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La malle aux accordeons

Register switches: combining voices

Prior to describing a register, it is important to understand what is meant by an accordion voice.

On the right hand of the accordion, each button/key corresponds to a musical note.

Pressing a key releases air flow through one or more reeds corresponding to this note.

The number of voices on the right hand of the accordion corresponds to the number of reeds that can vibrate when a key is pressed.

Generally, an accordion has several voices on the right hand.

Some accordions are fitted with a mechanism used to enable and disable particular voices, thus allowing voice combinations, called registers, to be formed and played.


A combination of voices on an accordion is called a register and its mechanism a register switch.

Below are some of the most common registers:

registre flute d'un accordéon

Clarinet: single clarinet (8’) reed

registre basson d'un accordéon

Bassoon: single bassoon (16’) reed

Registre Piccolo d'un accordéon

Piccolo: single piccolo (4’) reed

Registre Bandonéon

Bandoneon: bassoon (16’) reed + clarinet (8’) reed

Registre musette ou swing d'un accordéon

Violin: clarinet (8’) reed + upper tremolo (8’) reed

Registre super musette d'un accordéon

Musette (authentic): clarinet (8’) + upper tremolo (8’) + lower tremolo (8’) reeds

Registre de quinzième d'un accordéon

Organ: bassoon (16’) reed + piccolo (4’) reed


Master: All of the voices are used simultaneously. The register icon represents all of the voices available on the accordion

A register switch icon is designed to ease register identification, with each point representing the voice(s) activated thereby.

To understand these illustrations, one must first be able to identify which voice a point corresponds to, as shown on the accordion voices page.