Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Learning some music theory

Ever considered learning some music theory? Most beginners book on any instrument starts with a basic chapter, however I have never understood how this might help me.

This was until I found this great guide on scribd.

Now, this is not easy but reading about this has slowly got me from playing by memorizing to playing by improvising. That is a great feeling!

Raven Spiral Guide

Saturday, December 5, 2009

5 amazing accordion videos

Since posting the last youtube video I have spent half a day watching youtube clips of accordion players. Here are the best so far.

5. Viktor Romanko play Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
This is about how epic one can get on the accordion. I must say playing accordion and wearing a bowtie somehow looks a bit strange.

4. Ukrainian kid
You may have already seen this. A very talented performace by a young ukrainan kid. Even if I am not a fan of classical music one can't help being impressed.


3.Yann Tiersen live

Maybe not the most advanced performace but the feeling here is unbeatable. The song is great too.

2. Ivan Hajek, playing in MunichLove the feeling here. This guy plays like a madman and manages to get a huge sound of the accordion. Would love to learn to play more like this.


I am getting somewhat patriotic here since theese guys are from my home country. Still I think they are totally increadible. The crowd is also amazing. How often do you see people go crazy over instrumental accordion music? There is some talk in the beginning so fast forward to about 0.40

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas gift for the accordionist

San Francisco accordionist Renée de la Prade shows how to sell accordion music. The 2010 West Coast Accordion Babes Calendars features pin-up girls with accordions and includes a CD with the "babes" playing.

We provide a sexy, funny, girl-powered makeover for accordions, featuring pro musicians who tour nationally and around the globe. There was a lightning-fast response to the 2009 Accordion Babes calendar; we sold out of 1,000 copies in three weeks. Copies were sold as far away as Canada, New Zealand, England, and Amsterdam via the Internet. We kept getting sales requests long after we sold out; into the month of March!
The 2010 West Coast Accordion Babes Calendar is the ideal gift for lovers of pin-up, accordions, music, feminine form, high art, low brow, camp and/or the Gregorian calendar system. So buy several!
Check it out.

An accordion video for you all

This is an old one but still insane. Alexander Dmitriev plays Flight of the bumble bee.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chord combining: How to play Cmaj7, Cmaj9, Cm7 and other chords on accordion

The simplicity of the accordion bass side is great for learning but can be a problem when trying to play your favorite song.

Since accordion sheet music is pretty hard to find for free online and most of my favorite music can be thought of as popular music, I learn most songs from guitar tabs I have found online. A problem playing guitar music on accordion is that a lot of composers like to sprinkle around thoose more advanced chords here and there to spice up their tracks. Since accordion only can play Major, minor and 7th chords some songs can be impossible to play.

It took me some time to find out about this but there is a solution.

Lets say we want to play a CMaj7 chord. A CMaj7 consists of C, E, G and B played together. There is no CMaj7 on the accordion but combining different chords we can find a combination that consists of exactly theese four tones.

Lets try.

A C chord consists of C, E and G. We need to find a chord that adds B to this. Luckily Em consists of E, G and B.

Lets add theese together.

C + Em = (C+ E + G) + (E +G + B) = C + E + G + B = CMaj7

Pressing the C chord button and the Em button att the same time vill give a Cmaj7.

Want to play a DMaj7? This time the accordion bass system works to our advantage. Only jump up two rows on the bass side with both fingers and we have a DMaj7.

Figuring out theese combinations by yourself is pretty complicated. Here is a great page that lists pretty much any combination you will need.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Buying a second hand accordion.

A new accordion is very expensive, count on at least $1000 for a cheap 120 bass and many people will still say that the quality of theese cheap instruments are not good enough anyway. For the accordionist on a budget the obvious answer is to look for second hand instruments.

When buying second hand you should either decide to spend some money and go to a dealer that sells second hand accordions that has been tuned and checked up or buy something really cheap from a garage sale or ebay and expect it to fall apart the next few weeks.

Buying an instrument second hand from a dealer will likely cost as much as buying a cheap new one, at least $500, but the quality of the instrument will likely be better. Buying an accordion for more than $100 dollars second hand with no guarantees are not recommended unless you know the seller or feel confortable you know your stuff.

That said you can make real bargains at garage sales and ebay. Here are some things to check that will maximise your chance to come home with a playable accordion.

  • Squeeze it gently with no buttons pressed. Does it seem to leak air?
  • Ask the seller where it comes from. An accordion that has been played for 30 years are usually in a better condition than one that has been stuffed in a box in a garage for 30 years. Even if the former may have more skratches on the surface.
  • Test every button separetly. Both on push and pull with the bellows. If the sounds differ obviously theese keys are really out of tune. Some bad tuning is to be expected with all old accordions but as long as it isn´t obvious I personally think it is OK.
  • Tilt it gently while playing and while not playing and try to hear if any loose parts are rattling around.
  • Try to smell the bellows and the case. Is there a smell of basement or damp? Mould and rust are the accordions worst enemy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Play is not supposed to be serious.

One of the greatest things about playing accordion is that there is so easy to find people to play with. Most people just love the sound and are happy to have an accordionist to play with since it seems exotic to them. It is also reasonably easy instrument to carry around.

My first tip to everone starting out is after you learn the basics, start playing with other people.

You dont have to start in a formal band just find a friend that play any instrument and team up with it. Myselt I have bought a cheap guitar that I dont play myself but is great for having when people are coming over. So many people know a little guitar so when some friend drop we often end up playing. It doesn't even have to be real song you play, just play around with some simple chords.

For example, make up a combination of C, G and F chords and play it around and around. Start taking turns improvising a melody on the chords. Just push around on the white buttons in the piano part and you will find something.

You are now officially improvising!