Playing Bandoneon


Well-Known Member
I was wondering how many regulars here play bandoneon.

I've been trying to get my head around the keyboard layout for nearly six months, but I've never found anything so difficult in my life. It can't be just me?

Steve Pastor

Staff member
The closest I've come to the bandoneon is listening to local Alex Krebs play at various venues.
I can also say that I've read something to the effect that the keyboard makes no sense.


Well-Known Member
The left hand side and the right hand side don't share anything in common in layout - there aren't even the same number of buttons. And nearly every button plays a different note, depending on whether you are opening or closing the bellows. The buttons seems to be randomly arranged - no pattern - and you can't see them when you play.

This is hard.
Every now and then I think I'd like to learn the bandoneon, but sadly I don't have the required hour or two available every day to practice, and that is what it takes to learn any instrument and make progress.

The buttons are indeed rather random and I'd suggest learning to play scales and arpeggios and chords through a brute force approach: get the button locations in your mind and fingers one at a time and build up to playing an entire scale. Then arpeggios on each scale tone, especially the commonly played chords in the key. Hardly an eloquent solution but I'm not qualified to offer a more refined suggestion.

As I recall, opendoor has played bandoneon for several years. Haven't seen him around for a while but perhaps a PM might reach him.


Well-Known Member
... a brute force approach.
This is how it has to be, sadly.

To start with I was daft enough to think that I might be able to pick out simple 'tango' melodies and learn to play them by rote, to ameliorate the tedium of building solid foundations (rather as too many beginners do with the dance), but it didn't work, for me. Apart from anything else, nearly everything I picked up turned out to require more than I could do. So the programme has been to begin with the scale of C (across four octaves - two in each hand). Then shift to A minor in both melodic & harmonic forms, then G & F together with their relative minor keys, and slowly bring more accidentals into play. But goodness, it's hard and progress is slow. I'm in awe of anyone who can play one of these things with an easy facility and with finesse.


Well-Known Member
Opendoor has posted nothing since last September, when he said that he had been 'asked to leave' Dance Forums. I don't know the story and I'm not looking to resurrect it now ...
I would really like to share my experience with bandoneon with you!
I live in Athens and I have been dancing, argentine tango of course, for 3 years now.
As soon as I finished my studies and during my gap year, I wanted to start learning the bandoneon. So, I begun with a very nice teacher, once a week.
I have to tell you, It is veeery difficult to become familiar with the keyboard. it is as challenging and intriguing as the dance itself! And at this point I would like to share with you some similarities that I found between playing the bandoneon and dancing tango!

1)The musician sits with his back straight and shoulders relaxed. The torso, however, must not be rigid, but flexible and weight slightly ahead for more control of the speed and strength.

The dancers are standing with their back straight and shoulders relaxed. The torso, however, must not be rigid, but flexible and weight slightly forward, for better contact and communication.

2) The Bandoneon is an aerophone. Volume is produced by controlling the air entering and exiting the instrument.

The dancers must learn to control their breathing in order to gain strength and better communication with their partner and harmony in their step.

3) The Bandoneon learning technique is divided into two parts. (1) the control of the lower body (2) The control of the upper body. Of course, when we play, both parts work as one.

The tango learning technique is divided into two parts. (1) In the control of the lower body (2) The control of the upper body. Of course, when we dance, both parts work as one.

4) When the musician holds the bandoneon, his/her fingers are working on the keys, without relying on them. The palm rests on the strength of the hand, and does not shed weight on the instrument!

When the follower embraces the leader, he/she embraces him/her closely, without relying on him/her. Based on his/her axis, he/she doesn't throw weight on the partner!

(I apologise for bad english...)

Amazing right? maybe not... Personally, i fell in love with that instrument. Unfortunately I had to give up on It, because I could not afford to buy my own bandoneon. But, It is my objective not to abandon this.

Thank you for your time to read my experience! Happy to share with all of you tango lovers!

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