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How can I apply music theory to the 1 row 4 stop cajun accordion?

John022685

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How can I apply music theory to the 1 row 4 stop cajun accordion? I have music theory books I just need knowledge of how to apply music theory to my accordion any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 

Gonk

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I prefer water-based music theory because it's less toxic. You can apply using a foam brush, or a cheap hardware store (or dollar store) brush. The two-step theory with hardener is trickier to use and more difficult to clean up.


Sorry. You have a single diatonic scale, with no accidentals. You could picture it as the white keys on a piano. You have intervals 1, 3, 5 on the push (do mi sol) and all the others on the pull. The octaves each behave a little differently. I think a good way to get familiarity is to start out with some scales and simple folk tunes. Try this scale pattern:

button 3: push, pull (do, re)
button 4: push, pull (mi, fa)
button 5: push, pull (sol, la)
button 6: pull, push (ti, do)
 

Tom

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Welcome John!

Yet, to further complicatd things, you also have a complete diatonic minor scale and several other scales with accidentals. My advice to you is to print out a diagram of the treble and bass(es) push and pull values and use them to apply the chords and scales of the music theory you like.

The bigger question, however, is what is your goal? Are you looking to play cajun music? To learn jazz voicings? Or ?????
 

John022685

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Welcome John!

Yet, to further complicatd things, you also have a complete diatonic minor scale and several other scales with accidentals. My advice to you is to print out a diagram of the treble and bass(es) push and pull values and use them to apply the chords and scales of the music theory you like.

The bigger question, however, is what is your goal? Are you looking to play cajun music? To learn jazz voicings? Or ?????
I am wanting to apply music theory to learn zydeco music.
 

losthobos

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You're gonna struggle to get that bluesy zydeco vibe on the diatonic as you're missing your flat 3rd, 5th, and 7th...
Cajun will soumd authentic but not sure about the larger gospel zydeco sound
Good luck..
Liberty bellows on youtube have couple of zydeco lessons that may be worth a peek for you...
 

Tom

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Well, I think that in that case, it might help you to look for online resources that discuss the blues scale and how it is used in zydeco. Honestly, though, I doubt that many zydeco players apply music theory. It's a musical form of rhythm and feeling. I suggest you do this:

1. Figure out what key your accordion is. Either ask who you got it from or use an online app to test the third key "do" as has been suggested above, or your primary bass note. Ask here if you don't understand.

2. Find a zydeco song that you like in the same key as your accordion. Search on youtube, and/or use the "chordify" app if you are unable to determine key by ear.

3. Play your accordion along with the song for 10 hours. It does not have to be all at once. I'm serious, here, just play for 10 hours with one song. You can do it in 2 or 3 days if you have to. If this does not give you a feel for how to apply the notes and rhythm of zydeco, then, my friend, no amount of music theory will help, as this is how 99% of successful zydeco players learn.

3. Try another tune. Try 8 more tunes.

4. Turn off the music and play by yourself for 25 hours.

You now either know how to play zydeco or you never will.

Sorry to be all tough love sbout it, but I'm old, that's how the peas get salted and the bontemps roll.....
 
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John022685

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My
Well, I think that in that case, it might help you to look for online resources that discuss the blues scale and how it is used in zydeco. Honestly, though, I doubt that many zydeco players apply music theory. It's a musical form of rhythm and feeling. I suggest you do this:

1. Figure out what key your accordion is. Either ask who you got it from or use an online app to test the third key "do" as has been suggested above, or your primary bass note. Ask here if you don't understand.

2. Find a zydeco song that you like in the same key as your accordion. Search on youtube, and/or use the "chordify" app if you are unable to determine key by ear.

3. Play your accordion along with the song for 10 hours. It does not have to be all at once. I'm serious, here, just play for 10 hours with one song. You can do it in 2 or 3 days if you have to. If this does not give you a feel for how to apply the notes and rhythm of zydeco, then, my friend, no amount of music theory will help, as this is how 99% of successful zydeco players learn.

3. Try another tune. Try 8 more tunes.

4. Turn off the music and play by yourself for 25 hours.

You now either know how to play zydeco or you never will.
My accordion is in the key of Bflat and yes they do play by ear I also take lessons but I just wanted to see if I could apply music theory to the diatonic accordion.
 

Tom

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Yes, you can! Sorry for the rant above! As Losthobos said, you have to start with your Bb major scale as defined by the buttons. Then look for the relative minor key (G minor) and see how the flat tones are represented. You can then apply your Bb basses (Bb and F) to your G minor scale. Most zydeco players will play a single diatonic accordion in several (incomplete) keys, picking the sweet notes where they fall. Ask your teacher about this! You can do it!
 

dunlustin

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Is this plea for help for real? Anyway:
Tuning may be ‘just intonation’ - other accordions are usually ‘equal temperament.’ So you ( or the guitarist) may sound rubbish
The LH has bass I and chord on the Push and V on the Pull. Ignore this and just whack the LH as ‘tumed percussion.’
Try a scale Start on 3 pull or 5 push.
Ask Blues Harp players why they suck where others blow and why they would sing a (nearly) flat 3rd against a major chord, why they add a flat 7 to everything and which book of music theory suggested it.
You could also ask a Zydeco player how he got there from 'les haricots' and why he's playing a piano accordion.
 

John022685

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Yes, you can! Sorry for the rant above! As Losthobos said, you have to start with your Bb major scale as defined by the buttons. Then look for the relative minor key (G minor) and see how the flat tones are represented. You can then apply your Bb basses (Bb and F) to your G minor scale. Most zydeco players will play a single diatonic accordion in several (incomplete) keys, picking the sweet notes where they fall. Ask your teacher about this! You can do it!
Thank You.
 

oldbayan

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Music theory is the same for any instrument ;)

Playing a 1-row Cajun means you have a limited range of notes. Even if it is tuned in B-flat you can use music charts written in C and just pretend your B-flat is a C.

Players of 1-row accordions often "fake" the IV chord with the treble side, otherwise you only have 2 possible chords, I and V.

We also often hear in old recordings of 1-row accordions the players play "backwards", meaning that in a C accordion they will play in G but many notes are missing and there is no D chord on the bass side, it is "faked" using the treble side.

Listen to this video and watch the bellows movements!


I hope you are not confused with this, but when you only have 10 buttons you need to play tricks to extend the possibilities of the instrument.
 
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Dingo40

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Oldbayan,
Loud and strong! what a lot can be done with so little: love it!🙂👍
Thanks for sharing!🙂
 

Tom

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So many styles, so little time!
 

Gonk

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Love the video, oldbayan!

Re: dunlustin's comment about 'just' vs 'equal' intonation ('just' being the same as 'cajun' tuning) -- Possibly more of an issue on a single reed setting, but I wouldn't give it a second thought on any instrument that has musette! (The spread between the two M reeds is normally greater than the difference between just and equal tempering at that pitch.)

Here's a really interesting way to show this, using a single diatonic scale played in both temperaments at once. Some notes just sound a bit wetter.

The sound file is from this very nice "Physics of Music" page (not mine):
 

Gonk

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TomBR, I think that's tricky to answer. "Cajun" is a huge category, and "Zydeco" is specific, so I'd say "not Zydeco" is always the safest bet. My understanding is that "Zydeco" per se is probably Chenier's own term (based on his tune "Les Haricots...") - c.1955. It's tricky to prove, but at least, he popularized the term. Louisiana's music scene was/is a melting pot. Chenier put his "brand name" on a particular recipe. It's hard to use the term now without reference to him, so it opens up a can of worms any time someone changes the recipe. In the case of the video above, I think the same influences are at work (Creole, Acadian, blues, etc) that created Zydeco - but it's a soup rather than a clear-cut evolutionary tree.

As an aside, it reminds me a bit of the term "Jazz Manouche" stemming entirely from the playing of Django Reinhardt. If I were a jazz musician who happened to be Romani/Manouche, I'm not sure how I'd feel about that!

 

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