Hannelore Hinz (a.k.a. “Treckfiedel-Hanne”)
Schwerin, Germany, 2008
Translated by Reinhard F. Hahn, Seattle, USA
As it goes in a harvest song from Mecklenburg (in the Low Saxon dialect
of Malchin district):
Allens is vergäten,
wat uns dag’s hett quäält,
wenn uns’ Vadding abends
de Treckfiedel* späält.
All the things that made us
Throughout the day are gone
When in the evening our dad
Plays the accordion.*
Hinz, the author) with one of her Teckfiedels
*Treckfiedel. What’s behind
We are talking about the accordion, the “squeeze box.” Treckfiedel is
a commonly used Low Saxon (“Low German”) word for this instrument that
has been popular for rural entertainment and smaller domestic celebrations.
As recorded on the Isle of Poel in 1889, an earlier word
for it is Monika (from Harmonika ‘accordion’).
Treckfiedel means ‘accordion’,
but Fiedel actually means ‘fiddle’, and trecken means ‘to pull’ or ‘to drag’.
accordion has many Low Saxon names, besides Treckfiedel for instance Treckharmonika (“pull harmonica”), Treckbüdel (“pull bag”, possibly in comparison with the bagpipe), Treckkasten (“pull box”, because of its shape), Handmonika (“hand (har)monica”), and also Quetschfiedel (“squeeze fiddle”), Quetschkasten (“squeeze box”) and Quetschkommod’ (“squeeze chest”) because the bellows needs not only be pulled but also squeezed.
Among day laborers it also came to be known as Daglöhnerörgel (“day
laborers’ organ”), because it was the musical instrument of the poor.
This information goes back to ethnographer Richard Wossidlo (1859–1939),
to whom ordinary people affectionately referred as Perfesser Voßlo.
of the author’s Treckfiedels, a 90–100-year-old “Viennese” model with a same-tone key and an additional short row of key buttons.
click below to listen to the author playing the Windmöllerdanz (Wind Miller’s Dance) on this instrument (or click here to download and save it).
These days, townspeople enjoy playing it too, and I am
one of them.
According to the records, the accordion found its place in Mecklenburg a good
sixty years after its invention.
Although this is debatable, it is widely believed that
the first accordion was built by Friedrich Buschmann in Berlin in 1822.
He also gave it the German name Handäoline (“hand aeoline”). Mundäoline (“mouth aeoline”) was his name for the harmonica (mouth organ) with whose invention in 1821 he has been credited as well.
the author’s Treckfiedels, circa 90 years old without same-tone key.
click below to listen to the author playing the Mecklenburg Waltz on this instrument (or click here to download and save it).
The first accordion models had single rows of button keys
and were diatonic. They were not yet of the Viennese type, did not
yet come with button keys that play the same tone upon pulling and
As a schoolgirl I used to own one of those one-row squeezeboxes in C major with
the basses Cmaj/Gmaj, Cmin/Gmin and Amaj/Dmaj, Amin/Dmin.
A Mecklenburger doesn’t like it when outsiders refer to
his squeezebox in German as Akkordeon or even Schifferklavier (“skipper’s piano”). “Dat is ’ne Treckfiedel” (“It’s a Treckfiedel”), he’d say proudly.
is the author’s latest and most often played Treckfiedel.
click below to listen to a sample the author
played on this instrument (or click here to download and it).
What do we mean by “diatonic”? Depression of a certain
button key produces a different tone, thus a change tone, while the
bellows is pulled (expanded) or squeezed (contracted).
Here’s an example. When you press the C' button while
squeezing the bellows it is exactly that tone you get. When you pull
the bellows you hear a D'. But when press C'' you get a B' when you
pull. This takes patient practice.
The diatonic method makes learning to play harder, but some day it starts coming
naturally and you produce Treckfiedel music, which is enjoying popularity once again.
with her Treckfiedel and three other Mecklenburger characters in front of the well of Schwerin’s meat market named “Von Herrn Pasturn sien Kauh” (after a popular Low Saxon folksong)
Manufacturers kept creating new instruments that were
easier to play.
The Viennese type began to be available as early as in
In the F minor row on my Viennese-style Treckfiedel the
C'' key has the same tone when the bellows are squeezed and pulled.
„Laat de Fiedel un Fläuten gahn!“
(“Let fiddel and flutes have their way!”) And these instruments came
to be joined by the Gaushals (“goose
neck,” clarinet), the double bass and the Treckfiedel.
Wossidlo, Richard and Hermann Teuchert: Wossidlo-Teuchert
mecklenburgisches Wörterbuch, mit Unterstützung der Mecklenburgischen Landesregierung, der Mecklenburgischen
Landes-Universitäts-Gesellschaft und der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft,
1937-, in progress. SJL PF5682.W93