Modernizing the Accordion

 

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Once revered for its compactness and versatility, the accordion’s popularity has dwindled over past decades. Nowadays, when most people think of the instrument, old folk musicians or Parisian buskers are likely what comes to mind. Despite its fall from popularity, forward-thinking bands and musicians like Arcade Fire and Madvillain have proven the instrument can still be viable in contemporary music. And in Shanghai, equally eager to prove that the accordion shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed is independent musician Chen Kai.


手风琴,曾因其便携和灵活性而备受推崇,但过去几十年间,它已经渐渐尘封于人们的回忆里。现在,当大多数人想到这件乐器,大抵会想到年迈的民间音乐家或者巴黎的街头艺人。尽管不如从前流行,但像 Arcade Fire Madvillain 这样有远见的乐队和音乐家,却向大家证明了这种乐器在当代音乐中的地位依然不减。

而在上海,对此有着同样信念的,是独立音乐家陈楷。

All music evolves, and CK, as an accordionist with over two decades of experience, recognizes the importance of adapting. In fact, it’s especially important for an instrument that many consider archaic to keep up with the times. His awareness of this fact directly influences his playing style. Rather than relying on well-known tunes, his live shows are hour-long improvisational sets that blend unlikely genres—like psychedelic rock and baroque music—to form unclassifiable soundscapes.


其实,所有的音乐都在演变的过程中。作为一个有 20 多年经验的手风琴演奏家,陈楷认识到适应潮流的重要性。事实上,对于一个被许多人认为已经过时的乐器来说,手风琴演奏要跟上时代的步伐,显得尤其重要。这也直接影响了陈楷的演奏风格。陈楷现场演奏的并非那些人们耳熟能详的曲子,而是通过一小时的即兴表演,混合一些不太常见的流派──比如迷幻摇滚乐和巴洛克音乐──来形成独特而无法被归类的音乐背景。

Not only is CK able to wield the inherent versatility of the instrument, he makes full use of the effects pedals, transforming each note into something foreign yet familiar. Alternating between warm, soothing melodies to upheaving, violent crescendos, CK’s performances are a whirlwind of sound and emotion that both caress and assault the listener’s ears. Watching him perform is an enlightening experience that can sway even the most stubborn of skeptics to rethink the accordion’s place in modern music.


陈楷的演奏,不仅发挥出手风琴固有的即兴灵活的特性,还充分利用了效果器踏板,把每个音符都奏出了既熟悉又陌生的曲调。一曲曲演奏,温柔与暴烈并行,舒缓与激扬辉映,让听众得以斡旋于声音与情感之中,对耳膜既是爱抚,亦是冲击。观看陈楷的表演是一次极具启发性的体验,甚至连那些质疑手风琴地位的人,也会去反思手风琴在现代音乐中的位置。

While CK aspires to help his beloved instrument reclaim its rightful place in the world, it’s not the only thing that fuels his motivation. What truly stokes his creative flames is his appreciation of music’s cathartic qualities. To him, music is an outlet, and his accordion is a conduit, one that helps him bring his emotions into the world through sonic means.


陈楷渴望能让他心爱的手风琴重夺其在世应有的地位,但激励他的动力并不止于此。真正点燃他创作热情的,是他对音乐宣泄性的情感。对他来说,音乐是一个出口,他的手风琴是一种媒介,帮助他将自己的情感通过声音的方式带来这个世界。

Forming an emotional connection with others is perhaps the most rewarding part of being a musician. He speaks to others through his art and lets them interpret it as they will. “In Chinese visual art, negative space is an important concept,” he says. “It’s the room left aside for the viewer’s imagination and own interpretation to take shape. In my music, I try to follow this same concept.”


与他人在情感上建立联系,也许是陈楷作为音乐家来说获益匪浅的部分。通过音乐,陈楷得以与他人沟通,让人们从中解读出自己的东西。在中国的视觉艺术中,负空间是一个重要的概念。他说,这是为观众的想象力和自己的解释留下空间。在我的音乐中,我也试图遵循着与之相同的概念。

Of course, taste is subjective. Not only can different individuals find different meaning in the same song, but what qualifies as “good” music inevitably varies from person to person. As a seasoned musician and self-described lover of all genres, how does CK define “good” music?

Hesitating, he takes a long drag from his cigarette and exhales a lungful of smoke before breaking the silence: “Good music should come from the heart. It should move people. Simple as that.”


当然,个人品味是很主观的。不仅不同的人在同一首歌中能找到不同的含义,而且什么是“好”音乐也必然因人而异。作为一个经验丰富的音乐家和自我标榜的所有流派的爱好者,陈楷又是如何定义“好”音乐的呢?

犹豫半晌,他从香烟里抽出一根长长的烟,狠吸了一大口之后,才打破了沉默:“好的音乐应该发自内心。它应该能打动人们。就这么简单。”

Contributor & Photographer: David Yen
Videographers: Damien Louise, Cheok Lai


供稿人与图片摄影师: David Yen
视频摄影师: Damien Louise, Cheok Lai