The Concertina

La Voz de Galicia – August 31, 2018 →

Cristina PatoI still remember a conference about the concertina I attended a few years ago in New York. Lecturers spoke about the instrument’s origin and about its use and sound in different cultures: England, Germany, Argentina, and the United States. Fascinated, I wished to understand how a relatively new instrument (from the beginning of the nineteenth century), born in England and Germany had ended becoming popular in Argentina through a different and more advanced version of the instrument: the bandoneon, created or marketed by the German Heinrich Band (hence its name). That version of the concertina was introduced in Argentina by migrants, most likely by immigrants or sailors. There are many theories about the entry of such an instrument into the country that, without knowing it, would become the sound that defines an important part of its culture in the world: the sound of the bandoneon is the sound of tango.

But these days, the concertina of which we speak in Spain has nothing to do with music. This concertina is an inhuman instrument, likely born during the first World War and designed to harm. And now, the central government is looking for an alternative to the concertinas installed thirteen years ago in the enclosures of Ceuta and Melilla, to be able to have frontier borders “much less injurious and much more effective in preventing trespasses.”

All cultural advances are the result of migration, of the exchange of experiences. What we understand as cultural identity is nothing more than the sum of various realities contained in society. And sadly, one of these realities led us to install the wrong concertina: a savage weapon created to wound profoundly and so spill more blood on a problem impossible to solve—our own particular walls.

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