Coveting the Chemnitzer Concertina

Chemnitzer ConcertinaI know, I know… we already have enough accordions around the house, but I’ve always been attracted to the chemnitzer concertina, “polka music’s workhorse”. There’s just something about those ornately-decorated square boxes and their distinctive tones that have always appealed to me. Maybe one day, when we start the “Let’s Polka” polka band, I’ll pick one up.

In the meantime, though, I’ve been combing through the voluminous concertina resources at They have a huge library of chemnitzer concertina sheet music and an extensive database of concertina musicians (everyone from Rudy Adams to Jack “Zimmy” Zimmerman). If you haven’t heard a chemnitzer concertina in the wild, there’s also a collection of MP3s. Even if you’re just a concertina wannabe like me, it’s worth checking out.

Flickr Find: Rock ‘N’ Roll Accordion Book

How to Play Rock ‘N’ Roll Accordion
uploaded by Jan Tonnesen
Here’s a blast from the past: this 1967 Palmer-Hughes accordion instruction book promises “all you need to know to play Rock ‘n’ Roll solos or play with a Rock ‘n’ Roll combo!” And if you put on 3-D glasses, you’ll discover the guy on the cover is actually playing “Paint It Black” backwards! Groovy!

Interestingly, this isn’t the only rock accordion lesson book out there. Palmer-Hughes has another book called Easy Rock ‘n’ Roll that appears to have first been published in the early 1960s. And with imaginative song titles like “Red Hot Rock”, “Soda Pop Rock”, “Juke Box Rock”, and “Injun Rock” (really!), it’s hard to see why more kids weren’t ditching their guitars for accordions. Shocking, really.

Still, I’m guessing Those Darn Accordions didn’t learn from either of these books…

Punk Accordion Sheet Music

Henri Ducharme is offering some of his accordion arrangements of punk/alternative rock songs for download. These are the same arrangements Henri used while teaching his workshops at Smythe’s Accordion Center in Oakland, CA. We went to one last year and learned a Dead Kennedys tune. (Few things sound more beautiful than a roomful of accordionists belting out “California Uber Alles”.)

Arrangements include songs by The Ramones, The Clash, and They Might Be Giants. Each piece costs $5 and includes both beginner and intermediate arrangements. Check out the site for sample clips of his arrangements for “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”