Using Piano Sheet Music

Just getting started with playing the accordion and have questions? Have a question about a technique? This is the place.
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Bob P
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:49 pm

Using Piano Sheet Music

Post by Bob P »

I bet I'm not alone in grabbing sheet music written for the piano and trying to play it on the accordion. You pretty much have to either do that or learn a song by ear, because you're not likely to find accordion music for a lot of songs.

It mostly works, but I'm getting stumped on how to play some of the chords on the bass side. Things like EmSus4 or C6, those kind of chords. How do you replicate or approximate them on the left hand?

My music theory isn't up to snuff yet to automagically recognize and figure them out. Any tips/tricks for converting these chords to the accordion bass? Is there a cheat sheet somewhere - something like 'for a sixth, play the major of the chord with the counterbase of the chord one step down' (e.g. CM with the A above F) - note I have no idea if that example actually works, just throwing out an example of the 'if this, play that' kind of thing I'm hoping to find. ;)


Here are two examples:


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Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:00 pm

Re: Using Piano Sheet Music

Post by annadalvi »

There are a few different ways of doing it (as always when it comes to music).

First of all, the thing to understand is the structure of chords. Basically the two main categories of chords are either major or minor. And then other chords can be created from the basic major/minor chord by adding more notes, or sometimes raising or lowering the fifths.

I think of the major/minor chords as the basic building blocks of music. And then all the other chords are made from those building blocks with added decorations/frills/sprinkles/whatever.

The simplest version for how to play chords is to strip the chords down to their most basic form and stick exclusively to major and minor chords.
The next version is of course to include sevenths and diminished chords.

After that, the simplest solution for any additional notes (like the 4th in a sus4 chord or the 9th in an add9),is to add them in the right hand. So you could have them as harmonies below the melody line. Or you could play the full chords in the right hand while accompanying another instrument or yourself singing.

It's also good to practice playing slash-chords (e.g. a walking bass line like C, C/Bb, C/A, C/G) and get used to the stretches you have to do. I thought

If you want to get really fancy, you could play combination chords like these:
Cm9 by using the C bass note, Cm+Gm chord buttons together,
Cmaj7(9) = C bass note, and C+G chord buttons together
Cm6 = C bass note, Cm + Cdim together
C7(b9) = C bass note, C + Bbdim mention a few options. It's fun to do every now and then, but sometimes it's nice to not have super fancy arrangements too.

The best way to learn these things (IMHO) is to play other people's arrangements. Arrigo Tomasi has a bunch or really jazzy arrangements, if that's what you're in to and I learned a lot of fancy chords by playing his stuff (tons of free sheet music here: ... /index.asp)
I also learned a lot of technique and chord stretches from the higher level Palmer-Hughes books. And then the trick is to take these new chords and stretches and sprinkle them into your own accordion arrangements as added spice.
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