How to Play in a Band

Discussion in 'Technique and Posture' started by Alchemy, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. Alchemy

    Alchemy

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    I'm starting this especially to follow up with cowboys invitation for questions but I hope all would join in. I expect to have a lot more questions and perhaps some that do not fit the title and similarity of the first question. I guess maybe I'm really looking for a "how to expand from a solitary home keyboardist or piano player to keyboardist." I think many might be in this position.
    Okay here goes, What do you play in a live performance? In rock, pop, country, it seems many or most songs you don't even hear the keyboardist except maybe a few small portions. What are they doing the rest of the time? If you are doing a cover, for example, do you play the original sheet and just allow the sound man to mix you in as he feels? Do you follow to emphasize beat and go off with keyboard emphasis in the song you know as apparent? Do you just chord most of the time? I never really knew this. I've played with others maybe 5-10 times back in the 80's and I never really knew then.
     
    Alchemy, Oct 24, 2016
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  2. Alchemy

    CowboyNQ

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    This is going to sound terrible, but the answer to most of your questions is: "it depends".

    Some songs are really keyboard heavy, others have minimal keyboard in them, some have none at all.

    If you play in a band that plays original music, well you've written that music with your band mates so you play whatever you guys decided sounds good when you wrote it.

    When you're covering a song, you either try and faithfully reproduce the original recording, or you change the arrangement and come up with your own version. Or sometimes a bit of a mixture of both.

    Often it's a matter of personal taste - yours or your band mates. I often ask my band mates' opinion on various keyboard things I do, as they can sometimes be a bit more objective about whether I should or shouldn't play certain parts, or what sounds good.

    Sorry for the slightly vague answer Al, but I'm a great believer that music, like all art, isn't about right or wrong, but exists on a continuum of opinion governed by the eye (or ear) of the beholder.

    There are other guys who frequent here who play in bands who will quite likely have differing views to me too.

    On this one I can be more specific. The sound guy/gal is there to balance the overall mix of the band. They're not there to cut you entirely out of the mix if they don't like your choices. If they're any good, each instrument will have its own space in the front of house mix. If you're playing, you should be able to be heard out front, even if you're playing a support role.
     
    CowboyNQ, Oct 24, 2016
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  3. Alchemy

    Alchemy

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    Ahh! This is awesome. This is even better than the Rick Wakeman show.
    I tried to edit later because I was afraid I made it look too exclusive. It wouldn't let me.
    PLEASE, ANYONE, FEEL FREE TO WEIGH IN!

    Thanks so much for your respone Paul! Surprisingly, I understood the first better than the second. The first part I kind of expected but I guess without a band it's kind of hard to try. Most of the guys I played with did a lot of stuff with no keys at all since they were guitarists. What I usually did was just doodle around at low volume without disturbing them to find the chords and if I thought something sounded good I would play louder. There was no audience thank God :) .These were just initial get togethers and we never did really get much down. Everyone seemed to be going more their own way. As for the sheets I was talking about, I'm not even sure they still make those. They were copyrighted by the record label I think and they had the album art on the front. If I remember, they weren't really for keyboard and were vocals and a couple main tracks maybe. If I recall, I didn't really like a lot of it for piano, for example, and I would change things or not play certain parts. So is it more like just playing as you would play an entire song on keyboard as solo and depend on the sound person to mix you up and down? There's another catch for me too. When I saw you playing money I thought "oh yes that little part is piano in the original, I never noticed, maybe a rhodes," but then I come to realize there is piano in much of a song or throughout and I didn't realize, perhaps even in that one. I don't think I'd want to play money solo on piano as well as many songs because they just aren't piano songs but maybe it can add to the rythym? In that case I guess you would be improvising rather than following the copyright sheet (unless they really did play piano throughout)? Background poly strings and lead synth kind of stuff I might have more a feel for improv or adding to the total sound. When you say out front that kind of scares me :) . In my case it makes me picture people thinking "okay who's out of time or playing the wrong song" :) I don't really hear any keyboard in a lot of the live videos I watch yet I see the keyboardist doing something, or jamming away. I'm just not noticing maybe? My hearing really is weird I admit. I can't hear out of one ear and the other plays games. I may have missed stuff in your reply or didn't really get it at first so I'm going to be studying it more.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
    Alchemy, Oct 24, 2016
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    CowboyNQ likes this.
  4. Alchemy

    CowboyNQ

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    OK so this shows me you absolutely get it.

    Taking "Money" as an example, that's a pretty easy one to play on the piano as part of a band - the only thing tricky about that song is the time signature (7/4 which then goes to 12/8 during the guitar solo). I just dial in a Wurli sound and play that little motif you can hear throughout the song. The only other thing I do is add some wah wah from the start of the sax solo to the end of the song, plus control the vocal samples you hear at the end, and the cash registers etc. at the start.

    But if you were to play what I play in "Money" by yourself at home without the rest of the band, it wouldn't sound like anything much at all - so you'd need to add extra stuff. For example the bass line in the left hand. Here is an example of someone playing "Money" solo on piano:



    So he is covering the vocal line in the right hand and the bass in the left hand. I play none of that live because that's not what Richard Wright does on the record. Here's our version by way of contast:



    To complicate matters further, I don't even play exactly what Pink Floyd's Richard Wright does. The reason for this is that he was a BIG improviser, and he never really played it the same way twice. So rather than try and slavishly recreate all his whimsical parts, I have taken the main motif that most people will recognise and simply repeat. It lays a consistent bedrock for the guitar/sax/vocals and stays out of their way. Basically I'm tricking the audience into thinking it's album authentic while staying out of the way of my band mates.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
    CowboyNQ, Oct 24, 2016
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    Oriane Lima, Alchemy and happyrat1 like this.
  5. Alchemy

    Alchemy

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    AHA! That was another area I wanted to get into if I remembered but you grabbed it! Thumbs up! For me, I don't think there is more than a couple live versions of maybe 1000 pop songs that I appreciate like the original. I knew that about cover bands, that "they often cover the songs better than the original band does." In fact, when I mentioned your band to someone I think I said "better than live pink floyd."
    I'm still analyzing the rest of what you said but again, this is really great insider stuff.

    edit: I can't say I don't like David Gilmores live variations and I wasn't even considering him when I said that. He's a different league than many original bands. I love his version of high hopes with the classical back up at the royal hall. I might have liked to see a more pronounced steel guitar lead maybe for that ending lead. That is my favorite rock lead of all time. .
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
    Alchemy, Oct 24, 2016
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  6. Alchemy

    Alchemy

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    Yes that piano solo version might be exactly what I meant. I would not like playing that but I think I actually did years ago because I think that is about what the original sheet is, and yes, it's not the keyboard part of the song. It's bass, guitar, and vocals. In fact he doesn't even play the original piano part like you do and like it should be. So I guess it's no as to the question of whether you play that "sheet." I agree, it would not fit. If I did have to play that song solo on piano I would want to end up with a version maybe structured around what he played but something to fill the middle, make the bass sound better, maybe use a lower octave or lower notes and soften and roll some of the higher notes and definitely add the actual piano part that you do. He's just playing the sheet version I think.
    Now walking back out to where I was but now with your help and imagining steppping back in with a band am I fixed yet? :) Well, I think I have more confidence. Remembering not to just play copyright sheets is a big help. Without trying to explain further, I think yes, it is clearing up for me some. I suppose I can only go so far or be told so much until I actually get together to play with others. Thanks again Paul!
    Now, after all this, I'm realizing the even bigger and more difficult area I need to understand, might actually be more as a solo keyboardist and going from piano player to keyboard rocket science. :D I'm guessing that might be the 20 million dollar question given the assumed inflation rate. You guys really are mad scientists ya know :). I work in a traditional science field (untraditionally of course) and I'm telling you, from what I've seen so far, your field is more scientific than most traditional science fields, then add "musical alchemy" to that. :D
    BTW, it just hit me. I've thought no way am I putting up my playing on the forum until I get back into practice but I just realized I do have some midis I edited and recorded analog from my JV and I could put a couple of those up If I can figure out how.
    edit: https://www.keyboardforums.com/threads/all-you-get-of-me-for-now.27393/
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
    Alchemy, Oct 25, 2016
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