Accordion Accordeon Accordian

Accordion Accordeon Accordian

Which system of Accordeon is best for our music B/C C#D DD# D/G C/F B/C/C#

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B/C C#D DD# B/C/C#

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A well played one.

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Wise guy!

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What system is most often heard being played by good players in Ireland?

Or are two (or more) systems heard being played by equal numbers of good players in Ireland?

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B/C and C#/D are the the most common.

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And what is the commonest spelling? I call mine an accordion, never an accordian. But when it takes me over to France, it becomes an accordéon!

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My dictionary says English accordion is an adaptation of German akkordion, coined in 1839.

The -ion ending is in line with clarion. Yes it’s often misspelt.

What’s interesting (to me anyhow) is that the basis for "accord" is Latin ad cordis "to heart".

A more logical name (to me) for the instrument would be symphony (Greek "sound together") which has long been used for instruments like bagpipes and panpipes which play multiple notes together (tsampouna, chimponi, sampogna, zampona, etc.)

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The B/C seems to be much more popular than C#/D (don’t confuse popular with better) and you will find a lot more B/C among younger players, perhaps 4 to 1 (if I had to guess), however when it comes to the top players, I think that ratio is probably much more even, so that in itself probably tells it’s own story especially since the B/C has been the most popular system for over 40 or 50 years.

I have never heard of anyone converting from C#/D to B/C, there have been quite a few the other way round.

C/C# is equivalent to saying B/C and D/D# to C#/D it’s the fingering that determines what system you’re really playing, and even if someone like Danny O’Mahony plays a D/D# box, it’s B/C playing (and what a player he is too)

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Anyone can pick up any half step box (two rows a semitone apart) and play it how they normally play it, whatever system they are used to! The music will come out fine, the only difference is whether the notes that come out are in the key they expect!

D/D# is not just a transposing box, I’ve met a fine player of that system at pitch in Co. Cork and played that tuning a while myself. It works extremely well if you use the right shapes. (OK it’s actually D/Eb)

I’m surprised to hear Theirlandais’ 4 to 1 ratio - I’d thought B/C was the older players’ favourite and more younger players played C#/D.

C#/D is a lot more intuitive when you’re starting out.

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I understand the reason for the name accordion was that the layout of different notes on the press and draw of the bellows meant that you’d mainly get agreeable chords when you press multiple buttons - accord - agreement.

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D# is the note between D and E
D# = Eb

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D# and Eb are not the same thing, just as a cat can be a thing that miaows or a thing that sails on the ocean.

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Calum could you demonstrate.

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Arguably D# does not exist as a scale because the notes are D#, F, Gnat, G#, A#, C and Dnat, so you have two Ds and two Gs, which ain’t proper.

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Please don’t derail this accordion discussion with an unrelated D# vs. Eb discussion.

Plenty of other threads here or just Google if you want to know the answer.

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Then how come there are D/D# Accordions, what scale is the inside row of same.

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Eb.
But as Michael said, this is about accordion layouts.

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Why is it not called D/Eb

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I think because it is meant to convey a row that has accidentals for the D row. So, a D row and a half step up.

But then it should be Des/D as well..

Anyway I call it a button box to avoid the whole suffix issue.

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Or E with a half step down.

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Stiamh of this place has a load of knowledge and understanding of the different accordion systems. Hopefully he’ll chuck €0.005 in soon.

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You use your D# if playing (perhaps rarely) in the keys of E or B major: there are no flats in either of these keys! You can call it E flat - if you want - if you are playing in a "flat key"! (And there are such things as Eb/Bb boxes in the 4th apart system).
BUT the chap who produces our music scores tends to write what should be D#s as Ebs (and A#s and Bbs) as he says it is easier for him playing his concertina with the layout of the rows…. does my head in!
I play B/C, but from my limited knowledge of the C#/D box, I have heard that it is easier to play more left hand on the latter in standard set-up - but there again you can have chords and basses changed to suit your preference, and it may also depend how many you have. (I only have the basic 8 buttons for left hand.)

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Arguably D# does not exist as a scale because the notes are D#, F, Gnat, G#, A#, C and Dnat, so you have two Ds and two Gs, which ain’t proper.

It’s D#, E#, Fx, G#, A#, B#, Cx, D# (x=double sharp). Perfectly proper, if mostly academic, unless you’re Chopin. Just because it’s enharmonic doesn’t mean it’s the same thing.

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No I know that: it’s all about temperaments. I believe. But I wasn’t talking about a D# scale, only about keys in which a D# is used. (But maybe your remark was directed at someone else?)

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"I’m surprised to hear Theirlandais’ 4 to 1 ratio - I’d thought B/C was the older players’ favourite and more younger players played C#/D."

I don’t have the facts on this one, but if you take all those young, up and coming players in the north (Tyrone, Derry etc ) all those around Tipperary, North Kerry, Clare? etc.. it seems B/C dominant, however I think the more you go west in Ireland, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Mayo and what I would say is deeper into the culture the higher chance of it being C#/D, at the end of the day I guess it depends on who is teaching and the players that have gone before, but nowadays there are probably more young people playing C#/D than there used to be, I’ve seen some excellent young C#/D players on facebook, the level of playing with some of these young players is high.

Again no real facts here, just my observation.

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Total ignorance here, when you say C#/D does that mean the row closest to your hand plays a D Major scale? So if a tune is in D Major with no accidentals you would play the entire tune on that row?

And you reach towards the bellows to reach the row that’s a half-step off of the D Major row for notes outside the D Major scale?

It has a logic to it, like the piano having the row closest to your hands playing a C Major scale and you have to reach for the notes a half-step off.

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On a C#D the D row is closer to the bellows.

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@Tom B-R I’ve nothing to add, just enjoying the conversation as it wafts idly by. The more I learn about boxes and box playing and box players the more I realise how much I don’t know (at all)*2 🙂

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Richard it’s a ‘yes’ to all of your questions.

However on these semitone boxes there are always two notes that appear on both rows in opposite directions. On a B/C that’s B and E, C# and F# for a C#/D. These reversals are handy for smoothing out passages with an awkward sequence of push/pulls and also to get the bellows moving in the right direction for certain left-hand chords. So a C#/D player might play across the rows to some extent even in D maj.

In very broad terms it’s easier to play in two sharps on a C#/D than it is on a B/C. B/C has the slight edge in one sharp over the C#/D as the latter will have lost one of its reversals. To a greater extent three sharps favours C#/D, no sharps favours B/C.

Then on top of that of course is the question of whether you want to emulate Joe Burke or Jackie Daly 😉

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»However on these semitone boxes there are always two notes that appear on both rows«

Here’s the scientific explanation, which came to me in a dream. (Well not quite but it makes a better story.) Putting the two rows a semitone apart is the best way of ensuring that you have all the notes of the chromatic scale (all white and black notes on the piano), because the scales of B and C, C# and D etc. are about as unrelated as you can get. This is very different from "fourth-apart systems" - D/G, or G/C - where the two scales are are so closely related you need only alter one note in one scale to get the other.

Now, there are 7 notes in a diatonic scale, so there are 7 different notes available on any one row of a diatonic system (repeating through the octaves, of course). So on a 2 row you have 14 different notes. But since there are only 12 notes in the chromatic scale, no matter how unrelated you make the two diatonic scales, you are always going to have at least 2 duplicates. 🙂

The fact that they are in the opposite direction on semitone boxes is a God-given bonus!

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I like "Bosca Ceol" : )

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>Why is it not called D/Eb?

Accordions are reed organs. Most free reed instruments were invented during the early 1800s, especially the 1820s. Reed organs follow on from pipe organs; reed organs are small wind instruments with bellows. The main differences are: reeds are quieter than pipes because they move less air; reeds operate at a wide range of wind pressures, therefore reed organs may be played expressively with dynamics, a feature not available with pipe organs because pipes must speak on an exact continuous wind pressure.

Therefore, reed organs use pipe organ terminology, which - for the processes of making and tuning pipes and reeds - starts at the lowest letter and adds a sharp on the way up the chromatic scale: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A#. The quick answer is what I was told by the former head voicer and tuner at the Estey Organ Company (who learned his trade in the Netherlands): "Flats are too depressing."

When a person uses both sharps and flats (A Bb B C C# D Eb E F F# G G#/Ab), it is evident that they are piano oriented, not pipe or reed organ oriented.

This is why accordion terminology uses sharps, not flats.

Best wishes,
vlnplyr
AKA:

Ned Phoenix
Phoenix Reed Organ Resurrection
593 Phoenix Way
Townshend, VT 05353

Reed organs restored, for sale since 1970

ned_phoenix@yahoo.com
802-365-7011  always leave a message

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B/C has more pulling than pushing

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Kenny they have the same amount
Pull D F A B
Push E G C B

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well technically speaking you need to add an E
Pull D F A B E
Push E G C B
but you can’t just look at the notes and start counting the notes on the push and pull, you need to look at the tunes and I would agree that the B/C has more pulling, certainly more than C#/D mainly because a lot of the tunes are in D.
Try playing a tune in AMaj on the B/C, you’ll know all about

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Try playing a tune in C on a B/C and you’ll see what I mean.

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Or B for that matter.

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C on a B/C box? What could be easier. Or Dm or G mix , maybe F or Am. Just pretend its a 1 row melodeon and ignore all the other buttons.

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Just to play devil’s advocate, returning to the original question (which system is best for our music?) and maybe echoing Calum’s "a well played one":
Although it’s not really used in Ireland, there’s no reason why a D/G box can’t do the job perfectly well, especially with a couple of well placed accidentals (mainly Fs and G#s). Tim Edey demonstrates what can be done in several Youtube videos, such as this one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR-UMmR8Cf0

or here, where he plays a C#/D/G but doesn’t really use the C# row:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGBxivecXMQ

Of course Tim also plays B/C but he appreciates the advantages of both systems.

Two great things about a D/G - 1: you have so many of the notes in both directions. Playing, say, in E dorian, you get the whole scale except the D on the pull. should you want it. And
2: play mainly along the row and the left hand basses and chords fit the tune better than on any semitone system.

Not suggesting D/G is the "best" system but it’s rarity in Ireland isn’t because it can’t play the music.

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Foxhunters Reel in A , cracking stuff. Of course Tim is a bit of a ‘local hero’ in our wee corner of England, but probably not enough to persuade the wider Irish trad community that D/G is a viable option, but its what I’ve played for about 40 years and I’m too old to change now!

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Tim is a fantastic box player, a great musician.

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When I think about B/C players Paddy OBrien Tipperary is the first one to mind, also Joe Burke Daithi Gormley and of course Lar Gavin.

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As an aside to this, I have been watching Tim Edey’s Sleeping Tunes every Saturday night, from his home on his Facebook page via Facebook Live. Of course, he plays a lot of tunes on guitar, but of late has been doing more box playing (risking the wrath of his neighbours!) When he first started these broadcasts, he was just doing an hour or so, but then carried on longer and later each week. He now starts at 9pm and does several hours. But if you can’t stay up late, I think the footage is still available afterwards. Worth checking out.

Re tunes in A on a B/C box: "Dancing the Baby" can be played entirely on the pull, that is, until you run out of air, when you might have to throw in the occasional push E or B!

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"Try playing a tune in C on a B/C and you’ll see what I mean." "Or B for that matter."

wow, why not move the goal posts, and search for the suitable question that will make your answer correct.

btw we’re talking about Irish Music, I’d be surprised if the number of C or B tunes gets over 3% or 4%.

In Cmaj there’s certainly more on the push when you play, even if the button count is in favour of the pull.

by the way, you have proved Kenny correct "B/C has more pulling than pushing" whether you realise it or not.

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Follow-up to my post about Tim Edey and his Saturday night "Sleeping Tunes" - he is on right now, and just on fire tonight! Go to his Facebook page right now! He is now down in Kent at his father’s house, so not having to worry about waking his neighbours. some fabulous box playing!

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This is a very serendipitous thread. I cannot think of another previous discussion (on this forum) which has put trad button box playing to this level of attention. All thanks to gooseinthenettles’ original post!

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