Diatonic accordion

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Diatonic accordion

The diatonic accordion (also called diatonic harmonica ) is an accordion with a diatonic and alternating treble and alternating bass. As a button accordion , it belongs to the family of hand pull instruments . The number of keys can vary within wide limits.


The first development spurt took place in Vienna. In many parts of the world, diatonic accordions are known to this day under the name “Wiener” or “ Wiener Modell ”. The development of the various models was essentially complete by around 1860.

Today, in Central Europe, there are hardly any manual pull instruments with piercing tongues that are made entirely by hand. The manual production of chromatic and diatonic slide instruments was still widespread in the first half of the last century. Austria played an important role in the development of the diatonic Viennese (later the Styrian) harmonica and the chromatic Schrammel or Budowitz harmonica. Later Castelfidardo in Italy , the Musikwinkel in the Vogtland of Germany and Louny in the Czech Republic gained importance. In Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy, reed plates and hand-drawn instruments are still produced today, partly by hand and machine.

In addition, many diatonic slide instruments are made in Slovenia , Switzerland ( Schwyzerörgeli ), Austria, especially in the federal states of Styria and Carinthia . Most of the instruments are manufactured with parts from Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic. Even today there are still a handful of good craftsmen in Klingenthal and the surrounding area (Germany). In Vienna , however, there are no longer any slide instrument makers who can professionally repair and build a Schrammel harmonica.


In the pre-industrial era with its handicraft businesses, which went over to partly industrial production, this instrument became very popular. The Hohner company played a major role in this in the 20th century.

Most of the instruments were exported as early as the 19th century. Emigrants took instruments with them to various parts of the world. A brisk trade developed, especially with the USA. Among other things, a catalog by C. Bruno & Son from 1881 attests to extensive imports from Europe. This catalog has over a hundred illustrations. However, the Second World War and the spread of the electronic organ led to a rapid decline in production and export figures.

But if you look at the Styrian harmonica, a steady upswing can be observed since 1975, when the first rose plaited school appeared. In Austria alone, the instruments currently produced per year are estimated to be 8,000 pieces. The Novak company, founded in Klagenfurt in 1874, still produces handcrafted instruments today.

Lubas was one of the earliest companies, it had its operations in Ljubljana ( Slovenia ) and in Klagenfurt, Austria . Allegedly, Lubas is also the company that installed the first helicon basses. Josef Fleiß ran the business in Slovenia until 1943. After the Second World War, Peter Müller and others learned the trade with diligence. In Slovenia today there are a large number of small companies that manufacture harmonica parts or carry out specific work on harmonica. Most of them were trained at the Melodia plant (Ljubljana), the successor to Lubas. The Halaváček company in Louny ( Czech Republic ) also played an important role . In Louny there is still a company that produces reed plates.

In the USA , too , an emigrant ( Anton Mervar , Button Accordion Manufacturer) built Styrian harmonicas in Cleveland .

Further history with the respectively known accordion makers: list of accordion makers

The entry Schrammelharmonika contains a list of Viennese harmonica makers who may have already made similar instruments.

Important designs

Styrian accordion

The Styrian harmonica is mainly used in folk music in Austria, South Tyrol, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Bavaria, but also in other countries.

Club model

The club hand organ ( German club model , also diatonic hand organ ) is a diatonic, alternating tone harmonica with two keys and semitones in a third row.

In Germany, in traditional folk music often for song accompaniment or played Model Club in accordion orchestras that having on the middle row in the middle of a single button, the same sound on pulling and pushing plays ( Gleichton ). The most common key of this model is the combination of C / F. The instruments made by the Hohner company are the most popular . However, both Schwyzerörgeli and Styrian harmonica are offered with a key assignment on the treble and bass that corresponds to the Hohner Club models, there is no general standard for the key assignment. Some club models were offered with an extended number of diatonic basses on the bass side. Very often these models are also used with register switching on the treble.

The club model therefore corresponds structurally to a three-row diatonic harmonica with adapted key assignment and is therefore offered as a variant by most manufacturers. The external website given below shows the key assignment.

In the Musikverlag Holzschuh in Manching there is a teaching aid called the Neue Holzschuh-Schule (a thorough and easily comprehensible course for the accordion by Alfons Holzschuh).

Viennese model

The Viennese model , which is equipped with two rows without identical tones, is enjoying increasing popularity as an instrument especially for live music at folk dance events that were originally inspired by France (“ Bal Folk ”, “Tanzhaus”). High quality instruments mainly from Italy and France and a further development of the playing technique have contributed to the attractiveness of this instrument. The usual notation is often accompanied by a French tablature .


Italian organetto

Web links

Commons : Diatonic Accordion  - Collection of Images, Videos, and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. The descant of slide instruments is the melody keyboard (or the usually right side of the instrument) in contrast to the bass keyboard, the accompaniment.
  2. C. Bruno & Son: musical instruments, strings, etc. 1881 ( archive.org - p. 24 to p. 97 are missing in the digitization).
  3. C. Bruno & Son: musical instruments, strings, etc. approx. 1890, with many hand-colored illustrations. S. 69-102 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  4. Club model, key assignment