Archives For Piano / Keyboards

DI-box

Seems fairly straightforward, right? A 1/4″ cable connects the instrument to the DI box. Is there really a right and wrong way to do this?

As far as sound quality is concerned, no. There’s nothing more to it than plugging into the correct jack. The difference I’m talking about is whether or not you cause a loud “pop” in the system. There are two connections to be made: one at the guitar and the other at the DI box. And the order in which they are connected determines whether or not you get a “pop”.

HOW TO STOP THE “POP”

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Feeling Time

Jared Taylor —  October 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

Tele Time

It’s hard to overstate the importance of time in music. On a macro level, time is about tempo: how fast or slow is a song and are we following it. But on the micro level, we can talk about something called “time feel”: the subtle way musicians interpret time as they subdivide beats.

Subdividing beats simply means dividing larger beats into smaller beats. Whole notes can be divided into half notes, then quarters, eighths, sixteenths, thirty-secondths and so on. Mathematically speaking, these subdivisions are very simple to place on a grid. But human beings subdivide beats in our heads, we don’t always do it with flawless mathematical exactness. Subtly and often unconsciously, we push and pull certain beats in a pattern that is repeatable, but hard to deconstruct. Continue Reading…

When it Clicks

Jared Taylor —  October 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

96-bpm

My first guitar teacher and I lasted six months before I broke it off. I wasn’t being challenged, and felt I was learning more from guitar magazines than the guy we were paying every week. If you know me, this will make sense–I needed to know I was learning the correct way. I needed assurance that we were starting from the beginning and taking all the right steps. So we did a bit of homework, bought a classical guitar and a footrest, and I started up with one of the best guitar teachers in the region.

I’ll never forget my first and sixth lessons. My sixth lesson was thirty minutes dedicated to proper nail-filing technique. But my first lesson was my first time using a metronome. We used the metronome ALL THE TIME. It was ticking when I came into the lesson, it was ticking when I left, it ticked in the background while my teacher gave me feedback. The constant ticking was enough to drive you mad, but you know how they say there’s a fine line between madness and genius?

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Blog - Pads Textures Header

Do you ever feel like even with all the pieces in their place, there’s still something missing from the sound of your band? It happens. You can lock in a rhythm section and know that your lead lines are taking the spotlight, but sometimes you can just feel something missing.

Chances are what you need are Pads or Textures to fill in all of the gaps. At the risk of frustrating Jared Taylor, I’m not going to say that pads are “like the glue that holds it all together,” but I will say it’s like the water that fills in all the cracks.  If it’s a thick sound you’re going for, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s like the water that fills in the cracks.

Before we list some practical tips to remember while playing pads or textures in a band setting, I might need to show an example of what pads are.  Take a listen to this clip, (With Everything – Hillsong (Track 16)) or listen to the intro of any other Hillsong song … you’ll get the point.

A pad or texture is typically found on a synth (or in the patch bank of most keyboards) or a highly processed electric guitar, but could also occasionally come in the form of an orchestra (maybe not in the typical Sunday morning setting), choir, or loop.

Things to remember when playing the pads:

  • Your goal is not to be heard — it’s to be felt and to add thickness to the overall sound.
  • The voicings are crucial when playing chords — typically good voicings are made up of “stack 4” chords (OMITTING 3rds, and with 9ths added — or open 5ths, octaves, or single notes, depending on what the arrangement needs).
  • The attack on most pad patches on keyboards is VERY slow — the means that you’re going to typically play long sustained chords that move slowly. It is not uncommon for a pad player on the keyboard to play one static note or interval for an extended period of time (get a heavy book, put it on the pedal and go grab yourself a coffee).
  • There are a LOT of bad pad sounds on most keyboards. You have to filter through the lists to find one that doesn’t sound like a computerized string quartet — take the time to find the right patches!

Keyboard players, let’s call it like it is, you are most certainly over qualified for this role! But, never underestimate the contribution that a pad can bring to the overall sound.

Blog - Lead Line Header

Once the band is locking into each other rhythmically and not clashing with each other sonically, you’ll have a great sounding rhythm section. One thing is missing from that picture though … Lead Lines.

A lead line is basically the melodic line that you hear at the forefront of the mix. It is determined in rehearsal as “the most important sound of the moment” that will attract the listener’s ear. It can be anything from the riff of an electric guitar to the sung vocal line of the lead vocalist. We all understand when and where the vocal line fits into the overall picture of the song (the songwriter determines that) so in talking about lead lines this week, I want us to focus on those melodic lines that, in a band context, we typically hear in the electric guitar or right hand of the piano.

A song without any lead lines would be excruciatingly boring.

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Blog - Sonic Range 1

When playing together in a band context, by now, I think we would all agree that the sonic range I’m playing in (the octave I’m singing or playing my instrument in) is just as important as the rhythms I’m playing, right? Knowing this importance is one thing, but working it out in rehearsal can be very challenging and time consuming.

If there’s one instrument that runs the highest risk of eating the whole pie (100%) in the sonic plane, it’s the keyboard. The lowest note on the keyboard is an A – two semi-tones lower than the low B on a 5-string bass guitar. If your bassist is playing a 4 string, the piano has a whole 5th below the low E on the bass. No one in the band can possibly play those notes in the low A-E range except the piano player. You might think, “Great!  Sonic room for me to play without worrying about anyone else running into me.” Well, let me put it this way, if there’s a bass guitar player in your band, let them live up to their name and actually be the bass player in the band. Keyboardists, let the bassists have their range and take that left hand and bring it up the keyboard.  I know, that’s almost two whole octaves chopped off of the low end of the keyboard. There is an exception to almost every rule, but when it comes to the keyboardist’s left hand, I wouldn’t have it playing much lower than the C that is one octave below middle C. When keyboard players get their left hand away from what the bass player is playing, the sound will significantly tidy itself up and the listener will feel more depth to the overall sound.

There is an exception to almost every rule, but when it comes to the keyboardist’s left hand, I wouldn’t have it playing much lower than the C that is one octave below middle C.

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Taking it Apart: Piano

Jared Taylor —  January 14, 2013 — 2 Comments
Part 7 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Piano-Kid

The piano is a big instrument! In terms of frequency range, its 88 keys start lower than a 5-string bass and top out nearly two octaves higher than the highest note on an electric guitar! It truly is an instrument built to fill a room!

A pianist often plays more than one part and is responsible for balancing them so, in some ways, a pianist has to mix their own instrument. This approach works splendidly when the piano is unaccompanied, but doesn’t always hit the mark in a rock band. There, the piano’s wide range can get in the way of other instruments. A pianist skilled at playing in a group navigates this by playing in specific frequency ranges, finding the right spot for the piano to shine amidst the other instruments. Continue Reading…

Sonic Range Photo

Whoever could have guessed that musicians had to think so much when they jumped into a band context? If I’m a great player of my instrument, I should be able to step into any setting and sound good! Unfortunately, without experience as a band member, this is likely not the case.

We’ve been talking about the horizontal “rhythmic” plane (as we call it) of playing together within the 100% rule.  If you don’t know what I mean, go back and read “Playing Together as a Band: Rhythm Playing“.  We know that there is so much more to talk about in each of these areas, but for the sake of keeping everyone’s interest, let’s move onto the vertical plane of sonic ranges.

Imagine this … Continue Reading…

A new year is before us — new excitements, new joys, new challenges …
I’m going to let Tim Day, the Sr. Pastor of The Meeting House, take the first post of 2013.

This is for anyone who is involved in a weekend service context. Musicians and techs alike, be inspired and join with us to make way for the Spirit moving in our communities, and to be used to raise the temperature of our weekend services!

(Having trouble viewing this video? Click here: http://youtu.be/6qP2DZHsLAo)

Rhythm Playing

Rhythm is not just for the drummers in the band.  I know that sounds obvious, but think about it — as band members, how much more of the time are we thinking about what notes we’re playing as opposed to when we’re actually playing those notes? Continue Reading…