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Joining an existing band as their first Keyboard player - experiences?

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  • Joining an existing band as their first Keyboard player - experiences?

    I'm wondering what other people's experiences are joining an existing Pop/Rock/Indie band that have never had a a keyboard player before as I have just done. I did this before about 10 years ago. In both situations they had recently completed a recording where minimal keys we added for colour and they wanted that to translate into their live shows. Note: This isn't a paying gig.



    To start I get charts (or make my own) and comp along with a soft organ pad. Usually at this point someone in the band thinks there are too much keyboards going on, and I have to explain that once I know the songs I'll be cutting back. Sometimes I find I should really sit out for entire songs. Then come the sound requests: play more farfisa, do you have any analog sounding mono synths, shouldn't there be piano here? ....etc.



    I'd like to hear what others experiences are with similar situations

  • #2
    I have low expectations simply because of the line "This isn't a paying gig." If they valued you, you would get paid. Your time is worth something.
    <b>Response from John from American Musical Supply on why I have received 2 used/damaged Korg M3's and 1 reboxed M3 from Guitar Center (a.k.a. while I'll never buy from AMS again):</b><br><br><blockquote><hr>Footfall wrote:<br><p>What you're experiencing with these units is the result of our warehouse crew intentionally &quot;overpacking&quot; this product.</p><br><hr></blockquote><br><font size="1"><i><b>Current Korg Gear:</b> KRONOS 88 (4GB), M50-73 (PS mod), RADIAS-73, Electribe MX, Triton Pro (MOSS, SCSI, CF, 64MB RAM), DVP-1, MEX-8000, MR-1, KAOSSilator, nanoKey, nanoKontrol, nanoPAD 2</i></font>

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    • #3
      It's hard when a band only wants keyboards for effects and some filler parts. You may be unhappy. Plus they want you to be a hired gun and be at the whim of there non-experience with your craft, what it takes to program and get a feel for what parts belong as well as the disinterest in you opinion or ideas. Plus do they pay themselves?

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      • #4
        I've done it many times as a bassist and once on keys. Unless you are psychic, you will not play what they expected and at the same time they will have a hard time articulating what they do expect.



        My tactic is to play as basic and rhythmic as possible and wait for further orders
        <div class="signaturecontainer">My VCAs go to<b> 11</b></div>

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        • #5
          When you are working with an established group of musicians, they tend to be territorial. If you play extra parts over and above the recording, two responses are possible: either they like what you are playing, or you are intruding on their turf. The territorial ones - esp guitar players - guard their turf jealously and are reluctant open up space to let you in.



          There are guitar players, and there are musicians. The latter are open to new ideas and you will enjoy the experience. The former may be more "this isn't a paying gig" and unless you enjoy playing lifeless backing pads there may not be much of a future with them.
          <div class="signaturecontainer">this sig no verb</div>

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          • #6
            I joined a band 20 years ago that had 3 guitar players. I was their first keyboard player. One of the guitar players played the key parts with guitar. When we were gigging he would continue to double the key parts over me and the situation never really resolved itself. After about a year of battling with the guitar player I just quit the band. 6 weeks later the band broke up ... must have been an implosion ......
            '57 Hammond B3; '69 Hammond Porta-B; Hammond XM2/XMc2; '68 Leslie 122; Motion Sound Low Pro/Pro 3T; Neo Vent; Kurzweil PC3; Generalmusic Equinox 88 Pro and 76; Voce V5+; EV ELX112P; '67 Howard Combo Organ; http://www.dyinbreedband.webs.com

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            • #7
              Next they'll expect you to play the horn parts.



              Stick with it to the extent that you're enjoying it and learning enough to make it worthwhile to you.



              It *is* understandable, at least at the amateur/pro-am level, to overplay before you've learned the tune. It's amateurish, and part of what separates us from pro-level musicians. Hopefully they'll respect what you said, and that you will indeed improve and refine your parts, and everyone will be happy on that score.



              For whole songs where you think you should sit out, consider asking if there are any percussion parts you might do. Years ago I struggled with guitar tunes that I didn't think needed any keyboards, and yet the rest of the band didn't want me sitting out. These days (not sure it's due to better gear, different style of music, more experience, or a mixture of these) I always find something I can do, even if it's just a soft organ pad. However, I do try to remind myself that for some songs I should just sit out the whole first verse, and come in on the chorus or second verse. It's very hard sitting on my hands and not playing at all, but it's sometimes the right thing to do.



              Depending on the genre, "comping" on keyboards can be a problem. You don't want to be doubling the guitar part, and you frequently don't want to be playing the same chords. Instead you need to color around the edges. That can be hard and can require a lot of creativity/originality, when you're covering a tune that has no keyboards on the original. Sometimes it helps to check out the tune on Youtube to see how it's been covered by others, or played live by the original band but with keyboards. It's a great source of ideas when you can't come up with any of your own, and the more approaches you can learn the better off you are. Me, I stick to the two licks I know, but maybe you can have better luck. ;-)



              Regarding their requests, your answers can range from "Sorry, I don't do horn parts. If you heard me try, you'd know why. Keyboard horn parts suck anyway," to "Sorry, no, I don't have a good Farfisa" to "Good idea, let me try that." Even if you were paid, you have the option of saying those things. As an unpaid hobbyist (and hopefully that's what they all are) you have even more lattitude. As Dirty Harry says, "A man's got to know his limitations."



              The bottom line is that it comes down to both the band and you. You have to listen and work to make what you're playing enhance the overall sound. Giving that you're doing your best (and improving as fast as you can), the band will either appreciate your contribution or not. If not, find someone who does. Or, put up, with it for the experience. You get to choose.



              I'm not a great keyboard player. Most gigging keyboardists I know can mop the floor with me, regarding technical ability. Maybe I'm lucky, but the bands I've joined have always been really appreciative to have a keyboard player so they could do tunes they previously wanted to but couldn't, and liked the extra dimension in sound that keyboards bring. I know I'm lucky that I've usually played with bands where most members were above my level of talent. (Keyboard players seem to be in pretty high demand, compared to guitarists and bass players at least.) More importantly to me as an amateur, most of them have been decent people I'd enjoy spending time with in any case. For me, life's too short to do a hobby with people that annoy me or don't appreciate me.
              learjeff.net

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              • #8
                I am very lucky. I play in a cover band with a phenomenal guitarist who absolutely loves trading leads and complementing the keyboards. He calls me the secrete weapon.

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                • #9






                  Quote Originally Posted by DJ RAZZ
                  View Post

                  I am very lucky. I play in a cover band with a phenomenal guitarist who absolutely loves trading leads and complementing the keyboards. He calls me the secrete weapon.




                  secreted what?



                  OH OH OH , you mean SECRET!
                  <b>Response from John from American Musical Supply on why I have received 2 used/damaged Korg M3's and 1 reboxed M3 from Guitar Center (a.k.a. while I'll never buy from AMS again):</b><br><br><blockquote><hr>Footfall wrote:<br><p>What you're experiencing with these units is the result of our warehouse crew intentionally &quot;overpacking&quot; this product.</p><br><hr></blockquote><br><font size="1"><i><b>Current Korg Gear:</b> KRONOS 88 (4GB), M50-73 (PS mod), RADIAS-73, Electribe MX, Triton Pro (MOSS, SCSI, CF, 64MB RAM), DVP-1, MEX-8000, MR-1, KAOSSilator, nanoKey, nanoKontrol, nanoPAD 2</i></font>

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                  • #10
                    No pay? Everyone's a critic? Play only their lame filler recorded parts?



                    Pass.
                    <div class="signaturecontainer">Moe<br><br>---<br><br>It puts the SINES in the basket, or else it gets the hose again.<br><br><a target="_blank" href="http://www.hotrodmotm.com">http://www.hotrodmotm.com</a></div>

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                    • #11
                      Personally, I would probably just up and leave the band, based on the limited info you've given. In general, I only play jazz these days, if nothing else, to avoid having to join the type of band you're in.



                      I haven't joined a band as a keyboard player - I've only played for a year and a half - although I did play jazz guitar for about 20+ years. I will say however that I did play a party/jam in September and it was nothing short of a pain in the ass dealing with guitarists. In general, guitarists seem to think that audiences ONLY want to hear guitar solos; simply not true. To the guitarists chagrin, everyone in the audience loved the sounds coming out of my Roland Gaia; bringing a synth to the jam added a cool dimension to the overall sound. At least that's what people were telling me.
                      Gear: Alchemy - Yamaha Mox6 - Roland Gaia - Plugiator - GSI Burn

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                      • #12
                        How the hell do we report this clown spammer?
                        <div class="signaturecontainer">Moe<br><br>---<br><br>It puts the SINES in the basket, or else it gets the hose again.<br><br><a target="_blank" href="http://www.hotrodmotm.com">http://www.hotrodmotm.com</a></div>

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                        • #13
                          no bands are without problems. my current problems with my band is making me wanting to leave.



                          well, you could try, what have you got to lose. you may never know, you click with the band and treat them as your own family. that should be treasured.



                          be vocal but compromising. then see their reaction, so you can judge
                          <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="1"></font></div>

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                          • #14






                            Quote Originally Posted by McHale
                            View Post

                            secreted what?



                            OH OH OH , you mean SECRET!




                            Ooops....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What learjeff said, in spades.



                              If the band complains that you are overplaying, chances are that you are introducing mud in the mix... this often happens IME by playing too much stuff below middle C.



                              If you find yourself overplaying, try dropping your left hand down to a single finger, and keep it close to middle C. Try copying the snare drum rhythm with your right. Don't limit yourself to organ patches, at least play piano for some tunes. You can be more rhythmic with the piano. The parts don't have to be difficult. Listen to "Taking Care of Business" by BTO, ignoring the high stuff. Hear the simple comping in the verses? That was a single take, the guy had never even heard the tune before.



                              Another thing you can do with keys is to accentuate key guitar parts. For example, our band plays "The Boys Are Back In Town". This is a BUSY tune, not much room for keys! On the intro riff, with the long power chords, I play 1-5 whole notes on piano in unison with the guitars (and in their range -- low) to give the band's sound more punch.



                              The verse in the song is harmonically divided in two; the first half of the verse I play QUIET organ chords above with the Leslie constantly ramping up and down; max three notes per chord. On the second half of the verse, I play a single-note descending "countermelody" which is based around the changes within the chord; for example, if the chord sequence was C Em G I might play a melody that hit C B D when the chords change.



                              Next, there is a shift with a series of fast eighth and quarter note triplets that introduce a new section of the tune, I play "two-note chords" an octave above middle C. I think the chords are Dsus4 to D, so I'd play D-G then D-F# --- again, I am highlighting the driving rhythm and the harmonic change. I don't need to draw big thick lines around the harmony, I just need to suggest it. I have a bass player dictating the root and two guitars already providing outlines, I just need to accentuate!



                              After the triplets, I stay quiet until the guitars have two bars of interesting strumming; I play whole-note chords for those two bars, spinning up the Leslie, and crescendoing with my foot so that I am pretty loud by the end of the second bar, giving it some drive and power; I hold the last note for it's entire duration than am right back off again, no fall, just out.



                              The dual-guitar ending I sit out entirely because I want the audience to enjoy the harmonies of two guitars playing lead a 3rd apart. I love that ****************.



                              Did all that make sense?
                              <div class="signaturecontainer">--<br><br>Hammond: BC, M3, Split L111, L122 / Leslie: 51, 760 / Yamaha: DGX-620, PF-85<br><br>Follow my new band, <a href="http://DrBombay.ca/connect.html" target="_blank">Dr. Bombay</a>! We're going to be organasmic!</div>

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