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Säkkijärven polkka
August 29, 2010 10:50 PM   Subscribe

Säkkijärven polkka. YouTube.
posted by Anything (43 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not too shabby.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 PM on August 29, 2010


That was great. Here is a link with some background on tune.
posted by SantosLHalper at 11:11 PM on August 29, 2010


From SantosLHalper's link: An electronic version of the song, titled Hardcore of the North, appears in the music video game 'In The Groove'. This is the electronic version.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:19 PM on August 29, 2010


awiaakos' link is to the lesser-known 'accordian hero' game. If you notice, Jussi's fingers are making the exact same key presses on the accordian as are shown in the game.

(if there were only four keys - maybe you have to simulatenously rock back and forth on the wii fit in order to simulate the bellows?)
posted by grajohnt at 11:54 PM on August 29, 2010


This is incredible. I've got an accordion, but I've never been able to get the chord buttons down – those are the tiny buttons on the right. I mean, I understand how they work, and that there's a dimple on C and they go up in fifths; I just can't wrap my head around the logic of them, or get quick at hitting them in the right order. And the neat buttons he's got on the left side – I've got one with a piano keyboard, and even though I'm a piano player at heart it still gives me a lot of trouble, since I'm used to a larger keyboard, and I'm used to seeing the keys I'm playing. I just end up trying to crane my neck over the accordion to see what I'm doing, and it's an awful mess.

One thing I think people who haven't tried playing the accordion might not realize is just how much arm strength it takes to control the bellows properly. This guy is awesome, and he makes that seem effortless; but it really takes a lot of force and acumen to keep pushing in and out at a constant and steady rate while you're working the buttons. The only musical instrument I've ever tried that's more difficult is the bagpipes, which require you to apply five to ten pounds of force with your elbow pushing against your hip. This dude is astounding in part because he handles the bellows like a past master; the bit at 2:05 where he does some flourishes with this is just thrilling.

Love this. Thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 12:00 AM on August 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Cabbage Rolls and Coffee!
posted by not_on_display at 12:32 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who knew the accordion could be bad ass?
posted by nickyskye at 12:36 AM on August 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


Indeed, he's no slouch, but I tells ya, when it comes to insane virtuosity matched with a funky rhythmic pocket and fresh harmonic expressiveness, my money's on Hermeto Pascual.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:51 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nickyskye, I'm pretty sure that for some reason I had never heard baroque music played on the accordion.

What a shame. Perfect match.
posted by Anything at 1:02 AM on August 30, 2010


I came here to say exactly what koeselitz said, except for the 'i'm a keyboard player at heart' statement. I can only add to koeselitz's comment by adding that it really helps to have an ample belly to rest the accordion upon, all the easier to see the keys while playing. In fact, I strap a pillow to my waist. (not that any 'real' players ever need to look at their hands)
posted by palacewalls at 1:15 AM on August 30, 2010


He's just great. I love this. I'd gladly run up a pile of pianos and guitars, breaking them all with my boots, to reach up to an accordion and an accordion mentor to train me into an accordion sharpshooter like this guy.
posted by gum at 1:23 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


(if there were only four keys - maybe you have to simulatenously rock back and forth on the wii fit in order to simulate the bellows?)

Perhaps this is a joke (if so, I missed it first time!), but it is a dancing game that you play with your feet and with a dance mat.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 1:26 AM on August 30, 2010


Who knew the accordion could be bad ass?

Hey, I thought we were all Weird Al fans here.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:47 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


YouTube has any number of the more groundbreaking Finnish accordionists, a lot of them classically trained who take accordion music into all kinds of folk/jazz/classical fusion territory. See Maria Kalaniemi (Nautilus, Arctic Paradise, Taklax I) and Johanna Juhola (Painajainen Leikkikentll, Iloiset Ystävät, Hippo) and Pauliina Lerche (Tulikatriili - and her work is worth checking out in general: e.g. Vot I Kaalina and Tanssi poika).

koeselitz: but I've never been able to get the chord buttons down

It gets worse. The real virtuoso performers play free bass accordion, where the left-hand buttons are all individual notes, not chord presets: hellish difficult but a lot more versatile. See this demo by Maria Kalaniemi.
posted by raygirvan at 1:51 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


dude looks like he's asleep...and shredding at the same time. so awesome.
posted by auralcoral at 2:47 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


How much more Finnish could that video have been? None. None more Finnish.
posted by ursus_comiter at 3:42 AM on August 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


Having just compared this to my previous favorite accordion video, I can only conclude that, yes, Jussi is an absolute shredding accordion master. i still like Koharu too, though.
posted by ursus_comiter at 3:58 AM on August 30, 2010


So, I'm familiar with the "circle of fourths" chord buttons on the player's lefthand side. The hexagonal buttons arranged in white and black stripes on the righthand side are new to me, though. Most accordions I've seen have had a piano-style keyboard on that side. Are the hexagonal buttons I'm talking about a circle-of-fourths arrangement similar to the chord buttons on the other side? Do hardcore accordionists consider the piano keyboard arrangement a shameful cop-out in comparison to this?
posted by HeroZero at 4:02 AM on August 30, 2010


Do hardcore accordionists consider the piano keyboard arrangement a shameful cop-out in comparison to this?

Ladies and gentlemen, there's a big world of accordions out there to be discovered, along with all the distinctive musical traditions that go with each. (And young master of almost all of them is Monsieur Julien LaBro, currently sizzling up the combo Hot Club of Detroit.)
posted by Faze at 4:26 AM on August 30, 2010


This is currently my favorite Humppa video. (Warning: Elvis)
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:28 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


almost nothing in the world would have made my mother happier than if i'd found a nice, catholic, accordian-playing boy who could rock a polka. just because that didn't happen sorry, mom doesn't mean i can't appreciate the instrument & the artist. take a look at the arms on this guy.
posted by msconduct at 5:50 AM on August 30, 2010


I once had an organ part that I was supposed to play on a CD but when we got to the studio there was an accordian lying around so, of course, the band were like 'oh, let's do it on accordian', and I was like 'Okay, then!', but swiftly discovered how hard the damn thing was to play. As Koeselitz says upthread the physically hard part is squeezing and playing smoothly. It's a bit like learning to drum in terms of the various independences required.
posted by unSane at 6:04 AM on August 30, 2010


Hello new ringtone.
posted by odinsdream at 6:18 AM on August 30, 2010


I clipped the first part and the awesome part in the middle to make a 30-second ringtone, in case anyone's interested. Here's the file.
posted by odinsdream at 6:39 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


While we're on the subject of awesome Finnish accordion players, I think Kimmo Pohjonen is also worthy of a mention.
posted by daniel_charms at 6:51 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's a transcription of sorts here. Arguably.

Oh, and another.

One is easier to read, the other resembles what you just listened to.
posted by motty at 7:09 AM on August 30, 2010


Of course it was a joke!
posted by grajohnt at 7:53 AM on August 30, 2010


It sounds good on the banjo too.
posted by argybarg at 7:55 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


HeroZero, what our Finnish friend is shredding in this video is a chromatic button accordion - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_button_accordion . As I understand it, the button accordion is more common in Russia, Finland and the Balkans, while the piano keyboard gained more favor in Italy and other parts of Western Europe.

There are fierce arguments about the superiority of piano accordions versus chromatic button on the newsgroups... or, at least, there were when we all read newsgroups. Here's a PDF that summarizes the arguments - http://home.swipnet.se/nydana/accordiontest.pdf - as I read it, the CBA has more range and, once you get to understand the fingering, is faster and possibly easier to play (form a chord and you can move it into different keys without changing finger shape), while the PA benefits from the fact that any keyboard player can pick it up and make an appealing noise.

raygirvan, thanks so much for that Kalaniemi video - there's a polka she plays that I've been trying to work out for months now, never quite getting it right. Realizing she's playing it in free bass mode makes it all make sense, since the chords she's using have intervals in them you can't get from the chord buttons. Guess I may need to go buy a Finnish free bass accordion...
posted by obruni at 8:21 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of Turisas, a Finnish metal band that features the accordion prominently in their music. On a European tour a few years ago, their old accordionist lost it, and took off mid-tour. So now we have a metal band without an accordionist, and a tour to complete. One metal magazine called it a "Viking Accordion Crisis", and this was a big deal among the folk metalheads out there. Turisas? Without an accordion? Unthinkable!

This problem would defeat mere mortals, but not Turisas! Instead, they discovered Netta Skog who made a bit of a sensation with this Nightwish cover that she played on the accordion. She joined up to finish the tour, and now she's a full member of the band.

I've seem them twice now live, and they are an outstanding band.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:36 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never actually tried playing a chromatic button accordion, and I know this might just be that these guys all make it look so effortless, but I have a strong feeling that chromatic button accordions are much easier and faster to play once you get the buttons down. The buttons are larger, for one thing, and they're laid out in a way that makes a lot more sense for the hands; the piano keyboard just seems oddly bolted on to me now, like a keytar sort of gimmick. But I should say that I've seen some players handle the piano keyboard on an accordion with incredible style and grace, and I think that there's a whole finesse to that, as well. One of my problems is that I just happen to have fat, clumsy fingers.

raygirvan: “It gets worse. The real virtuoso performers play free bass accordion, where the left-hand buttons are all individual notes, not chord presets: hellish difficult but a lot more versatile. See this demo by Maria Kalaniemi.”

Yes, I've seen people doing that; and sometimes alternating and playing two- and three-button chord mixtures, too. That actually makes some sense to me as a jazz pianist, and I feel like somehow I could figure out the theory behind it if I could only get my fingers to grok those tiny, tiny buttons.

What an awesome video, though. She is incredible.
posted by koeselitz at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2010


Wow, this is fantastic. The guy is so stoic, even as he's doing really delightful things that must come with tons of self-satisfaction - the little quick pumps and things.

Truefax: My 82-year-old Korean grandmother plays the piano accordion, playing parties and stuff at the assisted living facility. I tried to learn from her when I was 24 or so. I learned what koeselitz did - it takes unbelievable upper arm strength to pump the bellows steadily at all, much less pump them flexibly and expressively to help phrase the music. I was training for a half-marathon at the time, doing a hardcore mat pilates routine every other day, lifting occasionally - and I gave up trying to learn the accordion. It left my arms too tired.

I was afraid to tell my grandmother about it for a long time. She's four foot six, by the way - a wee thing, the instrument comically outsize in proportion to her soft, frail frame. Next time she played in front of me, she told me to watch her arms - yeah, frail whatever, there were steely, sinewy muscles flexing and curving along her upper arms with every in and out, the prize of accordion playing decades. They kind of put my prime-of-life arms to shame.

Then she yelled at me for giving up and mourned, "How will you find a husband if you have no stick-to-it-iveness? Or skills to attract men? You don't dance or play music at all!" She gathered up her things and her boyfriend and whisked out, back to the land of endless polka and grateful grandchildren, I guess. Accordion players are stronger than they look.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:08 AM on August 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's nice to see the accordion get some love around here. ;)
posted by dorgla at 9:52 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


At a party recently, a friend of mine picked up my girlfriend's banjo and started strumming and broke into short songs like Yankee Doodle or Dueling Banjos with the occasional drum beat on the skin.

Surrounded by other friends, most of whom are avant-garde artists that utilize synths and guitar pedals, quipped one of them: "man, acoustic instruments are so weird!"
posted by wcfields at 9:52 AM on August 30, 2010


needs moar leeks
posted by rouftop at 9:55 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Instruments that are nearly impossible to master:What did I miss?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2010


SantosLHalper: "That was great. Here is a link with some background on tune."

From that link:
Military use

During the Continuation War, the Finnish Army discovered that the retreating Soviets had scattered radio-controlled mines throughout the city of Viipuri. These mines were set off when a three-note chord was played on the frequency the radio was tuned to, causing three tuning forks (of which each mine had an unique combination) to vibrate at once. Once the Army and Yleisradio experts discovered how the mines worked, a Yleisradio mobile transmitter was brought to Viipuri, and Vesterinen's polka (Säkkijärven polkka) was played on the same frequencies the mines used. This operation continued for over three months, until the batteries of the mines were drained.
On the Finnish Wikipedia page for the song, it says that the Russians started continuosly sending their signal on the same frequences and it became a kind of a battle for the air waves. Viipuri was the second biggest city in Finland at the time (and was later lost to the Russians just like the town of Säkkijärvi). The whole story seems a bit fantastical, but as far as I can tell (with the help of my good friend Google) it's true.
posted by severiina at 12:08 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Finnish Tango in Elvish
posted by homunculus at 12:48 PM on August 30, 2010


I wish my grandpa had an email address so I could send this to him.
posted by azarbayejani at 4:09 PM on August 30, 2010


FINNISH HYMN!
posted by mattdidthat at 5:02 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cabbage Rolls and Coffee!

Mmm, mmm, good!
posted by Spatch at 12:18 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interestingly enough, this particular polka was used during the war with Russians. Quoting Wikipedia,

"During the Continuation War, the Finnish Army discovered that the retreating Soviets had scattered radio-controlled mines throughout the city of Viipuri. These mines were set off when a three-note chord was played on the frequency the radio was tuned to, causing three tuning forks (of which each mine had an unique combination) to vibrate at once. Once the Army and Yleisradio experts discovered how the mines worked, a Yleisradio mobile transmitter was brought to Viipuri, and Vesterinen's polka was played on the same frequencies the mines used. This operation continued for over three months, until the batteries of the mines were drained."
posted by keijo at 1:25 AM on August 31, 2010


Sorry, should've previewed!
posted by keijo at 1:26 AM on August 31, 2010


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