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Many sounds or few at live gigs....


Phil Aiken

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I used to do the whole 3-boards, full sonic palette routine. A few weeks ago I got to play at a wedding with some old friends of mine. I was flying in for the gig and only brought my laptop with Mainstage. I spent quite some time going through the setlist setting up patches for every song (I think overall we played 55 songs), with splits, layers, tweaked synth patches. But after the first rehearsal all that planning went out the window, because on the PA the difference between Ivory and an ESX24 piano sample was marginal. Then we discovered that the master keyboard had a bad key that only transmitted between 80-100% of maximum velocity, even if you played soft, which made acoustic piano patches sound very unbalanced. I ended up playing a Rhodes patch (EVP-88) and a B3 (EVB-3) on 90% of the songs, with a few Minimoog lines thrown in, even if the original had a different instrumentation. And had a blast - in a way it felt much more like my interpretation of the song than a feeble attempt at copying the record 1:1.
"You'll never be as good as you could have been, but you can always be better than you are." - MoKen
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I'm pretty much a "small sonic palette" guy, too. There's the occasional song in our set list that requires something more than acoustic piano, EP, and organ (e.g., the signature synth line in "Just What I Needed" by the Cars or the flute intro to the other song mentioned by Joe P above, "Can't You See"), but I can get through about 90% of our stuff using just piano, EP, and organ. And I'm totally fine with that.

 

BTW, this is one of the reasons that I've been so incredibly intrigued by the E3. I'm getting tired of lugging my S90ES in its flight case back and forth to band rehearsals (yes, we still rehearse), and the lightweight E3 in a soft gig bag sounds incredibly appealing (especially since my lower back is acting up again).

 

Noah

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Thanks Tom! :thu:

 

Arc Angels tonight, Rob't Cray tomorrow. Too bad I ain't playin'. :D

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I agree with the OP that responses to the present question can be largely genre-driven. I'm solidly in the multiple sound camp, but I play in a pop/rock/80s band and a classic rock band. I use all the meat and potatoes sounds in my Nord Stage and RP-X (pianos!), plus the numerous acoustic strings, brass, flutes, choirs, pads, etc., among my Trinity, D-550, and Motif ES Rack. The nice thing about the Stage is that it is so immediately tweakable, and now with the new upgrades, it finally has the MIDI controller functions for expanded applications. Best of both worlds!

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I'm also a less patches - more chops guy. I tend to concentrate on my playing rather than the sound i'm playing on. I only use sounds other than pianos/EPs/B3 when playing pop-which means when i'm getting paid enough.

 

I'd love to play with a funk/fusion band and using some synth lead sounds. I like soloing with them.

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One move "fewer patches, try to focus on playing" guy here. Obviously, it's a continuum, not an "either/or", and it depends on the band, the gig, the context. If you're an 80's cover band you can't get away with just piano & B3. Back in the '80s I gigged with ten keyboards - which turned into more choreography than actual playing. I'm sure many of you guys can relate your own stories as well.
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In spite of my original answer, I would really like to have a keyboard gig where the focus is on the playing, using traditional sounds. I'm just so busy writing/arranging/recording/practicing/gigging.

 

If I get more caught up this year, my goal is to start self-teaching Brasilian Jazz styles (and maybe enroll in the excellent Berkeley Jazz School).

 

Some of the parts I play are technically hard, but as timwat said, with 80's pop covers, a lot of the focus is on choreographing all the part-switching and finding the sounds. But that's entertainment. It's great when entertainment and art meet, but that's rare. :-)

 

It's all good though. Just wish I had the time to do both.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

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Yeah, Mark, I hear where you're coming from. Last weekend I sat in on a birthday party cum jam band thing with a VERY accomplished quintet. The other KB player was using Motif and M3, to come up with a whole army of different patches, vocoder, the works. I just brought my Kawai MP4 and stuck to piano, EP and clav. I had a ton of fun just laying down piano and EP most of the day - they liked what it did for the overall sound so much they've asked me to join as a 2nd KB player. I really dug not having to worry about brass patch to string pad to hard sync lead to....just dig into the tune and listen where to lay out.
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I'm enjoying using just my NE2 with a blues/rock outfit. The CP70 sample is my go-to piano.

That said I also enjoyed using a wider variety of sounds from a Kurz ME1 module in a Tina Turner Showband, (until I finally accepted that 'Tina' just wasn't that good a singer to pull of such a tribute).

Ah...back to the simplicity of the Electro.

But solutions are genre driven, as noted by others.

"I'm well acquainted with the touch of a velvet hand..."
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Greetings from Brazil :)

 

Another NE2 user, here, thrilled with the simplicity of the little red machine. Hammond, Rhodes, Wurly, Clav... If I need to expand my sonic pallete, just add some effects, preferably some unusual ones, like ring modulator, turning the amount knob on a rhodes sound... I was astonished how little things like that can push the songs to the psychedelic side of the force hehehe

 

If I feel I need some more sonic power, I bring along my Tokai TX-5 clonewheel and voilá. Yes, it´s another organ, but it turns my rig into a multi-timbral one.

 

So, I guess I´m on the "less sounds" team. :)

My drawbars go to eleven.

Gear: Roland VR-09, Nord Electro 2 61, Korg CX-3. Hear my music: facebook.com/smokestoneband

 

 

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I use piano mostly, and some, not very much, electric piano [rhodes, wurli, cp70 - Kurz w/ classic keys board]. I use an Electro2-61 as a b3 emulation. If I have unlimited roadys and stage room, I bring my classic xk-system and two Motion Sound amps {pro145 and pro3x - with my own little home-engineered keyboard PA]. I like the Electro2 because it's simple and sounds good.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Not to mention the expression pedal doubling as wah. From Winwood Town to Steviewonderland in just one button.

 

Guess your creativity is much more important to expand your sounds than the number of presets used ;)

My drawbars go to eleven.

Gear: Roland VR-09, Nord Electro 2 61, Korg CX-3. Hear my music: facebook.com/smokestoneband

 

 

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I'm also a less patches - more chops guy.

 

Now wait just a sec. Who said anything about chops? I thought we were only talking about sounds?

 

Is there a category for "fewer sounds and skills-that-can't-even-be-categorized-as-chops"? If so, that's me! :thu:;)

 

Noah

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I'm also a less patches - more chops guy.

 

Now wait just a sec. Who said anything about chops? I thought we were only talking about sounds?

 

Is there a category for "fewer sounds and skills-that-can't-even-be-categorized-as-chops"? If so, that's me! :thu:;)

 

Noah

 

I just wanted to say that i'm not that much interested in a wide sonic palette, because i want to spend my time on my playing rather than programming. Isn't "chops" a general term for the way you play ? :)

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I agree with the OP that responses to the present question can be largely genre-driven. I'm solidly in the multiple sound camp, but I play in a pop/rock/80s band and a classic rock band....

 

That's pretty much where I'm at too. The material I play means I need to cover a pretty wide spectrum of sounds.

 

I think there's an underlying question in this discussion regarding how you go about how much time gets spent on developing the sound palette vs actually playing.

 

In this respect - I spend virtually zero energy doing what I would consider to be real programming. All my boards are ROMplers and I'm basically a preset jockey. I do very little (if any!) tweaking of voice settings - but I do find that I'm taking the time to find what I feel are the best voices available to me (i.e., from the preset voices on my various instruments).

 

It seems to be a good balance in terms of variety in my sonic palette vs actually playing.

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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When sittin in with friends I use an Electro and a NordLead. Small, easy to setup and plenty of sounds.

 

For my band, it's largely about playing the songs with the sounds used in the studio, so it's the big rig in that case.

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I try to keep it simple on stage, too. Piano, Rhodes, Wurli, and B-3. Maybe throw a string pad underneath, at times. I was always a sucker for good arrangements, anyway. Besides, I get a kick out of playing "Smooth" without a guitar patch in sight. Do the solos with a little montuno piano and blow 'em away!
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It depends. When I play second keys in my band, I run the gamut from Rhodes to organ to strings, pads, lead etc., sometimes within the same song, so it's a full sonic palette and I dig into the board and use as many splits and layers as called for. I typically use anywhere from one up to three boards but if it is just a jam session or shed, I usually stick to comping on a Rhodes or Wurly patch, if not the real thing when available.

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

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My band does a fair amount of originals and for them I try to recreate the music to sound like the CDs as much as possible so the audience can hear them as intended (as they most likely hadn't heard them before!) So for those songs I'm doing the synth pads, leads and such along with the piano and occasionalorgan. I use two boards for this and have some custom synth programs to help me do things live in terms of controllers (adding delay, filter changes, etc.)

 

The covers we do however tend to be more basic piano/organ things with an occasional guitar/brass/string/synth thrown in. But mostly piano with perhaps a pad behind it.

 

So it's a nice balance of both, really. I do long for a gig where I'd just play one board with mostly piano sounds but then I'd miss the synth stuff. I go back and forth which drives me nuts.

"The devil take the poets who dare to sing the pleasures of an artist's life." - Gottschalk

 

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Aethellis

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Depends on the gig. Usually it's pre-programmed.

 

Currently I am working a set list with a drummer. We both have other more complex (pre-programmed) gigs but this will be casual venues for fun. We've just started rehearsing and may add a third player ... or not.

 

I've been playing left hand bass and right hand piano/rhodes and occasionally something else layered or velocity switched. I'll trigger some occasional loops and whatnot for atmosphere, but it's mostly its about playing. I'd forgotten yow much fun it is just to be in the moment.

 

Jerry

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The trickiest part is playing "between" the notes -- especially on slow tunes, where I refuse to use backing tracks and thus have to cover left-hand bass plus enough other parts that the song isn't "naked".

 

I still refuse to do patch-switching during songs, so set up a split for the song. It then becomes a bit of choreography and hard practice, to find ways to deftly slip in a third part with the right hand between the notes of the main parts I am covering -- sometimes by only enabling one part for the sustain pedal so that I can just briefly hit the notes or chord and then play the other part in between those "triggers".

 

It's gotten me to understand better how a one-man-band would perform. :-)

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Only basics: piano and rhodes (DP, since I'm too lazy to carry the real thing) and clonewheel. That feels natural to me, and I always felt like it's more important to have good chops than to have 537 different pad/string/lead/whatever sounds.
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The trickiest part is playing "between" the notes -- especially on slow tunes, where I refuse to use backing tracks and thus have to cover left-hand bass plus enough other parts that the song isn't "naked".

 

I still refuse to do patch-switching during songs, so set up a split for the song. It then becomes a bit of choreography and hard practice, to find ways to deftly slip in a third part with the right hand between the notes of the main parts I am covering -- sometimes by only enabling one part for the sustain pedal so that I can just briefly hit the notes or chord and then play the other part in between those "triggers".

 

It's gotten me to understand better how a one-man-band would perform. :-)

 

Nice way of describing the constraints. :thu:

 

The "ghost notes" are where it's at for a small group isn't it? I've tried all the usual multi-timbral stuff in a small group, and I've come to the conclusion (for me, in OMB or two piece) that multi- timbral capacity is primarily for dramatic contrast. (B3 in the chorus = BIG. No B3 in the verse = small). My attempt to use multi-timbrality to fill out a mix on the other hand ...

 

- layered pads in the tenor range

- b3 swells behind a piano, even

- tempo delays for the comping instrument (uggh)

 

... only result in strapping me into a machine that has it's own peculiar mind. embarrassing sustained pad notes, tempo delay repeats in the wrong chord, etc. Everyone's experience may be different on this, but I think that in an intimate environment ... if you have to choose ... it's more important to express yourself than to precisely choreograph and nail the song. Still, the occasional "machine-driven" song can create a climax to a more intimate set.

 

This is where I think the modeled pianos in the synth workstation will help with the dynamic range just as it has done for single line horns with implementations like Yamaha's VL.

 

Jerry

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I gig with only my Electro, so that's where I'm at. I love the simplicity and limitations of this thing. I was to add something instrumentally, it'd be a monosynth or something similar.

 

My fellow pianists/keyboarders and I always seem to shake our heads at people piano/string or piano/organ combinations, but that's mostly because these people set up their Tyros 3's, look up some super cheesy sound combination and occasionally hit the play button, accompanying folk dancing and such. As jazz musicians, we don't really see the point. But once again, that's genre :)

When in doubt, superimpose pentatonics.
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I think it depends on the music you are doing and the goal of the band, and how you approach your roll as keyboardist. Signature sounds used in a song were always important to me and my approach was always more of a synthesist/orchestrator than that of a two fisted piano player. Basic sounds work well in country, blues and jazz. If you are going to cover pop music you need more.
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Make sure choice KB has orchestra hits. Otherwise, covering "Owner of a Lonely Heart" is out of the question. :laugh::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I already chimed in, but I've got more thoughts after this last weekend with the Reggae and Funk originals band.

 

In the past I have definitely had the problem of too many sounds on too many boards got in the way of actual playing. Presently, though, I've pretty much got that worked out. My 4-synth rig doesn't keep me from playing at all.

 

In front of me are my playing boards, the NE3 and the Poly Evolver. I really only use 3 patches on the Evolver, and 90% of the time just one patch.

 

To my right are my weird sounds, on a Fantom and a Microkorg. Swells, sparkles, mangled samples, frogs, the mothership, dub effects, lots of trippy stuff.

 

I am really in love with this setup, and having the E3 at its core means I can ignore all that other stuff if I want and just play.

 

 

For jazz I just bring a Rhodes, maybe with the E3 on top.

 

For the Motown cover band, just the E3.

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quote by Rapid:

 

I think it depends on the music you are doing and the goal of the band, and how you approach your roll as keyboardist.

 

I agree with this statement 100%. As a OMB, I sing every song, and have a Digitech Vocalist for harmonies. Just about every song has some harmony parts in it. I mix "live" and adjust the amount of digital delay/reverb on the vocals. Typically, once a harmony part is adjusted correctly, its good for the rest of the song. I concentrate on my vocals, overall volume, and the mix of my PA while I'm playing so I don't get too tricky with program changes, splits, whatever. I usually have one or two sounds setup in my sequencer banks and switch between those sounds, and also use my Alesis ION for leads, string parts, and sound effects. Primarily acoustic piano, a lot of Wurly because it blends well with guitar heavy songs without overpowering the signature guitar parts, Rhodes, organ sounds. I usually leave the more complex parts to my sequencer, although its fun to take off on some piano solos on several songs, just to keep me on my toes.

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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Basic sounds work well in country, blues and jazz. If you are going to cover pop music you need more.

 

That's a nice summary Robert. I occasionally play with some classic rock guys for whom a string pad (think Wish You Were Here) is exotic! Working within those constraints I have to remind myself that I set out to push my personal musical boundaries several decades ago. I think Erik Satie and Bela Fleck are connected, and these guys wouldn't know who they are.

 

Yet excellent musicians will push the constrains of the milieu they are in. They might add harmonic language, a little timbral variety, they may experiment with form, they will attempt to communicate across cultures ... and they will do it tastefully. If we musicians can't communicate across cultures ...who can?

 

Jerry

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