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Why do accordions have a counter bass?

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GUEST,Martin S 25 Apr 01 - 10:55 AM
English Jon 25 Apr 01 - 10:57 AM
Skipjack K8 25 Apr 01 - 11:22 AM
CarolC 25 Apr 01 - 08:56 PM
GUEST,Sam Pirt 26 Apr 01 - 06:01 AM
English Jon 26 Apr 01 - 06:13 AM
GUEST,Sam Pirt 26 Apr 01 - 12:11 PM
Martin S 26 Apr 01 - 12:29 PM
catspaw49 26 Apr 01 - 01:10 PM
Skipjack K8 26 Apr 01 - 01:27 PM
CarolC 26 Apr 01 - 03:22 PM
Liz the Squeak 26 Apr 01 - 03:56 PM
Martin S 01 May 01 - 08:15 AM
Martin S 01 May 01 - 08:15 AM
English Jon 01 May 01 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Pat 03 Mar 10 - 07:16 AM
CarolC 03 Mar 10 - 07:19 AM
GUEST,Pat 03 Mar 10 - 06:44 PM
Ex-Pat-Lancy 15 Mar 10 - 06:31 PM
Jack Campin 15 Mar 10 - 07:44 PM
GUEST,Steve Svenvold 14 Sep 11 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,Jimmy Mohan 05 Dec 11 - 03:07 PM
Peter the Squeezer 06 Dec 11 - 03:12 PM
Peter the Squeezer 06 Dec 11 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,Prof Funk 29 Jun 12 - 10:43 PM
PHJim 30 Jun 12 - 05:30 PM
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Subject: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Martin S
Date: 25 Apr 01 - 10:55 AM

Just inherited a 120 button piano accordion. What is the purpose of the counter bass? I could understand it if the counter bass to any given button was a fifth apart but why has it evolved the way it has? I'm teaching myself with the aid of some books and a fair understanding of guitar harmony. Doing alright as I've only had it for a week, but the counter bass seems superfluous. Any suggestions as to a use that doesn't involve contortionism of any description?

Cheers Martin


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: English Jon
Date: 25 Apr 01 - 10:57 AM

It's so you can play first inversions easily.


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 25 Apr 01 - 11:22 AM

It's easy for accordion players to become inverted. 120 basses are so fecking heavy.

It's a boom-tish thing, the bass being the boom, counterbass tish. Just to make that painfully obvious, in G, it's G bass, G major chord, G counterbass, G major chord.

Sounds OK fast, even though the slow speed of learning makes it sound a bit mechanistic. It's used to its best effect by only using sparingly, chucking on D bass instead of the G counterbass in the example above. Also, sustaining the counterbass through a couple of beats leading into a key change can sound neat.

Could go on ad nauseum, but will close by advising that I found it quicker in the long run to learn bass playing at the same time as treble playing, concurrently.

You need to speak to CarolC on any accordion related subject. She is the greatest ambassador on the 'Cat for this wonderful instrument, and a good friend to make. Hit 'accordion' into the search box thing; you will find her there.

Good luck

Skipjack


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: CarolC
Date: 25 Apr 01 - 08:56 PM

Hey Skipjack!!!!! It's GREAT to see you here!!!

Don't believe Skipjack, Martin S. He's a liar. He's the best person around here to talk to about accordions (along with Sam Pirt). Most of what I know about accordions, I learned from Skipjack K8.

Good luck with it!

Carol


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Sam Pirt
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 06:01 AM

Hey Skipjack & CarolC!! fancy seeing you around here.

The counter bass, as well as being good for up-Paa bass lines makes scales etc.. all possible and extends what you can do on the accordion bass ten fold or more!!

Cheers, Sam


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: English Jon
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 06:13 AM

True, but the poor sod's only just got it! Scales on the bass buttons after a week? Martin, I can't play accordion at all, but my old flatmate was rather good. This is how he did it.

(C,D,C counterbass,F,G,F counterbass,G counterbass C)

And the pattern is the same on a 120 Bass for whatever key you start in. Thank you mr Stradella.

Obviously your knackered for minor scales though.

Cheeeeeeeeers

jon


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Sam Pirt
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 12:11 PM

English Jon - Minor scales are easily negosiated if you just use the main bass note button above the button of the key you are playing Eg

E bass note - E minor Chord - B bass note (above the E)

By repeating this you can accompany most minor tunes, but unfortuatly this tecqunic does not really use the counter bass, but is useful to know.

I hope you can make sence of this as it is quite hard to describe.

Cheers, Sam


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: Martin S
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 12:29 PM

What could be simpler!!!! Whereas all the other buttons have a "user friendly" function, it feels strange having the counter bass a third from the bass note. (The counterbass for C being E etc. Is it normal to to play Bass C, Chord C Counterbass E Chord C as a regular pattern? I do appreciate everybodies help here incidentally, you are all a great help (although a little modest if I may say so!)


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 01:10 PM

I prefer my bass out of the display cooler where it's on ice. Bass on the counter tend to get warm and begin to smell bad real quickly.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 01:27 PM

Martin, lest you are being confused, the button that plays the note E on the counterbass line is known as C counterbass.

Therefore, yes, the pattern is as you descibe, with all three buttons in a line across the bass section.

BTW don't do as this fool did, and cripple your bass hand for years. You have five fingers on your left hand (I hope) Thumb No1, little finger No.5. Use No.4 for the counterbass and bass, No.3 for the major chords, and leave No.2 free for minors, major 7ths, and that outside row that only Sam plays.

Took me years to unlearn No.2 on the majors. PM me if you need any more, rather than getting Spaw all worked up about fish. At least that's safer than flatulence, Cletus!

Skipjack


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: CarolC
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 03:22 PM

No! Don't PM! Some others of us are learning here, too! This is a great thread. Keep it up! We'll deal with Spaw later...

(Well tie him up and put him in the beginner's practice room at convention for polka playing accordionists... )


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 26 Apr 01 - 03:56 PM

Because not even bass players will team up with accordionists.....

LTS *BG*

Good to see you Skip.. how's yer bits doing?


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: Martin S
Date: 01 May 01 - 08:15 AM

Just to say, I'm making good progress on the buttons thing. The co-ordinations coming along and I am even able to drop in the odd Counter Bass as a link note to another chord. Many thanks to all for the advice.

Thanks Martin


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: Martin S
Date: 01 May 01 - 08:15 AM

Just to say, I'm making good progress on the buttons thing. The co-ordinations coming along and I am even able to drop in the odd Counter Bass as a link note to another chord. Many thanks to all for the advice.

Thanks Martin


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Subject: RE: Why do accordians have a counter bass?
From: English Jon
Date: 01 May 01 - 08:40 AM

I don't follow you Sam? Idiot Loomes is confused.

What you seem to be suggesting is a recipe for 2nd inversion chords, which would work in major or minor. Don't get it?

To make minor scale on Bass buttons, (say Am for sake of easy notation:)

A,G counterbass,C,D,C Counterbass,F,G,A

and:

A,G counterbass,C,D,C counterbass,D counterbass,E Counterbass,A

would this work as a transposing pattern?

English Jon


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Pat
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 07:16 AM

When playing a scale on the left hand, c,d,(e) counterbass of c

f,g,(a) counterbass of f, a,b (counterbass of g) c

       fingering: 3 2 3 4 2 4 2 3

       3C covers 3E      2D       2F covers 4A   2G covers 2B

                            3C

This fingering for scales makes it faster and is pattern fingering.


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: CarolC
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 07:19 AM

What does this part mean?

3C covers 3E      2D       2F covers 4A   2G covers 2B

                            3C


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Pat
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 06:44 PM

It means that the 3rd finger covers C and E, the 4th finger covers F and A, the 2nd finger covers G and B. You are playing a scale on the bass row and counterbass row.

Scales can be played on the counterbass row only; they can be played on the bass row.


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: Ex-Pat-Lancy
Date: 15 Mar 10 - 06:31 PM

I've noticed that Scots accordion players like Shand, MacLeod, Johnstone and co are/were forever whizzing along the counter-bass row and hardly ever playing the oompah type of bass. I can't seem to see this much counter-bass action on Scots printed music, reels, jigs etc, so can we assume they were improvising their own basses as well as doing a 'virtuoso-job' on the treble? Any Scottish Dance Band guys around to explain what they're up to????


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Mar 10 - 07:44 PM

I have heard David Vernon playing "The Mason's Apron" full-speed on the bass buttons (of a normal Stradella- system accordion) - impressive trick.


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Steve Svenvold
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 06:44 PM

In my experience, the counterbass row is crucial for doing little bass runs up and down when transitioning from, say, G to C or vice-versa. Also, if you happen to know "Sharpshooter's March" you will definitely need to have a counterbass row to do that song's signature bass lead part.


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Jimmy Mohan
Date: 05 Dec 11 - 03:07 PM

The purpose of the Counter Bass is so you do not have to jump say from C major to E major on the Bass row. The counter Bass row is the same as the major Bass except that it is in thirds. For instance the E button is in front of the C Button. As you can see it is a lot easier to just reach over and play the E than have to jump over G,D and A to play E. I hope that helps.


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: Peter the Squeezer
Date: 06 Dec 11 - 03:12 PM

The counterbass row is extremely useful for putting in bits of tunes in the bass.

I use it in Flanders & Swann's "Hippoptamus". (... Dum Dum Dum Diddle Um Dum ...)


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: Peter the Squeezer
Date: 06 Dec 11 - 03:15 PM

Also in Tom Lehrer's "Masochism Tango".


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: GUEST,Prof Funk
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 10:43 PM

If the counter bass to any given button was a fifth like you said you could understand in your original question, you'd actually be wasting a button because you already have the fifth right next to the fundemental in the next column :) As stated, the counter bass being a major third makes bass runs and scales a lot easier.

Also, consider, for example, the chord sequence of |G D | Em / |. A nice way to connect these might be to use an F# as the bass note for the D chord so you'll produce a cool descending bass line with the chords - the bass line would be G, F# (counter bass of the D chord), E - without having to go out of position to get the F#.

Another cool use of the counter bass is with an instrument that plays diminished triads on the 7th chord row, like older accordions. I've an 80 bass which has no dedicated diminished chord row. The 7th chord mechanism has been converted to lose a note and leave the three that produce a diminished triad. For example, a C7 chord has the notes C, E, G and Bb. Remove the C and you are left with an E diminished triad. So now you can play the chord with the fundemental C to produce a really sweet C7 sound, or you can play the same chord with the counter bass of C (E) to give an E diminished sound.

I suppose the quick answer to why do accordions have a counter bass is because it's really useful :)


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Subject: RE: Why do accordions have a counter bass?
From: PHJim
Date: 30 Jun 12 - 05:30 PM

The alternating bass is usually done with the button directly above the root button, which would be the fifth. I find the "third" row useful for bass runs. Going from a C chord to an F chord with a C,D,E,F run without the row of "thirds" would require some long reaches. The extra row compresses the notes and puts everything in reach.


Left hand diagram of 120 bass accordion


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