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New accordion player /old musician



Hi I’m very new to the accordion but already play and teach other instruments- guitar,banjo, double bass, harmonica. I live near Fakenham in Norfolk and play in two bands, a barn dance band called Compass Moon and an Americana band I have just joined - Daniel Nestlerode Trio. My accountant has given me her mum’s old accordion a Hohner Tango V (which probably does need some renovation, though it is pretty well in tune.) I’m looking forward to getting reasonably proficient eventually, though I know it’ll be a few months before I’ll be able to make a reasonable noise on it. The previous owner of the accordion can be seen on a pathe news reel at 14 playing an orchestral xylophone to an amazing standard - she was a bit of a child prodigy - but sadly not her playing the accordion. She was made to give up her playing by the man she married!
So I am quite proud to own it and would love know a bit more


Harmonica is good. The accordion is an expressive continuous-tone instrument like it even if the hand bellows action makes it a bit harder to remember. I mention it because forgetting this turns the accordion into an instrument that is unplugged but otherwise inferior to cheap electronic keyboards. Harmoniums, the less portable big cousins of accordions, went mostly out of fashion while accordions didnt. I consider the expressivity of the hand bellows one contributing factor.

Its sort of embarrassing to keep peddling the same videos but, well... they fit. I put up a channel here containing two accordion versions (with different approaches to expressiveness, by myself and by Paul) of Paul De Bras arrangement of music from the Turks Fruit movie score as well as the original harmonica versions inspiring the arrangement. Of course this is more an inspiration to take up harmonica, but then the accordion versions can be played by a single person and dont require a combo/orchestra backdrop.

This is not typical accordion music but it shows a bit of a connection to the expressivity of a harmonica. One advantage of exploiting this kind of expressivity is that it delivers results largely independent of your current skill level and playing speed and thus can add to how rewarding accordion play is even at a comparatively early stage.

Typical accordion accompaniment patterns instead come in the Oom-pah variety with the left hand playing basses (in a style reminiscent of tuba or double bass) and chords (sort of percussive) in quasi-staccato articulation. The melody hand at the same time plays legato lines in the right hand when playing melodies usually sung, or fast leggiero lines for typical instrumental accordion music.

I think the Tango V has a comparatively strong bass side (but with more bass registers than many other instruments) that lends itself well to this typical accordion accompaniment playing style where you register strongly on the left hand but use short articulation to let the melody stand out reasonably well. Its certainly a decent and reasonably flexible instrument to start with.

As to
She was made to give up her playing by the man she married!
I sure hope that this is your paraphrase of what transpired. Because ugh. At any rate, your good luck.

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