A brief history of The Chinese Accordion music

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Chinese accordions

Origins and popularity of accordions in China

Chinese folk music instrument Sheng is closely related to an accordion in a sense that is purely a free reed-based just like the accordion. Some musical historians even believe that Sheng inspired the inventor of the modern accordion to produce accordion reeds.

China is known for adopting musical instruments from other cultures into their own. This practice happened with the accordions when they were introduced to China in the 1930s through the seaport of Shangai. This musical instrument quickly spread across China and became an integral part of Chinese folklore music.

The proliferation of an accordion became even more prominent between the 1950s and 1980s when accordions became almost an official instrument of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.  Army accordionists mass promoted the musical instrument through melodies and tunes loaded with nostalgic patriotism.

Video courtesy of Shangai Eye

The widespread popularity of the accordion and its music in China

“This was undoubtedly the high point of the accordion’s popularity in China, says accordion merchant and repairman Dai Guangyao, 50 years later. Once employed by the state-run Shanghai Accordion Factory, now defunct, Dai has experienced the rise and fall of the Shou Feng Qin (手风琴, “hand-organ”) more acutely than most. He now runs one of Shanghai’s last accordion shops and has had to diversify into pianos and violins to keep his business open on the city’s prestigious Jinling Road.

“The 1960s was the start of ‘accordion fever’ in China,” Dai tells TWOC. “The military’s song-and-dance troupes, the ‘culture worker’ propaganda groups touring around the countryside…almost all of them had one.

“Of course,” he adds, “other Western instruments were banned.” ” Quoted from: theworldofchinese.com

As we can see, the accordion became synonymous with the working class, folk musicians, singers, and people who lived in rural regions of China. This phenomenon is quite common in many countries that adopted an accordion as their folk musical instrument, not just in China.

Some Chinese musicians tend to overlook this historic fact and even ignore the cultural significance of an accordion and its music. For more information on this subject, please visit this link.

Courtesy of New China Tv

What type of accordions are played in China?

Although Chinese accordionists prefer Piano Accordions, both, button and piano accordions are equally popular in China. China has the highest number of accordion players in the world. Accordions are played by men and women of all ages.

For more info on the popularity of the accordion please refer to this article. Chromatic button accordions are quite popular in China and although China borders Russia, Chinese chromatic button accordions predominantly use the C-button system like the Western European ones. (Russian chromatic button accordions are B system).

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