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  • Advice From/About Keys Players?

    Hey, guys.  I have been trying to find a keyboardist for my band for months and I finally found one.  Great person.  Good personality, good fit, good bandmate, picks stuff up really quickly.  The only thing is he's used to playing as an accompanyist, as opposed to in a band.  So he tends to fill in all the sonic space. 

     

    As an example, in Get Lucky the bass and the drums cover the groove.  The guitar has its simple repetitive lick going.  And the keys fill in with a very simple background sound.  That's a song where the keys really sit back (we play other pop songs where the keys are front and center).  Instead the keyboardist will hit the groove with his left hand and hit the rhythm with his right hand.  The result is a very noisy song with the keys stepping all over everything instead of providing a cool backdrop.

     

    How can I get the keyboardist to pay more attention to how the different instruments interact in the song, and pay more attention to the dynamics, and back off of kinda filling out all the space, without coming across as a controling dipwad.

     

    The analogy would be the guitarist who feels like he needs to solo over everything.  How do you dial them back and get them to "play the part"?


  • #2

    You just need to stress that his job is to cover the keyboard parts, not try to play the whole song as if he were doing it alone. Play the song for him and point out that the keyboard is only playing these particular parts, no where is it doing the bass line, etc. It might take him a little bit of a mindset change to figure out that he's in an ensemble and not doing it all himself. If he's a big boy and wants to be a team player he'll take the advice. Playing specific parts is an acquired skill and for someone used to being an accompianist, it'll definitely be a culture change.

    My Live Gear: Roland FA-08, Hammond SK1-73, Nord Lead A1
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    • #3

      Just talk to him about it.  It's a common issue for alot of us keyboard players - enough that quite often we don't even realize that we're doing it.   There are so many times we're called upon to slather tunes with pads, strings and all sorts of wallpaper sounds to "fill out the sound" ... that it becomes almost second nature to approach even songs that call for a sparser arrangement in the same manner.

      Like your keyboard player - my left hand can sometimes get in the bass player's way.  Alot of times it's because the part I'm playing is essentially a rhythm pattern created via the interplay of both hands.  (...think of the basic rudiments that comprise the typical snare drum patterns - and then think about playing just the right stick's part).  I need the rhythm that is created by both hands to hold together the rhythm that I'm playing.   When I find myself playing those sorts of parts and finding my left hand getting in the way - sometimes - I'll play my part with one hand on each of my two keyboards - and simply turn the volume on the board my left hand is playing on.   The result can sometimes have a ****************load of funk in it.

      The SpaceNorman

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      • SeniorBlues
        SeniorBlues commented
        Editing a comment

        SpaceNorman wrote:

        Like your keyboard player - my left hand can sometimes get in the bass player's way.  Alot of times it's because the part I'm playing is essentially a rhythm pattern created via the interplay of both hands.  (...think of the basic rudiments that comprise the typical snare drum patterns - and then think about playing just the right stick's part).  I need the rhythm that is created by both hands to hold together the rhythm that I'm playing.   When I find myself playing those sorts of parts and finding my left hand getting in the way - sometimes - I'll play my part with one hand on each of my two keyboards - and simply turn the volume on the board my left hand is playing on.   The result can sometimes have a ****************load of funk in it.


        Agreed.

        You don't necesaarily need a second board to do it.  Most of the time, a split at D or Eb works for me.

        In his defense, sometimes the rest of the band wants you to sound like the record, which can mean either  playing very little or getting lost in the mix.  I'd prefer the latter, but whenever possible, find a live version of the song that uses a real keyboard player.

        And  . . . most important . . .  given all the reports on this forum of bands trying in vain to find a keys player, don't relegate him to second class citizen.  You don't have to feature him on every song, but you should expect to change your repertoire dramatically if you've been playing without one.


      • guido61
        guido61 commented
        Editing a comment
        I was going to post pretty much exactly what Norman said. I had to learn to find something else to do with my left hand so I wasn't walking all over the bass player.

    • #4

      Opus Antics wrote:

      How can I get the keyboardist to pay more attention to how the different instruments interact in the song, and pay more attention to the dynamics, and back off of kinda filling out all the space, without coming across as a controling dipwad.


      Before the next gig or practice I'd say to him "I think some of the songs we're doing would sound better if we tweak the arrangement a little. Could you back off of kinda filling out all the space? Thanks."

      Either that or "You realize you're getting paid the same no matter how much you play, right? Leave some room for the rest of us."

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      • guido61
        guido61 commented
        Editing a comment

        I'd take the approach of explaining to him how each instrument and voice needs its own space in the sonic spectrum otherwise they'll end up causing conflicts.  It really doesn't work to have two instruments playing the same note at the same frequency at the same time. 


      • SeniorBlues
        SeniorBlues commented
        Editing a comment

        lz4005 wrote:

        Opus Antics wrote:

        How can I get the keyboardist to pay more attention to how the different instruments interact in the song, and pay more attention to the dynamics, and back off of kinda filling out all the space, without coming across as a controling dipwad.


        Before the next gig or practice I'd say to him "I think some of the songs we're doing would sound better if we tweak the arrangement a little. Could you back off of kinda filling out all the space? Thanks."

        Either that or "You realize you're getting paid the same no matter how much you play, right? Leave some room for the rest of us."


        Umm . . . . . no.

        How about recording the next session . . . for everyone's benefit, including ours.  If your musical roots are "keys as texture" and his allow him to actually play the instrument, you're going to have problems.  Depends on your repertoire.  All too often, talking about music is a poor second to actually listening to it.


    • #5
      Sometimes too the best sounding keyboard samples on their own are the ones that really get in the way of everything else. One more variable to look at. I agree though, that piano player's habit of extra left-hand strikes is often times the culprit.
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      • guido61
        guido61 commented
        Editing a comment

        SLScott86 wrote:
        Sometimes too the best sounding keyboard samples on their own are the ones that really get in the way of everything else.


        Yep.  That's something else he'll likely need to learn.  It's VERY common for me to come up with "great" sounds on my own, only to find I have to tweak them later because they don't sit in well with the band mix, for whatever reason. 


      • lz4005
        lz4005 commented
        Editing a comment

        SLScott86 wrote:
        Sometimes too the best sounding keyboard samples on their own are the ones that really get in the way of everything else. One more variable to look at. I agree though, that piano player's habit of extra left-hand strikes is often times the culprit.

         

        That can apply to most instruments, not just keyboards. Epic bedroom guitar/bass/drum tones usually step on other players' sonic territory.

        Any time you add a player to a group everyone has to think about adjusting both their playing and tone to fit the new arrangement.

        One of the groups I was in previously would play as anywhere from a 2 piece to a 5 piece depending on the gig. I had to play completely differently in each configuration, even though it was the same set list. It was definitely a learning experience.


    • #6

      Some awesome advice here, all around.  Thanks, guys!

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      • #7
        You need to get comfortable with the relationship between the drawbars and your timbre. Don't memorize drawbar settings, just learn how to get from where you are to where you want to go.

        Need some whistle? Pull the 1'. Jazzy tone? Mostly low ones. More nasally? Pull out the fourth one. More country? Push on the black ones and pull out some whites. More hollow? More black bottom, less white. More whoop? Push in the middle ones... Etc

        I think drawbars are great. And when taking a solo, I have been known to just change them to something random, and explore that tone. Or not, you can always change.

        2nd harmonic is a white drawbar, 3rd is black, think of that when deciding on percussion. Also, the first brown drawbar is white, the second brown drawbar is black.

        White drawbars are even overtones...octaves of the fundamental.
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        • Piano Whore
          Piano Whore commented
          Editing a comment

          RE playing two parts at once, long-term HC'er Outkaster does that really well- I guess that's a necessity with reggae, but even for something like Van Morrison it adds alot to have both piano and organ. I have to do that with an Adele song even though I'm sure it was not recorded (or performed live) with only one keyboard player. I also like to work up 2 independent parts when possible- I do that with a Band Perry song (Dig 2) LH fake banjo and a simple string/fiddle line RH, but that's an easier example.  A harder one is doing the horns on "Josie" while comping the Rhodes part. I can kinda do it, but not as good as 2 players.









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