Lesson #5 - Bass and Chords


Bass/Chord side - limitations 

The bass and chord side of the button box is fairly unsophisticated. 

When playing in “C”, you produce a “C” root and “C-Chord” on the push, and, “G” root and “G-Chord” on the pull.  That’s it!

Of course, many popular songs use Tonic, Sub-tonic and Dominant chords (I, IV, and V chords).  So, you only get two out of three!

In position 2, key of “G” on a “C” box, you get the “I” and “IV” and you’re done! 

Frequently the bass side is used as a rhythm section.  Depending on key, sometimes the left hand buttons really can’t be used coherently at all .. but that is part of the unique character of this instrument. 

For a two-step, the left hand is generally played as: root-chord-root-chord and so on. 

The right hand really dictates if you’ll be pushing or pulling the bellows at any given time, so the chords created by the left hand will be what they are, for better or worse! 

For a waltz, the left hand pattern is:  root-chord-chord-root-chord-chord and so on. 

This is the classic one, two, three, one, two, three, or, “Oom-Pah-Pah Oom-Pah-Pah”. 

Some times, your right hand rhythm will follow right along with the left.  But more often, you will find yourself putting in notes between root and chord, and changing bellows direction between root & chord! 

Also, a general rule to sound Cajun is to sustain those left hand notes “as long as you can”.  I’ve seen polka players (yah godda love ‘em!) who play their piano accordion left hand very lightly and percussive.  They almost pop those left hand buttons.

It's a wonderful technique for polka, but, please don't do that in Cajun music if you want it to sound Cajun! 


Two Step Bass Chords


Waltz Bass Chords