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Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan?

Posted By: 6070sMusic

Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan? - 11/10/11 04:19 AM

Dear all,

If I trip over local keyboard players I would ask these questions, but for the moment, anyone care to give an opinion on this? If so, I do appreciate it.

I have read and heard it said that a (lead) guitarist could play most real-world music that he'd come across, knowing just the major and minor pentatonic scales. If true, is there an answer like that, for someone playing keyboard in a band? (My interest, as former guitarist/drummer, is overall confined
to 60s and 70s music). Call me a dinosaur, or narrow-minded, but I know what I like so that's the name of that tune. ;-)

I could also ask if, in general, is there a particular facet of music that you learned over time that you found to be of great help that you would pass along to others? Was there a certain "a-ha!" moment or the time when the light bulb went on for you when you "discovered" something cool and that others perhaps actually noticed when you played?

It may depend in part on how many people are in a band, and who plays what. In one case, if there is no rhythm guitarist the keyboard could perform that chords background function, I would imagine. But, if there is a rhythm guitarist, what then in general does the keyboardist play? (Yup, what I ask does in fact stem from my current ignorance about these things, which is why I am asking). In short, are there certain areas/elements that serves the keyboardist well, for older rock music? I am slowly coming to realize that one likely can't be just a chords guy / button pusher technician in white lab jacket like a mad scientist - although, having said that, it may serve as a starting point if nothing else.

Or, is it the same, no matter what? Should I memorize a zillion scales, learn all key signatures by heart, or learn 4 chords or 12 or 72? If you play the music that I like what one thing or things, well and truly matter, would you say?

I am trying to get a sense of the lay of the land, to learn about what a competent keyboardist should know (for the type of music that I like). My "big dream," if you could even call it that, is to make it back to the garage or basement someday and make noise with the boys even if in the end it's just for
the pleasure of playing again and hanging out with like-minded people.

And, for this type of music, does one look at synths? Right tool for the right job, and of course, "more power." ;-)

Your opinions are appreciated, thanks.

Posted By: Gerard12

Re: Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan? - 11/10/11 01:19 PM

I would start by learning most (if not all) of the major and minor triads and maybe dominant 7 chords in all their inversions with correct fingerings for both hands. Arpeggiate each inversion into octave wide patterns, also. That will really loosen you up.

Maybe learn a smattering of theory - start with the concept of I, IV, & V chords, and build from there.

Learn to play chord progressions with smooth voice leading (meaning that you really need to have knowledge of inversions). That'll help you when it comes time to play behind guitar solos.

Be able to play the blues and pentatonic scales at various tempos from ballad to frantic in keys that guitar players like to play in. Start with E and A.

There's a ton of books that'll help you with this stuff, but it's best to do it with a teacher. Any skilled player in a local band would be able to help.

Build your ear - play along with the recordings that you like, starting with the songs that only have 3 - 6 chords. Buy a transcribing program so you can slow stuff down.

Outlined above are the bare minimum starting points that I use with any student that asks what you're asking. You might want to post in the Digital Piano..... forum for questions concerning equipment. Have fun!
Posted By: 6070sMusic

Re: Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan? - 11/10/11 11:52 PM


Great, thanks. That was a help, in what to know, look for.
And, enough to keep this little old man busy a spell, I daresay. ;-) Again, thanks.

Posted By: Daniel Marsalone

Re: Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan? - 11/12/11 03:46 AM


For 60s and 70s rock learn your power chords (root fifth) and fourths (fifth root) for chords. Practice them til you can play them like single note scales, chromatic, thirds, whole tone etc.

Also work on triads and their inversions for all keys.

For single line work/solos learn your minor pentatonics and then blues scales starting in the guitar keys D, A, B, E and then jazz/horn keys, F, Bb, Eb. You can get a lot of mileage out of minor pentatonics.

As far as what to play with a rhythm guitarist, I'd play pads quiet in the mix. Nice long organ or synth pads.

Posted By: 6070sMusic

Re: Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan? - 11/12/11 11:54 AM

Daniel M.,

Thanks, for very sensible real-world advice; you and an earlier poster homed in on very concrete examples.

My list grows, of what to learn; it all helps. ;-)

Thank you, kindly.
Posted By: IPlayPiano

Re: Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan? - 11/13/11 12:49 AM

Ohhh this is fun! Two things: 1) Language. 2) Function.

1.) While all of the exercises mentioned above are very useful, they must be put in the context of language. How might you use an arpeggiated 7th chord in 60's and 70's music? Is it a part of the language? How are chords used in this era? I HIGHLY recommend transcribing note for note and listening closely to keyboard parts in your favorite tracks. What are those keyboardists doing? What does their language speak? Some things work and some things don't. THIS is pertinent.

2.) You mentioned something about playing chords if there is no rhythm guitarist. Perfect. This would be your function as it is what would be needed. However, if there IS a rhythm guitarist AND a lead guitarist then you now take on a new function. It all comes down to what you can add that is DIFFERENT and EFFECTIVE. This goes hand in hand with musical language. The keyboardist is never the rock star so get used to being Mr. One-Note rocker in the background making everything funky! The keyboardists has the power to hypnotize the audience without them even knowing. When listening to those tracks, ask yourself "Why did this keyboardist make this choice? What effect does it have? Also, listen for what the sound the keyboardist is using. Whirlies? Organs? Strings? Pianos? Sine Leads? Pads? Synth? Two sounds at once? Sometimes more? What effect does organ A have against organ B?

Make sense?
Posted By: 6070sMusic

Re: Keyboard, for a 60s / 70s fan? - 11/13/11 04:41 AM


Wow - nicely phrased reply, with excellent points, and an angle that I had indeed not looked at (in the way which you described it very well).

Thanks - very much appreciated. ;-)
Regards, --Pat
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