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Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Accordion

29 Sep 2021


3 min read


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The Accordion

Introduction to The Accordion

The Accordion is one of the most iconic and unique musical instruments.

Whenever an accordion is mentioned in a conversation where no one is musically inclined, the response is usually silent.

Coincidentally, the accordion is one of those instruments that you may see a lot more often but you may not identify with the name itself.

Be it in an orchestra or in any movie scene or in any music video.

Otherwise called squeezeboxes, these instruments are box-shaped and are powered by bellows to produce sound.

Musicians use accordions in a variety of musical genres.

Musicians in Latin America, including Brazil, Panama, Colombia, and Mexico use it for popular music.

In Europe and North America, the accordion is used for folk, jazz, and cajun music. 

Despite the popularity of accordions, some may not know how they work and how they produce sound.

To be fair, these instruments are a bit more complicated than many other musical instruments.

Read on to learn more about how accordions work including the different parts of the accordion and the different types of accordions.

What are the different components of the Accordion?

To understand how accordions work as a whole, one must first understand the different parts of the accordion and how the parts work.

Accordions produce sound through the use of free-reeds (1). These reeds can be found inside the casings of the accordion.

The casing is the boxy part of the accordion that has buttons or keys attached to it. The casings can be found on either side of the accordion.

Within the casing of the accordion, you can find reed blocks. There can be up to six reed blocks inside an accordion. 

The bellows are the most noticeable part of an accordion. 

Bellows (2) are usually made of pleated cardboard and cloth, reinforced with leather and metal.

The bellows can be found in the middle, connecting the treble and bass casing.

Compressing the bellows creates air pressure while expanding it creates a vacuum.

In both cases, air passes through the free-reeds causing them to vibrate which in turn produces sound. 

Accordions also come with a switch (3), located on either side of the bellows of the instrument.

Clicking each of these switches makes it possible to change the accordion‘s “voice”. 

With switches, you can fully control the timbre and the sound quality of the notes.

How do these switches work?

Each reed block inside the accordion has different octaves or registers. 

The reed blocks connect to a set of piano keys (4) on the treble side and buttons on the bass side. 

The Different Types of Accordions

Accordions come in many forms and sizes. Some contain piano keys while others come with buttons. 

Depending on the manufacturer and the year of making, accordions may be made from different materials, depict different reeds, and the number of keys. 

Because of this, their design and musical sound may vary from one instrument to the next.

Some vintage varieties display ornate decorations while newer models depict technology.

Here are some of the most popular types of accordions:

1. Button Accordions

2. Piano Accordions

3. Unisonoric Accordions

4. Bisonoric Accordions

5. Chromatic Accordion

6. Diatonic Accordion

7. Digital Accordions

8. Concertina

How do Accordions work? 

Despite their popularity, many wonder how accordions work.

Accordions are bellow-driven instruments with buttons and, for piano accordions, piano keys. 

When pressing a key or button, while compressing and expanding the bellows, metal plates blocking the corresponding free-reeds open. 

When the plates open, air passes through the free-reeds causing them to vibrate and produce sound. 

An accordion can have up to six reed blocks of varying octaves. 

The History of the Accordion

The first accordion to feature a piano keyboard was probably the instrument introduced in 1852 by Bouton of Paris.

Another source claimed the first piano accordion was introduced in 1854 at the Allegemeine Deutsche Industrieausstellung in Munich.

It was showcased by the instrument builder Mattäus Bauer and quickly became a serious competitor to button accordions.

The first chromatic piano-like accordions in Russia were built in 1871 by Nikolay Ivanovich Beloborodov.

Some of the most renowned music composers of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Dmitri Shostakovich, Alban Berg, and Roy Harris, have done many major compositional works based on the accordion.

In addition to being among the most valuable musical instruments out there, the accordion holds special significance since it is mostly handcrafted. 

Apart from a few pieces and parts, which are machine-made and designed for later use in assembly, most of the accordion’s components require exquisite artisanship for their creation.

Why is the Accordion a good fit for you?

The accordion can be configured to serve different musical styles and designed to feature various artistic themes.

Many artisans worldwide have gained popularity for their unique methods to create excellent pieces of instruments. 

The accordion can simultaneously teach harmony, melody, and rhythm, making it one of the few instruments that can maximize the development of musical structure in early learners. 

At the same time, it is an ideal instrument to start with or to complement the learning of another instrument since it helps in preparing the foundation for learning musical techniques.

Also, playing accordion helps in improving coordination. 

The player holds the entire instrument and requires both hands to manage the bass, notes, and chords. 

The whole practice of playing this instrument demands complete focus and strong motor skills. 

While learning to play the accordion may seem challenging to many people, it’s not difficult to understand how it works and, with enough practice, to master the basics. 

So that was our set of tips for beginner learners on how they could continue on their learning journey if they keep these pointers in their minds. 

If you wish to learn Accordion, explore ipassio’s online Accordion classes that are available and cover different genres.

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