Wednesday, November 22, 2006
If I understand it correctly, you just need to leave your comment as usual, it will come to me as an email and I will then okay it being posted. 99% of the comments that are left here are great. Please keep them coming!
If you experience any problems with this new system, contact me at my email address.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I took up the accordion and getting on pretty good. I am a violinist and used to busking the jigs and reels etc. Is there a way I can be more confident on the feel of the left hand on the buttons to be able to move from one chord to the next when the chords are quite distant from each other. I suppose it is a firm placement of the left hand on the instrument. Other than that I would be grateful for any help
Further to left hand technique, once you have found the position described in the above article, I suggest you try the following couple of exercises:
(1) Numbering the fingers as thumb = 1 and pinkie = 5, place your 3rd finger on the Bb fundamental bass, and your 2nd finger on Bb Major. Your arm should be positioned as in the bellows article, low enough that you are reaching up very slightly for the Bb, with arched fingers. Now slide your fingers over the F row and onto C Major, then slide on up to the D row, this time move your 2nd finger over to the D minor. Work your way up and down between these three chords. You can play any rhythmic pattern on each row that you wish. I have chosen these 3 chords because you have a marked button (C) in the centre of the pattern. However, it would be good to pick some other places on the bass keyboard to practise the same pattern, once you are confident.
The key is to slide your fingers over the rows, not to hop. Register both mentally and physically each row that you slide over. The best thing is to think of it by name, as opposed to simply thinking "up two rows" or whatever. (Think of it like going up a tall building in an elavator. You don't necessarily stop at every floor, but there is always a sign that registers each floor as you pass it.) Also move on to sliding from the Bb to the Dm without playing the C, just registering it. Then move on to playing this exercise with your 4th and 3rd fingers instead of your 3rd and 2nd. I very strongly suggest spending several weeks/months getting confident with this method before moving on to the next exercise. Although using the same finger on all the fundamentals is a rather basic technique, I am convinced that it is tremendously important to the brains process of spatial mapping of the bass keyboard. If you are bored in the meantime, try increasing the distance by playing Eb - C - Am. Not very logical harmonically, but good exercise!
(2) Now go back to the original three chords (Bb - C - Dm). I want you to change the fingering so that you are playing the Bb and C with you 4th and 3rd fingers, but the Dm with the 3rd and 2nd. As soon as you can do this, move on to using your 5th and 4th on the Bb. So now it's 5th finger on the Bb bass, 4th on the C and 3rd on the D. Again, move on to shifting from the Bb to the Dm, only registering the C. However, now you should not be sliding up and down, just touching the C with 3 as you reach up. Work toward being able to do the whole sequence while keeping your 5th finger lightly anchored on the Bb bass.
A word about position. If you have not been using your 5th finger, when you begin to do so you will probably need to alter your hand and arm position somewhat, especially if you have a 5th finger that is a good deal shorter than the others. I have been asking you to start the chord sequence with the Bb, as that will help position your hand at the start of the exercise. However, in real music (such as an Irish tune in Dm - probably really in Dorian or Aeolian mode) you would more likely be starting with the Dm. In that case, I would suggest that you take your hand position from where the pinkie will need to be before you start to play! That is always a good plan. Notice the lowest bass button you will be playing before you start, and position your hand so that your pinkie will be able to reach that button. You should be reaching up for everything else.
To continue developing this technique, have a look at some of the pieces you are playing which involve a wide range of chords. In most Major or modal type minor tunes, the minor chords will be placed highest on the keyboard, moving downward onto major chords. This is only a general guideline, but start by playing all the minor chords with fingers 3 and 2. Use 5 and 4 for the lowest row (at least if it is a Major chord) and for any situations where the preceding or following chord is up several rows. Use 4 and 3 for whatever chords are left.
Alternating bass lines and 7th chords (not to mention diminished ones) will create their own challenges. I don't believe it is wise to create too many rules for bass fingering. It's good to have some clever strategies for getting the most out of the 4 fingers we use, and it's good to be flexible enough in your thinking to "find a finger" when you run out of fingers! This is another reason I advocate starting by moving one finger up and down the fundamental row before graduation to the 4 finger approach.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Ye banks and braes of Bonny Doon
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair
How can ye chant ye little birds
And I sae weary full o
banks and braes of Bonny Doon How (pause)
can ye bloom sae fresh and fair How (wheeze)
can ye chant ye little birds And (gulp)
I sae weary full o care