Rus Articles Journal

How the Russian people hooted? Play, an accordion!

the Accordion, an accordion, and more true a harmonica, probably, are associated with a folk music most. In one American movie the Russian peasants before war of 1812 cheerfully dance under a balalaika and an accordion. And strange feelings arise not at all audience. And in vain.

the Harmonica

This official name of the tool is simple copying of the foreign word. American Benjamin Franklin for the first time applied the word “armonica“ to the glass harmonica. Also harmonicas called any glockenspiels and xylophones.

In the subsequent in different types “harmony“ appears in different names of already reed tools: garmonium, harmonium, pan-harmony, harmonika (German) and Russian accordion. V. I. Dahl placed the word “harmonica“ in the article “Harmony“.

So strange that the Russian peasants dance under an accordion before war of 1812? And that the first tool though somehow similar to our accordion, it is patented only in 1829. The organ master from Vienna Kirill Demian was his author. Also that tool had five buttons when pressing which only chords sounded. Therefore the Accordion tool was called. And any melodic buttons.

As envisioned by the author, this tool had to serve the simple people which are not trained in musical knowledge. Further there were on other party of an accordion also five melodic buttons (only those that on a piano white).

On the opposite movements by fur different chords and sounds sounded. So it was possible to execute a plain song under couple of chords. At the same time all buttons settled down in such a way that it was impossible to publish a nonharmonic combination of sounds as neither press them and as nor pull fur.


I arrived a simple accordion with five melodic buttons and couple of chords to Russia. The Tula armorer Ivan Sizov bought such accordion at the Nizhny Novgorod fair in 1830 and began to duplicate it in the workshops. And before attempts of application of uvulas of such design in production of tools became. But they did not make commercial success.

Why in Russia “Accordion“ began an accordion to tell difficult. But you should not forget that copyright existed also at the beginning of the 19th century including in Russia. And it was impossible to apply someone else`s patented name to the new tools for commercial purposes. And Germans call the national tools harmonicas.

And yes this unpretentious toy across all Russia all through the same Nizhny Novgorod fair extended. Called an accordion the Tula pyatiklapanka. Sounds on buttons settled down, as well as at the German (Austrian) prototype. And at today`s accordions the same arrangement. Only it is more buttons.

During the second half of the 19th century a large number already really of our accordions appeared. Some already and had our sound row domestic, “everyday“. He practiced in church music, but also the people adopted him. So the livenka, the Nizhny Novgorod talyanka and the Siberian harmonica sounded. The others kept a sound row habitual to us.

Practically in all corners of Russia there were handymen who on the basis of the delivered prototypes did something special. And these accordions received the name on the district where the master lived and worked. Tula, livenka (Livny), Saratov, kasimovsky, Vyatka, Cherepovets, Vologda, Yelets, bologoyevsky and others.

But the creative thought of our masters continued to be fed and from the outside. Russia was always part of world musical process. For example, models under the name of “wreath“ and “German“, based on corresponding “foreigners“ appeared. “Talyanka“ reminded the Italian accordions.

Addition of ranks of buttons was their main influence. Before there was only one row limiting musical opportunities of the tool. Ranks were added by the German rules, in different tonalities. The next ranks differed usually in only one note from seven. For example, the first row represented white keys of a piano, and the second row replaced one white with black. In some models the quantity of rows reached five.

To understand how limited a one-row of a possibility of musicians, it is enough to remember such famous song as “The nice sea, sacred Baikal“. Its melody cannot be executed on a single-row accordion. It will turn out only on two-row. Though only one additional note is necessary.

But the national thought ate not only simplifications of the German theorists, but also professional theories of the Russian practicians. So the Yelets royalny harmonica which is rather reminding an accordion with the piano keyboard was born (not only white, but also black keys). In it only one sound, but not two, as in a pyatiklapanka fell on each key.

By the way, many hormonic masters, famous to all Russia, initially were violinists and were familiar with the musical theory.

the Bayan

A at the beginning of the 20th century appears a bayan. At first the word “Bayan“ was just the name of a trademark of one of accordions with three rows of buttons on the right side. The similar arrangement of buttons appeared in Vienna in 1850. As well as keys on a piano, buttons are painted in different colors. One sound is the share of one button. The arrangement essentially differs from keyboards of all previous accordions.

Modern bayans have usually five rows of buttons. But two “excess“ rows just duplicate others for convenience of game. They do not add sounds.

There are several various systems of an arrangement of buttons on the right keyboard. All of them are recognized as international. And today the modern Italian push-button accordion is almost indistinguishable from the Russian bayan.

On the left side of a bayan still there are buttons of ready chords. It is that and does a bayan, as well as an accordion, the national tool. That is professionally made with “national“ simplification of its musicality. Though modern concert bayans allow to play separate sounds and on the left keyboard that gives the chance to apply the most intricate chords.

Here so, for several decades, from a cheap musical toy the Russian accordion turned into the fine concert tool, comparable on beauty and power of sounding only with body. And at the price - with the car.