A Probably Controversial Guide to Bass Button Fingering

Bass button fingering. What I hope is a clear and open reply on a very basic though controversial question for a follower of this page


Probably I have messed it up at some point






Unless you see yourself as both player and conductor you will not be bringing out the story and making music.


I try to explain and demonstrate here Unless you see yourself as both player and conductor you will not be bringing out the story and making music. I try to explain and demonstrate here




Give your audience time to think plus a Bass Run

Silence is golden. Well some of it anyway and is a part of that being your own orchestral conductor I was talking about yesterday. Also a bass riff explained in the middle of a nice demonstration tune, which is of course NOT THE ONLY WAY to play it!


I have a phobia of those knowledgeable accordion posts labelled with the song title, as intended or not, it infers that is the way to play it or else!


The key I am playing in is G minor (two flats Bb Eb plus one sharp F# - yes really) and the bass run I illustrate is G Gb F D C linking chords Gm and


The first four notes are of course in the chromatic scale, so they are easy if you have learned this. Watch out for the F up to D missing two buttons, but just one jump over a button to get from D to C.


You could have used D counterbass fairly close to the F, but that would probably not have left you so ready to play the C and Cm chord. It would have led you a little away from the key centre of Gm.






A reminder about how you can add extra parts in your accordion playing and that you can alter the fingering on the note you are holding to add an extra right hand part either underneath or higher at will.






When you are playing a bass run, particularly if it is new to you, a lot of what you are doing to succeed is hidden in your mind. This demonstration and practice possibility will help you focus I think.





If you ever get fed up with listening to yourself playing the most obvious chords in a tune there is an easy way to remedy it, one chord at a time.


It is also not difficult to find another possible chord in your right hand with very tiny movements of some of the fingers.




Not very good to listen to but a good practice session probably, certainly one I need myself!


One method of Controlling where you run out of air and have to change bellows direction. The main point is to create a tiny break when the keys are not down at that point.


Traditionally done every two or four bars this does not work except in very regular tunes


So let’s try practicing in the middle of phrases or even in the middle of triplets where paradoxically it will be least visible!







How you can create rich sororities with your accordion. Not with extreme hopping distances in the bass but by adding overlapping extra chords in the treble.


While they feel like different chords they may actually be extensions of the chord you are playing in the bass. As for instance Bb bass chord plus D minor being a nice otherwise unavailable BbMaj7, similarly C plus Em is CMaj7. (The part referred to by the Maj is of course the 7th).


Or you can start from the top note of your bass chord to produce a 9th eg Bb bass chord (highest note F) with minor F chord in treble (F Ab C or of course rearranged as Ab C F)


Listen carefully to your sound and overlay bass note to chord to treble chord at will. At some point one part may mask the other part but you can release the offending part but be free to restate it immediately after if you want and have a long enough note value to cover.




There are of course a lot more notes when you play in 6/8 and 12/8 which actually have a very different feel even though 2 times 6 undoubtedly makes 12.

And that gives me a lot more to talk about and try to show you!

This time two direct little patterns to copy and three nice tunes!.




Jazz waltz bass patterns are not difficult


This is about jazz waltzes and helping to get into the swing of them as it were. The given bass patterns only cut in occasionally and the feeling is often put in by the right hand.


And the special thing about it is mainly just getting the feeling right.


The swing can also be added by delaying the beginning of a phrase to the second beat of the bar or only playing the first two beats on the bass



Giving old tunes New Life on Your Accordion

This is simply about making the most of the music you already know. In other words, dont just play it, rethink it and give possibly hackneyed old tunes new life.


The differences I put in are often subtle so I hope you can see what is happening.



Using Major Scale Variations In the Bass

Do you know your major scale in the bass?


Hopefully but I have put a diagram below


This time let’s explore what happens when you use different portions of it, echo different sections of the tune between left and right hands and play the scale with the key signature of the note below, from C to C but with a Bb


NB In the diagram and the demonstration the second example is actually a F major scale, played from the wrong place, from C to C.






An effective smooth Full Sounding Cha Cha


I enjoyed doing this and I think it works. Lively accordion sound can still be pleasant and smooth sounding


Some new thoughts and what I hope are bright helpful demonstrations on a free lively cha cha. Distributed between left and right hands.


Also with possibility of playing both simultaneously sometimes and spacing out with syncopation - basically playing a note of the tune a fraction early or late.




Richer Chord Changes with a normal easy Bass 

With minimal right hand moves and no change to the bass you can take your chord changes a step beyond the normal “correct” harmonisation. No awkward bass moves necessary, even with a standard three chord bass



The Lively Freedom of Playing with a Drummer

Using syncopation and the freedom you can utilise playing with just a drummer. Different than using a midi accordion I think, livelier more musical and less restrained.


Even though I varied the note values I could still keep with the drums . Occasionally I did glance across at the flashing indicator lights on the piano to check for the red light on the first beat of the bar but that was all.


You may not have access to a drum machine but I think you can still get phone or iPad apps which will help you try this. Not very loud I know but you can put them on a shelf by you so they are right by your ear.




Was This how  they played those great 40s and 50s Tunes

The 1930s to 50s was probably the heyday of the accordion and yet I wonder if we really interpret those songs the way they were able to.


This is my attempt to work out with bass examples you can try out a version of that favourite “We’ll meet again”. As well as a swingy shuffle dotted beat it involves syncopation and even triplet fills.


Notice also the places where I interpreted links between phrases quite lightly with alternate melody note and bass chord on each beat.


Plus of course sections where the bass is extremely simplified but still emphasised, not staccato to give strong main beats



Twiddly Bits and Brazil style Samba

An exercise to get you adding a little twiddly bit on the fourth beat of the bar where it suits if course.


Also Brazil is a samba with a chord changing which is easiest handled by passing the change to a right hand chord played under the tune.


As in G to Em (really Em6) Am to Am6 (A C E F#) Plus doing only where it fits in.

Simplifying often, even sometimes down to only one bass with a held chord through the rest of the bar.





Syncopation Should Be Light and Easy


Syncopation should always sound natural and unforced and indeed it can be easier than playing always just on the main beat.


It may be a matter of having the right Number of notes to do it with all even of just holding a Half beat note so that it crosses over into the next beat.


A run which finishes on a syncopation sounds lighter and easier. One that doesn’t feels more dogmatic as it were.



Trying to make the right choices for your Music

I believe that both life and making music should be about making the right choices.


These will not be the same for everyone but varying the way you put your music together will make it more worthy of attention from your listeners.


The original way you were taught to play made it possible to play the accordion but needs adaptation in order to make music instead Of merely play tunes.


So this video is about how it might assemble your music. My choice at this point and not an unchangeable blueprint of course




Maybe it is not that your bass is too loud?


If you think that your bass playing is too loud it may well be that you are simply embarrassed by it.


And that maybe because it is not making as nice as sound as it might be. And in turn because you are not putting as much effort into making it sound musical as you might.


I also touch on the problem of a fast run in the right-hand being obliterated by the left-hand sound. There are many solutions to this and not just the obvious one of stopping playing at that point in the left-hand




Easy Ways to A More Effective Sound

A reminder how working not only the fingers of left and right hands together in different ways but even the left arm plus right hand fingers can make your accordion music more meaningful.


Two different angles on this and the advantage of placing the stress on the “wrong” beat.




What is a Discord And Why Play them?

What is a discord? How do we make them and why?


Even the most extreme note mismatches in a right hand chord can be made to sound pleasant or just satisfying when they adjust to a more obviously acceptable sound.


Going from bad to an acceptable solution is part of your musics story.


Here are some ways you can experiment your way towards a richer more interesting musical experience and sound



Get that Fourth beat twiddle plus play Brazil style Samba


An exercise to get you adding a little twiddly bit on the fourth beat of the bar where it suits if course.


Also Brazil is a samba with a chord changing which is easiest handled by passing the change to a right hand chord played under the tune.


As in G to Em7 (really G6) Am to Am6 (A C E F#)


Plus doing only where it fits in. Simplifying often, even sometimes down to only one bass with a held chord through the rest of the bar.




These seemingly abstruse bass lines are so Easy

I never know what my accordion going to tell me when I pick it up in the morning and this is amazing I think!


Here are some bass lines that sound as though you are going all over the bass section to find them and yet they can even be played on a 12 bass accordion!


And of course they need to be shown in action in a version of a well known tune, so here is one as an example



A Simple Tune Played with Respect

This is probably one of the first tunes many keyboard players have ever played


But if you treat it with respect you can go back and put something into it even for the most hackneyed tunes.


Next time I could go back and do it differently or possibly better but I use a few methods of making listeners pay attention to Michael Row the boat ashore.


Basically just by treating it with respect instead of just running through the notes automatically.


Your choice of simple tune to try may be different of course




Rubato (robbed/borrowed time) even in rhythm

Rubato means literally robbed time but really borrowed time because you take it from one place and give it back by catching up later in the phrase.


You can even keep with an automatic drummer which always stays exactly mathematically on the beat in this way.


Substitute an evenly played bass treated in this way and you have a new more pleasant relaxed gently swinging sound if you do not have a drumbeat available.



Playing Disco style on Accordion (Still Easy)

You will enjoy trying this. Mainly a case of getting into the right energy rather than just the technical aspects


Disco utilises tiny divisions of the bar into 1/16th beats but this does not mean you have to play all of them separately. You can infer those notes mainly by where you place your main left hand chords, you do not have to hear them all as long as you can feel them inside.


You can infer it with syncopation starting 1/16 early perhaps and also by working between chords on left and right hands.


Even the syncopation can be syncopated further inside the 1/16th note value and give that extra “feel” to the rhythm


I have a go here at I will survive (!) and Copacabana for that famous Latin disco effect without and with drum beat



Playing for a more Relaxed Atmosphere

Some of the most effective times when you are playing is when you actually stop playing or stop moving with a pause in a note.


Because Music from Accordions seems to traditionally consist of the listener being dragged along by the hair it is not usually seen as music you sit and relax and listen to.


Just imagine the extra audiences you can have if you produce music that can suit a relaxed atmosphere.


My suggestions for making it so. Basically do not be afraid of brief silences or pauses



A Smoother Still Effective Cha Cha Rhythm

I have talked before about cha cha rhythm which usually consists of the rhythm Cha cha cha.


Here I try to remember passing it instantly across between the hands (even on successive half beats) and varying the legato and separate feel.


And hopefully still remembering to produce your reed action in different ways including in the bass and try to decorate the melody a little! I seem to have forgotten the last one here!


The tunes Patricia and Isle of Capri and this is only one way of playing them that I hope will inspire you to find a better way.



There are many ways to allow a tune to stand out


You might think that the only way to ensure that a tune is shown clearly is to leave the bass alone but this shows this is not the case.


Except possibly by playing a rhythm pattern all the way through regardless of what the melody is doing.


Through this little tune I use different methods between supporting every note of the main four note phrase with the bass and abandoning bass buttons entirely.


Even chiming in seemingly at random to support odd notes. Oddly enough I don’t think the continuity of the tune is spoiled at all by this approach.



A full sound but with enough air in the Bellows

My style of playing trying to use the depth of sound in my Victoria accordion does use a lot of air and a lot of possibly inconvenient changes of bellows direction.


I explore this problem over several tunes and you can as usual follow my successes and inevitable failures coping.


One suggestion I have is that to avoid that awful gasping sound when one note is turned accidentally into two you visualise an invisible wire that pulls your right hand fingers off the keys when your left arm changes bellows direction.


Also, for example,a note that is written to cover two bars will still sound pretty long if you cut it off after one. The accompaniment can continue and maintain its effect indirectly



Meaningful Bass parts from your usual buttons

You do not have to cover impossible gaps on your bass buttons to achieve meaningful music from your bass parts.


Simply sometimes changing the order you press the buttons gives you an entirely different mood for your listeners to appreciate.


You Can Make a Livelier Sound by Moving Less!

There are many levels of legato and staccato you can produce on the accordion - and you can achieve them often effortlessly by different methods if you apply thought.


I start here by pointing out how the glissando chord effect can be delayed if you do not press all the way down to the key bed right away.


This led to the thought of how you can produce a sparkling staccato sound when you do not use all the travel downwards of the keys and even play faster with your fingers not having to move so much.


You can even choose between legato and staccato style trills by the way you select your finger touch



Playing a tune convincingly on Bass Buttons

If you strive to make a left hand melody part as convincing and musical as a right hand part I believe having that ability will also make your left hand accompaniment sound better and more meaningful.


Even when it is very simple.


A tune you can all try in this way to make a start




Repeated Patterns varied sound Nicer

An element of a successful tune is it will have a lot of repeated patterns


These can sound more musical and less mathematical by varying where the accents are and even placing emphasis on a particular note by placing a gap immediately before it


I try this on a tune consisting of a series of 7 note phrases moving the emphasis around on successive occurrences. Also on a couple of regular nice tunes


Playing a nice Swingy Beat on Accordion

After you learn the basic dum dum de dum dum swing beat dividing it between the hands rather than just leaving it to the bass buttons can make life more interesting by inferring syncopation.



Allowing Your Listeners to Hear the Detail

Your playing can actually get just a little too complicated for your listeners to hear everything that is going on.


You can leave just enough space in your playing to let the other part show through. Because the listener may really be listening to 2 separate parts in close succession rather than both together.


So rather than playing with clockwork precision you can adapt it with micro adjustments of when each hand is playing as I tried to demonstrate it here.


An example where mathematical precision has to be reinterpreted so as not to stifle your music




Getting into Amazing Sliding Chords


The first tune I use is the typical Hawaiian guitar based one you might expect for this technique.


However I use it to sometimes alleviate the matter of fact ness of the immediate pitch access you get on a keyboard instrument in other style tunes. I think it particularly suits big band era tunes.


Know where you are by feeling the relation of one hand position to the next. As the hand shape can change too you can practice by first placing the hand in the two positions then immediately after try the slide.


You can also concentrate on any notes or areas which are covered in both chords. Really feel your fingers in common but you will have to tell your thumb to go where you remember where there was 2, 3, 4, or 5 previously.


In extreme moves you may even go one or two notes higher than was covered before.


I have seen exponents of this cover a full octave which I personally view as less musically interesting as the bottom note and the top note moves are identical.


Paradoxically it nay be easier though because one octave including chord will almost always overlap the other! Part of one will nearly always be inside the other!



Giving Your Full Attention to Very Ordinary Tunes

Sometimes one is asked to play tunes that seem so hackneyed they are not worth bothering with. So I am trying to play this thoughtfully for you to bring it back alive




A Subtle Chord Difference that makes a basic chord less ordinary

I wonder if you can tell the difference on these chords. If you try this on your own accordion I am sure you will.


This relates to second inversion chords.


I should have explained when I was showing you right hand chord shapes that the final arbiter of which inversion you are using is in the bass.


In this case using the G for example in the bass of a C chord gives you a second inversion




Use Your Accordion Superpower Carefully

Your superpower should be the confidence you exude because you know what you are doing. Your audience enjoys your music without worrying whether you are re going to make it or not.


It helps if you can play easily fast or cover unexpectedly wide range of notes effortlessly so I cover that too.


The essence is in knowing where you are going and knowing roughly what it will feel like and sound like



Minor Bass Runs to Try Out

Minor key tunes are more Interesting than major ones in my opinion. I think most of us can have a fair stab at five note major runs in the bass but perhaps less so with the minor ones.


It is important to remember that minor runs will have fewer sharps or more flats than the major equivalent so you will normally have to go to the physically lower base buttons to get to the right notes



An Easy Effective Bass Variation on Blueberry Hill

A quite basic bass variation applied to Blueberry Hill. Note the middle section and that a dotted beat can easily include triplets especially on the fourth beat of the bar.


Full close up instructions are shown



Playing the same note Nine Times in succession

This turns out to be a very long video about a very short tune. But a nice bright cheerful one Andre Rieu used very successfully


You would think that a tune that has nine consecutive repeated notes would be very dull and limited as to what you can do with it.


In fact I would say the opposite is the case because of variations of tone phrasing and bass accompaniment.


There is also a reminder of easy right hand five note super fast run by simply rotating the wrist instead of relying on individual finger movements.



Well Actually I CAN tell a waltz from a Tango But

A remarkable boost to your music and your mood when a couple of extremely well known waltzes are played as tangos.


Also of course a close up of the bass patterns including variations including major to alternate button both down (to more flats) and upwards major to alternate (or over 2) minor and back as a quick decoration inside the pattern




Very Easy Ways to Escape from one bar bass patterns

It does not have to be complicated to escape that relentless bass to chord to alternate bass to chord pattern.


When your left hand fingers are centred closely around a standard position it is easy.


It can be as simple as repeating standard note to chord for the first one and a half bars. Then you can finally use the alternate note on beat 7.


Reversing to chord to note on beats 7 and 8 after standard first 6 beats also works. Playing a chord instead of a bass note lightens the mood.


You also can go over to bass notes only (no chord buttons) for 2, 4 or more beats.


I have come to like the more subtle method of coming down from the alternate bass note for 3 beats as in C G E C rather than the more aggressive C to chord then E G.


But of course there are other easy notes you can go between such as C to D or to Bb. As it is only a momentary change it is unlikely to lead your music on the wrong direction.


Let's try it