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Backsliding—CBA to PA

dan

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Well folks thanks for the tips, it was a fun ride but I’m switching back to piano accordion after 2 years of frequent CBA playing, 2 years of infrequent playing and one year of almost no playing (covid). I still remember some PA repertoire, can sight read better, and play by ear about the same as on CBA-C system. More teachers and instructional resources for PA in USA, and being able to transfer rights hand lines between accordion and keyboard were the deciding factors.

For those on the fence about accordion systems I’d say it’s horses for courses. More fingering options on CBA can be a blessing or a curse. Some musical phrases are easier to play on CBA (arpeggios and chromatic runs) some are easier on PA (parallel thirds). Some key signatures are easier on CBA. Transposing is easier on CBA but only if you have a five row accordion and stick to 3 rows and are consistent about how you finger it; if you can play well by ear transposing on PA is not that much harder, at least for simple tunes

accordions are fun, no matter the variety
 
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Pipemajor

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Well folks thanks for the tips, it was a fun ride but I’m switching back to piano accordion after 2 years of frequent CBA playing, 2 years of infrequent playing and one year of almost no playing (covid). I still remember some PA repertoire, can sight read better, and play by ear about the same as on CBA-C system. More teachers and instructional resources for PA in USA, and being able to transfer rights hand lines between accordion and keyboard were the deciding factors.

For those on the fence about accordion systems I’d say it’s horses for courses. More fingering options on CBA can be a blessing or a curse. Some musical phrases are easier to play on CBA (arpeggios and chromatic runs) some are easier on PA (parallel thirds). Some key signatures are easier on CBA. Transposing is easier on CBA but only if you have a five row accordion and stick to 3 rows and are consistent about how you finger it; if you can play well by ear transposing on PA is not that much harder, at least for simple tunes

accordions are fun, no matter the variety
I'm still dithering :unsure: , that's why I kept my PA. I struggle with the fingering on the CBA (4 row) although I am using the 4th row more and more, I find I still have to stop and think about finger positions when sight reading a tricky bit. On the PA, once you had learned the scales, you knew instinctively which fingers to use, and each note had only one position on the keyboard. I think, if you play by ear, a 5 row CBA is easier as you only need one set of fingering to cover all key signatures, but if you read from sheet music it is easier on the PA. That said, when going back to the PA, I find the spacing between the notes a problem and jumps are far easier on the CBA. Decisions, decisions :confused:
 

TomBR

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I think it's said that a majority of established PA players who try switching to CBA revert to PA sooner or later.
 

debra

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Well folks thanks for the tips, it was a fun ride but I’m switching back to piano accordion after 2 years of frequent CBA playing, 2 years of infrequent playing and one year of almost no playing (covid). I still remember some PA repertoire, can sight read better, and play by ear about the same as on CBA-C system. More teachers and instructional resources for PA in USA, and being able to transfer rights hand lines between accordion and keyboard were the deciding factors.

...

accordions are fun, no matter the variety
Sad to see you go (back from CBA to PA). The transition from PA to CBA is difficult and cumbersome. My old accordion repair teacher told me that he had seen many people try to switch to CBA and almost all eventually gave up and returned to PA. I know a few myself too...
That said, my wife and I started the PA to CBA transition at the same time (13 years ago) and that helped us in persevering. It took us 5 to 6 years to become truly comfortable on CBA (although we could already struggle through most of our old repertoire after 2 to 3 years). By now it feels so comfortable it's hard to imagine that we dreaded the move as much as we did. There is now just no way we would ever turn back to PA. But we fully understand why others give up after maybe 2 or 3 years. It just takes so long to really make CBA "your own"... so we don't think any less of people who try and turn back.
 

dan

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I think, if you play by ear, a 5 row CBA is easier as you only need one set of fingering to cover all key signatures, but if you read from sheet music it is easier on the PA.
That was what I had hoped—as I do more ear playing and improvisation than sheet music. But my books don’t teach it that way—and I never settled on a consistent way to approach things—sometimes I’ll play a D major tune on outer 3 rows, sometimes on inner 3. That means I don’t learn songs by ear much faster on CBA and quickly forget how it was that I played them!

I will say CBA was more intuitive for noodling around—which was handy when I lived in Madison, WI and had opportunities to play Gypsy jazz. A few years with CBA also helped me improve my recognition of intervals, so I don’t regret the time spent.
 

ArtMustel

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I purchased a 5 row B griff system hoping to learn it and transition from PA but it's been very difficult or impossible (maybe if I didn't own a PA instrument I would have focused more on the B Griff, but after a while fiddling with it I put it down and take my piano accordion back).

Hard for an old dog learning new tricks, this also matters a lot. :oops:
 

donn

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I am lucky I guess in that I had only a casual acquaintance with the piano keyboard, but even so, since that was acquired rather early, it may be easier for me to pick out a tune on a keyboard than on CBA after years of regular practice. Or it may be that there's a cognitive advantage to the irregular but linear structure of the piano keyboard. I bet it is much harder to deal with CBA and reading - I just have never bothered with that.
 

saundersbp

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OK - I'll voice a counter view on different (mostly musical) grounds!

I play conventional keyboard instruments - organ/piano/harpsichord - professionally so you might expect me to take the easy route and use piano accordion for my amateur music making. I don't because its a serious limitation on what you can actually do musically even with freebass. Not withstanding trying to switch a technique from a keyboard that was entirely designed to be played at 180 degrees to the weirdness of ninety degrees, you also loose the wonderful musical colours that the big stretch of the CBA allows. I'm very keen to present the accordion as a modern instrument that stands on a parity with any other instrument - not a cul-de-sac within a niche that ended in a 1950 um-pah something.

Take some really exciting modern music that sounds fantastic on the accordion e.g. Philip Glass Quartet 'Company' - it fits under the fingers beautifully on a CBA, but conversely is simply impossible to play on a piano accordion with freebass when anything over on octave stretch in the RH is very hard to sustain. Consider the agony endured by concert pianists trying to stretch wider https://www.cmuse.org/franz-liszt-hands/ They needed a CBA and all problems solved and music leads the way rather than physical super gymnastics.

Ultimately I'd agree with Dan though - "accordions are fun, no matter the variety"
 

debra

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I purchased a 5 row B griff system hoping to learn it and transition from PA but it's been very difficult or impossible (maybe if I didn't own a PA instrument I would have focused more on the B Griff, but after a while fiddling with it I put it down and take my piano accordion back).

Hard for an old dog learning new tricks, this also matters a lot. :oops:
We play C griff and I have the impression (maybe an illusion) that transitioning from PA to C griff may be a bit easier (or at least less difficult) than from PA to B griff. Also, C griff players tend to use the thumb more than B griff players.
 

Dingo40

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SaundersBP,
"I'm very keen to present the accordion as a modern instrument that stands on a parity with any other instrument - not a cul-de-sac within a niche that ended in a 1950 um-pah something."

Hold it right there!😀
While many of us would be overjoyed if we could manage to play like Toralf Toralfsen, Piotr, or Paul Debra, it has to be admitted that managing a few "1950s oom pah pahs" tolerably well, realistically, is about the limit of both our talent and ambition, so don't knock it!🙂
For many of us, the CBA is simply too complicated an instrument with too many options for our limited talents: the PA may have its technical limitations, but so do we. And we've come to terms with it!👍
Much better to play the PA regularly, than to own a CBA which sits unused on the shelf!😀
 

ArtMustel

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SaundersBP,
"I'm very keen to present the accordion as a modern instrument that stands on a parity with any other instrument - not a cul-de-sac within a niche that ended in a 1950 um-pah something."

Hold it right there!😀
While many of us would be overjoyed if we could manage to play like Toralf Toralfsen, Piotr, or Paul Debra, it has to be admitted that managing a few "1950s oom pah pahs" tolerably well, realistically, is about the limit of both our talent and ambition, so don't knock it!🙂
For many of us, the CBA is simply too complicated an instrument with too many options for our limited talents: the PA may have its technical limitations, but so do we. And we've come to terms with it!👍
Much better to play the PA regularly, than to own a CBA which sits unused on the shelf!😀
And its much better oom-pah-pah than no pah-pahs at all! :)
 

Tom

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OK - I'll voice a counter view on different (mostly musical) grounds!

I play conventional keyboard instruments - organ/piano/harpsichord - professionally so you might expect me to take the easy route and use piano accordion for my amateur music making. I don't because its a serious limitation on what you can actually do musically even with freebass. Not withstanding trying to switch a technique from a keyboard that was entirely designed to be played at 180 degrees to the weirdness of ninety degrees, you also loose the wonderful musical colours that the big stretch of the CBA allows. I'm very keen to present the accordion as a modern instrument that stands on a parity with any other instrument - not a cul-de-sac within a niche that ended in a 1950 um-pah something.

Take some really exciting modern music that sounds fantastic on the accordion e.g. Philip Glass Quartet 'Company' - it fits under the fingers beautifully on a CBA, but conversely is simply impossible to play on a piano accordion with freebass when anything over on octave stretch in the RH is very hard to sustain. Consider the agony endured by concert pianists trying to stretch wider https://www.cmuse.org/franz-liszt-hands/ They needed a CBA and all problems solved and music leads the way rather than physical super gymnastics.

Ultimately I'd agree with Dan though - "accordions are fun, no matter the variety"
Good points! I will admit that I had to go to youtube to hear this "Company," and it sounded pretty good (although I preferred the string quartet to the accordions version).

We've had this discussion before, and it's a good one. Fortunately, there is plenty of "new" accordion music and players out there, although maybe not in the "cul de sacs" of the USA and UK. But maybe this says more about the societies than the instrument at hand.

And why are Yankovic and Frosini (for example) considered "oompah cul de sacs" when Lizst and Bach are so much older? Is their music "better" some how? Nobody disses a violin player for playing "classical."

I don't have the answers to these philosophical questions, but as someone might say, "different strokes for different horses or courses."
 
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losthobos

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I'm very keen to present the accordion as a modern instrument that stands on a parity with any other instrument - not a cul-de-sac within a niche that ended in a 1950 um-pah something.
Brilliant.... This disclaimer should be mandatory and a signed witnessed statement taken with the sale of every new accordion....
And no offence intended should anyone wish to play a waltz... I find them lovely too...just don't lean so heavily on the om pah pah so it becomes all the listener hears.... Its only there to support the melody... So sometimes just the Om may be enough.... 😉
 

NickC

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Nice points so far. I played piano throughout high school and through college. I wasn't a full time student of piano, but I could 'fake' it well enough. When I finally picked up the accordion, I had a basic understanding of piano technique, so playing the PA seemed to make sense. After spending time with the CBA, I started to realize that the system was laid out very logically. Eventually, there were a lot of things that I found to be more comfortable, especially large interval jumps and arpeggios. There are still a lot of things that I could do on PA that I am working through on CBA, but I am starting to get a feel for the system and it's making more sense to me. Not to mention that I could get the same range out of a smaller instrument.

There was a period, after playing C system for a few months, that I picked up the PA again and was thinking about switching back, but I ultimately decided to focus on the CBA. I ended up selling my full sized PA, and picked up a 26 key model that I still play. I have great respect for both instruments, but given that I want to focus on one, I had to make a choice. And, for now, I'm sticking with CBA.
 

Ventura

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my opinion weights more on your brain than on your type of
accordion keyboard

in my case, the evidence for this is rooted in the simple fact that i
HEARD
French music
DECADES before i ever even saw a chromatic/button accordeon

but i learned/figured out/ a way to play the heck out of those Meusette tunes
that i truly loved !

so that many many times over the years on Gigs
(especially when strolling)
French people who had been hearing me for awhile,
when suddenly SEEing me
and seeing that i am playing a PA
are stunned that they could not tell i was not playing the songs
on a "real" accordion
and wonder how i do it
as (to their minds) it should naturally be an impossibility

also...
my humble and eternal thanks going out to Maurice Larcarnge
 

dan

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Take some really exciting modern music that sounds fantastic on the accordion e.g. Philip Glass Quartet 'Company' - it fits under the fingers beautifully on a CBA, but conversely is simply impossible to play on a piano accordion with freebass when anything over on octave stretch in the RH is very hard to sustain.
Or for those of less refined musical tastes, Guns and Roses “Sweet Child O Mine” can be played on CBA without shifting hand position. I will have to record a video before I part with my CBA. It’s one tune I can still play that won’t easily transfer
the PA may have its technical limitations, but so do we
well said!
 
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