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Chords and buttons question

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Chords and buttons question

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:48 pm

I recently bought a reed organ. On the right hand side is a normal keyboard, on the left is a series of chord buttons like so:
Image
This one has about as extensive a set of options I've found (hence buying it) but I'm about to betray my complete absence of music theory* with the following question.
Is the restricted set of options (no Bm for example) just an available space issue, and the manufacturer has taken a punt on the most common chords?
Or is there a way to use a combination of the other options to create the missing chords?


*I'm not proud of this by the way, but it's true.
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Re: Chords and buttons question

Postby GilesAnt » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:22 pm

Not so much about theory as about knowing what the buttons actually do. What are the top rows for? Can you play combinations of buttons?

At initial glance it looks like a limited selection of 8 keys/chords, but the top row does complete the set of 12.

In principle you can combine simple chords to make more complex ones, but this would sound pretty awful without sensible voicings.
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Re: Chords and buttons question

Postby BJG145 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:32 pm

That looks sweet. (Is it a B40?) But I think what you have there is a limited set of chords rather than a DIY universal chord-creation toolbox. Us squeezebox players are used to such economies of harmony.
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Re: Chords and buttons question

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:51 pm

GilesAnt wrote:Not so much about theory as about knowing what the buttons actually do. What are the top rows for? Can you play combinations of buttons?
You can press as many buttons as you want, so you could combine a major, a fundamental and a counter if you wanted.

BJG145 wrote:That looks sweet. (Is it a B40?)
It's a J. Busilacchio but I don't know about model numbers.

My assumption was that it was just a limited chord set, but it just occurred to me that there might be some other options in combination.
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Re: Chords and buttons question

Postby wireman » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:57 pm

Although I tried to play an accordion 30 years ago I have zero knowledge here but did some digging.

Accordions use the Stradella Bass System and your layout is one of the 40-bass variants.
More complex information on usage can be found in this video

So I think the number of buttons is a space issue but very much a standard layout.

The bass (fundamental) and counter bass are designed to play alternately with the chords or possibly can be played individually to make chords using standard patterns. I'm not sure how nicely this works though because on large accordions you can get multiple pitches of the same note playing for each button.

So to give you an example.

The C major chord can be made up from the fundamental C and G along with the counter E.
The A minor chord can be made up from the counter A and E along with the fundamental C

The ordering of the buttons (circle of fifths) is a nice way to make sure that for a given key the chords that are most common will be close together.
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Re: Chords and buttons question

Postby Folderol » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:00 pm

It is the same layout as a piano accordion. The fundamental and counter row are laid out so you can do arpeggios and runs with the minimum of movement distance. You wouldn't normally try to play multiple notes as chords unless there was something really obscure you wanted.

P.S
I used to have an accordion, and as a kid actually took a couple of exams. For all my sins I was also in the school accordion band :)
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Re: Chords and buttons question

Postby MOF » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:27 pm

For all my sins I was also in the school accordion band :)
Is that a sin, not sure? Beginners on clarinet (high pitched squeaking), guilty, and violin (even worse sounds), not guilty, are probably considered to be the greatest sinners when it comes to aural assaults.
And you weren’t in a banjo band, unless you’re not owning up to that. :lol:
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Re: Chords and buttons question

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:11 pm

Ah, very useful, thank you folks. :thumbup:
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