My name is Alex Govier, a professional musician on accordion, piano and organ for over 50 years.

On this website I am sharing stuff to

  • Improve your technique
  • Help you get to know your instrument better
  • Play more easily and more confidently
  • Try new accordion bass methods
  • Integrate bass and treble sounds in different ways
  • Learn how to make better music
  • Gain popularity with general music listeners and not just fellow accordionists. 


Simply because I would like more general appreciation of this wonderful instrument.

Because by playing a little more thoughtfully we can reach new audiences and get more recognition. 

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Find out what is new Accordionwise and on this website


My Latest accordion playing ideas


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.



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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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



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!



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



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



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.


 Wednesday June 13th


More points occuring to me as I practice or meditate



It occurred to me it was time I put down on paper something about syncopating, which is really reallocating note values in a tune to suit your interpretation, avoid wooden-ness and exact matching from right hand to left hand which can sound very uninspiring. It also occurred to me that this might be the best way to "play like a top singer" such as Sinatra, rather than as a basic accordion player.


The basic principle of syncopation is that the notes do not appear exactly in the normal places within the rhythm, mostly appearing early, just a fraction before the beat they are supposed to be on.


That frees up the rhythm and lets the player interpret instead of just slavishly following the arithmetic on the printed page.


Here is an example and more notes on using it you will find HERE. But basically you should make sure as well as speeding up previous notes to get in early on your target syncopation that this does not disturb the tempo of the left hand.




The second line amy look a little complicated but there are two main things to rememver.


ONE- You can see where the syncopated part is going to be ahead of its expected timing in the written music on the second line aboce

TWO - The left hand plays very steadily as usual and makes no attempt to catch up with the syncopation by playing early!

More on this .. extended version




A corollary of this is that a tune can sound more free flowing if the left hand and right hand, though both basically in tempo, are almost disconnected, with very few places where they are sounded simultaneously.


This sounds silly and impossible but there was a British jazz pianist whose style very much exemplified this.




Occasional shorter (quickeer) note values in your bass section help your bass accompaniments sound more alive without that boring note for note matching which kills accordion music for the normal music listener.


This would be in the form of extra notes such as triplets NKN or KNK or even NNN or KKK inside one of the beats, instead of the more normal single note or chord. And obviously without disturbing the basic pulse of the music.


This I feel is most likely to be effective at the end of a bar, or even reserved to the end of a phrase to link easily to the befinning of the next phrase.




The idea to go between chords without an intervening bass note is an interesting and subtle sounding idea. This is indeed especially usable if you are using them inside a triplet, since however strange the chord you happen to hit as the second chord it will not disturb the overall harmony, since you will be returning to base each time on the third chord when working KKK.


However an easy interpolation is to go to the chord directly below such as CFCor just missing one chord to go to C Bb C is very nice and almost as easy.


I would recommend going from a minor chord to the minor chord below it as in Cm Fm Cm or to the Major chord two buttons away Cm Bb Cm is pretty smooth


But as I say if you hit something more obscure by accident it will sound like you are being extra deep with your choice of chords and will still not disturb the overall harmony.


I already mentioned the usefulness on the fourth beat of the bar (or third when in waltz time) ot for linking to the next bar




For people who think they are at their maximum speed playing only one note or chord to a bar if you keep a desperate kind of holding down strength when playing bass buttons, (same thing for treble notes also), it prevents you playing the next note very soon. Do not get too attached to the note you are playing, you have other places to go, so just play it lightly and shoot off to the next part of your musical journey




Remember that there is other ways of avoiding blocky playing, which is to leave bass notes out deliberately or play extended background chords over several beats. Although a long chord added to a melody note can be quite a heavy effect, it is lightened the normal way by decreasing bellows pressure. The melody note will sound stronger because it was played at a higher level initially.


Sunday June 24th

Some thoughts from today's practice. Divided into two main areas.



I have been trying a few standard fastish tunes on which quite basic bass patterns are OK, providing, in my view, that the following points are taken care of

  1. Make sure that the bass line does not obstruct important faster tune sections. Stop where neceessary for a few notes. Always stop when the following phrase of the tune starts AFTER the first beat of the bar.i
  2. Occasionally a quick "roll" - i.e. NKN in a one beat triplet can keep things moving, phrases connected or simply provide relief from the basic sound
  3. Unless you want a different feel chords CAN be played short but are probably best connected with the bass note before them, presenting as a single unit the note and the chord following. They do logically belong together in the harmony.
  4. Even in an alternate bass and chord pattern there is still scope for a meaningful bass note progression, such as going down one semitone at a time. When doing that it is best to play a full legato bass so the ear can hear what is happening, i.e. that both the bass note and chord are moving logically.
  5. Breaking up the repeated pattern between phrases with little bass note runs joining two different notes of different chords is also possible of course


  1. The chords played in the left hand and right hand do not have to be the same.
  2. They may not clash but instead build up to make a richer chord not seen as possible with just a cursory glance of the stradella button system.
  3. They may clash but in a passing form with the clashing chord coming first then resolving onto a more settled form or the right hand can shift onto an apparent discord after a more seemingly peaceful start.
  4. You can even have a series of discords making limited sense until eventually settling onto a peaceful resolution which justifies them. Starting from a discord or otherwise
  5. When playing like this they should be played together without apology or shortening of either part of the chord to spoil the effect. This effect is intended to be heard, otherwise it is not worth doing.
  6. The effectiveness of this may vary, depending on the area of the treble keyboard used, the bass and treble registers selected or even the quality of the instrument and particularly the richness or otherwise of the bass reeds.

ADDENDUM: I just went back to playing my accordion again and on the lines of the last suggestions I tried holding a simple major chord in the bass while outlining a melody in next door thirds, mostly but not all inside the key signature. Sounded sensational, slightly western/Mexican definitely a good accordion sound (possibly safest with the accordion register LMM). Then full chords against the bass including ones just a semitone away. I kept the bass chord sustained and occasionally punctuated it with easy bass notes, to push it along, such as on beats 4 and 1.


Try it and enjoy. Think again about matching every chord, you will often sound more musical and smoother only doing the main (and easy!) changes.


Friday July 6th


My insight this morning from practising was principally this. As I am always endeavouring to produce a sound which is meaningful, flowing, and easy to follow for listeners I came up with this.


To give maximum freedom to the tune to be played in its best interpreted form maybe you should divorce it to a certain extent from the left hand accompaniment pattern.


The rhythm in the left hand of course needs to be rock solid and it requires a solid feeling inside of that rhythm, not just one which is reliant on habit. (Even that can dodge the odd note or chord out of the way of the tune, but be careful here!)


While not every note in the right hand should be right on the clockwork beat and coincide with the matching place in the rhythm but be where a good singer might place it, using the accompaniment as a guide rather than as an imprisoning anchor.

This improves the flow, relieves congestion of notes colliding thus making all parts easier to hear for the listener, and of course gives maximum interpretative power to the melody.


It can even be employed to free up the exact location of runs in quavers (eighth notes) making them easier to hear if continuing the bass while doing them. You will probably already have read my suggestion that in most cases the bass should be ceased totally as competition for such runs, but this is a viable alternative to avoid doing the same thing too often which is a listener annoyance perhaps.


Jazz players probably do this instinctively, (but for those who don't maybe another reason for playing with a rhythm duo or trio). My hero Frank Marocco was one of course who would also gladly work independently.


I realise this goes totally against the way you were first taught to play, but all the good tips which make you sound better do!


At first you may want to try this while keeping the first beat of the bar where it is "supposed to be" but as you get better you will be able to place the melody note around even there exactly where you want.


Remember the idea is the bass and treble parts can be INDEPENDENT. It is a wonderful feeling of freedom if you can do this and will improve your overall sound and add distinction to your playing.


Oddly enough I think this will make your music more pleasant to listen to and understandable by the most basic listener, and we should always be playing for them, if only for commercial reasons.


Sorry if this sounds obscure. I know I should be illustrating this concept, but maybe later.


Sunday July 8th

Thought for today


Finding the relative minoe chord easily by subsituting the minor 7th, eg going to Am from C. Em from G. Dm from F, Gm from Bb etc is easy by substituting a minor 7th.


How? STAY WITH THE MAJOR CHORD and add a note which will be the new root of the chord from the counterbass. Be sure to play the new note and original chord together st some point so that it registers on the ear as a chord and not two unconnected items.


For example to play the sequence G G chord - E Em chord - A Am Chord - D Dm chord just subsitute Em7 Am7 and Dm7 for the basic minor chords. BUT HOW?


What you actually play is G G chord - E (counterbass) G chord then sounds as Em7 - A (counterbass) C chord sounds as Am7- D (counterbass) F chord sounds like Dm7.


This is possibly difficult to initially think about but easy to actually do. The counterbass note used is pretty close, it belongs to the chord below on your stradella keyboard.


Monday July 10th

Thoughts for today


There are Many ways to use just the three basic notes and one chord.


If you Add the note above in counterbass or even easier the 7th only 2 buttons below in basic row and there're even more


The variations can be between different orders of playing the single notes or even reversing the places where you would normally play the note to put a chord there in the pattern.


And if you have done a lot of variations a simple alternate note and chord will relieve stress for a bar or two and becomes a variation itself!


You could even try a chord shift and back with no bass note between instead of extra notes in quavers (eighth notes)


The most obvious ones either side chord do work but are not as smooth as missing a chord to the next tone up.


Going between major and minor alternate  or two notes apart ones such as between G and Am or G and Dm are nice and are smooth as it keeps you in the same key (no accidentals) and it creates shifting melodic movements from the notes within the chords.


The effect will not be the same in all keys because the chords are produced from the same sets of reeds between C and B so it is not the case that they are all root position or otherwise.


The basic root position will apply between the chords C to E (that is to say for C, C#, D, Eb, and E), 2nd inversion from F to G (F F# and G), first inversion from Ab to B (Ab, A and Bb)


Remember that all the rhythm need not be expressed in the bass if you are adept at playing chords and mini arpeggios in the right hand under or above the melody line.


You can also get lovely full moving patterns by going from chord bass to chord in right hand and a nice texture if they are overlapped.




Awkward gaps in the tune can be filled EITHER by an enhanced bass pattern till it starts again OR by a right hand run towards the starting note of the next phrase.

Such as a normal or chromatic run or chord based figure or your inspired combination of such.


Or even use a twiddle around it before it starts, eg starting note G lead into it with quavers GAGF# G.


In either case break off the bass while doing this, always a good way to add fluidity to your playing and therefore listener appeal.


Fellow accordionists will make allowance for the limitation suggested by the format of the instrument while general listeners are more impressed by an arrangement which would sound pleasant and flowing on any instrument.


Saturday 14th July

Some thoughts of today.


There is already a section on sounding good by playing different chords in right and left hands on accordion, but it occurred to me today how I might make the subject a little clearer, using of all things, a little music theory!


Some people are hazy about playing right hand chords anyway on accordion. Why should they learn that when the left hand buttons make the chords for them automatically? If you are already fine with right hand chords skip to here.


Chords are made up of piles of alternate notes (thirds)


For those that don't know the root position chords are of course alternate notes (thirds as we call them for skipping over one name note, eg A (B) C, so A and C together make an interval  of a third.


Basically all you have to do is play alternate notes on the piano style keyboard, but beware as some have extra black notes between them and some do not. If you choose to go ofrom A to C#you have covered a major interval but a minor one from A# to C#


The basic rule is that while the outside of the root chord stays the same distance, there is a spare note wavering around in the middle which could be either a sharp or a natural or a flat or a natural. So where should that be?


How to work out which is major and which is minor.


Very simply put a MAJOR chord has a MAJOR 3rd then a minor 3rd on top, whereas a Minor chord has a Minor interval first and a great fat Major 3rd sitting heavily on it!


So if you count the notes you play upwards 1 - 5 -8 is Major (eg F major chord is F A C )whereas 1 -4 - 8 is minor (Fm is F Ab C).


Once you have the correct root position chord the notes can be in any order (different inversions) so A C F or A C F are still fine and actually may sound better with the left hand part of the chord. Don't try F C A with one hand obviously unless you have massive hands (or come to think of it a amall-scale keyboard)


Once you have the basic chord, the one you are already bored with and think they are the only ones you can play life starts getting interesting.


So let's start making some interesting sounds


Let's start with a simple major or minor chord as the basis. Do a G major right hand chord  with a G chord held in the bass as you play the notes G B D in the right hand.


Do this in a range which will have the right hand playing in a higher octave, either using the registers, or the appropriate part of the right hand keyboard. Your ear is the guide.


Now build it up




Play your G bass chord again but in the right hand start with its second note B and add a third note to play i.e. B D F.  Hold on a moment this is not a new chord, it is your standard G7!


If however you choose F# for your extra note you DO have a new chord, G with sharpened 7th and a very different harmony (G B D F#) It does no harm to still play the original G chord but as we go on you may be running out of fingers


Or if you start with G minor (G Bb D)


If you start with a G minor chord however and add F natural you are in business, you are now playing the "impossible" Gm7 chord. You can also sharpen the 7th there but this is probably less useful and possibly a dead end for building up further from.


Once you have your new chord you may like to try inverting it for a better sound (instead of playing BDF for G7 you can play DFB, or instead of Bb D F play DFBb. And also of course make sure your right hand notes are coming in a different octave (higher) than the left hand chord


Extend the system the same way


Try that again and you are going into 9ths (one note more than an octave) and an increasingly interesting area.


Go from the normal 7th (not the sharpened one which though fascinating is more or less a dead end for more development) and play either a minor D F A or diminished chord D F Ab while holding your original G bass chord.


Reminder how you got here - F bass chord against first F A C, then add E or Eb for (F) A C E or (F) A C Eb for the normal F7


Or this might be an easier explanation copied from my post today in the Accordionwise Friends Facebook page


This is based on the chord D




I am trying to explain my thoughts on building up more interesting chords for www.accordionwise.com blog and thought that this picture might be a start.


The idea is that you hold the basic chord whether major or minor in the bass, replicate the basic root chord (basically simply alternate notes up, making sure that you match the key signature of the chord BELOW it!!) it in the right hand, then leave out the bottom note to play an extra note a third interval above.


Notice that when you stick with the chords key signature you get the interesting D sharpened 7th chord.


Depending how heavy or light you want the rich harmony to sound you may use the bass note or not. But if you chicken out on holding the bass chord, you miss the whole point!


I apologise for using the D chords as an example but that happens to be where my photo for the keyboard started! Still it makes a change from C doesn't it?


You can of course go up to the 11ths, 13ths and beyond, but sometimes I feel these are better explained as 7ths on the wrong bass note! So I stopped.


What use are These chords and where can they be used?


Apart from sounding nice and richer than the basics you mean?


I think I problem need to give you an idea of what the following chord is likely to be to follow these special chords. In my logic the "normal" sevenths will go to the key of the button below (C7 to F) and the #7 or Maj7ths to the relative minor FMaj7 to Dm for example. Or to Dm6 which shares many of the same notes.
The 9ths and above are likely to go to the basic chord they are based on, e.g. D13 to D, Dm13 to Dm etc.
Also note that any extra "strange" chord works well being repeated up or down a scale, or allowing for the normal accidentals in that scale such as FMaj7, Ein7, DMaj7, CMaj7.
Jazz players are of course free of these rules.


There is now a Facebook Page for the Website

I have always encouraged people to write in here 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.



The name of the Facebook page is ACCORDIONWISE FRIENDS (Do not let your spell checker turn ACCORDIONWISE into two words!)