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Techniques
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IMPROVISING TECHNIQUES

 

Here I will try to help composing a solo if there´s nothing in mind and the ADAT´s are waiting you!

You can plan your available techniques, phrases or licks and  write them down on a paper along with the chords of the certain part.Then you start improvising having these notes in front of you to help you make a solo more interesting.Of course ,this could be very dangerous if there is a constant repeating of the same phrases! The most important of all is to give you solo a meaning or , in simple words make it remindable to the common listener without forgetting  to show some skill, only if the solo asks for itself. I mean that in a slow part you can´t just start running up and down in the keyboard because this may destroy the whole mood of the song. Instead of this you must compose a couple of melodies that may even come out of the chorus or the vocal lines and then improvise on them like Kevin Moore in Pull Me Under. Always remember that the slow solos are the most difficult ones! However, when you have to deal with a speedy track the things change and technique takes the leading role!

 

 Another thing you can do is listen to the background carefully and compose the solo bar by bar . Composing can also be the scheduling of your ¨movements¨ and phrases that we talked about before but not in a so improvising way. This is a way that you get a more solid and easy to play again solo. A schedule of movements may look like this:

                                      Bar 1(Em)   : intro melody

                                      Bar 2(D)  : crosshand ascending from F#

                                      Bar 3(C)  : C9 major octaves

                                      Bar 4(Am7)  : melody repetition + bending

                                      Bar 5(Bm7)  : pentatonic + bend to D

                                      Etc

After you finish with this and check the continuity of the parts ,you have the solo in mind so you need less takes because you just have to perform it well and not to improvise on different things every time.

 

 

One basic rule that I follow from the very beginning and I recommend it to all the keyboard players is: Never program a solo by MIDI!!! It is much better to play an easy but maybe cute solo played live by you rather than playing an ultra speed solo with hyper quantized parts or with so many corrections that the solo finally becomes a computer program! Of course, this kind of solo may excite your friends that know nothing about music but if a good keyboard player happens to listen to it, the news that you´re a fuckin´ handicap will spread automatically through all the world as I now do for the keyboard player (or should I say programmer?!!!) of  a famous Hollywood metal epic band who is a fine classical composer but when it comes to soloing he reminds me of my first keyboard playing the ¨Muppet Show¨ tune at 188 bpm!!!

One other rule is: Let your playing do the talking!!! Do not waste time saying that you re the fucking great player and then a guy from the next neighborhood appears out of nowhere and shuts your mouth by studying and practicing for years and when it comes to play in the same gig you are so embarrassed even to plug your keyboard in!!! The good thing is that here in Greece there were not that much keyboardists especially when I began to play, so I only had to reach the level of the world class well known players. And this helped me a lot, studying their playing rather than spying what the other keyboardist of my neighborhood was playing!!!