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any country keyboard players here?


c4

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I play country professionally, though I'd rather be playing something else. Country pays the bills.

 

The way I learned (and I'm far from an expert) was to learn the piano parts note-for-note from the cds. The Nashville studio guys mix up the motifs, some Bruce Hornsby, some Professor Longhair, some Floyd Cramer, though not too much Floyd these days, and good ole Jerry Lee.

 

Many piano tracks lay under the fingers like the pop piano tracks of the 80s with the aforementioned guys thrown in for fills and solos.

 

Look for modern country cds with Pig Robbins, Steve Nathan, John Jarvis, Reece Wynans, or Matt Rollings playing the keyboard tracks. If you can cop the basic licks from those guys, you'll be playing country piano.

 

Good luck.

 

k.

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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I've been in the country gig for the last 4 long years. I previously played "New Mexico" music, Funk, Alternative, and classic rock.

 

Like Steve said, make sure you know the material. There are some 'standards' which truly are the songs to know. These tend to vary regionally. I often find them, to this day, calling out songs I've never heard. They flash me the key (Thank you Nashville), give me the basic progression, warn me of curve balls, and off we go. My eyes are pretty much riveted to the guitar player's left hand and my ears listening to where the bass player takes me.

 

Like Ksoper said, those named are pretty much the gurus of country piano playing today.

 

I'd recommend finding an open night where you're welcomed to sit in for a set or two. See if it's something that fits you and your wishes.

 

For me, I'd probably play another type of music, but it's probably the best paying gig where I live, or I'd probably be playing something else.

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I play in a Country/Classic Rock/Southern Rock kind of band. Here in North Carolina you can play in a typical "rock" or "pop" band and play out once every couple of months, but if you play country ... you can play 5 nights a week if you like. The above posters are pointing you in the right directions, but understand that in the south, most rock players got tired of not working and moved to Nashville. Therefore over the last few years you've seen an influx of rock licks into the country recordings. If you listen to some of the newer country (ie. Montgomery Gentry, Jonny Lang, Big & Rich, etc.) you will hear what I'm saying. Yeah, you're gonna get asked to play "Last Date" and similar "old Country" songs, but understand that it's part of the country heritage. Not much different than rock players learning Robert Johnson to better understand the blues progressions. The gigs are generally pretty easy, and if the band turns to you and says, "take a ride", you can throw in jazz, funk, or rock licks and impress the hell out of all the little redneck girls (jk)! Enjoy!

 

Kronos 88 | MODX7 | Wavestate | Crave | KeyLab 61 | CPS SSv3 | MacBook Pro | MainStage | More VSTs than I'll ever figure out

 

www.thehenrysmusic.com

 

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I think the key is to just listen and learn the style. I play in a country/gospel band, and our band is singer driven. Our two singers, married, have sung in the GrapevineOpry for 20 or so years and know just about everything. They just pass it along. Learn "Crazy" ! Keep it simple. :thu:
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Originally posted by Mr Pianoman:

Does anybody has some tip about countryrecords where the Piano/keyboard parts have impressed you....

Otherwise just great country records that feat great playing.

The album "Come On, Come On" by Mary Chapin-Carpenter taught me just about everything I needed to know about country keyboard playing (both piano and Hammond) Jarvis, Rollings, and Jon Carroll play keys on this record. To me, this album is truly an "object lesson" in country keyboard playing.
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Some of the stuff Diamond Rio does has nice piano parts. Check out I Believe.

A lot of the Rascal Flatts tunes have decent keys in them.

Going back some, Mr. Ray did some nice country stuff. You can always take some of the honky tonk stuff Billy Powell does as a good example of how to merge rock and country influences.

Rumor has it that Freddy Fender had a monster keyboard player back in the mid 70s. :D

Steve

A Lifetime of Peace, Love and Protest Music

www.rock-xtreme.com

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thanks for the tips guys! I agree the diamond rio guy is quite good - much jazzier than a lot of guys I hear..Since I live in Texas it seems country is about the only thing that pays decent and there is a dancehall every ten feet to play in..

 

 

 

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c4,

 

I too live in Texas, and for a long time I (ignorantly) dismissed country music as being dumb or lacking in sophistication. Boy was I ever wrong. When I finally joined a band that actually played country, I was forced to learn a lot of those piano licks, and I can honestly say that, while I still don't particularly care for "radio country," the piano playing is always stellar. It's a difficult style to get ahold of for me, b/c usually the keyboard players are playing boogie-woogie notes with bebop articulations at blazing speeds. For ballads, someone here mentioned Bruce Hornsby, and I fully agree - something about that "fourthy" sound works great. Also, don't be afraid to just sit and pound out fifths in half notes. I discovered that the more simple I played, the better I sounded.

 

Along that line, listen to the acoustic guitar players and see what they do rhythmically to get ideas.

 

Don't dismiss country as being simple! It's a great style, and it is complicated, as all music is if you want to do it well. Good luck!

Josh
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yeah while I find the chord progressions to be usually pretty simple I find what the good players can do with in those confines to be inspiring(both piano and guitar wise). I am lucky to get to see Floyd Domino and Earl poolball on a regular basis..those guys are amazing!

 

 

 

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One of Diamond Reo's hits - Norma Jean Riley? - had a killer piano ride in it. And Tricia Yearwood's Walkaway Joe had a great Hornsby-style piano part.

I played in an 8 piece horn band. We would often get bored. So...three words:

"Tower of Polka." - Calumet

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I dont like country music, but I respect it. The average country song is going to show your chops a lot better than the average pop/rock song. There are some very good players around Nashville. Country stars tend to use top level studio musicians instead of their road bands when recording.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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Although the genre seems superficially simple, your piano chops had better be there if you're going to play country in these parts. You will be expected to keep up with the fast pickin' lead player. And you need to be able to go high...76 keys minimum...88 key hammer-action (so you can do one hand octave runs) much better.

 

A real good Hammond/Leslie sound is also essential. If it's your typical bar/dance gig, practically all night you'll playing piano, with occasional organ and that's just about it.

 

It's also tough to score a gig with a steadily working country band unless you can sing well.

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Originally posted by Bill H.:

If it's your typical bar/dance gig, practically all night you'll playing piano, with occasional organ and that's just about it.

Yeah, but...

 

There's a whole lot more than just piano with occasional organ in today's country music.

 

I many setups for pianos, organs, strings, horns, vibraphones, ep's, clavs, and rhodes all in various layers to cover the tunes on the setlist throughout the night.

 

I guess if you wanna simplify it that much, you could say that, but you'd be missing a whold lot.

 

YMMV, of course...

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Originally posted by Bill H.:

If it's your typical bar/dance gig, practically all night you'll playing piano, with occasional organ and that's just about it.

Yeah, but...

 

There's a whole lot more than just piano with occasional organ in today's country music.

 

I have many setups for pianos, organs, strings, horns, vibraphones, ep's, clavs, and rhodes all in various layers just to cover the tunes on the setlist throughout the night.

 

I guess if you wanna simplify it that much, you could say that, but you'd be missing a whole lot.

 

YMMV, of course...

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Originally posted by c4:

I was thinking about picking up a country band gig for extra cash but really dont know much about the style..what scales do you find you use most often for country licks,solos etc?

The most important thing is to understand the rythm. There's a gentle swing to Country that you will miss completely if you aren't looking for it. Once you get it its easy but unless you get it it sounds terrible.

 

Also, keep the chords simple. A lot of the time even the seventh is too much. You can't just throw in extensions like you can in many other styles.

 

There's a whole harmonic structure behind these styles (Blues, Country, Gospel, etc) that is different from jazz. The most important harmonic principle is not cadences (like ii-V-I) but voice leading through adjacent notes. Any note or notes in a chord can move or the whole chord can move in parallel. Of course the other stuff happens too, but if you try to force all the progressions into a jazz theory based analysis you are in big trouble.

 

Somebody mentioned the major pentatonic scale. If you only know Jazz you won't have run across this - most Jazz texts only know about the minor scales (Blues and Pentatonic).

 

For example, there was a master class in Keyboard a few months ago where the player was using the major Blues scale and the writer went into a convoluted explanation about how the player was using the (minor) blues scale a minor third lower, which in fact he wasn't because the tonic was not a minor third lower.

 

In C the major pentatonic is CDEGA. The Blues scale adds the minor third. The sixth (A in this case) is often used harmonically as well as melodically. That's one reason you have to be careful about the seventh - its a borrowed note.

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I'm not really into country music, but I don't think Floyd Cramer's name was mentioned. I always thought he was the grand daddy to all the country piano players who followed.

 

If I had to play country all night, I'd go to my local library (we don't have country radio over here) and check out as many CDs as I could. I would immerse myself in that style and even listen to CDs in my sleep. (I would avoid mixing Chinese food and country music, you're just asking for trouble.)

 

The ability to play in all keys comes in handy with country music as you're liking to play in the keys that guitar players like - the ones with sharps and lots of them. Don't use that transpose button and cheat your way through, you'll forget that it's on and step on it big time at the wrong time.

 

At the very least this will be a learning experience, you'll be forced to to play in a style that's a bit foreign to you. Report back and how all of this turns out.

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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Originally posted by Rick K.:

Originally posted by Bill H.:

If it's your typical bar/dance gig, practically all night you'll playing piano, with occasional organ and that's just about it.

Yeah, but...

 

There's a whole lot more than just piano with occasional organ in today's country music.

 

I have many setups for pianos, organs, strings, horns, vibraphones, ep's, clavs, and rhodes all in various layers just to cover the tunes on the setlist throughout the night.

 

I guess if you wanna simplify it that much, you could say that, but you'd be missing a whole lot.

 

YMMV, of course...

Here's a typical selection of the songs I did with a band last Sat:

 

Who's Cheatin' Who- Alan Jackson

Beer For My Horses- Toby Keith

Some Beach- Blake Shelton

Boot Scootin' Boogie- B&D

Amazed- Lonestar

Baby Likes To Rock It Like A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train- Tractors

Big City- Merle Haggard

Blue Clear Sky- George Strait...

 

I cover the pedal steel parts with these guys, but other than that I didn't even use a string pad...just pianos, organs, and pedal steel (Roland's SRX-09 expansion board has great pedal steels) the whole night.

Very typical gig for these parts...country dance hall/bar with probably a 30 year age span clientele, so the emphasis is on dancing and honky-tonk. We're obviously doin' different country gigs...

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This has turned out to be a very relevant thread.

Just got an emergency request to fill in for a signed country band for the next three or four weeks. I have one day to get ready. Time to learn lots of country tunes in a short while.

But damn, they play almost everything in F#. Thats the worst key to play honky tonk in. The fingering for the slides are virtually impossible. Wish me luck

Cool thing is that the female singer does 2 full sets. When she is off they do a tribute to the Allman Brothers. I will get to wail on my organ and play some blues. http://www.emotipad.com/newemoticons/Yeahh.gif

Steve

A Lifetime of Peace, Love and Protest Music

www.rock-xtreme.com

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