Hand traction instrument

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German button accordion from the early 20th century.

A hand-drawn instrument ( accordion ) or a hand harmonica is a musical instrument with a bellows that generates a stream of air by pressing and pulling it in order to make piercing tongues vibrate and thus produce sounds. Hand pull instruments therefore belong to the aerophones , especially the harmonica instruments .

To name the group

Today the term accordion is usually used for the more modern forms. The concertina and the bandoneon are varieties of the accordion.

The expression 'Handzuginstrument' is a new German name for this group of instruments. The oldest name of this group of instruments is actually 'harmonica', this name comes from the development of hand-drawn instruments from the physharmonica (predecessor of the harmonium ).

Above all, it is called accordion , making the difference of these instruments to instruments with bellows is clear that produces its desired effect only when compressed, while accordions can also be played at pulling the bellows, as the air passes through the sound cance ellen both a than out. Also to the other harmonica instruments ( mouth , Blasharmonikas and mouth organs without bellows, and the piano or organ-like concert instruments in the style of the harmonium , and numerous other forms) differentiated the term.

Colloquial and vernacular terms for such instruments are Zugharmonie , Maurer piano or Schifferklavier , Ziehamriemen , mundartlich bairisch Raunl , disrespectful and squeezebox, Wanzenquetsche and others. In the folk music , the accordions were popular because they are the first viable substitute for the bagpipes represented, even the zither very difficult to play and is sensitive and can only be played in a sitting position, it has largely replaced.

Historical overview 1800 to 1830

See also: History of the reed

An overview of the inventions between 1800 and 1830 can be found in Eduard Hanslick's history of concerts in Vienna (1869). It also mentions other exotic names of harmonica instruments that can only be seen in museums:

The time of the strange new instruments, which appeared so numerous at the end of the 18th century, was by no means over. In the first 20 years we still find a strong supply, mostly consisting of varieties of the piano and the glass harmonica and combinations thereof. First it was the celebrated muse of the glass harmonica, the blind Marianne Kirchgaßner , who recently came to Vienna in 1800 and gave 2 concerts. At that time, your instrument was still quite popular. (In Prague in 1808 Mr. Maschek accompanied Franz Moor's dream, from the "Robbers", on the accordion in a charity concert!) In 1805 the Viennese instrument maker Müller produced his improved (Röllig's) "Xänorphita" which, played like a piano, imitated the harmony of a violin quartet. Mr. Posch also played the same instrument in the same year. A new harmonica combination was the Panmelodion , which the inventor Leppich produced together with Conradin Kreutzer in Augarten (1810). The main number was a poem composed by Kreutzer, "The Origin of Harmony", sung by Mr and Madame Ehlers, accompanied by the Panmelodion. In the following year a Mr. Fast with his instrument "Amenocorde" and in 1815 the mechanic and pianist Leonh. Mälzel (brother of the more famous Ioh. Nepomuk Mälzel ) with his "Orpheus-Harmonie", a combination of steel rods and violin bow with keyboard, related to the steel harmonica and Xänorphila. What appears of such fantasy instruments in the decade from 1820 to 1830 are mere final echoes of a dying direction. In addition to Leppich's, in 1822, recently remembered “Panmelodion”, a clavier dart named “ Sirenion ” appeared in 1825 , played by the inventor Promberger and his 13 year old son, and finally in the same year the “Claveoline” (one by Eschenbach invented kind of physharmonica with pipes, keys and pedal) played by Lauge from Cassel. Franz Xaver Gebauer , the founder of the "Spiritual Concerts", initially made his fortune in Vienna through his skill on the harmonica. In the field of musical automatons, the mechanic Joh. Nepomuk Mälzel, the famous inventor of the metronome , was at the top. He produced his “mechanical trumpeter” in Vienna in 1809 (which gave the impetus for the perfect trumpeter automaton Kaufmann's in Dresden), then repeatedly in later years (most recently in Augarten in 1828) his “trumpet machine” composed of thirty-six trumpets. Another mechanic, Bauer, visited Vienna in 1829 with his "Orchestrion". Later only Mrs. Kaufmann had success with similar instruments and musical works, namely with his excellent "Harmonichord" (a clavir-like keyboard instrument) and the "Chordaulodion" (flute string singing). In general, attention has quickly waned, and the numerous fantasy instruments listed above were lost except for their names in 1830. A new instrument appeared on the musical scene at the beginning of the twenties: the physharmonica. No. 30 of the Wiener Musikzeitung from 1821 first reports the invention of this instrument by the Viennese instrument maker Anton Hackel . Hieronimus Paier, composer and piano teacher in Vienna, first produced the physharmonica publicly, with pieces specially composed by him (phantasy and variations) in the Charity Academy in the Kärntnerthor Theater on November 15, 1824. Payer's playing was very popular, he was called and brought out the inventor A. Hackel. Soon afterwards Lickl switched to the physharmonica and was heard publicly for the first time with a self-composed “Serenade” on Whitsunday 1823 in the Kärntnerthor-Theater . Since then the Physharmonika in Vienna has remained Lickl's artistic monopoly for thirty years; An excellent virtuoso on this instrument, he has at the same time created a formal literature for the same, not to say outright “the literature of the same”.


The sound generation by means of punch tongues, both when pressing down and when opening the bellows, is one of the most important features of hand-held instruments. Related belly instruments such as the harmonium and the precursor physharmonica differ in this regard. Originally the reeds were called feathers.


  • Thomas Eickhoff: Cultural history of the harmonica. Schmülling, Kamen 1991, ISBN 3-925572-05-8 .
  • Josef Focht, Herbert Grünwald (Ed.): Konzertina, Bandonion, Akkordeon. The development of the harmonica instruments and their playing in Bavaria. With contributions by Dieter Krickeberg and Kari Oriwohl. Folk music collection and documentation in Bavaria. No. E 12. Bavarian State Association for Home Care eV, Munich 1999.
  • Karl M. Klier: Popular musical instruments in the Alps. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1956 (Comment: Hans Commenda : Folk musical instruments in the Alps. On the book of the same name by Karl M. Klier. In: Oberösterreichische Heimatblätter . Year 12, issue 1/2 (January – June), Linz 1958, p. 74 –79, online (PDF; 469 kB) in the forum OoeGeschichte.at).

Web links

Commons : Squeezeboxes  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Accordions  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: accordion  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Joseph Focht: Fotzhobel, jaw harp and harmonica in early folk music sources. In: Grünwald / Focht: concertina, bandonion, accordion. 1999, pp. 5-10.
  2. Edgar Niemeczek: Music from the rock pocket. In: Showcase Folk Culture. Atzenbrugg 2007.3.
  3. On everyone's lips. Exhibition catalog Technisches Museum, Vienna 2002. quoted. n. pocket instruments . In: ABC on Austrian Folklore. Austria Lexicon
  4. Hans Commenda: Folk musical instruments in the Alps. To the book of the same name by Karl M. Klier. In: Upper Austrian homeland sheets . Volume 12, Issue 1/2 (January – June), Linz 1958, p. 78, online (PDF; 469 kB) in the OoeGeschichte.at forum.
  5. Eduard Hanslick (ed.): History of the concert being in Vienna , Volume 1 (1869), p. 258 f.