Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Keyboard Seat in a GB Band


BbAltered

Recommended Posts

A buddy of mine has asked me if I was interested in taking over the seat of his 4 piece GB rock band. The band is guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards. They play oldies and 70s-80s vintage rock, and play mostly hi-profile corporate gigs (not strictly bars). They hope to play as close to the recorded version of the song as possible, and have a song list of over 100 songs. Most gigs are pretty lucrative ($100-$500/man). As explained by my friend, my duties will playing piano, organ, horn sections, strings sections, etc., and sing back-up parts. Basically, my friend says that anything that is not a guitar, bass, or drums will be my responsibility.

 

Of course a lucrative gig is interesting to me. But playing non-keyboard parts that no one else in the band wants to cover seems unattractive to me (and guitars, bass, and drums now all have access to midi and could do horn and string sections if there is a need for such). And of course, actually hiring horn and string players is too expensive, so the sole keyboard player gets that job at a fraction of the true cost.

 

It seems to me that if I am asked to function in the band as singer, keyboard player, horn player, and string section, I should get more money than someone who functions merely as guitarist and singer, or bassist and singer.

 

Part of my attitude is well, here is a challenge for my musical abilities and this is a good opportunity. A different attitude I have is that I have no interest in bending myself into musical pretzels to fulfill the needs of selfish and lazy guitarists.

 

Talk me down, Keyboard Forum members. What is the proper role of a keyboard player in a modern band? How can I best negotiate my role in such a setting? What should I be charging for my musical skills and wearing 4 or 5 hats when all the other musicians only need to cover their own instrument? Am I stupid to be complaining about the unequal roles of keys and guitars in a band?

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 68
  • Created
  • Last Reply
Here is an example of what they expect. They play songs from the Beatles Abbey Road album. The guitarist plays the Lennon part, the bassist plays the McCartney part, and the keyboard player plays the piano and organ and the George Martin orchestral parts (all of them I guess).

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Look at Paul McCartney's current band. Everyone plays their respective instrument and Wix Wickens covers everything else. Does he get paid more? I believe so as he is in charge of the arrangements given to him by Sir Paul. However, the situation you face has been around for quite awhile, decades, in fact. If you don't take the gig surely someone else will.
:nopity:
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's been my role in every and i've payed in - comes with the territory. I don't mind it, I like the challenge. I don't look at it as I'm playing more parts and should get paid more. I look at it as Im always going to bring as much as I can into any situation, which will make te band successful, which will make me a valuable asset, which will increase my demand, which will make me more successful.

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A) Talk is cheap, and musicians, when talking about their bands, tend to exaggerate. I have no idea how much they actually get paid, and how many no-pay/lo-pay bars gigs will be performed. And I will have no control over that.

 

B) Presumably, all get paid equally (I am told), whether it is a drummer who only needs to handle the drum part, or a piano player who plays piano, sings, and all the other parts that no one else wants to or can do.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the role of keyboardist has changed over the years for most, you're expected to cover all those bases. There is less work for live bands than there was in the past so, sometimes beggars can't be choosers.

 

You have to evaluate your contribution to every project vs. pay/desire to do it/cost to do/etc. If you don't cover all those parts, your worth to the project is diminished quite a bit...a whole lot of songs in rocknroll don't need keyboards. Many of the songs that do require keyboard parts could be played by a second guitarist or the singer.

 

You should have a limit on how much you'll do in relation to all of the above but well, I set mine pretty high and it got me some places. It's inevitable that you'll contribute too much to a project at some point, it's awesome being a musician ;)

 

here's a picture of me getting paid the same as the guy who just plays bass :)

 

602646_548762804493_2120044280_n.jpg

 

keyboards, backing vocals, lap steels, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a great attitude to have Mr. Dan. I am having trouble summoning up that attitude.

 

That's been my role in every and i've payed in - comes with the territory. I don't mind it, I like the challenge. I don't look at it as I'm playing more parts and should get paid more. I look at it as Im always going to bring as much as I can into any situation, which will make te band successful, which will make me a valuable asset, which will increase my demand, which will make me more successful.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with J. Dan. I do as much as I can. I consider it job insurance.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Playing strings and horn parts, sound effects, harmonica, sax, flutes, and all manner of other parts and sounds in addition to strictly keyboard parts, has been a standard part of this job description for a long time, it's just the way it is. If you don't want to do it obviously you don't have to but no, nobody will calculate how many different instruments you simulate and pay you extra accordingly; you are a band member just like the guitarist, bassist, drummer, or singer, each has his expected contribution and usually all divide up the pay equally (often a taste more for whoever books the gig). You could have a policy of only playing piano and organ parts, but this will limit your gigging opportunities. Anyway, it's fun, challenging and something you will quickly take great pride and pleasure in, juggling all those sounds and parts and knowing you are a disproportionately big part of what makes your band able to sound "like the record"!

Rich Forman

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg Kronos 2-61, Roland Fantom X7, Ferrofish B4000+ organ module, Roland VR-09, EV ZLX12P, K&M Spider Pro stand,

Yamaha S80, Korg Trinity Plus

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

EJ - I absolutely love playing all those parts in my band. I don't get paid more, but all those parts come from the same ten fingers I would use if I played only keyboard parts. It does take some extra time before going to rehearsal, but I enjoy finding the right sounds for each song. $100 to $500, I would say yes in a heartbeat!
Kurzweil PC3-76
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I figure I only have 2 hands, so I will never be playing more than 2 parts at once. Piano and organ, or shakuhachi and didgeridoo, what's the diff?

 

I do occasionally have to explain that I'm not going to sound like the TOP horn section.

Moe

---

"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

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My desire to cover parts well is also what has largely driven me to learn other instruments. Playing sax, guitar, bass, and singing has worked well. Playing a real sax instead of cheesing it up on the keys is an asset. Strumming a rhythm guitar part on a real guitar instead of making up a key part or playing a cheesy guitar sound on the keyboard is an asset. Vocals are definitely an asset. In my town anyway, there are a lot of keyboard players who are very talented players, but don't put any effort into covering all the parts (especially covering them accurately). Those guys are playing the low paying gigs. The guys who are more, let's say, well rounded and put a bit more effort into it are the ones that get the top gigs.

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to take J. Dan's attitude-- I look at it as a challenge. I also take the attitude that a lot of times it's the final little thing that a good keyboard player can add that can distinguish an average cover band from a really good cover band. Often times casual listeners won't even be able to identify why it sounds better, but they'll know it does sound better.

 

You can always try to negotiate for a higher cut of the band's fee, but be prepared for some resistance and/or bad feelings from the other members.

 

If you really want to be in a band but don't like the deal for being a keyboard player, I'd say get started on those drum, bass, or guitar lessons. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I mostly agree with the others here.

 

I'll offer my approach as one thing that might help your perspective. I'll cover what I can reasonably cover with two hands and the gear I'm using.

 

It's impossible to play three different parts 'live' with only two hands. Pick the most important stuff and leave the rest out. Layer sounds where you can to fill out the sound, try to play the signature parts of the songs and forget the rest.

 

Is the guitar player able to play rhythm and lead at the same time? Does the drummer play a rhythm loop and drum fills at the same time?

 

Cover what you can. Do your best. DON'T tell the rest of the band what you aren't covering. They probably won't know the difference.

 

Take the gig.

 

Greg

Kurzweil Forte, Yamaha Motif ES7, Muse Receptor 2 Pro Max, Neo Ventilator
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a great attitude to have Mr. Dan. I am having trouble summoning up that attitude.

 

 

That's cuz you're a diva Elton John, everyone knows this! :laugh:

 

Look.this is our job. Its a lot of work, but were The Man! Sure, the guitarist just has to learn the guitar parts, but he also has to learn the solos for all that music, which sort of levels the playing field in terms of workload.

Those drummers and bassists though.they got it ez.

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with most here that say it's part of the gig and a fun part at that. You have to be reasonable with what parts you can and can't cover, but I love going the extra mile to bring incredible sounds to the experience.

 

I don't mean this meanly, but if you want to DO this gig, I think you might need an attitude adjustment about the whole thing. Look on the opportunity with relish not annoyance, and rejoice in those $500 corporate gigs and the fact that if you kick ass at what you do, you'll have the best band in town. That's exactly the way I look at my band.

 

Either that, or if you're truly annoyed by what's being asked because you just want to rock out on piano or organ (which is fine), then turn the gig down and go find a situation where you can do that.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also enjoy the challenge of playing as many parts as required to make the song/band sound good.

 

Don't like that idea? Play one of the other instruments.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your role is super important, but people who have seen the gig will be talking about the lead singer(s) and guitar player more than your work. Your work if done well will be almost invisible to most people.

That matters too.

 

A band with a great keyboard player expertly covering a zillion parts, but with a bad lead singer, won't do well. A band with an adequate keyboardist and a great singer will do great. Should the singer get paid more even though they are only doing one instrument (or two if playing guitar or bass)?

 

I'd say that instead of complaining that you aren't getting more pay than the other band members, you should count your blessings that you aren't a horn or string player who has little chance of ever getting a high paid gig like you do.

Stage: Korg Krome 88.

Home: Korg Kross 61, Yamaha reface CS, Korg SP250, Korg mono/poly Kawai ep 608, Korg m1, Yamaha KX-5

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The worst part is when the original recording includes a guitarist making sound effects with the guitar, and the guys in the band look at me as though I'm supposed to do that (despite being a piano/organ/Rhodes player -- I don't have any of those sound-effects keyboards!)

 

Sigh.

 

So, that's why I play blues and soul, ideally with a real horn section.

 

If they ask me to cover a horn part, I do, but not using a horn sound. Different gig than what you're contemplating (and also, zero bucks.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearly, I need an attitude adjustment on this!!

 

The cynic in me says "my keyboard also mimics guitars and basses and drums - I could DO ALL the parts, and put the guitarist and bassist out of a job".

 

Or better still: just put on the CD and play the recorded song!! Why even bother with a band?

 

I should probably pass on this - my attitude is bad right from the get-go.

J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier

The collected works of Scott Joplin

Ray Charles Genius plus Soul

Charlie Parker Omnibook

Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life

Weather Report Mr. Gone

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearly, I need an attitude adjustment on this!!

 

The cynic in me says "my keyboard also mimics guitars and basses and drums - I could DO ALL the parts, and put the guitarist and bassist out of a job".

 

.....

 

I among quite a few others here have done that. I wouldn't work with a bassist for quite few years unless they brought something tothe late like killer vocals. Just run 360 Systems Midibass into a bass guitar amp. One less cut. Now with modern instruments and digital amp simulation built into the patch libraries it is even easier. I just run the bass right through the rest of the keyboard sends.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearly, I need an attitude adjustment on this!!

I should probably pass on this - my attitude is bad right from the get-go.

The days of different scale for doubling etc at the local level are long gone I am afraid. Now it is an expectation if you are able. Not to mention making you a greater asset in the situation you find yourself, having more to offer than say, the next guy. :cool:
Link to comment
Share on other sites

But playing non-keyboard parts that no one else in the band wants to cover seems unattractive to me (and guitars, bass, and drums now all have access to midi and could do horn and string sections if there is a need for such).
Longest night I ever had was playing with a guitarist who just got himself a guitar synth. Carl......gimme that Wha wha.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As others here have said. getting paid more because you play more parts will never happen. That's the way it is and has been for a long time. Covering strings, horns, synths, etc. is part of doing these gigs. Just wait until you get a leader that complains about your sounds not exactly matching what's on the record!

 

The way I've always approached this is to first determine which keyboard parts are essential or important to the song, then figure out how possible it is for my two hands and ten fingers to do them. You might have to resort to some funky tricks, setting up different splits with transpositions, or figuring out some quick program change moves. You might decide it's not worth the time to set up a split for that synth squiggle on bar 27 of the out chorus. That, IMO, is completely OK! I don't go crazy trying to cover everything. How much effort you want to put into it is going to be your call, based (I would think) on how much you enjoy playing with this band and how much you want or need the money. I've been lucky to get a touring gig that's taken me out of the GB world for the moment, but when I was doing these gigs, the leaders pretty much left it to my discretion as to how I would cover the parts. What's going to matter in the end (or what should matter) is how well the band goes over in general. If the band sounds good and people are dancing, but the leader still is busting your chops about parts not covered to his liking, that's when I walk as soon as possible!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll just add that you may learn a bunch of things from this experience that you may not have learned elsewhere. Don't know your specific background, but it is a useful skill to be able to do the orchestral and horn voicings, which are often different than how you would voice the same chord on a keyboard instrument. I find this kind of learning just as rewarding as blowing on a Wurly patch.

 

Nord Stage 3 88, Korg Kronos 2 61, Moog Sub 37, Yamaha U1 Upright, Casio CT-S1, Spacestation V.3, QSC K10.2

www.stickmanor.com

There's a thin white line between fear and fury - Stickman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...