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Accordion Crossroads

Walker

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I would like to ask the advice of the forum members about something of a cross-roads I have reached. I have played the traditional piano accordion, with stradella system and musette tuning, most of my life. But recently I added a converter free bass accordion to my musical journey and took the first few steps with it.

I chose the quint converter and it's been over seven months now, but I have enjoyed it and managed to get a couple of tunes out of the accordion too. So, overall I think it works fine.

But now I feel like I am at a cross-roads and before I commit to a set route for good, I thought I would just check the map and maybe ask for some directions from you all.

Seems to me there are 3 different directions from here...

Straight ahead: I keep working on the quint converter piano accordion, 41/120 (36 free bass, but extendible by 1 octave). Maybe in time upgrade to a cassotto instrument. The range is not huge but it's quite usable. It's not like a chromatic converter accordion with a total compass of E1 to C#8.


Turn Left: Take up a different type of converter accordion (whilst maintaining the piano accordion with stradella bass). I would look for a C system button accordion with corresponding chromatic free bass in this scenario - but it might also take years to learn.


Turn Right: Learn piano accordion with chromatic C system free bass. Familiarity on the treble, but the bass would be new. An extensive range of notes, but maybe 41 keys with say 55 free basses is slightly imbalanced. 47 keys and 55 free basses is not too bad.

I have no concerns about any of the systems for what I play (writing my own music and maybe learning the occasional keyboard tune). Each direction will have strengths and weaknesses. I would like to ask the thoughts and opinions of those on the forum. What would you suggest as the long term choice moving forward. :)
 
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Tom

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I don't believe that you will make one choice and that's it. I say this based on reading this forum for a number of years. My advice is to keep what you have, but experiment with other options, seeing it as parallel tracks rather than a fork in the road. Your music will be great regardless and the grass is always greener on the other side of the island anyways.
 

Walker

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Thanks Tom, that's an interesting idea - parallel tracks. :unsure: But I am not really one for having lots of different accordions with many systems.

I initially got the converter to be creative and write new music with - and to forget the oom pah basses of the traditional accordion.

I have this sense that if I keep going with the free bass for much longer, I am going to start taking it quite seriously, and will start working on arpeggios and scales and doing structured practice (shudder).... Well, that sounds like hard work, and if I am going to do that, I might as well choose the right instrument to put my efforts into...​
 
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Vladimir M.

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Hi Walker,
I would like to ask the advice of the forum members about something of a cross-roads I have reached.
When evaluating the answer to such a question, it is important to know who advises and not just what he/she advises. So: at the moment, an almost 50 years old man, amateur musician, who has been playing the piano accordion with a C-griff melodic bass since he was 14 is going to write his advice: Keep looking for the right instrument until you feel the inner satisfaction of Your playing and the specific (piano/button/griff) system. Everyone has a unique experience, which is given by their life path and is non-transferable. Everyone tries to answer such questions with the best of conscience and consciousness. For example, I'm happy with my type of accordion and I would never change it. But my life is not your way, and that is why my advice is so useless and unhelpful for you. Unfortunately, there are solutions that can only be properly solved by a gradual search over time. I wish you good luck in your search!

Best regards, Vladimir
 

Walker

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Keep looking for the right instrument until you feel the inner satisfaction of Your playing and the specific (piano/button/griff) system.
Sage advice.

Out of interest, Vladimir M. do you play a 45 key accordion?
 

Vladimir M.

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do you play a 45 key accordion?
Yes:
accordion.jpg
45 keys / cassotto / 4 voices (LMMH) /11 register switches // 100 buttons for standard bass (5 rows without dim7-row) + 58 buttons for free-bass (C-system, two voices, LM) / 3 register switches. It's an outdated design type of melodic bass by today's standards, but it suits me very well.
 

craigd

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I agree with Tom as to the likely way these things play out. And also with Vladimir, but unless you are an exceptionally gifted musician, or young and reaching the limits of what your present accordion can do, my advice would be to stick with what you have. It is a capable instrument with limits, which every instrument has. Sounds like you are comfortable with it. Like Vladimir said, everyone has their own path. My advice is based on having similar curiosity and ambitions to yours and trying out different systems. I went front standard 41/120 stradella accordion to c griff cba with mirrored convertor bass to piano accordion with c griff bass. I found myself back on the 41/120, where I was most comfortable and ready to work within its limits. I enjoyed purchasing and trying out the other systems, but it cost me lots of money and time to do so.

The accordion is fascinating. I don't think any other instrument has as many variations. Now I try to enjoy them vicariously watching videos, at festivals and shops etc, while resisting the temptation to try just one more thing
 

Walker

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Thanks @craigd, for sharing your experience, and for reminding me that I can count 1 piano key on my accordion for every year of my life thus far, 41 to be precise. :ROFLMAO:

It seems you have gone full circle. Did you find any specific challenges in the c griff bass (on either piano key or buttons) that were difficult to overcome?

I bought my Pigini converter preowned from a music shop in the North of Italy. I get so much enjoyment from it that I could not give up on free bass now. But then, maybe I took the easy route by going quint. It's just like 3 ranks (double rows) of repeated stradella. I almost feel like a musical charlatan.šŸ˜

The only dowside is, if I wanted to write music that has very deep bass, my limit is C2. However, like you say all instruments have limits, and perhaps it is better to think of the range as being equal to the Cello, which typically starts on the same C2 note.

Thanks craigd.
 
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craigd

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An arrangement by fifths is as legit as a semitone arrangement. Very low notes are cool, but often don't sound (activate) as responsively as you might wish. The thing about the accordion that may be charlatan is the one-man-band approach some people use. Write those deep bass parts for a bass player and perform your music as a duo.

Just some thoughts. But if you do get that big concert accordion, I'll want to see some pictures to get my vicarious fix.
 

saundersbp

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When evaluating the answer to such a question, it is important to know who advises and not just what he/she advises
Yes - it's about what makes you tick and we are all different. I'm not a conservative person so for me learning is the greatest and most important hence opting for the accordion I had least familiarity with because there is the most to learn (and the most to be afraid of / excited by).
but unless you are an exceptionally gifted musician, or young and reaching the limits of what your present accordion can do, my advice would be to stick with what you have.
'Safety first' advice doesn't engage my brain, but it will make sense for other people whose outlook to life is different. One thing I think is a universal red herring is the age thing. A lot of my best friends are older than me and are still very open to learning, indeed their minds are younger than others I know in their mid 20s. I suspect that openness in key in keeping hearts and minds youthful.
 

Walker

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learning is the greatest and most important
Very nice!

As I am a novice free bass player, I think it is still reasonable to be open enough to the possibility of a 'different way'.
If my accordion experience is anything to go by, then choosing the Straight ahead option will build on what I know, rather than becoming a completely new learning experience.
I think that different instruments will enhance different aspects of my musical output. For example, new roads could be explored in right hand polyphony on button system. Likewise, chromatic bass movements would be more natural. Yet, I sense the quint system overall has been explored less than chromatic system in the current era and new music, so I think there is plenty to be extracted yet from quint. Quint feels less like learning and more like exploration, and that alone may be too precious to loose. But is it more precious than turning left or turning right...
 
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saundersbp

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Again I think it's about how your mind works and for some people, myself included, the journey is the important bit rather than the destination. I have turned off the road simply because I can, because I wanted to explore what is down there and for my mind the completely new learning experience is the most attractive. It's whatever route makes you content. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
 

Tom

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No one has mentioned a Roland.
 

Walker

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Turn left u will not look back.
Godgi

Is it really such a game changer?

Perhaps I misunderstand the nature of the free bass button instrument. Probably as a result of having listened to so many great accordion players playing piano and button. I rarely hear a significant difference in the end product...



or


 
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saundersbp

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Yes it can if you are interested in polyphony and composition because you can play polyphonic textures very easily like quartets etc.
 

Walker

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Polyphony, yes I can believe that the CBA is good for this. But Bach got on okay without a CBA. He had old fashioned keys etc.

But if I can, I will try to get a chance to try out a C griff converter.

By the way, the Cornysh and Taverner recordings arrived that I ordered. Amazing choral work, super polyphonic.
 
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