Advanced Techniques

[ Return to Top Page ] In this section we explore some of the techniques which result in the characteristic sound of the instrument. Our examination is by no means exhaustive. The best source for new techniques is to listen and watch good players!
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Ascending and Descending Bellows Reversal

While long runs (especially on the draw) are a large part of playing the three-row, there is a lot to be said for simply playing the instrument like a melodeon, that is, walking up and down one row reversing the bellows when necessary. This is more difficult on the three-row than on the smaller instruments such as the two-row and one-row, but it is still practical.

The thing to remember is that the bellows hand is imparting the impelling motion. The fingers don't exactly piston down on the buttons; to a large extent they respond as the bellows movement makes the right side rock, kind of like a surfer paddling about on his or her board responding to the wave motion underneath the board.

Double Stops

Double stops are two notes played at once in a passage. There are two ways to play passages consisting of double stops:
  1. Indulging in bellows reversals.
  2. Avoiding bellows reversals where possible.
Here are two examples of the two techniques (click on the image for a larger view of the music):

Two Double Stops Examples

More complex chords can be handled likewise. In a simple pop song, melody-led triads, that is, placing the melody note at the top of the appropriate inversion of the triad of the harmonizing chord, can be very effective.

Trills, Flutters, and Staccato

The characteristic trills, flutters and staccato are produced, again, primarily by the bellows motion. The left hand is shaking the bellows to impart the pressure and also some of the motion of the right side resulting in button presses.

Finger swapping

The player's technique for executing all three ornaments can be enhanced by considering the possibility of swapping fingers on one button. That is, if you are going to trill back and forth between two notes which sound on the same button, switching between two fingers as you rock the bellows back and forth takes advantage of the fact that it's more rythmic to switch between fingers than to try to flutter one finger. The same applies in general to playing melody using bellows reversal instead of long draw runs.

Other figures

There is a nearly infinite variety of other figures which suggest themselves to the player. For instance:
All these techniques are illustrated in the music below  -- click on the image for a larger view of the music.

Advanced Techniques

In summary: Discover! Invent! Improvise!


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Jacques Delaguerre