The First Ever Southern England Chromatic Button Accordion Rally
Saturday 7th October 2017 near Didcot Oxfordshire
For more detail Click Here

Finto-Piano

Discussions & info on specific accordions here.
User avatar
KLR
Improver
Improver
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:45 pm

Finto-Piano

Post by KLR » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:49 pm

In the book The Golden Age of the Accordion there are excerpts here and there from old accordion company catalogs; an interesting feature of items available in the 1920s are accordions which have a piano keyboard plus a row of buttons below the keys, usually two but sometimes three. Somewhere else I'd read that the piano keys were strictly for appearances sake, i.e., dummies, but that doesn't appear to be correct as I'll illustrate. The idea seemed to be to give the visual impression of a the then in vogue piano layout, while allowing the player to persist with using the CBA setup they were familiar with, or preferred, or that their instructor used, etc.

Three players of these curious instruments are profiled in the book: Pietro Frosini, Leon Sash, and Alice Hall. Frosini was the earliest of these:

Image

Pic from this page: Pietro Frosini - Accordionist (1885-1951), which offers this detail about his instrument, including the proper term for it:
Always a player of the Chromatic Button key accordion, with a special bass system devised by himself, from the 1930's onward he used a Finto-Piano Accordion, which was really just a three row button key instrument, made to look like a piano accordion.


"Finto" means "fake," "false," etc. The Golden Age book has an excerpt of a more detailed profile of him, with a chart of his free bass setup, which was wholly unique. The Finnish Wikipedia page of Frosini has this chart of his layout:

Image

A later player of fintos was jazz virtuoso Leon Sash:

Image

Another was Alice Hall:

Image

Hall used the finto at the insistence of her accordionist father.

There are examples on YouTube of all three's playing:

Pietro Frosini Rhapsody No3 in A Minor 1941
Leon Sash / Jazz Accordion / Pennies from Heaven
Alice Hall, "Pennies from Heaven," 78 rpm record (1949?)

Alice only made one 78 so it's serendipitous that she recorded the same tune as Sash, and we can compare their playing. Sash sounds like an even better accordionist but Hall's sides are really wild fun, with her scatting in tandem with her box playing.

Looking for pics of Frosini I came across clips of a modern player who is a disciple of him, right down to choice of instrument: Alf Hågedal - Robins At Sunrise (Pietro Frosini), Skei 2011. He plays a...3 row finto, I guess we'll call it. Both white and black keys on the piano section can be seen moving in tandem with buttons, so they clearly are functional in nature and not just installed to look "modern," 90 years after these accordions were originally marketed. I must watch more of Alf to see if his box uses the Frosini bass system.

Someone is even selling a finto on eBay: Giulietti Accordion Finto Piano Four Row C System Tone Chamber Hand Made | eBay

Image

$3.3k and it's yours.

Soulsaver
Should get out more!
Should get out more!
Posts: 4553
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 12:54 am
Location: Cheshire UK

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by Soulsaver » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:09 pm

Hi Really interesting & informative, thanks for posting.
The subject has been discussed here before - and most of us are aware that these are indeed button accordions made to look like a piano system. Originally, as far back as the 1920s/30s with the popularity of Guido Deiro(& his brother, Pietro) in the US, the public were entranced with his (and others) skills on the PA - to the extent that bar/theatre managers/owners would only book PA players, and not risk a button box player. So the button players/ accordion manufacturers found a way to appear to be playing PA whilst actually still using a button system.
Music Game full rules are on the original (first) post in its thread...viewtopic.php?f=12&t=444" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Chinese Accordion Manufacturers - list post #1 here viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1584" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

b]

JIM D.
Should get out more!
Should get out more!
Posts: 4144
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:56 pm
Location: Chicopee, MA USA

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by JIM D. » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:18 pm

Alice Hall made many recordings - some can be found on you tube. These piano looking keyboards were mostly 3 row "C" chromatic's and in the 30's to 60's were preferred in the US over buttons.
Owner & Operator "THE FISARMONICA SHOP" Chicopee, MA (USA)

User avatar
KLR
Improver
Improver
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:45 pm

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by KLR » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:45 pm

Well, this one blogger said Alice Hall only made one 78, and my book says a cassette in the 80s, I think. Nothing on Amazon or eBay. 3 cuts on YouTube. I might pick up a Sash LP, that guy was a real barn burner. George Shearing said he gave up the accordion after hearing him! Shearing was a helluva piano player if you don't know. The one or two cuts of him on accordion aren't anything to sneeze at, either. Like Sash he was blind. Shearing was quite the wry wit. A reporter once asked him if he'd been blind all his life. "Not yet." ;)

Will try and find those previous posts on the finto, thanks for the heads up.

User avatar
KLR
Improver
Improver
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:45 pm

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by KLR » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:31 pm

Found that previous post, or one of them anyway: The Accordionists Forum • Strange Harmony Accordion

Get a load of this, from that same blog I linked to above:

Image

The blogger in question is understandably appalled by the color scheme. It's subtler than some, truth be told. With 5 rows of buttons I'd bet those piano keys are just for show. Chromatic button-piano Accordion, or something? | Accordion Uprising

Matt Butcher
Should get out more!
Should get out more!
Posts: 1218
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:37 pm
Location: Smethwick, West Midlands, UK

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by Matt Butcher » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:59 pm

Woa, what a colour scheme. And if the finto setup is a bit odd, that Frosini freebass layout is... hard to imagine. I can see the scales snaking their way through it but the double rows?

User avatar
Pietro
Expert
Expert
Posts: 169
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 1:10 pm
Location: Airedale, West Yorkshire

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by Pietro » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:57 am

Thanks for posting this fascinating information. I particularly enjoyed this recording of Silver Moon Waltz which I keep resurrecting on my 'must learn' practise list. One day it might come good.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIuLBUrW8IA" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Pete

User avatar
KLR
Improver
Improver
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:45 pm

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by KLR » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:32 pm


Matt Butcher
Should get out more!
Should get out more!
Posts: 1218
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:37 pm
Location: Smethwick, West Midlands, UK

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by Matt Butcher » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:47 pm

Now that's a real beauty.

User avatar
KLR
Improver
Improver
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:45 pm

Re: Finto-Piano

Post by KLR » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:55 am

Image

Found at this Swedish Frosini tribute site.

Exhaustive post from melodeon.net on the finto principle as found in diatonic accordions.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest