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Backsliding—CBA to PA

stickista

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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
All good points, although I view mechanical transposition on CBA more as a crutch than a feature.
There at least 3 features of CBA that make it my primary (although I still play piano and Vibrandoneon)...
Chromatic scales, whole tone scales, and most importantly, diminished arpeggios/ scales.
Jazz is built on those three, particularly diminished.
Ive played music for half a century, and in 3 years on CBA have lapped the improv skills Ive ever had on other instruments. No contest.
CBA is laid out for jazz in a way that connects my fingers to my brain like no other.
As far as reading, I also read just as well on CBA as on piano. But that may also be related to spending the last 2 years studying solfege and theory.
 

stickista

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One thing missing for CBA learners is anything approaching a good pedagogy. Perhaps its out there, but the most I’ve ever seen are basic guides to note locations and basic fingerings. If I were 30 years younger I would love to tackle that with what I know now. 😆
(Although to be fair, each instrument you learn is easier than the previous ones because you’re always bringing the music itself along.)
A chapter in chromatic mediants alone would result in swarms of people converting. I have accidentally written countless great reharmonizations simply by being off a m3rd in either direction. 😂
And the great technique of playing minor ii-Vs by simply moving your ii half-dim phrase up a m3rd for the V is trivial on CBA while really difficult on most other instruments.
 
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stickista

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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.
That irregular structure is precisely why its so important to learn CBA on a 3 row, and to learn all 3 ‘positions.’
The biggest problem with isomorphic instruments (completely homogenized layouts) is that everything you play sounds the same across all keys.
Its why composers (eg Sondheim) intentionally compose in unusual keys... to free themselves from the physical rote patterns the hands fall into in common keys.
 

stickista

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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!😀
The ‘oom-pah’ thing is almost completely a function of Stradella left hand.
‘Bass/chord’, particularly when ‘chord’ is always the same voicing, is going to evoke ‘German beer garden’ if you’re not really creative, eg with polychords.
 

donn

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The biggest problem with isomorphic instruments (completely homogenized layouts) is that everything you play sounds the same across all keys.

I don't consider that any problem, at all. I move things from one key to another that share the same positions - i.e., keys separated by minor thirds - to get the tune to where it fits as low as possible on my accordion (don't like very high pitches), but other than that I expect the keys to sound the same. I've heard piano players talk about that; an absurd preoccupation as far as I'm concerned, but I guess the accordion's bass notes may have some effect on the sound of one key vs. another, since it seems to me that for all the effort they go to try to mask this, the octave jump in the bass must occur in different places when playing a piece in different keys.

What the piano keyboard's irregular layout means to me, is that it's easier to lock into a visible structure like that, when playing. A cognitive advantage when simply playing a sequence of notes. The visual structure of my accordion keyboard, a herringbone arrangement of steps and half steps, is obviously more regular, but I think it's much weaker in this way. Or it could be that I was introduced to the piano keyboard in childhood, and the chromatic buttons much, much later.
 

stickista

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I don't consider that any problem, at all. I move things from one key to another that share the same positions - i.e., keys separated by minor thirds - to get the tune to where it fits as low as possible on my accordion (don't like very high pitches), but other than that I expect the keys to sound the same. I've heard piano players talk about that; an absurd preoccupation as far as I'm concerned, but I guess the accordion's bass notes may have some effect on the sound of one key vs. another, since it seems to me that for all the effort they go to try to mask this, the octave jump in the bass must occur in different places when playing a piece in different keys.

What the piano keyboard's irregular layout means to me, is that it's easier to lock into a visible structure like that, when playing. A cognitive advantage when simply playing a sequence of notes. The visual structure of my accordion keyboard, a herringbone arrangement of steps and half steps, is obviously more regular, but I think it's much weaker in this way. Or it could be that I was introduced to the piano keyboard in childhood, and the chromatic buttons much, much later.
Oh, for sure when transposing. Great tool to have for everyone’s least favorite activity.
I’m talking more about improvisation and writing.
 

dan

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I've returned to my senses. ;) I had falsely assumed that I needed an accordion to match the keyboard that was getting more use, when the more elegant solution is to get a keyboard to match my accordion. I bought a used Roland 1xb. The ability to practice accordion silently should solve most of my problems. Back to the buttons!
 

dunlustin

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'Back to the buttons!'
I am sitting here with the broadest possible smile for all the right reasons .
Something about a lamb to the fold?
Well thought through!
 

losthobos

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'Back to the buttons!'
I am sitting here with the broadest possible smile for all the right reasons .
Something about a lamb to the fold?
Well thought through!
I was thinking more like the Prodigal Son. 😉
 

dan

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The Roland 1xb arrived today! Yes, sticking with buttons and getting 3 octaves and dozens of sounds in just 14 pounds (6 kg) is the way to go. I may even learn free bass or minor third bass configurations, which would have been very difficult to find in the US.
 

NickC

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Congratulations on the new instrument. The Rolands are very tempting. I'd love to have access to all the different accordion tones, tunings, bass systems, etc.
 

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