Russian garmon becomes extinct

Globalization affects culture in many ways. It appears that art has become international and unified. Is there a place for traditional musical instruments? One of them - the Russian accordion, of the Russian garmon, became a subject for an interview with Svetoslav Shershukov, an accordion virtuoso, the winner of numerous musical contests. 

"This year marks 185 years of the Russian accordion, or the garmon. I know that you collect accordions. Can small accordions be called as such?" 

"They are all from the family of harmonics, including the accordion, bayan and all sorts of  miniature instruments."

"Is there a difference between the Russian garmon and, let's say, the South American accordion?"  

"First of all, the whole family is called the family of harmonics. The main representative of the Russian garmon is the chromatic button accordion. Originally, there were three chromatic sounds on the instrument. It was not very comfortable to play it. The sound-extracting principle is based on the small metal tab that produces a sound when the air vibrates. There is a windbag that the sound fills."

"Are all accordions in your collection different?" 

"They are different, not only because of their size, but also because of their sound production."

"What about the big Saratov garmon with bells? Is that a much more powerful instrument?" 

"The Saratov garmon is a remarkable instrument, a unique one. It was intended by a self-taught master from Saratov, Khriasanf Artemyev. He is considered one of the best masters in this field."

"What is the relationship between the garmon and the bayan?"

"We can say that the garmon is the ancestor of the bayan."

"Was there any space left for the garmon after the appearance of the bayan?" 

"Hardly ever. The bayan pushed the garmon into the background, because the bayan is much more comfortable to use. The bayan allows to play practically the entire spectrum of music."

"It turns out that the garmon represents a historical interest, does it not?"

"Unfortunately, yes. We have forgotten the garmon, although it used to be one of the most popular musical instruments in Russia. It would be played in every village at every holiday. At the same time, we already teach the art of playing the garmon. I was professionally taught to play the bayan, when I was a student. However, I graduated from the Moscow University of Culture and Arts as the player of the bayan and the garmon."

"Are there any research works dedicated to the garmon?" 

"Yes, there are many. In Moscow and other cities of Russia, there are museums of the garmon. This is a very diverse instrument. I work at the Academic chorus of Russian songs, and there is a remarkable collective ensemble of Russian folk instruments "Fenist-Balalaika." The ensemble is about 25 years old, and I play solo with the orchestra. It is very interesting  to look at such a variety of musical instruments and listen to how they sound." 

Interviewed by Said Gafurov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov