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Italian accordion, 19th century—Richard SaundersScope Associates, Inc.
Portable musical instrument that uses a hand-pumped bellows and two keyboards to sound free reeds, small metal tongues that vibrate when air flows past them. The keyboards on either side of the bellows effectively resemble individual reed organs. The right-hand keyboard plays the treble line or lines. Most of the keys on the left-hand (bass) keyboard sound three-note chords; free-bass accordions permit the playing of single-note lines. A prototype accordion, using buttons rather than keys, was patented in Berlin in 1822 by Friedrich Buschmann (also inventor of the harmonica). The instrument gained wide popularity in dance bands and as a folk instrument. See alsoconcertina.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on accordion, visit Britannica.com.