The bayan is a chromatic-type button accordion that was developed in Russia in the early 20th century. As compared to a western accordion, Russian bayan contain a different tone shade and a fuller sound that has great melody for dances. The reed of a bayan is rectangular and broader, instead of trapezoidal. The melody-side keyboard is tied near the middle of its body. The reeds are oftentimes attached in large groups onto a common plate, and the plates are screwed to a reed block. Generally, the reeds are not tuned with a tremolo. Its diminished 7th chord is shifted for the diminished 7th G chord that one would anticipate for the diminished 7th C chord in a Stradella bass system. The newer bayans feature a register, wherein each tone played actually produces a perfect fifth. The converter can switch from standard pre-set chords to a free bass, which is in individual bass notes that are common in larger musical instruments.
The bayan was named after the legendary Russian narrator, musician, and bard named Boyan. The word 'bayan' was found in advertisements and posters that began in 1891. Previously, the musical instrument was called the garmonika. The garmonika (accordion) came from an Asian instrument, which is known as the shen. The shen arrived in Russia a long time ago, in the 10th to13th century, by the time of the Tatar yoke. Some researchers assume that the shen made its way from Asia to Russia and from there to Europe, where it was developed and became a well-known musical instrument of the accordion.
The expansion of the instrument in Russia began in 1830, also when Ivan Sizov acquired at a fair a hand-made harmonica. In the 1840s, the first accordion plant was founded in Tula by Timofei Vorontsov. The plant produced 10,000 accordions each year. Soon, the instrument became a symbol of a folk instrument and is an essential part of all the folk merry-makings and festivities.
The first accordions made in Tula had only one button row on each hand. The cherepashki, which is a very small concertina, was developed on a similar basis. It is quite loud and sonorous, but it impresses the audience, despite its performing peculiar turns instead of music.
The instrument owes its existence to a Russian master named Pyotr Sterligov. The chromatic bayans that were developed by Sterligov were perfected from 1905 to 1915, with the latest models of that time still being used in factories for the production of bayans. The bayan has also become well-known because of an accordion prodigy named Yakov Orlansky-Titarenko.
Recently, some selected bayans became famous amongst advanced performers because of the fact that its left-hand button board does not have pre-set chords. This significantly expands the performing scope of the bayan, and makes its playing technique a lot more complicated.
Today, the instrument has a broad range of purity and sound, and remains a well-known musical instrument for playing folk songs. It is frequently a choice instrument to be performed in classical music.