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Impeccable Keyboard Timing
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TheGreenGroove



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 12:18 pm    Post subject: Impeccable Keyboard Timing Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hey Everyone, I am a drummer of 7 years. Recenlty I have gotten into making electronic music and have slowly transitioned from the digital midi controlled synthesizer world into analouge synthesis. Midi made it really easy to compose songs with perfect timing and to be able to arrange the notes and get a great performance everytime. Now with analouge instruments I am being forced to play the keyboard in order to get a sound.

I am having alot of trouble with my timing. This is very disconcerting to me as a drummer. I would have thought that my timing would be excellent, but everytime I try and play my lines I can't seem to nail the notes like I want to. To any and all keyboard players out there I am wondering what you guys have done to work on your timing. Specifically I am wondering how you learned how to play behind the beat and make your lines groove a little bit. My biggest problem seems to be getting my fingers to hit the notes at the same time, and transitioning between triads while still holding down the previous notes to keep the pad full. It's really not as easy as I originally thought so any advice would be most appreciated.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Impeccible Keyboard Timing Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

TheGreenGroove wrote:


I am having alot of trouble with my timing. This is very disconcerting to me as a drummer.


If the music is good and original, does it really matter? Listen to some Thelonious Monk- sometimes known as 'Melodius Thunk' :D
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think Monk is a great examle of somebody with very good timing, actually....

I think this is a simple matter realy; I think what is missing is simply practice. Another factor my be the relatively smooth, light feel of the typical synth keyboard. To a drummer that might not give sufficient tactile feedback on timing. Another good idea might be practicing on a real or virtual piano; since the piano is a percussion instrument at it's core the tones coming from a piano might work well for drummers in givving immediate feedback on timing.

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mosc
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

welcome to electro-music.com TheGreenGroove.

Wow, you hit it on the head. I'm a keyboard player and I've been struggling with this my entire career. You are dead right. I find it very hard to play convincing music along with a running sequencer. Actually, I'm trying to get rid of the need for a sequencer, drum machine or drummer to establish a crisp clean machine-like beat. I'm aiming to play this on the keyboard myself.

My solution isn't yet perfected, but I'm getting very close. In the 80s I developed some programs to use with a MPU 401 MIDI interface to time quantize my keyboard playing in real time. Unfortunately, the 401 smart-mode interface is now obsolete. In the 90s I worked with Tim Thompson to develops some real-time-quantizer programs in Keykit which worked pretty well, but were not perfect. I've also used SoftSeq and AlgoWonk to try this.

So far the best result I've had is to use the G2 as a MIDI processor to do this real-time processing.

IMHO, practice isn't the answer. I can play jazz, including blues and boogie-woogie, but precise relentlessly accurate machine perfect timing isn't need in these styles.

BTW, I have observed that most drummers can't do this either. Shocked

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Last edited by mosc on Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I found that drummers who also produce can do so more often because they grew to like the machine acurate timing.

I think that if the end result needs to be as precise as a machine then it'd make more sense to have a machine do it.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, I think there is a place for the machine-assisted timing. In this respect, I think I'm breaking new ground, but I have to give credit to the apreggiators. They are a good invention, but IMHO they don't go far enough.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Unless the music is specifically written for a fixed tempo scheme, and even in those cases you would rarely want clockwork hammering on those keys, ..a slight tempo drift is quite OK. There are of course flavours. It is reasonably easy to hear what is simply bad playing and what is "good"/groovy.
An important issue is that you aren´t playing midi events that are small coloured squares on a piano roll. A keyboardist is supposed to control the energy envelope. If you really listen very carefully to both jazz and classcial recordings, you will hear that even though the "finger down" comes early, what the player really is working on is the envelope/phrase.

Kassen is right that a lot of this has do to with practice, but I will want to stress that "on time" rythmic playing techniques in one genre will often not work at all in others.

Playing in time with step sequencers isn´t that hard but it takes practice.

Another matter is that very often the feel of perfect time is an illusion rather than a factual observation. Rythmically this can also be more interesting. Drums? keyboards? Check out "Soon Over Babaluma" by the german band Can. There are a lot of great ideas in there. The playing is pretty good too. I am sure you know about Jaki already.. and now you should listen to what Irmin does too.

Practice? Check out the Franz Liszt excercises.

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TheGreenGroove



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

See, thats not exactly it. I am trying to play synth sounds over the top of drum machine made loops, and play behind the beat. I am finding that it is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I can slam the keys like I was playing a marching snare and nail the notes right on the beat, but it sounds bad over hip-hop which is more groove oriented in nature. It's just playing behind the beat on keys, it's so different than playing the drums where instant wrist motion = instant hit. I feel like there is a time delay between the mental process of fingers down and note contact.

Playing a piano would probably be a good idea. I am thinking about getting a rhodes so I am sure I would be able to practice on that, but even still the long release synthesizer is throwing me off even though it sounds great the way it's set.

By the way thanks for the welcome. I am really glad I found this place. I didn't realize there was a forum for geeky musician/engineers like me. I have really been digging on the talks about random music generation and electronic construction/manipulation as well as the more philisophical discussions on the nature of music. I am sure you guys will be seeing alot of me.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Well, I think there is a place for the machine-assisted timing. In this respect, I think I'm breaking new ground, but I have to give credit to the apreggiators. They are a good invention, but IMHO they don't go far enough.


I don't use any other sequencing programs anymore now that I have Live but I was under the impression that realtime quantisation was standard by now?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

TheGreenGroove wrote:
I feel like there is a time delay between the mental process of fingers down and note contact.


There actually is. Brains and the connections to the body are much slower then many people think. The actual handeling of the limbs mostly gets done by the spinal column, unless some new activity is involved. You can often see this at work; novice players that need to look at their joypad, novice drivers that go through visible mental steps when shifting gears. Experienced gamers might need to conciously think about what move is where when verbally asked but will perform it without thinking while playing. It's a known phenomenon and it should go away with practice.

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TheGreenGroove



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Actually I dont know what Jaki is. Could you tell me?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

TheGreenGrove.. welcome

Playing behind the beat is just a matter of training. One possible way to think of it could be as a phrasing technique. Try to learn phrases from records and you could even try to transcribe the notation for the phrases so you can see how the playing matches the drum grooves.


A weighted piano keyboard will not make you any better. Playing completely plasticky unweighted synth keyboards and piano action weighted keyboards are two completely different things. Both can be mastered though.

Anyways, I know nothing about hiphop.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

TheGreenGroove wrote:
Actually I dont know what Jaki is. Could you tell me?


A good link:
http://www.spoonrecords.com/


Jaki Liebezeit used to be one of the most influental drummer around.. 70s-mid 80s. He is back in fashion again. People are trying to learn to program their drum machines in order to sound like Jaki.
Guy Evans isn´t bad either, but in your case I suggest sticking with Jaki.

Go for the 70s stuff.. Like "Can: Soon Over Babaluma". There is also a Can DVD out.. I thnk there are 2 disks in the set. ..With some concerts and documentaries. That is a great introduction.

What does it sound like? Like how a lot of hip hop and drum and bass music should have sounded like. Main difference is that Can is more groovy and sounds more modern.

Shocked

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TheGreenGroove



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

okay my mistake, I knew who jaki was. I just didn't know his name. I have heard can before, I haven't ever listened to an album though. I think my roommate probably has some can albums that I could listen to.

I think I am going to do that, listen to some records and learn the keyboard phrases. My only problem is that I am by no means a skilled piano transcriber. I can hear and reproduce beats pretty acurately, but understanding chord progressions and reproducing them is an entirely different game. Hearing note transitions within a chord is an extreme endeavor for me. Thats why I have been sticking to writing my own music this whole time Wink . I suppose it's time to learn though. I am just not looking forward to the frustration in store for me.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Advice: Ignore the chords issue for now. Instead try to train your ability to hear melodic/rythmic keyboard phrases. Think monophonic or duophonic or whatever. The chords stuff will come later.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Out of curiocity; Why did you ellect to post this under composition?

I agree that it's a compositional choice we now have; sticking to a "perfect" sync, making it loose by using groove templates or "humanizers" or playing manually but your question seems to focus on the actuall skill as a musician more then on the aesthetical choice of the composer.

I'm asking this because I think the needs and wants of the E-M population seem to be shifting and expanding and I wonder what those needs are.

Side note; wouldn't some piano lessons accomplish what you want?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I reckon this forum seemed the most sensible to post it in. We do have the "how-to" forum of course.. but no real forum for chops. Question
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
Side note; wouldn't some piano lessons accomplish what you want?


..some..? Shocked

Some spend their life trying to get their rubato just right. Shocked

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oh, I think it's completely sensible. With the shifts in options over the past few decades I think we need to look at compositional choices with a much wider look and in a very different way. I read that for some of his etudes Chopin prefered a intonation that had no accents in volume in pieces that are considdered very hard to play while now we can write pieces for piano that would be downright impossible to play manually and are left wondering how to get the intonation in there (!).

Very much on topic.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Kassen wrote:
Side note; wouldn't some piano lessons accomplish what you want?


..some..? Shocked

Some spend their life trying to get their rubato just right. Shocked


Yeah, well, but what's the alternative? I suppose you could write a little program that would vary how far behind the beat you'll be if you play robotically on the beat but how much fun would that be? how would it feel in the long run?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

TheGreenGroove wrote:
Actually I dont know what Jaki is. Could you tell me?


Listen to 'One More Night' on the LP 'Ege Bamyasi'- which is in 7/8 time. The rhythm for this track has been used on other Can tracks too- notably, 'Moonshake' and 'Bel Air' on their LP 'Future Days'. Moonshake is one of my fave Can tracks (as well as the whole of side one and two of 'Tago Mago' and the whole of 'Delay 68'- Can are AMAZING- and you should listen to them ASAP!!!!

It's also worth getting hold of the first 3 solo LP's by Holger Czukay (pronounced "chuk-i")- especially "Cannaxis 5"- which is a remarkable (as far as tape montage is concerned) and proves "Key DJ'ing/ mixing" has been around far longer than we realise.

Apart from that, Kas is right- "practice, does makes perfect!" as they say :D

Tom
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hey Tom! Aren´t you supposed to be tending the new one? Grats! Amazing news.

I see you couldn´t stay away from a thread that mentions good old Can. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
There is also a Can DVD out.. I thnk there are 2 disks in the set.


3 discs in fact. 2 DVD's and one Audio CD. But unfortunately the audio one isn't much to write home about. One of the DVD has superb footage of the famous Cologne concert- some some stills of this are on the back cover of 'ege bamyasi' and the original United Artists gatefold version of 'Tago Mago'. Damo Suzuki also features on this film/ documentary. The box set is worth it just for this.- You can also 'see' inside InnerSpace- Can's recording studio, built into an old cinema (the amount of people on this list who would kill others for a studio like that one!!!!!- me included :)))) )
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Hey Tom! Aren´t you supposed to be tending the new one? Grats! Amazing news.

I see you couldn´t stay away from a thread that mentions good old Can. Very Happy


Very Happy Cheers Stein Very Happy Very Happy

Yeah I couldn't stay away from rabbeting on about one of my all-time favourite bands Very Happy They are German (krautrock) and they are FAB!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
... I was under the impression that realtime quantisation was standard by now?

Does anyone know any programs that do that? I haven't come across one.

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