for Two Accordions
Duration: ca. 6’30”
by Edward Caine
It’s very unusual that you find yourself writing, not for one, but two accordions and this piece was written as part of the Cheltenham Festivals commission for TOEAC Accordion Duo.
It’s such and interesting and versatile instrument and having two of them provides some very interesting rhythmic and theatrical possibilities. As most composers are, I was interested in the “air button” sound – purely the sound of the bellows with no notes (often very expressive and interesting). I was also interested in the bellows as a concept in parallel to breathing. In the first few bars we start with one accordion moving inwards playing a tone and the other moving outwards playing “air”. In my head I imagined a tangible link between the accordions so that when one changes direction and material, so does the other – the affect should be that they are in some way linked, although that reaction to the changes is delayed. I think of the parallel notion of breathing – each air sound is like a breath of air before the bellows change direction again.
Other ideas I explored in the piece are the beating produced by having a “tone gliss” in one hand and keeping the note steady in the other – a beautifully clear rhythmic idea which I use in canon in the piece, and logical extensions of the “bellow shake” and “vibrato” techniques. The title [squeezeBox]2 refers to a british colloquialism for accordion that evokes to me both the bellow motion at the heart of the pieces structure and also the sweet but troubled nature of the material, something I associate with the gentle evocations of a homeless person on the side of the street playing an old broken accordion.