Livenka (music)

The livenka (Russian: ливенка) or Livenskaya garmoshka (Russian: Ливенская гармошка) is a specific variety of accordion used in Russian folk music, specifically in the region around the town of Livny (Oryol Oblast), from which the instrument takes its name.


  • The livenka is a unisonoric instrument, meaning that each button produces the same tone, regardless of the direction of the bellows.
  • The right-hand buttons (of which there may be 12 to 15) play the notes of the obikhodnyy pitch set, which may also be thought of as a series of overlapping Mixolydian modes. (Banin, A.A. 1997. p.161)
  • The left-hand levers play intervals of thirds or fourths, so that adjacent levers operated simultaneously will play a triad.
  • The livenka has a very long bellows, when compared to other accordions—sometimes having forty folds, and extending to over a meter in length.


The name of the inventor of the livenka was not preserved. It is believed to have been developed in the second half of the 19th century as a modification of existing German or Russian button accordions.


  • Banin A.A. Russkaia instrumentalnaia muzyka folklornoi traditsii. Moscow, 1997. (p.159-163)
  • Blagodatov G.I. Russkaia garmonika. Leningrad, 1960.
  • Egorov S.P. Noveishyi prakticheskii samouchitel dlia ruchnoi garmoniki roialnogo stroia - viatskoi, livenskoi i klarnetnoi. "Baian". Smolensk, 1903.
  • Mirek A.M. Spravochnik po garmonikam. Moscow, 1968.
  • Mirek A.M. I zvuchit garmonika. Moscow, 1979.
  • Rodin E. Novyi samouchitel i sbornik pesen dlia odnoriadnoi livenskoi garmonii. Saint Petersburg, 1906.
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