Lesson #7 - Playing in Octaves


Playing the "octave scale" 

Here is a technique that I would suggest you master right from the get-go.  It is commonly referred to as “playing in octaves” on the button box.

This technique is the first step in crafting the recipe of the gumbo of Cajun music that will start to make your music sound Cajun.

Even before we work on playing a melody, I’d suggest you get this technique sacked, else, you’ll almost certainly be re-learning it.

 And, it really isn’t much more very difficult to do.  I think it actually makes picking out a melody more intuitive!

Recall that playing an octave simply means, simultaneously playing two notes that are one octave apart.  (i.e., one note is twice the pitch of the other). 

First of all, how do you play an octave on the box?  Because of the way the Cajun accordion is laid out, there is a pattern. 

And, it’s a fairly simple to learn pattern. 

Start by using your index finger and your “pinky” of your right hand. 

Place your index finger on button number three (which is “C”) and, place your pinky on button number six (which is also “C”, but one octave higher). 

Hold down both buttons number three and six and push in the bellows.  Voila!  An octave!  Simple, no?

To get the next note in the scale, leave your index finger right where it is, on button number three, and move your pinky one button up, to button number seven. 

(Please don’t forget that when I say “one button up”, that this means “up in pitch” .. which is physically closer to the floor!)

Press buttons three and seven and pull the bellows out.  Voila again!  Another octave only this time on “D”. 

Now it’s time to note another famous feature about the way this instrument is laid out.  You will use this information over and over and over again! 

The unwritten rule of playing octave on the Cajun Accordion: 

To play an octave on the push, you’ll have a two-button space between your index finger and “pinky”.

To play an octave on the pull, you’ll have a three-button space between your index finger and “pinky”!

One warning:  the last two notes do that famous push/pull reversal!

See if you can follow the pattern by watching the video!  .. and .. good luck!