Resources for Irish Button Accordion Players


Table of Contents

Click the links below to jump to the named set of tunebooks or topic:

Learning to Play the Basses on Irish B/C Button Accordion

"Traditional Irish B/C Box Bass and Chord Tune Transcriptions"

Other Useful Resources for Irish Button Accordion Players

"The King Street Sessions Tunebook" PDF Tunebooks with Box Tablature

PDF Tunebooks with Tablature for B/C and C#/D Box Players

How to Read the B/C and C#/D Box Tablature

B/C and C#/D Irish Button Box Tablature Generator for ABC Tunebooks

Hohner Melodeon Pro for iPad

Tip Jars

Contact Me


Learning to Play the Basses on Irish B/C Button Accordion
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Saltarelle Irish Bouebe

When I started learning to play the basses on my B/C box, I found it hard to find such information anywhere, so I hope these transcriptions will be useful to other B/C players who are taking on the challenge of learning the basses.

In these transcriptions, I am not attempting to teach how to backup traditional Irish music. That is an entirely different skill than the physical challenge of dealing with the basses themselves.

My assumption is that you already are playing the tune melodies on the treble side of your instrument and are looking to learn to include the bass and chord buttons in your playing. I also assume that to extend these skills to other tunes not in this collection, you either already know how to determine the appropriate backup chords from the melody or are willing to learn bass/chord arrangements by rote as a starting point.

My particular chord selections may be a reasonable starting point for learning the skill of backing Irish traditional music, but that is not the primary goal of these transcriptions. To learn how to backup tunes, I suggest checking out Dr. Chris Smith's fantastic book "Celtic Backup for All Instrumentalists", available on Amazon from Mel Bay.

While there are multiple possible approaches to playing the bass and chords, my preferred pattern for reels, hornpipes, and barndances is to play the bass buttons only on a chord change, and the chord buttons only on the offbeats.

For jigs, I play the bass buttons only on a chord change, and the chord buttons on the 3 and 6 (assuming counting jigs with 6 beats per measure).

For slides, I play the bass buttons only on a chord change, and the chord buttons on the 3, 6, 9, and 12 (assuming counting slides with 12 beats per measure).

Some players, I believe influenced by older style players they learned from originally, also play the bass buttons on the every downbeat as well, not just on chord changes as in my preferred patterns. Having the flexibility and skill to vary your bass and chord patterns is a useful skill to practice, nothing is set in stone, so play around with all the possibilities!

For waltzes, I'm using a conventional bass-chord-chord pattern.

In these transcriptions, I indicate pressing the bass button with an uppercase letter above the staff and the chord button with a lowercase letter above the staff.

Additionally, I also assume you have the thirds removed from the chords either with a stop on the bass side or by taping off the thirds on the reed block.

As of July 2023, the book now includes tablature for all the tunes.

The tablature assumes a 21-button B/C tuned diatonic accordion.

Notes on the C-row are indicated by numbers.

Notes on the B-row are indicated by numbers in circles.

Push is indicated with a down arrow.

Draw is indicated with an up arrow.

If you are playing a 23-button instrument, you will need to shift your start position one button higher when playing.

Note: The tablature solution is not aware of the basses and assumes that the "magic" notes (E and B on a B/C) that are available on both rows, will be played on the C-row on a B/C box.

You may find the occasional case when playing the basses along with the melody that you may have to use the alternative B or E.

This is a limitation of the tablature generation system.

To help you get started, I've also color-coded the bellows direction for a couple of the tunes:

(Click the image to download the PDF)

In the first measure of this example, the first G bass and G chord on would be played on the push along with the push G on the treble side. The second G chord played would be on the draw G chord button along with the draw B on the C row of the treble side. On many instruments, those two G chords would be played on different buttons on the bass side.

Here's another color-coded example, this one the O'Carolan waltz "Fanny Power" (3rds out of chords):

Click here to download the color-coded PDF of "Fanny Power"

Click here to download a black and white PDF version of "Fanny Power" with text Push/Draw instructions

Going through these transcriptions will provide a starting point exercise for finding the combination of treble button and bass button for either the push or draw. In particular they should be helpful in those cases where there may be some ambiguity because of the "magic" notes such as B and E as well as the G and D bass/chords that are available in both directions on the most common 8-button bass layouts.

In general, the arrangements should work on most common 8-button B/C bass layouts that include both push and draw G and D, only push C and E, and only draw A and F bass and chords.


Unsolicited Testimonial from Graham Owen (Cornwall, UK)

"I am still working on my right hand techniques and occasionally come in with a bass note when playing a slow march or waltz.

The work you have put in to your tune book with accompanying basses is really impressive, and helped me no end in getting to grips with these buttons.

Without your book or guidance it would probably have taken me a lot longer to work out how to add the basses.

The bass on the chord change and then a back-beat (pause/chord) up to the next change to keep good tempo while the right hand uses ornamentation to good effect, expressing the character of the tune."


"Traditional Irish B/C Box Bass and Chord Tune Transcriptions"
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Download the book for free!

If you find it useful, please consider making a donation
($20 suggested) via one of my online tip jars below.

Click here to download my PDF book with all 50+ transcriptions!

Interactive Flipbook Version

Click to Launch


Tunes with full bass/chord annotation included in the tunebook:

Alexander's (hornpipe)

The Banshee (reel)

The Boys of Bluehill (hornpipe)

The Cameronian (reel)

The Cat Rambles to the Child's Saucepan (slide)

The Chaffpool Post (barndance)

Cock 'O The North (slide)

The Coming of Spring (Paddy O'Brien) (jig)

Cooley's (reel)

Cronin's (reel)

Donnybrook Fair (jig)

Dunphy's (hornpipe)

Fanny Power (O'Carolan) (waltz)

The Factory Smoke (hornpipe)

The Flowers of Spring (jig)

Forde's (polka)

Going to the Well for Water (slide)

The Green Fields of Rossbeigh (reel)

The Humours of Castlecomer (jig)

If I Had a Wife (slide)

Jerry's Beaver Hat (jig)

John Kelly's Concertina (reel)

John Ryan's (polka)

The Kesh (jig)

The Knocknaboul (polka)

The Lark in the Morning (jig)

Lucy Farr's (barndance)

The Maid Behind the Bar (reel)

The Maid of Mt. Kisco (reel)

The Mason's Apron (reel)

Mayor Harrison's Fedora (reel)

Memories of Ballymote (polka)

Merrily Kissed the Quaker's Wife (slide)

The Merry Blacksmith (reel)

Music in the Glen (reel)

One Seventy Four (O'Carolan) (jig)

Out on the Ocean (jig)

Over the Moor to Maggie (reel)

Paddy Cronin's (slide)

The Pleasures of Hope (hornpipe)

Rakish Paddy (reel)

The Rambling Pitchfork (jig)

The Scholar (reel)

Sherlock's (hornpipe)

Sí Beag Sí Mór (O'Carolan) (waltz)

The Silver Spear (reel)

Sonny Brogan's (mazurka)

Speed the Plough (reel)

Spellan the Fiddler (hornpipe)

The Tailors Twist (hornpipe)

The Thames (hornpipe)

The Wicklow (hornpipe)


Other Useful Resources for Irish Button Accordion Players


"The King Street Sessions Tunebook"
PDF Tunebooks with Box Tablature
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King Street Sessions Tunebook Mandolin Tab

There are two editions of the tablature PDF tunebooks: "Light" and "Interactive".

The "Light" editions of the tab tunebooks are considerably smaller in size and only contains the tunes in standard notation with tablature, no index or tune numbers.

This edition may be a good choice for use on a mobile device or when file size is a concern.

The "Interactive" editions of the tab tunebooks have a clickable tune index and you can play any tune by clicking its title.


Walkthough of the B/C and C#/D Box "Interactive" Tablature PDF Editions


B/C Box Tab

Melody Only

Click to download the "Light" PDF edition

Click to download the "Interactive" PDF edition

How to Read the B/C Box Tablature

Melody and Chords

Click to download the "Light" PDF edition

Click to download the "Interactive" PDF edition

How to Read the B/C Box Tablature


C#/D Box Tab

Melody Only

Click to download the "Light" PDF edition

Click to download the "Interactive" PDF edition

How to Read the C#/D Box Tablature

Melody and Chords

Click to download the "Light" PDF edition

Click to download the "Interactive" PDF edition

How to Read the C#/D Box Tablature


Jigs and Reels with Tablature for B/C and C#/D Box
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Large Interactive PDF tunebooks with 173 jigs and 383 reels

Tunes with Mandolin tab

The tab PDF tunebooks have a clickable tune index
and you can immediately play any tune by clicking its title.


B/C Button Box Tab

Click to download Jigs for B/C Box with Tablature

Click to download Reels for B/C Box with Tablature

How to Read the B/C Box Tablature


C#/D Button Box Tab

Click to download Jigs for C#/D Box with Tablature

Click to download Reels for C#/D Box with Tablature

How to Read the C#/D Box Tablature


How to Read the B/C and C#/D Box Tablature
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B/C - Shows standard notation and tablature for a standard 21-button B/C tuned box.

The button numbers and pitches used for the tablature match those on this chart:

B/C Box Button Map

Notes on the C-row are indicated by numbers: 1, 2, 3, ...

Notes on the B-row are indicated by numbers in circles: ①, ②, ③, ...

Push is indicated with a "↓" arrow.

Draw is indicated with an "↑" arrow.

Click here to download a PDF of the B/C tablature chart


C#/D - Shows standard notation and tablature for a standard 21-button C#/D tuned box.

The button numbers and pitches used for the tablature match those on this chart:

C#/D Box Button Map

Notes on the D-row are indicated by numbers: 1, 2, 3,...

Notes on the C#-row are indicated by numbers in circles: ①, ②, ③, ...

Push is indicated with a "↓" arrow.

Draw is indicated with an "↑" arrow.

Click here to download a PDF of the C#/D tablature chart


Assumptions about the B/C and C#/D Box tablature solutions:

The tablature solution assumes that the "magic" notes (E and B on a B/C, F# and C# on a C#/D) that are available on both rows, will be played on the C-row on a B/C box and on the D-row on a C#/D box.


Use of the B/C and C#/D Box tablatures on a 23-button instrument:

If you are playing a 23-button instrument, you will need to shift your start position one button higher when playing.

Consider your first button as "button zero".


B/C and C#/D Irish Button Box Tablature Generator for ABC Tunebooks
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Note: As of 19 July 2023, this functionality is now built into the ABC Transcription Tools

In the tools, Shift-click the B/C or C#/D buttons to inject box tablature for B/C or C#/D box into the tunes in the ABC editor.

You can configure the tablature fonts and location (above or below the notation) in the tool's "Settings" dialog.

The standalone Box tablature generation tool is still available and described below:

This tool was used to create the B/C and C#/D box tablature versions of "The King Street Sessions Tunebook" PDFs above from the original full tunebook ABC file.

The output of the tool was then brought into my ABC Transcription Tools which generated the final PDF with and Index and playback links.

If you'd like to experiment with making your own B/C or C#/D ABC transcriptions with added button tablature, check out my ABC box tablature generator tool at:

Traditional B/C and C#/D Irish Button Box Tablature Generator


Hohner Melodeon Pro for iPad
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Check out Brandon McPhee playing my Hohner Hohner Melodeon Pro iPad app!

Brandon McPhee – “Happy Hours”

Go to the iTunes App Store to buy


Tip Jars

If you find these tunebooks useful, please consider buying me a beer
by tossing a few bucks into one of my virtual tip jars:

PayPal
https://paypal.me/MichaelEskin

Venmo
@MichaelEskin


Contact Me


Michael Eskin, headshot photo

If you have any questions, please email me at:

Michael Eskin

seisiuneer@gmail.com