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Squeezebox jargon demystified - Eagle Music explain the most used terminology

Eagle Music lists below the most used terminology in the squeezebox world and gives simple explanations of all the buzz words and jargon like Musette, Cajun, Dry Tuning, Wet Tuning, Anglo Concertina, Diatonic, Chromatic etc. The list is alphabetical and non exhaustive!

Accordeon

What purists might call a European melodeon or a continental chromatic squeezebox.

Accordion

A squeezebox with bellows, that has buttons or  keys or a combination of both.

Air button

A button or lever that is situated near to the players left bass end operating hand. It enables the player to ‘let air in’ or ‘let air out’ of the bellows.

Anglo concertina

A concertina that plays a different note ‘on the push’ and ‘on the pull’. The popular sizes are described as ‘20 key’ and ‘30 key’. The popular tuning for Irish music is G/C.

Back strap

A strap located at the back of the player …When fitted, the ‘back strap’ pulls together and holds  the two shoulder straps in place. This gives extra stability to the accordion player.

Bellows

The central part of an accordion. The bellows holds and stores air. When the player presses the buttons or keys of an accordion, this transfers the air to the reeds and makes the voices sound.

Bellows strap

Normally two of these are fitted to an accordion (one at the top and one at the bottom) they hold the bellows together for safe transit, or when the accordion is not in use.

Bellows tape

Special cloth backed tape that is glued onto the edges of the bellows to hold them together and it also protect the edges of the bellows.

Bellows pin

Small metal domed pins that hold the bellows to the casing of a squeezebox.

Button accordion

It looks the same as a melodeon but it is a chromatic instrument eg.. On a 2 row box the reeds are tuned an interval apart eg. B/C or D/D# or C#/D etc. A three row Button Accordion could be in the key B/C/C# etc.

Buttons

The small round ‘buttons’ that the fingers press on a melodeon or button accordion to sound the reeds.

Cassotto

The Italian word ‘Cassotto’ translates to the word ‘box’. ‘The Box’ is the tone chamber containing a set of reeds (or two or more) …The reeds blocks that are housed in the tone chamber can be two voices or more. A box with two sets of reeds can be referred to as ‘Double Casotto’. The quality and design ot the tone chamber can add towards the quality of the tone on the instrument.

Castagnari

A top quality Italian melodeon  maker.

Cajun music

Cajun music is often couple and mentioned at same time as  the Creole-based Cajun-influenced zydeco form of music  which are both of the Acadiana origin. This type of music is rooted in the ballads of the French-speaking Acadians of Canada and also is an emblematic music of Louisiana, USA.

Cassotto

‘The Box’ this is the tone chamber containing a set of reeds (or two or more) …The Italian word ‘Cassotto’ translates to the word ‘box’. The reeds blocks that are housed in the tone chamber can be two voices or more. A box with two sets of reeds can be referred to as ‘Double Casotto’. The quality and design ot the tone chamber can add towards the quality of the tone on the instrument.

Chin switches

These are a type of ‘Treble Voice Switch’ located above the treble keyboard. The player does not have to move their hand away from the playing position to change voices, this makes them very easy and convenient to use.

Chromatic

A squeezebox that can be played in and out of the rows to access all the notes including sharps and flats of a chromatic scale.

Continental chromatic

In simple terms, you could think of this instrument as being a Piano Accordion that has buttons rather that keys! because you get the same note on the push and pull the same as on a Piano Accordion.

An accordion fitted with a converter bass system is the most versatile squeezebox regarding  the left hand. The left hand bass end of the squeezebox has ‘switches’ to change between standard Stradella and ‘Free Bass’.

Couplers (also called Registers, Switches and Stops)

These are the ‘selector switches’ that are found on squeezeboxes. they are used to select the number of ‘voices’ that can be playing at any one time. Accordions that have a more than two voices are often tuned to different octaves of each voice. An accordion that is described as ‘Octave Tuned’ will have a voice tuned an octave higher than the middle voice and a voice tuned an octave lower than the middle voice.

They have small dots or indentations on them to indicate the number of voices that the coupler will ‘switch on’.
eg. The coupler switch with one dot on it will play only one voice, and if it is the higher octave single reed that is chosen, it will sound something like a concertina.

Depending on how many voices the particular squeezebox has, will determine how many couplers there are. The voices can come tuned to different octaves. On say a three voice accordion, you will be able to select the higher tuned reeds, the lower tuned reeds and the middle tuned reeds in a number of different combinations. On a four voice accordion that is musette tuned, you will can select and play on the three musette tuned reeds. etc.

Crane

A make of duet concertina from the 19th century.

Diatonic tuning

Diatonic. eg. A/D, D/G, G/C etc. (a 5th apart) – Chromatic. eg. B/C, C#/D, D/D# etc.

Double casotto

The Italian word ‘Cassotto’ translates to the word ‘box’. ‘The Box’ is the tone chamber containing a set of reeds (or two or more) …The reeds blocks that are housed in the tone chamber can be two voices or more. A box with two sets of reeds can be referred to as ‘Double Casotto’. The quality and design ot the tone chamber can add towards the quality of the tone on the instrument.

Double Ray

A button accordion model made by Hohner.

Dry tuning

When two voices or more are tuned to the same to concert pitch (No tremolo).

Duet concertina

The Duet Concertina is the least common and least available to find or buy in modern times. There are three duet ‘systems’ that were  invented in the 19th century by Jeffries, McCann and Crane. Crane’s Duet Concertina ‘system’ was also known as The Triumph Concertina.

English

A type of music eg. Morris Dance Music or a concertina that plays the same note on the push and the pull.

Four stop

A one row melodeon that has ‘four stops’ for selecting different reed playing combinations.

Four voice

A box that has four banks of reeds.

An accordion  bass system that is favoured by Baroque, folk and some classical players.
Unlike the stradella bass system, ‘Free  Bass’ means that all the left hand buttons play a different note! …this makes the instrument very versatile and gives the player a massive range of musical notes. Classical, piano and organ music can be played with little need for re arrangement.

Fret worked

The way the pattern is cut on the front/grille of a squeezebox, it can metal or wood that is fretworked.

Grille

Located at the front of the squeezebox, the grille is normally fancy, fretworked and displays the makers logo.  it’s job however, is to cover and protect the workings (valves etc.) of the accordion. The grille lets out the treble sound, but it can also be designed and made in a way that it can mute the treble sound.

Hohner

A German accordion maker, probably the World’s best known.

Jeffries

A make of concertina from the 19th century.

Key

The signature of a piece of music eg. the key of C major.

Keys

The black and white keys found on a piano accordion.

Lachenal

A make of concertina from the 19th century

Master bar selector switch

Some sqeezeboxes are fitted with a bar that runs the length of the treble keyboard, it is located at the outer edge of the keyboard. When pressed in it switches in all the voices. It can be operated easily by the heel of the players hand, it springs back automatically to it’s outer position immediately after it is pressed in. very useful in that The Master Bar enables the player to switch on the master set of voices without taking any  fingers away from the playing position.

McCann

A make of duet concertina from the 19th century.

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