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Chromatic Layout for Pianos
#3003006 07/15/20 01:41 PM
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Almost all professional accordion players learn the accordion with a piano layout for the right hand. When they become better players, they switch to a chromatic layout with five rows, see here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_button_accordion

You can play much faster with a chromatic layout (watch some youtube videos of professional accordion players; their speed is a marvel to behold), and because the buttons are much closer together, no awkward stretches! Also, the fingering is the same for any key because the arrangement is based on the circle of fifths.

My question: why are there no alternative pianos with a chromatic five-row layout? You'd soon have a new generation of button piano players who would blow us away with their skill.

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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003010 07/15/20 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Lawrence Fields
You can play much faster with a chromatic layout (watch some youtube videos of professional accordion players; their speed is a marvel to behold), and because the buttons are much closer together, no awkward stretches! Also, the fingering is the same for any key because the arrangement is based on the circle of fifths.

My question: why are there no alternative pianos with a chromatic five-row layout? You'd soon have a new generation of button piano players who would blow us away with their skill.
I don't see any accordion players playing fff by hitting the keys from three feet (one meter) above, dazzling us with their karate chops, as well as their lightning speed (far faster than any accordionists).

Oh, forgot - there are no hammers and no strings to strike on an accordion.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DX8uKqaRfU


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003022 07/15/20 02:26 PM
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Hello, and welcome to Piano World!

Years ago, way before I started learning to play the piano, I had a friend and coworker who had an accordion he wanted to sell. His parents bought it for him in 1965, when he was just a kid, and paid about $350 for it new. That was a lot of money back then.

Anyway, at the time, I played the guitar, 5-string banjo and the violin. I decided to buy the accordion from my friend and coworker for $150 because it looked like an interesting instrument, and something I just wanted to tinker with and see if I could learn to play it, to some extent.

It was not my first experience with the basic keyboard, but it was my first experience with the chord buttons and having to pump the instrument to get sound out of it.

After a while of playing around with it, I actually figured out the button scheme, as you discuss, and used the keys to play the melody of songs I knew, and mostly Church hymns. Not to brag, but it didn't take long and I was playing the accordion at Church, playing Gospel songs and Hymns. In my neck of the woods at the time, an accordion was a rare musical instrument, and, not that I was all that good at it, but the congregation loved it because it was different. Amazing Grace on the accordion does sound good, as a general rule.

In fact, I was getting invited to play the accordion more often, and at other Churches than my own. I'd also play my guitar, banjo and violin. I was never that good on any of the instruments, but what I played was legible and people seemed to enjoy it. Maybe my playing was better than I thought. smile

I was invited to play special music for a Church in Jackson Georgia and I played my accordion, along with my other instruments. After the service, the Church pianist asked me if I'd sell the accordion because she wanted to buy it. Well, it was heavy, and you had to work to pump it and get any music out of it, and I had proven to myself that I could learn to play an accordion to some extent, so I agreed to sell it to her for what I paid for it. I probably could have sold it for more, but I didn't.

As for comparing the accordion to a piano, they are two very different instruments, even though there are some similarities regarding the basic keyboard.

Sorry for the long post, but it seemed like an opportunity to tell one of my many musical stories, which I think I've told here before. smile

Rick


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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003026 07/15/20 02:37 PM
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I guess the closest comparison to that would be the Janko keyboard, which also has the merit of having the same fingering in any key:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jank%C3%B3_keyboard


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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Rickster #3003051 07/15/20 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Hello, and welcome to Piano World!

Years ago, way before I started learning to play the piano, I had a friend and coworker who had an accordion he wanted to sell. His parents bought it for him in 1965, when he was just a kid, and paid about $350 for it new. That was a lot of money back then.

Anyway, at the time, I played the guitar, 5-string banjo and the violin. I decided to buy the accordion from my friend and coworker for $150 because it looked like an interesting instrument, and something I just wanted to tinker with and see if I could learn to play it, to some extent.

It was not my first experience with the basic keyboard, but it was my first experience with the chord buttons and having to pump the instrument to get sound out of it.

After a while of playing around with it, I actually figured out the button scheme, as you discuss, and used the keys to play the melody of songs I knew, and mostly Church hymns. Not to brag, but it didn't take long and I was playing the accordion at Church, playing Gospel songs and Hymns. In my neck of the woods at the time, an accordion was a rare musical instrument, and, not that I was all that good at it, but the congregation loved it because it was different. Amazing Grace on the accordion does sound good, as a general rule.

In fact, I was getting invited to play the accordion more often, and at other Churches than my own. I'd also play my guitar, banjo and violin. I was never that good on any of the instruments, but what I played was legible and people seemed to enjoy it. Maybe my playing was better than I thought. smile

I was invited to play special music for a Church in Jackson Georgia and I played my accordion, along with my other instruments. After the service, the Church pianist asked me if I'd sell the accordion because she wanted to buy it. Well, it was heavy, and you had to work to pump it and get any music out of it, and I had proven to myself that I could learn to play an accordion to some extent, so I agreed to sell it to her for what I paid for it. I probably could have sold it for more, but I didn't.

As for comparing the accordion to a piano, they are two very different instruments, even though there are some similarities regarding the basic keyboard.

Sorry for the long post, but it seemed like an opportunity to tell one of my many musical stories, which I think I've told here before. smile

Rick
Nice story, Rick, thanks! I've never tried an accordion - I always thought those chord keys were quite mysterious.

Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Rickster #3003058 07/15/20 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Hello, and welcome to Piano World!

Years ago, way before I started learning to play the piano, I had a friend and coworker who had an accordion he wanted to sell. His parents bought it for him in 1965, when he was just a kid, and paid about $350 for it new. That was a lot of money back then.

Anyway, at the time, I played the guitar, 5-string banjo and the violin. I decided to buy the accordion from my friend and coworker for $150 because it looked like an interesting instrument, and something I just wanted to tinker with and see if I could learn to play it, to some extent.

It was not my first experience with the basic keyboard, but it was my first experience with the chord buttons and having to pump the instrument to get sound out of it.

After a while of playing around with it, I actually figured out the button scheme, as you discuss, and used the keys to play the melody of songs I knew, and mostly Church hymns. Not to brag, but it didn't take long and I was playing the accordion at Church, playing Gospel songs and Hymns. In my neck of the woods at the time, an accordion was a rare musical instrument, and, not that I was all that good at it, but the congregation loved it because it was different. Amazing Grace on the accordion does sound good, as a general rule.

In fact, I was getting invited to play the accordion more often, and at other Churches than my own. I'd also play my guitar, banjo and violin. I was never that good on any of the instruments, but what I played was legible and people seemed to enjoy it. Maybe my playing was better than I thought. smile

I was invited to play special music for a Church in Jackson Georgia and I played my accordion, along with my other instruments. After the service, the Church pianist asked me if I'd sell the accordion because she wanted to buy it. Well, it was heavy, and you had to work to pump it and get any music out of it, and I had proven to myself that I could learn to play an accordion to some extent, so I agreed to sell it to her for what I paid for it. I probably could have sold it for more, but I didn't.

As for comparing the accordion to a piano, they are two very different instruments, even though there are some similarities regarding the basic keyboard.

Sorry for the long post, but it seemed like an opportunity to tell one of my many musical stories, which I think I've told here before. smile

Rick


wow... you are a man of many skills...

My hat off to you, Rick!

Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003064 07/15/20 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Lawrence Fields
Almost all professional accordion players learn the accordion with a piano layout for the right hand. When they become better players, they switch to a chromatic layout with five rows, see here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_button_accordion

You can play much faster with a chromatic layout (watch some youtube videos of professional accordion players; their speed is a marvel to behold), and because the buttons are much closer together, no awkward stretches! Also, the fingering is the same for any key because the arrangement is based on the circle of fifths.

My question: why are there no alternative pianos with a chromatic five-row layout? You'd soon have a new generation of button piano players who would blow us away with their skill.


Why..?


My guess is that the piano the way it is now strikes a great balance between technical layout and elegance.

To me, I am always impressed with how beautiful and elegant a piano looks by itself and even more when a pianist is playing on it. I have never had the same impression with any other instruments.

Logically, the piano could be redesigned and remade so that it could be played more efficiently and effortlessly by humans but I think it will take out all beauty about the piano as we know it.

It is just arts, I guess... not entirely logic smile

Last edited by DreamPiano80; 07/15/20 04:31 PM.
Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003108 07/15/20 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ando
Nice story, Rick, thanks! I've never tried an accordion - I always thought those chord keys were quite mysterious.

Thanks, ando! The chord buttons on the left side of the accordion are intimidating to begin with, because there are a lot of them. But once you learn the position of each chord button, along with the sharps, flats, minors, and 7ths, it became easier to figure out which button to push based on the basic pattern scheme Lawrence Fields mentions.

After a while, it becomes easier to use the correct chord buttons, and their matching chord groups, depending on what key you are playing in.

The keyboard on the accordion was like the keys on an inexpensive digital piano keyboard, and were unweighted. They were just spring loaded to come back up on their own when depressed and released, and were notably smaller in size compared to a piano.

So, you're pumping the accordion, so the bellows can push air through the reeds inside, while depressing the chord buttons on the left side, and playing the melody, or combinations of intervals on the keyboard on the right side. A lot going on for sure.

Believe me, playing the piano, though not at all easy, is easier than playing an accordion, at least physically, if not mentally. smile

This was back in the mid 1970s and I wish I had taken a picture of my accordion, or better yet, of me playing the accordion. And, I never mastered the instrument to a high level, compared to some accordion players, but I could play it sufficiently enough to say I could play the accordion a little.

Originally Posted by DreamPiano80
wow... you are a man of many skills...

My hat off to you, Rick!

Thanks, DreamPiano80! Not sure about being a man of many skills, but I have been around music and musical instruments from a very young age. That helps a lot, when it comes to playing music, on most any instrument.

In high school I tried to play the wind instruments (that didn't have their own bellows like the accordion) but I would soon get light headed and dizzy. Guess I wasn't cut out to be a wind instrument player.

I have played an autoharp, a dulcimer, and I played Sam Smith's harpsichord. The harpsichord was fun to play, but did take some getting use to. I thought about the movie "The Addams Family" the whole time I was playing the harpsichord. smile

And, I agree with you, I think the traditional piano, as is, is a very lovely and eloquent music instrument.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
guyl #3003152 07/15/20 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by guyl
I guess the closest comparison to that would be the Janko keyboard, which also has the merit of having the same fingering in any key:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jank%C3%B3_keyboard

Thank you! That's what I was looking for. Once the instrument exists, people can experiment on it and then they will adopt whatever works best.

Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003159 07/15/20 09:22 PM
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Such instruments have existed over the years. People experimented with it and adopted what worked best. That is why you can hardly find them these days.


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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
BDB #3003161 07/15/20 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Such instruments have existed over the years. People experimented with it and adopted what worked best. That is why you can hardly find them these days.


yes! smile

Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003200 07/16/20 01:44 AM
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Accordions weren’t that rare where I grew up and my next door neighbors were Ukrainian and the oldest daughter took accordion lessons. My relatives on our Polish side loved polkas and polkas need accordions. Many of the mariachi bands playing in my city always include accordions. I’ve always thought about trying one, but then I realize all my practice time should be to improve what I already know how to play and took lessons both as a kid and an adult. Playing all the scales the same way might be advantageous on the Janko but it seems the piano keyboard developed as the great music was being written so it might turn out awkward for Chopin. Plus a buttery smooth, well regulated piano with its present design is a sheer joy to play.

Last edited by j&j; 07/16/20 01:46 AM.

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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003240 07/16/20 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Lawrence Fields
Almost all professional accordion players learn the accordion with a piano layout for the right hand. When they become better players, they switch to a chromatic layout with five rows, see here:

Are you implying that almost all professional accordionists play chromatic button accordions as opposed to piano accordions? I don't think that's accurate.

Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
DanS #3003247 07/16/20 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by DanS
Originally Posted by Lawrence Fields
Almost all professional accordion players learn the accordion with a piano layout for the right hand. When they become better players, they switch to a chromatic layout with five rows, see here:

Are you implying that almost all professional accordionists play chromatic button accordions as opposed to piano accordions? I don't think that's accurate.


I rather suspect it depends on whether they initially learned on a piano or simple push button accordian/squeezebox before moving to the larger accordians. Although the accordionists I have known owned and played all sorts of varieties of the breed.

Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003256 07/16/20 07:51 AM
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Based on the piano key length, how would a chromatic, multi-tier keyboard work for piano? I don’t see how this could function well for a pianist’s Needed mobility. If you were considering something That would require rewriting all the canon of music in order to confirm to the keyboard, you might as well forget it. They will never be a complete rewrite of everything historical to confirm to a new layout

Read the Wiki re the Janko failure

There has been another keyboard layout that was previously posted about on these forums, But it required rewriting all music in a special format


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
guyl #3003321 07/16/20 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by guyl
I guess the closest comparison to that would be the Janko keyboard, ...

Here's an interesting discussion of the history of the Jankó keyboard, with lots of pictures of old and current pianos.

Larry.

Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003347 07/16/20 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Lawrence Fields
Almost all professional accordion players learn the accordion with a piano layout for the right hand. When they become better players, they switch to a chromatic layout with five rows, see here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_button_accordion

You can play much faster with a chromatic layout (watch some youtube videos of professional accordion players; their speed is a marvel to behold), and because the buttons are much closer together, no awkward stretches! Also, the fingering is the same for any key because the arrangement is based on the circle of fifths.

My question: why are there no alternative pianos with a chromatic five-row layout? You'd soon have a new generation of button piano players who would blow us away with their skill.
Being a Scot, I was sceptical as the most folk of my generation watched players using Piano Accordions. However we were enthralled by the late Jimmy Shand (Sir James Shand MBE) playing his button accordion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3hAtxZXNrA

Here is the best example of superb button accordion playing by the late Will Starr:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFxEIFvnbug

I think it best to leave this technology to its own instruments. At my age I can just play my Blüthner piano as it is and put in my clothes buttons each morning!
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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003430 07/16/20 05:25 PM
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I was trying to remember a cool newer song with accordions- KONGOS - Come with Me Now features a piano keyboard accordion. Done 2012. Even makes old rockers wanna stand up and dance.


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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003440 07/16/20 05:56 PM
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We were visiting the Cologne Cathedral (Koeln Dom) back in 2006. Outside was a busker playing his accordion. Absolutely transfixing. He was playing the great Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor and went on to play one of the Vivaldi Four Seasons. A few years later we were watching a documentary of the Philadelphia Orchestra touring Europe and a bunch of them were standing outside the Cologne Cathedral with the same busker playing. They were mesmerized. I tried to find the documentary on youtube with no luck.

This was nothing like the old riddle - What's the difference between an onion and an accordion?

Last edited by astrotoy; 07/16/20 05:56 PM.

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Re: Chromatic Layout for Pianos
Lawrence Fields #3003463 07/16/20 07:09 PM
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Oh and a nice use of banjo on The Dead South doing “In he!! I’ll be in Good Company!” Very nice bluegrass with banjo, vocals, and bass. Drifting off thread here but considering all Rickster’s many talents just thought I’d point out some enjoyable videos.


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