Maybe this is a bit “inside baseball” for many of you, but I want to talk about the challenge of creating keyboard parts when you’re not a keyboard player. My hope is that listening to a bunch of excerpts will be, at the very least, a bit entertaining.
In a previous post I mentioned I had recorded a number of song demos to help teach the songs to the band quickly. This means I needed worked-out parts for guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and vocals. The keyboard parts have been a bit of a challenge since I don’t play keyboards. In retrospect, I wish I had taken piano lessons when I was younger. I don’t even remember the subject’s being raised when I was growing up; my brother did take piano lessons at some point.
I took guitar lessons briefly when I was maybe 13 years old, and I don’t remember wanting to play anything else at that time. (My natural inclination was to play left-handed, but I didn’t have the patience to wait for a special-order left-handed guitar, so I agreed to learn right-handed. I’ve always thought I would have been a pretty good guitar player had I learned to play left-handed. Another story for another day…)
My young daughters do take piano lessons, and I take some vicarious comfort in that. Here’s how they are sounding these days:
As I worked on the STORYVILLE song demos, I’ve ended up liking some of the keyboard parts I came up with. For example, here’s a kind of percussive, “rhythm” piano part for How the Other Half Live that I think works:
The intro to Three Girls is meant as a kind, of stately, church-like thing:
The next one is a bit subtle and wonky, but I like the held organ chord at the end of each line of the chorus in Run Run - a kind of classic "Hammond B3 with the Leslie slowed to a stop" kind of thing:
And, to be honest, I really do like this organ solo on Caramel and Fleur de Sel:
Of course I can’t actually play this solo – I “composed” the part by singing it and then constructed it, bit by bit, with the software.
On the other hand, for It Was True’s piano solo I had no inspiration – and no piano chops to compensate – resulting in this laughable attempt:
The good news is that STORYTOWN now has a very accomplished keyboard player, and he’s quickly improving on my “sketches” when he’s not replacing them with much better parts.
More on the keyboard player and the other members of STORYTOWN in a future post. Let me know what you think, and please share this with others who you think might enjoy it.