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Can you talk and play at the same time?


Chris Link

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A Facebook post from a local musical acquaintance about right vs left brain in musicians made me recall a phenomenon I noticed years ago:

 

I noticed long ago that I am unable to speak when playing anything that requires the least bit of concentration. I can spit out yes, no and tell someone my name, but not much more than that. Speech is, for almost everyone, a left brain function. Brocas area in the left frontal lobe if you want to get technical.

 

Im sure I can come off as rude when people try to talk to me when Im playing. Of course, its kind of rude (even if well-meant) to try and start a conversation in the middle of a song. Im usually seated at one end with my keyboard angled so that I can make eye contact with other players, so I tend to get a lot of Hey, can you guys play... inquiries.

 

Anyone else have the same experience?

 

I can carry on a reasonably normal conversation playing a 12 bar blues in an easy key, but am (literally) struck dumb if its anything more complicated than that.

aka âmisterdregsâ

 

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It's certainly a lot harder than you'd think. Most times when I attempt it, I screw up a bit.

 

Favorite thing ever: video of Victor Wooten giving a commencement address while "noodling" on the bass. Obviously during the talkier bits he grooves a bit more, but it's Wooten, so his grooves are often harder than most people's finger exercises! He does both with the most comfort and ease you'd ever seen. I sat through the entire 20min video, mesmerized.

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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I sheepishly admit I have been tongue-tied on many, many occasions while playing. Always felt I must have been an inferior musician.

Yamaha C2, Yamaha MODX7, Hammond SK1, Hammond XK-5 Heritage Pro System, Korg Kronos 2 61, Yamaha CP4, Kurzweil PC4-7, Nord Stage 3 73, Nord Wave 2, QSC 8.2, Motion Sound KP 210S,  Key Largo, etc…yeah I have too much…

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Thats how I learned to play LH bass. When I was starting out, Sal Azzarelli told me to sit on your right hand for six weeks and learn to walk an F blues. At the end of the six weeks, I want you to walk a bass line and tell me a joke at the same time.

 

Could have been the most valuable advice Ive ever received. Miss you, Sal.

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Yep. As bandleader, I can hold a conversation and play LH bass and comp or solo at the same time. It does take practice though. :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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Thats how I learned to play LH bass. When I was starting out, Sal Azzarelli told me to sit on your right hand for six weeks and learn to walk an F blues. At the end of the six weeks, I want you to walk a bass line and tell me a joke at the same time.

 

Could have been the most valuable advice Ive ever received. Miss you, Sal.

 

THAT's where I saw you do that! It was a tribute to Sal clip. Was that on Facebook? Should post a link here.

Moe

---

 

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I generally can, depending on the song. But I find myself sometimes pausing or talking in weird rhythm compared to normal speech. Again, depends on the song and what I'm trying to say.

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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I think the important part is to adjust your speech to your playing, and obviously not the other way around. If you're comping, vamp a progression and talk between chords. Obviously, it's silly talk while leading or soloing, because you're taking attention away from the lead. Still hard.

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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I found it fascinating that this guy could talk and play the Hammond Organ while being grilled by Sgt. Joe Friday in this old Dragnet episode beginning at 7:48. Friday even mentions the Hammond Organ.

 

[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShUFtMN7wTc

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Thats how I learned to play LH bass. When I was starting out, Sal Azzarelli told me to sit on your right hand for six weeks and learn to walk an F blues. At the end of the six weeks, I want you to walk a bass line and tell me a joke at the same time.

 

Could have been the most valuable advice Ive ever received. Miss you, Sal.

 

THAT's where I saw you do that! It was a tribute to Sal clip. Was that on Facebook? Should post a link here.

[video:youtube]

"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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To put this in context, I have played the sax for over 45 years, which gave me no experience at doing two things at the same time. About 15 years ago I starting playing basic keys parts while singing backup harmonies. Brain explosion! It took me 5 years to be able to sing "oh, oh, China Grove" while playing the chucka-chucka notes in the chorus, and still be able to listen to the recording without cringing.

 

So all of you who are real keyboard players, and have been doing any kind of singing while playing keys, have a huge advantage over the rest of us. I still can't talk while playing keys, unless it is quickly blurting out a few words while hold a chord.

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It took me 5 years to be able to sing "oh, oh, China Grove" while playing the chucka-chucka notes in the chorus, and still be able to listen to the recording without cringing.

 

Back in the 1970s when Cat Stevens was a thing, the guitar player in my band said he sounded like a guy who hadn't learned to sing and play the guitar at the same time. I always thought it was pretty funny.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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I noticed long ago that I am unable to speak when playing anything that requires the least bit of concentration. I can spit out yes, no and tell someone my name, but not much more than that. Speech is, for almost everyone, a left brain function. Brocas area in the left frontal lobe if you want to get technical.

... so I tend to get a lot of Hey, can you guys play... inquiries.

 

Anyone else have the same experience?

 

I definitely think it depends on what you're talking about and how much your brain has to switch context. The "Hey can you guys play..." one is the worst - and the one you're most likely to get at a gig.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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Back in the 70's the slow dance tune at HS dances was "Color My World." I had played it so many times that the bass player used to come over so we could have a conversation and not be bored.

 

Sort of on the same topic, I am always amazed at people who can sing while playing what appears to be relatively unrelated phrases. The best example ever was a band playing a a college sorority dance, I saw a guy in the band playing sax with one hand, keys with the other, and bass pedals...

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Really difficult for me. Ive been a wedding band leader, so I get requests from Bride or timeline changes from coordinator while playing! I often have to stop playing, and the rest of the band knows that this is the best option.

 

Funny, I started on organ, so, early on, I had to make an adjustment to be able to play reasonably well when NOT kicking bass! I guess that is the other side of the coin.

 

Most of us learn complicated left/right rhythms or finally learn to sing and play at the same time on a Song by song basis. Maybe we get better so that this learning is faster with increased experience, but it is still a learning curve for each new song. The thing about conversations is that they are novel virtually every instance, like facing a new vocal line while playing. Can Mitch Towne tell a DIFFERENT joke each time, does that novelty interfere more than canned material, and what happens when he gets heckled! And what happens on those rare moments when he is playing an instrument different from a Mojo or Hammond. I get all kinds of weird cognitive interference when switching from a CP4 to a Montage 8, even though the keys and sounds are similar. The visual of the keyboard itself provides cues for my playing. Pavlov would smile.

 

Kinda OT, but reminds me of the Stroop Color Test. You are shown words like RED, but the word might be in a different color, like brown. You are asked to name the word or name the color. This cognitive interference results in clear increased time to respond and increased errors.

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

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I cant. If a patron really wants to hold a conversation, I stop playing, turn toward them, and give them my full, undivided attention.

 

Usually this ends quickly.

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Playing LH bass while playing piano or other keys while also singing are common for me and no problem; playing and talking in regard to what Im playing (describing progression, upcoming tempo change, cueing vocals) are no problem; but if while playing background piano in a restaurant a patron asks where Im from, Im a tongue-tied idiot.

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