VIDEO ACCORDION PLAYING EXAMPLES

PAGE 5 

Continued from Playing Examples Page 4

 

Music is a Language and Matching your Left and Right Registers 

Two nice and actually quite easy ideas today to improve your accordion sounds. It’s mainly about thinking just how you play or course isn’t it?

 

First about the connection between language and how you speak and how you play. Remember that music is also a language.

 

Secondly how if you are lucky enough to have a wide range of registers in treble and bass it is worth while experimenting with using them.

 

And don’t be too worried about finding your way back to the right place in the bass buttons! You can probably feel your way across the marked buttons ok as you go back there.

 

By the way those more mobile drones tried at the very end, being just adjoining regular bass row notes are pretty much as easy to move up and down to infer chord changes as with normal stradella bass usage

 

 


A descending bass line enhances your harmony

Here I show you how to make the most of a tune that I actually usually find pretty boring by making a meaningful bass line.

In this case it is F E D C Bb A G basically part of a descending F scale but it pulls in different chords sometimes turned into first inversions from the third of the chord being played on counterbass.

The chords with those notes by the way are F C Dm (or possibly Bb) C Bb F Gm ( or Gm7 using Bb counterbass with Bb chord)

In fact this is the clue as to when you are using counterbass here and pretty well always!

 

Special tip: - - the parts of this which sounds best and most meaningful will always be those in contrary motion to the tune, i.e. the tune goes up in pitch  and the bass line goes down one!

 

 


Speaking and Playing, Using Left and Right Hand Sounds,  and Moving Drones

Two nice and actually quite easy ideas today to improve your accordion sounds. It’s mainly about thinking just how you play or course isn’t it?

 

First about the connection between language and how you speak and how you play. Remember that music is also a language. This is to do with putting in accents in a meaningful manner and general phrasing.

 

Secondly how if you are lucky enough to have a wide range of registers in treble and bass it is worth while experiencing with using them. And don’t be too worried about finding your way back to the right place in the bass buttons! You can probably feel your way across the marked buttons ok as you go back there.

 

By the way those more mobile drones tried at the very end, being just adjoining regular bass row notes are pretty much as easy to move up and down to infer chord changes as with normal stradella bass usage

 

 


Easy Rhumba, Beguine or Latin Variations 

This is about putting more life in your playing in a Latin beguine or fast rhumba tune by varying your left hand.


You wil probably think you are locked into a fixed sequence of buttons for this and other rhythms but if you can tap out a varying rhythm on a tabletop you can do the same when your fingers are on the bass buttons!

When I mention syncopated (held) chords by the way, this can be done by simply holding on to a chord you would otherwise release! Particularly there is a lot of choice to do this in this rhythm.

Video 141

 

 


Some more about Playing Paso Doble, Alternate Chords and More

A return to the paso doble and making the impossible movements in the bass chords in SPanish Gypsy Dance easy. I introduced a great bass part for it (C D C A F Eb) at the beginning and then never got around to the bit where it fitted in!

 

Sorry about that but maybe you can work that out for yourself. I blanked off for part of the tune from my mind as I was not playing from music.

 

All these videos and the website are designed for non music readers to understand as well as the musical elite but maybe you might find learning to read useful after all even if only to assist your memory?

 

If you would like a section about playing from music please let me know. I can always put barbed wire and a public health warning by it for those worried it will remove their ability to play by ear. It won’t of course but we are all entitled to keep our own irrational fears.

 

The last part was of course about finding the move from C to B etc in the bass without using the counterbass. You would want this only when it was leading you to a new key in that area of bass buttons

 

 


More Interesting Sound from More Chord Changes - Just from the Right Hand

One way to make a richer more meaningful sound for your listeners is of course to incorporate more chord changes than the expected change every bar or two.

 

This video however points out how it can be done with the right hand either with or without the cooperation of the left hand bass buttons.

 

If you have tried augmenting the tune with thirds below your melody this is a limited way of doing this, but obviously gives you a richer sound

 

 


Two Distinct Sounds from one Register

Going back to the days when I was young and had an accordion with only two sounds on it. I used that to try to imitate several different instrument sounds and here I explain how and try to recreate that.

 

This is how I would do the two different sounds now on Mantovani's famous arrangemenet of Charmaine, yet still only using one register.

 

I expect you worked out how I produced the cascading strings in an echoing hall Mantovani effect. However unfortunately most of this was at the top of the keyboard out of sight as framed in the video.

 

So for the sake of completeness I will tell you that they were not merely played smoothly. but actually deliberately "smudged" with a tail of one or two notes which were still held down behind the tune.

 

This can be achieved by sort of rocking down onto the new note of the tune, perhaps relying more on a change of wrist angle than the usual finger hammering in order to depress the new note.

 

 


Bonus Video, Playing a Tune I just felt like doing

Just to prove there is some life in the old guy yet and not demonstrating any individual technique. But perhaps you will notice the way I play when I just play because I feel like it.

 

 


Playing a Scottish Song - or inventing one

Just a little detailing an easy arrangement of a beautiful Scottish song for which I hope my friends from North of the border will forgive me.

Even more restraint may be needed for my instructions for how to make a tune that sounds Scottish.

 

 


When to use the hands together or separately

There are so many interesting ways of deciding whether you should be playing both hands together or not.

 

By comparing the right hand in solo mode as a saxophone and the left as the accompanying band I suggest ways of combining and isolating the two sections.

 

Plus when either might be nudging the other sound to come in and even finally the effect of phrasing both exactly together for emphasis of phrasing. In most cases this will be for a maximum of one to two bars.

 

Also to make a complete arrangement you will at some point want to introduce a more continuous accompaniment for a while for moving steadily through the tune

 

 


Playing Simply effectively can be difficult

it is the simple things that are often the most difficult to make sound convincing.Thinking about dealing with a very simple idea - a slow four with a little kick in it.

 

This will vary widely with what particular tune you are playing.

 

A couple of clarifications here. When I get into chord to chord stuff I am referring to the note you hear above or below which is spaced one button between.

 

And when I talk about using either the 3rd or 4th finger I am talking about the finger playing a note not the chord. A quick fix for not being able to reach the chord above is of course to play the chord below instead!

 


Simple swingy playing and Repertoire

Advice for where to look for tunes you can usefully play on accordion. Two I have just found which are both in a slow 4 tempo. The first I found fitted a modification of the do-wacka-do pattern which is of course can be done in at least two forms. And as always it should not be continuous to give the listeners’ ears relief. Of course here I encourage you to look among your musical memories for your own promising future accordion arrangements

 

Additional note, you may notice in the second sound for the second tune I discovered I had not hit the register I expected and was unsure of the sound's suitability. Rather than interrupt the flow of music and also risk hitting another wrong register I moved to a different octave and included playing in chords.

 

The register in question incidentally was Low (cassotto) with High reeds.

 

 


The Rock Beguine Tempo from the Fifties

A useful Rock variation that started in the 50s but carried on through the 60s and beyond

 

Here I have demonstrated a couple of tunes using it and demonstrating the pattern on the accordion. Note that I initially confuse the tempo of the Paul Anka tune Diana with a triplet variation, hence the odd join up from the 6/8 intro!

 

The 6/8 version with the extra 16th notes included is of course useful in its own right when applied to the right tune!

 

Both of course though are rocok beguine style backings, a nice bouncy style of rhythm and will give way to the tune to simplify as the tune provides the necessary impetus, stopping, restarting, simplifying or even phrasing with the melody or reverting to basic note chord note chord formula to avoid tiring the ear too insistently.

 

Believe it or not, by the way this is Video 150 on this website. I only thought that would stretch to about 7 or 8 originally!

 

 


A More Relaxed Approach to 6/8 or 12/8

Mathematically of course those time signatures are mathematically perfect, each beat differently subdivided and capable of being divided into three exact portions.

 

In practice this may not be the most musical approach and here I suggest a more relaxed version and try to demonstrate it.

 

 


Approaching Music from Two Very Different Musical Eras

A couple of very different tunes highlighting making the most of the nuances of the bellows and finger action to play effectively and expressively on your musical instrument.

And it is a very expressive musical instrument if it is played with thought and heart, and feeling for what exactly your bellows is doing to affect your notes

 

 


Chooosing your Playing Options - Decisions Decisions Decisions...

Music is about the sound you make and with the accordion there are so many wonderful different sounds you can make even while staying on the same register.

 

Here I explore and illustrate that and point out that if your playing is not full of decisions as to which way to play you are not even trying!

 

And of course a short popular accordion tune is used to go through a few options for myself

 

All this of course does not even mention choosing your treble and bass register

 

 

 


Can you manage bigger stretches in the right hand than you imagined?

A full size right hand accordion keyboard may not be as big as you think.

 

I know you probably think you have smallish hands, as I do myself, but you may be able to cover chords encompassing a ninth a tenth and here I even try an eleventh.

 

Follow this and experiment with me here. You will be able to make new sounds by doing this.

 

A special note and challenge to chromatic players here. You already know your buttons give you access to really wide spaced notes but are you actually exploring this ability to the full?

 

 


 

Using the big hand stretches with arpeggios

Some ways of using that extended hand stretch that you will probably find possible. In Video 156

 

And further demonstrations you can try copying of large arpeggios without hand positions moving, just the hand stretching in different ways up the keyboard.

 

Demonstrations show up to 11ths which I called a 4th in the commentary because it started from G and finished on C. SORRY

 

Ninths are easy and add an extra flow to a mere octave arpeggio but I believe I might have even got away with a twelfth with F C F A C for example

 

In case you did not see the previous info on this by the way Lizst fingerings is where you cross over AFTER the 5th finger, normally frowned upon probably because it is inadvisable if you have to do more thumb crossings afterwards. It will put you out of sequence for when you should cross if needing to do any more in that direction. Otherwise one of my favourite moves!

 

 

 

 


Layering sounds and Playing Thoughtfully

This was supposed to have been about layering up the sounds in your arrangements to build a nice listening experience.

 

How to play your simplest tunes thoughtfully and how this should rub off on tunes where the accompaniment method is not obvious.

 

There is a little pointer here also how you might very easily simulate a suggestion of walking bass.

 

As usual when I actually started videoing it did not always centre on the same things I had hoped to illustrate

 

But I trust it is at least pretty clear how the left and right hand are fitting together with the accordion so close and easy to see.

 

 


Taking it from the best original arrangement, not other accordionists

I found this very exciting!

If you just copy other accordionists you risk becoming just inferior versions of your hero! It is great to go to the original version of the style you are trying to recreate.

 

This time I went to one of the greatest arrangers, Nelson Riddle, for orchestra and for Frank Sinatra and just fed off the energy of a classic from Songs for Swinging Lovers.

 

Although the song “I’ve got you under my skin” is in the album I actually based this on the version of “Night and Day” ensuring some originality rather than slavish copying.

 

The left hand does vary but is largely a normal basic pattern transformed totally with syncopation - in the “normal” order and obviously adjusting to the tune. Once or twice it even phrases with the tune for extra emphasis. This works well when the tune goes into crotchet triplets and underlines that this is a intended not accidental effect.

 

The rhythm is not just in the left hand but I discovered using a version of very lively stabbing brass chords played by the other fingers while the thumb holds a melody note.

 

These are actually done with further emphasis from the bellows.

It just occurred to me that by relaxing the bellows you could use this system to alternatively create a more subtle rhythm in other cases. You can include different note patterns and note shifts or even drifting chords.

 

But more of that later!

 


Various Ways you can join up or embellish two notes, or more notes

 

 


Can You ever play this in four beats to the bar again?!!!

Sometimes listening to the original recording has unexpected results.

I came away with this jazz waltz style version of Fly me to the moon and now I expect you will be infected with an ear worm that prevents you ever playing it in four to the bar again!

 

 


Two More Methods for adding Expression and Variety

Two aspects of playing which will I think give greater expression to your playing and so affect your audience on a slightly deeper level.

 

To make sure you see this fully you may notice this as being in a sideways video orientation. Well to be honest I have NO idea why that happened!

 

The last few words should describe alternating between note and chord in the left hand for even greater contrast in the pseudo bellows shake.

 

Done by alternating chords in the right and left hand quite fast and possibly asisted sometimes by the bellows.

 


Three Different Tremolo Effects and Uses

Three types of tremolos and a video which is finally the right way up.

 

Even including a little about the dreaded bellows shake. Not always recommended in case of physical effecs on the player and there may be more musical options to use.

 

My playing suffers a little from being later in the day after a rather nice lunch!

 

 


Expressive repeated notes technique

A subtle point which may help you add more expression where none is normally found - on repeated notes.

 

I intended also to point out the possible benefits of altering the fingering between simply two quite slow identical notes in a melody

.

A classical piano technique is to give a simple single note melody a special mystique by playing it with the same finger, a variation on this effect. This too would probably work on accordion

 

 


Practical Ways of Playing a Samba on Accordion

A really lively subject today on some ways of playing sambas on acoustic accordion.

Not as difficult as you might think but you do need to feel lively and have that rhythm in you to drive it.

 

Several methods here used singly or mixed together but there are lots more you will discover if you get going.

 

Much of the work can be done in the right hand orbit can be done with just a quick extra right hand chord over a pretty basic left hand.

 

I am sure and once you get a feel for the rhythm you can probably invent your own.

 

As usual I am probably repeating the system too much in the video to get the point across.

 

At the very end I point out that you will often find a basic beat will do for some of the tune and I get cut off abruptly because of storage problems at that point. Sorry about that!

 

 


A Small Easy Bass Button Modification

A little statement of the obvious which as usual we usually miss because of ingrained standard habits of bass button playing.

 

The main point I am trying (eventually!) to get across here is that to either side of your main note button of the chord you are playing are two notes which sound only a tone apart.

 

What I occasionally do here sounds really subtle but in fact is only playing the buttons either side (lower first) quickly before the main note and chord.

 

So in this case F G C and C chord. Such a simple movement that it can easily be transposed to any key or chord button.

 

Any departure from the blatantly obvious in accordion playing can sound like really deep musical thought!

 

There are so many of these neglected but very easy different orders of frequently played buttons to explore and I invite you to seek out some more yourselves as you play.

 

 


Showing how I might treat the melody of September Song on Accordion

Whatever accordion you are playing I hope you are striving to make a beautiful sound on it to make a nice meaningful experience for your audience.

 

This little video is a quick demonstration of how I would decide to phrase and decorate September Song to bring this about. ERRATA: sometimes I discover that my words do not always match what I am doing, the chromatic style run is of course the distance of a sixth from G up to E.

 

Which notes you leave out is up to you, my feeling is maybe you want to emphasis the major ange by leaving out the B flat or of course minor by including it and choosing it and whether to make the penultimate note stronger or more open by including or leaving out the D sharp. But whatever you do will be rght!

 

Putting some effort into styling it like this is the mark of a musician who can connect with his audience.

 

I hope you find my version interesting but it is up to you to use and ignore what you want. The point here is the thought that you put into a song that turns it into music instead of just a recognisable tune.

 

And there is an endless array of ways you can use your accordion till you produce a hopefully unique result!

 

 


More convincing Bass Melodies

A couple of main subjects . About inserting an occasional dotted bass beat to lift and detail a song.

 

Also trying to play bass bits of melody to avoid that wooden feeling and make it smooth and convincing more like the treble. Properly melodic in fact.

 

The clue I think is mainly to pay the same attention to phrasing and bellows sound as you do with right hand.

 

Similarly a smooth bass sound can come from long notes and reduced bellows pressure after the initial sound of first and third beat

 

 


If You want to play this tune Please do it right

If you MUST play this tune even though a lifelong atheist here is how to put some extra effort and life into it.

 

A couple of easy tips for you and I hope you will find them absolutely amazing, Grace! And that others will of course!

 

It is I think helpful to shift chord to the chord below (the subdominant) which gives a typical gospel choir harmony effect.

 

Obviously to keep this tune going without being too boring (since it is a bit short to just play once) I have shifted keys with each verse.

 

But as an afterthought I present the idea of playing in a more bluesy manner in the right hand, such as with chromatically sliding chords to the melody note or even "pinching in" a chromatic movement to colour your tune. This might be for example a simple third C over A, but G sharp played first and quickly adjusted to the standard version.

 

If you can manage it too, it will I think help if you add extra notes to the melody as a soul singer might do.

 

 


Expressiveness of single notes or richer texture of 3rds and 6ths.

Today I speculate that maybe the best musical expression may still come from playing single note melodies while extra body to the sound comes from playing in thirds (alternate notes matching the key signature below the tune)

Demonstrate some thirds fingerings and try to explain the interval of a sixth which can also be a nice sounding addition under the melody notes. Even do a little demonstration playing between thirds and sixths.

Sorry about the cut off due to technical issues. I was going to point out that you can go up four notes in the melody by simply respacing the thumb at the lower end but after that some finger crossing over becomes necessary.

If you include the lower note in your calculations you are covering six notes in total with your five fingers. So your fingering would be 1-2  1-3  2-4  3-5

 

 


Quick moves between the hands and between playing both

Playing both hands together or one at a time each should feature in your arrangements. Here I try to demonstrate this happening and crossing over.

And as you get further into the song the music needs to get more continuous for a while, to avoid having suddenly become too predictabe.

Remember also that even very basic pattern continuous together can form s contrast and probably I should have done a bit of that too as we got further into the arrangement. Putting in variety and avoiding being too predictable is the key I think for making more interesting music.

 

 


Clean fast repeated chords in the Right Hand

This is a very short clip because it cuts off due to lack of camera space.

 

It features probably the only video I ever put up of me playing solo from music.

 

The main point at the end was the method of playing very clean repeated fast chords on the right hand with a combination of finger and bellows semi-stops.

 

Definitely not bellows shakes (I might call it bellows shudders!) because the bellows does not change direction. You could change direction one time if you ran out of air of course though the sound might not be quite the same at that point.

 

The finger movement might also be better described as hand movement from the wrist as a fulcrum. It can be done with quick light moves close to the keyboard though with all anxiety to hit the bottom of the keybed removed.

 

I will give another couple of nice examples of this technique very soon in another video

 

 


All beats may not be the same in a waltz tempo

THE ROMANCE OF THE WALTZ

 

Even waltzes can be played with careful consideration which leads to more enjoyable listening. Including whether the beats should always be placed evenly in the accompaniment for a romantic lilting effect.d right sides while they are selected.

 

 


How to Make a Song Swing

Lets have a look at trying to swing a tune which might otherwise be very square and in straight quarter notes or crotchets.

 

Notes or extra chorded right hand accents are moved so they delay against the beat or anticipate it and the left hand gets out of the way rather than try to thud down a walking bass part.

 

Also a reminder to enjoy and not be embarrassed by your left hand chords so that you hear them as harmony building up rather than a choked off squawk!

 

 


Playing non-accordion music

Sometimes you may be asked to play tunes which you regard as not being so suitable for accordion as the usual basic fodder of waltzes, polkas tangos very old music Hall songs etc

 

The problem playing them may be that you are not used to doing a bass in a rock or ballad style and will probably be made worse if the lines of the song are uneven with varying gaps between them.

 

Then it becomes not just a technical issue which may be minimal but making it fit together confidently and not rushing ahead spoiling the rhythm.

 

You need to be confident in marking time until the tune goes on and most important of all have a clear idea of what it is going to sound like!

 

Without that you would not even manage the mist obvious accordion tune.

 

 


Trying out some melody decorations and slow motion demonstrations

Watch exactly how it is done with some slowed down decorations to the melody to make them sound more interesting.

 

Slow and steady this morning with decorating another well known simple tune shown At normal speed and slow motion.

At the end I go off into a snatch of a tune featuring repeated chords treated carefully and individually with the bellows which I think you will find makes a really nice musical sound.

 

 


Your Teacher who is Always with you

This may be helpful I think in making your left hand sound as good or as fast as the left.

 

You can usually copy your teacher’s version fairly easily and accurately of a passage but what about when you are on your own?

 

Did you know you have a teacher always with you? Particularly when it is about this subject

 

 


Covering another non-accordionish tempo

I think you will like and get something from today’s demo and general meandering talk.

 

Livelier examples this time with a nice direct form of tempo on a couple of songs in what is approximately rock baion tempo

 

In case you did not catch the titles they are "All I Ever Need Is You" and "24 Hours from Tulsa" and I urge you to go to the originals to get the feel for them, not to another accordionist video. There you will get the true energy of the original without the inevitable compromises to make it fit the instrument, nor an overlay of the accordionist's original style.

 

I try to give you an idea of how I am starting off in the bass but this does not always work since curiously the tune seems to be needed to drive the bass not just the other way around as we accordionists assume!