Wednesday, March 15, 2006

F***ing Melodeon

I never knew that this was a derogatory expression for a bad night. A melodeon, for those who don't know, is a single or double row button accordion. And this following letter, printed on an Irish football site, shows what happens when a squeezebox player tells the flautist he's out of tune (thanks to Peter Christie for passing this to me. As a player of the maligned instrument, I loved the steam of invective which follows :

Regarding the night we met in Ned O’Shea’s, there is something I would like to point out to you. As regards to tuning an instrument, is that I have been playing the flute since 1960, 44 years, and never in all that time did anyone ever tell me how to tune it except one before yourself. She was a young girl too, just like you; pompous, abrasive, self-centred, egotistical. And I gave her short shift and left her in tears. The same thing would have happened to you on that Sunday night only you were surrounded by Kerry supporters and your boyfriend’s minders.
Now, I was disappointed in Kerry’s finest hour that you wouldn’t play some Kerry music, Kerry slides or Kerry Polkas. Perhaps you thought they were not traditional. Well, they’re not. Authentically, they all came in from Scotland. But they would have been more authentic, and over the years it is more Irish now than what you are playing on that accordion of yours. Because what you are playing is mixture of bluegrass, Appalachian, Scots, classical, Breton, Brittanic – Celt and other mongrel sounds that have nothing to do with Irish traditional music at all.
I notice that your right hand is quite good technically, but your left fingers touching the basses are like milking the tits on a bull, which have no substance to the music whatsoever, because we can’t hear them, and therefore they are of no use to the overall sound. Hence all we have is a glorified melodeon player, which is what you are. And it has come to inflict itself on the Irish traditional music world once again.
In County Sligo in the old times, we called melodeon players the grunt and groan merchants. And on a bad night of music we always said “It was fúcking melodeon.” Coleman said, - and I am sure you have probably never heard of Michael Coleman, the greatest traditional fiddle player of all time, from Co. Sligo, - When they were collecting for a dead melodeon player in America, “Here’s five dollars to bury him, and here’s another five to bury the fúcking melodeon with him.”
You think you are God’s gift. Well, you are not. You are only a copy cat, and a medium one at that. You have a long way to go. Another thing I want to point out to you about concert pitches. The night before I met you in Ned O’Shea’s I was playing in Clare. There I was playing with a Russian lady who has a degree from the orchestra of Stalingrad, once known as Leningrad. She played the keyboard, I tuned with her, and had no problem getting concert pitch with her. So what is the fúcking matter with you?
Now, you only come from fúcking Killorglin in the Co. Kerry, and their only notoriety is King Puck. Perhaps you should play there and give us all a break. I would have to put the flute so far out of joint, and I still would not be in tune with you. So perhaps you should get that fúcking melodeon of yours tuned in proper concert pitch, and give our heads peace. I mean in concert pitch, and not go around annoying saying “You’re flat” or “out of tune” and you will make yourself an awful lot more friends.
Now, as far as I am concerned, you are a self-opinionated, pompous, self-centred little bitch who wants to get to the top quickly and is greedy for money. You wouldn’t be playing that melodeon, or Irish music at all, if it wasn’t for the money to be made out of it. Like a lot of your generation, you’d just as soon be playing rock, jazz or the Beatles. Well, why the hell don’t you go back to it, and give Irish traditional musicians, who fought to keep it alive over the generations, a fúcking break, and fúck off out of it. Keep out of Irish traditional music. You are poisoning the well.
You probably think this is a pretty nasty letter, and it is meant to be because you did me out of a night’s wages. And anybody who takes the bit out of my mouth, or crosses my path the way you did, can expect nothing else


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