Thanks to Johann Pascher and Orest Lechnowsky for the translation.
The “Steirische Harmonika” (diatonic Accordion with 3 (or 4) rows and “Gleichton” button on row 2 and row 3, is often played with the use of „Griffschrift“ today. Particularly the beginner learns with the use of „Griffschrift“ system more easily than with the use of normal notes, first success comes faster. However, once one is beyond the first beginner stage, one should also learn to play by ear, especially well known pieces, and he also should learn to play with the use of normal notes. In the case of a musician already trained on other Instruments, he may even do better with normal notes, the „Griffschrift“ may not really be necessary. But for the beginner the „Griffschrift“ is a substantial assistance when learning to play the instrument.
A „Griffschrift“ sheet looks like normal notes. However these are not notes, this is a kind off tabulature, each note symbol corresponds to a certain button on the instrument, they do not show the real pitch, the show the key which should be pressed. This is recognizable by the fact that no clef sign is shown. However “x” is introduced in front of individual note symbols. The bass numbering looks like some type of accordion bass numbering, the letters A, a, B, b, C, a etc. do not represent real tones and/or chords, but similarly to what was said above, they correspond to the respective row for the fundamental bass keys, the small letter indicates chord bass keys. Capital letters mean fundamental bass keys.
The instrument produces different tones on push and on pull. This is indicated in the way that a long line under the notes is added. Passages with underline are played in push direction, passages without underline are played in pull direction.
There are different symbols in use on various types of “Griffschrift” but the differences are minor variations and can be easily recognised without extra explanation. Some use only the “x” instead of the note plus the “x” in front of the notes.
Description usually is for a 3-row instrument.
I will proceed for a 3-row instrument. The second, middle row (B-row) is the easiest to master in the beginning and for understanding the Griffschrift system and the Instrument. Remember, the Instrument is bisonoric, different tones on push and pull, only one exception occurs on one key on row two. Only the ”Gleichton” key is unisonoric. On most key layout systems this key is on the 6th Button and is the 5th note (Dominant) in the scale of this row. The Gleichton key is used as the orientation key in this row. In the following picture you see on the right of the image the instrument keyboard with all keys. Then you see, each note symbol on the left corresponds to one of the grey colored keys of the middle row on the instrument layout picture on the right. For the second row the note symbols are on the lines, the „Gleichton“ lies on the middle line of the 5 lines of the note system.
Also in the C-row (third, internal row) there is a unisonoric key „Gleichton“, and this key is again used as the orientation tone or key. And this is again on most key layouts on the 6th Button and is the 5th note (Dominant) in the scale on this row. The Gleichton key is used as the orientation key in this row too. Each note symbol on the left side in the picture corresponds to one of the grey colored keys of the inner row of the instrument layout picture on the right. The note symbols for the third row are between the notation lines with an “x” in front or a “x” instead of the note head, the „Gleichton“ lies between the middle and fourth lines of the note system, likewise with an “x” in front. In a simplified way of writing, the “x” is often written instead of the note heads.
In the A-row (first, outside row) there is no „Gleichton“ usable as an orientation key. Instead we use the 6th Button, which produces the 5th (Dominant) in the scale on this row in the push direction, which is the same as on the other rows with the „Gleichton“. Each note symbol on the left side in the picture corresponds to one of the grey colored keys of the outside row on the instrument. The note symbols for the first row are between the notation lines, the orientation key is between second and middle note lines.
The associated bass keys are A and/or a.
You have four rows? The above applies to you nevertheless.
Also in the F-row (fourth, internal row on the 4-row instrument) there is a „Gleichton“, with which one can orient oneself. It is likewise the 6th Button, as on the 3rd row. Each note symbol on the left in the picture corresponds to one of the grey colored keys in the picture of the internal row on the instrument layout picture on the right. The note symbols for the fourth row are on the note lines with a symbol of “x” in front or an “x” instead of the note heads, the „Gleichton“ lies on the fourth note line.
Your instrument deviates from the key layout pictures drawn above? Or you have more or less keys than above? Or inside auxiliary keys? Starting from the „Gleichton“ key layout even if you only have 2 rows, everything applies to you as written above for your instrument. If major keys were missing you would have to adapt the System in some way. If minor keys are missing this usually doesn’t hurt much because very high pitched notes are not used often anyway.
Missing keys cannot stop you playing; anyhow in many cases they are rarely used keys. And additional keys are extremely valuable generally, if you are experienced.
In respect to „Griffschrift“ they can only be taken into consideration in a special manner with added information.
Are some of the keys pitched differently than usual? Usually at the lower end of the keyboard. In this case you can use these keys only if you already can play very well, or you play without any notes or tabulatures at all. If you play with the use of „Griffschrift“, you cannot use these keys in the usual way.
Other information as used in dotted notation for violins should be known as well. And apply to “Griffschift” in the same way as for dotted notation. Additional info may also be added in some cases for numbering of the use of the fingers. The numbers for fingers start with 1 for the thumb and so on to 5 for the little finger. Usually only in very rare cases numbers are shown. Only in cases where it is important to start with a certain finger. Or special symbols may be added to indicate that the hand should be placed in a different location for the following part.
„Griffschrift“ translation table
Further, but in german, you will find the description of a script, with which you can transfer and/or even turn notes nearly automatically into „Griffschrift“.
I answer some general questions for making music with notes (or