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Basic B-system fingering

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Leighton

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I'm just learing my CBA B-system so excuse me if I sound naive in my question, but I've spent over a month searching around the internet for learning techniques, video tutorials, and even books on CBA-B-sys. You talk about slim pickins? Very little to be found.

I'm greatful to Les Titford and Gerard Gerritsen for some great videos on learning some basic tunes.

But one thing I've noticed is that there is virtually no consistency in fingering techniques. It seems like every CBA accordionist has their own method and not only that, fingerings change from tune to tune. It's a bit overwhelming. (Also understand that I come to this instrument as a lifelong saxophonist, so from the world where there are specific fingerings (with few alternates) for each note. Compare that to what I see in CBA land, it's like I venturing into the Wild West!

I've looked around and it seems there are some basic distinctions like: no-thumb, yes-thumb and thumb-whenever.
But it really does seem that ther are no hard and fast rules beyond that.

So, my main concern and questions are:
Is it really true that every tune will require different fingering?
Are there books for basic techniques?
And if there are, are these techniques even relevant if you are going to change up everything once you employ it to a melody?

Thanks in advance to any of you who dare to venture into this topic.

-cheers,
Leighton
 

Pietro

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Hi Leighton, welcome to the forum and to the 'B' system. I began learning the 'B' system last January from a PA background and I found exactly what you are finding, very little published to help fingering. I searched around for information and a teacher, but found nothing in my neck of the woods. I did get a load of information sent to me in Russian which I found of no use whatsoever, so I did what I had to do and started at the very beginning with very simple piano and PA music. I also worked out the scales and arpeggios at the very beginning, although I found playing chords impossible at first. I can now play quite a lot of pieces and I'm not afraid to attempt the more difficult advanced stuff at the top of my range on the PA, but its nowhere near fluent enough to consider performing yet. If I took a leap of faith and stopped playing the PA in favour of the CBA it would no doubt dramatically improve my playing overnight, but as I play in several groups I'm not in a position to do that, and to be honest, that was never my intention. I have numerous friends who play CBA of different types. They are mainly 'C' system, one 'B' system and one Finnish system and all approach playing in the same manner, i.e. make it up. They tell me to just experiment with the different ways to finger any piece and decide which is best for you. Everything I've heard or read tells me to use the thumb, which I have to say feels weird for some reason on the CBA, although perfectly natural on PA. Also if I get stuck with a run I switch into 'scale' mode and that usually gets me out of the mire.

I don't think I will ever be able to replace PA with CBA, but its a fascinating system and I spend hours of fun absorbed in my own little world.

Pete
 

bocsa

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Leighton said:
(...) Ive noticed is that there is virtually no consistency in fingering techniques. (...)
Ive found the same problem with the C system and to some extent, the British Chromatic ...staves off boredom if not frustration ;)
 

Anyanka

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"So, my main concern and questions are:
Is it really true that every tune will require different fingering?" Basically - yes. But also no, because you learn certain patterns, and certain tricks that work for you.

"Are there books for basic techniques?" I have not found anything useful, but I played piano acc'n before, so that's where I learnt bellows technique (the most important ingredient to accordion playing, in my opinion).

"And if there are, are these techniques even relevant if you are going to change up everything once you employ it to a melody?" Not sure what you mean by that... so I'll pass.

I play 'C' system, but I think most of my experience is still relevant. re Fingering technique: (in my opinion) the whole point of button acc'n is that you can keep your hand in a relaxed natural position. I therefore tend to play the lowest and highest notes of a melody on the outside rows, using thumb & little finger, and the stuff in the middle mostly on the top rows, using the longer fingers. Generally, I prefer using the top rows on a 5-row accordion, as my long fingers are more agile, although certain keys sit more easily on the bottom rows, e.g D major. Buttons are great for intuitive playing, and playing by patterns/intervals rather than awareness of notes, which might be why there's not so much information.
 
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Don Roberts

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Hi Leighton, don't know where you are located, this March at the National Accordion Convention near Dallas, they are featuring a B system class instruction with a very professional performer. I have been to the convention several times and this is the first time they have offered anything in CBA instruction.
I have been playing the B system for maybe three years using a Russian three row model until I got a new Hohner Nova 96 a couple of months ago. I still use primarily the bottom three rows but am beginning to incorporate some notes and runs on the fourth row etc. I've never had any instruction or information other than a sheet that shows the scales from three perspectives on the bottom primary rows only. I've never worried about whether I'm playing correctly or not, I just work out the best fingering and go with it. I'm much better at the PA than the CBA but I find the B system fascinating and it always like fun rather than practice.
Well anyway good luck with your efforts. :ch
 
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Leighton

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Thank you all for your astute observations. Exactly what I was looking for in this forum of experience sharing. :!:

It seems that many of my suspicions are correct and that when it comes to playing the CBA it's basicaly a 'roll your own' approach. I can go with that, once I get over the beginners anxieties of a need for structure. And the fear of 'am I learning it wrong' so I'll have to relearn the 'correct' way later. I'm just gonna keep on doing what feels right and have faith that my musical knowledge will inform my technique benificially.

One thing I have noticed as I observe my own learning process is that regardless of finger patterns, what seem of more inportance is an awareness and finger memory of relational distances of the buttons. That is knowing/intuiting just how far to reach and which direction to reach to get to the next note. This, combined with an awarwness of the melody pattern will at least keep me in the ballpark.

Still I look forward to input from others on the topic, as I'd like to encourage others to pick up the CBA.

More fun will be had.

-cheers,
Leighton
 

george garside

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playing B or C system and indeed British chromatic is more about the notion of 'any note with any finger' rather than a rigid pattern of fingering written on tablets of stone. Doing it that way means that at any point in the proceedings you have 1 finger (at a time) playing the melody 4 waving about ready to pot right hand chords, add ornementations or whatever.

Start by developing the ability to play realy fluent scales of the keyboard the full length using 3 rows and then work out from their using repeats on other rows to ease tricky fingering and getting the feel of cords that fall within easy reach of the 'spare' fingers'.

george
 
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gerard374

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It took me ages to drag this up from what passes as my memory!

http://knopaccordeon.ggms.nl/cursuse.html

Theres free stuff but also bundles - he seems a real enthusiast.

Thank you for spitting in your memory dunlustin. Your right I am an enthousiastic CBA player.
I made my website for reasons that are mentioned here, there is not much information on the web about playing CBA in B system.

The videocourse is free to follow for everyone. It was a lot of work to translate the videos. For that reason I asked a small price for a pdf bundle with the tunes in the videocourse.
And now Im a little further I put once a month free sheetmusic from tunes I learned myself.

Before I started about two years ago a knew a few dutch players and they told me that they learned far in the past to play without their thumb.
But during the years they started to use their thumbs just because it is easier to catch notes on the first row. And I had the same experience.

I agree with Pietro:
They tell me to just experiment with the different ways to finger any piece and decide which is best for you. Everything Ive heard or read tells me to use the thumb, which I have to say feels weird for some reason on the CBA, although perfectly natural on PA.

Leighton you are wright about your learning proces:
One thing I have noticed as I observe my own learning process is that regardless of finger patterns, what seem of more inportance is an awareness and finger memory of relational distances of the buttons. That is knowing/intuiting just how far to reach and which direction to reach to get to the next note. This, combined with an awarwness of the melody pattern will at least keep me in the ballpark.

I always say after some time the tune is in the memory of my hand. I also play the melodeon (and in the past the PA) and there I had the same experience.

Learning to play the CBA is just everyday pleasure!
 
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maugein96

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CBA fingering is not an exact science, regardless of the system you play. After they have got the basics together, most CBA players just develop their own method of fingering, with the preferred style of music usually having the major influence.

I play C system, and use whatever fingering I reckon I can manage without worrying whether any critics will deem it right or wrong. If you're making all the right sounds then nobody has the right to criticise you. If they cannot match your sound, then your fingering is better than theirs, regardless.

There are volumes of books that try and tell you that such and such a scale should be played in a certain manner. When was the last time you heard a tune that comprised a full scale?

Get your box out of its case and play it. If it doesn't sound right, play about with the fingering until you are satisfied. If you're not satisfied, try other inversions using different rows. If that doesn't work put a 10lb hammer through your box, and buy a Piano accordion. That way you can easily obtain the "correct" fingering for every tune known to mankind.

Just because your favourite accordionist scratches his or her nose with a pinky doesn't mean you have to do the same.
 

bocsa

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maugein96 said:
(...)
Get your box out of its case and play it. (...)

That works for all instruments :D

Don't put it back in the box! Leave it out, preferably within arms distance & if you're worried about dust. put a cover over it.

Pick it up and give it a squeeze whenever the mood takes; unlike a 'partner' it stays quiet if ignored ;)
 

george garside

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[quote="
There are volumes of books that try and tell you that such and such a scale should be played in a certain manner. When was the last time you heard a tune that comprised a full scale?

.

.[/quote]

over the years I have looked at several tutor books and there is indeed little or no consensus each recommended method of fingering being the choice of the author of the book. As others have said sort it out yourself aand be prepared to do it in the best way that suits a particular bit of a particular tune and you!

In sorting out a 'plan' the only word of caution I would give is to make sure your way of doing it works on scales over 2 or more octaves so there is no danger of running out of fingers when ''crossing'' octaves

george
 
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Deleted member 48

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Here is a sheet music book with bayan fingering techniques, authors Risol and Yashkevitch:

http://www.music.volod.com.ua/M.Rizol.I.Yashkevytch.Double_Notes_Technique_for_Bayan.php

quote:
Mykola Rizol - Ivan Yashkevitch. Double Notes Technique School for Bayan. 1989
Language: Russian.
Number of pages: 175

Content:
Fingering for various double notes combinations for right and left hands.
Exercises, studies composed by N.Rizol, I.Yashkevitch and other composers.
Studies for free bass solo.

more bayan studies:
http://www.music.volod.com.ua/learn.php
 
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maugein96

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It never ceases to amaze me how people who play instruments where it is possible to produce the same note by different processes become fixated by trying to work out what is "correct" and what is "wrong".

I play accordion, guitar, Greek bouzouki, mandolin, and Turkish saz. All of those instruments are capable of playing the same notes using different fingerings, but it must be said that the best players simply develop their own playing styles and work out whatever fingering suits them, regardless of what the books say.

The guitar style I mainly play is Surf Rock, where the same tune is seldom played the same way twice. Consequently it is impossible to notate the tunes to cover every known improvisation, and also those improvisations that have not yet been invented by the player. I would admit that I cannot work out the subtleties of jazz, but I seldom play the same tune the same way every time, regardless of which instrument I am playing.

Most of we amateur players aspire to play like our heroes, but it took me over 40 years to realise that people like Hank Marvin have a natural ability that very few of we lesser mortals could ever hope to acquire, regardless of how keen we are. I'll not go into the names of specific accordionists, as I am out of touch with any players born before about 1940.

That aside, quite a few of us can manage a passable attempt to play the music we like on our chosen instrument(s), and I am a great fan of just picking an instrument up and playing it by ear. The technique will come naturally with practice regardless of what is written down in the so-called tutor books. If it doesn't, then I would doubt very much whether the player will make much of the instrument, regardless of any tuition received. Professional tuition will no doubt improve your playing, but if you are obliged to go down that road I would respectfully suggest that you are destined to mediocrity. I am lucky that I am able to play the instruments of my choice with a degree of natural ability, but that degree falls well short of the guys who have that x factor that causes them to be revered as masters of their instrument(s).

Music to most of us is a spontaneous form of enjoyment and entertainment. If we all worried about what finger should play which note then the chances are that people like Andre Verchuren, Carlo Venturi, or any other big name that has inspired you in the accordion world, would never have existed.
 

bocsa

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Anyone looking for help with their fingering shouldnt be deterred from asking.

Some folks dont need it, others do.
Some will slavishly follow given patterns, others will experiment, it really doesnt matter cos the outcome is (hopefully) the same: to *enjoy playing. Remember the *Keywords :)

On a personal note, Ive plumbed the depths of mediocrity on several instruments and love em all for the *pleasure they bring me; mind you, Id need a chitty for the Food Bank if I had to earn a living from them :lol:

*Key words: enjoy.
 

Anyanka

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There are instruments where fingering advice is crucial - the piano, and with it the piano accordion. It's always ok to break the rules, but one should learn them first, to avoid making things harder than necessary! I would have been grateful for some guidance on CBA technique at the beginning, too, but there just wasn't anything (or anyone) around.
 
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Leighton

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Thank you to those of you who had helpful advice.

After more than a month now of figuring things out on my own and following videos and watching fingerings of others I've finally come to a point where I'm fed up.

I totally understand and 'get' the 'roll you own' method that many of you have advocated but I find that what's happening now is that every single song I begin to learn I have tor learn a whole new finger pattern to match the pattern of notes in the song. This seems all wrong. Please tell me if this is simply the case and I just need to go with it, because I'm at the point of frustration at this point.
To have to remember a distinct finger pattern for every song you know no only makes it difficult to learn new songs, it makes improvisation impossible.

It seems many of you don't think that methods from a book are helpful, not that there exist very many, but I have two observations on this point. One is that in observing many CBA players, especially the Russians, I do see a similarity on fingering patterns, obviously there is some consistency of what is 'correct".(Correct in the sense that it works for so many people.) And the second point is that I still feel that there must be some convention that I'm not privy to. As an example: Pick up any beginner guitar book and look at the fingers used for the basic chords: They are ALWAYS THE SAME FINGERS. All I'm asking for is the equivalent for the CBA and it boggles my mind that there exists no book for this.

Sorry if I sound like I'm ranting on, but this is really frustrating.
 

AccordionUprising

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Sadly the lack of standardized technique and cba tutors is I suspect a problem of looking for them in English. Hardly anybody in the English speaking world plays the CBA so there has never been a standard way to play it or learn it here. I assume that in Russia and other "B-system" countries they have various standard systems that are taught, but they're not out in English. Presumably they have the same in Finland or France, but again, have they been translated? (And are the published systems helpful?)

My understanding of the CBA is that as an isomorphic keyboard (like a string-instrument's fretboard) there are more than one way to play given notes, so there literally isn't "one" way to do it. A person could probably play every tune different for the best fingering. But guitar players and teachers develop and recommend standard ways to play scales and fingering, because they make life easier. (Note though that different teachers use different methods, sigh.)

The basic advice I've heard is to begin with only three-rows. (Others may chime in that this is bad advice.) Beginners can still move their position to a higher or lower set of three rows for different keys, but if you limit your fingering to three rows at a time it may make it easier to engrain the basic major, minor, etc scale patterns.

I believe that many traditions teach beginners to only use the outside three rows and ignore the other two entirely. Then you have to learn (I think) three fingerings for each scale to play in every key using just those rows. (With five rows we might skip some of these to start, but learning all the patterns is an obvious step to mastery of the instrument.)

Unfortunately, I gather that even the tutors that are available in English don't all agree on fingering. I suspect this means that there is no one "best" way to play. But, getting one system for yourself and sticking with it as you start playing sure seems like it would help. I think the CBA has been something of an "enthusiast's" undertaking in the English speaking world, so those few never got beyond "roll your own." I don't know if there's enough players now to develop a standardized technique.

I'm not sure if that's helpful, but I encourage your endeavour. I'm sure it will pay off.
 
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Leighton

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Thank you AccordionUprising for the sympathy and encouragement. I needed to hear that.

Dunlustin - I've been following along with Gerard Gerritsen's instruction videos at knopaccordeon.com, I even got the pdf of sheet music and it's been extremely helpful and I've made a lot of progress in left/right hand coordination. But these instructions are also source of fingering frustration mentioned in my previous post. Some of his fingerings make no ergonomic sense and I've actually gotten smoother results from just letting my hand figure out what to do.

I think my fear at this point is that I will learn some idiosyncratic technique that will only go so far and limit my repertoire. Or worse yet that I might be doing something so wrong that I'd have to un-learn it later down the road. I know from experience of learning other musical instruments that un-learning is far more difficult than getting right at the beginning.

I'll still keep at it. I've seen some Russian childrens books for CBA and wondering if there might be some good fundamentals there?
 

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