16 Fun And Interesting Facts About The Accordion (2023)

When you hear the accordion being played you might be thinking of folk music bringing people together along. Maybe a hearty song or two singing along with the polka tunes.

Well, there’s more to an accordion than meets the eye and ear. The accordion holds deep-rooted historic significance in the music world.

Stick around if you’re interested in knowing some interesting facts about the accordion and what made it so special.

Table of Contents

1. The Etymology of the Accordion

16 Fun And Interesting Facts About The Accordion (1)

The word ‘accordion’ is derived from the German verb, ‘akkord.’ The term characterizes the accordion as a musical chord or a concord of sounds.

It also comes from the french word, ‘acorder,’ which translates to be in harmony and agreement.

Origins aside, the accordion also holds other names like the squeezebox, belly baldwin, kanootch, or button box.

2. The Accordion Came From a Chinese Inspiration

Although the origin of the accordion hasn’t been too clear it’s been speculated to be an inspiration from the Chinese musical instrument, the Sheng.

It has a mouthpiece, resonator box, bamboo pipes, and a wind chamber.The accordion is reminiscent of Sheng’s vibrating reed tones.

That being so, the introduction of the accordion came about in 1922.

German instrument maker, Christian Friedrich Buschmann, had constructed the keyboard containing free vibrating reeds.

The bellows, or engine responsible for the sound, was named, ‘Hand-Aeoline.’

Nevertheless, in 1829, Cyril Demian was believed to have patented the instrument, coining the term, ‘akkordeon.’

3. How the Accordion Works

16 Fun And Interesting Facts About The Accordion (2)

When you first see the accordion, you might be thinking about how complex it would be to play it.

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Like all things, you have to break it down into simpler components.The are three main parts of an accordion.

There is the right side, which has the keyboard piano or buttons, the bellows located in the middle that function as a bow, and, finally, the left side containing the 120 buttons.

To get any sound out of the accordion, you’ll need to pull the bellows and press the buttons and keyboards based on your notes of choice.

The bellows direct the sound, touch, and dynamics, while the keyboards and buttons are responsible for the pitch level.

4. How Sound Comes Out of the Accordion

When you press the bellows, the air pressure passes, opening pallets, and produces vibrations coming from the free reed.

The design allows the reeds’ attached metal plates to create the sounds.The sound comes out from both sides of the accordion.

The surface of the instrument produces distinct sounds from each area.

5. The Instrument is Used in Numerous Genres

Contrary to popular belief, the accordion is played in more than a couple of genres.

You can find the instrument played in Cajun, Irish, Klezmer, Musette and Chanson, Tango, Zydeco, Conjunto, Tejano, and Norteno, classical, and dance-pop music.

The large number of genres associated with the accordion is mainly due to its global popularity.

You can find countries such as Brazil, the United States, Columbia, and Mexico.

6. There are More Than 15 Kinds of Accordions

16 Fun And Interesting Facts About The Accordion (3)

The two main kinds you’re likely to encounter are the piano and button accordions. But, that’s not all.

There are bisonoric, unisonoric, digital, diatonic, concertina, Bayan, and several other types of accordion to choose from.

The difference in each one varies from the tone, material, form, size, design, etc.

For instance, the key contrast between a piano and button accordion is that the latter uses buttons, rather than piano keys to produce sound.

7. The Accordion is Manufactured with Hundreds of Components

The raw materials used in making an accordion can include wood, plastic, and metal.

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The most commonly used wood for the reed block, the pallets, and the frame is poplar wood.

The wood type is reliable and lightweight enough to support the foundation of the accordion.

The more intricate parts of the instrument are composed of metal, such as the rods.

The manufacturing process begins with developing the parts first. Afterward comes the assembly of the reed plates, casings, and keyboards.

Then the final touches are exclusive to each manufacturer. It can comprise different painting techniques and finishes.

8. The Accordion Made its Cinematic Debut in 1888

The accordion made its cinematic debut in 1888. In the same year, the accordion found its way in Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince’s ‘Accordion Player.’

During the first seconds of the short film, you can see Adolph Le Prince dancing playing a button accordion.

That wasn’t the end of the accordion’s cinematic appearance.

After a few decades passed, the instrument’s music was orchestrated during live shootings of movies with era-famous actors and actresses like Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino.

9. The Accordion Had a Golden Age

During the 1900s, the United States and England initiated a ‘musical appreciation movement.’

The movement’s purpose was to revive the public’s interest in the musical classics with the help of music teachers.

Notable artists such as Guido Deiro and his brother Pietro Deiro made waves in publicizing the accordion.

At the time, accordion enthusiasts and players believed that the instrument lacked enough notes.

During the 1940s, their wishes were heard and a new ‘multishift’ accordion was developed, particularly to extend its bass range.

10. The Accordion Moving Forward

This instrument isn’t slowing down when it comes to following musical tech advancements.

The development of the electric accordion has proven its relevance in the digital era.

The advancement comes with MIDI compatibility, new sounds available, and more range. Some models can offer over 420 integrated sounds to your music.

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You can use an accordion to play a guitar, piano, trumpet, or violin sound.

The digital accordion can also reverberate your melodies.

11. There Are Hybrid Accordions

16 Fun And Interesting Facts About The Accordion (4)

Since the accordion is a globally used instrument, you can find several interpretations of its structure.

Take the Russian Garmon as an example. Both sides of the instrument hold around two rows of buttons.

The right side plays on a diatonic scale, while the other side is used for primary chords and harmonic minor keys.

The Russian Garmon is not only limited to Russian accordion players.

Armenian, Ossetian, and Georgian players are also a fan of the hybrid accordion.

The Russian instrument has also found its way to the United States and other European countries.

12. Popular Accordionists to Know About

There are numerous well-known accordion players that and respected names in the music world.

One of the oldest names is Lawrence Welk. After taking music lessons from his father, he got a music degree.

He rose to fame after starring in his show, ‘The Lawrence Welk Show.’ Welk frequently showcased his musical talent and dueted with another famous name, Myron Floren.

Another noteworthy accordionist is Loreena McKennitt. She draws her inspiration from Celtic, Spanish, and Arabic backgrounds.

Besides being an accordionist, Mckennitt was also a singer and songwriter.

13. The Top Accordion Pieces Played

The accordion is a versatile instrument. It complements several genres and melodies.

One of the most compatible being classical music. Galliano’s Opale Concerto’s performance (above) highlights the technical skills needed to play the accordion.

The piece draws from jazz inspirations as well.

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Gubaidulina’s De Profundis piece values a more religious interpretation.

The music composition displays a wide range of notes and flaunts the instrument’s level of expression.

Václav Trojan’s Fairy Tales accompanies youthful stories in puppet animation.

The movements of the characters are resounding with the accordion’s notes and registry.

It conducts a distinguished sound among other instruments playing, whether to describe the sleepy princess’ or evil dragon’s actions.

14. The Most Expensive Accordion Made Is Over $40,000

The placeholder for the pricey title belongs to none other than the Pigini Mythos.

While the price is steep, its quality delivers its value. The accordion’s sound is rich and smooth.

The Pigini Mythos was created with the company’s team along with some of the most talented accordionists out there.

With that price tag, you can only imagine the details and intricacies involved in crafting the wooden instrument.

The value also comes from the high-quality components in the accordion which has the potential to deliver one of the most striking pieces played.

15. The Largest Accordion Is 8-Ft Tall

The Italian-made accordion is named, ‘Fisarmonica Gigante.‘ Its maker, Giancarlo Francenella, built it in 2001.

The dimensions are around 8 ft and 3.5 in height, 6 ft and 2.75 in wide, 2 ft deep, and packs a hefty 440 lbs.

If you’re wondering whether you can play this enormous accordion, the answer is yes.

16. The Longest Time Someone’s Played the Accordion Is over 40 Hours

That title belongs to a Finnish Anssi K Laitinen. In the summer of 2018, Laitinen played approximately an astonishing 610 pieces.

Unsurprisingly, he also held the title in 2010 playing for 31 hours and 25 minutes long.

He played a range of Finnish and international pieces during his record-breaking event.

To Conclude

The accordion’s sound is wide-ranging.

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Even though it’s not the easiest instrument to play, it’ll surely develop your manual dexterity.

Its history has placed it mostly in the classical frame of music.

That being said, recent years have allowed the instrument to flourish and branch out into a plethora of branches that would interest a wider audience.


What are the 2 main types of accordion? ›

There are two main kinds of accordion, distinguished by their different keyboards: button accordions and piano accordions. All accordions have a button keyboard on the left-hand side for bass chords, but on the right-hand side, where the melody is played, they can have either piano or button keys.

How old is the accordion? ›

The accordion's basic form is believed to have been invented in Berlin, in 1822, by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann, although one instrument has been recently discovered that appears to have been built earlier.

What is the oldest accordion? ›

But the first true accordion made its appearance in 1822, when a German instrument maker named Christian Friedrich Buschmann (1775-1832) put some expanding bellows onto a small portable keyboard, with free vibrating reeds inside the instrument itself.

What are accordions made out of? ›

Accordions are free-reed instruments consisting of pairs of pre-tuned metal reeds (now usually steel) riveted to metal plates (now usually aluminum alloy). The plates are glued into a long reed-box projecting into the bellows, and reeds vibrate when air flows first over the reed, then through the slot on the plate.

What is an accordion without keys called? ›

A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica.

What is an accordion with buttons called? ›

A melodeon or diatonic button accordion is a member of the free-reed aerophone family of musical instruments. It is a type of button accordion on which the melody-side keyboard contains one or more rows of buttons, with each row producing the notes of a single diatonic scale.

Who played the accordion first? ›

Accordion was first created in the early 19th century in Berlin, Germany. Armenian organ and piano maker Cyrill Demian created the next variant of the Accordion in Vienna in 1829. He called his new instrument 'accordion.

How many keys does an accordion have? ›

How many keys are on an accordion? A standard piano accordion has 41 keys, although they can also have a range of 25 to 45. A button accordion can have from 10 to 100 (or more) treble buttons in place of keys.

What culture plays the accordion? ›

The accordion is often used in folk music in Europe, North America and South America, and in some countries, such as Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, it is also commonly used in mainstream pop music. In Europe and North America, it is often associated with busking. Some popular music acts also make use of the instrument.

How many reeds are in an accordion? ›

The modern accordion contains four reed ranks and eleven different stops, each stop having a distinctive pitch range and tone color. Perhaps because of its popularity with the uneducated masses, the accordion developed a reputation as a folk instrument, and classical composers rarely used the instrument in their works.

What are the parts of an accordion? ›

The accordion has three main components: the right hand side, a piano or button keyboard; the bellows, which act like a bow; and the left hand side, which has 120 buttons. To produce sound, Ksenija says, the basic motion is to “pull and press”.

What is the difference between an accordion and a concertina? ›

Concertina buttons are pushed into the instruments, traveling in the same direction as the bellows. Accordion buttons, called “bass,” are pushed perpendicular to the bellows. Another difference is that most accordions have bass capable of playing an entire chord, whereas concertina buttons play one note at a time.

Why is an accordion called an accordion? ›

In 1829, Cyrillus Damian of Vienna created another version of this instrument and gave it the name of accordion because of the addition of buttons, played by the left hand, that sounded chords. ("Accord" is the French term for chord.) Eventually, the name accordion was used for all instruments of this type.

Who is the famous player of accordion? ›

Lawrence Welk is considered to be the best accordion player to date.

Do accordions have batteries? ›

In order to make a MIDI transmit, it only requires a small amount of voltage in the accordion. People use a separate power pack, a battery housed on board the instrument, or (most commonly) the same cable as the note information carrier, either through a special power pack or a separate programmer.

Can accordions play on their own? ›

A well-maintained, quality accordion has a pleasing sound and large dynamic range comparable to a piano or woodwind. You can play a melody while accompanying yourself (something that string and woodwind players cannot do). An accordion player performing a melody can add her own bassline and chords.

Why do accordions have keys? ›

The accordion has free reeds on both the treble and bass sides. In modern accordions, the free reeds are generally made of tempered steel. The press of a button or key opens a valve to allow air to pass through the reed or reeds to make a sound when the bellows are pumped in or out.

What came before the accordion? ›

The origin of the Piano Accordion has always been a subjective topic. Historically inspired by the Sheng (笙), a centuries old Chinese instrument comprised of a mouthpiece, bamboo pipes, resonator box and wind chamber that created a “free vibrating” reed tone.

What is the world's smallest accordion? ›

He is now the proud inventor of what he describes as the world's smallest accordion, dubbed “the baby”. It is one of 90 Bonifassi models. He said that over the years he has sold his instruments to many well-known musicians, including French singer and accordionist Claudio Capéo.

What sizes do accordions come in? ›

Accordions are sized according to the number of bass buttons, 12 bass, 48 bass 72 bass and 120 bass being the most common sizes.

What is the most common accordion? ›

The diatonic accordion: The the most widely used accordion in the world. The different buttons have different tones depending on whether you pull the bellows in or out. These can usually play a very limited number of keys. The chromatic accordion: is the most widely used accordion in Denmark and in Eastern Europe.

Are accordions hard to play? ›

With the visible right hand keyboard, the accordion is easy to learn with the right tuition. By learning the accordion, students learn how to organise their time for practice. They will automatically apply this skill to other aspects of their education.

What is smaller than accordion? ›

The Concertina is smaller than the Accordion and in the shape of a hexagon.

What instrument is similar to an accordion? ›


Are there left handed accordions? ›

Do they make left-handed accordions? Yes, some have been specially constructed with the keyboard on the left-hand side. Most of these have been made for players that have lost fingers in their right hand.

What is the world most expensive accordion? ›

Pigini's most expensive accordion is at the record-high price of almost 40,000 euros. The mother-of-pearl buttons on one side of a Pigini accordion alone cost 600 euros.

Who buys old accordions? ›

If you don't have a music store in your area that deals in accordions, you can always try a pawn or antique shop, though you probably won't get much for it at those places. With a little effort, putting it up for auction on eBay is probably the best possibility, and one that we've had success with ourselves.

How many notes can accordion play at once? ›

How many notes can an accordion play? A full-size accordion typically has 41 treble keys on the right-hand side, which cover approximately three octaves of notes.

What country buys the most accordions? ›

Accordions are the world's 1227th most traded product. In 2018, the top exporters of Accordions were United States ($556), Barbados ($210), and China ($106). In 2018, the top importers of Accordions were Barbados ($662), United Kingdom ($85), Canada ($36), Norway ($29), and United States ($24).

Why do Mexicans like accordion? ›

The accordion was eventually embraced by the Mexican American communities who were working to carve out a living for their families in a society that many times shunned them. They also began to slowly incorporate the traditional European dances, like the lively steps of the polka, into their own dance styles.

How did accordion get to Mexico? ›

The accordion, introduced into Mexican culture by the Germans around the last half of the nineteenth century, had a significant and lasting impact. The poor rural Tejanos took to it quickly since it could mimic several instruments simultaneously and it was cheaper to pay one acordeonista than an orquesta.

What is the middle of the accordion called? ›

A reed rank inside an accordion is a single full set of the reeds that are the means to achieve the instrument's sound range. These reed ranks are located in the reed chamber.

Can accordions go out of tune? ›

That said, accordions will eventually go out of tune and need to be tuned by a professional. Total 448 Reed tongues that need to be playing the correct pitch! A proper tuning requires that the reeds first be serviced so that the wax, valve and tongue on each side are positioned properly.

What are voices on an accordion? ›

Definition: An accordion voice consists of a range of notes that are individually paired with a key on the fingerboard. An accordion usually has 1 to 5 voices on the right hand, which means that 1 to 5 different reeds can vibrate together when pressing one key.

Are all accordions the same? ›

There are two distinct styles of accordion - piano key and chromatic button key. Both are suited to playing all genres of music. Piano accordions are the best known and most popular type of accordion in the western world. The treble keyboard has piano keys with a range of between two and four octaves.

Do all accordions have keys? ›

While there is some variety in the types of accordions you might find on the market, the two most popular forms are the piano accordion and the button accordion. Piano accordions have a keyboard on the right, whereas button accordions feature a series of buttons instead.

What do the dots on an accordion do? ›

Most accordions have these circles and dots inscribed on their switches so you can immediately tell which combination of reeds the switch will produce. Others, however, bear no such markings, so you will have to listen by ear to determine what reeds are sounding.

What's the hardest instrument to play? ›

The 11 Hardest Musical Instruments to Learn
  • Violin. The violin is a wooden stringed instrument that's part of a larger family of similar instruments. ...
  • The French Horn. ...
  • The Organ. ...
  • Bagpipes. ...
  • Accordion. ...
  • Oboe. ...
  • Harp. ...
  • Guitar.

Why is the accordion so popular? ›

Further to that, the accordion has managed to insert itself deeply into pop music, and not just because it's a more portable alternative to a piano, since electric-pianos and keyboards are just as portable these days, but because of its unique sound. This sound gave the accordion its own place in pop.

Is accordion a good first instrument? ›

From the age of about six, the accordion can be a good “first instrument” choice. You don't need to master other instruments like the piano to play fluently.

Where was the first accordion made? ›

The accordion is a member of the wind musical instruments family. It was invented in Germany by Friedrich Buschmann in 1822. Since then, the instrument has made a significant impact on the world of modern and classical music.

Who is famous for accordion? ›

One of the famous people that plays the accordion is Lawrence Welk (1903-1992). He left school during his fourth-grade year, then decided he wanted a music career. Another one is Myron Floren (1919-2013), who became intrigued by the accordion at the age of six.

Who is the king of the accordion? ›

For forty years Ramón Ayala's music has captured the experience and the soul of the hard life in the Rio Grande borderlands. His name is Ramón, Ramón Ayala, el señor Ramón Ayala. They call him the King of the Accordion.

What is the smallest accordion? ›

48 bass – The smallest “adult size” accordion, but only if you're a very small adult! These accordions are the smallest size to feature the full range of chords and normally have major, minor, sevenths and diminished buttons.

Do all accordions sound the same? ›

There are no tuning options for the bass (left hand side). There are no set amount of tuning options and each brand of accordion can be tuned differently. Each tuning gives a different overall sound depending on the reed arrangement in the accordion.

Who designed the accordion? ›


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