Melodeon  Classics  

From  Morris  to  Mozart  
Sixteen  popular  classical  melodies  for  the  D/G  diatonic  accordion  
arranged  by  Tony  Croft  
 
Published  by  Tony  Croft  2015  
www.syzygy-­‐music.co.uk  
ISBN  9781517568245  
 
 
Review  
 
As  both  a  classically  trained  orchestral  clarinettist  and  a  melodeon  playing  
traditional  musician,  I  was  intrigued  by  the  description  of  Tony  Croft’s  ‘Melodeon  
Classics’  and  looked  forward  to  receiving  my  copy.  
 
This  is  a  really  splendid  tunebook.  They  say  good  things  often  come  in  small  
packages  and  although  modestly  slim,  this  volume  is  just  that,  containing  16  
well-­‐chosen  and  clearly  presented  pieces  from  the  ‘classical’  music  repertoire.  
There  is  something  for  everyone  here,  from  relative  beginners  right  up  to  
advanced  players  alike.    
 
It  is  clear  that  Tony  Croft  has  thought  very  deeply  about  his  arrangements.  In  the  
Introduction  to  the  book  he  writes:  ‘  To  my  delight,  I  have  found  that  a  melodeon  
is  far  more  versatile  an  instrument  than  is  commonly  recognised.    In  particular,  if  
one  is  willing  to  allow  compromise  for  the  limitations  of  the  diatonic  instrument,  
then  some  of  the  much-­‐loved  classical  repertoire  can  be  adapted  for  performance  
on  it.’  Indeed!  Tony  has  managed  these  compromises  superbly  and  all  the  pieces  
in  this  book  work  very  well  indeed.    
 
The  arrangements  all  assume  a  ‘standard’  2-­‐row  D/G  melodeon  and  work  
equally  well  on  a  humble  Hohner  Pokerwork  and  a  more  sophisticated  ‘posh  
box’.  Many  of  the  players  who  pick  up  this  book  will  doubtless  be  coming  from  a  
traditional  music  background,  used  to  playing  dance  music,  perhaps  for  morris  
or  ceilidhs,  perhaps  tunes  in  pub  sessions  or  similar.    If  they  are  at  all  
apprehensive  about  the  possibly  unfamiliar  content  of  the  book,  they  can  be  
immediately  reassured  by  the  very  first  piece  –  the  well-­‐known  morris  tune  
‘Shepherd’s  Hey’  which  provides  a  link  to  the  classical  repertoire  by  virtue  of  its  
association  with  composer  and  arranger  Percy  Grainger.  Tony’s  arrangement  of  
this  tune  introduces  his  very  clear  tablature  scheme,  showing  exactly  which  
buttons  to  press  and  which  bellows  direction  is  needed.  Beginners  are  further  
reassured  by  the  concluding  remarks  of  the  Introduction:  ‘For  those  really  new  
to  the  melodeon  the  easier  arrangements  are  numbers  1,  2,  5  and  15.  Working  
through  these  first  will  enable  you  to  gain  familiarity  with  some  of  the  notation  
used  throughout  the  rest  of  the  book’.  The  introductory  pages  also  include  a  brief  
explanation  of  basic  music  theory  and  notation,  plus  useful  diagrams  of  the  
melodeon  keyboard  layout.  
 
Working  through  Tony’s  arrangements,  it  is  often  necessary  to  move  beyond  the  
traditional  melodeon  left  hand  style  of  ‘oom-­‐pah’  bass  and  chord  
accompaniments  to  something  altogether  more  subtle  and  effective,  frequently  

making  good  use  of  sustained  chords  or  combinations  of  chords  and  bass  notes,  
or  even,  in  places,  no  left  hand  at  all.  This  is  a  really  good  learning  process  and  
the  player  is  challenged  to  think  musically  about  what  the  left  hand  is  doing.  
Similarly,  some  of  the  pieces  encourage  the  development  of  air  management  
technique  with  careful  control  of  the  bellows  and  air  button  needed.      
 
The  pieces  themselves  are  well  chosen  and  full  of  interest,  consisting  of  
arrangements  of  extracts  from  instrumental  and  orchestral  works,  operatic  
excerpts,  etc.,  by  a  variety  of  composers  including  Bach,  Vivaldi,  Brahms,  Dvořák,  
Mozart  and  Holst.  Some  of  the  pieces  are  well  known,  for  example  the  Bach  
‘Minuet  ‘(No.  7),  others  perhaps  less  so,  e.g.  ‘Intermezzo  from  Cavalleria  
Rusticana’  (No.  12),  probably  the  most  challenging  in  the  entire  book.  But  I  have  
found  them  all  enjoyable  to  work  at,  and  many  could  be  favourably  performed  to  
an  audience.      
 
The  book  is  attractively  produced,  with  clear  and  well-­‐sized  typesetting  of  the  
music  and  tablature.  Where  needed,  Tony  has  provided  succinct  but  useful  
supplementary  notes  after  each  piece,  for  example,  hints  for  alternative  
fingerings/buttons,  use  of  air  button,  etc.  The  title  page  includes  a  reference  to  
online  YouTube  videos  of  Tony  performing  all  the  pieces  in  the  book.  These  are  
excellent,  and  provide  additional  clarity  and  guidance  for  anyone  unsure  about  
interpteting  the  written  music  notation.    
 
I  have  just  a  very  few  criticisms.  Firstly,  there  are  no  tempo  markings  at  all,  
which  one  would  normally  expect  to  find  at  the  start  of  each  piece.  Unless  the  
player  knows  the  piece  beforehand  (or  has  access  to  the  YouTube  videos),  there  
is  no  clue  about  the  speed  at  which  the  music  is  to  be  played.  Even  broad  hints  
such  as  ‘slowly’,  ‘steady  waltz  tempo’  etc.,  would  have  been  helpful.  Secondly,  a  
grating  typographical  error  has  managed  to  evade  proof-­‐reading:  No.  11,  
‘Thaxted’  is,  of  course,  adapted  from  Holst’s  ‘Planets  Suite’  (the  plural  ‘s’  is  
missing  from  the  title).  Lastly,  and  more  subtly,  in  No.  3,  the  famous  cor  anglais  
solo  from  Dvořák’s  New  World  Symphony,  the  first  two  beats  of  bars  7  and  18  
are  given  as  a  dotted  crotchet/quaver  rhythm,  which  is  not  what  Dvořák  wrote  –  
here  they  should  be  straight  crotchets,  thus  preventing  the  swaying,  dotted  
rhythm  becoming  too  repetitive  and  cloying.  But  these  are  all  relatively  minor  
points  and  do  not  detract  unduly  from  the  book’s  overall  usefulness,  value  and  
enjoyment.  
 
In  summary,  Tony  Croft  is  to  be  congratulated  on  producing  ‘Melodeon  Classics’.  
It  is  a  little  gem  of  a  book  which  will  keep  melodeon  players,  whether  beginners,  
intermediate  or  advanced,  fully  engrossed  and  will  provide  much  enjoyment  and  
enhancement  of  their  melodeon  technique  and  musical  understanding.  Highly  
recommended!  
 
 
Steve  Dumpleton  
December  2015