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Bayan from the Russian manufacturer Jupiter

The bayan ( Russian Баян , IPA : bɐˈjan ) is the Eastern European form of the chromatic button accordion .

Differences to the accordion are in the design of the case and the type of reed plates. The reeds of a bayan are usually mounted together in large groups on a metal base.



The treble side is not equipped with buttons, but with buttons, which enables a larger tonal range. The construction of the treble side differs from that of other modern chromatic button accordions. The keyboard is moved a little further to the front, so there is also a smaller hood behind the keyboard. The mechanism for the flaps of the rear sound post must therefore be deflected backwards.

The bayan is usually played in a sitting position, with the players often placing a cloth over their knees to protect the bellows and clothing. Originally, like the Schrammel harmonica , it was only played with a strap. The keyboard of instruments from Tula is mostly graduated because the traditional way of playing takes place without the thumb of the right hand, which ensures that the keys (here buttons) are easier to reach. Three-row instruments have or had an open keyboard with exposed levers, similar to the traditional Styrian harmonica .


After newer bass systems were developed in Germany, bass systems based on the system of Tauscheck, Paul and Blumsteiner, which largely correspond to today's Stradella bass, were also installed on the bass side in Russia, only they had no diminished seventh chords. Today, as with other modern chromatic accordions, there is also the option of a melody bass converter on the bass side . This has the advantage that you can vary between standard bass and melody bass , making it possible to play literature for other instruments such as piano and organ. Some instruments were and are built with extremely deep, powerful bass (32 '), which of course increases the weight not insignificantly.

The arrangement of the melody bass is mirrored in the Russian bayan, figuratively speaking, the keys / tones are upside down when compared with the common Western European arrangement.

Reed plates

The reed plates with the reeds of a bayan are combined in a sound post. The bayan shares this design feature with the bandoneon and traditional Russian B-grip accordions. The reeds are very often still almost entirely handcrafted. Reeds and reed plates are pre-punched, but the rest of the work is done exclusively by hand with rivets and files.

The bayan usually uses very hard steel for the reeds to achieve the preferred sound rich in overtones. Other constructive factors also have an effect on the independent sound. The size, shape and type of the file contour are essential factors in addition to the material for the reeds. But there are also Bajans with normal single reed plates and machine-made long reed plates.

Name, distribution and definition of terms

The instrument was named after the legendary Russian poet singer Bojan (11th century). For ancient Greece such a person would be called a rhapsod or a bard for the Celtic Middle Ages .

In Russia, where hand-drawn instruments have an old tradition in rural areas and are still very widespread today, the term bayan is mainly used for accordions with a five- or six-row left keyboard and a three or five-row right keyboard. The term Bajan used in Eastern Europe corresponds to the term accordion used in German-speaking countries.

In contrast to the German usage, the term accordion is primarily used to refer to accordions with a piano keyboard on the right-hand side. All hand-held instruments are generally referred to as harmonica; More differentiated one means primarily the easiest to learn and for the Slavic village culture traditional handy accordion, which mostly (often very individually) decorated with traditional natural patterns and motifs and with one to three rows of buttons on the right side and three on the left Is provided.

In today's Russia, the bayan is much less widespread among hand-drawn instruments than harmonicas or accordions, and is mainly played by professional musicians with a musical college education in cities. The harmonica, on the other hand, is widespread mainly in rural areas and among amateurs and self-taught people; In contrast, (piano keyboard) accordions in Eastern Europe are primarily associated with the "restaurant" and "chanson culture" or the backyard and criminal genre.


The Schrammel harmonica was a forerunner . In 1870, Nikolai Ivanovich Beloborodow (1828–1912) developed a three-row chromatic harmonica in Tula , but it was based entirely on the model of the Schrammel harmonica. Key assignment, number of buttons and also the bass assignment were identical. In 1872 and 1875 the first schools for bayan were published in Russian.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky visited Tula in 1883 and then composed Suite No. 2 in C major, Op. 53 ( Suite charactéristique ), using four Bajans as the timbre in this composition. In 1907, the Russian instrument maker Pyotr J. Sterligow in Saint Petersburg presented the musician and educator Jakow F. Orlanski-Titarenko with a four-row, specially built button harmonica, which he called the Bayan . 20 years later, in 1927, Hugo Herrmann composed his seven new pieces of music in Trossingen in order to provide a work in classical music form for the folk musical instrument accordion (bayan).

Today there is a lot of classical music that is specially tailored to the bayan. In recent times in the Soviet Union there have been and are very many composers who also use the bayan in orchestras. Probably the most important bayan composer in the Soviet Union was Vladislav Zolotarev, who composed the musically most valuable bayan pieces for his own as well as for today. The composer Sofia Gubaidulina also wrote several works for the bayan.


  • S. Vavilov include: Bolshaya Sovetskaya enziklopedija: Tom 4 . Isd-wo Bolshaya sovetskaya enziklopedija, Moscow 1953, p. 365.

Web links

Commons : Bajan  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Galina Zyganenko: Etimologitscheski slowar russkowo jasyka . Radjan. Schkola, 1989, ISBN 978-5-330-00735-6 , p. 27