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And now Spring is here again...

debra

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Today the astronomical spring starts. Time for the other big spring "song":
Primavera Porteña by Astor Piazzolla. Some love it, others hate it, but everyone has an opinion about it...
Professor P plays this (in my own arrangement) as accordion quintet:
Enjoy!
 

NigelB

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Ha no just great playing and arrangements. I’ve heard so many Piazola renditions that have great technique but somehow feel dry and more of an exercise or a marketing ploy. Yours was very emotional and vibrant. You obviously enjoyed it! I’d like to know more about the arrangements. Who scored that?
 

debra

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Ha no just great playing and arrangements. I’ve heard so many Piazola renditions that have great technique but somehow feel dry and more of an exercise or a marketing ploy. Yours was very emotional and vibrant. You obviously enjoyed it! I’d like to know more about the arrangements. Who scored that?
I have been making arrangements for about 40 years now. For 30 years I was the leader of an accordion group in Antwerp, Belgium and quickly realized that in many cases existing (commercial) arrangements simply were not good enough. So I started making my own, specializing in arrangements for "smaller" ensembles (mostly from 5 to 10 players) but sometimes for smaller ones (2, 3, 4) or for larger orchestra. As this is not my main job I am doing everything for free. I make all my arrangements freely available from https://www.de-bra.nl/arrangements.html, except when it is a recent work and the copyright-holders object. (So far that has happened only once.)
I mostly just make arrangements without a specific ensemble or orchestra in mind, but I did make some specifically for a group I played in, like the quintet ARTE, the quintet Kwintessimo, the orchestra Accordeana or the Dutch Symphonic Accordion Orchestra (NSAO).
For the past few years I am also trying to catch up with playing and recording. Ideally I want to have a recording (not necessarily by myself) to illustrate each arrangement. I think I'm currently at about 2/3 done: around 80 recordings done, for a total of around 120 arrangements.
I also publish the arrangements of those compositions that are in the public domain on imslp.org (the Petrucci Music Library), which means that the composer died more than 50 years ago (public domain in Canada and some other countries) or published more than 95 years ago (public domain in the USA).
 

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Wow I’m impressed that you arranged it too. Is it parts from an orchestration or did you transcribe it?
 

debra

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Wow I’m impressed that you arranged it too. Is it parts from an orchestration or did you transcribe it?

I arranged it, starting from the original score which is for piano, violin, bandoneon, electric guitar and double bass.
This is from a period in which Piazzolla composed quite a few works for a band consisting of these 5 instruments.
I always try to start arrangements from the original score, which can be for piano solo up to symphonic orchestra. I do not start from another arrangement of anything in order to avoid copyright issues when copying something from an arrangement that may not be in the original composition.
 

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Ok cool. I’ve got a few scores for Piazola tunes from when I did a tango band years ago. Some tricky stuff in there! I guess having free bass makes the arranging process much more straight forward. I’ve done some arranging but it’s usually the other way around, scaling up from accordion to band. Once again well done. Really made my ears prick up!
 

debra

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Ok cool. I’ve got a few scores for Piazola tunes from when I did a tango band years ago. Some tricky stuff in there! I guess having free bass makes the arranging process much more straight forward. I’ve done some arranging but it’s usually the other way around, scaling up from accordion to band. Once again well done. Really made my ears prick up!
I mostly arrange for a quintet, consisting of 4 accordions, only using the treble side, and a bass accordion. So even though most players have melody bass, it is rarely used, and mostly only when we cannot cope with just the 4 treble sides (and bass accordion).
 

Jim2010

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Paul, the accordion world is fortunate to have you. I played in a guitar quartet as a young man and there was a dearth of music for it. The amount of music you have made available to accordion groups is staggering. I am certain that you have made an important difference in many musicians' lives.
 

debra

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Paul, the accordion world is fortunate to have you. I played in a guitar quartet as a young man and there was a dearth of music for it. The amount of music you have made available to accordion groups is staggering. I am certain that you have made an important difference in many musicians' lives.
Thanks for the compliments. I'm at around 130 arrangements now and while I would love to eventually reach 500... at a rate of maybe 2 per month on average I'll be well over 75 in order to reach this. Not sure whether I can keep going for that long... The limiting factor will be that for every new arrangement I want to create a recording as well, and some of the works I'm arranging (like Primavera Porteña) are quite difficult...
 

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Oh I didn’t realise you are not using the bass buttons at all. If you have a bass accordion I suppose it’s faster and more dynamic to play on the keyboard?
 

debra

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Oh I didn’t realise you are not using the bass buttons at all. If you have a bass accordion I suppose it’s faster and more dynamic to play on the keyboard?
A shortcoming of accordions compared to for instance a piano is that you cannot vary the dynamics of the left and right hand independent of each other. You cannot for instance let a bass note decay while sustaining a treble note. In an accordion quintet (or orchestra) typically the fourth voice plays chords and then the bass accordion does the base notes, and they can have their own dynamics without influencing the dynamics that's possible in the first, second and third voice.
I play in five different ensembles (two quintets, one octet, two accordion orchestras), and I play the bass accordion in all of them. The bass accordion is my favorite instrument! But as the recordings of my arrangements already show, I can play in all different voices. A good bass accordion player should be "good enough" to also play the lead voice. Some of my arrangements may be too difficult for many ensembles just because the bass part is too difficult for their bass player.
 

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