Friday, September 30, 2011

An off note in music history

It is little known today that Signor Alfredo Nobellini, inventor of the accordion, also invented another, even less successful instrument. Always seeking a greater fortissimo, he combined his interest in music with his interest in things that go boom! to produce the explodeon (rhymes with melodeon). Any accordion player could play an explodeon, though seldom for very long.

It is difficult, at this historical remove, to gauge the impact the explodeon had on its listeners, as few critical reviews of performances have survived. Audiences are reported to have been blown away, even transported to heavenly heights. The score of the famous 1812 Overture originally had an explodeon part, but this was later rewritten for cannon, which were found to be easier to manage in an orchestral setting.

Nobellini composed a suite for explodeon and pipe-bomb organ. He was reported to have said, before its only known performance, that it would mark the apogee of his career. Indeed, neither he nor the concert hall is known to have featured in musical history since the event.


chickenlittle said...

Are the modern day Smithereens part of this pyrotechnic tradition?

Hector Owen said...

Since they have been playing for some years with the same personnel, I would be inclined to say "No."

Mimi Black said...

Papa, I miss you very much. This conversation was quite memorable, except now I can't remember which one of us said the word "explodeon" first. I do remember the explosive laughter, however, it was one of the best days! We went to Fastnet and each had our usuals, you with your favorite fish and chips and I with the steak tips. Which movie did we watch? I wish I had a video back-up of all our conversations and time we spent together. I would continue your blog for you, but I would not want to tamper with your brilliance. I wish you could have known how much I admire, respect and love you. Always and always, and ever always, your daughter.

blake said...

I'm heartbroken and more than a little ashamed to have discovered a year late that your father had passed. I lost my dad last year as well.

Hector Owen, as I knew him—we shared a love of Thorne Smith—and I had some meaty conversations on the nature and purpose of faith and religion. We'd left a lot of questions dangling, and a lot of the reason I think we hadn't spoken much the last year or so was because the questions deserved deeper treatment than I had time to give.

It was actually to try to pick up those threads that I came looking for him.

I'm so sorry.

Mimi Black said...

Dear Blake,
Thank you so much. I am very sorry for your loss, please accept my condolence, and well wishes.

It makes me smile to think of what those discussions must have been like. Deeper treatment was always welcome with my father, and rare to find willing participants, I am glad he found one with you. I miss those conversations very much.

Thank you so much for visiting and for commenting, I know he would greatly appreciate it. I still feel his presence often.

Peace and a good new year to you!

Mimi Black said...

Happy New Year Papa!!!
When I go see The Hobbit, I trust you will be with me, I will listen for your voice.
Here's to hope!
I can hear you singing Auld Lang Syne, you know all the words.
Love you, miss you.