The Accordion

The Accordion in Scottish Music

There are three basic types of accordion - the Piano accordion with a piano keyboard, the concertina with pistons or buttons at the end of the bellows and the Melodeon which is the type of instrument played by Jimmy Shand and it also has buttons.

The accordion as we know it was developed in the first half of the 19th Century. However the “free reed’ instrument as such is much older and can be traced back over 2,000 years in Africa and Asia. These instrumentsh ave a reed which is set independently.

The accordion inhales and exhales air and by expanding and squeezing the bellows the air is forced over the sets of free reeds inside the instruments and they vibrate. The keyboard or buttons operated by the player allow the creation of specific pitches from the vibration of the reeds.

The reeds are made of fine steel these days but previously they were made of brass.

The accordion is played all over the world in one form or another. In Russia there is the byan, in Norway the trekspill, in Italy the fisarmonica and in Argentian there is a very distinctive instrument for the Tango called the bandoleon which is a form of accordion with extended bellows for which one needs very long arms.

See accordion tutor books by Sandy Brechin and David MacKenzie and accordion CDs by Sandy Brechin