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Things are moving in the world of the free reed. In recent years, the accordina has been talked about. Long gone unnoticed, ignored by accordionists, unknown to the general public, this hybrid between accordion and harmonica was born from the imagination of André Borel, towards the end of the 1930s. Today, it is again made and made. object of a curious craze, going against the fatality that has always surrounded its history.

marcel dreux accordinas

The accordina

A strange bridge thrown between the accordion and wind instruments, the accordina today appears to some (perhaps as a fad) as a mythical instrument created for jazz. The story of this little "mouth accordion" - although difficult to reconstruct - yet proves the opposite. Designed by André Borel in the 1930s, the accordina was patented in December 1943. It borrows its free reeds and its chromatic keyboard (44 notes, 3 and a half octaves) from the accordion. It takes from the harmonica the breath produced by the musician and the principle of its two side flaps which allow the sound to be modulated, as the harmonica player does with his hands. It was not until the 1950s to see it manufactured, when Borel created his trading company (dissolved in 1954). In 1950, he gave a radio-broadcast accordina concert, probably with a prototype or one of the very first models. To market his instrument, Borel favored an important partner: the Beuscher establishments, which followed him until the mid-1970s, when production ceased.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

A mixed audience

Ingenious and well done, the accordina does not yet meet its audience, contrary to what one might think today. Borel and Beuscher are undoubtedly partly responsible for it, since they present it above all as a "travel accordion", a training instrument. A “gadget”, after all. Second mistake: they target an audience of accordionists, totally excluding the field of the wind instrument. As bizarre as it sounds, this misunderstanding still persists today, as witnessed by Francis Jauvain, saxophonist, accordionist and seasoned "accordinist": "I consider the accordina to be a wind instrument, it is even one of the few. that allow polyphony. Taken as such, it requires a specific technique. For example, it accepts only the blown air, the aspiration must therefore be rhythmic to be integrated into the musical phrase ”. Something hardly conceivable if we consider it as an ersatz accordion. Jauvain continues his research around the accordina, in order to "develop it as one would for a clean, unique instrument". He concludes that there is a vital need for the accordina that it is no longer "confined to accordionists".

A victim of this reception, the accordina left only few traces: we only know as an “old” recording of André Astier's 45 rpm. Today, on the other hand, Richard Galliano, Ludovic Beier, Francis Jauvain, Daniel Mille, Jean-Louis Matinier, Roland Romanelli and even Julien Labro use it to explore many musical universes: jazz, French song (Georges Moustaki, on tour , preferred the Jauvain accordina to the traditional accordion), film scores (Romanelli recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra the soundtrack of Alexandre Arcady's next film), contemporary (Jauvain designed five creations for the choreographer Régine Chapirot , who bring the accordina up on stage in improvised sessions with the dancers).

The different models

During its history, the Borel accordina has taken many forms. The funny thing is that he seems never to have even known the aspect in which his patent presents it: as Laurent Jarry explains, the first factor to have remade it, “the patent of the instrument itself is quite different. what Borel has achieved: the reeds are not intended to be single-frame but they are mounted on plates. A mechanism is provided at the bottom of the instrument to operate the two side flaps by a kind of button ”.

The most important changes to the accordina took place at the end of the 1950s. “From 1959,” Jarry tells us, “what Beuscher calls the“ new 1959 model ”appears. We see changes, especially in the mouthpiece of the instrument. It is no longer a triangular metal part welded to the wind-holder and "split", but a slightly longer spout where a plastic part is integrated. Music also changed, probably during the same period: the brass reeds of the first models were then replaced by others in stainless steel. The accordina has also known other productions, such as the "gold" and "silver" models made by Paolo Soprani probably during the second half of the 1960s. Long remained untraceable, the instrument is now manufactured by Laurent Jarry since 1995 and by Marcel Dreux since 2000. (Blaise Goldenstein)

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