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Keyboard playing tips pls.


JCcares
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I'm basically a guitarist but play some keyboard to get me sequencing for recordings.I need some tips on chord voicing here.Do you guys use both hands while playing for recordings? I hear some folks avoid using lower tones on the bass region so it does not clash with bass guitar notes & boom.Is that true? Some tips on this would sure help.

 

Thanks.

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Well I understand what you mean by chord voicing.But is it a good idea to totally avoid the bass notes so it doesn't boom over the bass guitar notes? Like in piano style playing when both pianist & bass player plays the same notes or different notes,it may be tough to mix it finally.Or do I play as a regular pianist would & then eq off the frequencies that boom?
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Again, it really does depend, especially on what else is going on in the arrangement.

 

Unison piano and bass guitar can sound great without any need to EQ, for example.

 

I personally feel that people reach for the high pass filter way too much, so if it's sounding cramped in the bass register then I'd advise changing chord voicings over fixing a bad arrangement with EQ. But then, a high passed piano might be a deliberate part of the arrangement in some cases.

 

Too many variables to give anything near a definitive answer!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Think of your sonic pallette.. I often give thought to this before starting.. Just as in art, you do not want a bunch of wild crazy parts, or a painting with 12 shades of brown..

 

Sometimes I start laying down tracks and ideas.. then see where it's going.. I might realize I've used vibes, and piano. and the manner is they are competing for the same sonic real estate.. I'll then cute notes our of each down, or boil it down to one point..

 

Most of the time, simpler is better. A lot depends on the style of music you are doing.. In my option 4 - 6 parts are enough for the brain to process, too much more information, gets lost.. DO NOT be afraid to throw away parts, Alway save songs. etc.. I make a lot of changes, try a lot of experiments.. Each song is some kind of experiment for me.. Trying a new idea.. Sometimes the versions get better.. Sometimes, I have to back up and use the version I had several days before, because I wandered away from my original vision.

 

Note ranges of each instrument are important.. Not three instruments fighting for the same space, sometimes not even two. You need sonic space for all the parts to be heard and have a function..

 

One arranging book I read started with 'every note serves a purpose, if it doesn't delete it." .. I wouldn't aways go that far. But start to learn when you are creating something, or just making filler..

 

I would listen and TAKE NOTES of music that inspires or you aspire too.. I block out paper with tracks, and bars.. I put in marks and jiggles my own shorthand for each instrument.. You could take it further by actuallly writing out what it does. Another good tool is to find and analyze midi files of songs you like either in main window, score page is even better.. For many years I used the main page (now called in Logic X) and made heavy use of coloring. I then learned the score editor, and my music has taken a substantial improvement.. You see where there is too much clutter.. Where you can delete or move notes an octave up or down.. Or alternately take notes out of two tracks, to open up more sonic space, yet still have the variety of two instruments.. You see where you can repeat the motif or riff.. Sometimes I take the riff and move to a different section and then rewrite some notes to make it fit the chord changes..

 

I always create a chord track.. These are legato chords for each change, it's not heard, just for visual reference.

 

Sometimes I've been surprised to realize old songs (60's - 80's) are deceptively simpler.. Everybody hits a few notes, then a single guitar does a two bar response, .. You want parts to to blend or weave in/out. That is you don't want it the same density the whole time. If I have a few instruments.. I'l drop the third out of chords on one instruments or raise an octave, maybe drop 5 or even bass note on another track.. Back in my disco days, the golden rule was there is always a change every four bars, .. At the end of Abbey Road side two, on last track, they are actually changing every two bars, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison swapping two bar lead guitar solos. Ringo putting in drum rolls every two bars..

 

Of course lessons, or online lessons are great.. Berkley is great but expensive there are decent free ones.. Coursera.org are very good and totally free. Keep googling for free online lessons.. Their is a jazz, and rimsky Korsakoff music course..

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Think of your sonic pallette.. I often give thought to this before starting.. Just as in art, you do not want a bunch of wild crazy parts, or a painting with 12 shades of brown..

 

Sometimes I start laying down tracks and ideas.. then see where it's going.. I might realize I've used vibes, and piano. and the manner is they are competing for the same sonic real estate.. I'll then cute notes our of each down, or boil it down to one point..

 

Most of the time, simpler is better. A lot depends on the style of music you are doing.. In my option 4 - 6 parts are enough for the brain to process, too much more information, gets lost.. DO NOT be afraid to throw away parts, Alway save songs. etc.. I make a lot of changes, try a lot of experiments.. Each song is some kind of experiment for me.. Trying a new idea.. Sometimes the versions get better.. Sometimes, I have to back up and use the version I had several days before, because I wandered away from my original vision.

 

Note ranges of each instrument are important.. Not three instruments fighting for the same space, sometimes not even two. You need sonic space for all the parts to be heard and have a function..

 

One arranging book I read started with 'every note serves a purpose, if it doesn't delete it." .. I wouldn't aways go that far. But start to learn when you are creating something, or just making filler..

 

I would listen and TAKE NOTES of music that inspires or you aspire too.. I block out paper with tracks, and bars.. I put in marks and jiggles my own shorthand for each instrument.. You could take it further by actuallly writing out what it does. Another good tool is to find and analyze midi files of songs you like either in main window, score page is even better.. For many years I used the main page (now called in Logic X) and made heavy use of coloring. I then learned the score editor, and my music has taken a substantial improvement.. You see where there is too much clutter.. Where you can delete or move notes an octave up or down.. Or alternately take notes out of two tracks, to open up more sonic space, yet still have the variety of two instruments.. You see where you can repeat the motif or riff.. Sometimes I take the riff and move to a different section and then rewrite some notes to make it fit the chord changes..

 

I always create a chord track.. These are legato chords for each change, it's not heard, just for visual reference.

 

Sometimes I've been surprised to realize old songs (60's - 80's) are deceptively simpler.. Everybody hits a few notes, then a single guitar does a two bar response, .. You want parts to to blend or weave in/out. That is you don't want it the same density the whole time. If I have a few instruments.. I'l drop the third out of chords on one instruments or raise an octave, maybe drop 5 or even bass note on another track.. Back in my disco days, the golden rule was there is always a change every four bars, .. At the end of Abbey Road side two, on last track, they are actually changing every two bars, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison swapping two bar lead guitar solos. Ringo putting in drum rolls every two bars..

 

Of course lessons, or online lessons are great.. Berkley is great but expensive there are decent free ones.. Coursera.org are very good and totally free. Keep googling for free online lessons.. Their is a jazz, and rimsky Korsakoff music course..

 

great post..This is definitely food for thought.You need to post this in a recording periodical.Avoiding cluttering of notes is the way to go.I definitely believe in 'every note serves a purpose, if it doesn't delete it." .Too many clashing frequencies definitely does more bad than good.I always use the analyzer on the EQ.I wish there could be an equalizer plugin that allows several individual tracks to be fed in & analyzes each simultaneously with different color codes for each track.That way one can visibly see clashing frequencies.This may be a great mastering tool.Thanks for the excellent response.

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If you’re the leader of the band and you’re framming away on wrong chords it sets a bad tone for the whole team. If you’re playing wrong chords you’re probably going to be clashing with the rest of the band.

Depending on the size of your band, it might make matters worse to try and play in the same sonic space as the other instruments. There’s nothing wrong with doubling leads or at times doubling pads and such, but ultimately you want your band to feel well mixed and blended and part of making that happen is not stepping all over other instruments.

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If you’re the leader of the band and you’re framming away on wrong chords it sets a bad tone for the whole team. If you’re playing wrong chords you’re probably going to be clashing with the rest of the band.

Depending on the size of your band, it might make matters worse to try and play in the same sonic space as the other instruments. There’s nothing wrong with doubling leads or at times doubling pads and such, but ultimately you want your band to feel well mixed and blended and part of making that happen is not stepping all over other instruments.

I do understand the mess-up caused by playing wrong chords.But in this post I am focussing more on voicings of right chords that can clash with frequencies during mixing.Frequencies that can clash & trip over the mix.

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  • 8 months later...

If you can make a great arrangement (by following some of the above suggestions).. The song pretty much mixes itself.. I usually look at me piece in the score editor, (set up like an orchestral score)... It's easy to see where too much is going on, and not enough.. From there is it is easy to knock out some of the mid kbd notes, or/and move up an octave to get out of the way, so the guitar has more room..

 

You don't always want to cut out lower piano notes.. You want it to compliment the bass. Make sure if you have 'walking' or moving lower notes, make sure they work with bass notes, and kick,snare..

 

To me, 'When Doves Fly" is great, cause there's no bass. I've tried jamming a bass with it.. and realized, it just muddied up the feel and energy of the rest of the song.. In fact, it took a couple of listenings to realize there was no bass part in it.... The rest of the playing was that good, it didn't need a bass.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The first thing that I will do is to lay down a couple of guide tracks, using a nice piano patch. (I may never again get to play a 14-foot Boesendorfer Grand, but I sure can sound like one ...) The first track is the single-note melody, which will guide my singing. The second track (or tracks) is block chords to work out the chord progressions that underlay the piece. If I'm feeling adventurous, I'll use both hands. The guide tracks might have mistakes, which I will loosely clean up. I might then lay down a few more piano guides, say for the bass. If rhythm is important, a Drummer track doing something uncomplicated.

 

"Yes, this is essentially a 'lead sheet.'" Furthermore, it ordinarily contains several alternative ideas for passages that I am considering, and I develop all of them to some extent. ("Never delete anything," even if you don't yet know where to put it, or even if it belongs in this song.) They show me the basic (sung) melody, and the basic chord progression ... and I "noodle with" these things for quite a while.

 

Take full advantage of the "takes" feature to capture all alternatives that you dream-up for a particular section, and resist the urge to "flatten away" ones that you didn't choose.

 

All of these guide tracks will eventually be muted, but I will listen to them as I lay down other parts (most of my stuff is orchestral-ish), sometimes selecting actual note sequences and copy-and-pasting them to other tracks so that the (initial) notes in the new track come directly from the guide. Other new tracks will take other notes from the same guide chords ... although not necessarily always "the note on the bottom." Instead, the parts that are based on the guide will weave among the chords set by the guide, and, unlike the block-chord guide, they don't all arrive at the same note at the same instant.

 

I don't quantize anything: almost everything is somehow "performed." An intricate part might have been performed on two or more tracks playing the same instrument. It might be performed, as my organ teacher put it, "hands separately, very slowly, many times." And then, maybe, "de-clammed" a little. (Quite literally, "no one will ever know." If Yanni could do it, and did do it, so can we. We've got 'a word processor for music' here.)

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