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Playing classical with stradella bass?

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For most classical music you'd want to opt for a free bass system. Classical music requires multiple octaves and more notes than stradella can provide. That being said you can arrange some simple classical pieces for stradella. For example Rondo alla Turca sounds wonderful on stradella bass!
 
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Walker

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This type of music is definitely a 'thing' - from the accordion classics by Frosini, Volpi etc. to transcriptions of classical works, such as the piece AccordionJustice mentions. The heyday for stradella bass classical accordion, I think, was the 1950s. There is certainly no shortage of this music available and there were many amazing accordionists of this type. I like listening to much of it.

Over the years, especially in my youth, I made various attempts at classical music with stradella bass. However, to be honest, I never really enjoyed playing that type of music. The treble side was often really chord heavy and performance directions galore. The single octave bass and pre-set chords are a bit restrictive.

I think it's fair to say that free bass fundamentally changes the nature of the accordion. I say this after spending the last 30 years and more playing stradella accordion, albeit mainly Scottish traditional dance music. But however much I love traditional music, it is a little bit limiting if you have the desire to do something more polyphonic. Yet, many people will never have the faintest desire to play highly polyphonic music, and that's just fine. But free bass does make a huge difference to the experience of playing music. Just having the extra octaves on the bass and no pre-set chords opens the flow of the music. It becomes more complete, a bit like the organ, piano, harpsichord etc. The tone is different also - I find the bass has equality with the treble in it's tonal presence. When you play, everything just seems stereo plus.

I think there is great merit to stradella bass, especially for folk, dance or jazz music etc. and playing in bands. But for classical or new original music then free bass is probably more suitable.

 
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Vladimir M.

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Hi Beemer,
Can stradella bass be satisfactorily used for amateur classical music
Of course, yes. Take a look at this example (Weltmeister Supita 120-stradella bass):

A good musician can do wonders even with a standard bass. It's all up to the person and how he arranges the work. However, Stradella bass requires a thought-out interpretation strategy. It is also important to have a sufficient number of suitable bass registers = suitable sound combinations in the stradella bass.
or is a free bass accordion necessary?
Free bass significantly facilitates the playing of classic works. However, its use is not "mandatory" in such cases. I also saw and heard musicians who had big and expensive instruments with melodic bass and played uninterestingly and "without a soul". If I like something, I follow the rule: Simply try to play it... And either I succeed or I don't. Regardless of the bass manual ...

Best regards,
Vladimir
 
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Beemer

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Hi Beemer,

Of course, yes. Take a look at this example (Weltmeister Supita 120-stradella bass):

A good musician can do wonders even with a standard bass. It's all up to the person and how he arranges the work. However, Stradella bass requires a thought-out interpretation strategy. It is also important to have a sufficient number of suitable bass registers = suitable sound combinations in the stradella bass.

Free bass significantly facilitates the playing of classic works. However, its use is not "mandatory" in such cases. I also saw and heard musicians who had big and expensive instruments with melodic bass and played uninterestingly and "without a soul". If I like something, I follow the rule: Simply try to play it... And either I succeed or I don't. Regardless of the bass manual ...

Best regards,
Vladimir
Good philosophy, thanks, Ian
 

Siegmund

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As already mentioned, freebass makes it easier to play left-hand melodies over a wide range. (If you really try hard, you can do quite a lot with the fundamental and counter basses and the occasional register switch change.)
Freebass also makes it easier to play sustained notes in the left hand without overpowering the treble, by providing a way to play with only one or two banks of reeds active. IMO it's a fairly fundamental flaw with many accordions, giving them such heavy bass voicing (and then we teach people to work around it by telling them to peck at the bass buttons rather than hold them down.)

That said... you can do a lot, both amateur and professional quality, with classical music on Stradella.

Gary Dahl has a book out, "The Classical Tradition", with simplified but convincing-sounding arrangements of 2 or 3 dozen classical pieces.

The Frosini compositions and arrangements were mentioned upthread (and if you are outside the USA, these are now out-of-copyright and legally freely downloadable -- he died in 1951.)

I'd also call your attention to the mid-20th century Soviet composers and arrangers. Nikolai Chaikin, among others, wrote extensively for Stradella-only left hand. I think of his Concerto in Bb for Bayan and Orchestra as a high-water mark of how far a Stradella instrument can go towards 'serious classical music'. Most of the later concerto writers have opted for freebass.
Alexander Dmitriev's arrangement of Rossini's "Largo al factotum" from Barber of Seville ('Cavatina Figaro') is also Stradella-only and can be seen in dozens upon dozens of Youtube videos.
 

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