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The accordion: an instrument of the proletariat or bourgeoisie?

May 21st, 2005 · 2 Comments

I thought of Accordion Guy Joey deVilla while reading a section in Song of the Azalea Memoir of a Chinese Son, the autobiography of Kenneth Ore. For many years, Kenneth Ore was a secret recruiter for the Communists in China, using a youth group to find potential new members for the party. Mr. Ore was also a dancer, organizing group performances which received police surveillance.

In one of our variety shows the previous year, we presented a dance drama consisting of Chinese classical dances accompanied by a Western orchestra. The police demanded to see our scripts beforehand, but because there was no dialogue and therefore no script, two plainclothes officers came to monitor our rehearsals to try to find out the meaning of the dance drama.

“Why do you use an accordion?” one of them asked. “Only Russians and Chinese Communists use accordions,” he said naively.

“It’s easy to carry and sounds better than a harmonica,” I had explained patiently. Accordions were used around the world: they didn’t carry a proletariat trademark.

[ Song of the Azalea, page 170]

I didn’t know that musical instruments could indicate one’s political leanings or that an accordion could be Communist! Watch out Joey…;-)

Now I’m wondering how someone might interpret the violin and guitar in our closet…

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Robert Waugh // May 21, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    Guitars and violins? No problem there. But owning an Apple product is a strong indicator or subversive Communist activity.

  • 2 Julie // May 26, 2005 at 5:54 am

    Ah, just what I suspected…;-)

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