Childhood
Folk speech
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“Morning Accordion Song” – Russian folk song

Morning Accordion Song

(The attachment contains the song in Russian, a general translation, an explanation of the accompanying motions, and some additional commentary.)

Transcript of audio file (condensed and edited):

Informant: This one is…my mom always woke me up with it. [the song] She touches both my cheeks and says, “Wall. Wall.” Then she touches my forehead and says, “Ceiling.” And then she makes an electronic doorbell and touches my nose, “Zing.” Then she asks, “Is the owner home?” Then I say, “Yes,” grudgingly. Then she says, “Is the accordion ready?” Then I say, “(sighs) yes.” Then she says, “Can I play it?” Then I say, “Yes.” Then she plays the accordion with my ears (makes motion of tugging at each of the ear lobes). And that’s just like a waking up ritual.

When I asked him when he first learned the ritual, the informant said that his mother had probably doing that since he was baby. When asked whether he knew where she had learned it, he replied that he did not. “I would guess probably from her mother…It never really mattered to me,” he said. “I mean of course now I’m curious and I’ll probably ask her later today, but it had never crossed my mind to ask her. For me it was just a way she showed that she loved me.” And it seems that the ritual even today, when the informant is 20-years-old continues to function as a demonstration of affection. While his mother no longer wakes him up with the chant, she “does it whenever I’m down, and it pretty much works every time.”

In this instance, the folklore functions as a link for the informant to his childhood, his mother, and his heritage. In the sharing of other folk songs and jokes, the informant would preface them by saying, “In my broken Russian…” Nevertheless, despite any uncertainty he may have regarding his language skills, he didn’t stumble with any of the examples of folk speech he shared, having grown up with all of it.

With regards to the piece itself, it’s interesting to me that the face is the facade of a house, in which the occupant must undoubtedly be the mind, more specifically, a conscious one. The informant mentioned nothing about this distinction between the mind and body, but I can imagine that even a little chant could engrain the delineation between the two for any child’s thinking. More research would be required to account for the significance of the accordion in Russian culture.

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