Bandoneón and Linux: similarities, differences, thoughts.

Linux and bandoneón

Analogies and thoughts

I am a Linux user and I play the bandoneón. Okay, I'm twice weird. I use an operating system not very widespread and I play an uncommon and unnecessarily complicated musical instrument.

Seth Godin on Linux

Lately I read the book "The Purple Cow" by Seth Godin in which he defines the concept of Purple Cow as something unique that stands out completely from everything else, like a purple cow in a pasture of brown cows.

Something unique that stands out completely from everything else, like a purple cow in a pasture of brown cows.

Inside the book I read his reflection on the Linux world, which I report in full.

Becoming a Linux user takes a lot of effort. Linux is difficult to install, difficult to use for those with little practice and not easy to integrate into a traditional business environment. All these obstacles have created a hoof of extremely loyal users, who have understood that the more people invested their time in using and supporting this product, the more the operating system would improve, the investments in software and software would be made. User interfaces and internal problems would disappear. Product defects have become an asset.

Seth Godin defines Linux users as a hoof of faithful who love their OS so much that they can renounce to MAC/OS immediacy and Windows compatibility in order to hone their knowledge and skills on the Penguin's OS. (Linux mascot is a penguin called Tux).

Bandoneon players are music "nerds"

We bandoneonists are like nerds: we accept to study such a complicated instrument perhaps because, just like computer geeks, we love challenges. We could play the piano or the guitar, but we have chosen the bandoneón and we are willing to make great sacrifices in order to study and perfect it. We are the "hard core" of this instrument. When a guitarist or pianist sees unnecessary complications in the chaotic layout of the keyboards or in the difference in opening and closing, we instead see our instrument's peculiarity and we have learned to consider these characteristics as an advantage rather than a defect.

Advantages and disadvantages of being few

Linux users know they are a minority and are quite aware that this will always be the case. Linux-based operating systems are undoubtedly difficult, and you have to know enough computer science to use them properly.

Being part of a minority in IT mainly has disadvantages: fewer users who use your system means fewer solutions to your problem, it means fewer companies willing to invest in specific software or hardware for those operating systems, it means that many times you will have to solve the problem by yourself going to directly modify the code.

However, there are some advantages. First of all, you are obliged to develop uncommon skills. Generally the Linux user is seen by Windows users as some kind of computer genius. In fact, Linux users are forced to fully understand their operating system and to develop multidisciplinary skills.

Linux geeks are considered as gods of computer science by those who fight every day with their Windows PC.

Second, the difficulties shared by Linux users have given rise to incredible communities that voluntarily try to compensate for the chronic lack of assistance from large companies. On Linux you will not find Photoshop (Adobe for business choices is not interested in the Linux market) but the community over the years has developed GIMP, free and quality photo editing software comparable to professional programs. It can therefore be argued that virtually all commercial programs have a Linux equivalent that does the same (sometimes better) things and is fully supported by the community.

The bandoneón as a widespread instrument?

I have always wondered if the bandoneón should become a widespread instrument or if it is better to remain as it is.

There are different answers to this question depending on the point of view we choose to take to try to answer.

From a professional point of view, the fact that only a few people play the bandoneón makes us rare, and therefore quite in demand in the musical field.

From the point of view of teaching we know that we can count on a small number of potential audiences, so in other words fewer students. But this means fewer teachers as well (everyone draws own conclusions).

From the point of view of the musical instruments availability, a greater demand would increase the number of instruments available and decrease the cost of the "1st instrument" for beginners. However, we would have different facets of the phenomenon. The market would be flooded with low-quality Chinese-made bandoneons. There would be an intermediate range of instruments of medium-good quality, and affordable costs, which would also include many AAs currently sold at 4,000 euros and which would probably thus be depreciated. Finally, a reduced range of top-of-the-range instruments with high prices, higher than the current ones (to differentiate them from the intermediate range).

On the other hand, the production of new instruments would drastically increase, and more would be invested to improve production technologies and techniques. This would be a big step forward for the bandoneón, a real evolution for the instrument (we also talked about it during the interview with the bandoneon maker Baltazar Estol).

From the artistic point of view, a greater diffusion of the bandoneón would clear it from the limited role it now covers (instrument for tango) by inserting it in increasingly diversified contexts in which it could really express all its versatility.


Personally I believe that the bandoneón will never be a widespread instrument, just as Linux will always be the minority operating system of geeks. For some years, however, we have been witnessing an increasing interest in this operating system by users and companies and its slow but constant growth and diffusion.

The speech is similar for the bandoneón which is slowly gaining more and more public. True, the bandoneón will never be as widespread as the piano. Very true, we will never see many bandoneons on the beach to replace the guitar in the famous 4 chords of the "Knocking on Heaven's Doors". But this does not deny that we are at the beginning of a very interesting phase for this instrument. It can be said that the history of the bandoneón begins now.

Whoever plays the bandoneón is helping to write it.

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