About Free Reed Instruments - Birmingham Accordion Center (2023)

Free reed instruments produce sound by blowing air over a reed and causing it to vibrate. However, the reed must swing freely, i.e. h don't touch anything when it vibrates.

There are two types of free reed instruments:

Frameless when the instrument does not have a frame to direct the air so that it acts uniformly on the reed, e.g. B. like a Jew's harp

Framed, where the instrument has a frame that creates an air path that is directed against the reeds, making them vibrate. Examples are accordions, melodeons and concertinas.

about accordions

There are two types of accordions, piano keys and chromatic keys. All genres of music can be played on both. Each system offers advantages over the other.

(Video) Cajun melodeon @ the Birmingham accordion centre

accordion piano

About Free Reed Instruments - Birmingham Accordion Center (1)

Probably the best known and most popular type of accordion in the western world.The treble keyboard can range from 2 to 4 octaves and is arranged like a piano keyboard.Due to this familiarity, the piano accordion is considered the fastest and easiest to get started.There are many textbooks to guide you in good piano fingering, which is essential for developing good playing technique and enjoying the instrument.Piano accordions are suitable for many traditional styles of music that can be comfortably played on compact, lightweight instruments.

For playing classical repertoire, an accordion with 120 full-size basses and a 4-octave keyboard is recommended.Full-size piano accordions are physically large and quite heavy, a disadvantage of this style of accordion.

Chromatic button accordion

About Free Reed Instruments - Birmingham Accordion Center (2)

Chromatic accordions are most popular in Europe and Russia. In Russia, they are usually called "bayans".The treble keyboard consists of keys arranged in a diagonal chromatic pattern. Typically there are 5 lines, lines 4 and 5 play the same notes as lines 1 and 2 for easy fingering.There are two common systems, System B and System C, which mirror each other.Opinions differ on which is the best system. It's fair to say that there is no "best" system if you're new to button accordion. If you acquire and learn correct fingering and posture early on, the system you choose will be the best! We encourage you to try both systems to see which one is most comfortable for you.The compact design of button accordions allows for a wider range of notes on smaller instruments compared to piano accordions. Because the keys are close together, big jumps and stretches are easier than on a piano accordion. This makes button accordions particularly suited to the classical repertoire.

Piano or button accordion? Which should I choose?

This is a very personal decision and can be influenced by the type and style of music you choose to play.To help you get your bearings, here are some points to consider:

What are your musical ambitions? For example, do you want to play traditional music or is your goal to play classical repertoire?

A chromatic button accordion has a wider range than a comparably sized piano accordion. This is an important difference and very relevant when you want to play classical repertoire, where additional range is essential.

(Video) Serenellini Gold Melodeon played by Ethan | Accordion Centre Birmingham

If you plan to take lessons, does your teacher teach the type of accordion you have chosen? This is especially relevant if you want to learn how to play the accordion.

There are more materials available for piano accordion, such as textbooks, etc.

Button accordions are more expensive and rarer than piano accordions. This affects future resale potential if you want to upgrade your accordion.

Manufacturers offer a wider variety of piano accordions than button accordions. Piano accordions are more widely available these days and come in a much wider variety than button accordions.

And then there's the bass!

Played left-handed, there are 2 different systems:

bass stradella – this is the traditional and most popular bass system. It consists of 2 rows of keys that produce single notes with a range of 12 semitones, plus 4 rows of preset chord keys. All types of accompaniment can be played, as well as complex chords and melodies (though they don't always sound in tune due to the limited range of 12 semitones for each note).Regardless of the size of the accordion, the design is the same.

free bass– sometimes referred to as a “classic” bass system. It features individual notes with a range of several octaves, so you can play songs in key on bass as you would on a two-manual organ, for example.

(Video) How To Set Up And Check An Accordion

There are several different layouts that are similar to chromatic key treble keyboard systems.The piano accordions and chromatic knobs can be combined with any of the bass systems.For the best of both worlds,low converterThere are accordions available, offering both bass and stradella keyboards in one instrument. At the push of a button, the stradella bass chord buttons "convert" to the individual tones of the free bass system.

The size of an accordion is described by the number of bass buttons it has. Sizes range from as little as 8 bass to a full size accordion with 120 bass. The larger the instrument, the greater its flexibility, as the repertoire is not limited by missing notes.

The 48 bass accordion is an ideal instrument for beginners.

Bass 72 instruments are a good medium size and lightweight, but can limit your playing.

The 96-bass 'compact' accordions offer great freedom and flexibility in a relatively lightweight package.

The 120 Bass Accordions are full-sized and offer the most flexibility.

accordion intonation

Blowing air (with bellows) over reeds causes an accordion to produce its sound.Each bank or set of reeds is called a "voice".Very simple accordions have a set of reeds, i. there is a voice so that only one pick sounds when you press a key on the treble keyboard. The sound or timbre of the accordion is fixed.Higher quality accordions have more "voices", up to five in fact. This means that for every note you play, multiple picks can sound.There are three basic types of voices, described in the same way as organ pipes (in feet):

(Video) Excelsior 1320E 120 bass - accordion centre birmingham

4’ Sounds one octave higher than the played note

8’ Sounds in pitch of played note

16' Sounds an octave lower than the note played

Accordions can have more than one voice; it is common to have two or, in some cases, three 8-foot voices.The accordion sound can be changed by different combinations of picks or voices. Each tone is called a "register". Registers are changed with switches or "couplers". Similar to organ stops, these are switches that connect voices in various combinations, creating a variety of different sounds and timbres.

accordion tuning

There are two types of accordion tuning:

schoolbag– or “wet” tuning, in which 2 or more sets of reeds are tuned to each other, creating a vibrato effect. The amount of vibrato, or "wetness," is determined by the tuning of the reeds.Traditional musette tuning uses three sets of reeds, one in tune, one slightly higher and one lower. To save weight, many modern accordions use only two sets of reeds, tuned slightly apart.

(Video) Playing a Serenellini 415 Piano Accordion @ The Accordion Centre Birmingham

double octave also called "even tuning", uses the use of 4' and 16' reeds to give a span of two octaves, hence "double octave". The 8' (harmonic tone) reeds are also built-in in the voice direction.Double octave accordions sound "drier" than their musette counterparts, their tone is similar to that of a bandoneon.

To muffle the sound of the reeds and give them a warm "blowing" feel, they can be incorporated into aKassottotone chamber.Kassottorefers to a set of reeds placed in the chamber,Doppel Cassotto, two sets of rods.

8' (in key) and 16' (down octave) are reed banks, which are usually arranged "en cassotto".


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