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Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

Because I want to learn how to play music the correct way and not just play by ear.

Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

I completely agree, however Cajun music is not learned the "correct way".

It is an aural/oral tradition.

Pedantic classical musical notation may be effective but sadly will not result in authentic Cajun music.

Sometimes the hard way is the best way.

While you are at it.. get a 5 row chromatic accordeon in the French C system.

That is what I would have done 30 years ago.

Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

Music theory is just the way music is organized according to western culture (basically “white” culture or maybe Anglo Saxon might be a better reference 🤷🏻‍♀️). That’s why people here might take a bit of offense when you say you want to learn the “correct” way, and that in itself takes away from Cajun/creole tradition of music making.

That mindset in our culture is wrong and dangerous. French is such a HUGE part of our culture and look how that way of thinking has damaged our identity of who we are and robbed younger generations of learning our families language... all because we don’t “speak correctly.” That mindset of being “correct” basically implies that we need to follow the white mans rules and be Americanized or we don’t belong, or we’re “stupid”. Go figure...

Because of our culture being suppressed, many Cajun and Creole people have accepted this American identity, but it’s not who we are.
We were forced to accept the English language and American culture, and there hasn’t been much kick back because people accept this idea of being a “patriot” and worshipping all things American. I call it “white-washing”.


In my opinion all the “rules” of music theory in western culture puts you in a box and makes you follow the white mans rules. Sometimes it can help, but it can also hurt if our music is forced to conform like English was forced. It can evolve naturally which I think is what Louisiana music is doing, especially with Zydeco. And I think as long as its evolving naturally and not by force then it’s okay. But let’s not call it “correct” or “incorrect” based on American views.

But this little Cajun knows music theory so If that’s what you’re looking for, here’s what you get.
C accordion:
It’s a “C” scale. C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C.
You can play in A minor.
Can play in G without the F#.
Yes you can play chords.
You can play in 3/4 or 4/4 time... 6/8, whatever you want.

Knowing music theory Doesn’t always help You play 😂
And this is why if you don’t let go of that mind set, you’ll never learn to play traditional Cajun/Creole/zydeco music.

To end, I am guilty of adapting our music to western culture because I am a music teacher who teaches band... and that’s what is taught in my band class. It’s the only thing my kids know. So for my masters degree I actually wrote an accordion method book with the purpose of using it in a school setting where students are typically classically trained. But I think it’s important to know that there’s many correct ways to play different songs and if we use music theory as a resource and not force our music to conform to the rules of western music, then it’s okay. My book starts off with basic children’s songs using music notation and then slowly progresses into Cajun songs... but I only put the skeleton of the song and left out all the musical decorations that can be added. Some people might even use alternative notes here and there, and that’s okay.

I think as long as you know and understand that our music is not bound by the same rules as western music then it’s okay to explore. We just need to be careful and aware of how we view our music.

Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

Kylie - oh really, it's all about 'white man rules'. What utter tosh. Learn music however you want, try not to blame somebody. You a music teacher as well. Quel embarrasment.

Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

If you want to learn the correct way then go sit with a bunch of old musicians and fail until you start to learn something.

When I learned I had to let go of the idea that everything had to fit into the rules of western music theory because it was hurting me. If you need help, go take lessons with Chad Huval!! Please don’t consult a music theory book.

Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

I take lessons with Blake Miller every week.

Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

Sounds good to me!!

Re: How would I apply music theory to the accordion?

This is the same issue I have had with banjo music, guitar music, polka band music, Irish penny whistle music, Cajun music etc.

Let just say that you can write the correct notation but you cannot notate the "pulse". Those are the subtle pauses, sustains, emphasis, thrills and a host of subtle variations inherent in almost every music style.

Basically you learn to play the music as written, then you listen to the masters and what you are missing becomes obvious.

Or, some folks find it easier to just go straight to copying the masters. It is a personal approach thing, whichever is easiest for the individual.

Jamey Hall's most excellent Cajun Accordion Music Theory

Brett's all new Cajun Accordion Music Theory for all keys!

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