Viennese model

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The term Wiener Modell describes simple diatonic accordions in Germany and around the world .

Even today, such models are often offered in two or three rows. Apart from the Styrian harmonica , it is the most widely used diatonic instrument. The model is no longer manufactured in Vienna today.

Key assignment

A diatonic major scale consists of seven tones: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti ( relative solmization ) or the pitches 1 to 7.

When pressed, a major triad always sounds on the keys, the pitches 1, 3 and 5 are repeated in several octaves. The pitches 2, 4, 6 and 7 sound when pulled; these are also repeated in different octaves. Thus, a scale melody play is already possible on a row with pull and push changes, similar to the diatonic harmonica, but chords can also be formed very easily by using buttons lying next to one another at the same time. Major and minor are relatively easy to play.

For each treble row there is a suitable accompanying major chord on the bass part. Pressure 1st degree major, train 5th degree major (incomplete seventh ).

  • Diatonic , since only the notes of a certain diatonic scale occur per row, and
  • Alternating tones, because two tones sound per button, one when pressed and one when pulled.

The treble keys are arranged from row to row at fifth intervals according to the circle of fifths . So with a three-row instrument, depending on the tuning, A, D, G or G, C, F and so on. Any combination is possible, but some were built with preference. The order is usually given from the outside in.

The bass key assignment was always variable within certain limits, whereby the outer row was hardly changed. The key assignments have remained essentially the same from the beginnings of the accordion until today. Half-tones were also built into the lower end of the row of keys very soon.

Description of a Viennese from the 1920s

Most of the surviving instruments date from the 1920s and 1930s, but the Viennese harmonica makers were among the first to build such instruments. Mention in the official report on the General German Trade Exhibition in Berlin in 1844. "II. Harmonica [...] August Schopp, in Vienna , showed by sending in a harmonica of 30 pieces. 20 Sgr. How much this one too The instrument in the short years of its creation has been perfected by the fact that what is present, on which a trained hand can produce very good pieces of music, has a range of about 4 octaves . The outside of the instrument is extremely elegantly decorated with mother-of-pearl and other decorations. "

A Viennese harmonica by Edmund Hochholzer, Fasangasse 39, Vienna III.

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Outward appearance

Little ornamentation, bellows mostly connected to the treble part with hooks on one side. The details also always depended on the customer and the respective harmonica maker. Basses mostly without helicon voice plates. The treble top was a flat wooden panel that showed breakouts in the form of traditional decorations. The keyboard (claviature) could be designed differently, more like the way the Styrian harmonica was built, with open piano levers and graduated fingerboard, but mostly with concealed levers that are mounted together on one axis. Often the instruments looked cleaner on the inside than on the outside. Most of them were two-choir, but every possible variant was also built. Register switches or register slides were rarely installed. Octave registers were also offered. The dimensions were rather small and the number of buttons per row was usually around eleven buttons. The instrument had to be inexpensive in order to be affordable for the target audience. The picture shows the keyboard and the nature of the treble keys.

internal structure


Case opened with a view of the bass voice plates. The reed plates are made of brass with steel reeds. The valve leathers were replaced by modern plastic valves. The reed plates are attached with brass hooks and sealed with a leather pad.

Treble Female.jpg

View of the reed blocks, brass reed plates with steel tongues. The valve leathers were replaced by modern plastic valves. The reed plates are attached with brass hooks and sealed with a leather pad. The reed blocks are the same width from above over the entire length, reed blocks made in Italy usually taper towards smaller reed plates. The material of the sound post usually consists of hornbeam, spruce or alder.

Differences to the Styrian harmonica

The Viennese model differs in its external design and sound from the Styrian harmonica . It also has no helicon voice plates in the bass part, the key arrangement of which is usually directly above the first row. The key assignments are often slightly adapted to the wishes of the player, and the number of semitones built into the lower end of the keyboard also varies greatly. A common tone is not built in, however.

Current state

In Italy and France, most musicians who play diatonic instruments still prefer this type of construction today. In Italy it is known as the organetto . In Germany there has been a growing number of musicians who have been using the Vienna model for live music at folk dance events (“ Bal Folk ”, “Tanzhaus”). Originally this scene was heavily influenced by France. G / C has largely established itself as the usual tuning of the two-row instruments in Germany. Regular courses to learn how to play on the Vienna model are included. a. offered by the Academy Burg Fürsteneck .


One of the best-known manufacturers of these modern instruments is the Castagnari company in Recanati . About ten other manufacturers in Castelfidardo offer Organetti . In Germany, HARMONA Akkordeon GmbH and some small craft businesses still build “Viennese models” today.

Karl Macourek. A Viennese button accordion is made by Lisl Waltner and is only in the book because Karl Macourek referred to this company in his stories. However, this information was also researched in the trade books that were still available.

The Viennese models from the Hohner company are now manufactured in Asia.

There are also accordion makers in France who make such instruments, including Bertrand Gaillard, Saltarelle, Maugein and Bernard Loffet. There is a harmonica maker in Australia, "Hyde". Until recently, such instruments were built in the Czech Republic by the Delica company; after a brief interruption, production is now being resumed under different owners with reduced quantities.

Individual evidence

  1. Official report on the General German Trade Exhibition in Berlin in 1844, Volume 3, K. Reimarus, 1845, pp. 214–215. (on-line)
  2. Lisl Waltner: A Vienna button harmonica is created. Institute for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-902153-03-6 .