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OK Got Two Hands and Three Keyboards and Can't Make It Work


Mad_Maestro

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Hi all:

 

I've had three keyboards for about two years now and still haven't developed my multi board chops.

 

Either the part I want to play is with my right hand but the other keyboards already got that one, there in the wrong position, or it feels awkward. The best thing I can think to do is just play multiple boards no matter how simple I have to make the parts just so I can get used to the weird positioning. Am I the only one that goes through this.

 

I have no problem playing piano style left hand right hand for the most part and wind up playing each keyboard as if it was a stand alone board for a sound change.

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Can you play without looking at your hands? If not, there's your problem, since you can't look at two boards at the same time, unless you've got a lazy eye. :freak:

 

It's not uncommon. Because of the positioning of the instrument right in front of the player, piano players and keyboardists often get used to watching their hands while they play, and it becomes a crutch. The solution: practice playing in the dark or with your eyes closed.

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For 2 handed playing the most versatile arrangement is stacked vertically in front of you. That's usually easy to do with 2 boards and harder with 3.

 

But at least that way you can reach any board with either hand.

 

Also, you will have an easier time reaching everything if you stand when you gig.

Moe

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"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

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I only play with 2 boards, but I do a lot of splits on each. It's pretty common for me to have up to 5 zones total on the 2 keyboards. I got so used to it that when I changed keyboard stands and the tier height adjustment was a little different, it screwed me up for a while. You get to know how long it takes your hand to get from one keyboard to the other and that timing plays into the song timing.

 

Out of curiosity, why do you need 3? Can you do it with 2?

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Or can you do with one keyboard......

 

I usually play most of the sounds from one board and adding the other boards dedicated for special sounds like hammond or moog. I also started to sit in an L formation at some gigs instead of stacking....

 

On most synts you can have a pedal changing the sounds for you so you don't have to swich boards at all to get you're different sounds, multiple splits and well programmed synth is all you need.

 

I mostly go with a nord stage with some splitting for playing these days, sometimes adding a motif for strings or a moog little phatty for solo sounds. Before I used a kurz 2600r(the best midiimplementation and controller ever you could setup a pedal for activating drones or samples!) with a weighted controller and a nord electro..... Many setups there were.....

 

Don't make things to complicated, better play one sound right than thousands of sounds in the wrong way :)

 

/fredrik

 

 

 

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Either the part I want to play is with my right hand but the other keyboards already got that one, there in the wrong position, or it feels awkward.

 

Program, program, program. Don't be afraid to move sounds from their 'natural' position on the keyboard. I do a LOT of splits and zones, and quite often the most ergonomic solution isn't the first musical soultion you'd come to think of. I use a lot of zone on/off-switching, I use two volume and two sustain pedals and velocity zoning. I can get by with only one keyboard (PC3) and a rack, but it takes a lot of preparation time.

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Somehow this thread reminds me of Victor Borge's lament regarding three pedals on a grand piano ... Who do they think I am?

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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on stacked boards, make sure that they are lined up (ie middle C's are directly above/under each other). When switching boards at angles to each other, switch eyes 1st- look at where your hands are going to go before moving.

 

On quick changes, you may need to "practice" the move. Years ago patrick Moraz talked about this & referred to it as choreography. Kinda makes sense.

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I only play two boards but I use the Roland VK8m on the upper keyboard with a volume pedal. I get my B3 organ when I need it and strings and horns either blended with it or alone from the upper keyboard. It's like having 3 boards in 2.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

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I play two boards, but with two external modules and Daisy Chain them on MIDI so I can do setups/splits with my 88-key Kurz when necessary. You can get creative with MIDI channels and generally set stuff up so you're not having to reach behind your back like Paul Shaffer.

Drawback is that the Kurz only has room for 32 user-setups and my band has a repertoire of over 120 tunes. Luckily, there're a lot of common setups.

 

My chain goes like this: Kurz -> SO3 -> OB-3 -> NanoSynth.

I've been told that going more than two or three on a daisy chain is to invite MIDI errors/stuck notes, etc. but I've never had a problem.

At any rate, in this way I do the majority of my playing on the Kurz, and use the upper keyboard when more than two or three sounds are necessary. The Kurz can play any of the next three, the Yam can play itself, the OB-3, and the Nanosynth.

Lots of programming to do, but unless you have roadies and very large stages, you have to economize your footprint on the stage and get the biggest bang for what you're carrying.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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I am beginning to use one board as a tone source and midi controller (memories of the 80s & 90s) for precisely this reason.

 

If keyboards could be placed closer together (like pipe organ manuals) without adding a huge footprint, it would increase the orchestral potential of the keyboardist significantly.

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Great tips from everyone. I use 2 boards (Hammond XK-3c & Roland RD-200sx) all the time & add a 3rd (Korg MS-2000) occasionally. It's surprising how many of these I already use. One tip not mentioned is to take advantage of your strongest hand. Since I'm very right handed my right hand is my strongest. If I'm playing a piano sound & the Hammond at the same time, the right hand goes to the piano & the left hand goes to the Hammond. This allows nice easy chording with my left on the Hammond & lets my right hand play piano type things. If you are supposed to play a melodic line, like a horn line, let your strongest hand take care of it & allow your weaker hand to chord a simple part.

 

I don't get into splits or midi hookups, etc. I used to but it was too much work & inevitably I would not have enough notes, I'd muff or forget to do the patch change, or after doing the programming & playing the song for a month, it gets dropped due to poor response from the audience.

 

As Bill Clinton said, "I feel your pain."

Steve

 

www.seagullphotodesign.com

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I use three, sometimes four keyboards. I'm trying, without much success, to condense it to two.

 

I don't do splits, or complicated midi setups. I'd like to, but so far it's been too fussy, complicated, and takes too much work to make it function in my unpredictable musical setting.

 

I use the octave shift buttons a lot! I guess that's the only tip I have to offer. I play lots of reggae, so I have a lot of repetitive parts, and if they aren't ergonomical it really sucks.

 

I just switched to a 3-tier stand-- I think it's going to be much better, ergonomically, though it makes an imposing stack of keyboards onstage.

 

 

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I use to go to one keyboard (Nord Stage) mostly these days and if i need more there's an Edirol PCS 500/Apple Mainstage on the upper keyboard. No more three or four keyboards. No one can tell the difference, my set up time is restricted to some minutes and i give more and more importance to my playing instead of the knobs/buttons. I use more and more bread and butter sounds and I'm happy to be able to "play" just like the guitarist or the drummer. Even in bigger shows, where i have to cover more sounds, i do splits and layers in my xv2020 and Mainstage and i only use a 88 controller and my Edirol. Everything got to be right there in front of my hands...
Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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Back when I went multiple it was modules and not keyboards. I had a Voce module, a Roland module and a Kurzweil module. I used my Roland A80 and created my own set ups. I had a list printed out to quickly go from one set up to another but the thought of using multiple keyboards never entered my mind since I had a great midi controller.

 

The one suggestion to line up middle C's across all the keyboards makes excellent sense.

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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you will have an easier time reaching everything if you stand when you gig.

:thu:

 

I only play with 2 boards, but I do a lot of splits on each.

I usually play most of the sounds from one board and adding the other boards dedicated for special sounds like hammond or moog.

I'm right up the middle of these two....I almost always use two boards (one piano type action, one not). Typically, if there's splits needed, I use my lower board (PC3) for that. My upper board typically needs to be a Hammond, EP or clav for some gigs (in which case I take my Electro) or analog synth stuff (in which case I take my PEK).

 

If for some strange reason I needed all three, I'd probably take the PEK and MIDI it into the PC3 on a different MIDI channel (PC3 can always receive all 16 MIDI channels, even in program mode) and just use it to trigger the "bread and butter" sounds from the PC3.

 

dB

:snax:

 

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I remember those KB Magazine articles that made folks drool over a Geoff Downes set-up. :laugh:

 

While I recognize the convenience of multi-KB set-ups onstage, nowadays, I believe with higher polyphony and more onboard sounds, 1 or 2 KBs (weighted and unweighted) and a rack should suffice.

 

Decide which 1 or 2 KB(s) feel most comfortable to play. Program splits and layers according to the sounds required per song. Rack up additional sound sources.

 

More importantly, figure out the most essential parts of songs. Determine whether or not an alternative sound can be played for a particular part.

 

That will make better use of sounds, both hands, redistribute weight and/or reduce schlep too. :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 realize that this is a guitar player answer, but two hands and three keyboards? Sounds as if it is time to unzip... well, nevermind...

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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On quick changes, you may need to "practice" the move. Years ago patrick Moraz talked about this & referred to it as choreography. Kinda makes sense.

 

This is the way I've always viewed it.

 

I sometimes play 3 boards Hammond (dual manual) with a snyth on top and a piano to the right. I work out what hand has to be where to cover the parts and practice the moves.

 

Ron

 

SK2 /w Mini Vent / XK3 Pro System /w 142 Leslie, Roland D70, Korg SP250 B3 1959 (retired) , Porta B (retired), XB2 (retired)

 

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I have limited my keyboard arsenal to 2 boards, with the addition of a rack of goodies if necessary. I use either a Roland A90 or a Yamaha S90es, with a Hammond Suzuki XK1 on top. Even if playing just a piano/organ gig, I sometimes come up with the uncomfortable reach issue. Ill go against the grain here, and say that I do NOT line my keys up, but in fact, move my XK1 to the left so that I can more easily reach the top 2 octaves of my organ with the left hand, as Id rather play chordally with my left hand and riff with my right, than the other way around.

 

When using using my 88board to trigger my rack, I have 2 banks of go to sounds that show up zoned where they would be (Middle C is Middle C) were the spontaneous need for those to arise. But on songs I do with the band where parts are arranged, I dont hesitate to rezone sounds to different octaves on the keyboard for ease of reach and ergonomics.

 

For example, when my Pink Floyd tribute does Comfortably Numb, we do it as a medley with Any Colour You Like/Brain Damage/Eclipse. Comfortably Numb has the main body orchestral patch zoned down one octave, and ends on the G above Middle C. Above that I have a staccato string sound zoned for the arpeggiated strings on the there is no pain part, and that starts at the A above Middle C and goes up one octave and ends on C. And for the highest part of my keyboard, I have a short decayed twinkle sound that I play once in the song for the just a little pinprick. Organ I have zoned on my XK1 where it should be. Next song is Any Colour You Like, and for that I have the organ zoned an octave higher (the XK1 wont allow 2 octaves) for ease of use with my left hand (which is made even easier by the placement of the keyboard as left as possible on the keyboard stand), I have the main synthesizer sound zoned across my 88 appropriately down to the A below Middle C, I have the next octave and a half zoned for B4 organ sounds (transposed up 2 octaves) so I can play organ pads with my left hand under the solo, and I have a Taurus bass sound programmed on the bottom octave of the keyboard for the periodic punctuation. When I move to Brain Damage, the organ is played on the XK1, and the the fundamental root synth melody is played on the bottom 2 octaves on my 88, with the harmonized synth melody played on the 2 octaves above that, and I have a pedal steel guitar sound programmed for the upper octave: organ gets played with left hand, pedal steel with right hand, and the harmonized synth solos with both hands. After the synth solo, I hit the program change button and move into Eclipse, which starts with a roaring Hammond smear into the signature lick that precedes the All that you mantra that eventually ends that suite.

This took a little bit of work beforehand about 15 minutes once I had the sounds selected, but not much at all, and is well worth the aggravation saved.

 

Another great example is we do Rebel Yell by Billy Idol. I actually do the main guitar riff on synth guitar (originally was played with 2 handed tapping on electric guitar) which is programmed over 3+ octaves (with Middle C in the middle!), then the mallet/synth layer is played on the lower 2+ octaves of my keyboard, and the Jupiter synth sound is played on the upper 2 octaves of my keyboard. Everything is comfy in terms of reach, no cross handed nuttiness, and it lays perfectly.which is great if youre trying to sing over all this mayhem too!

 

You can certainly do your gig with 2 boards: use the editing features to make your life easier!

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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I play in a pretty keyboard-centric band, and I'm trying to pare back to 2 keyboards. I've been known to bring as many as 5 to a gig, but with implementation of the Mandatory Cape Law*, I'm trying to reduce it to 2, an 88-key controller and a 61 key controller. I play LH bass, so the lower end of the 88 is always bass, either hammond or synth. Upper part of the 88 is generally lower manual hammond, electric piano (rhodes or wurly sample) or clavinet. 61 is upper manual hammond, clav, or synth. All sounds for the 2 board setup come from a laptop, VB3 for hammond, Kontakt with Scarbee samples for EP, etc.

 

If I add a third board, it's my Minimoog off to my right. 4th board would be either Rhodes or Nord Lead, and the Nord was often triggering Clav samples. This band is very improvisational, and having more boards gave me more options in real time, without having to think about programming splits/layers/key ranges, etc. If I wanted to throw in a clav or Mini part, I could just reach over and play.

 

*Mandatory Cape Law: All keyboardists playing more than 4 keyboards at a gig must wear a cape, unless one keyboard is a mellotron. Then the keyboardist must wear a cape regardless of number.

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I gig in 2 different configurations. Small bread & butter gig where I bring my PC3x or full keyboard/synth rig where I add a Roland A-70 stacked on 2nd tier with a rack with a V-Synth XT, NE2 rack, TC Electronic M300 for effects and a line mixer.

 

When it comes to using multiple keyboards with a rack of modules, I am a firm believer in configuring it to work as one instrument as opposed to a bunch of different boards and modules used separately. For me that means I MUST be able to trigger any sound or combination of sounds from any source in my rig from any keyboard zone with the transposition of my choosing.

 

In my rig every single song gets it's own setup, because everysong demands different sounds and a different approach. Some songs call for RH piano riffing with LH organ or pad chording. Other songs call for LH piano comping with RH string or synth line. Some songs call for sample triggering in the lowest octave, piano in the middle zone for comping, brass stab with LH on 2nd tier, synth lead solo for RH of 2nd tier, etc. I have setups for certain songs which have 8-10 zones happening with all kinds of splits and many layer patches. BTW, layering from different keybaords or modules is a great trick to use for getting your keybaords to sound huge, almost like double tracking in the studio.

 

As far synchornizing all the parts and getting the ambidexterity necessary for playing independent parts simultaneously, here's a few guidleines:

 

-Definitely line up middle C's. This will make moving from 1 board to the next much quicker and easier.

 

-Pre-plan your splits, layers and transpositions when programing your setups. You have to figure out which parts are easier played with what hand. Don't be afraid to transpose a string line, for example, up multiple octaves to be able to trigger it comfortably with your left hand.

 

-For rhythmically challenging parts where the 2 hands have independent and syncopated parts, write out both parts on a score. This will make it much easier to see which notes fall together, which ones fall in between and where the beats are. Practice very slowly and feel the two parts independently. One of the hands has to become subliminal, and therefore only have to think about one part as you're playing. The other has to be on autopilot.

 

-Apply different velocity curves depending on the part and which hand if playing it. My LH has less dexterity than my RH so when playing fast lines with the LH I often set more flat velocity curve so that the notes are easier to play, and there is less variation in velocity levels.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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*Mandatory Cape Law: All keyboardists playing more than 4 keyboards at a gig must wear a cape, unless one keyboard is a mellotron. Then the keyboardist must wear a cape regardless of number.
:D:thu:

"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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Thanks for all the input. I do currently use a lot of zoning off of one keyboard, but it requires that you program your whole set list of songs your gonna play. Sometimes while trying to practice at home its hard to play the part and reach quick enough to the keyboard above to play the next part with a different sound and then flip back.

 

I'll continue to experiment and see what will work. I'm really happy though with all the feedback everyone has given.

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...better play one sound right than thousands of sounds in the wrong way :)

 

/fredrik

 

 

 

Indeed, Fredrik... Though I do play the majority of the time with two keyboards: Normally S90ES, bottom; XK-1 top + Receptor and XS rack as needed, with a J L Cooper Nexus tying it all together. Smaller rig of late has been PX-330, bottom; PCR-800, top - driving a MacBook (VB3, Logic Pro Instruments and FX...).

But... Over the summer I had several quick setup/teardown gigs where the S90ES was the ticket. Had a lot of fun setting up new layers/splits; got to know the 'board in a whole new way. Your quote fits that situation perfectly.

 

I dig the way Tony sets up his controllers to run his rack. I used to do similar things with a Digital Music MX-8 Programmable MIDI patchbay several years back. As soon as my Receptor returns, re-born as a Pro Max, I'm going to try setting up some S90ES 'Masters' with Receptor 'Multi's'. Credit Tony with the birth of that idea for my rig this time around: lots o' helpful tips for setting up Receptor Multi's a few weeks back.

 

 

 

 

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*Mandatory Cape Law: All keyboardists playing more than 4 keyboards at a gig must wear a cape, unless one keyboard is a mellotron. Then the keyboardist must wear a cape regardless of number.

 

The thought now ricocheting though my mind has more to do with the inverse proportion of the number of keyboards and the complexity of harmonies. :) (It would, of course, be stated generally.)

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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*Mandatory Cape Law: All keyboardists playing more than 4 keyboards at a gig must wear a cape, unless one keyboard is a mellotron. Then the keyboardist must wear a cape regardless of number.
:D:thu:

:thu: that was a good one

 

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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I find that limiting myself to one-two boards I am more focused on making music :)

/Fredrik

 

 

...better play one sound right than thousands of sounds in the wrong way :)

 

/fredrik

 

 

 

Indeed, Fredrik... Though I do play the majority of the time with two keyboards: Normally S90ES, bottom; XK-1 top + Receptor and XS rack as needed, with a J L Cooper Nexus tying it all together. Smaller rig of late has been PX-330, bottom; PCR-800, top - driving a MacBook (VB3, Logic Pro Instruments and FX...).

But... Over the summer I had several quick setup/teardown gigs where the S90ES was the ticket. Had a lot of fun setting up new layers/splits; got to know the 'board in a whole new way. Your quote fits that situation perfectly.

 

I dig the way Tony sets up his controllers to run his rack. I used to do similar things with a Digital Music MX-8 Programmable MIDI patchbay several years back. As soon as my Receptor returns, re-born as a Pro Max, I'm going to try setting up some S90ES 'Masters' with Receptor 'Multi's'. Credit Tony with the birth of that idea for my rig this time around: lots o' helpful tips for setting up Receptor Multi's a few weeks back.

 

 

 

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