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Bandoneons: bisonoric versus unisonoric

Evan

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Hello. I'm new to this forum and to bandoneons. I'm considering getting a bandoneon for use as a foundation and rhythm instrument for singing.

I have great interest in the quality of sound produced by accordion instruments, and bandoneons currently call to me the most. I'm leaning towards a 142 button, metal reed, probably old & used bandoneon. Partly for sound, and partly for price.

I understand that there are bisonoric and unisonoric bandoneons out there. I'm wanting to get input on what people perceive to be the benefits and drawbacks of both.

I think a unisonoric would be:
1) Easier to learn.
2) Easier to achieve sustained individual notes and chords. That is, sustainment of sound between compressing and expanding the bellows. (To somewhat mimic a shruti box, but with more versatility.)
3) Lighter because of fewer reeds?

But I wonder if a bisonoric:
1) May have a richer sound due to subtle background resonance of inactive reeds.
2) Would ultimately be more fun.
3) Have a richer musical repertoire to draw from.

Thanks for your input. Feedback on my presumptions are welcome, as are your own experiences with these instruments.

Evan
 

Dingo40

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Evan,
I'm sure other members will point out we're not experts with bandoneons, (although some members may actually own one 🙂) being principally accordionists, which give us trouble enough 😄!
However, welcome, and no doubt some will be able to help!🙂
 

Evan

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Thank you Dingo. That's really kind of you to welcome me. Much appreciated.

I'm happy to receive what perspectives are offered. I'm starting from pure guesses, so a little bit of knowledge will be more than that!
 

bluesette

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Hi Evan,

You will find many answers to your questions regarding bandoneons and "bisonic versus unisonic" at the following link:


IMO :
Bisonic 142 bandoneon is the best choice if you want to play historical tango arrangement specifically written for bandoneon.
Drawback:
- Extreme long apprentice time because of the 4 different keyboard layouts (2 hands x 2 directions (push & pull).
- Extreme difficult to improvise on bisonic because of the 4 absolutely unlogical layouts.

Unisonic bandoneon Peguri (or extended system) or Kusserow system is the best choice if you want faster learning curve, play more than tango music and/or you eventually want to be able to improvise (easier because of logical keyboard layouts).

Several bisonic & unisonic bandoneon manufacturers are located in Belgium (Molenbeersel), Germany (Berlin, Carlsfeld, Klingenthal) and Italy (Castelfidardo).

Unisonic bandoneons "Kusserow" system are most likely to be found in the Berlin/Germany region.
Unisonic bandoneons "Peguri" (and all extended systems like "Calliero", "Furia", "Manoury", "YH", etc.) are most likely to be found in France & western Europe.

I do play CBA (C system) since 1960 and Bandoneon since 2015.
My 2 Bandoneons are both unisonic because it was the most logical choice related to my background on CBA (C system):
1) Alfred Arnold (AA) "Peguri system built during the 50'-60' in the DDR (Carlsfeld/Klingenthal).
2) Fratelli Crosio (FC) "Calliero" system (Peguri extended system) built in Italy during the 80'.

Bluesette
 
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Evan

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Thank you Bluesette. That is very helpful information.

As follow ups, can you advise me:

1) The Peguri or Kusserow systems that you describe: Are those same systems often used for the bisonoric bandoneons?

I'm assuming that "systems" refers mainly to the button layout and notes per button. So I'm wondering if by learning one of those systems on a unisonoric bandoneon that I'd then be able to transfer that knowledge to a bisonoric bandoneon later if I wanted to try my "hand"(s) at a bisonoric. That is, at least have learned the push or the pull system for a bisonoric if I learned one of those unisonoric systems.

... I guess another way to say this, and maybe a better way to say this, is: Do the Peguri or Kusserow systems fit within the Rheinische system? Since the Rheinische systems seems to be the dominate bisonoric 142 button bandoneon system.


2) Have you noticed any tonal variations between the unisonoric and bisonoric bandoneons that you've played? I noticed some discussion of that topic in the web link that you provided.

"In this way, an bisonoric model could be converted with a manageable modifications relatively inexpensive and with an timbre of a bisonoric instrument."

"Decisive for the evaluation is the ergonomic playability, the logical order of the keypad and design effort including resulting timbre."

"In summary, it can be said that 'unisonoric' does not yet say anything about sound and technical quality."

However, I have difficulty determining if there is any particular preference for the sound quality (timbre) of a bisonoric or unisonoric in this article. Seems that they are saying that the sound quality of the bandoneon mainly depends on factors other than where or how the second set of reeds are placed.


Based on what your information and what I know now, it seems that the unisonoric would be a better fit for me since it would be easier to learn, and maybe more able to carry notes over from push-pull. But honestly, if bisonorics have much better sound quality I think I would prefer to suffer through the higher learning curve. I feel like the enjoyment of the sound would help carry me through that pain better.

Thanks again. That was great technical and specific information. The world of bandoneons seems to have a very twisted, curvy, and lively history. Much like the instrument itself! I wish there was a flowchart of some kind that visually laid out the history of the different systems. Seems that there were many different systems, with some short off-shoots, and some main branches. I think I'd prefer to stay closer to the "trunk" of that tree for easier access to training systems, though again, the sound of a particular instrument is what I value the most. Second to that is being able to sustain notes decently between push-pull.

Evan
 
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debra

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Unisonoric bandoneons, especially those with C system, are most useful for people who play C system CBA. (They offer 3 rows of C system, and then some extra notes in the (partial) fourth and fifth row. Richard Galliano for instance plays such a C system bandoneon.
Many people who learn a bisonoric bandoneon system play almost everything on pull and use an occasional rest to quickly close the bellows and then pull again. Even Astor Piazzolla played "on pull" at least 90% of the time... Even when you have a unisonoric bandoneon it's much more comfortable to play on pull than on push with the very long bellows.
 

bluesette

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Hi Evan

This interactive BandoChords Web Page will help you to select the best suitable bandoneon system for you :
(Bass = LH (Left Hand) / Diskant = RH (Right Hand) / <II> = pull to open bellows / >II< = push to close bellows)


- As you can see from the links above, there is NO standard bandoneon
- ALL bandoneons are chromatic (means able to play 12 semitone per octave (tessitura are ca. 3 octaves LH & ca. 3 octaves RH)
- If not able to play 12 semitone per octave, then this may look like a bandoneon BUT is NOT (probably german Concertina or Bandonika)
- Unlike accordions, ALL bandoneons are FREE bass only (if not, then this is NOT a bandoneon)
- Two bandoneon main families : bisonic and unisonic
- Chords spread on several octave are easier on bisonic than unisonic (used a lot on traditional tango music dedicated to 142 bisonic system)
- Chords & scales apprentice are easier on unisonic because of logical layout
- Very little up to NO sound difference between bisonic and unisonic on single note (when same manufacturer/make/model)
- Reed plate material (Aluminium alloy or Zinc alloy) and bandoneon box size and material do influence the produced sound
- Bandoneons can be found with 2 octaved reed voices (dry tuning, no switch register, mostly 142 and Peguri) or 3 reed voices or more (tremolo
tuning with or without switch register, mostly 144 system)


Specific Tango bandoneons (2 octaved reed voices bisonic or unisonic, Aluminium or Zinc reed plates) :
- LH and RH reed voices are dry tuned (both tessitura are ca, 3 octaves each, while upper LH and lower RH overlap, giving a global tessitura of ca.
5 octaves)
- Left Hand side is built with a cassoto (high frequency filter) located under the LH palm. Lower and upper octaved reeds inside are all mounted
on reed blocs (pitch is pretty stable, regardless of bellows attack and position).
- Right Hand side has NO cassoto. Lower octaved reeds are monted on reed blocs (stable pitch) BUT upper octaved reeds are mounted directly
on harmony table (no reed bloc). This specific peculiarity inluences the produced RH sound on bellows attack and position (pitch is less stable
on upper octaved reeds)

All these caracteristics contributes to the unique sound of the tango bandoneon.

Bluesette
 
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bluesette

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Hi debra

Many people who learn a bisonoric bandoneon system play almost everything on pull and use an occasional rest to quickly close the bellows and then pull again. Even Astor Piazzolla played "on pull" at least 90% of the time...
Yes, many bisonic tango bandeonists do master the instrument on pull only and are rarely able to play something consistent on push.
Many of them do also claim that the "real and only" tango bandoneon is the bisonic "142 Rheinische Lage" and don't even know about the advantages of the unisonic peculiarities.

Even when you have a unisonoric bandoneon it's much more comfortable to play on pull than on push with the very long bellows.
Yes but only in the soloist "Piazzolla playing attitude" : standing on one leg (left or right) while the bandoneon sits on the opposite lap.
However, the standard playing position is sitting on a chair/stool while the bandoneon sits one both (horizontal) laps.
Push & pull are then both easy to play while left & right legs closing & opening help to master the bellows.
The bandoneon may then sits on one lap only (left or right) while doing the "tango marcato comping". The supporting leg may even accentuate the marcato by vertical synchronised movements.


bluesette
 

Evan

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Wow. I don't think I've ever seen (or heard) an instrument with such individuality to it! Its individuality is as amazing as its sound is intriguing.

Thank you bluesette and debra for your input. Such input is helpful. The bandochords.de link was particularly helpful, as it helped give me a better visual idea of how the buttons in each system are arranged, as well as how many buttons were in each system. I'm a visual learner in many ways, so thank you bluesette for that link.

I'm still unclear as to whether even a unisonoric can maintain a note or chord well between the push and pull of the bellows, though it would seem more likely to be able to do so than a bisonoric. At least in inexperienced hands like mine. I like that the unisonoric systems, especially Kusserow and Manouri, seem to have more consistency in placement of the buttons from key to key. Though I wonder if the greater randomness of the bisonoric Rheinische Lage system is partly what contributes to its magic.

For now I think I'll dabble on different systems, including piano keyboard accordion systems, before I jump in to make a purchase. Hopefully I can scrounge up 2-3 around here to try out. As before, the sound quality is what matters most to me, since what notes and chords that I'll be playing will be pretty simple to start with. So I'll let my ears, and gestalt feeling about the instruments I get to play, be my primary guide from here on probably.

Thank you all for your contributions! I really appreciate it.
 

Evan

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That's awesome Dingo. Brought a smile to my face.

He is such a talented player. Really helps it sing.
 

Evan

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HEy! And he's in Miami! I'm in Florida too! Think I might hit him up to see if he ever passes through Gville.

Thanks again Dingo! What a co-inca-dink!
 

stickista

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The fact is that a large number (perhaps most) Bandoneon players only play on the ‘pull’ direction, leveraging the great bellows length combined with ‘push’ breaths with the air valve. Every note is available on the pull direction.
There is much more instructional material for Bandoneon available than when I first got interested 15 years ago.
eg

The biggest advantage to traditional layout vs CBA (and I’m not talking about Geuns/Nabla 3 row CBA, but the CBA that looks like traditional) is that traditional allows some full, rich voicings in the left hand that is really hard to duplicate in CBA.
A good example is Paolo Russo’s work which goes far beyond Tango.
eg

I play Geuns Hybrid (Nabla), quite happily. But if I had the last 20 years back, I’d put in the effort to learn traditional layout.

(I also believe there’s a third option, used by Julian Labro, which is bi-directional on one side and unidirectional on the other. (Can’t remember which side is which.)
 
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Evan

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Thanks stickista! I appreciate the input. Can you clarify for me which of the layouts in the BandoChords.de would qualify for those layouts that you describe? I'm not familiar enough with the terminology to know where those layouts would fall within those different systems. I.e.

"Traditional" = 'Rheinische Lage' ??? (100, 110, 130, 142, 152)

CBA = ???

Geuns Hybrid (Nabla) = ??? (Not on BandoChords.de ?)

Julian Labro = ??? (Not on BandoChords.de ?)

If they aren't listed in BandoChords.de, please advise if you can if these layouts/systems that you describe are bisonoric or unisonoric.

Thanks for the reference videos and links.
 

bluesette

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"Traditional" = 'Rheinische Lage' ??? (100, 110, 130, 142, 152)
- Traditional = Reiinische Lage = 142 (most common).
- 100, 110, 130, 142, 152 means the TOTAL number of tones/reeds, low+high octave, LH + RH.
- 142 bisonic bandoneon can play a total of 142/2 = 71 music notes. LH = 33 notes + RH = 38 notes, some of them are repository.

CBA = ???
- CBA = Chromatic Button Accordion. CBA C system = C on the first (outside) row.
- Basic CBA is 3 row only, but some CBA keyboards can have up to 6 rows. Row 4, 5, (6) are mechanical duplicate of row 1, 2, (3).
- Unisonic (CBA) Peguri bandoneon (and all extended keyboard layout : Calliero, Furia, Manoury, YH) are 3 row only. Row 4,5 (LH) and 4,5,6 (RH) provides extended notes, making "open chord" built spread out on several octaves easier (main advantage of bisonic tango 142 bandoneon).

Geuns Hybrid (Nabla) = ??? (Not on BandoChords.de ?)
Geuns hybrid bandoneon (B or C system) provides a pure CBA keyboard layout.
Harry Geuns is a concertina/ bandoneon maker located in Molenbeersel/Kinrooi Belgium.
Norbert Gabla (NOT Nabla) is a CBA accordionist/bandoneonist located in south Germany.
The first Gabla C system hybrid bandoneon units designed and acquired by Norbert Gabla and manufactured by Harry Geuns had 4 button rows. The 4th row was NOT a duplicate of the first row BUT provided extended musical notes on LH & RH to facilitate open chords. Actual Geuns hybrid bandoneon are 3 row only BUT this remain the only bandoneon design allowing use of the thumb on both LH and RH for easier extended open chord built.

Julian Labro = ??? (Not on BandoChords.de ?)
- Julien Labro is a french accordion/bandoneon virtuoso (CBA (free bass) C system) now living in USA (former Peter Soave student at WSU (Michigan).
- Peter Soave is a world champion accordionist (CBA (free bass) C system) and also a bandoneon virtuoso.
- Their respective bandoneon are most probably unisonic "Peguri" or extended unisonic "Manoury" system.
- Unisonic Peguri bandoneon LH chromatic scale begins at low F# (upper 3 buttons on row 5 = F# up to G# while upper 3 buttons on row 4 = A to B).
C is the first upper button on LH row 1, then standard CBA chromatic scale on row 1,2,3 for about 2 octave.
- Some older Manoury system are in fact modified unisonic Peguri system with 6 bisonic notes added in the lower LH chromatic scale part, providing the 6 missing low C to F notes on push (upper 3 buttons on row 5 & 4). and the already existing F# to B notes on pull (upper 3 buttons on row 5 & 4)..
- This mod basically consist of a small soldering tin deposit on the 12 push (outside) octaved reeds tip to lower the pitch, then tuning = add or remove tin to get the desired pitch.

Bluesette
 
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Evan

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:oops:

Wow.

The complexities of this instrument continue to amaze me. Thank you Bluesette for that extraordinary explanation. I think it's going to take some additional time for me to digest it all. Thank you again!
 

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