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Where does the keyboard even fit in?
Old 11-01-2008, 07:17 PM
Ivory-Shadows Offline
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Default Where does the keyboard even fit in?

So I was writing some music with a friend the other day, some prog metal stuff, and he was playing a cool metal riff. This got me to thinking, how does the keyboard fit in with a guitar, bass, and drum?

I mean, I know how to improv and comp, etc, but when actually "writing," what am I supposed to be doing? Should I even be audible? Should I support his riff? I'm very confused =\

Besides sections with riffs, I'm juust a little confused on how the keyboard fits in with everything else, and it ends up making me feel like I'm out of place...

What would you guys say?
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Old 11-02-2008, 02:33 AM
mmichaelc Offline
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i think it depends on the song. you could just play the same riff as the guitar, or you could harmonise it. or you could play some chords.
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Old 11-02-2008, 07:38 AM
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gylfih Offline
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Listen to more Dream Theater, or Focus, or ELP, or Yes etc. That should explain pretty much what the keyboard should be doing and where it fits in...
The Keyboard Room
Some of you may have met mathematicians and wondered how they got that way.
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Old 11-02-2008, 08:30 PM
Arpegioz Offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 22

It depends of the type of riff. However be aware that there's not really something that you're SUPPOSED to do. Just do what you think sounds right. Progressive metal is all about being creative and trying new things out, you will not find a very repeated pattern. Another tip is to communicate with your band, try out riffs, see what they like, what you like, what they dislike etc.

And YES you're supposed to be audible. Any keyboardist that is not audible when playing is a disgrace. A common misconception is that keyboardists are meant to be in the back playing chords in the shadow of the rest of the band.

Last edited by Arpegioz; 11-02-2008 at 08:35 PM..
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Old 11-02-2008, 09:34 PM
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sparkey Offline
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Location: Australia
Posts: 319

its really hard to say

often people have this idea keyboards cant work in metal

and sometimes its true. depending on the player

its how the player uses the keyboard

for example

its a 3 piece traditional grunge song

you cant go and play some chords in that sort of sound using a string or a sin lead sound

its going be out of place, because the sound of grunge is very raw and your adding a very precise sound if you know what i mean

you have to make your sound suit, which is a large part of being a keyboardist

so if your listening to this metal riff your friend wrote you think how you can complement it

generally there is a element of sharing, hes got this main riff, and like said the main thing you can do is play some chords or follow the riff, or make a second lead if your good, but the main thing is this is the guitarist riff, so you must not over power it, merely add to the sound

string, saw, organ, spooky leads piano are always nice, you can also distort some synth sounds with amp emulators, which sounds cool

then after hes done with say, his powerful chugging riff its now another section

you take over the main lead the guitar goes soft and to the background now your playing the melody

its a give and take thing in the end you have to not be over powering when its not really your lead section, you dont want to hear some really strong string sound the whole song. but at some points you do, thats when you take over making the song overall better. then don't be afraid to turn your volume up when the spot lights on you, and make sure your not in the background to much.

in the end its really about listening to what the song sounds like, and how you think you can add to it. unlike a guitar which in a metal context is really limited to different degrees if distortion and clean, you have 100s of effects and sounds to use, its knowing when to use what sounds that is going make the song great
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Old 12-28-2008, 08:49 PM
redsxo14 Offline
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 17

When I started in my prog metal band last fall, i was the newest guy in the band. I felt like I couldn't play with their music, and it felt kinda depressing. But as time went on, i got better at fitting my sound in. it just might take time.

Also, try leading them with an idea of yours. they might like it, they might not, but take some initiative.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:58 AM
Kala1928 Offline
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Join Date: Aug 2010
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There are guitar riffs that just you just cant fit the keyboard in without changing the whole theme. Sometimes guitarists just come up with these riffs and it happens in a lot of bands. Its easy to make cool sounding stuff for one instrument but a lot harder to do stuff that still sounds good and fresh when you throw other instruments in the mix.
I used to play in a band where the guitarists didn't really think they just kept coming up with really nasty Megadeth-riffs and then told me to put keyboards here. At the time I also sucked quite a lot(still do but not as much) so that didn't go too well.
Try bringing up your own ideas and if you are constantly told 'nah that doesn't sound good' or 'that sucks listen to this riff, put keyboards here instead' I'd give up on the band.
Its a bit depressing but a lot of metal guys, bands and especially (not trying to be mean, but its just the way it is) guitarists(and/or song writers) dont really have a clue how to use the keyboards so they do it the simplest possible way or not at all.
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:30 AM
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SoulFire Offline
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Listen to Dream Theater's stuff, Derek Sherinian's solo stuff, ELP and the like, and it can give you a few ideas. Here's the general rules I go by when writing keyboards during a guitar riff section. Remember these are only different options you can use and they don't all work in all situations

1) Distorted Organ chords (very Derek, used mostly for bluesier stuff)
2) Double riff on saw wave like sound (Mostly for heavy more dissonant stuff Jordan-esque, "growling pig" style)
3) Double riff on piano in low octaves of the keyboard (ELP style, useful for a proggy effect)
4) Harmonise using lead sound (for more traditional metal or power metal, and sometimes prog)
5) Pads (For a subtle approach)
6) Countermelody, or melody (where the guitar takes the back seat)

Well those are my general ideas, if you ever decide to use them :)



Soft synths. Lots of soft synths :P
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:05 AM
Kala1928 Offline
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I love the counter-melody approach too. Works in a lot of situations instead of just pulling strings or pads out.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:16 PM
Christopher Offline
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What can also work really good is playing the guitar/bass riff with a piano(really low) or Fast attack Strings(even Pizzicato works at times) or playing the riff+harmonies with crystal pad-like patches or high piano sounds.
(I just listened to some of the harder Pain of Salvation songs, Fredrik is awesome )
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