The year 2010 marked a
new success for Stephane
Groleau: the creation of the world's first vegan accordion. Called
"Eco-rdéon," this accordion is free from animal products, held together
with vapourless glues, and finished with eco-conscious varnish. In
the key of D, it has 11 buttons and 4 reed banks. This accordion is
inspired by the single-row Quebecois model that is traditionally used
in folk music.
His quest for a vegan
accordion began several years ago when learning to play the diatonic
accordion. Stephane was curious to understand the inner workings of
this strange instrument, and, at the same time, to discover more about
the musical roots of Quebec. As he became more familiar with the
"squeeze box", he became less comfortable knowing that it contained
manufacturing of accordions generally uses a multitude of animal
products. The most obvious are the leather straps.
However, animal skin is also found on the reeds and the bellows, in
addition to animal ingredients in the glue and the varnish. As a vegan,
Stephane began looking for accordions that are free from animal
products. After a fruitless search, he
realized that to obtain a completely vegan accordion, he would have to
build it himself.
With fellow accordionists, he organized a workshop with professional
accordion-makers Emmanuel Pariselle and Marc Serafini. During this
workshop, Stephane made his first instrument, a diatonic accordion with
2½ rows, in the keys of C and G with alterations. Here, he was
able to learn the details of the hidden animal products in the
manufacturing process, though he did not yet have every vegan
Generally, leather is
found on all areas of the instrument that are subject to air leakage:
next to the reeds (metal strips that vibrate to produce each note), by
the valves, and at the corners of the bellows. This is the critical
part, as each of the eighty corners of the bellows is insulated with an
individual piece of leather.
bellows are really the centerpiece of the instrument, and Stephane
would have liked to have purchased it pre-made from a manufacturer. In
the end, no one was willing to take the time to make the bellows
without leather, even though some accordion-makers expressed an
understanding of his mission. And so, Stephane had to construct the
bellows himself. In place of leather, he used a high-quality synthetic
textile from Lorica. To glue it to the cardboard, he found the
non-toxic vegan glue Weldbond.
design on the bellow represents the international vegetarian logo, the
V-Label, created by the Italian artist
Bruno Nascimben and used worldwide since the European Vegetarian Union
(EVU) congress in 1985 in Cervia, Italy. For more information: www.vlabel.info
For the reeds, these are usually
attached to the wood and made air-tight by using beeswax. Here,
Stephane chose to screw the reeds, and if needed, to use a little soy
wax from a candle. Finally, to
finish the instrument, he found an eco-vegan varnish from Ecospaints.
All of these steps explain why the prototype vegan accordion was called
L'Eco-rdéon presented at the Montmagny Accordion Museum!
June 28th, 2012, opening of the new exposition about Quebec accordion makers at the Montmagny Accordion Museum.
A space was reserved to present the Eco-rdeon. This new permanent
exposition shows the history of diatonic accordion making in Quebec
on the television show, Des Kiwis et des Hommes with Radio-Canada,
October 26th 2010.
Article published in
the magazine L'itinéraire, September 2010.
Article published in
Ahimsa, Fall 2010.
Video of a public event with the
presence of the Eco-rdeon:
short video to see the Eco-rdeon in action: