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Polka Vs. Zydeco


Pablo Sanchez
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Being a fan of contemporary accordion music I’ve got to say that we need to bridge this gap and come together for the greater good. Enough of this holier than thou attitude from the Zydeco scene. There’s a lot to be learned from the old school Polka people.

I know that they don’t serve alcohol at retirement homes, but some of the pills these people have are out of this world.

Get out there and support your local Polka scene!

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Me, I'm more of a fan of the new alt-accordion style, as exemplified by an old university buddy of mine, Accordion Guy. He's breaking down the barriers between genres, by playing accordion whenever and wherever he can, even going so far as doing AC/DC and Outkast songs on accordion.

Now if we could just get him to step up and join a certain band I know...

Aloha,

Brad

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In fairness, there is a natural separation between zydeco and polka styles in part 'cus they actually use completely different instruments. The typical accordion used in cajun and zydeco music is a button-style accordion (also sometimes called a concertina) as seen here:

acc165.jpg

This style of instrument is typically diatonic (i.e. plays in one key such as C-major) and sounds different notes depending on if you are drawing or blowing air through the bellows of the instrument - in other words, if you change the direction you are pumping air, the notes change. This is basically the same principle as blowing in or out of a standard (non-orchestral) harmonica, you get different notes for each.

Polka music usually favours the piano accordion, as seen here:

acc180.jpg

This obviously uses a piano style keyboard for the right hand melody parts, and an AMAZING array of buttons for chords and bass notes as accompaniment. Although they have some visual similarity to those on the button accordion, these buttons always sound they same notes/chords regardless of whether air is going in or out of the bellows of the instrument.

(The preceding information was brought to you by your accordion-geek-in-residence.) ;):D

Peace,

Mr. M.

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When I was down in Louisiana a few years ago, my wife and I stumbled a bit off the beaten path between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and ended up at this crazy mini-cajun festival at an old plantation house. There were these 8 or 10 year kids playing some of the fastest, most insane music you've ever heard! One kid who couldn't have been more than 8 or 9, he would play accordion for a bit, sing a little (in French of course), then drop the accordion and pick up a fiddle, sing a bit more, then grab a guitar, and so on, and smoke on every part. Just nuts!!!

BTW thank god New Orleans doesn't look like it's gonna get totally destroyed by the hurricane (touch wood). I was really worried one of my favourite cities on the planet would be toast.

- M.

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Although I am a big fan of some Zydeco, such as the Bluerunners or Buckwheat Zydeco, if we are going to talk accordion we really have to give credit where credit is due. I mean, how many people have actually had their accordion music played internationally on rock stations? I can think of only one ... Weird Al Yankovic!

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my brother and I use to love watching Walter on TV....gotta love that smile.

e.i.e.i.e.i.O

If anyone ever wants to learn how to Polka - I'm your girl!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! holy crap, sunshine, when i was about three, "polka time" was my favourite tv show. whenever i'd be at my grandparents & it would come on, i would go absolutely nuts dancing all over the place.

polka party? it's so on! i'm from kitchener, folks 'round these parts are born & bred on schnitzel, sausage & a good old fashioned polka. the *five feet of fury* & i are freakin' polka machines at oktoberfest!

WHICH, is only a few weeks away now!!! whoohooo!!!! sorry, any festival where they shut down the main streets of downtown & put up beer tents for a week is good news in my books. :D

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it is good to have you back, Mr Musicface!!!

Agreed. Seriously, that stuff about the difference between a concertina and an accordian is exactly the sort of thing I wonder about while perusing the liner notes of CDs, but can't be bothered to investigate myself. You have saved my lazy ass some work. Cheers!

Now, if someone could explain to me the difference between a trumpet and a cornet...

(I saw Buckwheat Zydeco once, back in high school. Pretty cool stuff!)

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Now, if someone could explain to me the difference between a trumpet and a cornet...

This article says that it's largely a difference in tone quality, which is really noticable when the trumpets and cornets are in their own sections.

(If you want to know how I found that out, all I did was ask Google, what's the difference between a trumpet and a cornet?. (Some of the other results, like this, are also worth reading, but there are a lot of musician jokes as well.)

Aloha,

Brad

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Oh, I know it would be easy to find out... but trust me, I'm really lazy - I can't be bothered to get up and go to the computer when I'm thinking of the question, and never thinking of the question when I'm in front of a computer.

Thanks for the link, though!! One more question off my already-burdened mind.

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