Free Accordion Sheet Music: Bella Ciao

Full disclosure:  If you were one of my students and wanted to learn to play Bella Ciao, I’d tell you to try to figure it out as much as you can without relying on sheet music first. It’s a simple, three-chord folk tune that’s really not too tricky to pick out with a bit of trial-and-error. Perfect for giving the ol’ ear-bones some much-needed exercise!

But if you really must have the dots, try this arrangement on for size:

bella_thumb

The first page is fairly basic and beginner-friendly. You can just learn that part and be done with it if you want.

I made the second page more challenging, with extra harmonies in the right hand and some slight chord differences. This is just one example of dressing up the basic tune, of course. Feel free to experiment.

(Just be careful playing it in Italy…)

Free Accordion Sheet Music: Rue Lepic

Here’s a first for this blog: A Jeff Jetton original composition! There’s a bit of a backstory to it…

I teach mainly out of the Palmer-Hughes series of method books. They’ve been around forever, and they’re pretty good at introducing concepts slowly, in a mostly-sensible order. But they’re not perfect (few methods are, for everyone), so I wind up making a few tweaks here and there.

Case in point: The introduction of minor chords, about 3/4 of the way through Book Two. They start you off with an excerpt of “Minka”–a simple Ukrainian folk song. Nothing too fancy. Just getting the ol’ fingerbones used to this new set of chord buttons. So far so good.

But then Palmer and Hughes dump you into the deep end of the pool with “Lippen Schweigen”, a stunningly beautiful waltz from Lehar’s The Merry Widow.

Well That Escalated Quickly!

At some point I decided there needed to be a tune or two leading up to this. Something fun to play, yet not quite as “leapy” in the left hand as Merry Widow. Maybe something modern, with the same vibe as Yann Tiersen’s Amélie soundtrack, let’s say, but (arguably) even easier?

So I wrote an unabashed Yann Tiersen pastiche, complete with a second accordion part (for the teacher or whomever), and titled it after a street in Paris. You can download it and try it for yourself…

rue_lepic_thumb

Click image to view the full PDF

Some hints:

  • It’s a fast waltz. Once learned, it should be played somewhere around 180 bpm. (Much, much, muuuuch slower when being learned, of course!)
  • Notice that the right hand never changes position. The entire melody is just five notes. I want your brain to have plenty of processor cycles free to pay attention to the left hand!
  • The left hand changes chords (and chord qualities) a lot, but it always shifts to an adjacent row. In other words, you only move directly upstairs or downstairs from where you are. You never skip floors.
  • That’s a five-note pickup at the beginning. You’ll want to silently/mentally count the quarter-note rest that would fall on beat one before that. Better yet, count a full measure ahead of that, to really internalize where the beats fall: “One-two-three, one-E-D, C-B-A…”

Enjoy!

 

Oktoberfest = Free Accordion Sheet Music!

As I type this, the Oktoberfest 2019 is going strong in Munich, Germany. And once again I’m celebrating it by posting the sheet music for an Oktoberfest-appropriate accordion arrangement of mine!

This year it’s the Zillertaler Hochzeitsmarsch, which usually gets translated to “Austrian Wedding March”. A more literal translation would be something like “the wedding march of the Ziller river valley“, which is only about 50 miles south of Munich, just over the border in Tyrol. So not technically German, but close enough for the tune to become a beer tent standard.

Give it a download and try it out…

Download link for the Zillertaler Hochzeitsmarsch

This is a somewhat advanced arrangement, but it can be made much simpler by making a few adjustments:

  • Just play the top note of the right hand part in the A and B sections
  • In the C section (the “trio”), just play the bottom note of the right hand part
  • Skip any of the left-hand fills you want (just keep playing the standard alternating-bass pattern instead)

On the other hand, if it’s not advanced enough, I’ve included a fun little riff on the last page that I often like to substitute in for the end of the A section, just to keep things interesting.

Prost!

Photo Credit: Friedrich Böhringer

Mayrhofen is the largest town in the Zillertal. Photo Credit: Friedrich Böhringer

P.S. In case you missed ‘em, here are the Oktoberfest accordion sheet music posts from previous years:

Oktoberfest Means Free Accordion Sheet Music!

Right about the time I’m typing this post up, the Mayor of Munich is getting set to perform the traditional tapping of the first keg of beer as part of the start of Oktoberfest 2018! (Yes, the real “Oktoberfest” actually runs mostly in September.)

Photo Credit: Andreas Steinhoff, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Andreas Steinhoff, via Wikimedia Commons

Well heck, this accordion blog has an Oktoberfest tradition too–the annual posting of one of my German/Bavarian/Oktoberfest-appropriate accordion arrangements! This year’s tune probably goes by a bunch of different names, but I usually see it referred to as “Tyrolean Waltz” or “Tiroler-Walzer” or something like that. If you’ve spent any length of time in a Bavarian-style beer hall, you’ve probably heard it before.

It’s a lead sheet, so you’ll have to make up your own left-hand accompaniment based on the given chords (the standard oom-pah-pah waltz pattern works just fine). I apologize for how confusing the form might be with all the repeats and coda stuff, but I wanted to keep the chart to just one page. I’ve heard versions where the sections are in different orders–not too uncommon with traditional folk music–so feel free to play the form differently if you prefer.

So download the PDF of Tiroler-Walzer for Accordion and enjoy!

And if you missed ‘em, here are Oktoberfest posts from previous years:

Viel Gluck!

Here’s Some Free Accordion Sheet Music for Christmas: Carol of the Bells

Okay, technically Carol of the Bells isn’t a Christmas song. At least it didn’t start out that way.

Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych originally wrote it to be a New Year’s carol, with lyrics telling the story of a swallow who flies into a home to tell everyone there how awesome the next year is going to be. The now-familiar English lyrics about ringing bells and having a merry, merry, merry Christmas were written over two decades later, without Leontovych’s involvement.

(There are more of these “unintended” Christmas songs than you might think. My Favorite Things, for example, has zero to do with Christmas and hardly anything to do with winter, but that doesn’t stop people from playing it during the holidays. Heck, even Jingle Bells was originally written for a Thanksgiving pageant!)

Anyway, over on one of my favorite internet hang-outs, The Accordionist Forum, someone was recently looking for an accordion-specific arrangement of Carol of the Bells at the beginner-to-intermediate level. I figured I’d try my hand at arranging one myself, and here it is:

Carol of the Bells Accordion Sheet Music

I guess it wound up being a lot closer to “intermediate” than “beginner”. If that extra melody line midway down the second page is giving you trouble (those notes played with your thumb), feel free to leave it out and just play the top part, substituting the same fingering you use in the rest of the piece.

And try not to take it too fast! Most people blaze through this song, but Leontovych’s score indicates that it should be played Allegretto, which is brisk, but still not quite as fast as Allegro.

 

Celebrate Oktoberfest 2017 With Free Accordion Sheet Music!

Today marks the beginning of the 184th Oktoberfest in Munich!

If you’re heading there, or to any of the many local Oktoberfest celebrations in other cities throughout the world (such as here in Nashville), you might want to grab yourself a pair of limited-edition Oktoberfest sneakers that German sportswear company Adidas has recently introduced to honor the occasion.

Adidas Oktoberfest Shoes

In addition to the lederhosen-inspired coloring and the word “Prost!” (“Cheers!”) stitched onto the side, the shoes also feature a special “DBPR” coating, which Adidas claims stands for–and I am not making this up–”Durable Beer and Puke Repellent“.

Those Germans are nothing if not practical…

Of course, the other thing any respectable accordion player needs when heading to Oktoberfest is a solid repertoire of music to play. So here’s some accordion sheet music for “Drink, Drink, Brüderlein Drink!” (In English: “Drink, Drink, Little Brother Drink!”)

Once again, I have two versions, which you may choose from (or combine) to suit your playing ability. The basic version should be playable by anyone who has gotten through most of Palmer-Hughes Book 2. The other version has some tricky stuff more suited to graduates of Book 4 at least.

Viel Glück!

Trink Basic Thumb

Trink IntAdv Thumb

 

P.S. Here are my Oktoberfest posts from previous years:

Free Sheet Music: De Colores

One of the cool things about the accordion is that it spans so many cultures and languages. You can hear the instrument in Polish polkas, French bal musette, Irish jigs… the list goes on. (Literally:  There’s an actual list.) I’d guess that probably only the violin/fiddle is more ubiquitous in the traditional music of so many people.

Graphic of my Spanish progress so far on Duolingo

My Spanish progress so far on Duolingo. You gotta start somewhere…

When you play such a multicultural instrument, it can be handy to learn some of these spoken languages too. Knowing a few words of Italian, for example, makes playing all those Italian accordion standards that much more interesting.*

So far I’ve managed to learn a bit of what I call the “opera languages” (Italian, German, and French). Nothing fancy… mostly just enough to order something in a restaurant or bar while traveling. My German is even passable enough by now to have a rudimentary conversation, provided a few charades-style hand gestures are allowed.

But now I’ve decided to learn some Spanish. I really don’t know why I’ve put it off so long since, in this country, it’s so widely spoken and there are so many convenient opportunities to learn and practice it. Plus it has so much great accordion-based music!

With all that in mind, here’s a good Spanish-language song to know: De Colores. The exact origins of the song are a bit cloudy, but it’s a fun tune with a wonderful sentiment about different colors (both literal and figurative) adding up to so much beauty in our world.

I’ve arranged two versions–one easy (Palmer Hughes Book 1 level) and one a bit more advanced (maybe late Book 3 level?). Choose whichever you like below, or combine ideas from both. Buena suerte!

decoloreseasy_thumb        decoloresintermediate_thumb

* Technically, the lyrics of many Italian standards, such as ‘O Sole Mio, are actually written in Neapolitan dialect. Knowing standard Italian only gets you so far! Same thing happens with German music–a good portion of it is sung in a Bavarian dialect that is significantly different from standard Hochdeutsch German.

Your Annual Serving of Free Oktoberfest Sheet Music for Accordion!

Munich MaypoleThe 183rd Oktoberfest starts in Munich today, and, as in years past, I’m posting one of my arrangements for you to play on your accordion for the occasion. So I guess it’s officially a jeffjetton.com tradition!

This time, I picked an Oktoberfest song that I’ve seen referred to by several names:

  • Esel Lied
  • The Donkey Song (which is what Esel Lied means)
  • Hey Babariba
  • Iha Iha Iha Oh

Whatever you call it, it’s a fun, goofy song that’s easy for everyone to sing along to. Not to mention easy to memorize–it’s basically just a couple of riffs repeated over and over again. The only challenge is keeping your key signatures straight.

It’s also fairly easy to play, although you can make adjustments as you wish:

  • If you haven’t learned alternating bass yes, just play whatever 4/4 pattern you do know. Use the chord names written along the top as a guide.
  • If you haven’t learned 7th chords yet, just play the chords marked with a “7″ as regular major chords.
  • If you’re struggling with the harmony notes in the right note, just leave them out and play only the top note.

So give it a download, grab your accordion, and enjoy!

Esel Leid Thumbnail

Prost!

Free Sheet Music for Accordion: The Irish Washerwoman

St. Patrick’s Day is coming soon, and if you’re an accordion player, you’re going to want to know an appropriate song or two. Well here’s arguably the single most famous Irish jig for you:

The Irish Washerwoman (pdf)

Granted, in certain “serious” Irish Traditional Music circles this tune is considered quite daggy and overplayed. (You wouldn’t want to start this one off in a session, for example.)

Elsewhere though, it’s an instantly-recognizable crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for setting the St. Patrick’s Day mood. It can be a lot of fun to play too!

In my arrangement, notice how the bass note usually doesn’t play in the second part of the measure unless you’re changing to a new chord there. That’s a good way to give the melody a bit of space while still providing a solid rhythm. And in this sort of music, the melody is king! (In fact you might want to omit the left hand entirely the first time through and only bring it in the second time around.)

Free Accordion Sheet Music: The “Original” Auld Lang Syne

This time last year I posted a few free arrangements of Auld Lang Syne, for any accordion player out there who happened to find themselves in need of playing along on New Year’s Eve.

But did you know that the familiar song we all know may not actually be the original version? There’s evidence that Robert Burns initially set his lyrics for Auld Lang Syne to a slightly different melody, only later having it changed to the one most of us know today.

And while Burns himself was reportedly not too fond of that first version, I think it’s by far the superior of the two. Some traditional folk singers, such as Mairi Campbell and Jim Malcolm, have recorded wonderful versions of the original melody. Give them a listen and see what you think…

And if you want to play it yourself, here’s the sheet music for an accordion arrangement of it I put together (inspired largely by the Jim Malcolm version):

Auld Lang Syne (Original Version) for Accordion

(I’m using a lot of left-hand minor-seventh chords in it. If you’re not used to playing them, it may take a bit of practice. The basic idea is that you play the root of the chord on the counterbass row, then add a major chord button from one row higher–that is, closer to your chin. So a Bm7 chord would be the counterbass of G, which is a B bass note, played along with the D major chord button.)

Enjoy! And have a great new year!