Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

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mitchnc
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Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by mitchnc » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:49 pm

I'm a lifelong keyboardist. I still play in bands, perform in the church groups, etc., but no longer play classical music for hours each day.
About 10 years ago I spent a couple of years playing PA. I really enjoyed it, but it was heavy and big, and my family had some major life changes and I put the PA in the closet.

Lately I've really been drawn to the CBA. I don't know if it's the challenge of tackling something that seems so foreign or just the fact that I Iike the idea of an instrument that is "pattern-based."

Specifically, I'm in love with the Roland FR-1xb based on info I've been able to find. I definitely couldn't afford any of its big brothers.
I like that I could practice in the early mornings with headphones and not disturb the family.

I've spent some time here reading the archives, so I've read the pros and cons.

I'd still like to hear more from those who transitioned from PA to CBA. Part of me is screaming that it would be stupid not to leverage the keyboard skills I spent decades developing. :-) I'm just wondering how long it would take me to become proficient on a CBA. Not that I had spectacular PA skills.

Edit: Oh, forgot...I can't find education resources for the CBA! I've found a few charts and some really bad YouTube videos, but can't seem to find any good teaching resources. I'd appreciate any links, book titles, etc. I did install a CBA simulator on my Android tablet and I've been trying to figure things out on my own. But when I watch a CBA performance video my jaw kind of drops. Especially when all the buttons are white. :)

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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by donn » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:37 pm

mitchnc wrote:But when I watch a CBA performance video my jaw kind of drops. Especially when all the buttons are white.
Not only are they all the same color, they feel the same - there's no tactile difference like on the piano keyboard where the black keys are raised above the white keys.

Part of you has some sense.

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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by losthobos » Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:56 pm

Ha....donn that's something I'd never considered....though I rememb , said the great blind pianist George Shearing liked to play in Fsharp minor because of of find find black keys easier
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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by Geoff de Limousin » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:14 pm

No matter when all the buttons are the same colour. It is best to learn the CBA without looking at the keyboard... besides to do so is only inviting a crick in the neck! :shock:

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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by maugein96 » Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:12 pm

Hi,

If you're happy with the sound of the Roland then it will give you lots of possibilities on a compact instrument. They are not really my bag but a lot of players, even with years of experience, get a lot of fun out of them.

CBA method books are a bit thin on the ground. Don't know where you are based, but most of the available CBA books are now published in France, where the market for them is greatest.

Look out for older methods by Medard Ferrero (bit outdated as he forbids use of the right thumb, which is now pretty much essential for modern playing), Raymond Gazave, Etienne Lorin, Andre Astier and Joss Baselli, Michel Lorin, and Paul Chalier. For more modern styles there is Michel Lorin, Manu Maugain, and Richard Galliano. There is only one widely available Italian method book for CBA, by Luigi Anzaghi, and it is a PA method converted so that it can be used for PA and CBA. I honestly cannot recommend it.

If you are over stateside there may be other methods there, but I don't know of any, apart from one named Palmer Hughes. Don't know if it is compatible with CBA. There is also a book called the Sedlon method, sometimes available with inserts giving fingering for CBA, but again I don't recommend it.

Manu Maugain's method is spread over three volumes, all of which come with a CD, and is probably the way to go if you want to play the modern way, which is probably advisable. The French text might be a problem if you want to know how many quavers are in a packet (quavers are a snack in the UK) or how to breath when you are squeezing the bellows. However, if you can already read music and have played an accordion before the text need not concern you too much, and you can always look up the odd word when required.

I'm not a pro or a teacher, and there may be other forum members better qualified than I am to give you advice. Unfortunately I've never played a PA in anger in my rather long life, but have been rattling C system chromatic buttons for over 30 years. Through time your hands and fingers will find the buttons without the assistance of your eyes, and your Roland has black and white buttons if you absolutely need to look at them in the early days. All four of my accordions have treble buttons the same colour, and it wouldn't matter if every one was a different colour, I'd play the instrument by touch only.

Finally, if you do get to a more advanced stage, then it won't matter which method you have learned, you'll probably end up developing your own way of playing. One thing I would suggest you should do after the initial learning process is to regularly play passages using different fingerings on different rows, as this prevents your right hand from getting lazy. A lot of older players only use the outside three rows on a CBA, but you almost invariably find that such players have been playing since their fingers were made of elastic in childhood. The C system CBA can make for some awkward hand positions, but with 4 or 5 rows available these can be eliminated to a degree.

Meanwhile go to You Tube and look up an old Swiss player named Jean Yves Sixt. He has put about 20 free lessons on there and each one is worth 10 method books. You'll also hear him playing one of the bigger Rolands.

Good luck.

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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by mitchnc » Tue Nov 29, 2016 12:59 am

Maugein,

Thanks for the info! A couple of the books you mentioned (Maugain and Galliano) I've seen recommended elsewhere, and I'll look into the others.
The link to Sixt's YouTube channel is great. Lesson No. 1 is already a gold mine for me and I can practice using my iPad CBA simulator. :)

I'm in the US and I've started looking for teachers, clubs, etc. Now I just need to come up with the cash for an instrument.

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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by losthobos » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:41 am

Wow....wish i'd seen them J Y Sixt lessons way back when....will have to trawl through and see if I can tidy my technique
Don't worry to much Mitch...you can go it alone with the CBA providing you have a keyboard map...your understanding of music will take you the rest of the way...i'm never sure if it's the beauty o the music or the challenge of interpretation that keeps me addicted...enjoy
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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by maugein96 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:25 am

JY's exercises are great for improving your right hand. He taught classical accordion up to free bass level at Sion music conservatory in Switzerland, and was a pupil of Freddy Balta, a legendary Swiss player. He never started recording until late in life, and it was only when he began to make CDs in the late 80s that he became better known. You'll see that he makes rather conservative use of his thumb, much in the same way as Manu Maugain. In case you are not aware of it, there is perhaps nothing more controversial about CBAs than the thumb issue. I only really know about the situation in France, so I'll try and describe their logic, as best as I can.

In the old days some French teachers banned its use altogether, and here's why:-

When you play a C system CBA with your thumb on the keyboard your little finger becomes practically redundant, and your right hand automatically falls into a position more convenient for playing B system. By placing your thumb on the side of the keyboard, you force your wrist upwards towards your chest and your fingers are better placed to cope with the C system keyboard. Only problem then is your thumb becomes redundant, although for decades that was the way French teachers preferred to teach, and volumes of sheet music, mostly in the musette style, were written for people who played without the thumb.

As the musette style began to stagnate, a lot of thought and effort was put into how to better incorporate other styles into French accordion music, and they began to experiment with the thumb on the first row only. Through time teachers with a more modern outlook devised various techniques which brought the thumb onto the keyboard on a more regular basis. However, even in the most modern French method books, the thumb is principally used to play scales, chords, and fast legato passages. It is still not utilised as a principal digit, and that status is reserved for the 1st,2nd, and 3rd fingers. The player can basically use the thumb wherever it is deemed necessary, but you'll still see players with that thumb on the side in certain situations.

A lot of very knowledgeable C system CBA players and teachers condemn the French teaching methods as being inferior and wrong, and in keeping with their particular musical doctrines then they are possibly correct. However, there is perhaps no other country in the world where the C system CBA is the most common type of accordion, and to my knowledge there have been no other C system method books produced in the last 30 odd years anywhere other than in France.

Try not to get bogged down with the thumb issue. As an ex PA player you might struggle to manage without it, but it will do no harm to try those exercises that make you keep it off the keyboard as you'll find on JY's site.

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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by dunlustin » Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:00 pm

Re: the FR1XB:
A minor but useful plus is that (unlike some instruments) the RH has buttons with cross-hatching on C and F which you can feel and so have a 'home' position.
I'm sure your keyboard skills should transfer well, especially as chords are so predictable.
A CBA book is more likely to make use of the increased range compared to a piano keyboard
For me, one big advantage is not so much the number of sounds on the Roland but the chance of finding a few I really liked.
There are some truly uninspiring sounds too!
You may well be drawn quite soon to the LH options. Moving the reference buttons (C,E,Ab dimpled) around isn't always easy. A good retailer should help with that.
Have you downloaded the manual from the Roland site - useful keyboard layouts here.
Are you sure your simulator is a C-system?
This http://knopaccordeon.ggms.nl/bladmuzieke.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; is B system but still a good source of a progression to follow + sheet music.

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Re: Not totally new to accordion...considering CBA

Post by mitchnc » Tue Nov 29, 2016 3:05 pm

Maugein:

Yes, I read through the "Thumbs up or thumbs down" thread. Most of the performances I watch are too fast to see if the player is using the thumb or not. But so far, Sixt's lessons don't use it.

dunlustin:

The app can be configured for C or B (or G?) and I have it set to C.
Pretty awesome to have such a nice free tool to get started with.

It's this:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... dion&hl=en" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I was getting pretty decent when I played PA before. I was playing several of Gary Dahl's Italian and French arrangements. Hopefully the LH will come back quickly.
I was watching this with my family last night. The LH is crazy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxTOwXEy2Mo" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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