18 April, 2015

Alma de bandoneón

Some of you have seen my this picture on facebook and Instagram and wondered what is this in my hand that I am so excited about. So let me explain.

§  The Bandoneon, is a type of concertina. It was invented by German instrument maker Heinrich Band in 1850’s. Its name, Bandoneon comes from its maker’s sirname, Band, which is also German word for accordion. The player holds the instrument between both hands, and then uses pushing and pulling motions to force air through its bellows
§  Notes and chords are chosen by pressing 71 buttons - 38 with the right hand, and 33 with the left
§  It is considered to be one of the hardest instruments to learn.

It is an essential instrument in most tango ensembles from the traditional orquesta típica of the 1910s onwards, and in folk music ensembles of Lithuania.
Around 1870, German and Italian emigrants and sailors brought the instrument to Argentina, where it was adopted into the nascent genre of tango music, a descendant of the earlier milonga.
By 1910 bandoneons were being produced expressly for the Argentine and Uruguayan markets, with 25,000 shipping to Argentina in 1930 alone. However, declining popularity and the disruption of German manufacturing in World War II led to an end of bandoneon mass-production.
Original instruments are displayed in German museums, such as the Bandoneon Museum der Familie Preuss in Lichtenberg and the collection of the family Steinhart in Kirchzarten, Freiburg.
Bandoneons were historically produced primarily in Germany, and were never produced in Argentina itself despite their popularity. As a result, by the 2000s, vintage bandoneons had become rare and expensive (US$4,000), limiting prospective bandeonists.

As with other members of the concertina family, the bandoneon is held between both hands, with pushing and pulling motions forcing air through its bellows, which is routed through reeds by pressing its buttons. A bandoneon button produces different notes on the push and the pull ("bisonoric"). This means that each keyboard actually has two layouts: one for opening notes, and one for closing notes. Since the right and left hand layouts are also different, a musician must learn four different keyboard layouts to play the instrument.

The Argentinian bandleader, composer, arranger, and tango performer Aníbal Troilo was a leading 20th century proponent of the bandoneon. Ástor Piazzolla played and arranged in Troilo's orquesta from 1939 to 1944.
Nowadays, there are still bandoneón makers working on this kind of instrument. But many people still want to find an old instrument which is usually known as the "pre-war bandoneón"(those bandoneón produced between WWI and WWII) . Most of professional tango musicians believe that only those instruments have the bandoneón tone for Argentine tango. Although the contemporary made bandoneón have the same system and functions, how every, reeds are different. Even the most famous Double A(Alfred Arnold) bandoneón made after 1945 are mediocre. 
If you wants to have an old  bandoneón, it is better choice. An old bandoneón, especially the pre-war made bandoneón,  is not only musical instruments, but also antique for collectors,although it can not afford to be. If you do not get it right now, who knows what gonna happen later on? In the year 2009, the congress of Argentina had established the Bandoneón Law to ban export of any bandoneón older than 40 years. There still is a possibility to bring one out from Argentina, but it is immoral. In addition, this law has created a mad rush on instruments and inflated the price.

Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, is another choice beside Buenos Aires for those who wants to buy an old bandoneón.  Always remember, besides these two place, it is hard to find pre-war bandoneón . And it is almost impossible to find a tuner near you if you do not live in these two cities. Meanwhile, most of the Pre-war bandoneóns are in their age of 70's or more, and need repair to bring them back to ready to play condition.

Argentina may be the nation that gave tango to the world but the dance has been at risk of a quiet future in its homeland.
The threat has come not due to any decline in interest among Argentines, because - by contrast - the popularity of dancing the tango is now at its highest level in the country since its so-called golden age in the 1940s and 1950s.
Instead, the problem has been caused by a growing shortage of the musical instrument that provides the key soundtrack to any serious tango performance - the bandoneon.

As production of bandoneons came to an end in Germany after World War Two due to limited domestic demand, the instrument quickly became a collectors' item in Argentina.
As a result, few vintage bandoneons ever come up for sale, and those that do cost more than 40,000 pesos ($4,700; £3,000) - unaffordable for most Argentines.
Thankfully, efforts are now continuing to solve the shortage by producing the first ever Argentine-made bandoneon, and at a much cheaper price.
The instrument is being developed by staff and students at the department of industrial design at the National University of Lanus in Buenos Aires.

They have called it the "pichuco", which in English means "cry baby", and was the nickname of Anibal Troilo, Argentina's most famous bandoneon player.
To ensure the pichuco sounds as good as possible, several bandoneon players were brought in to help, and to test the prototypes.
And while new German-made bandoneons have been available again since the 1990s, they cost more than $6,000 - even more than vintage models. So the pichuco should have a significant price advantage. 

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