A coincidence of days

(Several shirtless people, in case that annoys or distresses you, but otherwise mostly about music.)

According to my calendar, today is both World Naked Gardening Day and World Accordion Day, which naturally led me to imagine a naked gardener playing the accordion. But my calendar turns out to be half wrong: World Accordion Day is fixed on May 6th; World Naked Gardening Day, on the other hand, is a movable feast, the first Saturday in May, which this year was the 4th.

However, the two occasions did coincide exactly in 2017, and at least one accordion-playing gardener squeezed nude for that occasion.

Naked gardening. Covered, so to speak, on this blog in a 5/4/15 posting “More naked calendars”. The event is sponsored by earnest naturists, so is at most a bit naughty, not actually racy. But of course people are entirely willing to take the day into blue waters. Here’s a “Palm Boy” illustration from John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary for 5/5/12 on World Gardening Day:

(#1) [Grimshaw’s caption] “A particpant in World Naked Gardening Day?”

Squeeze me on the 6th. On today’s musical holiday, from the CIA:

The Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA) is pleased to welcome you to World Accordion Day. Since 2009, each May 6th, the CIA has been promoting World Accordion Day.

Our first World Accordion Day was held on 6th May 2009, marking the 180th birthday of the accordion – May 6th 1829, the date the accordion was first patented, in Vienna, Austria, by Cyrillius Demien.

From the (rather poorly organized) Wikipedia entry:

Accordions (from 19th-century German Akkordeon, from Akkord—”musical chord, concord of sounds”) are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone type … The concertina and bandoneón are related; the harmonium and American reed organ are in the same [still larger] family.

The instrument is played by compressing or expanding the bellows while pressing buttons or keys, causing pallets to open, which allow air to flow across strips of brass or steel, called reeds. These vibrate to produce sound inside the body …The performer normally plays the melody on buttons or keys on the right-hand manual, and the accompaniment, consisting of bass and pre-set chord buttons, on the left-hand manual.

The accordion is widely spread across the world. In some countries (for example Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama) it is used in popular music (for example Gaucho, Forró and Sertanejo in Brazil, Vallenato in Colombia, and norteño in Mexico), whereas in other regions (such as Europe, North America and other countries in South America) it tends to be more used for dance-pop and folk music [in particular, in American polka music] … Additionally, the accordion is used in cajun, zydeco, jazz music and in both solo and orchestral performances of classical music.

[A note on conceptual categories and labels. As the Wikipedia entry says, the accordion, concertina, and the type of concertina known as a bandoneon are closely related (much like the keyboard instruments the clavichord, harpsichord, fortepiano, and (modern) piano), and music created for one can generally be played on the others, though requiring somewhat different techniques and producing distinctive auditory results.

That is, the accordion and concertina together belong to a higher-level conceptual category, one that does in fact have a label in English, but it’s a decidedly slangy one. From NOAD on the noun squeezebox (also squeeze box): informal ‘an accordion or concertina’.]

I’ll soon move on to the accordion as a fabled Parisian street instrument, and the music of Édith Piaf; and to the bandoneon as an instrument of tango, and the music of Astor Piazzolla. But first, more shirtlessness.

From imgur, “just a naked girl in a dryer with an accordion…” by mephistophelesjanx on 12/22/12:

(#2) The young woman is, however, playing a concertina, not an accordion, so, maybe, just a naked girl in a dryer with a squeezebox; no gardening appears to be involved

From Wikipedia on the instrument in #2:

A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It consists of expanding and contracting bellows, with buttons (or keys) usually on both ends, unlike accordion buttons, which are on the front.

The concertina was developed in England and Germany. The English version was invented in 1829 by Sir Charles Wheatstone,  while Carl Friedrich Uhlig announced the German version five years later, in 1834. Various forms of concertina are used for classical music, for the traditional musics of Ireland, England, and South Africa, and for tango and polka music.

Edith Piaf. Accordions are associated with an extraordinary range of musical traditions, among them the romantic fantasy of accordion-playing musicians strolling the streets of Paris, playing sweetly sad songs of love. If the Paris movie in your mind has a singer in it, that’s probably Édith Piaf’s soaring voice you hear, with its throaty vibrato and fabulously rolled r’s.

The beginning of the Wikipedia entry:

Édith Piaf (born Édith Giovanna Gassion; 19 December 1915 – 10 October 1963) was a French vocalist, songwriter, cabaret performer and film actress noted as France’s national chanteuse and one of the country’s most widely known international stars.

Piaf’s music was often autobiographical and she specialized in chanson and torch ballads about love, loss and sorrow. Her most widely known songs include “La Vie en rose” (1946), “Non, je ne regrette rien” (1960), “Hymne à l’amour” (1949), “Milord” (1959), “La Foule” (1957), “L’Accordéoniste” (1940), and “Padam, padam…” (1951).

Since her death in 1963, several biographies and films have studied her life, including 2007’s Academy Award-winning La Vie en rose — and Piaf has become one of the most celebrated performers of the 20th century.

On “La Vie en rose”, from Wikipedia:

“La Vie en rose” (French: Life in pink) is the signature song of popular French singer Édith Piaf, written in 1945, popularized in 1946, and released as a single in 1947. The song became very popular in the US in 1950 with no fewer than seven different versions reaching the Billboard charts.

… The song’s title can be translated as “Life in happy hues,” “Life seen through happy lenses,” “Life in rosy hues”; its literal meaning is “Life in Pink.”

(#3) Piaf performing the song in the 1948 movie Neuf garçons, un cœur [complete with typo in the title]

For serious accordion involvement, however, we need to turn to “L’Accordéoniste”. From Wikipedia:

“L’Accordéoniste” is a song made famous by Édith Piaf. It was written in 1940 by Michel Emer, who then offered it to her.

… The song tells a story of a prostitute who loves an accordion player (and the music he plays, namely a dance called java). Then he has to leave for the war. She finds refuge in music, dreaming about how they will live together when he comes back

(#4) La fille de joie est belle / Au coin de la rue là-bas …

It’s hard for me to leave Piaf without playing at least “Non, je ne regrette rien” and “Milord”, but I must sacrifice them to go on to the bandoneon.

Astor Pizzolla. His instrument, from Wikipedia:

The bandoneon (or bandonion, Spanish: bandoneón) is a type of concertina particularly popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It is an essential instrument in most tango ensembles from the traditional orquesta típica of the 1910s onwards.

(#5) Astor Piazzolla performing in France in July 1986

The bandoneon, so named by the German instrument dealer, Heinrich Band (1821–1860), was originally intended as an instrument for religious and popular music of the day, in contrast to its predecessor, German concertina (or Konzertina), which had predominantly used in folk music. 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.

And on Piazzolla:

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992) was an Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player, and arranger. His oeuvre revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. A virtuoso bandoneonist, he regularly performed his own compositions with a variety of ensembles.

And on his most famous composition, a remarkable piece of chamber music:

Libertango is a composition by tango composer Astor Piazzolla, recorded and published in 1974 in Milan. The title is a portmanteau merging “Libertad” (Spanish for liberty) and “Tango”, symbolizing Piazzolla’s break from Classical Tango to Tango Nuevo.

(#6) The first video of Libertango

Piazzolla was an immensely prolific composer, writing solo pieces, a huge number of chamber works, also concertos and symphonies, and works harder to classify.

An accordion-playing gardener squeezed nude for World Accordion Day / World Naked Gardening Day in 2017, from Twitter:


One Response to “A coincidence of days”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Ever since I first heard of Naked Gardening Day (which wasn’t that long ago), I’ve wondered where in the world (literally) the person who came up with the idea might have been living. It sure wasn’t the northeastern US, where the odds of the first Sunday in May being warm enough for any naked outside activity are pretty low (although it has been known to happen).

    For myself, even if the weather were to cooperate, there are way too many thorny plants on my lot to contemplate the idea of getting my sensitive parts anywhere near them; and, quite separately, there’s an annual event in my life that generally has me away from home the first weekend in May anyway.

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