There are two types of accordion - button-keyed and piano. The button-keyed is largely favoured by traditional musicians. Known as the 'two-row button' or commonly as the 'box', it is fully chromatic; two notes can be obtained from each button - depending on whether the player pulls or pushes the bellows. This lends itself well to a punchy style of music. Bass accompaniment figures can be added using the other hand, both drone-like and rhythmical. This instrument grew from the more basic melodeon, a ten-keyed one-row version built on the same principles. Its bass patterns are more limited than the two-row.

The piano accordion has a short keyboard like that of the piano. The melody is played with the right hand and is accompanied by the left-hand buttons. In insensitive hands it can dominate and overpower a session.


Players of exceptional talent include Joe Cooley, Joe Burke, Tony McMahon, Dermot Byrne, Máirtín O’Connor, Sharon Shannon, Breandán and Séamus& Begley, and Jackie Daly. Alan Kelly is an example of an exceptional piano accordion player


  • Brendan Begley

    Performs The Lonesome Jig / The Orphan / Muiris O Dalaigh on the melodeon

  • Jackie Daly

    Plays By the Old Fairy Fort / Lad O'Beirness

  • Bobby Gardiner

    Heather Breeze / Hand Down the Tackle accompanied by dancers

  • Joe Burke & Charlie Lennon

    Yellow Tinker / Sally Gardens

  • Alan kelly

    Red Haired Lass played on the piano accordion