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Chromatic Button Accordion

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  • siivasiiva New
    Posts: 2
    I started playing piano at a very young age. I never got *really* good at it, but I am very proficient. I know most of the scales very well. I have a couple of keyboard accordions but I keep getting drawn to the idea of a Chromatic Button. I'm a software programmer by day and I can type on the computer keyboard at 80+ words-per-minute so I'm very accustomed to the "vertical" movement of each finger, which is why I think I could fit well with this instrument.

    The only reason that keeps me from making the switch to the buttons is: I have to admit it's always nice to be able to sit at a piano and apply what I've been practicing on the keyboard accordion and just start playing away.

    I guess I'm afraid I'm going to lose that ability once I dive into the button instrument. What do you think?
  • BarengeroBarengero Auda CityProdigy
    Posts: 527
    So try to get your hand on a chromatic button piano!
  • siivasiiva New
    Posts: 2
    :lol: thanks for the laugh
  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc et.al. // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    Posts: 601
    i've dabbled at piano since childhood, and so my first accordion was a piano keyboard one, though i *am* tempted by the idea of the symmetry / transposability of the CBA keyboard, especially a 5-row one.
    Hard to come across good, cheap CBA's here in Scotland though , and as I have so little time to pratice any accordion, I can see me sticking with the pianoAccordion (PA). I might buy a cheap CBA if I'm in France, one day
  • CuimeanCuimean Los AngelesProdigy
    Posts: 271
    Barengero wrote:
    So try to get your hand on a chromatic button piano!

  • LoritmoLoritmo Pacific NW✭✭✭
    Posts: 69
    Hi, siiva,

    I play a piano accordion and dabble with a CBA. I think piano learning transfers more easily to piano accordion for the very reason that chords are formed the same way. But like Andy said, the CBA gives you those wonderful symmetry/transposability options. You probably won't know which way to go until you try a CBA and see what you think (or try Cuimean's Janko keyboard!)

    Have fun deciding,
    Lorretta
  • niquyaniquya New
    Posts: 2
    Hi all,

    interesting thread ! I have a question which i've had for some time now about chromatic button accordions, hopefully i'll get some insights here.

    So i play a 5-rows button accordion. I've played as a kid for 3-4 years, and 2 years ago i decided to pick it up again... 20 years later. I readily joined a band although i couldnt do much (i'm in the northern US, accordion players are pretty rare). At the beginning i worked really hard to learn how to play and to learn the whole band repertoire, but now i'm starting to rethink the way i play, especially cause i have to solo more and more.

    So the advantage of the 5-rows is that you can transpose any tune to any key and keep the same fingering. And i figured the other advantage is that i can learn riffs and solo phrases, and use them whatever the key we are in, just gotta start on the right button/row.

    My question is: which combinations of rows is it better to use for fingering ? For now, i chose to use the three rows with the tonic on the top row. On my (C-system) accordion, that means if i'm in Dm key, i'll use rows 1 to 3. If I'm in Am, i'll use rows 2 to 4, if I'm in Em i'll use 3 to 5. And this way i can use phrases i learned on an Am solo for a Dm solo, with the same fingering.

    Anyways, hope i'm not too confusing. So now i wonder if in terms of finger gymnastic, the configuration i chose is the best. Using the 3 rows with the tonic on the first row instead (Am would be on rows 1 to 3) might be easier ? the buttons seem somewhat more conveniently spaced out (in the minor key at least, which is the one i play the most).

    I guess that depends on personal preference, but i wonder what people do, and if they even actually use 3-rows only. I've seen videos of professional accordion players soloing all over the 5-rows, while in the same key...

    Thanks a lot !!!
  • brandoneonbrandoneon Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France✭✭✭
    Posts: 171
    Hello niquya,

    That's certainly one way to approach the CBA, to think in terms of modules of 3 rows. But I think this type of transposing works best for chords and arpeggios. For more scalar approaches, it's probably best that most of your playing (~80%?) occurs within the first 3 rows. The advantage of rows 4 and 5 come into play then when you need to find a more comfortable fingering, i.e. this helps avoid awkward finger movements and positions.

    The other thing to consider is to find a fingering that evenly uses the fingers. What I mean, and this is just a general statement, is that groupings of 2 or 5 fingers may be less useful then groupings of 4 (and 3) fingers ... I think by focusing on finding groupings of 4 (and sometimes 3) fingers you can come up with more comfortable fingerings. I will give the example of playing an A melodic minor scale (A B C D E F# G# A). For 1 octave, you could very well play the scale ascending using : 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3. However you could also apply the 4th row to play with more ease (this ties into the previous paragraph) using groupings of 4 fingers. In this fingering example, a * will indicate the 4th row. So now try A melodic minor (ascending) with this fingering: 1 2 3* 4 1 2* 3 4. You probably could have just as easily played this scale with the same fingers but within rows 1-3, except that it could feel awkward. The other advantage of the 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 finger grouping is that you can also use this for A harmonic minor, natural minor, or dorian mode, whereas in my original example of 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 this would pose some problems.

    I hope this gets at answering your questions and gives some food for thought. By the way these aren't my ideas, there's a book written by Claudio Jacomucci called "Technique" that gets into these fingerings.

    cheers,
    Brandon
  • niquyaniquya New
    Posts: 2
    Awesome Brandon thank you so much ! Interesting the 3-4 grouping rather than 2 or 5. I do 2 sometimes, very rarely 5 (my little finger is not very strong or precise yet), 3 and 4 sounds good ! I will also look into the resources you suggested (I saw he also designed potentially interesting ergonomic straps... i'm having shoulder issues).

    Still wondering about improvisation techniques, how to make best use of button accordion setup and fingering options.

    Thank you !
    Yannick
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