120 Buttons…

Sr. Elaine on the accordion
Sr. Elaine on the accordion

November 16th is National Button Day! 

Where does one find 120 buttons?  On the front of a Priest’s cassock? (Imagine buttoning one of the buttons wrong and having to do it all over again!)  On a princess’ dress?  On a display of buttons in a store?

Well, how about an accordion?  During coffee and cookie time after Mass the other morning the topic of accordions came up and Dennis Feist asked: how does a person know what buttons to play?  There are so many of them.  There can be anywhere from twelve to 120 buttons in the left hand on an accordion.

Chuck Gust, an avid accordion player, and Sister Elaine, a player, too, began to explain that it really is not hard at all.  One gets used to what buttons to play in the left hand to harmonize with the keys on the right hand accordion piano keyboard.  Not over night, of course.  Over time one does not even have to think about this because it comes so spontaneously.

An accordion is a musical instrument that uses pleated bellows and a bank of metal reeds to create sound.  Most designs feature two keyboards with buttons or keys located on either side of the bellows. The musician expands and compresses the bellows while playing the melody of a song on the right hand keyboard and, at the same time, playing the bass chords on the left side to  musically coordinate the song.

Now the buttons on the left side of the squeeze box as some call it, or wrinkle machine as my dear Dutch Uncle Jake called it, are arranged in chord progression as many songs are written, at least the old time waltzes, polkas, schottisches, two steps.  Often a song will, for example, begin in the left hand with the C chord, then the F chord, followed by the G7th chord.  Or, maybe begin with F, then Bb, and C7th.  The left hand accordion buttons are already arranged in that pattern.  Then, a row of buttons has C major, C minor, C seventh, C diminished.  Again, already arranged in that pattern.  We’ve got it made!

So, whether it’s an accordion with 12, 80, 120 bass buttons, just coordinate the keys and the buttons to enjoy a harmonized musical delight.

Submitted by Sr. Elaine Marie Roggenbuck

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