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studying other players play, what goes through your mind? #2949449 09/21/18 04:00 PM
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Delaware Dave Offline OP
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I was recently watching a youtube video of the allman brothers with Eric Clapton (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb22MYqdugE) and as Eric was taking his lead you could see Derek Trucks studying how Eric was playing the leads. It made me wonder about how I use to (and still do) study how Billy Preston played organ. It was watching him that the thought of touch sensivity on the organ hit me; not touch sensitivity regarding loud and soft playing (like a piano would respond because an organ doesn't respond that way) but more about how at times he glided over the keys in order to not fully depress them so that he could get a different tone out of the organ without having to adjust/manipulate the drawbars. When the keys on the organ are not fully depressed you donít get all of the drawbars that have been pulled out. Billy would play and sometimes glide across the keys not fully depressing them and a different, non aggressive tone would come out. Iím sure I was probably taught this but when I saw him do it the connection finally made it to my brain and it is something that I now have added that technique to my repetoire (on the real deal, not a clone). I was probably too young at the time to put the pieces together until I saw him do that many years ago.

When watching the video and seeing Derek Trucks studying Clapton playing it made me think ďI wonder what he is studyingĒ? Is it the smoothness of the playing? is it timing by which he plays? Is it Claptonís progressions (itís more of a live jam so not much structure to the playing). Iím sure that Derek is trying to pickup things that I wouldnít necessarily be looking for since he is a guitar player watching a guitar player while Iím a keyboard player watching a guitar player. When you are watching a guitar player play or another keyboard player play, what is going through your mind? Do you compare your playing to theirs? Do you not worry about comparison and look at how they approach the songs? Do you look at fingering? speed? What are the nuance things that you try to pick up when you are studying others play?


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Delaware Dave] #2949454 09/21/18 04:20 PM
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In a band context for AP and EP I listen for the choices the player makes, especially for comping. For solos, I like to check out phrasing and structure.

For organ playing I am always attentive to Leslie speed. I love to check out how other players use it. cool smile

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Delaware Dave] #2949455 09/21/18 04:27 PM
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In most cases, my ear goes to comps and fills; who are they locking in with, what are they playing when they do, and where are they feeling their fills. I am most interested in keyboard as a percussion and color instrument, so that's where my ear goes in others.

Sometimes, if it's a song I have played a bunch, I am listening for "choices"--patches, chord subs, and voicings--basically, options for changing my game on a familiar tune.

For organ I am usually listening for how they do things I don't well, particularly C/V and percussion. Sometimes I'll log away something I need to work on in the woodshed (for example, I tend to use close intervals on runs, and I think my organ playing would benefit from the incorporation of larger intervalic jumps sometimes).

Cool thread.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Joe P] #2949456 09/21/18 04:29 PM
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Dave when I study someone like Roy Bittan, Bill Payne or Billy Preston I look at their approach. Honestly I do compare my playing if we are playing the same kind of music, not necessarily the individual songs unless it's something I really want to know how to play. I also think do they call and answer the singer with their parts?, what gear are they using and so forth. I study why their rig is set up the way it is also. That tells me a lot on how efficient they do things. Most of the time the good players do good things well. I see a lot of decent bands but most of the time the keyboard players aren't consistent or just don't have logistics down. If it's something I can use I will. Most of the time I can tell by watching their hands. Now it's not all the time but 60% of the guys I see do things that aren't helping them. A lot of the people we admire pay attention to small things and work at it.

Last edited by Outkaster; 09/21/18 04:35 PM.

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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Delaware Dave] #2949459 09/21/18 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted By: Delaware Dave
When you are watching a guitar player play or another keyboard player play, what is going through your mind? Do you compare your playing to theirs? Do you not worry about comparison and look at how they approach the songs? Do you look at fingering? speed? What are the nuance things that you try to pick up when you are studying others play?


1. Could be anything from "Holy crap that's awesome!" to "Which beer should I order next - the saison or the stout?"
2. No
3. The player onstage is usually better than me so I don't bother comparing myself to that player in painful detail wink. Yes, how the song is being approached is what interests me the most.
4. I usually can't catch all the fingering.
5. I was more interested in speed when I was a kid, before I heard a lot of "talking fast, and saying nothing" solos
6. The transitions from note to note - slide vs. bend vs. stacatto, etc. Also placement in time(various flavors of swing, syncopation, etc), accenting, etc.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: GovernorSilver] #2949464 09/21/18 05:08 PM
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I tend to start off listening to the overall band groove/pocket. Then, if listening to guitar, it's it's "can this guy do anything more harmonically interesting than pentatonic licks?"

Cheers, Mike.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: stoken6] #2949474 09/21/18 06:48 PM
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That's a damn good question.

I'm a believer in the idea that each and every song/piece of music has both a beat and a pulse, and it's how a given player uses the beat to interact with that pulse that interests me most.

For keyboard players, I also look at and study hand independence.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: hurricane hugo] #2949477 09/21/18 07:03 PM
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No, not at all. I use my ear. Maybe I ought to study an icon like Jimmy Smith or CT?
But for me, it's aural.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: I-missRichardTee] #2949479 09/21/18 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
No, not at all. I use my ear. Maybe I ought to study an icon like Jimmy Smith or CT?
But for me, it's aural.

Yep. Me too. I can't say I've ever watched a keyboardist's hands and said "Aha! So that's how you do it."


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: stoken6] #2949482 09/21/18 07:22 PM
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Honestly? "I need to woodshed a lot more. This guy makes me sound as if I'm playing the keys with my feet." rolleyes grin

I listen for things such as how well the band orchestrates those precise points where half of them suddenly lay back for a solo or special effects moment. The need for individual chops is always a given, but the #1 priority is The Song. I listen for keyboard parts more keenly, of course, but also for how close the band can come to sounding like a studio take with just the right amount of live grit. The more I can hear almost everyone to some degree, the better the final impact. I listen for subtle, even abstract pointers concerning the possible influences of the players. I listen for good moments or sudden shifts I can emulate in small ways that will up my own game compositionally.

I also learn from grace under fire. Ages ago, the piano guy in a local band didn't just hit a clam, he hit a giant squid, a real knuckle-tripper. He got a laugh by immediately yelling "ARF!" and subsequently stayed right on the mark. Great showman! Not everything you can learn from engagement with music comes from the notes.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Wastrel] #2949506 09/22/18 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted By: Wastrel
Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
No, not at all. I use my ear. Maybe I ought to study an icon like Jimmy Smith or CT?
But for me, it's aural.

Yep. Me too. I can't say I've ever watched a keyboardist's hands and said "Aha! So that's how you do it."

Being a Genesis follower since the 70's I had always wondered how Tony's hands and fingering were placed during the intro and bridge of Lamb lies down on Broadway, absolute genius technique that remained a mystery to me until You Tube, and other technology emerged to reveal his mastery of the keyboard. No matter how many times I listened to it I never could unravel the notes. I'm sure there are many similar examples.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: tonybanksfan] #2949537 09/22/18 09:22 AM
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Yes, Iíve learned from watching others. Mostly conceptual stuff. I once sat about five feet from Chick Corea during a Roy Haynes concert. It was Royís 75th birthday celebration so for this gig Chick was a sideman. What I saw up close was that Chickís attention was more on the other players then himself. He was so focused on the others and interacting / complementing what the others (Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, and Roy Haynes) were doing. Chickís comping was so creative, supportive, and inspiring. While comping he was creating music that was so interesting that it could probably stand on it own. His comping included wonderful melody, harmony, rhythm, mood, and attitude. His approach was orchestral rather the more typical percussive approach. By watching Chick up close I learned to listen more to the other players than myself and was inspired to comp more creatively.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Al Quinn] #2949540 09/22/18 09:34 AM
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I must admit that I listen more to the phrasing than the player in general. If I hear something that makes me go, "whoa"...then I start focusing in deeper. I like so many different styles of music that it's hard to listen to it all at that level of scrutiny. I'm also a 30 year guitar player so when I decided to take up the keys I was like a kid in a candy store with the whole "learning canvas". It is what I love most about music...internalizing and learning.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Delaware Dave] #2949587 09/22/18 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted By: Delaware Dave
When you are watching a guitar player play or another keyboard player play, what is going through your mind? Do you compare your playing to theirs? Do you not worry about comparison and look at how they approach the songs? Do you look at fingering? speed? What are the nuance things that you try to pick up when you are studying others play?
Interesting questions. When I'm studying someone else's playing, I'm listening and not looking very much. I want to hear if they're playing with expression, with feeling, if they've got something interesting to say or something that's adding to the song or the musical piece. Are they pushing the beat or playing deeply in the pocket or doing something really cool that makes me want to listen? Or are they playing rote licks and riffs without really engaging with the tune? Are they playing interesting note choices or just speed for the sake of speed? Does their playing make me smile or feel something or make me appreciate the musicality of what they're doing or does it sound like lots of technique but nothing to say? I listen to music to feel something and I play music to express something. If I'm studying someone else's playing and I don't feel anything, I'm not interested and I stop studying. If I feel something, I want to listen and look more closely and understand what they're doing and how they're doing it.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Delaware Dave] #2949601 09/22/18 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted By: Delaware Dave
What are the nuance things that you try to pick up when you are studying others play?

When they play, and when they don't.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Wastrel] #2949609 09/23/18 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted By: Wastrel

I can't say I've ever watched a keyboardist's hands and said "Aha! So that's how you do it."


I'm the other way around. I look at the hands first. Going back to the Loverboy thread, my very thought watching Doug Johnson was, omg look at this guy's hands! If the technique is solid I shift my attention to groove and sounds. If it looks like the player is struggling I get antsy. But everybody knows something I don't. If the technique is in the ballpark and the feel is good and the sounds are decent, then I listen to see what I can learn. But generally, I like to see hands that float over the keyboard. And that goes for any instrument, really. I want to see graceful motions.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: ksoper] #2949703 09/24/18 12:02 AM
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I have to admit that the first thing Iím watching and listening for is their voicings on chords and the range they are playing in (where on the keyboard) relative to the notes being produced by other instruments in the band. Iím always trying to figure out how itís fitting together.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: DOhm] #2949706 09/24/18 01:20 AM
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As I've studied others, I've determined that a player's gonna play, play play play.

My advice: just shake it off, shake it off.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: J. Dead] #2949805 09/24/18 04:24 PM
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eye C watt U did their...

Cheers, Mike.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Delaware Dave] #2949849 09/24/18 06:57 PM
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Technique, sound choices, and timing/phrasing. How they interact in the band setting (not overplaying, etc), and listening to their playing styles. Listening for any ideas or improvements that might be useful to me too. smile



And, unintentionally, listening for wrong notes, when I might not even be able to play it.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: stoken6] #2949859 09/24/18 07:29 PM
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Positive:,If I am listening to some of the younger players, I am quite interested in their newer concepts and approaches.

Negative: Sometimes, what goes through my mind first me are the annoyances. For example, I attended a concert on Friday where the touring headliner hired a local keyboard player (who is a very fine musician) to augment the touring three piece. The headliner is a great guitar player and singer, but he played as if there was no fourth player. He filled all of the air with busy rhythms, leaving so little space for the keyboards that I usually could not tell if the keyboard player was using a piano, organ, or synth patch. What wanted to hear was musicians listening more and then adapting playing ranges, rhythms and tones. (Of course, the sound guy had a part to play too.)

On video, I do feel uncomfortable watching You Tube performances where players use awkward fingerings. Not that I claim to be a chops monster, and I know that different fingerings work for different people, but obvious inefficiencies are distracting. I'd rather listen without watching.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Piktor] #2949991 09/25/18 01:49 PM
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I hear you. That's when it's a pain the ass. Especially when you have been trained a certain way. It's true different fingerings work for different people but when its blatantly wrong it is distracting. I am not usually impressed with younger guys unless it's like guys in Latin or Jazz genre's. Some of those guys are just freaks of nature.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Outkaster] #2949998 09/25/18 02:28 PM
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I never watch the hands. I listen to what they are playing. How it fits with the rest of the band or how they compliment the song. Its one reasons why I personally prefer people who do 'their' version of a song if its a cover. I get the 'tribute band' thing and respect it, but I would rather hear something I haven't heard before or a novel take on a familiar tune. A few years ago I watched an outdoor concert with Peter Frampton playing and what I liked about the performance was how he worked with the keyboardist. They were playing off each other, they were also playing stuff from 'Finger Prints' and didn't focus on covering old hits. You could also hear every instrument clearly. I enjoyed the keyboard player as much as I did Frampton. I don't remember his name but I remember the concert well. I listen to many of the local bands when I'm not playing and nothing I hate worse than a poor mix. The last band I heard after 6 ft from the stage all you could hear was the drums. I mentioned it to the owner and she said "Your not the only one", she was obviously annoyed too.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Toano88] #2950017 09/25/18 03:58 PM
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I listen for anything advanced or artistic in a player....even if I feel I have this or that that I have mastered beyond them (for keyboards) because I have found even though the sum of where your at may be more advanced in the whole there is usually a part of any other person that has just naturally covered certain ground you have not and in that one or two or many ways there is something to be learned from them, of course style/genre comes into play here and also in regard to my 'advanced' comment..

Just based on mathematics and soul , your gonna learn and enjoy something as long as the player or vocalist has something going on and is seasoned to a reasonable degree..I find often times there is at least something

I try to stay there with it all, even listening to the more advanced players...I try to let it pour over me and take it in and enjoy the experience. But I usually also try to understand a bit what's going on listening to someone more advanced than myself but not obsess! Just a bit..and try to walk away with something from the experience to try, or remember or investigate for myself later after the experience..

because feelings of inadequacy and certain performance fears...are a phase everyone goes through and that phase can be unpleasant ...never work from fear....it's music for chrissake! They won't take you out in the back and shoot you regardless of what Elton John says!

I agree, watching hands can be deceiving....sometimes fingering and the way people play I still do check out but have learned also that's not always good....use your ears! Your hands/fingering are gonna be different regardless from the next person... I look much less than I used to, I can hear what's going on pretty much!

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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Legatoboy] #2950155 09/26/18 11:37 AM
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I love getting the rare opportunity to see another player's hands. Sometimes that's the missing link for me being able to get a groove or technique to sound right, particularly for close, complex chord voicings, or a complicated two-hand interdependent rhythmic pattern. Left hand bass, too -- how much of the groove is coming from the left hand on its own, and how much from interaction with the right hand pattern? Sometimes I can catch little ghost notes or percussive movements that are felt more than heard, and that helps me find a way to physically connect my hands to what I'm hearing in my head.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: samuelblupowitz] #2950163 09/26/18 12:44 PM
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"I suck", usually.

That's ok, I've been working on my singing to compensate and take a lot of pride in that smile Nothing I like more than our band getting to bust out some 3 part harmony, no tracks or gadgets.

Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: Stokely] #2950251 09/27/18 05:30 AM
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I basically try to see and understand not only their comping but also when the DON'T comp - this makes their comping even better.
And of course i tend to admire more and more player that solo creating memorable song-like phrases, not just Berkley patterns


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: yannis D] #2950253 09/27/18 05:50 AM
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Usually:

"I want to practice more to be like that guy."
"I could probably play that actually."
"His solo was so simple but it really worked."
"I wonder how he's getting that sound."
If it's organ stuff I'll listen out for technique and settings, that probably interests me the most.

Related to this, I used to have this thing where I would automatically assume every other player was better or more musical than me and that I wouldn't be able to play like anyone else I saw on stage, no matter the band or level of player. Took me years to realise that wasn't the case. I've done nothing but dep (sub) work this year and the comments from other band members ("We need to get our keyboard player to do what you do") has helped me realise I'm not as terrible as I think, which has allowed me to enjoy gigs, rather than spending all of my time comparing myself.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: N4dr0j] #2950284 09/27/18 12:53 PM
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First thing for me is -- what emotions are they invoking with their playing -- either solo or as part of the group? If the answer is "none", well, I won't be interested for long.

Next, I try to figure out which bits are contributing to that effect: tempo, phrasing, note density, inversions, timbres, etc.

Then I ask myself what would contribute even more to that emotion?

I've always evaluated my playing less on technical proficiency, more on able to get emotional engagement from my audience.


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Re: studying other players play, what goes through your mind? [Re: cphollis] #2950286 09/27/18 01:01 PM
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True cphollis, I have played a number of dates with Commander Cody and hung out with him...I asked myself the same question and came up with a similar answer because he has basically no technique...yet he puts his feeling and vibe
and riffs over very very well! So, there you go...he won't win a conservatory contest though but who cares, it's roots music...

Originally Posted By: cphollis
First thing for me is -- what emotions are they invoking with their playing -- either solo or as part of the group? If the answer is "none", well, I won't be interested for long.

Next, I try to figure out which bits are contributing to that effect: tempo, phrasing, note density, inversions, timbres, etc.

Then I ask myself what would contribute even more to that emotion?

I've always evaluated my playing less on technical proficiency, more on able to get emotional engagement from my audience.

Last edited by Legatoboy; 09/27/18 01:43 PM.

SP6, CP-50, FP-80, PX5-S, NE-5d61, XK-3, CX-3, Yamaha YUX Upright, '66 B3/Leslie 145/122
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