The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(named after the legendary ancient Russian singer and narrator of folktales, Baian or Boian), a reed instrument; a hand-operated, push-button accordion with a full chromatic scale on the right keyboard (with a range from B flat of the great octave to C sharp of the fourth octave) and with bass and prepared chord accompaniment on the left keyboard.

The bass of the baian has a range of one octave, but each note sounds simultaneously in five (or four) octaves. The prepared chords, the major and minor triads and their inversions, and the seventh chords (sometimes also the diminished seventh chords) are in all the keys. The predecessors of the baian are a four-row St. Petersburg accordion and a three-row Viennese one. The name baian was first given to an improved four-row chromatic accordion by its designer P. E. Sterligov and the accordionist la. F. Orlanskii in 1907 (St. Petersburg).

Beginning in the early 20th century the systems of V. P. Khegstrem and N. Z. Sinitskii, as well as the “Moscow” or the “foreign” system, also became well-known in Russia. (This is also known as the “Viennese” system and was invented by the German master G. Mirwald in 1891.) In the 1920’s the Moscow system was adopted in the USSR for industrial production of the baian. The systems employed in international practice are the Viennese (three rows), the Belgian (analogous to the Viennese but with five rows), and the Italian and French (five rows). The Belgian and Italian systems are the most widespread. The five- (or six-) row keyboard, which duplicates the basic rows in the same order, as well as the use of a five-finger fingering system, makes the baian considerably easier to play. The so-called already-harmonized, multitimbred baian with its ready-made chords and free harmonization has even greater performing possibilities. It is distinguished by the introduction of register switches and supplementary keyboards for the left hand that have the same arrangement of sounds as the right keyboard (the range extends from E of the contraoctave to C sharp of the third octave when the switches are not used, and from F of the great octave to F sharp of the second octave, using the switches). The baian is not only a folk instrument but also a solo orchestra instrument. An extensive literature has been published for the baian in the USSR and abroad, where it is known by the name push-button (or chromatic) accordion.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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