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For electronic musicians, is it meaningless (or uncool) to be a keyboard virtuoso?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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For electronic musicians, is it meaningless (or uncool) to be a keyboard virtuoso?

Well, seems most edgy sound designers and cool musicians rely on sequencers and interfaces like Make Noise René / Buchla Thunder, which are more easy to use and have much more possibilities than traditional keyboard.

On the contrary, seems most keyboard virtuosos nowadays generally have bad taste on sound design, like infamous Jordan Rudess or those "preset warrior" in wedding / commercial bands (These are somewhat satires, I'm actually a little bit into prog rock things like Tony Banks and I'm actually a cover band member several years ago in uni, but seems thumb down these things are general consensuses of this forum).

So here are several things I'm wondering,
  1. Do keyboard virtuosos generally have bad tastes on sound design? Hiromi Uehara hasn't replaced her Nord Lead 2 for about 10 years.
  2. The era of virtuoso music (prog rock?) has ended of decades, is it uncool to be a keyboard virtuoso nowadays?
  3. If you are classical / jazz trained musician and started your career from acoustic piano / Hammond organ, do you feel your keyboard skill helpful on electronic music production?
  4. If you can't play keyboard properly, do you want to… Eh, take piano lessons?
  5. Why those guys still keep investing on overpriced and dated big digital gears (workstation keyboard or Rompler)?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
This is not a thread we should be having.

Edit: not to be unkind but I don’t think it would be productive, because there is a massive gulf between certain camps on GS, and I don’t believe that anyone is willing to change their opinion.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
This is not a thread we should be having.

Edit: not to be unkind but I don’t think it would be productive, because there is a massive gulf between certain camps on GS, and I don’t believe that anyone is willing to change their opinion.
I'm sorry if I accidently triggered the untouchable history of gearslutz or something…
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
I'm sorry if I accidently triggered the untouchable history of gearslutz or something…
It’s ok, these are innocent questions.

This site can be polarising. Viewpoints range from:

A. You need no instrumental skills at all, and it’s more about rhythm, production, and a range of timbral creation within the genre(s) or sound-world(s) you decide to live in. Why can’t those instrumentalists leave us alone?

B. Everyone should learn instrumental skills and basic theory, because the magical art of harmony is at threat.

And these things of course are highly emotional topics, because music, and our connection to music, is very emotionally charged, and if people are doing things with music that we don’t approve of, then that can be very alienating and the start of conflict.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Coorec's Avatar
I found the best electronic music to me was made by people who had both.
The naivity and open mindedness to let the technology guide them. An then enhance the result with their composing or player skills.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Gear Head
Having skills and knowledge of music theory is never going to be unhelpful in any kind of music creation. Having keyboard playing skills isn't going to hamper creativity. In fact, if you're hitting a rut, sometimes being able to quantify why certain things feel or sound a certain way using theory can help apply things learned in your own music.

That being said, there are people with limited theory knowledge that produce some absolutely incredible tracks, and there are virtuosos who use generally uninspired sounds.

Neither approach is right or wrong, but I think certain genres of music might traditionally attract players of certain skill levels and skill sets, and that's totally okay. There's room for all the above!
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Great answers by xander and Coorec. I can only add that the myth of "formal music training hinders creativity" is always supported by examples like "Hendrix or Armstrong couldn't even read music". Which of course IS true, there have been great innovators who couldn't read music and knew nothing about theory.
But for every once-in-history genius who contributed to music without formal studies, there have been thousands who worked their a**es off. And in general, the greatest innovators have been the ones who worked and studied hardest.

In electronic music most of the focus is on designing sounds and rhythms, and a lot relies on automation so it's true that virtuoso skills are not indispensable. But surely they don't hurt, either
And anyway: sound design, learning to program synths and DAWs, learning to record, mix etc... are all skills that require A LOT of study and work! Probably more than "simply" learning an instrument (which is a multi-year endevour at the very least, anyway).

So again: musical talent is a gift, you either have it or not. But technique, theory, melody, harmony, ear training, sense of rhythm, listening to as much music as possible, and most of all being organized and dedicated, having a plan and sticking to it...these are all things that can be studied and improved.

"Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration."
Thomas Edison
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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chaocrator's Avatar
it depends.

for me, it is meaningful and cool to be a keyboard virtuoso — same as any other instrument played with one's hands/feet/breath in real time. just play and let the MIDI do the rest of job.

but i'm a gig-oriented kind of musician. if we talk about studio recordings, it's much much harder to estimate.

regarding question №4 — sorry, my answer is no. i'm a drummer and happy with my drumming skills, and when it comes to playing melodic parts — i'm trying to improve my finger drumming skills instead of learning another way of input from scratch. after all, a lot of organ solos in certain genres of music give me the feel like it's a kind of chromatic percussion

regarding question №5 — ROMpler is still cool for drums & percussions, so why not?

p.s. also, last saturday i got an ElectroPunk Hammond. i'm seriously going to perform on stage with it, using finger drumming techniques and Launchpad Pro as input device.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Nut
 

I personally, lived to the rule that you don't need to know anything about theory to make electronic music. However, now my taste and perspective has changed I'm feeling like not knowing any theory is holding me back. Hence my decision to learn at least basic theory so late in the game.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
Well, seems most edgy sound designers and cool musicians...
I would say that if such things are important to you (and I mean this with sincerity) then no, keyboard skills would not be helpful to you—that is, until edgy sound designers and cool musicians all have keyboard skills, at which point you’ll wish you had them.

Other than that, I’ve not much more to add except that I agree with xander: this a polarizing topic that, as someone firmly rooted in one of the camps, I find exasperating to discuss.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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rasseru's Avatar
depends what music comes out at the end
Old 1 week ago
  #12
I don't sample though it seems to be another art form to me, in that case I would say nope.

OTOH I stopped listening to berlin style sequencing on any music after 1979 years ago, so I am the wrong person to really say.

Usually I only sequence the rythm and play lead over it, though even my drums are heavily influenced by drum tabs. I am going for another style than a lot of EDM.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spider76 View Post
Great answers by xander and Coorec. I can only add that the myth of "formal music training hinders creativity" is always supported by examples like "Hendrix or Armstrong couldn't even read music". Which of course IS true, there have been great innovators who couldn't read music and knew nothing about theory.

...

"Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration."
Thomas Edison
I get your point but I am nitpicking here as I study a lot of jazz and that's mostly what I listen to now, from wikipedia:

"
Throughout his riverboat experience, Armstrong's musicianship began to mature and expand. At twenty, he could read music. He became one of the first jazz musicians to be featured on extended trumpet solos, injecting his own personality and style. He started singing in his performances."

Since this topic is about "uncool" ... I am a big fan of Nikola Tesla who invented the AC generator, which Edison slandered him on but was thankfully ignored.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maisonvague View Post
I would say that if such things are important to you (and I mean this with sincerity) then no, keyboard skills would not be helpful to you—that is, until edgy sound designers and cool musicians all have keyboard skills, at which point you’ll wish you had them.

Other than that, I’ve not much more to add except that I agree with xander: this a polarizing topic that, as someone firmly rooted in one of the camps, I find exasperating to discuss.
Well… Actually I'm not 100% into Aphex Twin styled "bleep bloop" things but just curious about alternavie controller.
I'm actually somewhere in the mid. I've learned "some" piano when I was a kid and could play lead (of course not things fast like John Lord) / bassline / pads without any problem, but still find my finger stiff while recording (unstable dynamic / wrong notes) or play something Impromptu and complicated. I'm considering if I should invest time on keyboard training or Max / Reaktor things.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
I’ve been producing music for almost 20 years but just got it in my head to actually learn to play keyboards last November. I was firmly in the camp of ‘you don’t need to know theory or how to play to make good electronic ‘
Now that I’ve been playing it has opened my eyes. I used to peck out melodies using trial and error pretty much and was very concerned about if the keys of competing melodies were proper and therefore wouldn’t really put too many melodies together. Knowing my scales has opened my horizons enormously and made making music way more enjoyable. I have melodies pouring out of my finger tips. Also I’ve been playing guitar for over 25 years and am not bad but I never put the effort into learning what exactly I was doing. Now it all makes sense. The veil is being lifted. Needless to say I’m am completely stoked on learning to play and it’s only going to get better from here. I love sitting in front of my keyboards jamming out. I try to put in an hour a day but if I’m completely beat from work I at least run through my scales. I try to learn a new scale every week or so and am excited to tackle modes when I feel I have my scales down. It’s working, it’s awesome.
I don’t feel like you need to know how to play at all to make good electronic but you sure as hell won’t be worse off. If you plan on taking music production seriously at all then why not learn? No time like the present. YouTube is awesome, and it’s never a bad thing to learn to play an instrument.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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maisonvague's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
Well… Actually I'm not 100% into Aphex Twin styled "bleep bloop" things but just curious about alternavie controller.
I'm actually somewhere in the mid. I've learned "some" piano when I was a kid and could play lead (of course not things fast like John Lord) / bassline / pads without any problem, but still find my finger stiff while recording (unstable dynamic / wrong notes) or play something Impromptu and complicated. I'm considering if I should invest time on keyboard training or Max / Reaktor things.
I like to let the music dictate the degree of skill needed for its execution. This way I avoid virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity.

If I were unable to execute my musical ideas fluently (in other words, the complexity of the music exceeded my ability to perform it), I would want to do something about it.

You can solve problems of execution by various means such as automation, music generators or asking other musicians to play for you. OR you could learn to play these parts yourself.

How you go about this, though, is up to you—and the music. It could be the music you want to make would benefit more from becoming fluent with an isomorphic controller such as Ableton PUSH.

Basically my take on all this can be summarized as:

1) only in exceptional circumstances does it hurt to have keyboard skills and
2) the need for having these skills is dependent on the music you want to make and how you want to go about making it
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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WozNYC's Avatar
This is what keyboard players look like to most people.

Old 1 week ago
  #18
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I would certainly LOVE to be able to play like George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans etc. Maybe Google will release an implant soon
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Fay Smearing's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WozNYC View Post
This is what keyboard players look like to most people.


Now I know where the Robot Chicken stuff came from.

Before I hit play I actually thought it was going to be one of their clips.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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massimo's Avatar
 

As a music listener, I enjoy music which makes the listening experience an adventure. I like to be surprised, puzzled, unsettled, thrilled more then being caressed or reassured, if that makes sense. This is my concept of entertainment with music. Listening to these kinds of music is a joy.

Making music is also a joy. When I play music I am trying hard to play/compose something that has those same qualities, otherwise I am not pleased or entertained, but rather bored by my own music when I play it or listen to it- which I do not want.

The struggle to achieve this is what has driven, and still drives me to try and be a better player and composer. So to answer your question, and in my personal case, developing skills as a player and composer is the tool for making the music I can enjoy. As an early poster said, one is always trying to be able to play decently and/or write for other musicians the music that flows out of his/her brain. If I feel I am not proficient enough to achieve this, I feel very frustrated, so I try to overcome my limitations with study and practice. This raises the bar and pushes the boundaries, which is always healthy, and I am confident this applies to any form of music and art in general. I am writing this, in this particular forum, as someone who deeply loves synthesizers etc. and has done so for decades, but considers sound design the icing on the cake- in my view performance and composition are the cake, so I am strongly biased. Other posters' opinions/perspectives can and will be wildly different.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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In my opinion, there is a difference between being a keyboard virtuoso and classically trained musician that understands theory. I see classical training as a practical skill to have if you pursue music beyond a hobbyist capacity, it definitely has the potential to open up doors.

OTOH, being a supremely dexterous keyboard virtuoso is a really specialized skill that you probably won’t find a lot of lucrative situations to fully use this skill, even if you start your own jazz/prog project. It won’t necessarily be automatically useful in all types of music, in the way that being classically trained is. I see being a keyboard virtuoso and a similar but even more specialized niche than being a guitar virtuoso...again that’s cool I guess for some kinds of music but I don’t really care to listen to that all the time.

All of these things are separate from sound design “tastes.”

YMMV
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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shreddoggie's Avatar
I am a trained musician. I've spent a long time in conservatory and played countless sessions and gigs with people who are really good.
One thing seems consistent that is pertinent here:
Taste and facility seem pretty much completely disconnected.

People with no taste and no facility make pedestrian junk and get bored / fade away / tired of no one paying attention.
People with taste and no facility often make very unique music and may be successful.
People with no taste but accomplished facility often succeed and are the most tiresome and boring musicians you'll ever meet.
People with both know when and where to use it and you'd never know they could play 64th triplets at 144 if the style didn't call for it.

Learning to get around your instrument well can open up an enhanced vocabulary and can free the artist within but it can also allow unmusical knuckleheads to impress people who don't really know much except, "Gee look how he tickles those ivories" Facility with rhythm is required. I am usually happy playing with anyone who has rhythm and taste.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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grasspike's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFM View Post

On the contrary, seems most keyboard virtuosos nowadays generally have bad taste on sound design, like infamous Jordan Rudess or those "preset warrior" in wedding / commercial bands.
What an arrogant and down right ignorant thing to say. What qualifications do you have to judge the "taste" of others?

Tell me how many Grammy Awards have you been nominated for? How many millions of records have you sold?

How many music technology companies have you founded? How many Synth Manufacturers have you designed sounds for?

How many worldwide tours have you done to packed out houses?

And what is wrong with being a "preset" warrior in a Wedding Band. Actually making money and having fun entertaining people?

What's wrong with presets in general?
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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There are folks who've spent 10,000 hours practicing piano. There are people who've spent that amount of time designing sounds. Far more people have spent that time practicing edgy and cool. If you spend most your time maintaining your image and seeking attention, you won't have much time for anything else. And there's way more competition to be an edgelord than a musical virtuoso.

Now, there aren't any classically trained Linnstrumentalists. It takes much less nature and nurture to be a cornhole legend than a football star. It's not a judgement on the activity, but rather on the amount of competition, how many talented, well-trained people are doing similar things. There are so many more pianists, and cultural tradition to teach piano. Competency on a Buchla is measured differently than on a piano. Expectations are different. So, an UNUSUAL musical skill can gain recognition quicker, but to maintain, people have to want to keep listening. So, there's lots of work either way, unless you're a savant.

So, what's my point? Don't try so hard to be cool and edgy, that's inauthentic. Accept yourself as you are right now, and practice an instrument if that's your passion (keys, pads, modular, FL, whatever turns you on, show people how it's cool instead of aping others' idea of cool).

Why cover your Gucci soul with a fake Goochie wrapper? You can be in a tribute band later, if your original music doesn't take off. In the meantime, develop whatever skills are needed to take your music to the next level. Not because it's popular, but because it's what you do.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
TNC
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Uncool? It's very cool I think. I wish I was a keyboard virtuoso.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNC View Post
Uncool? It's very cool I think. I wish I was a keyboard virtuoso.
It’s really cool to be able to play keys. You can go places, all sorts of places, that have pianos, and then rip out some funk or jazz or something and people respond so well to it, they might say something nice, or it might brighten their day.

I’d really recommend it.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
Well, seems most edgy sound designers and cool musicians rely on sequencers and interfaces like Make Noise René / Buchla Thunder, which are more easy to use and have much more possibilities than traditional keyboard.[/LIST]
none of it matters ,some people want to explore new forms of music / sound and some people want to do Elton John cover versions , some people are trained , some are not , none of it matters , stop wasting your time on forums with this pointless bipolar **** , its a meaningless question , its like me asking here who likes eggs and somehow its a valid question , who gives a fk
Old 1 week ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grasspike View Post
What an arrogant and down right ignorant thing to say. What qualifications do you have to judge the "taste" of others?

Tell me how many Grammy Awards have you been nominated for? How many millions of records have you sold?

How many music technology companies have you founded? How many Synth Manufacturers have you designed sounds for?

How many worldwide tours have you done to packed out houses?

And what is wrong with being a "preset" warrior in a Wedding Band. Actually making money and having fun entertaining people?

What's wrong with presets in general?
These are somewhat satires, I'm actually a little bit into prog rock things (like Tony Banks) and I'm actually a cover band member several years ago in uni. But seems thumb down these things are general consensuses of this forum.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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umptanum's Avatar
 

In my personal experience, my keyboard playing radically improved when I stopped trying to read and play other people's music and instead learned some music theory and how scales worked. Things unlocked. It became fun to sit at the piano for hours ripping leads and phrases and experience music flowing out of you and being able to anticipate how things will sound. I could play fast, complex stuff that sounded good pretty easy.

Writing a piece of complete music is a whole other thing. The stuff I can do is a whole lot of aimless jamming. It sounds good and impresses the chicks, but it isn't a finished piece of music. Writing music is hard.

And as another poster remarked, with devices like Push and other groove boxes that set the chords and scales and modes in key for you, it's really not that hard to sound great and look like you play well. Playing a traditional piano keyboard is only one small part of modern electronic music, where you can be juggling all sorts of control surfaces and devices.
Old 1 week ago
  #30
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Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
Do keyboard virtuosos generally have bad tastes on sound design? Hiromi Uehara hasn't replaced her Nord Lead 2 for about 10 years.
Don't change a winning team.

Quote:
The era of virtuoso music (prog rock?) has ended of decades, is it uncool to be a keyboard virtuoso nowadays?
It is getting cool again, and that's good.



I'd say it's easier to learn synthesis coming from this than virtuoso playing from the other side, but it's a false dichotomy. There's just more of one than the others.

Quote:
If you can't play keyboard properly, do you want to… Eh, take piano lessons?
Sure! Always! It increases your vocabulary. Fluency on the instrument is not a sin, and neither is it mutually exclusive. The trope of the classical player who can't improvise their way out of a paper bag is to make people who can't play at all feel better.

Quote:
Why those guys still keep investing on overpriced and dated big digital gears (workstation keyboard or Rompler)?
Did you ever have the need to perform live? Anything versatile that can be a workhorse is a godsend. In the studio, an intricate mass of wires and a dozen boxes will make you happy; live, you hope everything is hooked up like it should.

Here's 4 important factors:

Resilience (it should be able to take a beating and survive life on the road).

Reliability (it should not crap out on you or surprise/confuse you).

Reproducibility (you should be able to repeat everything you did, because you have a tour schedule)

Results (least efforts required; close enough and being able to do 10 other things is better than only doing one thing well).

I'll have the Electro over a Rhodes, and I can live with a VA instead of 3 analogs if I'm on stage, even if its ladder filter simulation is 6 out of 10 times distinguishable and recognized as fake in a blind A/B test.
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