Tuesday 11 December 2007

Squeezing Boxes

WELL TODAY I WOULD LIKE YOU TO MEET four friends of mine. They are an odd breed and they sing with a voice that I love. Um-pah um-pah they chatter to each other in the corner of the room.
I first played an accordion a couple of years ago and knew that it was my instrument. My mum played one too as a small girl in New Zealand.
Accordions are not an old instrument, they have been around only since the early nineteenth century and became an excellent means of making a piano transportable in order to accompany small musical groups.
My first friend, this green fellow below was sold to me by a man who'd had it in his attic for years, and had found it years before amongst melons for sale on a market stall in a Ukrainian village where he was delivering medical supplies. The stall holder told him that it had belonged to a soldier who had died. I learned by ear tunes that moved me and it was not long before I felt brave enough to play on street corners to others. Once I had crossed the hurdle of two-hands- doing-different-things-at-once, like patting your head and rubbing your belly, I bounced along and loved to play it very much.
And a little squeezeboxgeekery for you: I play a B-System chromatic button accordion (also known as a bayan). This is the system of button arrangement favoured in Russia and the Balkans, and so these are harder to find over here. My first accordion has a deep and gutsy sound and three rows of buttons.
The second and third characters in this troupe I have acquired along the way because I like accordions, the second, and most beautiful of the lot (despite some missing teeth) and sadly least playable, from my friend Gretel.
Finally, the magnificent Bugari, with its five lovely rows of buttons, I bought with my own hard earned pennies from Mr Allodi, and it is a joy to play.


Gretel said...

Hoohoo, FOUR boxes! and Andy thinks I'm crazy for having three sewing machines! :) They are all lovely, and what histories they carry - would love to hear an MP3 of you playing one...could you put one on the blog like Joel Stewart does?
I am glad my old jalopy ended up with such a good home, falling to bits though the dear thing is.
Sarah from Muddy Red Shoes visited this week, and asked after you, she is just great, and your ears should have been burning as we chatted about you and your amazing work! :)

Rima Staines said...

Ahh how nice to be chatted about!... :) Thanks for the encouragement :) Yes I'll try to record myself doing a tune one of these days ... and put it up here. I also acquired a sewing machine from freecycle recently - a singer 1920s treadle one with a table n everything! X take care

AC said...

They look lovely and I bet they sound great.
Take care,
Alison x

Gordon Fraser said...

Merry Christmas Rima! Wishing you a brill new Year!!

from goth

Tess Kincaid said...

They are so charming on their own...fun colors and designs! I would love to be able to play....what a fun talent, in addition to your art. I'm still coming back to enjoy your enchanting spot. :) I noticed that you like Carl Larsson, too!