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If you were to show up to a jam/writing session with a modern, progressive rock type band, what would you be bringing in terms of sounds/gear?


My entire professional career has been in country, roots, alt-country (i.e. piano/wurly, organ, accordion), or my jazz trio.


I"ve been asked to participate in an informal jam/writing session with a group looking for the sounds of a modern keyboardist. I said yes in that I find it exciting to try and work with a genre I have almost no professional experience in. This is not a 'gig", more of a hang with people I like.


What sounds would you be bringing to the table? I certainly do not want to be buying new gear for a project that is not a gig. I looked through my studio and found a roland JV80 and a vintage synth expansion card. Anything useable with those boards?

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Modern/progressive rock is a pretty broad question. That pretty much can be anything from Mumford & Sons to Nine In Nails or Radiohead.


Do you think the other players expect you to blend in with organic sounding instruments like piano, organ, EP and accordion like you do today? Or do you think this should lean more towards synth? This is a pretty wide open question. The Roland JV sounds are still relevant and they were very good sounds and still are, though I think are characteristic to music that was very popular in the timeframe when those came out, or for music that has the vibe of sounding like that era.

Yamaha U1 Upright, Roland Fantom 8, Nord Stage 4 HA73, Nord Wave 2, Korg Nautilus 73, Viscount Legend Live, Lots of Mainstage/VST Libraries

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Whatever is handy. Something digital. Like an old Korg Triton. Seriously .... if it Is a modern metal type thing then leads on Tritons cut like a motherhubbard.


A good workstation with good polyphony is hard to beat.

"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


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Having recently done about 20 remixes on Metapop, in my mind "Modern" isn't simply "Modern sounds".

In fact, lots of the projects used classic, timeless sounds but treated them in different ways.


Distortion (sometimes very harsh), stutter effects (imagine tremolo using a square wave, either all the way up or all the way down), reverse delay, pitch shifting, absurdly HUGE low end, all of these can be used.

Weird modulation stacks, Auto-tune pushed to absurdity, nothing is off limits.


Modern is a Style more than a change in sounds. Expect to hear (and play) in Polyrhythms and Polymodal (more than one key at a time).


In terms of individual parts, there may be mostly "air", so learning to "play" Silence will be good.


The difficult part is the same as it has always been - creating Tension and Release. It's too easy to loop a "Dope Beat" and flatline it for the entire piece. Same as it ever was...

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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The Roland JV sounds are still relevant and they were very good sounds and still are, though I think are characteristic to music that was very popular in the timeframe when those came out, or for music that has the vibe of sounding like that era.


the last time I worked with these musicians was 1994, which was the last time I used the JV. We are trying to rework unfinished tunes from 26 years ago. Going to go with the JV and an organ.


Thanks for the replies.

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"Modern" would tell me zip. To someone who mostly plays vintage type instruments (electric piano, piano, organ, some analog synth sounds), the 90s Nine Inch Nails or Rob Zombie sounds would be ultra-modern--then you show up with those and they just sound dated to everyone else :D Especially if the trends are to sound "retro" again.


I'd probably ask for some examples of "modern" from them, not only for sounds but for the playing styles they might be looking for.


Edit: didn't realize the type of project until I just read the comment above this one!


Ironically--I'm working with my old high school era band to re-do a bunch of our originals! The person acting as producer (who wrote most of them) is wanting 60s-70s vintage instrumentation so my project differs in that respect. We were teenagers playing 60s covers and 60s-sounding originals in 1981, what a bunch of freaks! So he's going for that same vibe but with better performances and sound quality. We recorded everything with a TON of bouncing tracks on a fostex 4-track cassette recorder back then! I had two keyboards in the early 80s: a casio home thing with a single speaker on it, and a Moog Rogue :D

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Enjoy the jam! We were trying to sound 1994 in 1994! At the risk of starting a flame war, I kinda feel that rock ended when Kurt Cobain died. i.e. everything after was just trying to sound like something from another era...


Going to duck now before the millennials start throwing band names at me that make look like the middle aged Gen x"er that I am! ð Maybe I"ll start the topic of rock and post modernity in a separate thread.

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If I were asked to show up to a jam/writing session with the sounds of a modern keyboardist., I don't think I would bring organ and JV. But I think the comment about asking what groups/songs these people have in mind as references would be a critical first step. Then listen to those artists and songs and see what you hear. It certainly can be quite subjective. A modern keyboardist to ME is using multitimbral workstations type keys with textured/layered sounds. Sounds with motion/movement, and yes, gritty, bit crushed type sounds also, distortion of course...when piano or organ may be called for they are certainly going to be quite non-traditional type altered forms of those instruments.

Kurzweil Forte 7, Mojo 61, Yamaha P-125,

Kronos X61, Nautilus 73

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I think I would bring an old Korg Triton or X5. I think the latter is a metal standard.

I use an MX49, but I"ve remembered trying an old Triton in a music store back when I was a kid and it sounded good.

Some good keyboards for general rock would be any old ROMpler at least even a Korg X5D or Korg M1, which is what all the black metal bands used to use.


Anything that has good organ, strings, brass, piano, Rhodes or Wurlitzer, and a few classic synth sounds like the Jump, Final Countdown, or other similar synth brass or 80"s sounds,

Yamaha MX49, Casio SK1/WK-7600, Korg Minilogue, Alesis SR-16, Casio CT-X3000, FL Studio, many VSTs, percussion, woodwinds, strings, and sound effects.
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In A World Where...


Everybody has access on their computer to almost every sound ever played or recorded...



Pick a small set of instruments ahead of time. Limit your palette. Use one surprising voice. (Theorbo, or fuzz-accordion?) Your choice becomes your sound.


Copy no one. Play from your heart. Have a transcendental experience!

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I"ve managed to come up with some pretty cool sounding multi-timbral combos on the the JV. The vintage synth expansion card sounds surprisingly good having played many of the originals.


I had someone remove the red glue and replace, so that is now taken care of.


Re: stomp boxes...been there. For years I was a guitar pedal guy. Too many cables, too many issues. In my middle age I"m now starting to really dig the whole Jordan Rudess single board thing....


Great replies. This place rocks! ð

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What?! That's a DX7?!!!!! It's probably the blue rubber ducky that gives it such awesome mojo!

Numa Piano X73 /// Kawai ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000 /// Yamaha EW425

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Soundcore Motion Boom Plus 

Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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