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Dumb Accordion Question

black walnut 27 May 07 - 11:00 AM
Waddon Pete 27 May 07 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,Nick 27 May 07 - 12:01 PM
black walnut 27 May 07 - 12:15 PM
The Fooles Troupe 27 May 07 - 12:31 PM
Bert 27 May 07 - 12:32 PM
The Fooles Troupe 27 May 07 - 12:45 PM
black walnut 27 May 07 - 12:59 PM
CarolC 27 May 07 - 01:08 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 27 May 07 - 02:03 PM
Greg B 27 May 07 - 02:16 PM
black walnut 27 May 07 - 04:41 PM
Jack Campin 27 May 07 - 04:52 PM
Deckman 27 May 07 - 05:02 PM
Girl Friday 27 May 07 - 05:59 PM
GUEST 27 May 07 - 06:39 PM
Rowan 27 May 07 - 07:53 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 27 May 07 - 08:10 PM
Greg B 27 May 07 - 09:11 PM
CarolC 27 May 07 - 09:46 PM
Bob Bolton 28 May 07 - 02:26 AM
Bob Bolton 28 May 07 - 02:31 AM
Little Robyn 28 May 07 - 04:13 AM
Jack Campin 28 May 07 - 05:30 AM
The Fooles Troupe 28 May 07 - 10:01 AM
GUEST 28 May 07 - 11:35 AM
Peter T. 28 May 07 - 11:39 AM
CarolC 28 May 07 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,Rev 28 May 07 - 04:53 PM
georgeward 29 May 07 - 01:59 AM
Howard Kaplan 29 May 07 - 10:33 AM
CarolC 29 May 07 - 11:16 AM
Greg B 29 May 07 - 12:47 PM
CarolC 29 May 07 - 01:27 PM
Girl Friday 29 May 07 - 08:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 29 May 07 - 09:15 PM
georgeward 30 May 07 - 01:18 AM
Waddon Pete 30 May 07 - 12:15 PM
Jack Campin 30 May 07 - 12:48 PM
Greg B 30 May 07 - 01:08 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 May 07 - 07:53 PM
Greg B 30 May 07 - 09:48 PM
concertina ceol 31 May 07 - 07:06 AM
black walnut 02 Jun 07 - 12:46 PM
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Subject: Dumb Accordion Question
From: black walnut
Date: 27 May 07 - 11:00 AM

Is there such a thing as an accordion that has a keyboard on both sides? I know how to play piano and would like to try accordion. Wouldn't it make sense to use a skill I already have - playing keyboard with both hands - instead of trying to learn how to play all those buttons? Or is this just a dumb question?!

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 27 May 07 - 11:56 AM

Hello,

No question is dumb....I expect you could get one hand built! It would be the devil to play...that's why they have left hand buttons I guess.

Have a look at www.accordions.com to satisfy your curiosity!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: GUEST,Nick
Date: 27 May 07 - 12:01 PM

Seems to me one hand has to stay more or less in place so you can pull against it to fill the bellows so the second keyboard would be small. Buttons give you more choices closer to the anchor point.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: black walnut
Date: 27 May 07 - 12:15 PM

Now that's a smart answer! Thanks Nick. It makes perfect sense to me now.

Good website Peter.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 May 07 - 12:31 PM

It only seems a dumb question until you know the history of the creation of the instrument - like that old saying - "Rules are for the Guidance of The Wise and Blind Obedience by Fools".

There were such beasties built in the early days when the instrument was first being created after the button accordion had pioneered the way - I have never seen the real things though, only illustrations.

As Nick guessed, it was found to be virtually unplayable because the left hand was providing the motive power (actually the shoulder genereates the power, the arm and hand only transmit it) for the bellows. This was in the days before small portable power sources like dry cell batteries and electric fans, of course... If the left hand keyboard was any different size than the right hand, you would not be able to play it 'like a piano'... but there is no way that it is at all 'like a piano' - the piano keyboard is used for many instruments - harpsichords, and pipe organs for instance, they 'play nothing like a piano forte'!

Indeed the Piano accordion is not a 'chest steinway' but more of a chest wurlitizer' - a portable pipe organ, using reeds (with register switches) - pipe organs do have reed stops as well as flute stops. The piano is a percussive instrument, the accordion - all types, including concertinas, are wind instruments.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Bert
Date: 27 May 07 - 12:32 PM

I wish there was a DUMB accordian!!!


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 May 07 - 12:45 PM

"I wish there was a DUMB accordian!!!"

There are no dumb accordions, only dumb accordion players...


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: black walnut
Date: 27 May 07 - 12:59 PM

Ah yes, as in how people sometimes think a dulcimer is like a guitar because it has strings and frets. It's actually much more like a bagpipe... :-)

Thanks, Foolestroupe - very enlightening.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: CarolC
Date: 27 May 07 - 01:08 PM

I started out on piano, too. Learning the buttons on the left side of the accordion is really worth the effort, and not as difficult as it might seem. You just have to keep at it until you develop the muscle memory.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 27 May 07 - 02:03 PM

In addition to the standard root-&-chords layout, there are also some chromatic-bass accordions (which use buttons, not keys, for the very good reasons identified above). I have not seen one firsthand, but I hear that they are quite a lot more difficult to master. I'd be interested in any input or experience of this that other Catters can provide. (Like Black Walnut, I'm a harper.)


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Greg B
Date: 27 May 07 - 02:16 PM

I 'transitioned' from piano player to accordions as well.

It isn't as much of an advantage as you think (or as I thought).

Basically, it's the layout of the right hand which is the same,
and the skills in playing in different keys which crosses over
(the old black keys and white keys, thing). However, that's
about 30% of the skills needed to play piano accordion.

I think the basic coordination and concepts will allow you to as
easily transition to concertina (English or Anglo) or button
accordion.

What I'm saying is--- being a keyboardist will probably help
just about equally with any squeeze-box. Don't gravitate to
the piano accordion just because the thing under your right
hand looks familiar. That probably really only gives you an
advantage for the first five days or so, because at least
you'll intellectually know where the 'right notes' are.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: black walnut
Date: 27 May 07 - 04:41 PM

All very interesting! I wonder though if my body is ready to learn yet another set of muscle memories...haven't I confused it enough with the other million instruments I (attempt to) play?!

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 May 07 - 04:52 PM

There is such an accordion, but it uses a chromatic button keyboard rather than a piano keyboard. It's the French "harmoneon", mainly used for classical music.

http://www.perigord.com/asso/ar/sitedefinitif/lichon/harmo/p1.html
http://www.concertina.net/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t4578.html

There are other types of "free bass" accordion that do similar things.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Deckman
Date: 27 May 07 - 05:02 PM

What's the difference between an onion and an accordian ... no body cries when you peel an accordian! (O.K., I'll look for my coat and tippy toe out the kitchen door) BAD BAD Bob


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Girl Friday
Date: 27 May 07 - 05:59 PM

Does anyone know when the accordion was invented?


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 07 - 06:39 PM

Musical instruments aren't invented. They're discovered.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Rowan
Date: 27 May 07 - 07:53 PM

While black walnut's question has already been answered in principle and there has been some mention of 'free chromatic bass' piano accordions there is yet another wrinkle in the fabric of the story. I have a bandoneon (smaller than an accordion and larger than most concertinas) that has its button on both ends laid out in four rows. All the buttons have only the one note (whether pushing or pulling) but the 'inside row' of buttons is white and the next row is black and grouped in twos and threes with spaces between the groups; the next rows repeat this arrangement.

To all intents, this is a piano keyboard layout but using buttons instead of keys, but it is the only bandoneon I've seen with such a layout. The instrument was brought to Australia in about 1924 but the other bandoneons I've seen have all got a diatonic keyboard. I doubt it could have worked if keys were used instead of buttons,

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 27 May 07 - 08:10 PM

WALNUT - You are 95% of the way there (btw - I have seen double-keyboards)

Outside of a harmonica - no instrument is "easier" nor complex....to learn.

Just understand I,IV,V,VII and you can roll, commiserate, and console in 20 different keys.

HAVE FUN!!!!

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Greg B
Date: 27 May 07 - 09:11 PM

>Does anyone know when the accordion was invented?

Yes


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: CarolC
Date: 27 May 07 - 09:46 PM

I wonder though if my body is ready to learn yet another set of muscle memories...haven't I confused it enough with the other million instruments I (attempt to) play?!

I'm guessing you won't find it confusing because your body relates to the accordion entirely differently than it does to pretty much all other (non-squeezebox type) instruments. Playing the accordion, to me, is an entirely different experience than playing the recorder or penny whistle, and even very different than playing the piano, so none of the muscle memories I developed playing those instruments has ever in any way interfered with the muscle memories that I develop while playing the accordion.

I think I would have more difficulty going from one squeezebox type instrument to another than I have from piano to accordion.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 28 May 07 - 02:26 AM

G'day Greg,

As I mentioned (... in a reply to you...? ... in another thread ...?) the first form of button accordion was patented by Buschmann in Berlin, c. 1821 ... this was improved (substantially to the first button accordion... ) by Damian in Vienna, c. 1829.

The French played around with various piano keyboard styles from c. 1850 ... but never solved the chording problem. The elegant Italian solution - the 'Stradella Bass' system appears around the 1870s ... and goes mostly into "professional" instruments (complicated and expensive) until modern mass production, post WW 1 starts to produce cheaper instruments for the mass market.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 28 May 07 - 02:31 AM

G'day again,

Yes ... my earlier remark was around posting #75 to the "Accordion vs Melodian" thread ... in my brief discussion of the "Richter Scheme" tuning shared by Button Accordion, Mouth Organ and Anglo(-German) Concertina.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Little Robyn
Date: 28 May 07 - 04:13 AM

According to a 'Today in History' for 12 August, Anthony Faas took out a United States patent on the first piano accordian in 1856.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 07 - 05:30 AM

This is the best short history of the accordion I've seen on the web:

http://www.ksanti.net/free-reed/history/birth.html

Krisnik's instrument of the 1770s is very similar to the present-day Indian harmonium, basically an accordion with only one keyboard.

See also

http://www.accordions.com/index/his/his_acc_his.shtml

for some later developments.

There is MUCH more in the articles in the New Grove.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 May 07 - 10:01 AM

"Anthony Faas took out a United States patent on the first piano accordian in 1856."

Which statement, if you are an American, may even help you to understand why the rest of the world just shakes their head and sighs at the immaturity of Americans as a nation... :-)


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 07 - 11:35 AM

They sure like our dollars though


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 May 07 - 11:39 AM

What I don't understand is why accordions still sound like accordions. We are thirty plus years into the electric piano revolution and it is still not possible to get an accordion that can make other sounds under about $5000. It would seem easy to replace the industrial revolution internals of the accordion with wires, and sell cheap accordions that sound like pianos or whatever.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: CarolC
Date: 28 May 07 - 03:04 PM

Because accordions sound perfect already and if they sounded like something else they wouldn't be accordions?

I don't know... if you want something that sounds and behaves like an electronic keyboard, you might prefer to get an electronic keyboard (and dispense with having to fuss with bellows and a left and right side, and not being able to see your hands)...

Mechanically, accordions do have a number of drawbacks, but it's what you can do with them (that you can't do with an electronic keyboard) that makes them a preferred instrument for those who love to play them.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: GUEST,Rev
Date: 28 May 07 - 04:53 PM

Although the mechanisms of the accordion are certainly characteristic of the "industrial revolution," as Peter T. suggests, the bit that actually produces the sound of the accordion has been around for literally thousands of years. The free reed was invented in China, used in a family of instruments called "sheng," and has been known for at least three thousand years. Why try to alter a time-tested sound like that!!!!


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: georgeward
Date: 29 May 07 - 01:59 AM

The Anthony Faas question has been dealt with on Mudcat before. He did NOT invent -or even propose to improve - the piano accordian. Unfortunately, at least one accordian-oriented website implies that he did. What he did do is laid out in his patent application, which is cited (if not linked) in the 'Cat thread that also explains what he did. Here's the link to the thread:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=89443

Us Yanks get enough grief for the cowflops we have put our feet in. We don't claim to have invented the accordian.

- George (just glad the right folks did invent the thing)


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Howard Kaplan
Date: 29 May 07 - 10:33 AM

Guest,Nick wrote this on the 27th: "Seems to me one hand has to stay more or less in place so you can pull against it to fill the bellows so the second keyboard would be small. Buttons give you more choices closer to the anchor point."

Many piano accordions have an array of left-hand buttons that is almost as tall (top to bottom) as the array of right-hand keys. Having looked at a few pictures to refresh my memory (I'm not an accordion player), I observe that some of the button arrays seem to be about 3 or 4 handspans tall, requiring the hand to move up and down to reach them all. How does this reduce left-hand movement to provide an anchor? Are the buttons arranged so that, playing in any one key and related keys, the left hand can stay mostly in place during any one tune, though it would need to find a different place for a tune in a different key?


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: CarolC
Date: 29 May 07 - 11:16 AM

My left hand actually moves around the bass side quite a lot. Sometimes I even have to make a blind jump from one button to another one, that is longer than the span of my hand. This does present challenges for keeping the bellows under control. This may be a shortcoming in my approach to using the basses... I don't know. But for me the difference between how I use the keys and how I use the basses is that on the bass side, I don't ever use my thumb, unlike the keyboard side. Using the thumb on the bass side would make control of the bellows pretty much impossible.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Greg B
Date: 29 May 07 - 12:47 PM

The Stradella system is interesting.

Once you get past the 72-bass, they 'cycle' over so that you
always have the 1, 4, and 5 chords immediately adjacent to
one another and the primaries for a minor key just three
rows of buttons apart.

Anything beyond a 72-bass instrument (and some smaller ones,
depending on the row lay-out) will use those extra buttons
to 'overlap' the coverage so that you won't normally run off
one end or the other in the middle of a tune and have to make
big excursions from end to end.

It should be noted that because the 'innards' of the Stradella bass
are mechanical (i.e., the additional rows aren't necessarily
achieved by having more reeds) the weight penalty for going
to 120-basses from, say, 72 or 96 aren't as significant as
you'd think. You do, however have to have room in the case for
those buttons, and that can mean weight.

The playing technique is to 'crawl' over the bass buttons,
always keeping one's point of reference. There's an indentation
or a jewel mounted on the bass note of the 'C' row to get you
un-lost, but you really don't want to ever get lost.

On a 120 you get two bass notes and four chord variants (major,
minor, seventh, and diminished) on each row. Smaller instruments
sometimes eliminate the diminished, (60-bass). Add these back
in and you have a 72. On a 72-or a 60, you'll run off the
'end' in some rare cases, but it's pretty rare.

Nice discussion of this at

http://www.accordion-o-rama.com/specifics.html


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: CarolC
Date: 29 May 07 - 01:27 PM

There's an indentation
or a jewel mounted on the bass note of the 'C' row to get you
un-lost, but you really don't want to ever get lost.



LOL

I have both the C and E basses indented on my 72 bass, and the C and B basses marked (jewel on C and tape on B) on my 120 bass (which, ironically, is actually quite a bit smaller than the 72 bass), and I still get lost.

The jump that gives me the biggest problems is the one going from the F chords to the B chords (or the other way around). On the 120 bass, because it's an unusually small accordion, I'm just barely able to keep fingers on the buttons for the move, but on the 72 bass, I have to make a blind jump for that chord change.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Girl Friday
Date: 29 May 07 - 08:18 PM

Thankyou Bob Bolton for the information, after the rather silly postings by Greg and GUEST.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 May 07 - 09:15 PM

A little known fact about the Stradella system is that combinations of some of those chord buttons give extra different chords - there's a web site somewhere, cant remember the link right now. You CAN work it out from musical chord principles, though...,. :-)


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: georgeward
Date: 30 May 07 - 01:18 AM

Robin,

I'm thinking this page from Hans Palm's site might be the chord combinations page you're thinking of ?

http://www.accordionpage.com/chcomb.html

Taken patiently, step by step, combining chords (or using bass nores other than the obvious ones) gives the instrument a much richer harmonic palette than one imagines it is capable of at first look.

Offend your trad mates! Play jazz chords!


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 30 May 07 - 12:15 PM

Jazz chords?   Wow! Thanks for the link!

At the week-end some-one asked whether "they" made a left-handed piano accordian...any ideas anyone?

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 May 07 - 12:48 PM

I've never seen a left-handed piano accordion, or anyone playing a piano accordion left-handed.

But I've seen several lefties play C-system chromatic accordions upside down. If you didn't mind the piano keyboard being the other way up maybe it would work.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Greg B
Date: 30 May 07 - 01:08 PM

As a silly question, Girl Friday, get a silly answer. Google
a question, maybe get thousands of better answers.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 May 07 - 07:53 PM

I actually did play my 'Hero' 8 bass PA upside down for a while when learning. I can still do it a bit, but the larger teh box, the more difficult - and you would need to swap the straps around for comfort - on a tiny box, the straps are mainly to stop anyone racing up to you and grabbing the box away from you.... :-)

I have found that 'swapping hands' when learning a physical motor skill often helps me progress much faster at that initial stage of 'motor frustration' - when you know what the hands should be doing, but it just isn't working. I have a mild degree of MMD in hnads and arms since birth, so don't know whether it is a trick that works for me, or it would assist everybody, but suspect it might... My grandad was ambidextrous, and I have found that I can be at times. I have found that I have to mentally 'mirror' what I was doing right handed, then when I go back to right hand, I mentally mirror again. Perhaps it is the focussed concentration that assists.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: Greg B
Date: 30 May 07 - 09:48 PM

I'm ambi-sinister.

Both hands work equally badly.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: concertina ceol
Date: 31 May 07 - 07:06 AM

Most players play with two straps and the right hand is anchored. So the piano keyboard stays fairly still under your chin while the left hand (and shoulder) work the bellows.

The left hand fingers are often out of sight unlike the right hand ones.

The stradella keyboard is ingenious and from the left hand edge provides counter bass, fundamental bass, major chord, and minor chord on a 48 button system. It provides much more flexibility and ease of use than a second piano keyboard on the left hand side.


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Subject: RE: Dumb Accordion Question
From: black walnut
Date: 02 Jun 07 - 12:46 PM

Thank you everyone for the smart answers to my Not-So-Dumb-After-All Question. I had no idea....wow!

Maybe I'll just add belows to my beautiful Heintzman upright!

~b.w.


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