playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

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tom Cadillac
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by tom Cadillac » Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:40 pm

I think lot of good keyboard playing comes down to how strong and agile your hands are. Which means lots of exercising. Not so different from gymnastics or other physical skills. The best way to get strong and agile hands is by enjoying playing a lot. Just jamming is the best...improvising and using any theory to make some good music on the spot. Synths are good for this becuase the sounds they make are so inherently interesting. Think yourself lucky you're not playing scales on a boring old piano!
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:08 pm

There are a number of types of "knowing how to play the piano." While formal training is great because it educates you about the past, expands your knowledge about music, and trains your muscles... there is something to be said for simply working very hard at training your own hands to play the sounds that are expressive to you (and hopefully others), and learning to play the music you hear in your head.

A great side-effect of formal trainingis that it teaches you what has been done, why it has been done, and how it's being recycled throughout the various eras of music history.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Soundwave » Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:31 pm

Balls to playing keys, :P

use a hardware sequencer with force to scale! :twisted:

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by tom Cadillac » Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:50 pm

Yeah you can use seuqencers - but the end result is never going to be as interesting or intuitive (or musical). Take basslines - sure its boring to repeat the same line by hand, but there's always a point where the drums break where a slight variation makes a huge difference It's far easier to get this 'live' than programmed. Or another example - where the drums are more complicated and its not obvious which beat to put the bassline to. Your ears are the best guide to this. And above all in the end its fun and satisfying to use your hands and not a machine.
"On the following day , the sorcery undespairingly continued: I changed my series, chose other sequences, cut other lengths, spliced different progressions, and hoped afresh for a miracle in sound." (Stockhausen)

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by wickfut » Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:03 am

I've had zero training and learned how to play with 2 hands (though not to any spectacular level) by playing over the top of other peoples music and learning their notes.

I think my timing is my biggest problem but since I quantize everything anyway and usually program complex parts in step time I do ok.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by MPrint » Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:16 am

Keys aren't my forte, but it's certainly been fun trying my hand these last couple years. Never had any note/chord training before being a drummer most of my life, but once you grasp a few things it can enhance your playing drastically. Best thing to do is train your ear. Learn what sounds bad or sour so you can know what sounds pleasing to the ear. I basically find chords by process of elimination. When I play a chord, I can hear in my head where I wanna go, but I often have to try a few different combinations to find the right progression. Been working alot on Dim chords lately cause I love Radiohead's progressions. My best advice to you is play the keyboard every chance you get, look up some instructional videos on Youtube, and ask any friends you have that are musicians what you can do. My friend, who is an amazing guitarist and all around musician(good at anything he picks up) has helped me alot with understanding the keys and music theory in general.

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Rangoon » Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:49 am

nadafarms wrote:
...Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian are minor sounding and will sound "sad" or dark. Each has it's own sound and you can build chords off of them.

1. Ionian mode (the major scale)
2. Dorian mode
3. Phrygian mode
4. Lydian mode
5. Mixolydian mode
6. Aolian mode (the natural minor scale)
7. Locrian mode

This is why I think learning your major scales and modes makes life easy: ....
Back in the 70's when I was first learning this stuff we had an easy catch-phrase for remembering the order of the modes...

"I Dig Pot, Leave Me ALone"

I guess it wouldn't work nowadays...

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Denms20 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:54 am

CS_TBL wrote:So, what emotion is Locrian like? :P
Tense and frustrated!
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by breitt » Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:29 am

Soundwave wrote:Balls to playing keys, :P

use a hardware sequencer with force to scale! :twisted:
Hate to admit it, but I'm with you here. Even Bob Moog hated the concept of the keyboard as the end-all to playing music. If one finds the mathematical precision of a sequencer boring, there's numerous ways to introduce randomness or to put your own iconic stamp on the music. One thing I love about the Nemo is the ability to play sequences (including chords) that are impossible to play by hand. For some, the artistic aesthetic of utilizing the digital dexterity of the hands is the only satisfying way for them to create music; for others like me, the mathematics and imprecision of advanced sequencing is an art unto itself.

From the movie, Pi:
"Restate my assumptions: One, Mathematics is the language of nature. Two, Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. Three: If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore, there are patterns everywhere in nature..."
http://www.amazon.com/Pi/dp/B001DLWF8U/ ... 163&sr=1-1
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by pricklyrobot » Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:13 pm

Why does it have to be one or the other? All the music I've done thus far has been a combination of sequenced and live-played stuff. It's fun to do both.

Playing is fun, because it's cool to hammer away at the keys (even if you're not a virtuoso) and you can quickly knock stuff out and get immediate feedback as to what it's going to sound like.

Sequencing is fun because it frees up your hands to play other elements of the sound aside from the notes, tweak knobs, mute and un-mute tracks, etc. And sometimes you stumble upon really cool sounding stuff by just entering a bunch of notes into a sequencer, not listening to it as you go, and just playing it all back at the end.

Everyone should do both.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:37 am

breitt wrote:From the movie, Pi:
"Restate my assumptions: One, Mathematics is the language of nature. Two, Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. Three: If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore, there are patterns everywhere in nature..."
http://www.amazon.com/Pi/dp/B001DLWF8U/ ... 163&sr=1-1
There are several things that are elusive when it comes to mathematical expression...
one of them happens to be art.

As a person who jumped on the sequencer bandwagon back when they first started being able to record more than 8 notes, I hear your obvious attraction to its ability to allow you to express that which your hands can't.
The weird thing is that there is absolutely no reason for a sequencer to be "mathematically precise" at all. A modern sequencer doesn't need to quantize, and since they now can capture so many events per second, they're not even particularly quantized-sounding in how they capture non-quantized note events.
The sequencer is not the quantizing function, that is something we turn on because we simply like the mechanical sound. Beyond quantizing, sequencing is no more precise than simply recording your music to any non-computer-controlled recording device.

Sequencing allows you to be an orchestrator, which is awesome. It allows you to make decisions about the behaviors of each "instrument" in your recording, which is essentially the same as writing the notes down on paper... you're just "writing" the instructions "into the sequencer."

The only sad thing is that sequencers are made to be functional for people who are able to use them to express their artistic notions as well as for people who have no musical inclination at all, but who just want to sound like bands they like. The biggest tragedy of all is that so often the designers of sequencers put their own artistic expression into them, allowing the latter type of sequencer user to often be somewhat indiscernable from the former.

The good thing about physically playing keyboards is that you can tell when someone is responsible for their own work right away. :wink:

Oh, and Moog didn't "hate" keyboards... he merely knew that they were an arbitrary choice as an interface.

P.S. Don't get me wrong. I love Pi too. :)
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by OriginalJambo » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:44 pm

tom Cadillac wrote:I think lot of good keyboard playing comes down to how strong and agile your hands are. Which means lots of exercising. Not so different from gymnastics or other physical skills. The best way to get strong and agile hands is by enjoying playing a lot. Just jamming is the best...improvising and using any theory to make some good music on the spot. Synths are good for this becuase the sounds they make are so inherently interesting. Think yourself lucky you're not playing scales on a boring old piano!
I read an article a while back that basically stated it's more to do with your brain than your manual dexterity. You're teaching your brain to control your fingers - pretty much any human being already possesses the required dexterity to play complex piano pieces.

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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by cornutt » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:09 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote: Oh, and Moog didn't "hate" keyboards... he merely knew that they were an arbitrary choice as an interface.
Right. It was a compromise between several technological and marketing factors. Moog had looked at some things like the punch tapes that the RCA Synthesizer used, and he realized that something like that would never go over with the intended audience -- it was too much like programming a computer. If you look at all of the families of conventional instruments, and then which of them could have been most easily turned into a control signal generator using 1960s technology, the keyboard is an obvious choice. (Picture trying to build a playable guitar, violin, or wind instrument synth controller in 1965...) Plus, the keyboard already had a history with electronic instruments, namely organs, and so the basic idea would be a familiar one to lots of players. Clearly, Moog had the right idea as exhibited by his company's immediate commercial success. As opposed to say Don Buchla, who went off in search of alternate control mechanisms, and as a result his (very good) products remained confined to a niche market for a long time.

Moog always felt like eventually there would be a synth interface for nearly every type of conventional instrument. I don't think he realized in 1965 how long it would take.
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by Sir Ruff » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:40 pm

I'm in this same boat... I have been saying I need to actually learn proper music theory and chord progressions for years... the hunting and the pecking is satisfying when you do stumble across a good "next chord", but then the rest of the time, I'm sat trying to figure out how to make all these different scales work together... I imagine it's much easier and more productive knowing them all beforehand. Time to get on that wagon!

(glances at his beginner piano book again)
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Re: playing synths and not really knowing how to play piano.....

Post by masstronaut » Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:03 pm

Rangoon wrote:I guess it wouldn't work nowadays...
No no, it works. :)

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