, and boozers of all brands could come for a cheap drink and good music to dance away their troubles for a night. Police raids, broken glass, and angry fist fights were no strangers to the nightly accordion players in these establishments. These musicians were usually extremely poor or even homeless men who were able to acquire an accordion due to its affordability and relativ e ease of play, where th e instant gratifica tion quality rewarded people eager to dance. These accordionists might depend on these dances as their primary Accordion Crimes : Charles worked the roughest bals musette (the fashionable men in their mink trousers and zip jackets never came there), playing doggedly for tips in the smoke and shouts and fights. There were no breaks. When he stopped for a piss or a drink dancers screamed curses and threw things at his skinny back. His pay, often eno ugh, was un petit vin blanc which was the cheapest and which became his realest pleasure then and for ever. (Proulx 1996, 166) Despite bal musettes were by no means completely void of innovation or cultural worth. As the 1930s approached, jazz and swing music became increasingly more influential on many the same old valse musettes over and over. Althou gh the trends of jazz music and the bal


63 musette were at first considered to be completely incompatible with one another, it was the leadership of the guitar that shed light on to how their elements could be combined. At the time, many of the rhythm guitar players in bal musette ensembles were gypsies who had begun to take a strong interest in the scales and rhythms used in swing and jazz music, and had started doubling as musicians in jazz clubs around Paris. The gypsies, including the king of gypsy swing h imself, Django Reinhardt who first got his start playing in Parisian bal musettes, began to combine the two repertoires and sneak elements of jazz into their musette sounds, and the accordion players followed suite. Soon, the eastern sounding scales on gui 29) were staples in bal musette as well, and this ushered in a new wave of popularity and interest amongst Parisians in the accordion based music. Dances got wilder and much more sexual with the appearance of the foxtrot and a new form of accordion music 21 and the state of mind that it evoked a working clas attitude unconstrained by bourgeoi s social norms. Ironically though, soon accordionists such as mile Vacher and Jo Privat gained city wide fame which drew the attention of the upper classes of Parisian society to the bal musettes. The success of clubs like the Balajo in the 11th arrondi s sement inspired the opening of many new, more refined dancehalls with a similar style in the upper class neighborhoods of Paris near the Champs lyses, and with them, the accordion became buried deeper in the Parisian narrative toward the secu 21 1940, Edith Piaf sings the song of a woman who d modern version of a waltz mazurka (Dewale 1995, 43).


64 Another parallel movement that was occurring within the repertoire of the Parisian bal musette during the 1930s was that of the Argentinian tango. Although this nd Swing Era musettes, it was nonetheless a significant and alluring addition to the scene. As Paris was the cultural center of the art and fashion world at the time, it was originally the Parisians who brought the attention of the world to this Argentinia n music (Newton 2010). Again, this narrative draws our attention to how vast and impactf by this time, and to how many different cultures consider the instrument as part of their nationally identifying music. That the Parisians ( specifically the remaining enclaves of Italian immigrants who still played the accordion in bal musettes), would gain enough pull to incorporate the Latin based music into their own version of nationalistic accordion music and perform it la mode franai s e without any consideration towards authenticity, even further demonstrat es the transcultural power of the instrument By the 1940s, the sound of the accordion and the bal musette ensemble had made their way into comme rcial representations of Paris. Popular films such as Zou Zou (1934) and Sous les toits des Paris (1930) had provided a glimpse into the culture of these Parisian dances, and led to the wider acceptance of the accordion as a cultural icon that was part of the sonic landscape of the city rather than simply a symbol of poverty in the hands of beggars on the street. The accordion reached the height of Parisian vogue during ad started her career as a young girl on the streets and in the seedy bal musettes of the 20 th arrondissement, where she met accordion player Jean Vissade (the famous accordion player for whom Django Reinhardt was first an accompanist) who invited her to j oin him


65 for one of her first radio broadcasts. Following her discovery by a nightclub owner in Pigalle, Piaf would continue to sing with the bal musette/cabaret singing style and band which would become her trademark as the voice of Paris, with all its dec adence and a song which defines the loneliness and heartbreak of a woman in love with an accordion player through a metaphor of the dith Piaf was the most popular entertainer that same year, she single handedly ensured that the soundtrack to Paris would for years to come be associated with her voic e and the accordion. The melody to this song is perhaps the most popular and recognized accordion tune in existence, and often the clich trope used to reference Paris in pop culture (Ibid, 42). bal musette accor dion was at the heart of the sound of popular, commercial French music. Accordion players such as Gus Viseur and Yvet te Horner became sensations who traveled to the United States to perform with the likes of Glenn Miller, and who are still today associate d with the instrument by the French whenever the accordion is mentioned. However, as the trends of music in Paris rocketed onwards towards rock and roll and disco in the 1960s and 70s, the accordion quickly fell out of popularity and was again marginalized towards the lower class and to clichs of an over idealized vision of the Paris of the past. The relationship that Parisians developed with the instrument and the way that they construct their narrative of identification with it is a complicated one. Prou d to have an icon like dith Piaf to create the soundtrack to their great city, yet ashamed to be identified with an instrument carrying such negative associative power. In any case, it is undeniable that the


66 accordion in Paris is a very strong symbol, for better or for worse, and that this is a result of its huge ability to draw towards it a social life amidst the city that was very impactful for the members of the lower class. The Parisian bal musette was a new and unique movement that was accordion centr ic tailored specifically to its sounds and ability to provide music for large, ro wdy groups of people to dance Not only did the accordion assume the role of the voice of a people and their struggle in the urban city, but it also managed to position itse lf firmly in the timeless collective imagination of the magical Paris and its atmospheric sound scape.


67 Chapter V: Modern Day Life of the Accordion in Louisiana and Paris Last year, on a humid sunny day in New Orleans during the French Quarter Festiv al in April, I happened to be walking down Royal Street when I heard that familiar accordion moan from around the corner. A s I followed the sound, I began to slowly make out the melody to one of my favorite old Cajun tunes an Iry LeJeune standard called, the a ccordion player, who wailed those French lyrics as he played as if LeJeune himself had come down and implanted himself in the small frame of this young, slight ly dirty, looking young man. His band mates were similarly dressed, playing the fiddle, a slide guitar, and an acoustic guitar at the rhythm. In front of them, their sleeping dog lay beside several empty beer cans and an open fiddle case with a piece of ca rdboard that read disheveled appearance was just another part of the atmosphere, and by the time they finished their song the fiddle case was full of change and dollar bills. For some reason, I or four songs before I felt inclined to buy them all a beer and start chatting it up with them about their musi c. As it would turn out, the 24 year o ld accordion player was actually a Parisian. He spoke to me in broken English and some French, and told me the story of his childhood in Paris. Born in a poor neighborhood, he had picked up the accordion from his father, who had taught him to play and inst illed a great love of Cajun music in his heart. Ever since he was a little boy, he had been dreaming of escaping the merde that is Paris and moving to the great, romantic Lafayette, Louisiana, the world


68 capital of Cajun accordion music. At the time I could as I was planning my semester abroad in Paris, it seemed absurd that someone who was lucky enough to be born in that great European city would want to escape it for metaphor for the general state of accordion culture at large today in Louisiana and Paris, as I have experienced it throughout my own travels over the past year. Following the cultural milieus during the 1920s 1950s, the relationship of each culture with the accordion began to drastically change. As represented by this young Parisian immigrant, in Louisiana the accordion has finally been able to use its associative power to draw around it a sense of cultural pride. After almost a century and a half of backwoods Cajun stereotypes and alienation, the diasporic community has finally begun to shine as an important component to the rich musical landscape of Louisiana. New Orleans in particular has adopted the Cajun accordion style into its famo us musical heritage along with Dixieland Jazz, Louis Armstrong, second line ensembles, and funk. Any given night in New Orleans or Lafayette you could very well step in to a small, smoky bar and hear an accordion leading the whole room in a bubbly two ste p. Music festivals celebrating Cajun heritage, such as Festivale Internationale de Louisiane and BlackPot, have become annual t raditions that abound in Cajun music, cooking, dancing, and instrumental workshops. A visit to Louisiana for one of these festiva ls quickly becomes an adventure into this unique social life that is earnest in its representation of a culture. Over the years,


69 I have met many an accordion player who through a series of shared beers and dances has become my friend, and these festivals a re a place of meeting for us year after year. has waned. In attending a live performa nce by a Cajun band, you are entering into a special moment in culture that is the ultimate expression of the narrative I have attempted to reconstruct. You are expected to dance lest you get run off the dance floor by spinning waltzers, you are expected t o drink, and you are expected to anticipate the use of the French language. Whether you see the band play at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette, or at the bar in your local town, the accordion in the hands of the Cajuns represents a certain expression of th eir cultural narrative that they consciously carry with them in of identity that they have forged since the time of its inclusion in their music. And perhaps this is wha t has drawn me towards it as a similar symbol of my own identity. When I travel to Louisiana for a Cajun music festival, it has become an expression of my o wn chosen historical narrative ated with the late night what negative connotations or inauthenticity issues it may have once had, for its very ome) makes it attractive. Cajun music today exists somewhat out of time, as a static moment where sound and dance prevail. The sound is less indicative of any particular time period, than it is of a mindset and way the accordion contributed to creating. The accordion in the hands of the Cajun musician today is an object through which he tells his


70 of situating the self in a In Paris, however, the relationship of the accordion to the modern day city and its inhabitants is completely different. As referenced by the story of the Parisian accordion player in New Orleans, the days of the bal musette are very much over. One would have m uch better luck finding a night club featuring accordion music in Louisiana than in Paris these days. Although as I traveled throughout Europe looking for the accordion it allowed 1980), what I found was a social life surrounding the instrument entirely different from that which I had been used to experiencing in Louisiana. In Paris the remnants of the bal muset te exist only in the imaginations of the tourists. Where in the Paris of our dreams there is an accordion player in a black and white striped shirt and a beret playing the au 40 radio. Unlike in Cajun culture, where traditions are recycled generation after generation to solidify their identity, Parisian culture, like that of any large urban city, is progressive and exists in a constant state of modernity (despite its reputation as one of the oldest and most romantic cities of antiquity). In Paris, the playing of the accordion still holds a negative and lower class association. While the days of the late night accordion dan ces are over, today the un pet t upturned. Although I lived in the heart of the bal mus ette district of the 1920s 30s during


71 my time in Paris (in the 11 th arrondissement near Place de la B astille), most of these busking accordion players that I encountered were on the busiest metros into the center of town, or near the largest tourist attra ctions. As for me personally, it was always a thrill to listened to multiple songs and chatted with the musicians. I found that the majority of accordion players in Par is are actually immigrants from Italy, Algeria, Belgium, and other places in Europe. To some of them, I would tell the story of my Cajun heritage and response. The a ccordion in Paris is a symbol of the clich, of the all to often idealized and fictionalized Paris of the collective consciousness created by pop culture. The sounds of the bal musette are a direct illusion to the past, and to the modern Parisian, a past t hat seems inconsistent with the identity they strive for today. Unlike in Louisiana, a sense of time, the narrative of the instruments social life has developed and changed. In Louisiana it has thrived and been cultivated into a real movement, where Cajun musicians with accordions in hand have managed to establish their music internationally in big stage venues; and in Paris, it has waned to only the shadows of an und erground movement that


72 CONCLUSION The social life of the accordion in Cajun Louisiana and Paris, both yesterday and today, is a complex and fascinating narrative. From Austria to Italy, lighthouse keepers to slave plantations, rural folk dances to smoky metropolis bars, and swampy bayous to big stage lights, the accordion has traveled around the world and become a main character in many different French structions of musical identity. As we have seen through its adventures in Southwestern Louisiana and the lower class milieus of Paris in the 1920s and 30s, the accordion is a character in multiple stories that able to facilitate, prevent or mediate social action among other characters whether it is in bringing slaves and the poor white classes of the bayous together over music or in creating a new style of dance in urban Paris, by traveling into the hands of the right peopl e, the accordion has changed the trajectory of musical and social action. Where in Cajun Louisiana the instrument was incorporated in as a crucial new player to an old tradition of cultural music, in Parisian bal musette it was completely refurbished and made the star of a new show that was uniquely Parisian in flavor. and convenience of use, circumstances perfectly aligned for it to become a soulful voice of the down trodden, low end of the communities. In both contexts it appears as a mysterious visitor who managed to revolutionize the musical landscape and keep the people dancing to the timing of a refurbish ed waltz until the wee hours of the morning. Although the tw o cultures may only be related through an ancestry hundreds of years


73 before the accordion arrived on the scene, both led the instrument down a path of the French language, dance, and celebration into its comfortable niche in their musical cultures. As any good traveler does, the accordion has mediated between the poles of instrument adopted by many cultures and now appreciated in commercial markets for its 22 it is difficult to definitively personify the instrument as one or the other in these specific contexts of Cajun Louisiana and Paris. Where journey re by the arts of mass publicity its power as an object along each of these paths differed causing it to be subjective in the hands of all the different people it encountered along the way. Although the accord ion arrived as a tourist to the landscape of Cajun traditional music in the hands of the African Americans and Germans, in this experience of tourism it found for itself a new identity. Today, the accordion has become an important symbol of identity to Caj uns as the personifying element of their musical sound, and so in a way the Cajuns have taken the ard to say. In Paris, on the other hand, the accordion arrived in the culture of the city and forged an entirely new style of music and night life known as the bal musette Although the music was innovative and served as an authentic voice of the downtrod den Parisians 22 Including being deemed


74 accordion exists in the Parisian milieu as purely a touristic image of wh at people want Paris to be. The clich of the accordion in the city serves to promote that feeling of of the Eiffel Tower has the perfect accordion soundtrack that situates you without a shadow of a doubt, in Paris. For this reason today, the Parisians seem to have equal disdain for the accordion as they do for American tourists. Although it could be said that the sounds of the Cajun accordion can also aid to situat that the Parisians themselves culture as a prideful part of their identity In eith er case, it may be that from a modern vantage point it is a bit of a stretch to personify the instrument this way, whereas previously in this thesis and in a historical and device. The transculturative power of the accordion in many different sociohistorical contexts remains strong, and while it may have a variety of different identities in these contexts, the nature of its power, mystique, and allure is consistent in all the se narratives in which it is a character. In my own experiences it has helped me identify with a culture and in a sense, move beyond tourism. It has been a crucial character in my own youthful identity seeking narrative of travel and adventure. While defin itively characterizing the global movements of the accordion as one thing or another in history is perhaps impossible, it is certain that looking at its


75 displacement, for trajectories and identities, for storytelling and theorizing in a As far as accordion culture of the future in Louisiana and Paris and worldwide is concerned, all I can say is Laissez Les Bons Temps Ro ule r


76 Reference List Ancelet, Barry Jean.1989. Cajun Music: Origins and Development University of Louisiana, Center for Louisiana Studies: Lafayette. The Bellows: March/April 19 94 Bates, Eliot. 2012. The Social Life of Musical Instruments. Ethnomusicology Journa l Vol. 56, No.3. [Fall] Society for Ethnomusicology. Brasseaux, Carl. 1987. The Founding of New Acadia: The Beginnings of Acadian Life in Louisiana, 1765 1803 Lo uisiana State University Press. Brasseaux, Carl. 1992. Acadian to Cajun: Transformation of a People, 1803 1877. Louisiana State University Press. Brasseaux, Ryan Andr. 2009. Cajun Breakdown. New York: Oxford University Press. Comeaux, Malcolm. 1999. Intr oduction and Use of Accordions in Cajun Music. Louisiana Folklore Miscellany .[Fall]. Inscriptions, Vol. 5. Ed. Jame s Clifford and Vivek Dhareshwar. Center for Cultural Studies. Dewale, Amandine. 1995. Les origines du bal musette Universit de Paris 8e: Mmoire de matrise d'anthropologie. Courbevoie, Fr. Dvorak, Antonin. 1895. Music in America. 90. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper 1877. Dec. 22, 264: 1886, May 15, 206. Every Saturday 2, No. 75 (June 3, 1871): 524 525 Kondert, Reinhart. 1985. The German Involvement in the Rebellion of 1768. L ouisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 26, No.4 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 385 397


77 Lavergne, Gary M. 1991. Lives of Quiet Desperation: The Ancestry of a Louisiana Frenchman Austin: Atex Austin. Lees, Gene. 1987. "The Sparrow Edith Piaf," in Singers & The Song 23 43. Oxford University Press. The Poems of Longfellow. New York: Illustrated Modern Library. Macerollo, Joseph. 1980. Accordion Resource Manual Avondale Press. M arcuse, Sibyl. 1964. Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. Marcuse, Sibyl. 1975. A Survey of Musical Instruments New York: Harper and Row. Newton, Dan. 2010. A History of the Musette. Daddy Squeeze Music. [accessed February 15th, 2013] Proulx, Annie. 1996. Accordion Crimes. New York: Scribner. Savoy, Ann Allen. 1984. Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People, (Vol. 1). Eunice, La.: Bluebird Press. Tchamouroff, 2010. A Short History of the Bal Musette. Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society. [accessed February 15th, 2013] Tisserand, Michael. 1998, The Kingdom of Zydeco New York: Arcade. Material Culture and Ethnography Pete r Lang, New York.


78 APPENDIX A Different Types of Accordions 1. THE DIATONIC ACCORDION Diatonic accordions have one, two or three rows of buttons (never keys) on the right hand side used to produce melody and eac h row possesses notes within a single d iatonic key having only the notes of that scale. Each button plays a different note depending on whether the bellows are being compressed ("pushed") or expanded ("pulled"). On the left hand side, diatonic accordions generally have anywhere from two to tw elve buttons, depending on how many rows of buttons are on the right. These notes provide b ass notes and/or chords in the same key of the melody buttons. Diatonic accordions, while having many reeds, have a full tonal rage of only one key for this reaso accordion can play songs in the key of their instrument and its relative minor. For example, an instrument in D can play music in D major an d B minor ( as well as A Mixolydian and E Dorian and tunes that use gapped scales, such as pentatonic (blues) tunes with a root of D, G or A ). Diatonic accordions are the primary type of accordion used in Cajun music, and for this reaso n there exist today diatonic accordions that have one row of buttons on the right and two alternating bass notes on the left that are specifically referred weight and portable compared to their chromatic counterparts.


79 2. THE CHROMATIC BUTTON ACCORDION Chromatic accordions have three to five rows of buttons on the melody side of the instrument Unlike the diatonic accordion, these button s are tuned to a specifi c note that stays the same regardless of whether the bellows are being pushed or pulled. Chromatic accordions can generally play in any key, having at least one button for every standard note, whether natural, sharp, or flat. These accordions have the la rgest range of any other design, usually five octaves plus a minor third (E2 G7). The left hand side of the instrument is where the chords are created, and usually use the Stredella system where the notes are arranged in the circle of fifths. Each butto n, when pressed, produces all three pitches (root, 3 rd and 5th) of a given chord at once for a full sound.


80 3. THE CHROMATIC PIANO ACCORDION The piano key accordion is by nature chromatic, meaning that it can play in a variety of keys, although someti mes it is limited to only three keys due to the short span of the keyboard The right hand side of the instrument has a keyboard which functions exactly like that of a piano, usually possessing 41 keys (3 octaves plus a major third) The left hand side but tons are either arranged in that of the Stradella or free bass system, similarly to a chromatic button accordion The piano key accordion is probably the most recognizable brand of accordion, and allows for an easier play for those who are knowledgeable of piano notation. It is the type of accordion most commonly used in Zydeco music in Louisiana and classic Italian accordion music. It is also the heaviest and most difficult to maneuver style of accordion.


81 APPENDIX B TIMELINE of relevant dates 1534 J acques Cartier discovers Canada for the French Crown 1604 Founding of Port Royale 1635 French Colonists settle in Guadeloupe 1682 French explorer claims lower Mississippi River country for King Louis XIV, names it Louisiane 1697 France gains control o ver half of the island of Saint Domingue, (present day Haiti) 1719 First slaves set foot on Louisiana soil 1721 1722 New Orleans declared seat of authority (for France) 1755 Le Grand Derangement Acadians sy stematically exiled from Canada 1763 Spanish gain control over Louisiana Treaty of Paris 1763 76 American Revolution 1764 Acadians first arrive in Louisiana 1768 German and Acadian settl ers join forces in march on New Orleans The Louisiana Rebellion of 1768 1791 1804 Haitian Revolution 1800 Napoleon gets Louisiana back from Spain 1803 The Louisiana Purchase 1809 10,000 refugees from Saint Domingue arrive in New Orleans 1812 Louis iana becomes a state in the union 1822 Cyri l l Demian invents the accordion 1840 Height of slavery in America


82 International export of the accordion from Austria Arrival of accordion in Southern France 1850 65 Arrival of accordion in Louisiana 1865 End of Civil War, abolishment of slavery 1880 Auvergnats migrate to Paris 1900 Opening of first successful bal musettes in Paris 1914 18 WWI 1916 Louisiana State legislature outlaws use of Cajun French in schools 1920 Monarch Accordions in keys of C and D arri ve in Louisiana 1929 1930 5 musettes 1939 45 WWII 1947 as a single 1948 First recordings of Iry LeJeune are released and inspire a new wave of accordion popularity in Cajun Louisiana 1968 French language reinstated as a co re subject taught in Acadiana parish schools