Bayan (accordion)

The bayan (Russian: бая́н, IPA: [bɐˈjan]) is a type of chromatic button accordion developed in Russia in the early 20th century and named after the 11th-century bard Boyan.[2]

Classification Free-reed aerophone
Hornbostel–Sachs classification421.221-12
Playing range

Right-hand manual: The Russian bayan and chromatic button accordions have a much greater right-hand range in scientific pitch notation than accordions with a piano keyboard: five octaves, plus a minor third (written range = E2-G7, actual range = E1-C#8).[1]

Left-hand manual

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Accordion, Chromatic button accordion, Bayan, Diatonic button accordion, Piano accordion, Stradella bass system, Free-bass system, Accordion reed ranks and switches


The bayan differs from western chromatic button accordions in some details of construction:

  • Reeds are broader and rectangular (rather than trapezoidal).
  • Reeds are often attached in large groups to a common plate (rather than in pairs); the plates are screwed to the reed block (rather than attached with wax).
  • The melody-side keyboard is attached near the middle of the body (rather than at the rear).
  • Reeds are generally not tuned with tremolo.
  • Register switches may be operated with the chin on some larger models. (also possible with some larger European button accordions)
  • The diminished chord row is shifted, so that the diminished G chord is where one would expect the diminished C chord in the Stradella bass system.
  • Converter switches that go from standard preset chords to free bass (individual bass notes) are common on the larger instruments. As opposed to Western conventions, in free bass mode the low notes usually are at the bottom of the instrument and the high notes at the top.
  • Newer instruments may feature a register where every tone played actually produces a perfect fifth.

The differences in internal construction give the bayan a different tone color from Western instruments, and the bass has a much fuller sound. Because of their range and purity of tone, bayans are often the instrument of choice for accordion virtuosi who perform classical and contemporary classical music. Two Soviet composers of note who wrote compositions for bayan are Vladislav Zolotaryov and Sofia Gubaidulina. Russian Bayan virtuoso Stas Venglevski has premiered contemporary works by Yehuda Yannay, Anthony Galla-Rini and William Susman.[3]

In his work Drang (1999),[4] John Palmer[5] has pushed the expressive possibilities of the bayan to the limits of virtuosity.

See also


  1. Ricardo Llanos and Inaki Alberdi, "Accordion for Composers" (Spanish publication: 2002), 2-5).
  2. "Bayan - Russian button accordion - баян". Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  3. ”Premiere performances by Stas Venglevski” Archived March 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Drang". Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  5. John Palmer


  • Cherkasky, L. Ukrainski narodni muzychni instrumenty. Tekhnika, Kiev, Ukraine, 2003. 262 pages. ISBN 978-966-575-111-3.
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