The Accordion Community

Yann Tiersen accordionist punk composer performerUnless you're a fan of independent foreign films, there's probably a good chance you've never heard of Yann Tiersen. Yann Tiersen is an eclectic musician whose instrument choice ranges from his signature accordion to the ondes martenot. He composed the soundtracks for critically acclaimed films such as "Goodbye Lenin! " and "Amelie ." Because of his unconventional ideas about composing, one could call him the beat poet of the music world, the James Joyce of classical music.

What makes him especially eccentric is that he draws most of his influence from 1980s punk bands like The Stooges and Joy Division. He is quoted saying "Let's live in an enormous world of sound we can use randomly, with no rules at all. Let's play with sound, forget all knowledge and instrumental skills, and just use instinct – the same way punk did."

Tiersen was born in Brittany, France and was classically trained in music at several different acadamies. He rebelled against his classical training, finding himself more inspired by the punk scene and for some time played with various rock bands. He later began composing his own music and submitting his work in plays and short films. He then began making albums of his own, with little success until 1998 with his well- received album Le Phare .

With live performances, Tiersen literally takes an all or nothing approach: either incorporating entire orchestras in the show or keeping it as minimalistic as possible with just a bassist, a guitarist and himself switching maniacally from accordion to piano to violin. His performances are said to be theatrical and surreal, often including toy instruments and everyday objects used as instruments such as the typewriter.

Tiersen's music has the remarkable ability to capture all the dichotomies of life. It can be both melancholic and uplifting, dreadful and hopeful, full of childhood nostalgia and the grief of maturity. He has a way of drawing the listener in slowly with just the sounds of a lone accordian and slowly adds the sounds of other instruments until the listener is completely engulfed in the orchestra.

Yann Tiersen truly brings out the beauty and artistry of the accordion. His music has shown how it truly enhances classical pieces and should be more acceptable in the mainstream. Tiersen has proven that the accordion has the capacity to express an infinite range of emotions and ideas. He is an invaluable member of the accordionist community and is doing well to represent the instrument in the awe-inspiring light it deserves.


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