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Synths and where to start

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  • Synths and where to start

    we've got a really good piano player on our team.. but I feel like we arent using her to her full ability.. right now, she's just playing the keyboard with melodies and chords.. nothing overly exciting.. it just fills in noise in the bkg.... along with the keyboard (I can't recall which one it is.. its a pretty basic one though) she also owns a Korg MicroKorg.. which from what I can tell does a lot of stuff for the size that it is..

    I know she has said she'd love to use it at church to add some stuff.. but she doesn't really know where to start.. we aren't looking for something to take the focus away from God.. rather something to add to what we are doing.. we're a pretty basic team.. lead guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, piano and dejambe (no drums yet)...

    So for those who are doing more than just basic melodies with their pianos.. what are the first steps/recommendations on where to go?

  • #2
    Chris,

    I'd be more than glad to give some suggestions and help her get started in the right direction. It would probably be a lot easier for us to connect directly so you can pass my e-mail along to her if you'd like. jeff@destinyministries.com

    I also give lessons and have done some over the net as well so we could possibly talk about doing a few sessions where I could hear what songs and styles you are currently doing and what she is doing and where we could add some stuff from there.

    As a freebie I'll give you this to think about.....a synthesizer or workstation keyboard is just that... it "synthesizes" real sounds so it might help for her to listen to recordings of songs and listen for the parts not currently covered. Here are some examples:

    Strings - a great thing that can be added to slower worship type songs. The key is not to play chords like the piano player would. A string line is usually one or two notes up high that match the chord changes but using a single note.

    Brass - Brass patches cen be used to enhance many faster, contemporary gospel or R&B type songs. Again the key is the technique of playing them. Not chords but a couple of notes, maybe octaves hitting a few licks in between cadences or where vocals break. A lot of it is NOT playing if it is not absolutely necessary. tasteful non.sound can be great, too.

    Bass - If you're missing a bass player, keyboards can often cover bass lines as needed.

    Organ - A great all around sound for a number of different styles/song settings. Again, not block chords like a piano but usually one or two notes up high, some glissandos to a high note when the organ enters is an appropriate technique for organs.


    Just a few ideas for you to consider,
    Hope it helps....

    Jeff

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    • #3
      Good thoughts posted. It should be noted, if not already, that a great piano player doesn't necessarily make a good keyboard player. It really helps if the player has a good understanding of musical space and instrument frequency ranges, which most traditional piano players in a band do not have.

      Anyhow, experiment. The coolest thing about a good synth is that it can and will fill a TON of gaps and make songs really come to life if used properly. I know high end bands usually sync it with a master clock along with the click in the IEMs and anything else using tempo-specific sounds. Takes the guesswork out of using certain sound combinations and makes for a really tight production.

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      • #4
        I agree with both of these responses.

        I feel the main thing is what hitchface pointed out- way too often piano players playing keyboards play keyboards like a piano- I see that a LOT. I try to get them to use their imagination- strings, horns, fill in what's missing without laying on the chord and the bass note.

        If you listen close to most songs, there are little fills and such that are in the background that really fill out a song. What you don't need is another player that is going to bang out chords and roots- you have that covered.

        One issue to think about is the tendency to overplay- sometimes, like korg4god stated, a single note, up higher in the spectrum, or a couple filler notes at the right time just fill out a song so nice. But people usually want to play more, not less. So some coaching on how to fill in the gaps would be real beneficial.

        Let us know how it goes...
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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        • #5
          Chris,

          I basically started where your piano player did and had to figure it out all alone. After putting in a few years of Sundays, it started jelling, so I put together an ebook hoping to help others like me "get there" a little quicker, and I'd be glad to send you a copy. Just email if interested. I wrote the book for exactly this situation.

          //Scott
          Last edited by skantner; 11-14-2011, 09:40 PM.

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          • #6
            Pianos and Organs make up about 80% of our keys on a Sunday morning. We use several rock/jazz/gospel organ voices, and several different piano voices. A good rock organ can really add a lot to a solid modern worship band.

            Nate
            Practical Worship

            Please Pray For My Wife

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            • #7
              E-book

              Originally posted by skantner View Post
              Chris,

              I basically started where your piano player did and had to figure it out all alone. After putting in a few years of Sundays, it started jelling, so I put together an ebook hoping to help others like me "get there" a little quicker, and I'd be glad to send you a copy. Just email if interested. I wrote the book for exactly this situation.

              //Scott
              Hey Scott,

              Can you send me the ebook? danieljcowan@gmail.com. Thanks so much. I'd love to have it as a resource in coaching other keys players, and it would help me too!

              -Daniel

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              • #8
                could you send me the ebbok please? it would be really helpful, thanks

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                • #9
                  Depending on what style you're playing, and since you've already got a lead instrument (guitar), you can't go wrong with warm analog pads. Once you find a descent stock preset, play around with the filter cutoff and EQ to get something that sits between the bass guitar and mid freq stuff (acoustic, vocals, etc). If your keys gal sticks to simple chords without too much low end you'll get good results. Also, have her play 2nd and 3rd inversions as those sound less campy. Hope that helps, good luck!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Josh0311 View Post
                    Depending on what style you're playing, and since you've already got a lead instrument (guitar), you can't go wrong with warm analog pads. Once you find a descent stock preset, play around with the filter cutoff and EQ to get something that sits between the bass guitar and mid freq stuff (acoustic, vocals, etc). If your keys gal sticks to simple chords without too much low end you'll get good results. Also, have her play 2nd and 3rd inversions as those sound less campy. Hope that helps, good luck!
                    Hey Josh,

                    Those were really good tips on the pads. Hardly ever do I run across someone giving help on how to specifically tweak a patch. Awesome.... I also agree with your inversion strategy.

                    //Scott

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                    • #11
                      Inversions are a great way to make things sound completely different, I agree. To avoid confusion, a major chord only has 2 inversions, not 3. There is root position, then 1st inversion (root on top, third on bottom) then 2nd inversion (third on top, fifth on bottom). The only time you would use a 3rd inversion would be in the case of a 7th chord or some other 4-note chord, like an add 2 or add 6 chord. Of course, if you had an add 6 chord and played it in third inversion it would just become a minor 7th chord in root position. (Sorry, just the theory geek in me.)

                      Great ideas all.......

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                      • #12
                        Cool, thanks for clarifying that. I suppose 1st inversion is a bit of an oxymoron...

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