Composition for two accordions written for Paul Zaba‘s Accordion Songbook Vol. 1.

When one first gets acquainted with the accordion what is most apparent is its weight and the movement of the bellows, alternately filling and emptying themselves with air. The accordion rests on one’s chest, and moves as a second pair of lungs.

For this piece I wanted the physicality of this connection to be explored and shared between the two performers and further expanded to the entire audience. At the beginning of the performance, the audience is presented with the following instructions, read out by one of the performers:

Performer 1 and I will start by individually syncing our breaths and bodies with our accordion. When the time is right, we will move our attention to each other and lock in our breaths. Between us, we will neither lead nor follow but move together in unity. We invite you to choose one of us and breathe together with them throughout the piece.

The score was delivered verbally as a set of instructions:

  • decide on two notes or chords, one for inhale, one for exhale, they are the same for both performers
  • breath in – open bellows, breathe out – close bellows.
  • start asynchronously with each other but in sync with your own breath
  • sychronise your breaths when the time is right
  • don’t lead or follow but move together
  • move your bodies with the accordion as it feels natural, don’t move just for the sake of it.
  • be present, connect with each other

The performance has indeterminate duration, varying depending on the performers’ connection, with active audience participation. It also included moments of unexpected tension as the performers were holding their breaths for long amounts of time as the audience was awaiting their next breath intake. In this performance, I performed with Paul, but the piece can be performed by two any musicians or artists (not necessarily accordion players) as long as they are devoted to connect with the instrument and with each other.

You can see the full piece here.