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Button Accordions You'll Love

Jan 9, 2008
The button accordion may be a traditional instrument, but it is still enjoying a strong popularity.

The accordion family includes a wide variety of styles and forms. The piano, diatonic and chromatic accordions are just a few of the most popular choices. Another important branch on the family tree, the button accordion, has been popular since it was first developed in the late nineteenth century.

The button accordion is an adaptation of the melodeon, an older and more basic instrument. The button accordion is physically unique in that it has an extra row of buttons that have been pitched a semi-tone above or below those of the melodeon. The musician can actually manipulate the bellows to create two notes from one single button. This is what gives the button accordion greater articulation, and greater fingering economy.

There are some variations within the family of button accordions. The widest variations can be seen on the basic construction, keyboard systems, tuning and action of the individual instruments.

One of the most notable styles of button accordion is the diatonic. On a diatonic accordion, there is a melody-sized keyboard that is limited to the notes of diatonic scales. These notes are provided through a small number of keys, or even just one key. It is worth noting that the bass side of the diatonic usually contains the principal chords of the instrument's key, including the root notes of those chords.

Diatonic button accordions are generally bisonoric, meaning that every button produces a couple of notes. One note is produced when the bellows are compressed, and the other is produced when the bellows are expanded.

However, there are few diatonic button accordions that are unisonoric. For instance, each button on the garmon produces the same note, regardless of the direction of the bellows. Other still have a combination of the two styles.

The chromatic is another popular style of button accordion, with a melody-sized keyboard composed of uniform rows of buttons. These buttons are arranged to provide an increase of the chromatic pitch along the diagonals. The keyboard on the bass side of the chromatic accordion typically uses a Stradella system, one of many free-bass or converter systems.

Some instruments of this class are simply called "chromatic" accordions, even though the other types, such as the piano accordion, are also fully chromatic. Since the introduction of chromatic buttons, they have become the preference of many classical music performers. As a result the treble keyboard of this instrument is denser than that of a piano accordion, allowing a much greater musical range.

The accordion is popular around the world, and various cultures have developed their own versions of modern button accordions. These unique inventions have been adapted to suit their unique traditional styles of music. Russia alone has many styles, including the Garmon, Saratovskaya Garmonica, Livenka and the very popular Bayan accordion.

If you love the unique sound that an accordion lends to traditional and popular music, pick up a button accordion and try your hand at playing this age-old and ever-popular instrument.
About the Author
Author Angelina Pyrkins loves writing for several web magazines, on family fun and family life guide themes.
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