Friday, December 5, 2008

Keyboard vs Guitar

I've been a keyboard/piano player forever. The earliest I can remember playing stuff is around age 7. When I think about music, I generally think in the key of C, and transpose on the fly. To me there are 8 notes in an octave, with a few sharps and flats hiding in between the dominant notes. Piano is comfortable to me. The guitar is a whole different brain space. All semitones are equal? 13 notes in an octave? The distance between D and E is twice the distance between E and F?? I can play a little guitar, but you wouldn't catch me on stage with one. I've advanced to the point where I am a mediocre guitar player; it took me a while to get that far, and I haven't budged from that point since.

I have tremendous respect for people who can play the guitar well, mostly because it seems like magic to me. I have even more respect for multitalented folks who can move from instrument to instrument.

I've nearly always done impro with a keyboard, and 99% of the impro I've watched has been with a keyboard. When I've seen shows by other impro groups around the world, it's always either been a keyboard, or no musician at all.

In Brisbane, we have quite a few excellent impro musicians who play the guitar as their primary impro instrument.

Are there advantages and disadvantages to either? Of course! Here are a few.

Tricks - keyboards often have a few tricks, like drum kits for raps, or a harp for a Shakespearean scene. If you're trying to replicate a particular style of music, a guitarist (or pure pianist for that matter) might not have as many tools at their disposal. That's not to say guitarists can't have similar flexibility - a guitarist using effects is going to have a few tricks up their sleeve.

Whether or not this is important depends a lot on the show and the games. A primarily story-driven show (especially long-form) will thrive just fine without tricks.

Organic - guitar is lovely and real and expressive, far more than a digital reproduction of an instrument. On occasion I will switch to an acoustic guitar sound (say for a Bob Dylan song style), and it sounds mechanical and unnatural to me. A real acoustic guitar is unbeatable for many kinds of sounds. Playing a piano sound on a keyboard can approach the realism of a piano (depending on the keyboard, the sound, weighted keys, etc), but it's just not the same.

Registers - I've noticed when a guitar is supporting an MC, it seems like it's easy for the guitar and the MC to vie for the same register, and they can compete with each other a little bit. I suspect a piano/keyboard has more flexibility for moving out of the way of where the voices on the stage are. (Of course, it could be that I'm just a bad guitar player.)

Cool factor - Guitar is cool like sunglasses. Keyboard is cool like linux.

One of those multi-talented folks who can play multiple instruments could probably pull off having a both a keyboard and a guitar set up and good to go, switching from one to the other as required. A game like Song in the Style Of would be just magic with a setup like that. I've never seen anyone try it, but I think it would be great.

3 comments:

Dan said...

I do miss working with David Peachey more often. While having a keyboard is great for things like Genres and gags and sounds effects I've always found doing actual 'songs' to be blissfully easy with Peachey backing me up.

Of course, sometimes easy means that I'm not challenging myself enough.

Molly said...

Thank you for the great post,It is really a big help.thanks for sharing nice blog.

rabia said...

I’ve frequently seen the Thermaltake Gaming Keyboard, version KB-CHM-MBBLUS-01, move for around $30. If you could get it for that rate, it’s a amazing deal. best mechanical keyboard under 50

Related Posts with Thumbnails