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History of the Roland V-Accordion

Around the mid 19th century, an invention consisting of bellows and a free-reed mechanism appeared in central Europe. A completely new musical instrument was born: the accordion. This new instrument deeply influenced the popular music of the time and brought a large number of people closer to the world of music. To meet the many different demands of the numerous local musicians, accordions became more and more diverse through the decades, never resulting in a standardized musical instrument. This meant that it was practically impossible to make an electronic version of the accordion, as the instrument would need to consist of a very complicated mechanism in a cabinet that was still compact and very easy to carry around.

Ikutaro KakehashiIn 1967 Ikutaro Kakehashi (picture left), the founder of Roland Corporation, a leading manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, travelled to Italy and had the chance to meet some accordion craftsmen in the city of Castelfidardo in Le Marche, known worldwide as the birthplace of the accordion manufacturing industry.

He was so fascinated by this instrument that he bought two accordions to bring home and started to cherish the dream of creating an electronic accordion.

This dream was also supported by Francesco Rauchi and Luigi Bruti (picture left) in Roland Europe S.p.A., members of the Roland Corporation group located in Acquaviva Picena, in the Marche region.

Thanks to the advanced results of their state-of-the-art research and development processes, Roland finally achieved another milestone in the history of digital musical instruments: the V-Accordion, or "Virtual Accordion", equipped with a powerful digital modelling technology.

Luigi BrutiThe V-Accordion blends the Italian tradition of musical culture with Japanese cutting edge digital technology, combining Le Marche's traditional accordion craftsmanship with contemporary electronic musical applications.

To reach this goal Roland established close relationships with the craftsmen and technicians of the accordion manufacturing companies in Castelfidardo and its surrounding area.

Roland was able to perfectly reproduce the accordion sounds by using Roland's unique digital technology, "Physical Behaviour Modelling", which does not alter the way essential components, such as the bellows, are used. Air is still pumped by the bellows in a totally authentic way, but activates a high-definition pressure sensor, instead of reeds. Roland thus designed an innovative accordion without disrupting either its traditional nature or the musical technique required to play it.

As mentioned above, the accordion is not a standardized musical instrument; there are different types of accordion for different musical genres and also for different countries. The V-Accordion can faithfully reproduce all the various models of traditional accordion, including their different tuning features. Consequently, you can change a V-Accordion immediately from an Italian accordion into a French musette, a jazz accordion or a bandoneon. This means that an accordionist who plays different musical genres or wants to explore new sound frontiers doesn't need several acoustic accordions - just one V-Accordion.

Thanks to its remarkable flexibility, the V-Accordion can also be configured in many different ways and also provides easy access to various free-bass systems from some of the most expensive and heavy accordions.

While developing the V-Accordion, Roland's engineers thought: "Why not utilise the bellows to play other sounds often available in electronic instruments such as the Violin, Trumpet, or Sax?" That's why, as well as accordion sounds, the V-Accordion has several orchestral tones that the accordionist can play with unprecedented expressiveness, thanks to the control that the bellows have over the sound of these tones.

As it is a digital instrument, the V-Accordion is naturally open to the world of MIDI, allowing it to be connected to other electronic instruments or to a computer for sharing sounds and data. Many accordionists had long been dreaming of this possibility, but it had previously been extremely complicated and expensive to add a MIDI interface to an acoustic accordion.

Indeed, it is not the only accordionists' dreams that have been fulfilled by the V-Accordion: because it can be listened to using headphones, it is possible to study or practise without disturbing people nearby. There is also no need for continuous maintenance, such as tuning the reeds.

Moreover, thanks to its audio output sockets, the V-Accordion can be easily connected to an external amplification system without timbre alteration or risks of unwanted "feedback" effects, so common when an acoustic accordion is amplified using microphones, especially for accordionists playing on stage.

When all is said and done, the V-Accordion is not intended to replace the traditional accordion but to complement it and expand its sound potential, while keeping expressive features unchanged and without losing that particular feeling you get when playing and holding a true musical instrument in your arms.

Index | Before | 20 October | 21 October | 22 October | Video
V-Accordion History | Storia della V-Accordion | Making a Roland | Roland/Dallape – Towards the Future
1st Roland V-Accordion Festival Report - 2007 | 2nd Roland V-Accordion Festival Report - 2008
3rd Roland V-Accordion Festival Report - 2009 | 4th Roland V-Accordion Festival Report - 2010
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