This site is about accordion music and accordion playing.

Playing Back Up

Jamming can be a great deal of fun and there are basically 2 main roles for us accordion players – Playing the lead or – Playing backup. In many cases the role of back up and filling in can be even more important than playing the lead.

If it’s someone else’s turn to play the lead then it goes without saying that our role is to play backup. Whereas the accordion is naturally a lead instrument there is a great temptation is to play the lead along with the person who’s turn it is. DON’T DO THAT. It can cause resentment. You may not play the song the same way and it is HIS turn. It is important that we do not forget this

So play back up and fill in. As you play the chord with your left hand go ahead and play that same chord with your right hand as well. (This is why it’s so important to learn how to play chords using your right hand). If you do this you will have many options with respect to playing a rhythm type of accordion. If the song is in 4/4 time ,you can hold the chord with your right hand for 4 full beats. This especially works well for slow ballads. Or you can come in on the 2nd and 4th beats if the song is a little more up beat. This works especially well for polkas. You can even play arpeggios using the notes in the chord which you are playing and as you gain more experience you will learn different licks and runs which will serve to fit in nicely.

If you happen to be backing up a waltz in ¾ time the same principles apply. You can either hold the chord for 3 beats or come in at different intervals on any of the beats. Once again arpeggios fit in very nicely here.

Learn to play latin rhythms as well. Without a doubt someone’s going to want to play La Paloma or Spanish eyes and if you can play some rhythm accordion using the correct chords it will be greatly appreciated

Occasionally when you are chording, for some variety consider playing single notes of the chord you are using or only 2 notes in the chord; this will serve as almost a counter melody and many times can be very pleasing to the ear.

Finally don’t always use your master register. Experiment with all your switches to determine what works best in what circumstances and further don’t hesitate to change registers mid song.

That’s it for today. Put on some music or find some fellow jammers and work on playing back up.