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Are guitars inherently more expressive than Keyboards?

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  • #31
    There are alternate tunings and temperaments on piano. And it is expressive to the point that different players sound different on different pieces. Also different pianos have different tonal characteristics, and they feel and play different too.

    The same is true for synths. Read the new EQ, and check out BT's comments - it's not the tools, it's the talent.

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    • #32
      What does suck more? Air guitar or air keyboards? Sure that no real men play keys anymore, at least not like when Keith Emerson used to play a big Moog modular behind his head WITH HIS TEETH. No wonder guitar players had to resort to putting their instruments on fire, but even then they had to douse them with a wimpy little lighter fluid can, when a Hammond B3 has REAL OIL inside. Gimme the smell of a burning B3 in the morning, with a Leslie wailing away...

      Jeezz, sorry I'm a junior again, I feel a bit dizzy, where am I? what's this place?

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      • #33
        I definitely think the Hammond is an uber-expressive instrument! The drawbars allow expressiveness that you can't get on most keyboards. When somebody really knows how to work a B3 and a Leslie it gives me chills.
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        • #34
          Well, for me, keyboards, in particular, piano, are/is more expressive than guitar. This is because I play piano better than I play guitar.

          It's worth pointing out that piano is essentially a percussion instrument; and I disagree with claims that you can't tell the difference among players. Listen to Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bruce Hornsby, the third grader who lives next door to you, Eddie Palmieri, McCoy Tyner, etc. etc. etc. and honestly tell me you don't hear a difference. I've been to jams as well as recitals where more than one player takes turns playing on the same instrument, and it does sound different depending on who's playing. And we're not even talking about greats, just hobbyists, students, and semi-pros.

          The difference in piano playing comes from attack and release of the notes, as well as pedaling, and, because much more variation is typically available in this regard than other instruments, voicings/arrangements of the notes you play (10 fingers can play at once theoretically, very wide note range, all that). The instrument just encourages (demands?) the player to approach expression differently than one would a guitar. Maybe a good analogy of complimenting or criticizing a guitarist's "phrasing and tone" would be to compliment/criticize and pianist's "phrasing and attack."

          That doesn't make it better or worse on its own ... just different. Listeners will have their preferences, and so will musicians.
          This is my music: Zarate Pollace Project.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Jotown
            How expressive either instrument is will depend on the talent of the person playing it.
            +1

            Some may think that a guitar allows for greater expression, but the right person playing even a non-velocity sensitive monophonic MiniMoog can make it sing....

            dB
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            • #36
              Only if Jimi Hendrix is playing the guitar.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by mr.palmsley
                Pianos have no soul, no unique voice from player to player like a guitar player develops. If you hear a new guitar piece you can guess who it is in a few attempts. If you hear a new piano (or classical piece) the music has no defining signatures where you might know who it is...


                Like I said, I find many of these replies humorously ignorant.

                That you speak with such authority on something you obviously know so little about is a perfect example.

                Piano players will tell you, flat out, you're wrong. Just as you hear obvious differences in two known players with expressive voices playing the same guitar, piano afficianados here the same thing in the playing of two piano players on the same instrument.

                Go tell a piano player he can't tell the difference between Vladimir Horowitz and others, playing the same piece. Or Ben Tench vs Bruce Hornsby or Elton John, to compare similar players on similar music. They sound entirely different.

                The piano has a LOT more expressiveness in dynamics (range of volumes the instrument is capable of). That's why the origin of its' name is the piano-forte. They are capable of expressiveness at incredibly low volumes, and increase to near ear shattering levels without amplification.

                As you play a piano at various intensities, the timbre of the strings changes. This is why piano samples are so easy for players to spot. Imagine someone trying to fool you with a synth driven guitar line. It takes one heck of a great sound to approach obfuscating that the timbre isn't originiating from a guitar and the same is true of piano samples, even in the hands of exceptional players.

                And that's just a discussion of piano. Add synthesizers with thousands of base sounds and waveforms, filters, effects that can be changed on the fly, sounds that can be manually morphed from one to another, aftertouch and other key sound modifiers, mod wheels, pitch wheels, 3 dimensional optical and magnetic field controllers (a la Roland's D-Beam or Alesis' recent effects and synth sound boxes) and you have electronic controls that, in the right hands can be infinitely expressive.

                Again, as much as I respect Craig, I find this to be a topic that will only divide people into 3 camps with little understanding between them and potential for heated arguements over something that, in the end, doesn't mean squat. Guitar more expressive, Keyboard more expressive or both expressive in different ways.

                The result is the same. 3 camps of people dug in to a position.

                Will this affect anyone's decision to play keyboard or guitar?
                That's my opinion and it oughta be yours. - Makk Trukk, WSIX, Nashville, Tn.

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                • #38
                  I think it depends on what kind of emotions you are trying to express.

                  For some of us, the electronic/inorganic tonal nature of synthesizers bears a closer relationship to the feelings we want to express than the sound of an electric guitar.

                  Most musicians use their instruments as tools to explore the sensations they experience within themselves.
                  Synthesizers and guitars are perhaps better at echoing different aspects of human emotions.
                  Which of the two you're most drawn to, probably serves as some kind of indicator as to what type of emotions you tend to feel with the greatest intensity.

                  Whether you choose to use an electric guitar or a synthesizer to express yourself may initially help you set the general direction of your attempt at self-investigation.

                  But in the end, we choose our instuments by following our instincts - what is it we're trying to express, and what is the best way to achieve it?

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                  • #39
                    I know this thread was about keyboards, but since the subject of pianos came up I decided to post this.

                    Pianos do have a lot of expression. I'm not a piano player, so I won't try to explain how this works. I think geekgirl gave a good explanation.

                    Before the piano was invented there was the harpsichord. The harpsichord would play each note with the same intensity no matter how hard a player hit a key. The piano was inventented to allow more personal expression. Here's a link I found about piano history.
                    http://www.atonal.ca/history/history.html

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                    • #40
                      Yes, yes, yes, yes, ... maybe
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                      • #41
                        I'd say neither. I've heard Jimi and I've heard Earland. What was the question?

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                        • #42
                          No.
                          yes. Any other question ?

                          'Expressiveness' on acoustic instruments is entirely up to the player. Pianos are keyboards... I've heard piano playing that can make you smile or cry as much as stuff played on ANY other instrument. The mere ability to bend notes does not necessarily make an instrument more expressive - it's all about the person playing it.
                          ______________________________________________

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                          • #43
                            I always get a grin when I see keyboard players slamming down one of the keys and then jiggling their finger as though they're applying a vibrato to the sustained note. That ain't fooling anyone.


                            Pssst - there's this thing called Aftertouch....

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                            • #44
                              Guitars have the capability of being more expressive but guitarists have been fighting it for years. Saturation, compression, delays, chorus... anything to get away from having to learn how to actually control all that variability. So sure... inherently they are.

                              Tune into a classic jazz station for a week and start hearing how guys like Oscar Perterson, or Brubeck, or Tyner or Corea or Morton or Shearing overcome the "limitations" of thier instrument.

                              So are guitars really more expressive. I think in the end... no.
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                              • #45
                                I think that is difficult to compare guitars and keyboards, not only because a casiotone and a solaris are hard to put in the same category regarding expressiveness and a big difference can be found between guitars too, but because very different instruments use different ways to be expressive and have a different expressiveness.

                                It's much easier to compare within the same category....cello is said to be more expressive than viola or upright bass, a good concert piano will be much more expressive than a low-priced upright.....

                                I also think that an expressive musician will "port" his emotive approach on whatever instrument he plays.
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