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Friday, May 13, 2011

Accordion arrangement

I intended to post this last night, but the site was down!

On two of the songs to be recorded next week, Jane will be playing accordion. “Yes Indeed,” is a Zydeco-style song in which the accordion is featured, and “Walk With Me,” is a chant-like composition in which the accordion plays drone chords, not unlike a harmonium or a shruti box.

Jane already has parts worked out for our live shows, but I wanted to have another listen to make sure they are the ideal lines for the recorded versions. This evening we got together and focused on that.

Jane pulled out her brand new red pearl, two octave Hohner accordion! We got it on Friday, before the Paul Simon show from Musical Instruments of Canada, an accordion specialty shop on Eglinton. It’s a one-floor walk-up shop run by Rudy De Florio, a real sweetheart of a guy. The walls were covered in vintage photos and the racks were filled with accordions of all sizes and styles. The instruments Jane has at home are older and inconsistent in tone and tuning, so she decided to bite the bullet (what does that mean?) and buy a new one. We are not disappointed.

I opened up the Garageband preproduction recording of “Yes Indeed,” and created a new track for the accordion part. I popped headphones on Jane, set the levels and let her play. Tomorrow I’ll give a critical listen and see if there are any changes I’d like to make.

Then we moved on to “Walk With Me,” and after an initial listen, I asked her to shift her fingering inversion to play lower drones. On the older accordion, this part sounded a bit light and warbly, but on the Hohner, the part was perfect. We tightened up the ending and called it a night. Jesse dropped by and Jane showed him what the 48 side buttons do—they play bass, octave bass, major chords, minor chords, dominant seventh and diminished chords! Realizing that the big accordions have 120 buttons as well as 41 keys, I’m beginning to develop a greater appreciation for the great accordion players—like Walter Ostanek, who is a real character and a St. Catharines native like us.