Do We Need all those "Bells and Whistles"?

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Glenn
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Re: Do We Need all those "Bells and Whistles"?

Post by Glenn » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:23 pm

That's an interesting subject in its own right. Is playing and singing an innate skill or something you have to develop like left and right hands playing simultaneously?


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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by JerryPH » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:30 pm

Glenn wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:23 pm
That's an interesting subject in its own right. Is playing and singing an innate skill or something you have to develop like left and right hands playing simultaneously?
Like everything else, it is going to depend on the person. I know I have tried for years to say a word or 2... and it's not happening very easily. I can do many things in life, I just cannot link the right and left sides of my brain to work together fast enough... lol
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by Keymn » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:53 pm

JerryPH wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:59 pm
I still say bells and whistles are fun and often more preferable. I tested it out by recording one song yesterday. My question is, which do I prefer... the acoustic accordion only version of this song, or this version with a LOT more in the bells and whistles department? Call me a heretic, but I like this version a lot better! :D

Nice bellow transfer, real smooth. That is what my mom always taught when I started at 8 years young.

Now let's get daring!
On my Korg Arranger, I have a style called "Greek Rumba". See if you have something named similar on your bk-7m. It is a fun style to use on this song too...if you have it?
I like the backdrop...

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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by VirtualAccordionist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm

XXX
Last edited by VirtualAccordionist on Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by kep » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:31 pm

Leon,

Nice post! Very detailed, very persuading.
I only can add that Uwe Steger provides beautiful examples of this approach in his YouTube channel:
[BBvideo]
[/BBvideo]
And provided all parts for this and other his performances here:
http://www.susan-snow.de
Look for "2010" to find full set of registration + tutorials on the piece
Much more is published for FR-8X
To me, this site is one of the most comprehensive sources for learning the orchestration approach
(Just in case, there is a "Donate" button on top of the page)

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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by Keymn » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:17 pm

VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
Like everyone who is passionate about the accordion, I do like to see preformances played on traditional, acoustic accordions, or V-Accordions using strictly reed sounds. However, history has demonstrated over the centuries that the general public prefers the orchestral variety of different instrument sounds. That is in fact why symphonic orchestras became so popular centuries ago and why they remain popular today. The more instrument possibilities, the better. I learned that from my music appreciation course in my college music program.

With that in mind, let me say that one playing technique that I feel is missing from discussions such as this in the V-Accordion community is "Saved Multi Part Orchestrations" It is a playing technique that developed on keyboards in response to the growing number of available orchestral sounds, as well as increasing complexity of orchestral features.

For clarity, let me start at the very beginning. Early electronic instruments had at best 16 or 32 different selectable sounds. My Clavinova piano has only 8. So on the instrument the manufacturer provided a front panel button for each one. It was a simple matter then for the musician to select the desired instrument sounds interactively, in real time, on the fly, during a performance by pressing the appropriate instrument button. Thus a performance using more than one instrument can be easily achieved. However, eventually, as the number of available sounds increased into the hundreds, it became impracticle to provide a button to select each sound, not only because of the sheer number of buttons required, but because it would be difficult if not impossible for most musicians to remember what instrument each button represented. So menus are provided from which sounds can be selected. For example, my BK-9 keyboard has 1700 selectable sounds. They are selectable from a menu system that organizes them into convenient groups. However, selecting sounds from a multi level menu system, or even from a long, linear list of possibilities such as the 179 sounds on my FR-4xb, is no longer possible to accomplish interactively in real time, on the fly, during a performance.

Bear with me. It's get interesting soon.

One compromise that developed is to provide a reasonable number of buttons to which a sub set of the full orchestral sound library can be assigned. On keyboards such buttons are often called "One Touch" or "Favorites". My BK-9 has 10 such buttons. My FR-4x of course has 14 - the register buttons.

OK, so I can assign my favorite 14 orchestral sounds to the 14 register button locations in either a "Set" or a "User Program Bank". And after a while, I'll remember all their locations and I'll be able to switch between them interactively, in real time, on the fly, during my performances. Great. But that limits me to only 14 out of 179 possible sounds on my FR-4x, 10 out of 1700 on my BK-9. What if I want to use a different sound when playing one particular song? A sound that I have not yet assigned to a register or favorite button? I could of course reassign the sound produced by one of my register buttons, but then what if I want to play another song in which I wanted to use that now deleted sound?

The next step of course it to provide the possibility of assigning different groups of orchestral sounds to different "Sets" or "User Program Banks". Keyboards provide the same capability with banks of "Favorites" or "One Touch" buttons. This is in fact the way 99% (my own estimate) of V-Accordionists set up their instruments. For example, Richard Noel and Dale Mathis organize their sounds into groups that are each designed for playing certain genres of music. Or, you could design your own, which I highly recommend. You could have a "Big Band" group, a "Wedding" group, a "German Beer Garden" group, a "Polka" group, and so on.

Well, that's an impovement. However, as your desire for more orchestral variety in different genres of music grows, there can be a problem with this. Inherently, the sounds that appear at certain button locations change depending on what "Set" or "User Program Bank" is currently active. In one set or bank a particular button could be a sax, but in another set or bank that same button might be a trombone. As you expand this idea, you end up with the impossible task of remembering where all your sounds are. Some people are good at this, but most people are not. Worse, what if you want to use within one song a sound that is in one bank and another sound that is available in a completely different bank. Because of the need to switch sets or banks, you won't be able to switch between those two sounds instantly, in real time, on the fly. Worse, you won't be able to layer them to play together.

It turns out, there is a different approach to organizing orchestral sounds on your instrument. I call it the "Saved, Multi Part Orchestration" approach. I didn't make it up. It evolved years ago on keyboards. Not all musicians use it, but those who do demonstrate the ability to provide better orchestral variety to each song that they play. Watch the following two example performances:



In the first case Heidrun Dolde is playing interactively, the way 99% of V-Accordionists play. She is providing her orchestration in real time by selecting various sounds and instrument features where they are located on the instrument. Notice that to provide the orchestral variety that she wants, she needs two keyboards, each one needing to be set up before the performance. Notice also that as she plays her hands are flying all over the place selecting different sounds and features where they are located. Imagine trying to play using two V-Accordions? Yet, either one of her keyboards is fully able to produce all the orchestral variety that she is using, if only she would use them differently.

In the second case John Beesley is playing a more complex orchestration, but he needs only one keyboard, and his hands never have to leave the keys as he plays. So how does he do it? And is this possible on a V-Accordion?

The answers are, he is using a previously saved multi part orchestration, and yes, it is possible on an FR-1, FR-3x, FR-4x, or FR-8x. Here is me (a very mediocre, beginner level, amateur) doing it on an FR-4x:


Of course my performance is a simple, beginner level practice piece. But it demonstrates the point:

Playing in this manner uses a different mindset. To play a particular song the musician imports from the USB flash drive the saved orchestration from his/her performance library, a library that could contain hundreds of previsously arranged songs. In my example video of my FR-4x, I import the User Program Bank that was previously saved using the filename "Ode To Joy". It's an easy operation that requires only a few button pushes. And after I import one song, the instrument remembers my place in the menu system, thus making the selection of the next song more convenient. The name of the song then appears in the display, a name that reminds me how many parts I have previously decided were appropriate for my performance of this song, as well as whether or not I have designed an "Ending", or perhaps "Cadence". I press Register Button #1, and start playing. Immediately the sounds that I previously decided were appropriate for playing the first part of this song begin. When I get to the point in the performance when I want to play the second part, I either press Register Button #2, or I press a pedal that activates the "User Program Up" feature. In the video I am using the FC-300 pedal unit to accomplish this. Presto, the sounds immediately change to what I previously decided were appropriate for playing the second part of the song. As I play, I don't need to remember where any sounds are located on the instrument. They simply come up automatically as I play each part. The instrument even reminds me as I play which part of the song I am playing by displaying the currently active "User Program Location". My mind is free to focus on playing the notes, not figuring out where on my instrument the sounds are located.

The subject of playing using an "Interactive" or "Saved Orchestration" approach has been debated for years in the keyboard communities, with different advantages to each approach, and with strong advocates on both sides of the discussion. It's hard to say for sure which technique is most popular. However, as time passes, generally speaking, on keyboards people tend to use an interactive approach when jamming or playing onstage certain songs that they have not yet formally orchestrated, and a saved orchestration approach for best, formal onstage performances. I have for example met a Tyros player who had over 600 saved orchestrations instantly available on his Tyros, which he played upon request at his ballroom dancing gigs. His performances use a wider range of orchestral features taylored specifically for each song, and he didn't have to remember any of it, or set his instrument up beforehand before playing the song. But it is my observation that in the V-Accordions community, although the FR-1x, FR-3x, FR-4x, and FR-8x fully support the concept, I seem to be the only one using the saved orchestration approach. At least that is my observation on YouTube.

Here are some of the advantages of the saved orchestration approach:

[*]Ability to more easily provide greater orchestration variety. For example, when using a user program bank on a V-Accordion, switching parts can activate multiple changes instantly. The playing mode (accordion, orchestra, organ, or dual), percussion (either on or off, as well as changing the patch), changing multiple orchestral sounds on both bass and treble sides, even splitting the keyboard on the 4x and 8x.

[*]Ability to more professionally adjust the mix. In my performance, different orchestral sounds were individually leveled, and in the ending part the volume of the percussion patch was increased. I wouldn't be able to do that interactively.

[*]Switching parts is much easier than switching features directly. You don't have to remember where things are. You simply press Register Button #1 for Part #1, Register Button #2 for Part #2, and so on...


But most accordionists, especially those with a lot of acoustic experience, seem to be locked into the mindset that as they play they select different sounds interactively on the instrument where they are located. However, as the complexity of electronic accordions evolves, they will find it more and more difficult, if not impossible, to apply the full orchestral range of the instrument to their performances. They will always be stuck within some small subset. And although they can design or install User Program Banks tailored for particular genres, all songs played within that bank will essentially use the very same orchestral subset of the instrument, and essentially they will tend to all sound the same, creating audience boredom.

Finally, this is not a subject just for beginner level amateurs like me who lack the playing skill to press register buttons quickly, on the fly, during performances. It's for the pros as well. As time goes on, more and more professional musicians on keyboards are using this "Saved Orchestration" approach to be able to deliver more professionally designed orchestral variety to their audiences. To compete, V-Accordionists will eventually have to step up to the plate and adopt this more modern way of play.

What are your thoughts?
Leon
A good approach!

I played a German Restaurant last weekend. On my fr4x, bank 7 , reg 1-7, have all my needed orchestrations and accordion mixes for this venue. I may change a style of music, like Cajun, use the same accordion sounds as polka, but play differently to sound more Cajun. I will do the same if I did a foxtrot or Latin. No time to change bank groups when the place is hopping. As the venue wines down with just a handful of people at the bar, I change banks Like classic country, which I have another bank of 7 sounds that fit that genre.

If you listen to different genres of music, do we need more then 7 orchestrations for each?
Performing 3-5 gigs per week gives not much time learning what registers to hit. Time off spent practice new and old material.

Being different is what all musicians need to achieve.
I'll never forget when I recorded with paid Nashville studio musicians back in early 70's. When I started playing the recorded demo versions of the songs, they stopped me and said, "all they want is the chord charts, I do want to stereotype". So it ended sounding completely different then the demo. I think, much improved.
That is why many should program our own accordions and not listen and try to sound like others. Good or bad, it is still your own.

Another example: I use a strong synthetic Tuba bass on my Korg arranger to a version of "on the road again". The tuba intro on the Korg gives that German sound and then sing a familiar song everyone knows. And using the banjo sound on the solo seems to get attention. Wow! German, Country and bluegrass feel in one song! Gets more attention then the Liechtensteiner Polka!

If you listen to top 40 German music (Schlager beats - which you may have on your bk-7m), many American songs from 50's, 60s, 70s are sung in German but with that beat. Throwing in these songs along with oompa, makes a successful Oktoberfest gig.

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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by VirtualAccordionist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:09 pm

XXX
Last edited by VirtualAccordionist on Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by Keymn » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:16 am

I think we differ in many ways.
As a performer I am getting by without the pedals. Trying to compact my setup due to sometimes doing an afternoon and evening gig. My only thorn is bringing my Korg arranger on some of the larger dancehall gigs. More to setup. Yes, bk-7m is more compact. Can it perform like Korg PA3x, pa4x or how about the Tyros?I never tried a bk-7m, so will never know. Quite a price difference. If a new generation comes out, I will then look into it.

Being an average accordion/keyboard player, Rely on my vocals. Sometimes just do simple chords and fills. Do not get me wrong changing registers and sounds is important to keep the song from boring. As in those Amazing videos!

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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by kep » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:25 am

Leon,

The example I provided was created on/for FR-7X (no playlists existed then), and applicable on the FR-4X/8X as well.
For FR-8X Uwe (a.k.a Susan Snow) uses much more complex technique, and his preference is UPL (User Program List on USB, not a single program), he argues this format is less depended on individual settings.
An example of this approach is here:
User Program List
http://www.susan-snow.de/FR8X_Feed/cabeza.UPL
Demo:
https://soundcloud.com/susan-snow-94/por-una-cabeza
Last edited by kep on Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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JerryPH
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Re: Do We Need all those

Post by JerryPH » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:30 am

VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
Like everyone who is passionate about the accordion, I do like to see preformances played on traditional, acoustic accordions, or V-Accordions using strictly reed sounds.
I am passionate about my accordion, and love my acoustic, but the sound of a lone accordion is just that... a lone accordion. The multiple sounds of a well prepared set on a V-accordion can be nothing short of amazingly impressive:


VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
a multi level menu system, or even from a long, linear list of possibilities such as the 179 sounds on my FR-4xb, is no longer possible to accomplish interactively in real time, on the fly, during a performance.
Bear with me. It's get interesting soon.
I disagree and will explain why in a second, but I want to bear with you first. :)
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
One compromise that developed is to provide a reasonable number of buttons to which a sub set of the full orchestral sound library can be assigned. On keyboards such buttons are often called "One Touch" or "Favorites". My BK-9 has 10 such buttons. My FR-4x of course has 14 - the register buttons.
Actually, it's 7, but with a separate button press, you can get 7 more, I understand what you mean. The 8X has the 14 buttons... but with the orchestral sounds, you can have *2* instruments, the 2nd one available with a 2nd button press.
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
OK, so I can assign my favorite 14 orchestral sounds to the 14 register button locations in either a "Set" or a "User Program Bank". And after a while, I'll remember all their locations and I'll be able to switch between them interactively, in real time, on the fly, during my performances. Great. But that limits me to only 14 out of 179 possible sounds on my FR-4x, 10 out of 1700 on my BK-9.
A more pertinent question might be "do I need 14 registrations in ONE song?". The answer is more likely to be no than yes, BUT, if one did, then perhaps the 4X is not the right instrument and one could record 2 of the 3 chin buttons on an 8X to go 1 set down or 1 set up, and then it becomes no more complex than hitting a chin button to access another 14/28 sound choices, and so on. On top of that, those could be 14 more completely custom complex setups where one could integrate Stradella and Free Bass or hundreds of percussion sounds on the left hands or adding a split keyboard so that you have 2 instruments on the same keyboard or bass side at the same time.

The complexities possible are sincerely mind boggling.
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
What if I want to use a different sound when playing one particular song? A sound that I have not yet assigned to a register or favorite button? I could of course reassign the sound produced by one of my register buttons, but then what if I want to play another song in which I wanted to use that now deleted sound?
There are several trains of thought about this. One is to be "sound oriented" where one feels limited to the 14 sounds you have. The next step up from this is to have registration prepared in advance for a specific song. This is called being "song specific", and with 1400 open/available spots, you can have 1400 song's worth of registration ready. Need more? No problem... carry an installed 16gb thumb drive inserted in the accordion and carry hundreds (possibly thousands) more UPGs where each one has another 1400 setups ready and waiting for you.
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
The next step of course it to provide the possibility of assigning different groups of orchestral sounds to different "Sets" or "User Program Banks". Keyboards provide the same capability with banks of "Favorites" or "One Touch" buttons. This is in fact the way 99% (my own estimate) of V-Accordionists set up their instruments. For example, Richard Noel and Dale Mathis organize their sounds into groups that are each designed for playing certain genres of music.
I own all of his sets and Richard shows a lovely mix of several trains of thought... both genre-based and individual song based setups. Dale Mathis I am less informed on as he does not sell any custom programming unless you purchase the V-accordion from him, but from what I see on YouTube, he seems to be more genre-based in his programming. People like Michael Bridge, Uwe Steger and Sergio Scappini use very custom and expertly prepared registrations for a song-based result, which is extremely flashy and often leaves audiences with their jaws hanging. :)
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
Well, that's an impovement. However, as your desire for more orchestral variety in different genres of music grows, there can be a problem with this. Inherently, the sounds that appear at certain button locations change depending on what "Set" or "User Program Bank" is currently active. In one set or bank a particular button could be a sax, but in another set or bank that same button might be a trombone. As you expand this idea, you end up with the impossible task of remembering where all your sounds are.
A little documentation here goes a long way. Some scribble a couple of notes on their music, some carry a couple of pages of paper. I have the basics on the music that I play, and I keep a small blog with my complete and entire current setup. As it grows, this page will as well. Having backups of your setups is important, but easy to do.

http://www.accordionmemories.com/where/
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
Some people are good at this, but most people are not. Worse, what if you want to use within one song a sound that is in one bank and another sound that is available in a completely different bank.
Easy... set up a custom set with all the sounds you need for the next one or more songs! ;)
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
It turns out, there is a different approach to organizing orchestral sounds on your instrument. I call it the "Saved, Multi Part Orchestration" approach. I didn't make it up. It evolved years ago on keyboards. Not all musicians use it, but those who do demonstrate the ability to provide better orchestral variety to each song that they play. Watch the following two example performances: <snip!>

In the second case John Beesley is playing a more complex orchestration, but he needs only one keyboard, and his hands never have to leave the keys as he plays. So how does he do it? And is this possible on a V-Accordion?
Yes... on the 8X. Here are those chin switches in action again. On a 4X, it *might* be possible to do on a MIDI pedal. I don't own a 4X nor a MIDI pedal, but perhaps someone else here could confirm.
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
In the video I am using the FC-300 pedal unit to accomplish this...
Ah, yes, there you go. :)
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
The subject of playing using an "Interactive" or "Saved Orchestration" approach has been debated for years in the keyboard communities, with different advantages to each approach, and with strong advocates on both sides of the discussion. It's hard to say for sure which technique is most popular.
IMHO, which is most popular is not as important as knowing what works for you AND the fact that your instrument will be able to provide you the choices you need. The 4X and 8X obviously can do both.
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
However, as time passes, generally speaking, on keyboards people tend to use an interactive approach when jamming or playing onstage certain songs that they have not yet formally orchestrated, and a saved orchestration approach for best, formal onstage performances. I have for example met a Tyros player who had over 600 saved orchestrations instantly available on his Tyros, which he played upon request at his ballroom dancing gigs. His performances use a wider range of orchestral features taylored specifically for each song, and he didn't have to remember any of it, or set his instrument up beforehand before playing the song. But it is my observation that in the V-Accordions community, although the FR-1x, FR-3x, FR-4x, and FR-8x fully support the concept, I seem to be the only one using the saved orchestration approach. At least that is my observation on YouTube.
Far from being the only one Leon, all of the names I mention above do it regularly. I'd like to add modestly that this is also the way that I do several songs myself, however, I am still new to the V-Accordion world, so I mostly use either exact registrations chosen from Richard Noel's sets or sets lightly modified starting from his base.

With the recent release of the computer editor from Roland last month, we will find that as more and more people create and share their creations, we will have some pretty amazing possibilities coming out soon, not that there aren't many out there now!!
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
But most accordionists, especially those with a lot of acoustic experience, seem to be locked into the mindset that as they play they select different sounds interactively on the instrument where they are located. However, as the complexity of electronic accordions evolves, they will find it more and more difficult, if not impossible, to apply the full orchestral range of the instrument to their performances. They will always be stuck within some small subset.
There is nothing wrong with that! Compared to the single subset of ONE acoustic accordion sound based on whatever registers it has built in to it, even the singular aspect of adding ORCH1 and ORCH2 in solo or accompaniment to the accordion adds worlds of sounds that don't exist in the acoustic world... and a good accordionist should never have any issues with audience boredom. If your audience is bored, look BEHIND the accordion to the reason, not the sounds it can or cannot make. ;)
VirtualAccordionist wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:51 pm
Finally, this is not a subject just for beginner level amateurs like me who lack the playing skill to press register buttons quickly, on the fly, during performances. It's for the pros as well. As time goes on, more and more professional musicians on keyboards are using this "Saved Orchestration" approach to be able to deliver more professionally designed orchestral variety to their audiences. To compete, V-Accordionists will eventually have to step up to the plate and adopt this more modern way of play.
They already have... and many started as much as 5+ years ago. ;)

My take on it... use whatever your music requires. I don't really call it "saved orchestration" as much as it is a custom programming of sounds based on specific needs, like a specific song or songs.

In some songs I use ONE registration, just like I used on all acoustic accordions I I played in the past. I then also mix accordion with 1-2 orchestral sounds and I also have situations where I have custom registrations made in conjunction with a BK-7m.

But here is another answer, and this has also been discussed here briefly, and is already in use (at least partially) by V-accordionists... and that is the addition of MORE technology. Adding an iPad and the right supporting hardware and software can result in complete setup of the V-accordion and BK-7m with little more than bringing up the song in your iPad, and one could likely do that with nothing more than a single press of a Bluetooth foot pedal that is linked to the iPad, which in turn is connected to your "V" and "BK", making all these complex and time consuming changes a single button press away.

Times change, and more options arise. The lovely thing is that we each have a choice of selecting what we want to play and then using our instruments ANY way we want. We can be single tone, single reed acoustic or 5/5 reed acoustic and everything in between, or we can go basic to full out nuts complex on digital choices out there. We only need to make a choice... and then make it happen.

It's all up to us now! :)
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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