Why the melodeon?

People often assume that I chose to play the melodeon because there is something specifically special about the instrument that attracted me. That is, something about its sound or aesthetics.

The answer is, no. I started playing the melodeon through a set of chance happenings. I decided to join a morris side (a Border Morris team that was just starting up), and that included some melodeon players.

I already played the tin whistle, but for a while had wanted to learn to play another instrument. I had toyed with the mandolin and fiddle, but it was my weekly contact with melodeon players at morris practices that gave me the push towards the melodeon.

I had been given a piano accordion (it was a pretty good instrument in very good condition) and was tempted, but Hugh Rippon (one of our musicians) dumped a melodeon in my lap and said, you should play one of these, it goes in and out and you get a tune.

After that it was a matter of buying one, which I did at the Kirtlington Lamb Ale, using a rebate from overcharging on my gas bill!

The melodeon has always and simply been a means to an end. That is, playing folk music.

Having said that. I wouldn’t have continued to play the melodeon if it had not been an excellent way to play folk dance music.

John Kirkpatrick has commented that the English dance music of the 17th and 18th century seems to have almost been written for the D/G melodeon, at a time when it had not been invented.

So, the melodeon is a good instrument for playing the rhythmic, mostly diatonic, folk music of Britain and Ireland, but it is the music and dance that attracted me, not a specific instrument.

Andrew Wigglesworth
Melodeon and whistle player

Slightly obsessed with playing traditional music.