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"Quint" System

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Bill Palmer

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There has been some question about the Quint system of converter accordions. The Quint system of free bass converter accordion is based upon the Stradella system counterbass and fundamental bass rows. There are several different mechanisms that have been developed over the years that made this possible. All of them depended on the principle that the counterbass and fundamental bass notes were present in the chords of the Stradella system. It was necessary to figure out a way to play just those notes when single notes were needed. It also helped if the chords were in inversions that placed these notes in a higher octave on the 7th and diminished chord rows. Otherwise, the last octave of single notes would be in the wrong range.

For example -- In the C row of a typical Stradella system instrument, you have E, C, CM, Cm, C7 and C dim. If your registers are set up so that only the E in the CM , the C in the Cm, the E in the C7 and the C in the C dim chords sound, then you have the basic notes of this system. Likewise, the G row becomes B, G, B, G, B, G instead of B, G, GM, Gm, G7 and G dim. The Quint system gets its name from the fact that the notes in each row are a fifth above the notes in the row below it. It was originally called the Palmer Converter System or the Palmer-Hughes Converter System by the Traficantes, who had trademarked these names. The patents expired long ago, but the trademarks remained active until Ernest Deffner, Inc. ceased to manufacture Palmer Models or Palmer-Hughes Models. There needed to be another name, and Quint works just fine.

This drawing shows how this works for several of the rows of this system.

<ATTACHMENT filename=converter basses.jpg index=1>

Although my father has often been credited with inventing this system, he did not. He did have a great deal of input in the process of producing it, but the first version, which was manufactured by Victoria in Castelfidardo and imported by Traficante, Inc., was invented by Alberto Picchietti. The patent was granted in 1957, at which time Emil Baldoni began working on an improved model, which was patented in 1962 and imported by Traficante, Inc.

At that time, the US patents had been assigned to Traficante, Inc. The Baldoni version was smoother and eliminated a jamming problem that existed with the Picchietti model.

So, why did my father promote this system?

One of the contributions he made to the system was the idea of extra rows that were arranged an octave lower than the counterbass and fundamental rows. As early as 1946, he was playing a 160 bass accordion that was made for him by the Excelsior company. This had the four rows of Stradella chords and four rows of single notes. This arrangement added some weight to the instrument, and it made the reach to the outer rows of the bass section a bit of a stretch, but he (and Bill Hughes, who also played this type of accordion) had long enough fingers that they could handle the reaches. He found the convenience of playing two-octave scales without having to use the bass shifts quite convenient and very intuitive. The Quint system was natural for him.

He and Bill Hughes played these Excelsior 160 bass accordions on the Concert Trio album. Sometime in the middle 1950s, they switched over to Titano, and each of them had a 160 bass Titano, which was replaced later by a pair of 120 bass Titano accordions. These came from the Traficantes.

There have been other converter systems. In 1933, Ernst Hohner patented a system that may be the basis for all of the Hohner converter instruments. Ive seen the patent papers, but Id really need to see an actual accordion to get a handle on how it worked.

Free bass systems have also been around for a very long time. Pietro Frosini used one which looked like this:

<ATTACHMENT filename=800px-PietroFrosiniAccordionBassSystem.png index=0>

It had 102 basses. Frosini played a chromatic accordion which was disguised to look like a piano accordion. The diagram came from a Finnish source, so remember that H is actually what we call B.

The manuals for the Roland V accordions have a number of diagrams of the various free bass systems that can be accessed on these instruments. You can download the manual for the FR-3x at http://www.rolandus.com/products/details/1072/support Im sure Roland Europe has a similar web site.

As a side note, Dad always marked the C bass buttons (in the C row) the B buttons (in the B row) and the Db buttons (in the Db row) instead of the normal C, E and Ab.

I hope this information clears up some of the confusion.
 

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Glenn

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Thanks Bill, that's a super and thorough explanation with a bit of history to give context.
I am "into" patents so I may go search them out. Thanks again.
 

Glenn

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As I feared, the patent says nothing about the arrangement of the notes (hard to patent) but is all about how to couple/decouple the bass pistons.
Here is claim 1 of US2798400:
An accordion comprising a bass section with a bass keyboard provided with a plurality of bass chord keys, a plurality of bass note valves respectively having actuating elements operatively associated therewith, a plurality of push rods operatively associated with said bass chord keys and said valve actuating elements and mounted for reciprocation in said bass section for actuation by 4 said keys, a plurality of rotatable sleeves respectively mounted on selected push rods, a plurality of engageable actuating elements mounted on said sleeves and respectively normally engaging said valve actuating elements and arranged so that a plurality of predetermined valves will be opened when said sleeve is in normal position, and readily accessible control means for simultaneously rotating said sleeves through a predetermined arc to remove the valve actuating elements and the sleeve actuating elements from engagement with each other to render certain of the notes of said chord inoperative when a selected bass chord key is depressed.
 

dunlustin

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What an excellent contribution!
Thanks very much. It sheds a lot of light.
So, I'm guessing the Palmer-Hughes books focus on the Quint system.
I had thought of that as a "backwater" - like many good ideas that don't catch on. Wrong!
Having heard Richard Galliano's take on it, I can't understand why it's competitor, the mirror-image system is almost exclusively offered on Convertors.
Incidentally the Victoria he plays dates from the Sixties when he felt the best instruments were made.
He particularly likes how compact the Quint system is - almost 3 octaves in the Cello range.
Also looking at Bill Palmer's diagram you can see how easily chords can be built - the octave is only a button away, flattened7th ditto. As ever the minor third is a bit of a stretch but that's not likely to be a problem by the time you want it.
You can still find the system on high end instruments but why wouldn't it sit alongside other Starter Convertors? I think I'd buy one. After all it's a pattern we all have to use. Could it be down to what teachers want?
Another reason to be really pleased with my FR1-X where I can play around with it at the touch of a button.
 
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simonking

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Bill, many thanks for that thorough explanation. I have just one more question - I've also seen the same arrangement of notes called the Galla-Rini system. Do you know how he fitted in to all this?
 
B

Bill Palmer

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No, I dont know how Maestro Galla-Rini fit into all of this. Dad studied with him for a while in New York City, before entering the Army during WW II.


simonking said:
Bill, many thanks for that thorough explanation. I have just one more question - Ive also seen the same arrangement of notes called the Galla-Rini system. Do you know how he fitted in to all this?
 
B

Bill Palmer

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Thanks very much.

The first of the Palmer-Hughes converter books basically tells you how to get around in the quint system. However, all of the books are playable on any converter system. You may need to change a few fingerings.

I should point out that the converter systems for chromatic accordions are based on traditional chromatic accordion free bass systems which are completely different from the Stradella bass arrangement. According to Dr. Helmi Harrington, the owner/curator of A World of Accordions Museum, there are a huge number of free bass and/or converter systems that have been used over the years that accordions have been in existence. Each system has its own quirks, advantages and disadvantages.

The Bassetti system basically went away in the US, because Julio Giulietti passed away leaving nobody to promote it. The Moschino system, which is quite logical, has all but disappeared because the inventor of the system never got a manufacturer to agree to concentrate on it. The chief advantage of the quint system, in my opinion, is that it is logical and easy for people who play the Stradella system to learn.

Incidentally, my fathers final accordion was a Titano Super Emperor, the first of its kind (and possibly the only one with certain of the features), that had 160 basses with a converter. It had an extra set of bass reeds that went down to a 32 foot C (basically Bayan reeds) and an extra set of treble reeds tuned an octave and a 5th above the bassoon reeds. The accordion was made by Pigini in 1992. It had several chin switches, as well as pedal tones in the bass.

This accordion weighed 38 pounds!!!! It is now in Dr. Harringtons Museum, along with Big Red, which was Dads custom built harpsichord.



dunlustin said:
What an excellent contribution!
Thanks very much. It sheds a lot of light.
So, Im guessing the Palmer-Hughes books focus on the Quint system.
I had thought of that as a backwater - like many good ideas that dont catch on. Wrong!
Having heard Richard Gallianos take on it, I cant understand why its competitor, the mirror-image system is almost exclusively offered on Convertors.
Incidentally the Victoria he plays dates from the Sixties when he felt the best instruments were made.
He particularly likes how compact the Quint system is - almost 3 octaves in the Cello range.
Also looking at Bill Palmers diagram you can see how easily chords can be built - the octave is only a button away, flattened7th ditto. As ever the minor third is a bit of a stretch but thats not likely to be a problem by the time you want it.
You can still find the system on high end instruments but why wouldnt it sit alongside other Starter Convertors? I think Id buy one. After all its a pattern we all have to use. Could it be down to what teachers want?
Another reason to be really pleased with my FR3-X where I can play around with it at the touch of a button.
 
B

Bill Palmer

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Here are a pair of pages from the Palmer-Hughes Converter Instruction Book

This may cast a bit more light upon what happens in the Palmer Converter System.



If you wish to see a larger version of this illustration, just click on it.

Note that he did not use the term Stradella Bass or Quint System.
He always referred to Standard Bass and Free Bass.

This book was intended to be used right after the student learned about counterbasses. The later books have some more complex pieces in them. These later books will work for any free bass accordion. You just have to change the fingerings to fit your system.
 

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B

Bill Palmer

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Im doing some research on this right now. I put the question to Dr. Helmi Harrington at A World of Accordions Museum, and she couldnt find anything specific about such a system. She used his autobiography and various sets of his lecture notes as references.

I will check with a couple of Maestro Galla-Rinis students in a few weeks.

simonking said:
Bill, many thanks for that thorough explanation. I have just one more question - Ive also seen the same arrangement of notes called the Galla-Rini system. Do you know how he fitted in to all this?
 
B

Bill Palmer

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Im doing some research on this right now. I put the question to Dr. Helmi Harrington at A World of Accordions Museum, and she couldnt find anything specific about such a system. She used his autobiography and various sets of his lecture notes as references.

I will check with a couple of Maestro Galla-Rinis students in a few weeks.

simonking said:
Bill, many thanks for that thorough explanation. I have just one more question - Ive also seen the same arrangement of notes called the Galla-Rini system. Do you know how he fitted in to all this?
 
B

Bill Palmer

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It very well could be. Some of the accordion companies in Italy are offering several different free bass/converter options. The best thing to do would be to ask someone who is a dealer or someone at the factory, itself.

skyboltone said:
Is that what Victoria is still using on its new free bass accordions
http://www.accordions.it/?page=products&idx=80&lang=EN

It looks simple enough that even an idiot could understand it; I can...:)
 
B

Bill Palmer

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On a lighter note -- no pun intended -- at a recent accordion convention in Dallas, Texas, there was a fellow who plays the Moschino system. This was another free bass system that fell by the wayside, not because it was complex, but because it was not well promoted. He watched the first night's offerings and confided to me that some of the players were quite good, but it would have been nice to see people playing the free bass system.

He was amazed when I informed him that five of the players had been using instruments with the Palmer Converter system, and that they went into free bass and out of it basically without having to think about it.
 
B

Bill Palmer

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The Galla-Rini system is exactly the same as the Palmer Converter System. Im not sure when the system acquired this label. Although Galla-Rini wrote a piece for free bass accordion, not much information remains about a free bass system that he actually preferred, used or promoted. I had never seen or heard this reference until I joined this forum, but evidently, its been used for some time in Europe.

I found this reference yesterday evening -- http://www.zerosetteaccordions.com/b30_45_gr.php?lng=en

Maestro Galla-Rini was very adept at executing very complex bass runs simply by changing registers in his left hand. There is some evidence that he may have, at one time or another, used a 160 bass instrument made by Dallape or Guerrini.
 
B

Bill Palmer

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I should add that in the Roland manuals, the "Quint" system is referred to as the "Fifth" system.

Roland has a tendency to do this with names for things, for fear of copyright and/or trademark reprisals. They will rename something when it really doesn't need to be renamed.

If you have a BK-7m, look at the names for some of the styles that are stored in the unit. They are clever paraphrases of the titles of tunes they will fit.
 
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George_Secor

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This is in reply to Bill Palmers message of 1 July. I happen to be the fellow who played the Moschino system at the National Accordion Association convention in Dallas on 6 March 2014. Bill described me as amazed when he informed me that five of the players had been using instruments with the Palmer Converter system, and that they went into free bass and out of it basically without having to think about it. Im afraid that the word amazed is a bit too positive and that my reaction would more accurately be described as a combination of surprised and dismayed that, if any of them actually used the free bass that evening (apart from Jessica Faltots impromptu demonstration of something she had worked out many years ago), I cannot help thinking that their use of the free bass must have been so minimal and/or ineffective that it completely escaped my notice.

I understand that Bill considers it a virtue that a player is able to move seamlessly between stradella and free bass, but the predominant viewpoint of those who played the Moschino system in the 1960s was that the stradella system had been a chief factor in holding the accordion back from being accepted as a legitimate instrument by other musicians, and I still hold that opinion. I feel that a free bass system should be able to stand on its own, so if a player is repeatedly going back and forth from Stradella to free bass, then the question is raised whether that free-bass system could be regarded as successful as anything other than an add-on or supplement to the conventional Stradella basses and chords.

The Moschino system is simple enough to play that beginning accordion students can start (and have successfully started) on the free bass without ever having played the stradella system. I dont think any other free bass system can make that claim, and I bring it up to support my view that its not unrealistic to think that, for the serious accordionist, a free bass system can totally replace the stradella system (converter mechanism completely unnecessary!).

If you want to play in a polka band, then by all means use a stradella instrument, but for music requiring more artistry, get a decent free bass instrument. I switched from the stradella system to the Moschino free bass system over 50 years ago, and Ive never even entertained the thought of going back.

I figure thats enough talk for now! If anyone wants to hear the two pieces I played at the NAA Circle of Champions concert last March, then please listen to these (recorded at my home a year earlier):
http://xenharmony.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/Scarlatti-Sonata_L375_EMajor.mp3
http://xenharmony.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/Grieg-MorningMood.mp3

I also entertained on the Moschino free bass for a couple of hours at the hotel restaurant earlier that day. Heres a brief review of my playing by Bob Shoemaker of the Delaware Accordion Club (search for my name):
http://www.delawareaccordionclub.com/newsletters/DAC-april-2014.pdf
Heres a sample of something I played there (also recorded a year earlier):
http://xenharmony.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/Misty.mp3

Im currently doing my best to ensure that the Moschino free bass system has not permanently fallen by the wayside, and I hope to get enough players interested in it to get it back into production sometime in the next few years.

--George Secor
Godfrey, Illinois
 
S

simonking

Guest
Has anyone else seen this invention by an amateur accordionist in Thailand?
https://flyfreebass.com/

Im struggling to see any point at all in this - I cant find an actual layout diagram but it appears that hes taken a quint system converter accordion, made the note pattern across pairs of rows non standard and decreased the bass range - in fact it looks like the bottom octave is the same and the other four rows just cover another one octave. I cant help thinking that a little bit more time spend getting to grips with the standard quint system would remove any of the problems and difficulties this effort is supposed to solve.

Still, any kind of innovation is to be applauded, especially in the accordion world; I just cant see the point in this one!
 

Glenn

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I've read it twice but still don't understand.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

xocd

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It seems to be a re-arrangement of the Moschino system: notes next to each other in the same column are one semitone apart; notes next to each other in the same row, a major third.
 
D

Deleted member 48

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The Moschino free bass layout reminds me of the old French Coia layout system. A 4 rows system.
 

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