Making (accordion) chords out of nothing at all?
December 12, 2012 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I have a 24-button bass piano accordion, and I'm having trouble figuring out how to get all the chords I need out of it (maj7, dim, etc).

I got a Christmas present and it is awesome - a 24-button bass piano accordion. I have lots of piano experience, so that's no problem. Bass chords are, though. While I'm trying to adjust to figuring out where all those little finicky tiny buttons are in the back, it turns out that I'm missing a B chord line.

So obviously also, accordion-gurus, I am missing my Maj7 and dim chord rows. This upsets me. I have tried to think of a couple solutions, one of which is chord combining (say, Em + C fundamental for a Cmaj7) but I am afraid that leaves me in the lurch with a Gmaj7 chord at the very least.

Is there a way to have a mostly full happy chord life on a 24 button accordion? I am open to throwing in notes on the piano side as well but I mean, I only have one hand for that side.

Also I am dumb about theory, I am not some like amazing chord counter or anything. I know the general gist of it, but I feel like the difference between a Gmaj7 and a G chord is large enough that I'll notice the difference. Please hope me!

Also, if anyone has any tips for how to not completely lose your place in a sea of tiny partially invisible buttons, I'd love to hear them.
posted by mckenney to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, a "button accordion" is an accordion with just buttons on both sides. What you have is a "24-bass accordion", which means that you have 24 buttons on your bass side and "piano keys" on your right side.

You most certainly will tell a difference between a G chord and a Gmaj7 chord. Without getting into it too much, the Gmaj7 is going to have a beautiful dissonance that you certainly won't have in your G chord.

To not lose your mind in the sea of buttons...DON'T LOOK AT THEM. That is because while they LOOK diagonal, they FEEL straight across. Learn the bass only by ear. I promise you it is much easier. Some buttons have a depression to keep track of where you are. (I am not sure if a 24-bass will have those, but the 120-bass does, which is what I am used to.)

Regarding those chords that aren't part of the 24-bass system, sorry, but that is just a limitation of the 24-bass system. I guess you could try combining chords like you suggested, but that can only be answered by your still won't sound exactly right even though the note names are all covered. Same if you add the notes in your right hand...the note names are covered, but it likely will not sound right at all. Again, limitations of the instrument.

But, start with your awesome 24-bass and before you know it you will be saving for a 120-bass! :)
posted by TinWhistle at 1:15 PM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

You could get maj7 chords by playing the root chord and the minor chord of the third, yes? So a Cmaj7 would be a C (major) - i.e. CEG - and Em (minor - i.e.EGB). Dunno accordions, but this works, yes?
posted by notsnot at 3:36 PM on December 12, 2012

hello! Owner of the same size of machine here, although mine is an inherited old nag that just about makes noise. I do love it.

After some experiment just now, I put together a 24-bass layout to print and use whichever way up makes most sense. This is a cut-down version of this by Necz0r, which see for copyright etc under Creative Commons.

NB I've probably made the marked buttons inaccurate - mine has F as the sole navigation point. I imagine they vary between sizes.

Chord combining is a jigsaw puzzle - with the chart, you can see which notes you have access to and which chords to try combining. You might have to settle for a Gmaj9 (rather lovely) instead of the maj7, for example, although that might not suit the character of the song; i.e., I searched for an F#, found the only one available was in the D major chord, so combined G major and D major (G A B D F#). I'm using a piano keyboard to double-check my triads - basically what I'm advocating is having a good play around at the piano to see which major and minor triads and basses you can combine to make what chords (I'm having issues with the dim, which I think you've already discovered!), and which you'll need to embellish using the accordion keyboard. You could incorporate these necessary notes into your melody playing, too. Keep a notebook of how to play what and keep developing it.

Last thing - it's annoying, but if you're playing in a key where too many of the notes you want to add are just not in the button registry, transpose! Your main keys for playing in are going to be F, C, G, D - try one of these as first resort.
posted by lokta at 6:02 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The "C" bass button is normally dented in, if the F is it will drive you crazy later on with any other accordion.
posted by boilermonster at 12:55 PM on February 17, 2013

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