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Learnin' the Dots

WaldoW

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I have been resisting learning “the dots” because I wanted to develop improvisational skills before coming under the regimen of sheet music. I have achieved that goal sufficiently enough to move forward. I have a copy of L.O. Anzaghi’s Method for Accordion [how the heck do you pronounce his name, anyway], and have been working thru the lessons and have several questions regarding music theory.

I’m pretty well versed in theory, but have forgotten some things, and, I’m having some trouble interpreting what the printed matter should actually sound like. I reference Anzaghi’s book with the pages and location of the item that generated my curiosity. So here are several questions, and feel free to add anything you may feel would be helpful.

1) On page 16, he describes the notes on the bass row buttons will have their stems pointing up [and later that the chord notes will have their stems pointing down]. However, in the second example the bass run has both up and down stems in one measure. Is that 4 individual notes followed by 4 chords? I read it as 8 consecutive notes, but I can’t understand the contradiction to the previous statement.

2) On pages 13 &15, a diagram of the bass side buttons, with associated pitches noted, is presented. On said diagrams the middle “C” is dimpled in the normal fashion. He, however, places the “Jeweled” buttons on A instead of E [as on my boxes] going up, and on the Eb, instead of the Ab, going down. Was this difference ethnic or a development over time (the change, that is)?

3) Generic: How do you play a dotted note? How do you count them?
My memory is they are held a little longer than a normal note. How much longer?
Page 22, exercise 11 shows ¾ time with a bass/chord/chord left hand and a dotted ½ note per measure. In this case, does the dot count for a ¼ count? That is, do I hold the ½ note for a full 3 count, as I would hold a whole note throughout the measure?
Can one specifically say a dotted note requires an additional hold equal to ½ the time value of the dotted note? Therefore, a dotted ½ note, would really be a ¾ note?

4) Same page, exercise 12: The “dots” show 2 half notes on the treble side and 4 quarter notes on the bass side, per measure. Should these “1/4” notes be played “hot potato”, per standard bass approach, which would result in an 1/8th or even 1/16th note [with respect to the timing], or held for the ¼ note count similar to the treble side? Wouldn’t the latter approach use a lot of air? Is there some anomaly in music that applies to accordions and the rapid release technique used on the bass side?

5) Generic: Barred notes denote 1/8 notes (single bar), 1/16 notes (double bars) and so on. Correct?

Thanks for the help! I’m sure I’ll be back with more questions.

Press on….
Waldo
 

debra

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WaldoW post_id=59614 time=1527742326 user_id=1663 said:
1) On page 16, he describes the notes on the bass row buttons will have their stems pointing up [and later that the chord notes will have their stems pointing down]. However, in the second example the bass run has both up and down stems in one measure. Is that 4 individual notes followed by 4 chords? I read it as 8 consecutive notes, but I can’t understand the contradiction to the previous statement.
Stems point up when the note is low and down when the note is high. This is just so that the stems never point far outside the 5-line bar area. It is just for printing convenience and not related to whether something is a bass run or base notes with chords.
WaldoW post_id=59614 time=1527742326 user_id=1663 said:
2) On pages 13 &15, a diagram of the bass side buttons, with associated pitches noted, is presented. On said diagrams the middle “C” is dimpled in the normal fashion. He, however, places the “Jeweled” buttons on A instead of E [as on my boxes] going up, and on the Eb, instead of the Ab, going down. Was this difference ethnic or a development over time (the change, that is)?
It is more customary to have Ab, C, E marked in some way than Eb, C, A, but anything is possible. Some accordions even have only the C marked and nothing else.
WaldoW post_id=59614 time=1527742326 user_id=1663 said:
3) Generic: How do you play a dotted note? How do you count them?
My memory is they are held a little longer than a normal note. How much longer?
Page 22, exercise 11 shows ¾ time with a bass/chord/chord left hand and a dotted ½ note per measure. In this case, does the dot count for a ¼ count? That is, do I hold the ½ note for a full 3 count, as I would hold a whole note throughout the measure?
Can one specifically say a dotted note requires an additional hold equal to ½ the time value of the dotted note? Therefore, a dotted ½ note, would really be a ¾ note?
A dot adds exactly 50% to the value of the note (and a possible second dot 25%).
The value of the note does not mean you always hold it for that long, only that it counts as having that value (being that long). When you play music you sometimes make notes shorter than they are written (thus adding rests that are not written down), to make it sound better. It is whatever the music requires, and the music isnt written down, only the notes are. We use the term music notation but that is a misnomer. The Germans say something like Notenschrift which is what it actually is.
WaldoW post_id=59614 time=1527742326 user_id=1663 said:
4) Same page, exercise 12: The “dots” show 2 half notes on the treble side and 4 quarter notes on the bass side, per measure. Should these “1/4” notes be played “hot potato”, per standard bass approach, which would result in an 1/8th or even 1/16th note [with respect to the timing], or held for the ¼ note count similar to the treble side? Wouldn’t the latter approach use a lot of air? Is there some anomaly in music that applies to accordions and the rapid release technique used on the bass side?
Here again, the dots only show what the value of the notes is (so where they start and how to count) and not how long they should actually be played. The same notation can be played differently, depending on what makes the music sound best.
WaldoW post_id=59614 time=1527742326 user_id=1663 said:
5) Generic: Barred notes denote 1/8 notes (single bar), 1/16 notes (double bars) and so on. Correct?
...
Correct.

Your approach of first learning to play music (improvise) and then learn the notation is an interesting one. You now already know how to make music and just need to learn how to consider the notation to be just a rough indication of what the music should be like. When a computer plays the notes as written down, it will not sound like music, meaning you need to add a lot of interpretation to the notation to turn notes into music.
 

george garside

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debra post_id=59618 time=1527749746 user_id=605 said:
WaldoW post_id=59614 time=1527742326 user_id=1663 said:
a ¾ note?


Your approach of first learning to play music (improvise) and then learn the notation is an interesting one. You now already know how to make music and just need to learn how to consider the notation to be just a rough indication of what the music should be like. When a computer plays the notes as written down, it will not sound like music, meaning you need to add a lot of interpretation to the notation to turn notes into music.


What Paul has said in the above paragraph is in fact quite common amongst those who play mainly by ear/from memory.

As a mainly by earist I can read a simple uncluttered melody line in the sense of playing the right notes in the right order .i.e as a rough indication of what the music should be like or sometimes just the first few bars to jog the memory into action!

from thereon the phrasing, dynamics etc is all my own work.

The well known concert pianist Artur Schnabel once said The notes I handle no better than many pianists, but the pause between the notes - Ah, that is where the art resides.

I simply think of it as playing the gaps a skill that should be mastered by both earists and dotists

george</QUOTE>
 

Tom

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Salute Waldo,

Our fine author, Luigi Oreste Anzaghi, is pronounced as such:

Luigi is as you would expect, same as in the Mario Brothers.

Oreste is like "forest," with the final "e" pronounced "ay, as in bay," (like "eh" (Canadian))

Anzaghi, is "On, as in blonde," "zag" rhymes with "bog," "hi" rhymes with "bee."

Do you have the version with the cool old pictures? Mi piace molto, ciao!
 

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Tom post_id=59626 time=1527768987 user_id=69 said:
Anzaghi, is On, as in blonde, zag rhymes with bog, hi rhymes with bee.

There is no h sound in Anzaghi. The combination ghi is pronounced as in Lamborghini, with a hard g: Ahn-TSA-gui (gui as in guitar). Stress on the second syllable, I believe.
 

Anyanka

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Tom post_id=59626 time=1527768987 user_id=69 said:
Anzaghi, is On, as in blonde, zag rhymes with bog, hi rhymes with bee.

I love this approach to phonetics, because it gives you a totally different result for American vs UK English (and Im sure Australian, South African etc puts a different slant on it again). Read by an English English-speaker, the above would translate back into writing as Onzog-Hee ;)

Id compare it more to Un (as in unkind), the a in zag long like saga (but with a soft z) and ghi as in... ghee.
 

Tom

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Yes, I wondered about this American versus British aspect also, and it's true, the h is not pronounced, my example was Ametican.....

Incidentally, I have the English version and I love the translated titles of the songs, my favorite being "The Pretty Brunette to the Brook."

Anyway, how do you like the book?
 

WaldoW

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Paul & George,
Thanks for that perspective. I got most of my music theory from a middle school music/band teacher (a friends wife). She would stress playing the full note/s (duration) as written and not shorten them, as I had a tendency to do. I have been trying to play as written in order to not get a bad habit.
As you might expect, having been free forming for the last year, the regimen of following the dots has been a bit of a trial for me. Often, after practicing the printed notation (aptly named, like a doctors practice), I would take the melody/note sequence I had been studying and start fooling around with it, creating something new and more pleasing to my ears. It is then when I really enjoy it and I can go on for hours. Dont get me wrong, the lessons and music printed in Anzaghi are very helpful and I am looking forward to the rest of the book. One of my hurdles on the improvisation side is everything I was doing was sounding the same. Anzaghi brought me past that.
I will be droping the 7th grade approach as I have no plans to play in a symphony, I will be playing the dots as I see em, and hear em. Thank you both for giving me permission to play outside the box! And, YES, it is all about the pauses between the notes. Its not what you play, its what you dont play that counts.

Tom,
Yes, A fine volume. I have the version with the vintage photos and challenging and often humorous translations. I havent followed the traditional approach to learning the accordion. I purposely eschewed a formal approach in favor of a By the Ear style. I have read accounts of accomplished/professional musicians who whished they could improvise outside the printed musical sheets, but felt at a complete loss as to how to go about it. That is: wedded to the dots. Being 68 years old, I wanted to be able to play with others (a constant criticism on my report cards) in a contributory fashion without having to learn 1,000s of songs. Being able to move around competently within a Key, and being able to pick up on a melody quickly were my main goals. Learning specific songs will come my way, but improvising within a tune is my real joy.

Another difference for me has been I learned the treble side and the bass side separately, as if they were two different instruments. I made a forum inquiry as to weather one should learn the left and right hands separately or at the same time. I am decidedly in the minority by my approach! In fact, I may be the only member here whos taken such. I was having a similar difficulty as described above, that is, I couldnt attach a suitable bass accompyment to my treble side playing.

Its is at this point I decided to pull out the Book. And Im glad I did. I discovered, thru his exercises, a relationship between the bass notes and the treble button layout [this is not spelled out in the text, I had to discover it for myself]. This discovery helped me immensely. All of a sudden my left hand is playing along with my right hand, and its sounding good, too! I havent even made it to the songs, yet.

I still dont have a handle on the pronunciation of Mr. As name. My question was somewhat tongue in cheek as the format here (print) is a bit like trying to describe a color to a blind person.

Thanks for all the input,
Press on....
Waldo
 

george garside

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there are no hard and fast 'rules' on how to play the gaps so to get some ideas it can help to bring up youtube vids of a tune you are familiar with and listen to various renditions of it. some will probably be crap and some might come to life. But at least you will be able to take notice of what makes the difference

george
 
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george garside post_id=59659 time=1527845051 user_id=118 said:
there are no hard and fast rules on how to play the gaps so to get some ideas it can help to bring up youtube vids of a tune you are familiar with and listen to various renditions of it. some will probably be crap and some might come to life. But at least you will be able to take notice of what makes the difference
We are not playing organ or piano but accordion. We are in control of the tone from its onset to its end. A piano, in contrast, is a percussive instrument with damper control. That focuses a whole lot of the expressive focus on the exact manner, timing and strength of attack, anticipated in the gap. For inspiration about expressive power it might make more sense to look at a oboe or clarinet rather than a piano. We dont have embouchure to work with (well, partially pressed keys/buttons can actually affect air focus but I digress) but to bring out our potential, it seems more sensible to look for inspiration at instruments that have better control over capabilities present in our instrument rather than at those instruments who are complete lacking in those departments.

A piano has no continuous tone, and no continuous control. That is a very fundamental difference with regard to expressiveness.
 

Tom

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Sounds like your approach is working well, and you are making great discoveries and progress Waldo. And enjoying the ride! Everything will improve with more and more playing and I hope you are fortunate to find the right people to share your passion.
 

george garside

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Geronimo post_id=59664 time=1527847624 user_id=2623 said:
george garside post_id=59659 time=1527845051 user_id=118 said:
there are no hard and fast rules on how to play the gaps so to get some ideas it can help to bring up youtube vids of a tune you are familiar with and listen to various renditions of it. some will probably be crap and some might come to life. But at least you will be able to take notice of what makes the difference
We are not playing organ or piano but accordion. We are in control of the tone from its onset to its end. A piano, in contrast, is a percussive instrument with damper control. That focuses a whole lot of the expressive focus on the exact manner, timing and strength of attack, anticipated in the gap. For inspiration about expressive power it might make more sense to look at a oboe or clarinet rather than a piano. We dont have embouchure to work with (well, partially pressed keys/buttons can actually affect air focus but I digress) but to bring out our potential, it seems more sensible to look for inspiration at instruments that have better control over capabilities present in our instrument rather than at those instruments who are complete lacking in those departments.

A piano has no continuous tone, and no continuous control. That is a very fundamental difference with regard to expressiveness.

there are many accordion vids on youtube to listen to. Just put in xxxx tune accordion.

george
 

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debra post_id=59618 time=1527749746 user_id=605 said:
Stems point up when the note is low and down when the note is high. This is just so that the stems never point far outside the 5-line bar area. It is just for printing convenience and not related to whether something is a bass run or base notes with chords.

Well, if the music is notated in accordance with the American Accordion Associations rules, which seems like what the OP is dealing wiht, then there really is a bit of significance to the stems. Although youre right that its really more of a notational coincidence than anything else.

See, notes that are intended to be played by a bass button are, by AAA convention, written below the middle line of the bass staff. Notes that are intended to be played by a chord button are written above the middle line (and the first of those in a series will have a letter above it indicating chord quality). Putting a note on the middle line is not recommended due to the ambiguity, although you do see it occasionally.

It just so happens that, in traditional notation--whether its a accordion or anything else--the stems on notes above the middle line typically go down, and those below the middle line typically go up. So you can use stem direction as a shortcut to figuring out which bass-clef notes are bass buttons and which are chords.

Stemming can sometimes throw the above rule off though, and whole notes dont have stems in the first place, so in the end its really that middle line thats the final arbiter.

(The AAA does allow for writing bass notes anywhere on the staff if its flagged with B.S. for bass solo. At least I hope that what it stands for...)
 
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JeffJetton post_id=59679 time=1527882751 user_id=1774 said:
(The AAA does allow for writing bass notes anywhere on the staff if its flagged with B.S. for bass solo. At least I hope that what it stands for...)
Bassi soli (only basses).
 

WaldoW

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JeffJ said;
"It just so happens that, in traditional notation--whether it's a accordion or anything else--the stems on notes above the middle line typically go down, and those below the middle line typically go up. So you can use stem direction as a shortcut to figuring out which bass-clef notes are bass buttons and which are chords."

Does that mean a fundamental bass row "C", notated on the second space of the clef row, would be followed by a F-row "D" that would appear on the second ledger space below the clef row? This makes some sense as the bass side sounds only one octive and then repeats.
Would then a "C" chord appear on the 1st upper ledger line, followed by a "D" chord located on the 3rd line, main staff?

What I'm perceiving here is that the limited tonal range found on the bass side [compared to the treble side] allows the bass and chord notations be "stacked" on top of each other, using the lower range of the staff for the bass and the upper range for the chords [despite the bass and chords "sounding" the same tone(s)]. If reading the bass clef in the same manner as the treble, I would expect a "C" chord to be quite a bit higher in tone than the fundamental "C". Am I correct that the two clef rows are read differently? Is piano notation the same?

Press on....
Waldo
 

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Hi Waldo,

You have to be careful, because the bass notes and chords are notated on the "bass cleff," so the "A" fundamental bass note is actually on the first, or bottom space, and the "C" chord will be found on the "line" above the staff, etc.

To quote, use the " mark that you find in the upper right corner of the post you want to quote.
 

WaldoW

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Tom,
My bad. I referenced my treble side cheat sheet when composing the post. I'm going back into the post and correcting it.
Waldo
 

JeffJetton

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Waldo, the basic gist behind what youre saying is, if Im reading it right, correct. Since the basses on the accordion are all contained in a single octave (and its not even standard from accordion to accordion where that octave stops and starts), it really doesnt matter what octave you actually notate them at on paper. A C is going to come out at whatever pitch the particular accordion being played has it at, regardless of whether that C is written two ledger lines below the bottom of the staff or on the second space up.* Same for chords.

If youre familiar with pipe organs, you know that there are multiple keyboards involved, plus the foot pedals. Organ notation therefore typically consists of three separate staves: One on top for the right hand (which might play a melody, for instance), one in the middle for the left hand (which might play chords), and one on the bottom for the feet (which are playing bass notes).

Well you can think of accordion being sort of the same way. The top staff is for the right hand. The top section of the bottom staff is equivalent to our pipe organs middle staff, for those left-hand chords. The bottom section of the bottom staff is equivalent to the staff used by the pedals--the bass notes. Since the middle and bottom staves dont need five lines each (due to each only having an octaves worth of choices), they have been smooshed into what looks like a single five-line staff. But dont let that fool you! Theyre really two separate mini staves, sitting on top of each other like two kids in an oversized trenchcoat. :D


* Disclaimers: Were talking about an accordion with a Stradella bass system, of course. And were ignoring the trick where you switch the register setting on the fly to actually cover multiple bass octaves, which is a technique Ive seen explained (by Bill Palmer, no less, in a book of Bach arrangements) but for which I hold out little hope of being able to actually do.
 
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JeffJetton post_id=59773 time=1528136880 user_id=1774 said:
* Disclaimers: Were talking about an accordion with a Stradella bass system, of course. And were ignoring the trick where you switch the register setting on the fly to actually cover multiple bass octaves, which is a technique Ive seen explained (by Bill Palmer, no less, in a book of Bach arrangements) but for which I hold out little hope of being able to actually do.
See the following image:

Ive decided that the cursive 8 below every second bass note means switching on the low bass for that note. Thats not really a great option with clacky combination registers, but my own instrument (incidentally likely built for the arranger of that waltz) allows me to use a thumb slider in the left hand in order to add or remove just the low bass octave rather silently.

Getting that little detail in was actually less frustrating than the right hand (which gets a real workout even on CBA at the end).
 

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WaldoW

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Thanks JeffJ for the clarification. It clears up a lot of confusion for me. I was seeing the bass clef as similar to the treble and it just wasn't working right. On ward and upward....
Waldo
 

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