The Hohner MIDI Piano Accordion is a piano accordion-style MIDI control surface for the iPad.
The app doesn't produce any sound on it own, it is designed for playing hardware and software VST-style MIDI synthesizers via a CoreMIDI compatible interface connected to the dock connector or virtual MIDI instruments like Roland Sound Canvas for iOS, IK Multimedia SampleTank®, or Sonosaurus ThumbJam running on your iPad.
Choose between Bass/Major/Minor/7 or Counter Bass/Major/Minor configuration for the left side of the instrument.
Multiple buttons may be pressed at the same time.
You may slide your fingers between the buttons.
Touch the MIDI connector button to show the MIDI controls.
Using the controls, you can set the MIDI channel (1-16), MIDI velocity, and MIDI volume independently for the treble, bass, and chords. You can also set the overall MIDI transposition for all three sections (+/- 12 semitones).
On the MIDI control screen you may setup four presets. Once setup, the presets may be selected from the main play screen. These can be used to quickly switch between instrument sounds while playing without having to bring up the MIDI settings page. All presets are saved when the app is closed.
Use the "Transmit MIDI Port" switch to choose between "Omni" sending MIDI data to all CoreMIDI apps (matches previous versions of the app) or "Virtual Port" sending to a named CoreMIDI virtual output port. When the "Virtual Port option is selected, the app will show up as an input option in apps that support virtual ports like Sonosaurus ThumbJam, and MidiBridge. "Omni" mode is selected by default.
Touch the Octave shift select at the bottom of the play scren to shift the treble side up or down one octave (after application of the transpose). The octave shift is saved with the current preset.
Touch the '?' icon to show the base layout note names for each button (without transposition).
Touch the '!' icon to send an "All Notes Off" message to silence any "stuck" notes should they ever occur.
Touch the Hohner logo for the help screen with a link to the Hohner accordion website or touch the Accordion Life logo to start learning with online accordion lessons.
All settings are saved when the app exits.
The app accurately maps the chord inversion on a real piano accordion to their equivalent MIDI note numbers.
Since you may want to play chords with more than 3 or 4 fingers, you'll need to turn off "Multitasking Gestures" in your iPad's Settings, under General/Multitasking Gestures.
ThumbJam by Sonosaurus is now including my highest quality
"Vintage Accordion" samples as a free in-app downloadable patch!
Please click the graphic to visit ThumbJam on the iTunes App Store
Demo of the Hohner MIDI Chromatic Accordion Control Surface
"Estrellas" by Stéphane Delicq using IK Multimedia SampleTank as the synth
The Piano and Chromatic versions have the same MIDI features
Main Screen (Bass mode)
Touch the "?" button to show the button labels (Bass mode)
Touch the "?" button to show the button labels (Counter-Bass mode)
Touch the MIDI icon button to show the MIDI controls
Touch the Hohner logo to show the help screen
From here you can visit the Hohner accordion and Accordion Life online accordion lesson websites
Accordion Life is a great site for online video instruction for all styles of accordions.
Go to AccordionLife.com now to learn to play.
Questions and Answers
Q: I'm running a CoreMIDI-compliant virtual synth app on my device, but I don't hear any sound when using your MIDI control surfaces.
A: Please check that "Background Audio" is enabled on the virtual synth app you are running.
Also check that the virtual synth app has an active patch on the same MIDI channel(s) you are sending from the control surface app.
Here's the settings changes you need to make for SampleTank, enable "Background Audio"
Here's the simplest possible single instrument SampleTank patch for an
accordion sound (full version of SampleTank), on MIDI channel 1
Here's the settings changes you need to make for ThumbJam:
In the Prefs/Options panel, enable "Background Audio"
Starting with ThumbJam version 2.2, CoreMIDI is enabled by default
This video shows how to change the MIDI and audio settings in SampleTank and ThumbJam
(iPad version, iPhone is similar)
Reflects version 2.1 of ThumbJam, please follow instructions above for changes for version 2.2
Battery Saving Tips
Synthesizer apps running in the background often continue to consume power even after you are done playing.
Be sure to "Force Quit" the synthesizer app when you are done playing to ensure that you don't run down your battery.
Follow these steps to force an app to close:
On my iPad, I create user patches from the built-in patches that have the realtime tilt controls all disabled.
In ThumbJam into the Edit/Controls for the patch, set the Volume selector to "Fixed" and the Pan, Vibrato, Tremolo, and Pitch Bend to "None"
Then save the setup as a new user patch.
If the sound level is too low through the speaker on your device, go into the Sound/(Volume/iPod) page and turn the "App Vol Boost" up to where the sound is louder but doesn't distort.
Q: Which other MIDI synthesizer apps can be played using your control surface apps?
A: The iOS Musician website is maintaining a comprehensive list of apps that support virtual MIDI ports.
Q: Are the fingerings the same as a real Button Accordion?
A: Yes, exactly the same. About the only thing you can't do is press two buttons with one finger because of the limits of the iPad's touchscreen hardware.
Q: Where can I learn more about how to play the button accordion?
A: Please visit the following site for more information and online learning materials:
Damien Connolly has a DVD course and instruction book that has been recommended to me, I intend to get a copy for myself:
Q: Now that I've learned the fingerings for some tunes on the iPad app, I'd like to buy a real button accordion. Who do you recommend?
A: The Button Box carries a wide range of new and vintage instruments.
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