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accordion w/ non-piano keys

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Pene Azul, Blues Pianist 24 Jul 99 - 01:11 AM
alison 24 Jul 99 - 01:19 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 24 Jul 99 - 01:32 AM
Mike Billo 24 Jul 99 - 09:46 AM
Andrés Magré 25 Jul 99 - 04:36 AM
Bob Bolton 26 Jul 99 - 03:15 AM
Fadac 26 Jul 99 - 10:15 AM
Bob Bolton 26 Jul 99 - 11:29 PM
GUEST,Chuck the monk 07 Sep 05 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Brendan 05 Jan 12 - 07:23 AM
John MacKenzie 05 Jan 12 - 08:25 AM
Stringsinger 05 Jan 12 - 07:18 PM
GUEST,hugo alzate 02 Apr 15 - 04:35 PM
GUEST 02 Apr 15 - 06:15 PM
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Subject: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: Pene Azul, Blues Pianist
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 01:11 AM

Several years ago I saw a guy playing an old accordion-like instrument with another set of buttons where the piano keys would be. It was about average size for an accordion. I don't think it was a concertina (?) Do these things have a special name? Anyone know anything about them?

Max and I are playing some blues at the original Mudcat drinking a fine local lager.

Thanx, Pene

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: alison
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 01:19 AM

it's probably a button accordion... buttons on both sides

they are usually in a set key



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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 01:32 AM

Pene, to see some button accordions (many types), check out Lark in the Morning ( The midsize ones, also called melodeons, are used a lot in Irish music, sea chanteys, Cajun music--and usually are capable of playing in two keys (C/G, G/D, F/C--and their relative minors, of course. Skip Henderson (?), leader of the Sons of the Buccaneers, a SF Bay group, has three of them on stage with him. --seed

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: Mike Billo
Date: 24 Jul 99 - 09:46 AM

They are called Melodeons. There are two basic types. Irish style where the two rows are a half step apart such as B/C or C#/D. The other is German/Vienneese where the two rows are a fifth apart C/G or G/D. The Norteno accordion is a Vienneese with the left hand buttons removed, and the cajun accordion is a single row diatonic that comes in various keys.

I play a German C/G and my left hand chord/bass buttons are C,G,F,E, Amin,D.

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: Andrés Magré
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 04:36 AM

(This one is for me). An accordion with non-piano keys is called down here at the De la Plata River, a BANDONEON. This instrument is the heart of the tango orchestra, as well as a soloist instrument or accompanied by guitars. Its sound is as melancholic as tango could be. It lacks the brilliant and merry harmonies you may usually hear in an accordion, but there is nothing (event not a cello) similar when you have to express deep and sad feelings. Traditional authors mention the sound of the bandoneon as a cry rather than as a sound. With a wide range of octaves (don't know exactly), the bandoneon was the main instrument for many concertos and symphonies in the recent 30 years. The most important artist was ASTOR PIAZZOLLA, who died recently, author and player who was highly recognized all over the world (he played at main concert halls and made some contribu- tions to jazz fusion with Gato Barbieri and others too).

Yo may find a complete description and history of this instrument just by searching the word bandoneon in Yahoo. There are many sites in English, where you may also find links to great interpreters, especially of argentinian music.

Please note that bandoneons belong to the real tango, that is played at Buenos Aires, Argentina (where I am from) and not to the saloon-tango that was danced by Valentino. When the bandoneon sings, the accompaniment is violin, viola, counterbass and piano. No drums. Feel free to ask me anything about argentinian music. I am no expert, but I am very close to the sources. Best regards -

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 26 Jul 99 - 03:15 AM

G'day all,

Although I play button accordion and the Anglo concertina, I have to point out that an accordion the size of a piano accordion and with a lot of buttons on the right hand side (anywhere from 3 to 6 rows) is a Chromatica, Continental Chromatic (or maybe Bayan if you're into kletzmer).

These usually are built on standard piano key bodies and have the same reed blocks and couplers, but have a really nifty arrangement that lets you play a single pattern for a scale and change keys by shifting your starting point. Some people love the logic of it ... and some love the dash of illogic that gives them a feel for which key they are playing a standard keyboard.

By comparison, most push-pull button accordions are smaller (after all they get 2 bites at each button) and tend to have less basses. Bandoneons have a distinctly square look (well, they are very German!) with neatly chamfered corners. Concertinas Have had more than 4 sides since about 1850 - usually 6, but 8, 10 and 12 all are found. I have some lovely big 8 sided ones in red perloid, with 'melodeon' tuning ... great for raising hackles among the "English System/English Made" ghetto.

Anyway, enjoy!


Bob Bolton

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: Fadac
Date: 26 Jul 99 - 10:15 AM

Hi Bob! Yup you took the words right off my keyboard. The Chromatic is getting very popular in N. Europe. I had a chance to buy one, but let it go. I felt (rightly) I had enough on my plate just to learn the Piano keys.

There is also a Russian model it looks like a C Continental Chromatic, but has some other fingering system.
I have seen the chromatics with all the switches and hand made reeds that you would see on any of the very best Piano Accordions.


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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 26 Jul 99 - 11:29 PM

G'day Fadac,

Yes ... I also skipped mentioning that there are (at least) the 'B' system and 'C' system tunings - basically meaning which way the notes run. I guess there was an 'A' system back in their history (back to at least 1880).

The right hand system of the Chomatica has also been mirrored to create the Free Bass system now found on many top-of-the-line piano accordions ... the ones with ~181 basses! These have the full 120 Stradella System basses plus 3 more rows of Free Basses to allow straight playing of a bass melody, as in classical music.

I don't play anything that big - I failed the weighlifting qualifications. (Actually, I am somewhat obsessed with Australian traditional music of the last century and the place of portable instruments in its history, so the piano accordion misses out on both counts, being essentially 20th century and too damn big to roll in your swag.)


Bob Bolton

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: GUEST,Chuck the monk
Date: 07 Sep 05 - 10:21 AM

I do play a russian Bayan with buttons. I bought it third (or fifth) hand from a very good Russian artist playing for money on the beach. Old as it is it has given me quite a lot of pleasure.

It has 5 rows of buttons on the right hand side and the same on the bass side. The man who put it in order (not as cheap as the instrument) did not like the dried up leather in the instrument and was of the opinion that the russian instruments are of the wors´t quality on the market. Some people do however say that the russian instruments are the best in the world. Anyway the russians are very musical people so take it or leave it.

It is a very nice, although perhaps a bit melancholy instrument
well fitted for the classic and folk russian music.

I've had it for only a year but I do not think I'd like
to change it for a button-accordion.

One thing is both good and bad. Very few people are able
to play it outside the Slavic world. So teachers are difficult
to find and the second hand value is very limited. However i bought two tutorials in Russian and although my russian is not really up to them I have learnt quite a lot from them about fingering etc. The russian teachers are regrettable not always of the same ópinion about things but let the buyer/reader choose for himself.

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: GUEST,Brendan
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 07:23 AM

The Chromatic Button Accordion predates the Piano Accordion. The Piano Accordion was an idea by Hohner to see more accordions. Its actually quite silly. I started playing a piano accordion and for a couple years it was fine because I did not really know how to play. But soon I reached the limit of the piano accordion (I am playing Irish music alot). Since I am repairing and tuning accordions I have access to inexpensive kaput boxes. So I got a B system Paolo Soprani on the cheap. After an overhaul I gave it a go. It was much more intuitive and fast. Also having the scales and chords stay the same pattern make is easy to transpose songs. Even very complex ones. I am still tuning and repairing piano accordions and I even have a couple hanging around. But when I strap it on and start playing it feels like a waste of time. I would urge everyone to sell their piano accordion right away and pick up a nice Chromatic Button Accordion. If you have the option to try out a couple different systems that would help a bit. But I feel that it doesn't really matter which system you choose its really just moving your fingers about and pushing buttons. I have used the B system and the C system I do prefer the B system since I do play alot of chromatic steps in my music and it is a bit more natural for me. But it may also be that my Paolo Soprani is B system and the C system I have is Swiss. But in reality since I am playing Irish music I have again switched to the B/C Diatonic. But it still hard to put down my B system accordion. Anyone wanna buy a piano accordion?

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 08:25 AM

Somebody I know, once described a piano accordion as, "The instrument of the devil, Whereas the button box, is a 'REAL' accordion".
I must admit to preferring the button box to the vertical piano, every time.

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 07:18 PM

In Russia and Ukraine, a button accordion is known as a Bayan. It is capable of playing anything that the regular accordion can play but the problem comes with altered chords used in jazz. Diminished chords are hard to play, they have to use added notes in the right hand.

Actually, the Bayan has a richer and more delicate but better defined tone than the piano accordion. You can YouTube some Russian and Ukrainian Bayan music to hear the difference.

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
From: GUEST,hugo alzate
Date: 02 Apr 15 - 04:35 PM

There are 3 and 4 rows button accordions that are known as 6+6 accordions. The 6+6 system was created in 1882 by Paul von Jankó for be used in pianos. Later John H. Reuther made 3 rows keys accordions. Actually the german store Der Musiker Laden is tranding a 4 rows 72 bass accordion known as Logicordeon. You can find its page in Facebook.

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Subject: RE: accordion w/ non-piano keys
Date: 02 Apr 15 - 06:15 PM

5 row non- diatonic accordions are often known as "Continental Chromatic" in UK/ Ireland. Back in the day, Mick Burke of Manchester was a fine player of this instument in the Irish tradition. I believe he won an All Ireland award in the Seventies (probably in the Miscellaneous Instruments category).

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