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Chromatic Button Accordion history

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Ganza

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Hello all,
Im supposed to be giving a little presentation on the CBA at my teacher's yearly concert, where all his students will be playing a piece.
Actually, its funny, Im a little nervous as despite my 5 or so years of playing guitar and cavaquinho in bands, Ive nevet played or sung anything solo!
Anyway, I digress.... Im wondering if anyone can help me: theres almost no information on the CBA's origins that I can find online.
Does anyone know where, when, and who invented the CBA? And how the B and C systems came about?
Thankyou
 

losthobos

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I've had a quick sniff online but cant verify this info as 100% but perhaps someone can further enlighten.... i read somewhere sometime that ALL accordions were CBA's originally across Europe and the manufacturers soon spotted that if they were to enter the English/American marketplace it would be a smart move to scrap the buttons for traditional piano keys as this would vacilitate an ease of transition for piano players and thus open up the English market.....
 

JIM D.

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The popularity of the PA accordion that started in the 20's was indeed aimed at piano playing musicians. The easy transition from piano to PA enabled a pianist to become mobile in performance's where a piano was unavailable.
 
D

Deleted member 48

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I can also recommend Gorka Hermosas The Accordion in the 19th Century
The Accordion in the 19th. Century.

If I may add an equally interesting free online pdf document by Andreas Teufel: Die Schrammelharmonika
http://schrammelharmonika.nonfoodfactory.org/Andreas_Teufel/
( 26 megabytes free pdf document on the history of the development of the first CBA types, the 19th century B-system Viennese Schrammelharmonikas, forerunners of the CBA accordions)

Ive also posted a free pdf bibliography list with books about accordion, the pdf is online on this forum.
 
M

maugein96

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Ganza,

The CBA was invented in Vienna sometime during the 1850s by an accordionist only known as "F. Walter", who worked out that if you changed the reeds of a standard three row diatonic box, which at that time in Austria typically comprised only 23 treble buttons, you could get 46 notes out of it. The bass side only had 12 buttons, but was apparently arranged so that all keys could be played.

I don't know whether Herr Walter's accordion was B or C system, or whatever, but it was the first chromatic button box.

CBAs are still often referred to as "Wiener" (Viennese) style accordions in Germany.

With regard to who invented the B and C system, I don't think many people are really sure of how they came about. The B system was that chosen by the Russian bayan players, and I'm led to believe the Norwegians chose the same system. That doesn't explain the popularity of the B system in northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It is also used in those few Balkan countries where the CBA is popular (mainly Serbia). Then there are the two different types of B system, the Charleroi (C in second row, also known as Do2), and Liege (C in third row, also known as Do3).

Even the C system has at least one variant. The Finns arrange theirs so that E is on the outside row.

You never know, in Turkmenistan they may have a T system!
 

AccordionUprising

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The only other variants I know of are the Serbian six-row b-system. Just adds another row.

There is a curiously parallel history of the accordion in Russia, with many, many variations over almost two centuries. They were playing free-reeds in St. Petersburgh as early as anywhere else in Europe it seems and some of he early touring virtuosos came from there. I intend to read all the linked material here and would love to learn more about where the different designs came from. Gets pretty hazy back that far though.

I'd also like to know where the freakish Belgian bass system came from, always imagined someone dropped a standard stradella and put it together upside down. The variety of these instruments is amazing. People were really creative and there were no standards and local trends developed into national flavours.

It is my personal theory that he piano accordion was probably pushed in North America as a means to simplify supplying umpteen different ethnic models. "Throw away that old-world accordion, buy one of these!" (only has to stock one keyboard.) It was (almost) all piano accordions here by the 1930s, except a few ethnic holdouts playing diatonic boxes.
 

AccordionUprising

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I am making this up (so dont cite this or anything):

It seems possible that the CBA could have developed independently in different places. Walter in Vienna and someone in Russia might have looked at a standard three-row accordion and tried to make each button unisonoric. I would have to search out the Russian history to know. There were some pretty weird Russian systems over the years including the tiny piano accordion http://www.riznicasrpska.net/muzika/index.php?topic=124.0

[thumbnail]http://riznicasrpska.net/fotografij...adojka_Zivkovic_naslovna_sa_trostrukog_cd.jpg[/thumbnail]

That said, people and ideas got around much more quickly than I had ever assumed back in the 1800s. So Walters innovation could have travelled, or it could have been forgotten and reinvented by different people (in different ways later.) Maybe a bunch of local makers all saw it at the 1900 version of NAMM (big US music industry convention) and went home and reverse-engineered their own national systems. Or they just heard a report and came up with it from scanty information. I would love to know more, but youd have to have German, French, and I think Russian to try to get a good picture, those seem the likely early innovators.


-- Wheatstone’s pre-concertina “symphonium,” Demian’s brand-new accordion,” and a Chinese Sheng were on display at a lecture in London in 1830! That’s early off the mark.

It is known that Demians accordion had reached London as early as 1830 as, on the 5th of June that year, a Mr. Faraday gave a lecture on the application of a new principle in the construction of musical instruments (Ring Workman et al. 1830: 369). The principle in question was the free reed and the lecture was based on information provided by Charles Wheatstone. During the evening, Wheatstones symphonion, the precursor to his later concertina, was demonstrated and a Chinese Sheng was also on display. Just over a year after Demian had patented the accordion in Vienna it was also demonstrated at this lecture in London:

Another application of this principle was then shewn in the accordion, invented at Vienna, which consists often chords, put in action by a portable bellows for the hand and regulated by finger keys. The harmonies of this instrument are very full and organ-like, but it is limited in compass.
(Ring Workman, W, Morley, X and Arnold, F, eds. (1830) The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c, London: Proprietors at the Literary Gazette Office.: 369)
From: Journey into Tradition: A Social History of the Irish Button Accordion, Máire Ní Chaoimh (PhD Thesis, 2010)
Amazing PDF: http://ulir.ul.ie/bitstream/handle/10344/1616/2010_Ni Chaoimh.pdf
 
G

Ganza

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Great stuff Accordion Uprising. I can see you're a lover of history, like me.

I don't get why there seems to be no general history book of the accordion, incl development and early history and different styles played in different countries/groups within countries.
It is not an old instrument. If you want to find about the history and development of, say, the sport of rugby, or the ukulele, or the guitar, or the organ, im sure its much easier than for the accordion.
Why?
 
D

Deleted member 48

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In attachment is a pdf literature list with books and articles on accordion/concertina/bandoneon history.
If you also count the German, French, Russian literature on this subject, there is a lot of information available.

Check out also amazon and co for literature on harmoniums and reed organs. These are not in the list, but there are a few good books on the history of harmoniums and reed organs.
 

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kimric

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AccordionUprising said:
Id also like to know where the freakish Belgian bass system came from, always imagined someone dropped a standard stradella and put it together upside down.

That system is called the Soprani System I have a couple of old Gurrini accordions with this system.
 

AccordionUprising

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Ganza said:
I dont get why there seems to be no general history book of the accordion, incl development and early history and different styles played in different countries/groups within countries.

Short answer, Im working on one. But Im self-limiting to North America. Its a huge project because so much of the basic research has never been done. No-one has written about the 100+ accordionists who played on country music hits between 1930 and 1960. Theres no books on accordion jazz history. Some ethnic styles have pretty decent coverage, but nobody has pulled them together, and thats just for North America. So Im working on that, its taking a long time, five years so far. Im slow.

Theres a lot of general world histories in French, German, Russian, and Italian. Ive seen Japanese texts too. It would be great if some of them were simply translated. We dont need to reinvent the wheel.

My own bibliography promises to be very large. Its mostly pieced together from tiny parts of books on other topics, with one paragraph about accordions. Simply nobody bothered to research them in the English speaking world after they fell from grace in 1960 or so.

Theres a few things, Marion Jacobsons book Squeeze This, came out a few years ago, but deals only with piano accordion in the US. Even today, if you look on Amazon, there isnt much yet.

I want to get this coffee-table book from France. Thatd be a great one to get translated.

TRÉSORS DE LAMES: Un livre dart consacré à laccordéon et au bandonéon, by Laurent Jerry (2014)
http://www.boite-accordeon.com/indexlivre.html

http://www.boite-accordeon.com/Images/imagecouvachat.jpg>
imagecouvachat.jpg
 

Glenn

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We wish you luck with your research. The picture book from France looks gorgeous. But pricey but maybe for a special occasion?
 

kimric

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You may want to contact Steve Mobia , he made the film Behind the Bellows and has dug up a lot of information.
 
D

Deleted member 48

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I'm going to add the 2014 book by Laurent Jarry to my list.
The Castelfidardo museum also edited a book in 2013:
"Artigiani del suono" (Artisans of Sound. An illustrated history of 150 years of accordion making in Castelfidardo.)
 
N

Nuuksu

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Here is book from estonia http://www.akordioniliit.ee/akordio...ies/2010/5/3_Raamat_Akordionimang_Eestis.html

I translate a little Raamat “Akordionimäng Eestis” käsitleb Eesti akordiomängu ajalugu alates 1920. aastaist kuni tänapäevani. Enne II maailmasõda muutus akordion kui vähetuntud pill Eestis kiiresti populaarseks, tuntud mängijad-Robert Salong, Johann Lõhmus, Uno Elts jt. esinesid nii ringhäälingus kui ka kinoteatrite lavadel. Restoranide orkestrite juures mängisid Raimond Valgre, Konstantin Paalse, Valter Kallas jpt. Peale II MS avati akordioniõpetus muusikaõppeasutustes. Tutvustatakse esimeste lastemuusikakoolide (periood 1945-70), endiste Tallinna ja Tartu Muusikakoolide akordioniõpetuse ajalugu ning akordionialase kõrghariduse teed tänases Eesti Muusika-ja Teatriakadeemias ja TÜ Viljandi Kultuuriakadeemias. Raamatus tutvustatakse 23 eesti tuntuima akordionimängija ja-pedagoogi elulugu. Raamatu kokkuvõte ja elulood on tõlgitud inglise keelde. Raamatus on 144 lk. ja üle 100 foto.

Book Akordionimäng Eestis is about general accordion teaching and playng history in estonia. It begins from 1920. Accordion wasnt very known in estonia before second world war but it become very popular. Known players at that time were Robert Salong, Johann Lõhmus, Uno Elts and some others who performed on radio and cinema. Raimond Valgre, Konstantin Paalse, Valter Kallas and some others played mostly in restaurant orchestras. Accordion teaching began only after second world war. At years 1945-70 introduced accordion to children music schools. Book consist also about short history of Tartu and Tallinn chldren music schools where is possible to learn accordion, also conservaroties Eesti Muusika ja Teatriakadeemia and TÜ Viljandi Kultuuriakadeemia. There are short biography of 23 most known accordionist and teachers from estonia, also there are short summary that is translated into english allready. There are 144 pages and 100 photos in book.

Sorry, my english is quite bad since Im not native englis speaker, but I hope it gives some info.
 
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