Left hand keyboard layout
The left hand keyboard on an accordion can often appear complicated and daunting. Despite how it looks, it is laid out in a relatively simple, logical and inherently musical pattern. It is often referred to as the “stradella keyboard”, “standard bass keyboard” and sometimes “MII” (manual 2).
120 bass keyboard charts
When learning it is, in my opinion, always best to create your own “mental map” of the bass keyboard although as a teacher, I have found that some students often find seeing the bass keyboard as a chart helpful. I have also found that not everyone sees it the same way round… So I have included versions that I have found my students to find most useful. You can click on the images to enlarge and/or print.
Like looking at the accordion’s left hand keyboard in a mirror.
Like looking at the accordion’s left hand keyboard from the front
Up / down layout
The layout is inspired by the “over 100 year old” western musical tool, the circle of fifths. Everything is centered around the “C” button which is roughly in the centre of the second row of bass buttons. Following the circle of fifths, all buttons above the C button are a perfect fifth higher than the one below. e.g. The fifth note of the C major scale is G (the next key clockwise in the circle of fifths) and so the button above C is therefore G and that pattern continues all the way up the keyboard.
When going the other way (down the keyboard), each button is a perfect fourth higher than the one above it. e.g. The fourth note of the C major scale is F (the next note anti-clockwise in the circle of fifths) and so the button below C is F and that pattern continues all the way down the keyboard.
Left / right layout
The first row on the accordion bass keyboard is the one nearest to the bellows. It is (in the UK) usually called the “counterbass row”. Every note in this row is a major third higher than the adjacent button in the second row (also known as the “fundamental row”).
Moving out from the C button away from the bellows are the chord rows. Adjacent to the C button moving away from the bellows the buttons are C major, C minor, C seventh and C diminished.
Please feel free to offer your thoughts
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope that you can find a way of making use of the charts that proves useful to you. Please copy and / or print the charts as many times as you would like. I would also be interested to hear any comments about the post and / or the charts. Do you find either, or none, of the charts useful? Do you have your own favoured way of representing the bass keyboard? Any suggestions very welcome.