Basic BUTTON LAYOUT
1. The Treble Section and its Role in Accordion Music
Many players focus almost entirely on the treble (right-hand) section of their button accordions, basically ignoring the left-side except for, perhaps, the air button. Most double-row accordions have 11 treble buttons on the outside row, and 10 on the inside row. Here are two of the basic contributions of the treble section:
- The Row(s) of Treble Buttons determine the musical keys in which tunes can be played. Common outer-row & inner-row key-pairs are G & C and A & D (both popular in Newfoundland and Labrador), C & F (popular in Germany), and D & G (popular with Morris Dancers in England).
- Individual Treble Buttons. These are played in succession by the right hand to get the tune's melody and melodic rhythm.
2. Button Layout of my Double-Row Accordions
As you hold the accordion to play, the treble buttons, providing the melody, are on your right, and the bass and chord buttons, which can enhance the rhythm and contribute to the tune's harmonic content, are on your left. The treble buttons are usually numbered from 1 to 11 (outside row) and from 1 to 10 (inside row), where 1 is the button near the chin.
The layout for the very common (at least, in Newfoundland and Labrador) G-C and A-D accordions are shown below.
For the moment we will ignore the left-hand (except for the air lever or button), and also ignore the top button on each row, focusing instead on buttons 2 to 11 of the outside treble row and buttons 2 to 10 on the inside row. At this stage you do not even need to be concerned about the names of the notes as our button-number notation will represent them more simply. We'll come back to these diagrams on the "intermediate" page where we will focus on rhythmic beats using the left-hand outer row, and on accidentals using the top treble buttons. On the "advanced" button-layout page we will focus on harmony using the left-side inner row and right-side chords.
These diagrams were created by Lester Bailey, and are found on an excellent UK melodeon site (their name for our button accordions). If interested, CLICK HERE to check out their button-layout drawings for other accordions. It will open in a separate window, so you can easily move back and forth between sites.
The little numbers below the treble notes in the diagrams are referenced to the piano. For example, in the first diagram, accordion button 3 (on the push) corresponds to piano key C4 (also known as "middle C" on the piano).