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Accordion: How to play the bass side

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The Unicorn Man 27 Apr 04 - 08:02 AM
Skipjack K8 27 Apr 04 - 08:36 AM
The Unicorn Man 27 Apr 04 - 03:34 PM
Peter T. 27 Apr 04 - 04:03 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Apr 04 - 02:27 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 28 Apr 04 - 06:28 AM
Peter T. 28 Apr 04 - 03:09 PM
Zany Mouse 28 Apr 04 - 03:48 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Apr 04 - 08:33 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Apr 04 - 08:44 PM
Peter T. 29 Apr 04 - 08:20 AM
The Unicorn Man 29 Apr 04 - 08:39 AM
HiHo_Silver 29 Apr 04 - 07:49 PM
HiHo_Silver 29 Apr 04 - 08:02 PM
The Fooles Troupe 29 Apr 04 - 10:13 PM
The Unicorn Man 30 Apr 04 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,john cumbernauld 24 Dec 10 - 10:08 AM
Acorn4 24 Dec 10 - 11:34 AM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Dec 10 - 08:11 PM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Mar 11 - 11:31 PM
GUEST,grumpy 21 Mar 11 - 07:43 PM
Tootler 22 Mar 11 - 06:46 PM
GUEST 17 Oct 13 - 02:34 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Oct 13 - 04:30 AM
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Subject: RE: Tech: Accordion Harness
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 27 Apr 04 - 08:02 AM

Hello while we are on the subject of piano accordions, can you please advise me on how to work the botton side of things. I know the set up, but I bought a video about it and the man said press two buttons down at a time and hold them there, and then change to the next chord and keep them pressed in, but when I watch people who can play their fingers are up and down in and out on and off. Does anyone know what I mean, and have you any idea how I can improve? Before I ring up for some lessons. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Accordion Harness
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 27 Apr 04 - 08:36 AM

It is a massive subject Martin, but my advice would be to try and figure out simple basses for yourself, and build on that, and then go for lessons when you have unlocked some of the mystery for yourself. You will probably end up learning more quickly that way.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Accordion Harness
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 27 Apr 04 - 03:34 PM

Cheers Skipjackk8. Hope to see you soon you never know. I read what you write offen enough.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Accordion Harness
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Apr 04 - 04:03 PM

Hi Martin, I am not sure what you (or whoever said this) means -- anything I know about it, one's left hand fingers are bouncing around -- in fact, bouncing around is practically a necessity, unless you want to sound really, really dreary, or you are deliberately droning. I don't think it is good advice just to figure out the basses. You need to get clear about which fingers you use for the 4th, 3rd, or 2nd fingers for the various notes --- some people advise one thing, some advise another (it may be British or American differences). Also, how you do scales on the bass notes (again there are different versions). I think you would be best advised to have at least one lesson or get a book!!! (There are lots -- the Palmer-Hughes books are widely available, the music is a bit dated, but we are talking the accordion here). Getting your fingers configured properly for the basses is absolutely basic: you need someone to show you how it works, how the hand/arm slide up and down, etc. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of time.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Apr 04 - 02:27 AM

Martin from Barton, I would really like to know who the teacher is and what the Video is called.

It is said "Those who can, do: those who can't, teach".

Some people can perform physical tasks well but lack the ability to put clearly into words what they do & why, so that others who cannot watch them will have difficulty trying to learn from them. Others can put into words, in varying degrees, useful descriptions of physical actions that can be followed on paper.

I have tried to assist - see Technique: Piano Accordion for The Recycled Muso
-------------------------------------------------------
The basic Accordion Stradella Bass Technique as usually taught goes something like this. More complex variations on these rhythms are used, but this is the beginning.

There are two basic rhythms, the 3/4 or 'Waltz', and the 4/4 or 'March'. Most other rhythms are a variation on these two basic types.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
First Part.

Positioning Fingers.

First find the "home button". This is the C Bass Button. It will be indented, or marked with a bump, or even an inset diamonte (a little sparkly thing!). Other buttons may be marked, but you want the one that is almost in the middle, and that sounds the same as a C on the keyboard.

The C Bass is in the nearby Diagonal row. The next diagonal row vertically is the G row. We will use only the C & G rows as a demonstration, but the technique applies all over the Stradella section.

This demonstrates one fairly common method of fingering.

Place your Ring finger (R) on the C Bass, and your Middle finger on the C chord buttons. Check by sound that you have the right ones, but apart from that, do not push them down as yet, but wait to push them down in the following sequence. You also place your Index finger over the G Bass button, in preparation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The 3/4 is a sequence of Bass, Chord, Chord: played in the following Manner.

R, M, M.

Some players use the M, I sequence on the Bass & Chord Buttons instead, but as you will see, that is very restrictive, and the next excercise will be almost impossible, or involve lots of shuttling fingers about - alright maybe for advanced players, but even more confusing for a beginner.

Once you are comfortable with that, try,

R, M, M. I, M, M. R, M, M. I, M, M.

This gives you an alternating I & V Bass with the Chord.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The 4/4 is a similar sequence of either Bass, Chord, Chord, Chord: or Bass, Chord, Bass, Chord, and you can use the alternating Bass if you want. You should be able to work out those patterns for yourself.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Second Part.

Now real music isn't always in the one key in every bar. It 'modulates' between related keys, and while many songs have the following simple structure, many songs have different patterns.

Some songs are in the '3 chord' mould. This structure uses the I, IV, V related chords system. Actually, it uses the V7, which is in another row, the other side of the minor chord, but you can usually get by on simple tunes (like many 'Folk Tunes'), especially while you are learning, with just the V chord. Also, on smaller instruments, the 'seventh chord' row may not be there at all. A more advanced development of this is the 'related minor' chord substitution for some of these chords, but leave that for the moment, you have to start with the basics.

To get used to this, firstly ignore the Bass buttons and just concentrate on the Chord Buttons.


Positioning Fingers.

Start with your Middle Finger on the 'Home Button' related Chord Button (C). Your Index finger now falls on the V (G) related chord button, and your Ring finger on the related IV (F) chord button. This is the secret behind the elegant design of the Stradella System, which was invented before 1920, which when the keyboard was attached by Petro Diero.

Now all you need to do is practice the various 'I, IV, V' patterns that are the heart of many simple songs. Forget about the basses for the moment, I play a lot of stuff that uses only this style. And you won't sound like an "Om Pah Pah" Polka player either!

The real heart of the instrument is the Bellows, and using just those three fingers, you can practice working on the bellows to get the right sort of rhythms, and play many songs. This technique works well for just the 'drone' of the chord, but if you add 'bellows shake' technique, many uneducated (i.e. non-Accordion-player) listeners will not realise that you are not actually using the Bass Buttons at all!

'Cotton Fields', 'Me & Bobby Magee', & 'Willy & The Poorboys (Down On The Corner)' are a few simple tunes I use this technique for. If you access the Paltalk Mudcat Acoustic Sessions, you may get the chance to hear me: I will demonstrate these techniques if asked. Look for the regular thread on that topic that Open Mike posts.

If you are from a Piano background, it will take some time to get used to this, as now instead of just progressing up the keyboard (I, IV, V), you are taking 'downsteps' as well as 'upsteps'. When you get comfortable with the feel of the 'I, IV, V' progression, you can start to add the Bass Buttons, using the basic techniques of finger placement mentioned in the first part above.

Related Techniques.

a) You can use the Bass Buttons instead of the Chord Buttons to do the same, but it will depend on your instrument and the Reed Banks and Register switches that you have, as to whether the sound is something you find acceptable - on some of my instruments I am not happy with the resultant sound, or it may only suit a very few tunes.

b) You can also use two fingers to press both the Bass and Chord Buttons for each chord, moving your fingers between the relevant buttons. (This sounds like what you mentioned, but I would really like to know who the teacher is and what the Video is called). It can be a clumsy heavy footed sound. I use it occassionally, but again, it depends on the instrument as to how useful it is. It is a useful training exercise, especially to graduate from the 'Chord Buttons Only' style.

c) If you press both the I & V Bass Buttons, you get what Rock Guitarists call a 'Power Chord'. This has no third, so fits both major & minor scales, but sounds empty, as the third (III) is missing. You can find the III for both major & minor chords on the Bass Buttons Sections, but some of them are a stretch, and it is definitely NOT something I would recommend for beginners. In C you get the C & G notes. If you press the I & IV Bass Buttons, you get an IV chord - F & C notes. Depending on the instrument, this may actually sound with the C lower than the F, giving an 'inverted' chord. If you press both the IV & V Bass buttons, you get G & F (natural), which is a V7 'Power Chord' - this may also be 'inverted'. Most Piano Accordions built after the very early days leave out the III of the V7 chord anyway (so it is usable for both major & minor), this was intended to allow useful combination of various chord butons to obtain more advanced chords - this is discussed elsewhere.

You can assemble chords in this fashion, but with a Stradella Bass, it can get very difficult. If that's really what you think you want to do, you should get a 'Free Bass' accordion, as it has a seperate Chromatic Bass section in which the notes are arranged seqentially from lowest to highest, and is designed for this style of playing.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 28 Apr 04 - 06:28 AM

Listen to a simple recording (anything but Lady of Spain)

Foolstroupe gives excelent advice:

You should hear the:
Caaa, Cunk, Cunk,
Caaa, Cunk, Cunk,
Gaaa, Gunk, Gunk
Gaaa, Gunk, Gunk
Faaa, Funk, Funk
Faaa, Funk, Funk
Caaa, Cunk, Cunk Cunk

Clean and clear in the 3/4 time of the rhythem. Fingers are usually fully released until you develop a style for a particular piece. Folk most anything folk....the are arranged in an easy convenient pattern for progressions.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 Apr 04 - 03:09 PM

Question: is it right to give advice about using your middle finger the way Foolestroupe says in the Second Part -- I was told firmly to move my whole hand up and down the rows of buttons (so you wouldn't put your middle finger on the C button, unless I guess you were doing some scale patterns), that is, to consistently keep the shape of your hand in the ring finger, etc. pattern Foolestroup discusses in the First Part.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: Zany Mouse
Date: 28 Apr 04 - 03:48 PM

No matter how hard I tried (including with video instruction) I could never work out the bass keys. I took lessons with Angie Lukins in Uxbridge and after the first lesson things improved dramatically. Take lessons, Martin.

Rhiannon


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Apr 04 - 08:33 PM

Peter,

Life is only simple for the simple minded! :-)

Seriously, if you have very narrow minded fixed ideas, you will be prevented from seeing the world in shades of grey, but only see it in black & white.

Have you seen the person who gave you this firm instruction actually play for any length of time, and play a wide variety of styles of using the Bass Buttons? If not, my advice would be to take that advice with a grain of salt.

You DO move your hand around on the buttons, depending on what buttons you are using - the hand follows where the fingers go! But it is the fingers (and primarily the buttons they need to push at that particular moment!) that control where you place your hand, unless you are the original "Indiarubber man"!

"consistently keep the shape of your hand in the ring finger, etc. pattern Foolestroup discusses in the First Part." Well, only if you are consistently using that pattern of button presses... If you are doing other patterns, different 'Rules' apply. In Classical Piano Playing, for example, 'Thumb Crossing' is frowned on for the very beginner, until you start to learn scales, when suddenly more Magic Rules appear, such as you can do it, but never put your thumb on a black note - until you reach the scales with lots of black notes... I couldn't play 'Down On The Corner' in the key I do, without putting my thumb on a black note! I only have so many fingers... :-)

The Button Pattern for the intro to 'Smoke on the water' involves using the one finger on more than one button, and shuffling the fingers around as necessary - the music decides what buttons you push (and anatomy decides what fingers you use), not some simpple Magic Theory. (I haven't given that pattern, since you already seem confused enough.)

If however, you ONLY play Polkas, or Irish Trad, or some other VERY limited range of music style, then the style of your finger patterns will be very limited, and some such Magic Theory or other may well be useful for novices, who plan to NEVER play any other style. The dreaded 'Om Pah Pah' style accordion player who can only play that sort of music comes to mind... :-)

There IS one overall elegant 'Rule' on a keyboard (or other similar style input manual access device! - like a Chromatic Button Board), you analyse what the positions are in advance, then allocate resources in an optimal manner. Clear as mud for the novice, isn't it! That's why good players practice scales on the keyboard - it gives you a considerable amount of that ability unconciously, as normal music is, for any given length, in one scale or another, modulating between one scale and another related one.

Again - "consistently keep the shape of your hand in the ring finger, etc. pattern Foolestroup discusses in the First Part." ... BUT, we are doing a DIFFERENT button pattern from the first part, so why would we WANT to TRY to keep the same finger pattern for the second part? Perhaps you were confused by my moving onto a third (unspecified) button pattern (with a different associated finger pattern), when I mentioned combining the techniques used in both parts. I didn't spell that third pattern out, because by the time you have absorbed the first two, the third one just becomes obvious. It takes time to learn a physical skill, and you can't absorb it by just reading about it.

Remember, 'Rules are for the blind obedience of Fools & the guidance of the Wise.' The more you know, the more you can see the wider picture, and understand why the 'Lies to Children' approach is often taken (I don't subscribe to it!) - it gives those with limited experience clear & simple Rules to follow - but if they outpace the teacher, both teacher & student get confused. I always did as a beginner.

Another piece of useful advice when learning ANY skill, physical or intellectual: if your current teacher/mentor (including me!) or style of instruction isn't making it happen for you, find another, and another, and another, and....

Gargoyle's good comment: " Fingers are usually fully released until you develop a style for a particular piece." Yes. I often slur, drag, etc that pattern, but always do it on purpose, under intentional control for that specific piece, or that specific rhythm style, but I can still do that strict clear pattern when I want to.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Apr 04 - 08:44 PM

BTW,

A "Real Musician' should be able to play 'Lady of Spain' on the Piano Accordion & make it sound fresh & interesting!

:-)

(Looks like a future challenge project for me, as I have never yet tried to play the piece!)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 08:20 AM

I suppose I should have made it clear that the advice was given to me for the elementary stage of playing -- so as not to lose track of the keys. I imagine if you are advanced, you can do anything.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 08:39 AM

Cheers everyone for the help. Peter T, Foolestroupe. I am not sure who the chap in the video is and I can't find it sorry. Gargoyle and Zany mouse, i think I will have some lessons. I will let you know how I get on. Cheers


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: HiHo_Silver
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 07:49 PM

Look for a publication entitled MEL;ODIC ADVENTURES IN BASS-LAND FOR THE ACCORDION BY JOHN CARUSO. AND NPUBLISHED BY ALFRED MUSIC CO. INC.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: HiHo_Silver
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 08:02 PM

Sorry sent last post in error. Once again Melodic Adventures In Bass-Land for the Accordion, By John Caruso. By Alfred Publishing Company. This publication pretty well covers the bass side of the piano accordion. First row from bellows- counter Bass-2nd row fundamental bass - third row Major Chords - Fourth row Minor Chords - Fifth Row DSominant 7th Chords - sixth Row Diminished 7th Chords.
Fingering usually starts with ring finger on the fundamental bass, the little finger is used for counter bass, the middle finger for major chord and the first finger handles minor 7th and Diminished.
The basic idea is to play a bass accompiment roughly in the same manner as playing guitar accompiment. Fundamental bass and then the chord and bass runs and alternate bass lines built with the counter Bass. Really requires extensive study and would take too long to explain all here.   Hope this helps a little.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 10:13 PM

HiHo_Silver

Thanks for the book reference.

"The basic idea [of this book] is to play a bass accompaniment roughly in the same manner as playing guitar accompaniment" This is, of course, only one primitive method of extracting rhythm from the Stradella Bass setup. It aussumes that the load will be distributed over all the fingers equally - and for this style it works very well. It is similar to Piano keyboard usage theory (disribute the load equally over all the resources!). This system also is designed for 'Classical Accordion Music' style usage patterns. 'Lady of Spain' et al... ;-)

"Fingering usually starts with ring finger on the fundamental bass, the little finger is used for counter bass, the middle finger for major chord and the first finger handles minor 7th and Diminished." This is a thoroughly recommended method of starting on the full Stradella 6 x 20 120 bass system (making you use all your fingers - and train & strengthen them all equally!), but once again, is designed mainly for the 'boom ching' guitar accompaniment style, which can get very tedious to listen to, if that is the only style of Stradella usage in your playing. It is to be much preferred over the 'two finger' (M, I) style, which, unfortunately many beginners teach themselves, thinking it is easy. It is easy for a start, but very limited, and then you have to retrain yourself. Some Mudcatters have commented on their regret over starting this way. If you play on an instrument with no Dom or Dim rows (like a 4x12 48 Bass) then you may want to use a different finger pattern system.

If you are playing styles of Stradella usage that involve usage patterns that focus on areas of the full 6x20 120 bass system that are not distrbuted equally over the hand held in this suggested position, these then require a different finger pattern distribution, or else the hand will tire more rapidly than necessary. The Accordion Stradella Bass is used in many different areas of the world for many different styles of music - and not always on a full 6x20 120 bass layout.

It is impossible to use this suggested finger pattern usage to play some styles I play (at the speed I play them!) - the one I suggested in the Part Two of my above will perform much faster than this suggested one for that style of music. And it sounds VERY different from a 'Dum Ching' guitar style of accompaniment!

Robin


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 02:19 PM

Thanks Hiho.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: GUEST,john cumbernauld
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 10:08 AM

my accordion is 3 x 8 =24 . when i depress the chord button the bass button also depresses with it . is this normal and helpful.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 11:34 AM

Fitting wing mirrors helps!


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 08:11 PM

Acorn4

The advice I was given when learning to play the Pipe Organ foot pedal keyboard (and a Piano Accordion is very similar in many ways especially since it is also a wind instrument and reed instrument, and has possible switched registers) was that you look at it twice during a session.

First, when you sit down to position yourself properly, including being able to reach all the keys easily,

And the Second time, when you get up, so as that you don't trip and fall over...

The Piano Accordion benefits from similar advice when placing the hands on both sides.... :-)

The brain rapidly builds a 3 dimensional location map of where everything is, as long as you let it, and don't try to keep shortcutting the process by peeking all the time: the same as placing one's hands on the piano keyboard, or indeed any musical instrument.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 11:31 PM

"my accordion is 3 x 8 =24 . when i depress the chord button the bass button also depresses with it . is this normal and helpful. "

Depends on what type/make it is. Normally, one would not expect the Stradella Bass for a Piano Accordion to do that.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: GUEST,grumpy
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 07:43 PM

How about 'as quietly as possible?'


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: Tootler
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 06:46 PM

don't try to keep shortcutting the process by peeking all the time

I play concertina rather than accordion, but excellent advice. You really need to get to know where the keys/buttons are without looking.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 13 - 02:34 AM

I may be working out some simplifications to avoid some of the long jumps sometimes needed between bass positions. of course i find i'm surprisingly accurate a lot of the time, but if, say, you go from E to Db it gets chancy. if you get it wrong it's awful. i must say, now i'm improving, i can see how you could think in terms of major and minor thirds and find it somehow useful. I might say in passing that my 80 bass accordion has no dim7 row.

for instance if you want to avoid going the distance to Db major from E you could play the third and fifth notes of the Db major chord as an F minor chord, even though it results in a C note played instead of Db itself. think of it as a Dbmaj7 without the Db note.

on the other hand if you want to avoid going up to G# major from, say Bb, you could play the upper third interval of G# as part of a C minor chord. think of it as the G#maj7 chord without the G#.

this may apply just as easily from a minor chord. G#minor might be changed to Emajor, i suppose.

At least this is one way to stay closer together with your chords.

Tell you what i've seen - a 140 bass accordion which includes an extra row of flatted or minor third basses before the major third or "alternate" bass row. A total of 7 rows. A rethink for the jazz accordionist!

But i'm sorry if i seem confused but which am i to understand, that fifths are omitted from the 7th chords? or is it thirds? i think i read the latter in this thread if i'm not mistaken.

can somebody please explain what notes are missing from each of the various chord types. that might be even more useful yet.


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Subject: RE: Accordion: How to play the bass side
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Oct 13 - 04:30 AM

I've just acquired a 140-bass piano accordion (an old Ranco, sounds absolutely gorgeous). I assume that means I can play pretty much anything melodically on the left hand. Anybody seen any YouTubes of players doing that with such an instrument?


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