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#437610 - 09/16/17 03:05 PM Arranger players, I have a question..
Fran Carango Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/26/99
Posts: 8137
Loc: Levittown, Pa, USA
The arranger keyboard is a great instrument with many tools for us to use...

How many players here are old school players ?

Players that are comfortable to turn off the auto accomp.
Play left hand bass and comp with the right hand over a drum pattern..

I know Uncle Dave and I often play this way... I think we came up in an era that demanded you play left hand bass. We also used multi keyboards.. Live, no sequences and no audio files was the norm..

The beauty of the better arranger keyboards.... you can do this without any hassles.. The sounds are all great and we have decent keybeds..

How many of you guys/gals enjoy and play this way... Do you find it as rewarding as I do..

Sometimes I like to just add a rhythm guitar style part..

I dislike an all out style that sounds like every other player that owns the same model... Fact is , I rather play a standard midi file instead..

Am I alone with this logic? smile
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#437628 - 09/17/17 01:24 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
abacus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 4533
Loc: English Riviera, UK
The all singing all dancing styles are designed for home hobby players who want to sound great without the wait, (Arrangers are nothing more than advanced versions of the easy play features of organs) pro musicians use them sparingly so that they can develop their own style, as otherwise (As you say) they sound like everyone else, which basically turns them into Karaoke Players.

The most disappointing thing these days is that people will tell you want instrument is being played by the sound/style, but won’t have a clue who the player is, whereas previously everybody identified the player by his style (No matter what instrument he was playing) which is always preferable. (Technology is a great servant, but too many players have let it become the master)

Bill
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#437632 - 09/17/17 05:12 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
Dnj Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 33887
Loc: Jersey Shore, NJ USA
if thats the case why even have an arranger....?
many kbs/pianos have on board rhythm patterns to accomp your left hand bass and RH sounds..



Edited by Dnj (09/17/17 05:54 AM)
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#437634 - 09/17/17 05:48 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
Riceroni9 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/04
Posts: 577
Loc: Glen Rose, TX, USA
Hi Fran:

It's all about perspective but I can certainly see where you are coming from. If I were a performing player like you, Mason, Donnie, Uncle Dave and so many others... I would most likely nod my agreement and move on.

As a highly unsuccessful songwriter (LOL) the Arranger is a Godsend! I use mine at my little home studio just about every day. I settled on Yamaha because my "early days co-writer" had a Tyros and I traded him my old pickup truck for his old PSR-2000 so we could work in the same operating system.

As I progressed and he went back to his day job (real money, LOL) I had to learn to do the whole schmeer in song creation and production including singing. (Don Mason was my model since we both hail from the Southwestern U.S.... (at least that's the way the old history books defined the ArkLaTex.)

Being able to arrange my songs in different genres, using different instruments and to be able to vary the individual volumes, etc. is such a great tool. Multi-Pads add dimension I could never have imagined.

I don't play or sing well but over the years I have improved to a point where I'm not ashamed to "pitch" my songs to real artists, producers or other publishers.

I hope you guys know how much influence you have with me and how much I admire what you do for a living. Just wanted you to understand another point of view. The arranger (no matter what brand) is a fantastic tool for those without much talent, arthritic hands and limited budgets.

All the best, ----Dave Rice

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#437640 - 09/17/17 07:37 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
Bill Lewis Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 1314
Loc: Bluffton/Hilton Head SC USA
Fran
Old School here. Never did much LH Bass but I can play the bass pedals really well. Lots of time and work went into that and money customizing my B3. Used to comp with my LH and solo with my right. For years with a drummer and then a drum machine. Loved playing that way but times change.
Depending on the situation just piano and vocal might do it. Then move up to LH Bass with Drum machine. Then add a minimal style or Midi track and play/sing along. An arranger can give you all those scenieros.
How big do you need to sound to cover the job ? And as discussed before how many sounds, styles , etc, do you really need ?
I like you miss the simplicity and the connected feeling I used to get playing, now, not so much.
_________________________
Bill in SC --- Roland BK9 (2) Roland PK5 Pedals, Roland FP90, Crate XP800 PA, JBL 515XTs , EV mics, Apple iPad (2) Behringer DJ mixer

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#437641 - 09/17/17 08:04 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 12418
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
As an entertainer/singer/musician, I used everything the keyboard had to offer. I rarely played midi files, and often, did not play a single one during a 4 hour performance. I think the keyboard's bass player is one hell of a lot better than most of the bass players I've come across in my life, and the same goes for the drummer. While I played a pretty mean lead guitar when I was with my band, I still prefer playing that guitar with my right hand along with the keyboard's diverse and varied accompaniment variations.

I, for one, love those styles that kept the audiences on the dance floors, Bill, and rarely took the keyboard out of the van to play at home. Therefore, I was never a home player to speak, but instead, a PRO player that generated his entire income using all those dance and sing styles the keyboard had to offer. I know hundreds of other PRO keyboard players that do the same, many of which, including myself, that rarely unloaded his arranger keyboard from the van or car between jobs, which were daily.

Fran and I have always been on opposite ends of the spectrum with this issue. He enjoyed playing along with SMF but I can assure you than most of us never do that, including my old friend, Don Mason.

All the best,

Gary cool
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#437643 - 09/17/17 09:09 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
cgiles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 4471
Loc: Roswell,GA/USA
I practice and rehearse using the BK7m as a drum machine (when I can't get a drummer). When using a drummer I use my Alexis DM10 Pro (except with my favorite drummer, who insists on bringing his own scaled-down acoustic set). I use pedals for slow tunes and LH bass on up-tempo tunes (arthritic knees). I only play organ but do occasionally use piano and brass from the VP770 mounted on top of my organ (KeyB Duo Mk111). On real gigs, I have only used organ (organ trio/quartet format).

As far as Arrangers go, whatever works best for you and what you feel most comfortable with. IN MY OPINION, styles CANNOT be tweaked to be made to NOT sound like ....styles. For that reason, I tend to lean towards Fran's position of using midi files (to play over) instead. The problem with that (IMO) is that unless the midi files are SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to be played over (not just deleting the melody track), it's still going to sound a little 'cheezy'. That's because YOU have to respond to it rather than it responding to you (as with live players).

I think we all (well, most of us) agree that the most optimal playing experience is playing with other live players. Sadly, given the current economic clime, that is not always possible. For me (and ME ALONE), if I'm paying, I only want to see 'live' music. I don't even like seeing big stars performing to 'taped' backgrounds (although that is often the case). It's like the 'business' of music is more important than the 'art' of music. JMO.

chas
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"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." [Nietzsche]

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#437645 - 09/17/17 10:09 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
Bill Lewis Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 1314
Loc: Bluffton/Hilton Head SC USA
Gary
As i said it depends on the situation . Smaller venues Styles are fine but when you are trying to do Dance music which people expect to ssound like the original Midi files are great. Of course they need to be heavily edited to not sound totally fake.
I wish I knew of a Roland Midi to Style converter. I don't use many Midi backing songs now but would use far fewer if I had something like that.
And as we always say whatever gets the job done.
_________________________
Bill in SC --- Roland BK9 (2) Roland PK5 Pedals, Roland FP90, Crate XP800 PA, JBL 515XTs , EV mics, Apple iPad (2) Behringer DJ mixer

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#437649 - 09/17/17 11:43 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: cgiles]
tony mads usa Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/16/02
Posts: 11194
Loc: East Greenwich RI USA
Originally Posted By cgiles

I think we all (well, most of us) agree that the most optimal playing experience is playing with other live players. Sadly, given the current economic clime, that is not always possible. For me (and ME ALONE), if I'm paying, I only want to see 'live' music. I don't even like seeing big stars performing to 'taped' backgrounds (although that is often the case). It's like the 'business' of music is more important than the 'art' of music. JMO.
chas


++1
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t. cool

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#437678 - 09/18/17 07:25 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
sparky589 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/11
Posts: 573
Loc: NJ
If you started with a piano background when younger, old school playing comes naturally. Of course an arranger for single performing was a huge advance and opening to a wider range of material and style. I never played piano, but started with accordion. Then midi accordion with arranger modules. But some songs and styles didn't fit with the image of the bellows pumper, so I progressed to a hybrid keyboard (Orla models) with keys on right and buttons for left hand (ala Jerry T). Not to mention to just sit down, power on and go was way easier and more comfortable after back surgeries and age. Auto accompaniment afforded me starting with single fingering to start then working my way up to multi finger chording. Ill probably never be a full left hand old school player. I accept that I may not call myself a "complete" keyboard player, but I don't claim to be, nor do I require anyone else's label. I know there are many exceptions here, but I've known many piano style players who don't know what to do with bellows and buttons, a skill that is not yet extinct. The genres I play in still have me alternating from midi accordion to keyboard on just about every set, whether as a single or with 5 or 6 pieces. So its been where you started, followed by ability, and need, to change and learn.
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#437679 - 09/18/17 07:33 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
jimlaing Offline
Member

Registered: 09/24/02
Posts: 401
Loc: Raleigh, NC
Hi - yeah, I guess I qualify as "old school" too ... spent ~20 years playing keys in a 6pc band ... in my earliest years (high school, early college), I did play a lot of LH bass, but after that we always had a bass player.

I usually had 2 keyboards; one primary for piano and e-piano sounds (I used to like this one to be a 76 note), and a "top" keyboard that did the synths, organs, flutes and saxes, the occasional trumpet etc. I think it was when the KN-800 (Technics) came out that I had my first experience with 'arrangers' ... but I mainly still played in the band. But by the 1990s or so, I was starting to use the arranger in a duo and trio setting, then by 2000s and beyond, did more and more solo gigs using the arranger (Technics then Yamaha).

But I still love it when I can get with a full band and be a keyboard player - and let the drummer and bass player and guitar player fill out the rhythm section! :-) That is the favorite playing experience for me still - playings keys on a good and full band - but I love doing the arranger thing too . . .

-Jim
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#437691 - 09/18/17 10:10 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: jimlaing]
tony mads usa Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/16/02
Posts: 11194
Loc: East Greenwich RI USA
Well, I'm OLD and I went to SCHOOL, but I don't think that qualifies me as an 'OLD SCHOOL' player ...
The most left hand bass I ever played was while I was playing accordion, and for the first few years with 3 to 5 piece groups I was the 'bass player' ... later on, with the band we had for 26 years, I switched to Cordovox and the bass player - who was the featured vocalist - would put down the bass and I would play left hand on the Cordovox while he sang ...
Unfortunately, I never applied myself enough on the Rhodes or subsequently on an arranger keyboard to play left hand bass ... Doing OMB work - depending on the venue - I will sometimes play a ballad first with no tempo, adding arpeggios or polyphonics, and then play the song with some rhythm accompaniment ... Basically, the purpose of my keyboard is to accompany my main instrument, my voice ...

And, as others have said, I get greater pleasure playing along side other musicians, and backing myself or other vocalists on keyboard ...
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t. cool

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#437743 - 09/19/17 09:12 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: tony mads usa]
captain Russ Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 6234
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
I have always played at least 50% L/H bass, but since I got my new little Hammond SK-1, I do about 90% left hand.

I still play 2 nights a month on B-3 for jazz night, but, lately, the pay barely pays for the maintenance.

To keep from falling asleep, I use a Hammond on the bottom, the arranger on the top and a variety of 1 or two keyboards on the right hand. That way, the right hand is the prominent lead instrument, and I can either use Rhodes, Wurlitzer, acoustic piano or synth sounds.

The extra work is well worth it!

Good topic, Fran.


Edited by captain Russ (09/19/17 09:15 AM)

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#437744 - 09/19/17 09:37 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: cgiles]
Fran Carango Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/26/99
Posts: 8137
Loc: Levittown, Pa, USA
Originally Posted By cgiles
I practice and rehearse using the BK7m as a drum machine (when I can't get a drummer). When using a drummer I use my Alexis DM10 Pro (except with my favorite drummer, who insists on bringing his own scaled-down acoustic set). I use pedals for slow tunes and LH bass on up-tempo tunes (arthritic knees). I only play organ but do occasionally use piano and brass from the VP770 mounted on top of my organ (KeyB Duo Mk111). On real gigs, I have only used organ (organ trio/quartet format).

As far as Arrangers go, whatever works best for you and what you feel most comfortable with. IN MY OPINION, styles CANNOT be tweaked to be made to NOT sound like ....styles. For that reason, I tend to lean towards Fran's position of using midi files (to play over) instead. The problem with that (IMO) is that unless the midi files are SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to be played over (not just deleting the melody track), it's still going to sound a little 'cheezy'. That's because YOU have to respond to it rather than it responding to you (as with live players).

I think we all (well, most of us) agree that the most optimal playing experience is playing with other live players. Sadly, given the current economic clime, that is not always possible. For me (and ME ALONE), if I'm paying, I only want to see 'live' music. I don't even like seeing big stars performing to 'taped' backgrounds (although that is often the case). It's like the 'business' of music is more important than the 'art' of music. JMO.

chas





Chas, even in a live band someone has to follow... not that different than playing with SMF's..

Todays great arrangers have the ability to personalize SMF's...

Follow me ....... Start with a great sequence... Load into your onboard sequencer... find a verse maybe the second or third verse.. strip the data so you only have drums , bass, and maybe a rhythm guitar.... Use your markers so you can go to this designated area of the sequence,,,, Now you can take that ride with the freedom you would have in a real band.... we still need to follow chord progressions , just like in the band..
You also have the option to extend the tune and solo any time you want... This result is way better than style play to me...
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www.francarango.com

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#437745 - 09/19/17 09:59 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
cgiles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 4471
Loc: Roswell,GA/USA
Originally Posted By Fran Carango


Chas, even in a live band someone has to follow... not that different than playing with SMF's..


Fran I agree with most of what you say but what I meant by 'a live band responding to YOU rather than YOU responding to a (more or less) 'fixed' midi file' is; live players will listen to what you are playing and adjust their own playing (volume, phrasing, complimentary riffs, alt. chord selection, etc.) to compliment what you are doing. A midi file is...well, a midi file. You have to play within the parameters set by it. In other words, live....the band follows you, midi file.....you follow it.

But yes, properly set up, you will probably sound better playing over a midi file than with a style. For starters, you don't have to worry about things like when to introduce a break or change variations, etc. and can devote all your concentration on just 'your' part. Of course some will disagree, and frankly, you could probably make an argument either way, but that's what makes it a DISCUSSION, not a STATEMENT OF FACT.

chas
_________________________
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." [Nietzsche]

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#437847 - 09/22/17 01:45 PM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
Torch Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/12
Posts: 398
First of all, a great thread, Fran. I joined this forum five years ago because of your interaction with Gary on amps and speakers. Mainly, the BA330 and the Bose Compact. Oh, No. The FedEx guy just dropped my Code 61 at this very second !!! Well, I better hurry.

Though I have always had arranger keyboards and modules, I wasn't really big on them. I will have to admit that just because a person is a trained pianist, that doesn't mean he or she will thrive on an arranger keyboard "automatically" (pun intended). That was me. I will even say most trained solo pianists won't know what to do with an arranger.

I'm thinking of my former teacher Johnny. A superb Jazz organist/accordionist. I saw him putting life into the auto accompaniment part of his arranger Roland VA7 years ago. I heard him say, "Let the machine work for you." When a top notch musician says something like that, I know for sure that he is not saying to hide or bury yourself behind the backup. Rather, it means the player is to interact with what other "musicians" in the arranger are doing. From that perspective, I'd think that a person who has played quite a bit in a band has an advantage.

On the other hand, I have run into players like my friend who will candidly say he has to have an arranger/module to perform. Nothing against them. As long as it works for them, so why not? However, as an "observer" not as an authority on arranger I've noticed that variety is the key. If a person plays the whole program with any kind of backup, it can be tiring. I'd think that iff a person plays even a simple tune with both hands with no backup in between it can bring freshness to the whole program and maximize the arranger.

Gotta go to open the code 61 box.

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#437887 - 09/24/17 11:11 PM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
Mark79100 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/23/06
Posts: 1035
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By Fran Carango


How many of you guys/gals enjoy and play this way... Do you find it as rewarding as I do..



If I had to state what changed my playing drastically for the better, it would be playing "left hand bass."

It started with those Jerry Lee Lewis riffs I was practicing, then somebody here about a year ago mentioned playing left hand bass, and I took it a step further and, remembering listening to a pianist years ago walking his bass, I wondered if I could learn to do it too.

It's easy enough if you're just comping chords, or playing the melody, but I'm doing improvising while doing walking bass. Hardest thing I've ever had to work on.

Never thought I'd get this far, but I have come a long way with it now....about 3-4 months and it's just starting to come together though I still lose my way in places. But what a sound! Fills out the tune completely. And I can play arrangements now with variations on the bass that give me another instrument (the bass line).

Best of all, I feel more like I'm master of the keyboard. The whole thing is hard to explain, but it's given me so much more incentive to play.....a whole different way now....putting out a really big sound just using the piano.

BTW....as many of you are, I'm originally an accordionist too. That's why I spend so much time working on my left hand.

Mark

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#437954 - 09/26/17 05:44 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Mark79100]
Mockie Offline
Member

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 307
Loc: Dublin Ireland
I have to say, I totally agree with Mark on the importance of playing live LH bass.
I, like Mark trained as an accordionist, I love the accordion to this day and I still play the odd accordion gig. However I also like pop, jazz and all types of good music and moved to an X5 portable Hammond organ ( late 70s early 80s) playing bass pedals thro a bass amp with a rotary speed speaker on upper keyboards. Late 80s the Dx7 etc arrived, I then moved to synths and for the next 20-25 yrs played top 40 music in bars with
guitar and drums playing manual LH bass (great times).As the scene changed I bought an arranger (Tyros1)and got work with a singer doing mature social clubs. Forward to June 2017,sold my G70 bought Privia (Casio)piano, different scene now,freelancing with drummers mainly,the odd standin work. Playing piano with split bass and... yes.. LH bass, great sound, loving it. I still use my BK7 with midi accordion and I may use it with a master keyboard if the need arises. I do love plaing again with live musicians, as they say "it's where it's at".
Arrangers? a musicians tool or hobbyist's toy? it is part of our evolution as gigging musicans but not the be all and end all.
_________________________
Casio Privia PX560 digital piano. BK-7m. Midi Accordion

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#437959 - 09/26/17 07:57 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
Uncle Dave Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/01/99
Posts: 10173
Loc: Philadelphia Pa, USA
The reason I can get away with using just 10-15 different drum patterns, is that playing my own LH bass line makes the pattern unique. Think of it - in most real band situations, the actual drum beats are not THAT specific to each song. FIlls, and accents aside - the drummer needs to be more like Ringo than Steve Gadd.
I DO use the auto bass for some things ... I'd be foolish not to - it sounds so good, and frees me up to be more creative in other ways, but my staple sound .... my signature is LH Bass, RH Rhodes, sometimes with a string or choir pad, and a solid drummer. Everything else is fluff. I picture my act as a trio:
Drummer
Bass Player
Singing KB player
When I augment the routine with a sequence, or MP3, that's just more fluff. Sometimes, I need a lot of it, sometimes, not so much, but the core of the arrangement is always my RH playing most of the rhythmic chords stuff, even if I'm using an arranger pattern. I rarely play a single note melody with the RH. I like to "Paint" the chords into all the nooks and crannies of the rhythm. Playing my own bass lines allows me to "accent" or hit certain lines with a unity that can only come when LH and RH are free to work together.
_________________________
Everyone, and everything I listen to is my teacher. Every instrument, every voice, every sound in nature ... they are all my private tutor ... 24/7 for free.

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#437961 - 09/26/17 08:19 AM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Uncle Dave]
cgiles Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 4471
Loc: Roswell,GA/USA
Originally Posted By Uncle Dave
Playing my own bass lines allows me to "accent" or hit certain lines with a unity that can only come when LH and RH are free to work together.


You mean like a jazz organist? smile smile smile

chas
_________________________
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." [Nietzsche]

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#438006 - 09/27/17 12:19 PM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: cgiles]
Uncle Dave Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/01/99
Posts: 10173
Loc: Philadelphia Pa, USA
Originally Posted By cgiles
Originally Posted By Uncle Dave
Playing my own bass lines allows me to "accent" or hit certain lines with a unity that can only come when LH and RH are free to work together.


You mean like a jazz organist? smile smile smile

chas


ABSOLUTELY! Those guys set the stage for the rest of us.
_________________________
Everyone, and everything I listen to is my teacher. Every instrument, every voice, every sound in nature ... they are all my private tutor ... 24/7 for free.

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#438008 - 09/27/17 12:30 PM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Uncle Dave]
captain Russ Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 6234
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
Just saw a taped performance of the Young Rascals....with a BASS player! He sounded good, but it wasn't the same. Maybe Felix is getting tired!


R.

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#438347 - 10/02/17 05:40 PM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
tassiespirit Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 223
Loc: Devonport, Tasmania, Australia
When I started to learn it was classical piano all the way, then of all things banjo, mandolin then electric 5 string bass. Then during that time landed back onto an arranger for teaching and backing. But to play I get board just playing "styles" and on the single stuff left hand , so back to full bass on the left hand - more satisfying.
I am not a professional like you guys here, but it is sure good to play at but church and record with an arranger knowing you can play all the instruments yourself. I am also frustrated sax player ( never learnt till I got an arranger that simulates it for me). That's an option about these boards, that you can almost be a Glen Miller or a Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimmy Smith; and play your own bass lines under them.
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I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy it!

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#438359 - 10/02/17 08:53 PM Re: Arranger players, I have a question.. [Re: Fran Carango]
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 12418
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
smile
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Yamaha PSR-3000 (2), PSR-S950, Bose L1 Compact (2), TC Helicon Harmony-M, Digitech VR (3), Barbetta Sona 32C, Crown CM311A (3), Samson Q7 (2), Samson Wireless, Sennheiser E855, Custom Console, Morgan 33 Out Island Sailboat, and lots of other silly stuff!

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