Find out what is new Accordionwise and on this website

 

I suppose one of the reasons that I have put this site together is to raise the status of the accordion from a successful tune bashing device to that of the real musical instrument that it is.

 

I even have musical friends who take this attitude, whereas the accordion can be a more expressive instrument than even the piano if extra thought is applied while playing it.

 

Simply playing extremely old and outmoded tunes is not the answer though, if you happen to like them and you are entitled to, applying ideas I am promoting here can definiitely even change these into something worth listening to.

 

The answer I believe is in really listening to and adjusting your own playing instead of just playing on automatic. In other words to play more musically, just as other instruments expect to be treated.

 

Accordionwise.com is a constantly evolving site. Below I will try to alert you to the latest additions to what we have here.

 

There are many things I would like to add that will take time and need working out how to do it best, such as adding inline audio for music examples, perhaps a video page or inline video.

 

Meanwhile there are so many accordion insights that are occurring to me and crossing my path and that is currently taking all my time.

Our New Accordion Quiz Page

 

This is designed to both test your knowledge of accordion playing, currently with in depth questions about bass button configuration. The answers will be available question by question and the act of answering them will further lodge the info in your mind ready for retrieving to get to exactly where you want to go on the bass keyboard when you are playing.

 

Blog Section - Latest Insights

Every morning I try to set aside an hour or two to practise and let my Victoria accordion tell me things.

 

Tuesday May 15th 2018

 

This morning I found myself thinking about and trying these eight things. It also of course reminded me of what I have previously worked on or known and have posted already.

 

One:

Extra simple rhythm modification with alternating bass notes (not note to chord). For example if otherwise sticking to a very basic note chord chord waltz sometimes inserting (probably on every fourth bar) one of note chord note leading to the next note chord chord standard accompaniment pattern. The extra note would normally be the alternate note (G with a C chord) to lead back on to the key note (in this case C) for the next bar.

 

I am simplifying your following this by using N for standard bass note N in italics for the alternate bass note. I use K for Kord rather than C for chord as you would always tend to identify it with the actual chord of C which is not always going to be the case. I could perhaps have used Ch instead but it would tend to change the spacing of the letters. My excuse anyway.

 

So you would have NKK NKK NKK NKN straight on to the next NKK for the next phrase.

 

For a simple four time this would be NKNK NKNN repeated

 

Two

Rather than keep to the normal relationship of a Note on the main beat and then a chord on the offbeat I sometimes reversed these, particularly on the last couple of beats in the bar so the bass did not sound like a keyboard that had been left playing itself on automatic. And it sounds less doggedly intrusive. But I kept the rhythm going.

 

You can be quite free like this, mixing them up almost at random, provided you can come back to first beat with a note on the next bar, or even the alternate next bar. The rhythm feel therefore has to be inside you instead of attached exactly to the fingers  for you to be able to do this of course.

 

And if you have been plugging away on a complicated repetitive bar even modified like this for very long it can actually sound nice and more relaxed for your listener if you revert for a while to the most basic NKNK style pattern, perhaps where the tune goes to a new area.

 

Three

The easiest choices for any additional non standard bass notes in the accompaniment. If you want more variety in your arrangements I would suggest interpolating a not too intrusive 6th to the chord A for the C chord where you feel the major third on the counterbass E for the C chord is over used or over intrusive. This is particularly natural to do if the alternative note G for the C Chord is played first and you can even go into half beats  or divide the beat into triplets returning to the note next door.

 

This note is very obviously situated as the alternate note up from the alternate note G if the C chord but as this may lead you away from the key centre it is good to learn the counterbass version A from the F chord which is at least equally handy.

 

Four

Reminding myself about the bass "rolled" effect. This is an effect of doing NKN or even NKNK or even NKNK inside one beat. Gives emphasis, such as on the fourth or first beat of a tango. It is like doing a fast trill but between the bass note and  chord instead of between two notes.

 

Five

The alternative to using just bass notes or a mix with notes AND chords is of course to only use chords. You can do this for an extended period or slightly easier for half a bar or even on a single beat by dividing momentarily into quavers (eighth notes) or triplet eighth notes, or even 16th note semiquavers.

 

If returning quickly to your start chord you can get away with almost any other chord as it is too quick to alter the harmony but in order to particular avoid changing the key (adding or subtracting sharps or flats) here are some guidelines.

 

Staying within adjoining keys is fine although you will get less interesting results in one sense. For example using either major or minor chords C F C or C G C will see no change of key signature. However from major to minor chords does change things, the minor chord pulling you down with a flat or lost sharp to the key from the button below (subdominant F from C for example).

 

More interesting again is when you move further apart when to stay in the same key you need to go from major to minor or vice versa, example C to Dminor, C to A minor, C to E minor, but no further, not that you would find it convenient to stretch any further. The actual notes which make up the chords will be those which can be found within the range C up to B natural because of the way the accordion is made so not all changes will have similar note shifts.

 

Example C to G gives you (from bottom note upwards) CEG  then DGB (the top note jumps), whereas F to C gives you CFA to CEG (middle and top notes slide), or G to D means DGB to DF#A (ditto). If you try incorporating 7th chords the notes added for the 7th will affect the result (but the 5th because it is not used no longer affects it) so G7 to C will give you a rather unmelodic FGB to CEG (technical term false relations) whereas F to C7 gives you a nice CFA to CEBb.

 

I myself find this stuff fascinating but do feel free to yawn at this point, there is easier to grasp stuff ahead.

 

Six

The importance of operating the bellows thoughtfully for the bass section as well as for the melody line. Particularly where the bass temporarily is doing more than the treble or taking over a phrase from the melody.

 

Seven

Making wide ranging arpeggios sing out effectively. I thought my arpeggios even when fingered well and staying within the tempo were sometimes inaudible.

 

So first I realised that in order to keep the tone light I was easing up on the bellows so the ear was not able to follow the notes up into a different vocal range as it were.

 

So I deliberately maintained and even increased bellows pressure through the arpeggio.

 

Secondly though the arpeggio was probably being obscured by the bass part. So I stopped the bass while the arpeggio was in progress. A maximum of a shortish application on the main beats of the bar, or even more so playing the bass only on the first and last note of the arpeggio, or even only after the last arpeggio note.

 

Eight

The importance of tonal beauty. My realisation that a beautiful sound is my first priority and that by considering the register I was using to be rich and beautiful it followed my thoughts by becoming so. This was because of the extra attentiion I paid to it with phrasing, suitable choice of staccato and ultra legato and of course the bellows.

 

Saturday May 19th

 

Some further points occurring to me with this morning's practice

 

One:

Blurring or obscuring of treble parts by the bass.

 

I previously mentioned the desirabily of stopping the left hand during wide ranging arpeggios to allow them to shine out unhindered but this may also apply in other cases.

 

If executing fingered chromatic slides or other ways of joining up successive notes (usually difficult to notate as taking up NO time out of the bar) these will sound better totally alone. This is of course another instance of the more general principle of not obscuring fast passages (in either hand).

 

BUT a full chord glissando in the treble seems to me to often sound good over just a held chord button.

 

AND you should be able to slide between different or even differently shaped chords if you hold strongly the feeling of playing the new chord on the way up. Difficult to imagine how it works, but if I can do it, you can too!

 

GENERAL PRINCIPLE which allows this is PREPARATION. As a musician you have to live in both the present and the future at the same time!

 

Two:

Playing chords alone.

 

Playing chords sustained without a bass note is a nice light effect which can feel difficult without the bass note played to judge its position. BUT you can put the note button down partially so it does not sound (and keep the standard fingering) or release it so fast that it does not get in the way (but hold the chord!).

 

AND DO NOT FORGET regarding the chord as your held note and dotting in stacatto basic bass notes with the tempo. The opposite way you usually regard the relationship of the note and chord.

 

GENERAL PRINCIPLE The automatic allocation of fingers to the functions of the bass music which allowed you to start playing so easily can be modified later without losing the original system

 

Three:

Emphasis of a few of the notes of the music can be done in two different ways to allow them to stand out.

 

EITHER play sections (such as one or two notes of crotchet eighth note triplets) with right and left hand simultaneously, with chords most likely played in both right and left hands

 

OR leave out the left hand altogether in lighter instances of emphasis to allow the right hand notes to show

 

Four:

Showing the structure of the music helps listeners appreciate it.

 

You can do this most impressively by changing the way you use your accompaniment left hand during one of the sections, such as the chorus or the middle eight.

 

WHAT IS THE MIDDLE 8? That is the few (normally eight) bars in the middle of a tune that you do not know so well because it is different (in a new tune, the part you should practice separately so that it does not startle you and make you falter when you have to get to it!)

 

This may also be done to a lesser extent by varying the register you are using. WHAT AN IDEA you could even do both at the same time. BUGBEAR You need to be able to come back to the orignal setting and/or the original bass styling.

 

Perhaps a Facebook Page for the Website

I have always encouraged people to write in to request clarification on any subject I might not have described sufficiently well. Or to suggest items that could take more development rather than just be included in lists. There might be printed music examples wanted particularly for certain ideas, or audio or video that you feel would be useful to illustrate them.

 

In fact, although I have received a couple of very appreciative emails about the website, no-one has asked for this or suggested more subjects they would like covered.

 

Facebook is of course the place where people are used to talking freely, so it may be that this would be the way forward to make sure this site is of maximum use.

 

Obviously if I manage to organise this I will post details here including a link.