My Accordion Page
Okay, time to come out of the closet. I'm an accordion player. And I have been for well over 50 years. It was the first instrument that my parents invested in for me. Plus lessons. For hard working immigrants, I'm sure it was a tight squeeze to get the bucks together. Sorry I didn't show more appreciation at the time.
After a very long hiatus, I've been playing a fair bit lately. And, yes, it's fun. And, yes, I'm getting back most of my skills from “the old days”.
And, here's a nice pic (and story) about my best squeeze.
One big problem with accordion, especially when playing jazz and Latin, is that the chord buttons of left hand side are rather limiting. For one thing, the chord types are limited to major, minor, seventh and diminished. And, further, each chord has only three sounding notes (seventh and diminished drop the fifth).
And, since there really aren't problems in this world; just opportunities for solutions! The limited chord set gives the player the choice to add the missing notes with the creative use of the single bass buttons, adding treble notes, and even the pressing of multiple chord buttons at the same time. Really, it's just a matter of how flexible (and big) your hands are.
To help in figuring out some of the choices (opportunities!), I've written a short program which figures out what chords you might want to use in place of the esoteric symbol on a lead sheet.
For example, you might see that you need a “Cm7b9” (this is a C minor chord with an added 7th and a flat 9th). Well, it's not there. With this utility you can discover that you can “fake” the chord with a number of choices. The program starts off by reporting what the notes are in the chord:
- Chord 'Cm7b9' notes are: C Db Bb Eb G
- Button C-m has: C Eb G; missing Db Bb
- Button Bb-d has: Db Bb G; missing C Eb
- Button Eb-M has: Bb Eb G; missing C Db
- Button Eb-7 has: Db Eb G; missing C Bb
And if it's choice you are after, remember that the program only shows buttons as a natural (C, D, G, etc) or flat (Eb, Gb, etc). You also have all the sharp alternatives (as the saying goes, this is an exercise for the reader).
The program has over 150 different built in chords, so you should be good to go with even more bizarre charts.
This program is written in Python (so you will need a version installed on your computer). It runs in a terminal, so you'll need to be able to figure out how to do that on your own. And if you want to create a cool GUI for this, please send it to me. I'll even host it here or link to it!
|Download (14K): alt-chords.py|
|SHA1 checksum: 766c204a5648c7fa023ceb614cb922af7cd660dd|
Here are some interesting links to other accordion resources, etc.
First off, some amazing players:
- This fellow manages to squeeze it all out of the accordion: Nick Ariondo
- Ksenija Sidorova is absolutely amazing! Love the smile Bizet Carmen
- Alicia Baker playing a Roland V accordion (I'd love to give one of these a test drive) French Melody
- Art Van Damme (sadly no longer with us) was one of the few jazz accordionists. Even had his own quintet. All The Things You Are
Next, some resource pages:
- There is lots of stuff at Accordions Worldwide
- Ike's page with links and advise. http://accordiondoc.home.mindspring.com/
- There is a Reddit forum at /r/Accordion
- I had some problems with a sticky key on the right hand side of my accordion. So, I fixed it using this as a guide: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-fix-an-accordion-keyboard/. I will add one tool to the suggestions: bend a heavy paper clip into a right angle hook to use to align the brass keyholder at the top side while you are attempting to reinsert the long holder rod on the bottom.
- Some more useful repair suggestions are to be found at Accordion Revival.
More to come. Got one for me? Send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.