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The forgetten instrument?


SMcD

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I'm sure I'm not the only person here who's noticed a dwindling interest in keyboards in the public. It's especially noticeable in the younger generation (MY generation :whistle: ), where lots of kids are learning about music exclusively from Guitar Hero and MTV.

 

Yesterday, I was at a party, and I told somebody I'd just met that I was in a band. Upon her finding out that I play keyboard, her response was (Honest to God); "This isn't the 80's!"

 

It seems that the numbers reflect the drop in keyboard popularity, too. Out of all the kids in my area, I'm literally the only keyboard player I know (However, I know a great deal of piano players-I mean the only rock keyboardist), and yet at least half the people I know (think they) can play guitar.

 

Is this happening elsewhere too? Have you fellow ivory-tinklers noticed that we're something of a dying breed? If you have stories that reflect our decreasing popularity, share them here.

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....Have you fellow ivory-tinklers noticed that we're something of a dying breed?....

Not sure if our scarcity is any more prevalent now. Seems like we've always been the forgotten ugly red-headed stepchild. However, most of us seem to be working! :thu:

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

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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The older you get, the more work you'll get as a keyboard player.

Interesting thought. Why do you say this?

 

I think that as we grow, we open up to more experiences and increase our vocabularies. (As musicians, anyway :) As they say, change is inevitable, growth is optional.) Anyway, that type of expanding attitude tends to lead to more opportunities in more varied areas.

 

Of course, it might also be that we just get less picky about what we'll do once kids and houses enter the picture :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It's not an attitude among musicians that I'm talking about, although I do agree with Mike's insight. I'm talking about the prevalent attitude towards keyboards in the unwashed masses of non-musos, particularly those my age. Among this sort of person, it's more about how cool you look with the instrument than what's coming out of it.

 

A perfect example: Last June, my band did a free gig at a local street festival. Over the course of our setlist, I ripped out a killer intro (Complete with a quote from Lazy), leading into Green Onions. I played a rockin' solo on an Offsrping tune, and I'd like to think it was an overall solid show in terms of playing.

Now, about a month before, I'd started this tradition at gigs where I'd pick up my keyboard (Like a keytar) for a few minutes during the setlist, just for sh*ts and giggles. Of course, I carried this tradition over to the June gig, because it's fun and people get a kick out of it.

 

After the gig, in-between cleaning up, I was talking to some people behind the stage. The first piece of feedback I got?

"I liked the part where you picked up your keyboard"

 

At the show with the Deep Purple intro

And Green Onions.

And the killer solos.

The most important thing was the part where I picked up the keyboard.

 

JUST LIKE A GUITAR. :freak:

 

Just goes to show ya... :rawk:

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After the gig, in-between cleaning up, I was talking to some people behind the stage? The first piece of feedback I got?

"I liked the part where you picked up your keyboard"

 

At the show with the Deep Purple intro

And Green Onions.

And the killer solos.

The most important thing was the part where I picked up the keyboard.

 

JUST LIKE A GUITAR. :freak:

 

not to be insulting, but I learned this lesson one month into my rock career, in 1970.

"The Doomer allows the player to do things beyond which are possible without the accessory."
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The first piece of feedback I got?

"I liked the part where you picked up your keyboard"

 

At the show with the Deep Purple intro

And Green Onions.

And the killer solos.

The most important thing was the part where I picked up the keyboard.

 

JUST LIKE A GUITAR. :freak:

 

Sounds like you need a keytar, bro! :D

 

Actually, you were just born too late. ;) Keyboards were actually fashionable for about 15 minutes back in the `80s. But since then we're mostly just supportive sidemen, heard but rarely seen. In pop/rock music, anyway...

 

I guess that's one of the perks of being an old fart like me and playing in a jazz band - I no longer need to concern myself with looking cool to the kids. Being cool now means sounding good and playing well. That's one reason to look forward to getting older! :cool:

><>

Steve

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The crowd doesn't care about keys; never has. Don't get your expectations out of whack. Our task and slot is to be the chief musician; the professor. All our energies and talent go directly into the song. Nobody cares about the music as much as we do. We are cult-members of the groove. All this is lost on the audience who may notice the song sounds good.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Several thoughts to consider:

 

I think the audience listens with their eyes. The audience gets hooked into seeing a show, rather than just hearing music. Performance for them is theater. Guitarists and bass players have the ability to move around a stage and create theater in addition to playing. Drummers are often very physical when they play--they move. Keyboardists typically are often positioned behind a tier of instruments, often sitting. Playing piano typically requires one to stay in front of the keyboard, not moving around much. We look more like a "teckie" or "board op.".

 

In the 70's Edgar Winter attempted to enhance his showmanship by separating the controller of his ARP 2600 from its "brain" by a long cable. It worked to a point. (He also put that synthesizer through a guitar amp so it would sound like a lead guitar.) He tried to create that same energy and theater while taking a solo. I'll bet he wished he had a Ketar version of the ARP 2600 back then.

 

Keyboardists are also expected to cover a multitude of other instruments, including horn sections, whereas the guitarist and sax player are expected to play their respective instruments, and primarily to take the lead solos.

 

How many guitarists can you think of that have a really visceral, animal-like persona? How many keyboardists can you think of that have that same kind of show?

 

 

There has always been a scarcity of keyboard players in my region. Cost of expensive keyboards was also a big hurdle. So was the effort to haul around "Rick Wakeman-esque" sets of keyboards. "Two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals" was a lot easier to haul around and set up / tear down. I think this is still the case, although not as pronounced.

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KBs will never be totally forgotten. They are sophisticated instruments. Takes hip folks to recognize and appreciate them too.

 

KBs are actually the "coolest" instruments. Often times, the muso playing it does the greatest disservice. In addition to talent, there has to be personality, showmanship and swagger in the cockpit.

 

While KB players will always be in the minority, folks will be drawn to ivory, drawbars, tines, reeds, pickups, samples, oscillators, etc.

 

Certain styles of music and provide better opportunities. Overall, more KB players need to be bandleaders too. That will raise awareness. :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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There's seems to be less younger keyboardists/pianists around these days. I'm referring more to live music, not the guy with a 36 key midi-computer interface board in his bedroom.

 

Let's just say the ones who grew up with a piano in the house, took lessons-can maybe play a Bach invention or two or at least have some reading ability and improv skills.

 

Are there less of those guys around?

"Music should never be harmless."

 

Robbie Robertson

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I don't know Edgar, :( until the government decides to have a tickable box in the census which asks "can you solo over a 12-bar on a keyboard instrument" we're not going to get hard empirical data.

 

But, at the Sydney conservatory, there are plenty of killer young pianists who play jazz and funk.

 

Re stage presence: People will take notice if you're really enjoying yourself, moving your head... if not just start moving your hands really fast or just constantly do palm glisses!

 

Because we're behind a stationary instrument (or if you're playing a Hammond B3 a piece of furniture ;)) we gotta work extra hard to get noticed.

 

I have a stomp box which gives me some extra volume when I solo, that usually helps people realise "Oh, there's a keyboard solo going on".

Nord Electro 3 -73 || Korg CX-3

 

 

 

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I think the audience listens with their eyes. The audience gets hooked into seeing a show, rather than just hearing music. Performance for them is theater. Guitarists and bass players have the ability to move around a stage and create theater in addition to playing.

 

Bingo. In public speaking circles a statistic that has been troubling many is the high percentage of the message that is transmitted with the body. You can control the environment (i.e. a concert hall) where you "require" less message from the body in high culture ... but as long as everyday people are in an everyday mindset ... body language is a big part of your musical message.

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You know which instrument is really forgotten? Tuba. Or a mandolin. Or a clarinet.

 

There's plenty of keyboards in modern music. The average 13-year old might not realize that, but Justin Timberlake records don't have any guitars on them.

 

There are many modern keyboard based bands - Coldplay, Keane, Maroon 5, Muse. Damn, Dream Theater just hit #6 in charts!

 

Keyboards aren't going anywhere. No modern music genre is possible without keys. Electronica, hip-hop, pop, soft rock, hard rock, heavy metal - all have to have keyboards.

 

 

Now, what do I do to get appreciation of actual musical benefit I produce? Showmanship.

 

It's been said - guitar players, drummers, singers - look cool. Most KB players standing/sitting behind their three-tier stacks, not moving much. Our instruments look like an electronic equipment more than anything else. Well, here you go - KB is considered a backing instrument, operated by some nerd who doesn't really belong to the band.

 

How do I deal with it?

 

http://www.metalist.co.il/Images/Galleries/2009_02_27_DraconianIsrael/Big/A-Desert%20(18).jpg

 

http://www.metalist.co.il/Images/Galleries/2009_02_27_DraconianIsrael/Big/A-Desert%20(35).jpg

 

http://www.metalist.co.il/Images/Galleries/2009_02_27_DraconianIsrael/Big/A-Desert%20(32).jpg

 

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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I think the audience listens with their eyes. The audience gets hooked into seeing a show, rather than just hearing music. Performance for them is theater. Guitarists and bass players have the ability to move around a stage and create theater in addition to playing.

 

Bingo. In public speaking circles a statistic that has been troubling many is the high percentage of the message that is transmitted with the body. You can control the environment (i.e. a concert hall) where you "require" less message from the body in high culture ... but as long as everyday people are in an everyday mindset ... body language is a big part of your musical message.

 

+100

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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Well, we have always been cool right? I think however that in popular music the coolness factor for keys has increased a lot since the 1990s which seemed to be a low point when the two guitars, bass and drums bands got all the air time, or so it seemed to me. Where was the extended chord harmonic movement in that? :grin:

"It is a danger to create something and risk rejection. It is a greater danger to create nothing and allow mediocrity to rule."

"You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at." W.H. Auden

 

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Look at classical music. The ratio betwen keyboard players and others is huge. In Baroque music, the keyboard just lays down a continuo part.

 

And back then for popular music, you sometimes heard a small hand pumped organ but even that would only have tended to be heard in upper class houses. Most of it was done on instruments you could walk with.

 

There may have been golden period because pianos were everywhere but that was before they electrified the guitar. An acoustic piano cannot compete against that. The reason they were everywhere is because they were loud. You could play dance music for a crowd on a piano - you cannot do that on an acoustic guitar. (perhaps on a National)

 

I really think that the technology we have today tilts the stage back towards the keyboard. This is a fairly new situation - certainly its no more than a decade old and I would suggest a lot less. When they did the first Pirates movie they had to put together a cluster to render the music and had to pioneer some of the technology. Now I think you could do that on any up-to-date computer. The natural interface to a computer for this work is a keyboard. (and I mean a musical one, not an alphanumeric one)

 

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Yesterday, I was at a party, and I told somebody I'd just met that I was in a band. Upon her finding out that I play keyboard, her response was (Honest to God); "This isn't the 80's!"

 

That has to be the most tactless remark!

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Look at classical music. The ratio betwen keyboard players and others is huge. In Baroque music, the keyboard just lays down a continuo part.

 

Yea, but the keyboard player more than likely wrote the piece, orchestrated the parts, did the contracting and conducted as well.

 

 

 

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Certain styles of music and provide better opportunities. Overall, more KB players need to be bandleaders too. That will raise awareness. :cool:

 

Oh, what a world it would be... Sometimes (Not all the time, mind you) ego wins over common sense and skill.

 

Maybe it's just where I'm from, but the "2 guitars, bass, and drums" format is still the "golden" standard. It took a long time for me to get proper respect from my bandmates (In the early days, I was expected to play only the "Guitar 2" part). They weren't used to the idea of a keyboardist either.

 

I might be coming from a different place, though. Kids my age see synths as techno garbage, pianos as the evil pieces of furniture they were forced to play all throughout elementary school, and organs as the "double-pianos" in church. People's ignorance is baffling sometimes.

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We're talking about rock music, right? Guitar players will always dominate rock. From the time a guitar player picks up his intrument it is almost certain that he will be preparing to play rock. Keyboardists often times start off at a very young age learning musicianship skills and "classical" music. By the time a typical keyboardist reaches the teenage years when his peers are starting rock bands, the keyboard player is a much better musician than the begining guitar player. True, the teenage keyboardist probably doesn't have rock skills but at least he has good musicianship skills while his guitar playing peers are total hacks. So a begining rock band often times isn't the most appealing place for a young keyboardist. A teenage keyboardist with ten plus years of "classical" instruction that wants to start playing in ensembles has alot more opptions than playing in a rock band, so he may opt to play in a jazz band, church group or musical theater. Generally the level of musicianship and discipline will be better in such groups which will be more appealing to a keyboardist than playing in someones garage with out of tune guitars and no direction.

 

In short I think there are plenty of young people playing keyboards but they just have many more opptions than playing in a rock band.

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We're talking about rock music, right? Guitar players will always dominate rock. From the time a guitar player picks up his intrument it is almost certain that he will be preparing to play rock. Keyboardists often times start off at a very young age learning musicianship skills and "classical" music. By the time a typical keyboardist reaches the teenage years when his peers are starting rock bands, the keyboard player is a much better musician than the begining guitar player. True, the teenage keyboardist probably doesn't have rock skills but at least he has good musicianship skills while his guitar playing peers are total hacks. So a begining rock band often times isn't the most appealing place for a young keyboardist. A teenage keyboardist with ten plus years of "classical" instruction that wants to start playing in ensembles has alot more opptions than playing in a rock band, so he may opt to play in a jazz band, church group or musical theater. Generally the level of musicianship and discipline will be better in such groups which will be more appealing to a keyboardist than playing in someones garage with out of tune guitars and no direction.

 

In short I think there are plenty of young people playing keyboards but they just have many more opptions than playing in a rock band.

 

Very true.

 

There is a universe of difference between the two.

A young kid who can read, has some Classical chops, and play a little Jazz I would think would have little musical use for the "Rock band scene", other than maybe a peer thing and later on a money thing.

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

 

2005 NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

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Very true.

 

There is a universe of difference between the two.

A young kid who can read, has some Classical chops, and play a little Jazz I would think would have little musical use for the "Rock band scene", other than maybe a peer thing and later on a money thing.

 

Well, that's not entirely true, I don't think. Rock music is undeniably fun to play, and can be made an art form with the right person (Lord, Emerson, etc.) Just because the people you're playing with don't possess the same technical prowess as you doesn't mean you can't still have it.

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