|Opus 99 - Diatonic Accordion|
he accordion originated in the nineteenth century, when it was developed by Cyrillus Demian, an Armenian instrument maker living in Vienna in 1829. Classified as an aerophone, it consists of a box containing free reeds, a keyboard made up of a row of buttons on the right, and a few keys on the left for producing chords.
The central bellows cause air to make the free reeds resonate when the fingers release the flow of air by pressing a button.
The diatonic accordion is equipped with a mechanism that makes it possible to produce a note when the bellows are compressed and another when they are expanded. This type of accordion has been made in the province of Quebec since the turn of the century, particularly by the Québec firm Gagné et Frères. Next to the violin, it is the most popular instrument for playing traditional dance music, especially in Quebec, but in other parts of Canada and the United States as well.
The meticulously crafted accordion shown here has four sets of reeds. It was made entirely by hand by Clément Breton, who lavished particular care on the marquetry.
accordion in his workshop, 1992.
A native of Jonquière, Clément Breton has been making accordions for ten years. His passion for this instrument began when at the age of six he was enchanted by the concerts of his accordionist neighbour. Not until Breton was fifteen did he manage to obtain his own accordion and enjoy playing the instrument. As he became increasingly interested in the different tones and chords produced by handmade accordions, he decided to explore accordion making. Although Clément Breton builds accordions in his spare time only, he has already produced twenty instruments, which are entirely handcrafted except for the Italian-made reeds.
Odilon Gagné (1852-1916) originally worked in wood and tinplate. Also an accordionist, he began repairing accordions and eventually turned to making them. In 1890 in Québec, he opened Gagné et Frères, a firm of artisans that made all parts of diatonic accordions on the premises. In addition, Odilon Gagné constructed approximately twenty pianos and several violins. His three sons, Wilfrid, Philias and Albert, also worked in the family business. Today, Gagné et Frères is a music store, but its owner, Paul-André Gagné, the founder's grandson, carries on the family's accordion-making tradition.