Piano or cromatic accordion?

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by TomBR » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:02 pm

That's great LucaLuigi, I hope you'll really enjoy it and that looks a fine accordion to be playing. Do let us know how you get on! :D
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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by WaldoW » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:04 pm

Donn, My point is that a tune learned on the outer 3 rows can be transposed [key changed] to any other 3 rows providing the player stays on said 3 rows. By "centering" on the middle 3 rows, easier fingering options open up on rows 1 and 5. On CBA, if you use all 5 rows, there are 4 ways to move between 2 different pitches. If you only play on 3 rows, there is only one way to get there [same problem with PA].
With respect to AF (key of C) mentioned before, starting on C, outer row, moving to E, 2ed row, to F, 3rd row is different fingering than from starting C on the 4th row. Additionally, the option to use E on the 5th row opens up. The whole point of having 5 rows is to have fingering options available. I often find fingering options that are much easier when using the whole board.
There is certainly no need to change what you have already learned, I'm just trying to give beginners, like myself, the benefit of what I have figured out already, Tradition is strong, but I haven't been enbcumbered with an instructor to point out my shortcomings.
TRIVIA: Did you know that there are at least 5 distinctly different ways too finger a chromatic scale on CBA? Perhaps 100's, if every possibility is utilizied. Try that on PA.
Press on...
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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by lucaluigi72 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:13 pm

According to my reasoning, if you have 5 rows accordion it is the same if you learn a tune using only the first 3 rows, the outer 3 or the central 3 rows: you will have the same possibility to use the same fingering, if you need to transpose in a different scale, just moving in the right note and right 3 rows group.
The real difference is that if you use the 3 central rows, learning the 3 fingering patterns, you will have always the possibility to use 1 upper row and 1 lower for alternative positions. Both rows will be close to the 3 rows you are using.
If you decide to use the 3 outer rows you will have anyway 2 rows for alternative positions but they will be both in the upper position. The same if you use the 3 internal rows: you will have 2 rows for alternative positions but both rows will be lower.

I don't know if centering is always better but it can be usefull to have 1 row upper and 1 lower for alternatives.
I also think that it's important to learn all 3 pattern positions for scales because I begin to notice that, when trying to learn a tune, there is often 1 of the 3 possible patterns that is easier and of course it will be not always the same!

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by george garside » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:05 pm

those are both important points to consider and I particularly like the idea of using the 3 centre rows as the 'home' rows rather than using the 3 outer rows as one would with a 3 row continental box.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by debra » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:00 pm

george garside wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:05 pm
those are both important points to consider and I particularly like the idea of using the 3 centre rows as the 'home' rows rather than using the 3 outer rows as one would with a 3 row continental box.

george
On a C griff it is really convenient that C which is a very common note is on row 1, and grabbing chords like C major uses convenient fingering and hand position. C major is less convenient when using the C on the 4rd row. So whether using the three center rows is really a good idea probably depends on the key you are playing in. Playing in C I really strongly prefer to use the outer 3 rows. Playing in Eb, F# and A as well. But for C#, E, G, Bb the three center rows may be more convenient...
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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by henrikhank » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:52 pm

It's a good queation and I winder as I am from Sweden: why did people like Frankie Yankovic play the piano accordion? In Sweden the CBA is more popular and only pianist play the PA.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Geronimo » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:09 pm

george garside wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:05 pm
those are both important points to consider and I particularly like the idea of using the 3 centre rows as the 'home' rows rather than using the 3 outer rows as one would with a 3 row continental box.
I don't. The outer rows are "rooted" at the edge rather than "floating" in the middle of somewhere. On a C system, the chord shapes of chords in root position diverge one row inward from the root note. While there are some inversions that would go either one row outward or two rows inward from the starting position, the inward shape is still nicer on the fingers in C system.

Now B system might be an entirely different ball game. In fact, 4-row C system instruments are quite common in France, while 4-row B system instruments are basically non-existent (with the exception of some models offered in both variants: I've seen some Morino Artiste IVD with 4 rows in B system recently).

So I'm speaking here for C system only. If you take a look at Finnish players who have a shifted C system with C in the second row, you'll still see that their home row is basically the outermost one.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Geronimo » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:14 pm

henrikhank wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:52 pm
It's a good queation and I winder as I am from Sweden: why did people like Frankie Yankovic play the piano accordion? In Sweden the CBA is more popular and only pianist play the PA.
One tale is that the demise of Silent Film made a whole lot of theatre organ and piano players unemployed and that companies like Hohner jumped on the occasion to acquire them as accordion teachers.

However, that does not exactly explain that even in Scandinavia CBA accordions with piano accordion optics became popular (basically they looked as if they were piano accordions, but the white keys of the "piano keyboard" were a third button row with two rows looking like decoration and the black "piano keys" serving as register switches).

So piano accordions must have become extremely fashionable at some point of time in the 20s or 30s.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by WaldoW » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:49 am

Two comments,
On the "centering" subject; All the versatility of the 5 row can be realizied when centering on the middle 3 rows, As Geronimo pointed out, many chord shapes apply better when approached from below (C system). The benefit of the "centering" approach is that a player still has the option to drop down to row one to pick-up a convenient C chord (I do it all the time). I have, however, also learned the necessary form to create a G (or other chord) when rooting on the 5th row (I don't do it all the time). Certainly more awkward than the normal form, it is in fact, quite similar to the hand form necessary to produce major chords with the B system. I have been using the "centering:" approach now for a year or so, and I am completely happy with it. I did suffer some with Geronimo'S other point, that the edge of the keyboard provides a "locater" which helps with hand positioning. Adding cross-hatched buttons went a long way with that issue.
I also believe, but can't be sure, as I didn't take the outer 3 row approach, that the progression one must follow when using a 12 or 16 bar blues rotation (I-IV-V), is more consistent than when rooting off the 1st row. The only time it changes is if the player chooses to root a chord off the 1st or 5th rows. This is super convenient as one need only know the root button for the chord involved, and then apply the appropriate chord form. [Please let me know if I'm wrong about this.]
My understanding on the "How did the PA come into being" is that in the 1920's there was a movement, where-in it was popular to gather in the parlor after dinner and sing songs around the common piano. This practice spawned a whole littney of instruments that were pitched in "C" to facilitate the reading of piano sheet music by all the "parlor players". Clarinets, saxaphones and others, normally pitched in Bb or Eb, were produced in "C" (I have several C horns from that era, they're quite rare now, as few were made).
Some accordion salesmen (from the New York Accordion Co., I read somewhere) got the idea to produce an accordion with a piano keyboard in the hopes of capturing some sales to piano players.
The story makes sense, as there aren't many/any PAs that predate the 20's that I've seen (although I do not claim expertise with respect to PAs). It would also account for the plethera of PAs in the USA, as well as the lack of CBAs.
I think I read, somewhere in this forum, that there is a Scandinavian country (or northern European) where the PA is the accordion of choice, not the CBA. I find that to be a bit odd and wonder how it came about...Paul?

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Last edited by WaldoW on Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by donn » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:12 pm

WaldoW wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:49 am
I think I read, somewhere in this forum, that there is a Scandinavian country (or northern European) where the PA is the accordion of choice, not the CBA.
Altogether too many countries, actually, in Europe and elsewhere, to lend much weight to the American theory.

The piano keyboard predates the piano, it has been used for hundreds of years on various instruments. What we really need is a story that accounts for the absence of a button piano, button organ, button clavichord etc.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Geronimo » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:13 pm

donn wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:12 pm
WaldoW wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:49 am
I think I read, somewhere in this forum, that there is a Scandinavian country (or northern European) where the PA is the accordion of choice, not the CBA.
Altogether too many countries, actually, in Europe and elsewhere, to lend much weight to the American theory.

The piano keyboard predates the piano, it has been used for hundreds of years on various instruments. What we really need is a story that accounts for the absence of a button piano, button organ, button clavichord etc.
That's not that hard: you need leverage and good control of impulse for a pianoforte or clavichord. You still need significant leverage for a harpsichord. Buttons don't really work here (they would for a harmonium but a standard CBA keyboard would be too cramped for its general space consumption), but a Jankó keyboard would have. But diatonic notation actually favors piano keyboards over uniform 12-tone keyboards. That's relevant for classical music, it's not helpful for playing by ear, particularly single melodies or chord patterns. Where the CBA is established, it usually has a solid foothold in the respective folk music styles where playing by ear is the rule (in Russia, the bayan is a classical instrument, but gazillions of small CBA instruments with Stradella lay the groundwork for its adoption).

Jankó put up a good fight but ultimately lost. For the valve action and compactness of an accordion, a CBA makes a whole lot of sense. Other than that, uniform keyboard layouts have not gathered much ground.

The guitar and lute, fretted (semi-uniform) instruments played polyphonically, have circumvented the notation problem by having a strong followership of amateurs relying on tablature, a notation closer related to what the fingers have to do on the instrument than the normal white/black-key based standard notation.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by maugein96 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:57 pm

Here's another 2 cents worth:-

The concise history of the accordion is a bit clouded, but it seems that some sort of CBA accordion was invented in Vienna in the early part of the 19th century. So both PA and CBA types have been around for a very long time.

Also, somebody was wondering which northern European country had a preference for PA over CBA.

To my knowledge the only north European countries where PA is way more popular than CBA are the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and Iceland. CBAs do exist in those countries, but are very much in the minority, and can be difficult to find. Might be a close run thing in Denmark where the few music stores who still stock accordions tend to offer both types in what seem to be equal numbers.

Throughout Scandinavia standard CBA accordions are generally known as Svensk (C system), Norsk (B system), and Finsk (Finnish C system with C in the third row).

CBAs are considerably more popular than PA in Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

5 row CBA offers serious scope for experimentation, but there are one or two caveats. Most, but not all, teaching methods work at getting students to learn the keyboard on the first three (outer) rows. The reasoning would appear to be that by so doing the student will learn the keyboard more quickly and develop strength and flexibility in the fingering.

Unfortunately, what most of we self taught types tend to do is, as soon as we start getting issues with fingering, we look longingly at those two inside rows in the hope that we'll discover other options. Those options are certainly there, and the temptation is to find an "easy road" for just about every passage. Now, some people may be naturals at that, but if you're learning from a method book, all of a sudden the published fingering is inappropriate. Even the most basic lessons need to be re-worked consistent with what the student now considers to be the easiest and most practical fingering.

As I've stated before I have no experience of teaching and never made it past the so-called "intermediate" stage of playing.

Nevertheless I spent a very long time trying to work out the "Rubiks Cube" type puzzles of the CBA, and the only way I could manage it was to learn those 3 outside rows first. Only one of my four accordions has a 5th row, and that 5th row is practically redundant. In my particular case it seems that another spin off from learning on those three outside rows, is it seems you need to ask your brain for permission to take an "easier" option on the 4th row.

Therefore IMHO:- Try and find a teacher who is sympathetic as to what you want to achieve. Very few of us are capable of playing in the upper accordion echelons, but most of us get a lot of pleasure out of playing to whatever standard we ultimately reach.

If you cannot find a teacher try and find other CBA players, regardless of what styles they play. You will probably learn more from them in a day than most books can teach you in a month.

If you cannot find a teacher or fellow player then you have a very difficult time ahead, but it can be done. Once you find a suitable method book then stick to it. In almost all cases the book will be written by a professional player who knows the instrument inside out. Any awkward or difficult fingering has been put there with good reason, and you need to persevere with the method, otherwise you may as well throw it on the fire. Remember, if you reach a stage where you feel the book is wrong or deficient then think again. It's not the method book, it's just that you haven't properly uderstood its content, or are trying to go too quickly.

Listen intently to recordings of the type of music you wish to play, and make use of any live videos you can obtain. Watch what the players are doing. They say a picture is worth 1000 words. You might be able to double that (at least) by watching a video. In time you should be able to work out one or two little "mysteries" with regard to technique.

With regard to marked and /or coloured buttons that is entirely your choice. They are not really necessary but it seems some people are more comfortable with them, especially in the early stages. Most beginners only possess a single instrument, and as you become more familiar with your accordion, with time your ear will tell you whether you are playing the correct starting note. Even the pros get that wrong sometimes, and you may well hear and see some players play a series of "bum" notes before they get the correct position.

With regard to looking down at the keys, some players never break that habit at all. Same with bellows control. Whilst it is probably the most difficult of all the accordion skills to get to grips with, so long as the tune is flowing along without noticeable gasps or "silent" notes, then you are well on your way to success. Again, if you watch videos of pro players, you'll often see some bellows movements which aren't in any method books, at least in the less formal playing styles.

Above all, enjoy the experience of learning and playing.

That Excelsior instrument owned by the OP is surely an incentive for him to get on with the job.
Last edited by maugein96 on Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Geronimo » Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:21 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:57 pm
The concise history of the accordion is a bit clouded, but it seems that some sort of CBA accordion was invented in Vienna in the early part of the 19th century.
Schrammelharmonika, B system in the treble, diatonic in the bass.

Seminal part of Schrammelmusik, also featuring G clarinet and Kontragitarre. Not a lot of music styles can boast such a percentage of idiosyncratic instruments.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by maugein96 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:33 pm

Very true Geronimo. I've heard of the Schrammel music style before but am not really familiar with it.

A while ago I was browsing the Thomann catalogue for a guitar and discovered that they referred to CBAs (both B and C system) as "Vienna" style, on their English language pages. Most of the advertised models were B system, but there were one or two C system instruments in their listings.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Geronimo » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:26 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:33 pm
Very true Geronimo. I've heard of the Schrammel music style before but am not really familiar with it.

A while ago I was browsing the Thomann catalogue for a guitar and discovered that they referred to CBAs (both B and C system) as "Vienna" style, on their English language pages. Most of the advertised models were B system, but there were one or two C system instruments in their listings.
Seriously? "Wiener" here actually means a two-row diatonic. Not at all CBA.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by maugein96 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:37 pm

Don't really want to become part of their sales team, but here is a link to the page I was talking about:-

https://www.thomann.de/gb/search_dir.ht ... accordions

It's amazing what can be lost and/or misinterpreted in translation.

There is always the possibility that somebody at Thomann with not a lot of knowledge about accordions was tasked with preparing the English language pages.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Geronimo » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:03 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:37 pm
Don't really want to become part of their sales team, but here is a link to the page I was talking about:-

https://www.thomann.de/gb/search_dir.ht ... accordions

It's amazing what can be lost and/or misinterpreted in translation.

There is always the possibility that somebody at Thomann with not a lot of knowledge about accordions was tasked with preparing the English language pages.
In my experience, not just the English language pages, though when looking it over now, they have in German the equivalents of "piano accordion", "button accordion" (CBA only), "Styrian harmonica" (indeed looks correct), so basically they aren't selling any diatonics apart from Styrian. I remember a wild melange under half-fitting to absurd labels a few years ago (bigger CBAs labelled as piano accordion, some others as Styrian). They did have a "Wiener" then; I don't remember which category they sorted it under. Here is a link to an actual Vienna style accordion.

I think it may be what the British call a "two-row melodeon" though I am not sure the layout is the same.

Here is a different music store calling everything "Vienna style" that looks similar to some diatonics, never mind whether they are diatonic or CBA. The German classification is "Knopfakkordeon" (not wrong but not helpful) and the sales blurb for the category only matches CBA.

I don't think the term "Vienna style" ever implied a Schrammelharmonika and/or B system (and most certainly not C system). This is just several shops agreeing to be goofy in the same manner. Rest assured that the German pages were much more inaccurate a few years ago. I think I've written some complaints then but with little tangible results I can remember then.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by maugein96 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:07 am

Geronimo,

Had a look at the link you posted and it suggests that accordions are often not described properly by some music stores.

I recently saw a C system CBA advertised for sale in a music store in Iceland and it was described as "svensk gripp" instead of "svensk griff".

If you asked most people in the UK what a CBA is they wouldn't have a clue, and I would be willing to bet that they wouldn't know what a "Vienna style" accordion was either.

Here in Scotland it is called the "Continental 5 row", to differentiate between the more common (in Scotland) diatonic button key instruments, which typically have two or three rows, as you may be aware. There is also a three row instrument known as the "British Chromatic", and as far as I am aware the bass side on those is configured like the normal Stradella bass, i.e. it is unisonoric on the bass side and bisonoric on the treble. I know that such accordions are known as "mixte" in France, but I've never played one.

I don't know very much about Scottish music or the accordions used to play it, and there may well be other types of accordion involved. With regard to melodeons I have absolutely no experience of those at all.

I decided to play French accordion from the outset, and have a better knowledge of the instruments used there.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Geronimo » Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:41 am

maugein96 wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:07 am
Had a look at the link you posted and it suggests that accordions are often not described properly by some music stores.
They probably have half their employees playing some kind of guitar, and it was either them or us.

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Re: Piano or cromatic accordion?

Post by Dingo40 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:38 am

lucaluigi72 wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:17 am
Hallo I'm Luca from Italy
I have studied for some years piano and I love to play recorder. I like balkan, irish and folk musik.
I started to learn accordion in june renting a piano accordion but I'm attracted to learn cromatic accordion.
A friend of mine lent me a cromatic accordion 2 weeks ago and it is difficult to learn but not impossibile.
It is beautiful making progress but I'm afraid it will be really more difficult to improvise!
I would like to have some advice from piano and cromatic accordionists about
Seems to me that coming from a piano background, piano accordion is a no brainer!🙂
Looking over the various threads on this and similar topics, the difference in principle between PA and CBA appears to be analogous to the difference in principle between keyboard (including piano) and guitar, in that with PA, there is a one-to-one correspondence between a key and a given note, no other possibility exists, whereas in the case of the CBA (and guitar) a particular given note can be produced by activating a variety of different keys (frets) along different rows (strings).
This may provide more versatility and flexibility but the multiplicity of options can result in more ambiguity and confusion, especially early on!
To add to the confusion, there exist a plethora of different systems in CBA, with the potential of creating still further confusion.
To crown it all, some CBAs are manufactured without any indication to guide the tyro as to what notes the various buttons represent 😐
Additionally, there seems to be precious little published instructional material available for the learner.
While I love to hear the CBA in action (Johnny Meyer springs to mind), I find it miraculous that there are in fact so many impressive maestros of the genre!
Good for them!🙂👍

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