At the age of four, I was taught to play the cornet, At seven, I was taught the accordion. Later on, I learned to play more instruments, i.e. the flute, clarinet, etc. As time went on, I began to realize more and more the musical potentials inherent in the accordion. This led eventually to my concentrating solely on that instrument.
The flute player can only play a single-note melody line, and to perform for the public another player is needed for accompaniment. On the accordion, not only can that melody line be played on the right hand, but harmony notes can be added below it – on the same keyboard: furthermore the left hand produces more music with its bass and chord buttons played either sustained or in a rhythmic pattern. The accordion is complete.
Admittedly, the violin can produce two or more tones simultaneously. However, it is a tremendously difficult instrument to master. Even so, like the flute, it needs accompaniment for public performance. The piano can produce many tones simultaneously and it is a complete instrument. However, it cannot be carried around. Therefore, it isn’t always available.
The right hand piano keyboard of the accordion Is the basis for learning the meaning of naturals, sharps and flats as suggested by the white and black keys, and how to move diatonically and chromatically. The left hand Stradella keyboard is the basis of learning the Circle of Fifths and the order of all the key signatures it represents, The accordion student is practically coaxed into learning the order of key signatures by merely playing up and down that keyboard.
Therefore the accordion has the keyboards outlining the three most important forms of progressions in Traditional Music i.e., Diatonic, Chromatic and Circle of Fifths, Furthermore, the left hand buttons produce the four most basic harmonies found in the same music i.e., the Major and Minor triads and the Dominant and Diminished 7th chords, As a step further, many sophisticated chords can be obtained by playing two chord buttons simultaneously. The man who invented this keyboard was a genius.
From time on, when the accordion first gained public attention, it was found that a certain amount of any style of the existing musical literature could be played on the accordion. Contrapuntal music is especially suited for the Free – bass system.
At first, there was very little accordion music published either original or transcribed. Nowadays there is enough accordion music available to fill the needs of any dedicated accordionist in any style of music.
The accordion is emotional because it gives us the means of expressing our emotions through music; the accordion is mathematical because we deal with time signatures, counting beats and comparing note values; the accordion is ideal for ear-training, with its constant tone and guaranteed pitch; the accordion is recreational, as has been discovered by many people.
The accordion can be the means for an income, as playing for public entertainment, either as an individual or with other players, with the emphasis on the electronic models; also teaching it, and writing music for it.
The accordion first came into the limelight during the days of Vaudeville from the period of 1908 to 1932, Recordings of various accordionists became available. It then moved into restaurants, night clubs, cocktail lounges, serious concerts, the sound stages of Hollywood, radio and television. We will see and hear Frank Marocco, Myron Floren, Norm Panto and Dick Contino on Television.
How often do we hear Art van Damme, the Jazz virtuoso, on a relaxing radio program? Then, we will listen to a fine artist, John Torcello, on a cassette tape, playing Scarlatti sonatas.
The accordion Is being included more and more in contemporary orchestral scores either as part of the instrumentation or being featured as the solo instrument. The accordion was the favorite instrument as accompaniment for various entertainers and celebrities on USO tours during World War II. A number of traveling missionaries play the accordion for their audiences along with delivering their sermons.
And so, considering the scope of the versatility of this instrument, that is why this article has the title, “ACCORDION; The Instrument for All Seasons”
While in Rome, Italy, a number of years ago. I was invited to a private house as a guest. There were also a number of other guests and I had my accordion with me. After I was through playing a few pieces, one lady paid me the finest compliment I believe I have ever received. She said “You play the accordion as though it were a part of you.”
And so I say to anyone who is studying the accordion: Do not think of it merely as a bunch of keys and buttons to depress, and bellows to push and pull – The human element can enter into the instrument in order to give it life. It can reveal a personality – your personality, if you will.
FINAL THOUGHT: Put all of your very best into the accordion and in return it will give you its very best!