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Reverse Stradella

L

Leighton

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I recently picked up a nice Paolo Soprani CBA that has a reverse stradella (5ths going down instead of the usual up.) According to wikipedia, while it is uncommon it's not unheard of, I guess it's called Belgian Bass, or some such thing.
Surprisingly it was as easy to play, although I had to do some mental gymnasitics of reminding myself that up was down and vise versa.
My question to the forum is: Can this reverse bass be reversed? Converted to the typical 5ths going up pattern?
 
N

Nonny Mouse

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Maybe it belonged to Paul McCartney?! He does have a habit of turning instruments the other way round to play them due to his left-handedness! Although being left-handed myself, I can only see it as an advantage on the bass side.
 

george garside

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presume it could be done by moving all the bass reeds but maybe cheaper or as cheap to buy another box!

george
 
S

simonking

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Are the bass button in a 'square' grid pattern? If so it's Belgian bass. I think they also have three bass note rows. Do you have a picture?

I don't know why anyone would choose to play the Belgian bass system or how it came about. Any ideas?
 
D

Deleted member 48

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In Belgium these reverse Stradella bass system was played by some accordionists. Before the 1980s many played a square grid pattern bass, and you can find these for sale even today. Or you can still order them in Italy, they still make some for accordionists playing this system.
I dont know if the origins of this bass layout are to be found in Belgium, its possible but havent seen documents about the inventor. These might be online in some scanned patents. Maybe we should try search online ?
Maybe it was named Belgian basses because a lot of Belgian accordionists played this system? Or a Belgian accordionist once ordered this layout in Italy or France ?

Looking at online documents, such as this French website about accordion, Belgian basses can also refer to the spoon bass systems on accordion. You can click on the blue links page 17 and page 18 showing historical catalogue pages. You can read système Belge in the ads picturing spoon bass accordions:
http://jeanluc.matte.free.fr/catacc/catalacc.htm

Anyhow in Belgium, official education policy for music schools is the international standard of the Stradella bass, since the 1980s. Every accordionist trained in official music schools and music conservatories plays the international standard bass layout.
No one in Belgian music schools plays square grid pattern anymore since a very long time, because the teachers have to follow the education school plans for accordion, stipulating the layout of the basses and the right hand side, being CBA... (it says knopaccordeon, chromatic button accordion, but they forgot to mention what specific system... B-system or C-system, you can find both systems in Belgium. The reason why is a too long story...)
some pre 1980s accordionists play square grid basses.

Long time ago in Belgium some players also played 3-rows basses (top row the minor basses) + 3 or 4 rows chords bass system.
 
L

Leighton

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Thanks for the quick responses. I'm guesssing it's not technically a Belgian Bass since it is not square. I looks like a standard stradella with two bass notes and the chord notes on a diagonal. The diagonal is not reversed that goes up as in a standard.
My guess is that perhaps this was custom made by someone who learned the Belgian pattern.
Making it this way because you are left handed makes no sense when you think about it. (No slight to Sir McCartney.)
 
S

simonking

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Sounds crazy. I don't think this could be done by simply rearranging the reeds - it would require a unique bass mechanism. I hope you'll excuse my questioning attitude - you sound like you know what you're talking about - but are you absolutely certain that it's non-standard? (standard is CGDA etc going towards the chin when held in the normal right-handed way).
 
L

Leighton

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I feel your bafflement, simonking. This was a very Twilight Zone experience when I first strapped it on. At first I though it was hoplessly out of tune. Like way out of tune, until I realized the reverse nature. I even got out a tuner to double check my senses. Indeed, reversed.
C is in the middle but as my hand goes up, as in toward my head, just to be clear, it goes to F thenBb,Eb, etc. The counter basses match, going up from C's counter bass of E they go to A, D,G, etc.
I still can't really fathom why soemone would have it custom made this way. The only other bit of info is that it is a"Herzig Spezial" which according to the internet is a seller of Paolo Soprani in Germany, from where the previous owner purchased this box. But I don't see how that would indicate the odd stradella.
I'm starting to think this was a product of "Prank Day" in Castelfidardo.
 

AccordionUprising

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It seems unlikely, but if you find it's easy to turn the reed-blocks round, then maybe somebody just put them in backwards? Again, unlikely, but it would be nice if you could fix it that easily.

The square-grid Belgian bass systems I've seen had the three-rows of contra-bases, so not like yours. And they also had interesting bass buttons shaped like little mushrooms, not tubes. Very distinctive machines.

I'd love to know how they came to be so different. I always imagined the first stradella being carried into Belgium and somebody dropped it, and put it together backwards. There must be a real story there somewhere.
 

JIM D.

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Most likely derived by a left handed accordionist who learned it upside down. ----
 
S

simonking

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Uh oh, that's really messed with my head. Are they really special left-handed instruments made by Galanti? The piano side is the normal F to A in reverse order. And the stradella is slanted the opposite way. Alan Young is well-known in accordion circles here in England but I've only ever seen him play right-handed! I'll try and remember to ask him about that video if I see him at one of the next accordion festival events.
 
S

simonking

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Well, it fooled me for a few hours... The picture is just flipped horiontally!
 

JIM D.

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This one is done live --
 
D

Deleted member 48

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The museum in Italy could tell us more about the inventors of the Stradella bass system and of the reverse Stradella.
Mariano Dallapè is named to have played a role. Some Italian websites name him for contributing around 1890 the perfection of the unisonic chromatic accordion, with fixed chord system, chords and bass arrangement to play in all keys in the bass side, with identical fingering patterns for the left hand side.

That same time, around 1890, a Rosario Spadaro is named to have invented (? where is the patent, its missing...) the first free bass accordion (not the convertor, only free bass. And theres also the 1844 patent of the double concertina by Charles Wheatstone, England, in fact one of the very first free bass accordions in history, with 4 columns/rows chromatic layout)

Its possible the Museo Fisarmonica Il Museo della Fisarmonica “Mariano Dallapè” in Stradella has some documents about this history of bass layouts in the archives.

http://www.culturaitalia.it/opencms/museid/viewItem.jsp?id=oai:culturaitalia.it:museiditalia-coll_79
Mariano con le caratteristiche fondamentali dello strumento ma è del 1890 la sua più geniale intuizione: la creazione della fisarmonica cromatica, ossia unitonica, contestualmente dotata, nella parte delle voci basse, di note codificate in accordi precostituiti, adatte allaccompagnamento in tutte le tonalità.

Stradella is not far from Milano or Cremona.

The so called square Belgian Basses lost their attractiveness, with the introduction of free bass pieces in classical accordion education. In the old days, accordions in Belgium had square Stradella basses + 3 free bass rows on top, sometimes 9 rows of basses in total. The origins of these bass systems mostly come from Italy and the USA.

Accordion teachers told me the international standard layout for the Stradella basses are more convenient for playing free bass pieces with a convertor accordion, than the square grid bass system. Belgian accordion teachers followed the international standard bass layout for accordion education.
 
D

Deleted member 48

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Dont know if this can help to find out more about the origins of reverse Stradella bass, but on Italian accordion forums, the name of the Vaccari brothers from Modena is mentioned. The fratelli Vaccari.
Belgian bass system is compared to the Modenese bass system on Italian forums.
Vaccari accordions were imported from Italy into Belgium.
Looking on the map the city of Modena still is not too far from Stradella, close to Bologna.

This is probably a man who could tell us more, the director of the Stradella museum, Carlo Aguzzi
 
J

Jack Campin

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Isnt holding Verchuren back in this video, is it?


Not that hes doing anything very distinctive with the left hand, either.

BTW wasnt Verchuren the worst recorded case of Grecian 2000 abuse since Ronald Reagan?
 

kimric

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In a old book I have this reversed system is called the "Soprani" system. I run into these from time to time on old San Francisco made instruments. Guerinni made these in the 20's.
 

debra

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I concur with the opinion that if it is not a square-grid Belgian bass system it could be that the reed-blocks have been put in backwards. That could also explain the "hopelessly out of tune" message because the holes will not line up properly and when the airflow is obstructed the frequency goes down.
 

JIM D.

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Replacing bass reed blocks backwards on some China and mediocre German brands can be done, albeit mistakenly.
On most Italian brands mistakenly replacing the blocks backwards will be difficult. On 98% of accordions whether 4 or 5 sets of bass reeds, the reed sets on the same block are the same size and when a reverse stradella is found it can be re-reversed to the norm.
This can be done with a bit of patience,wax and some labor to reverse the order of reed plates. :tup:
 

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