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  • Keyboard Players Role In a Band

    I'm a piano player and I

  • #2
    It really depends on the type of music the band plays. I stuck with rock and pop so my roll was usually to be flexable and fill in the gaps. That means covering keyboard parts plus any other part that the other band members could not play. I've been rhythm guitarist (organ patches work well here), orchestra (ROMpler), sound effects, keyboard parts ranging from background piano to lead synth, all types of horns and even percussion. The better you are a covering any part the more opportunities you get to play with good working bands.

    With jazz or country you can focus more on piano. While jazz has a rep for requiring exceptional musicians country is probably the most underrated. If you play in a good country band you better have the chops and the ability to transpose on the fly.
    My friends have big houses and new cars. I own music equipment.

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    • #3
      As long as the other band members WANT a keyboardist, and are willing to leave some room in their music (i.e. not drown everything out in distortion power chords), then you can add what you think the music needs. If it's cover songs, learn the parts (horns, piano, organ, etc.). If it's original songs, ask the band members what THEY would like to hear. If they don't care, just comp along with some organ/piano, mostly sparse chords with right hand, and add occasional synth flavorings (pads, occasional effect, leads when required).

      Things can get ugly (or boring) if you are imposing yourself on a band that already has a complete sound, and the keyboard player is not 'really needed' ..... but they want one there in the background 'cause it looks cool. I always avoid those kind of bands.
      Korg Z1, Yamaha Clavinova CLP-350, Alesis Ion, Alesis QS8.2, Kawai K3M, Arturia CS-80V, VAZ Modular, co-author of MinimogueVA and Arppe2600va.

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      • #4
        I started out just like you...I took years and years of piano and always had an urge to play rock music.

        In terms of a keyboard player's roll in a band...well...that's a really open question. I have played in many bands in the past.

        1. I played in a ****************y Nu-Metal band in high school. I provided textures and loops. Nothing really melodic...but then again...it was the early 2000's...what was melodic?

        2. I was in a really just God-awful gothic rock band (the music was OK for 80's mopey goth rock) and I played many piano and organ melodies for them. This is when I bought the Motif. The piano and keyboard instrument voices were brought to the forefront.

        3. I have musically directed a couple of rock-based musicals...Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Who's Tommy. This when I added the TR (for Tommy). I've had to play leads, pads, piano solos, organs, brass, everything. The keyboard instrument was used (aside from piano and organs) for every instrument that was scored for an "rock orchestra" but could only be played by a 5 piece rock band.

        4. I am a studio musician for a bluegrass-inspired, early country outfit. I mostly play Rhodes sounds on my Motif as well as some light glassy organs. I only record with them. Aside from a driving Rhodes or Wurli hooks and minor soloing around 7th chords (haha, I know I'm generalizing) I mostly just "fill in" guitar tones for the very gifted guitarists.

        5. I'm in a ****************ing wedding band. I know. My friends and I started one (our first gig is coming up and we want to see where it goes) and there I play EVERYTHING. I'm really trying to get my blues chops back. Country, R&B, 80s music, ballads, Adult Contermporary , stuff like that...

        6. I write musical theatre. I use my ROMplers for EVERYTHING until it's good enough to get live musicians in there. Keyboards, in this capacity, are a tool for me to compose and to guess at arrangments. Horn players hate what I write...ha!...because I'm not quite used to how they have to voice chords (as a group).

        My biggest suggestion to you, however, is to learn as much "non-piano" keyboard theory. It took me a long time to process that a blues scale is OK. Improv-skill-building is extremely important because, like you (probably), I'm used to everything I need to know being scored out beautifully before me.

        Chord charts are your friends.

        God speed.
        HI I AM JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS YOU MAY REMEMBER ME FROM TV'S HOME IMPROVEMENT I AM HERE TO **************** UP YOUR DAY LOLROFLOMGIDKMYBFFJILL/ROSEBBQ

        I AM SUPER-SERIOUS.

        I SOLD MY GEAR DON'T CARE YOU DIDN'T BUY - GO LOCAL & ORGANIC H8 U GUYZ

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        • #5
          Oh, and it is easier to fit into a band that does not have a rhythm guitarist. That leaves you more space on stage physically and musically.
          My friends have big houses and new cars. I own music equipment.

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          • #6
            Oh, and it is easier to fit into a band that does not have a rhythm guitarist. That leaves you more space on stage physically and musically.


            YES. Or...take away the lead guitarist and make the synth the leading instrument with an electric guitar accompanist.
            HI I AM JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS YOU MAY REMEMBER ME FROM TV'S HOME IMPROVEMENT I AM HERE TO **************** UP YOUR DAY LOLROFLOMGIDKMYBFFJILL/ROSEBBQ

            I AM SUPER-SERIOUS.

            I SOLD MY GEAR DON'T CARE YOU DIDN'T BUY - GO LOCAL & ORGANIC H8 U GUYZ

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            • #7
              I'm a piano player and I
              Nothing to see here... Move along!

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              • #8
                Wow, thanks everyone, there is some good stuff to think about. I really appreciate everyones thoughts/comments.

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                • #9
                  Any musician - guitar player, keyboard player, drummer - tends to overplay. Even the recording groups had musicians who had to learn how to play less.

                  Watch any orchestra in concert, and find a single musician who plays 100% of the time. No one does. Yes it's not country or rock music but it does teach you restraint because of a common thread between all styles of music - the human ear gets fatigued and must hear something refreshing or you will lose the audience's attention.

                  I am not shy about asking a guitar player to hold back his playing. I do the same because I believe less is more. The space you leave is as important as the space you fill. It also gives the vocals some room to breath.

                  It doesn't matter how good you play piano/hammond or how good you imitate horn/string/synth parts. The single most important talent is to listen to what is going on around you and react to that. That doesn't get taught in books or school.

                  As an example when I am playing Hammond, I will often nudge in the 5-1/3' and 8' drawbars during vocals or guitar solos. This lets me be heard without stepping on their toes. Sometimes I lay back and play nothing. Sometimes I hold a chord or I treat the Hammond percussively.

                  It's the refreshing change to the human ears that keeps your audience peeled. And it worked tremendously well as our band grew in popularity.

                  If you want to imitate horns, then listen intimately to real horn players. Learn their voicings, their expression, their dynamics, their tone. Listen how a sax player plays different from a trumpet. Likewise with strings. Very few keyboardists take the effort to learn real sections. I was lucky to have spent some years in community orchestras and had subconsciously listened to what was going on around me.
                  this sig no verb

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                  • #10
                    Brilliant post. I couldn't agree more.

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                    • #11
                      The role of a keyboard player? Woman repellent.

                      (ducks behind marshall stack)

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                      • #12
                        Check out a variety of prog rock bands. Newer ones like Dream Theater, and older ones like Yes. Keyboards can be every bit as much of the music as any other instrument in the band. Of course in modern electronica and livetronica the synths are the main & fairly often only instruments. Keyboards role in rock, jazz, goth, and alternative can be with the synths leads, main sound beds, or otherwise. Does seem puzzling a keyboard player wouldnt be aware of the role of keyboards in music for the past 30 plus yrs in a way.
                        Life for its own carnal pleasure.Synths: Novation KS4 & Maudio Venom. Guitar: BC Rich It Warlock.. Bass: BC Rich Warlock. Sight: Aerial lasers by Omnisistem & Chauvet,. Geometric lasers by Extreme.

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                        • #13
                          Check out ...a variety of prog rock bands. Newer ones like Dream Theater.


                          here we go.........

                          Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell...

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                          • #14
                            Check out a variety of prog rock bands. Newer ones like Dream Theater, and older ones like Yes.



                            Personal preference, I recommend older Dream Theater. Awake has some of the best rock/metal keyboard playing for my tastes, Falling Into Infinity too. Images and Words has some good parts but the recording itself sounds too dated.
                            "You can practice for years and get really good at music and nobody cares because they cant eat it or **************** it.
                            Now if you made really good cheeseburger or had nice tits that would draw some attention." -pilk

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                            • #15
                              [QUOTE=ChipCurtis;23438788]As long as the other band members WANT a keyboardist, and are willing to leave some room in their music (i.e. not drown everything out in distortion power chords), then you can add what you think the music needs.


                              Boy aint that the truth. One thing for sure ,,, you will know the second you try to play with a guitar player if its going to be a workable situation. You get this odd feeling like ,, this guy seems to be with the beat and have the groove ,and is good ,,,, but you will detect obvious rhythm issues in his playing. I have run into two of those guys in the the last few months trying to get a band together. You wont change them ,, so ya just move on. rat

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