Why The Accordion?

My friend asked me back in January, “Why do you want to be able to play the accordion?” I told him, “Because it’s awesome!”

One of my favourite pieces of music ever is La Noyee from the soundtrack to Amelie, which is played on the accordion. I’ve listened to that track hundreds of times and imagined myself playing it like this guy:

So last year I ended up buying a 48 bass piano accordion. Little did I know at the time I wouldn’t be able to play La Noyee on my accordion because it was too small, I’d need a 120 bass piano accordion. But I’d already bought my 48 bass one so bought a book that would teach me the coordination and basics of playing. I decided to make it up after that. I’d spent 12 years playing the trumpet and reading music, but never learnt to play without music. I couldn’t improvise, memorise a tune, play by ear or make up a melody. So with the accordion I decided this was my main point of focus. I started playing around with 4 chord sequences and attempted to make up a tune. Success! After experimenting a lot I ended up writing a couple of short tunes and I never even wrote them down. I had made them up and played them back from memory. Next task: play by ear. I was listening through the soundtrack to Micmacs (another Jean-Pierre Jeunet film) and heard this tune:

Now the beginning of this isn’t even played on an accordion and even later on the accordion doesn’t actually play any chords, but I managed to work out the chords and the melody by ear. In order to do this I had to first work out the left hand and then the right hand, but I couldn’t actually play them together because the rhythms on each hand were very different to what I’d been playing so far. But no one ever improves by only playing easy stuff, so this was perfect for me. It took me quite a while but eventually I could actually play it, and with this new rhythm pattern which my fingers were accustomed to, I could try making up a host of other songs.

Now I’m in two bands and am working on an original song for one of them. My first public performance will be next month as I’m playing with one of the bands at an open mic night. I might even do a couple of solo numbers of my own as well if there’s time/space. Then I’m aiming to go busking around Bath in the summer. Studying music and writing music means I’m sat inside all day in front of my computer/keyboard so it’ll be nice to get outside into the sunlight and breath a bit of fresh air. Then next year I’d like to be in a position where I could warrant buying a full size 120 bass piano accordion, so that I can learn La Noyee and make my own video performing this amazing piece of music.

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