Often, our jobs involve playing multiple keyboard parts at once. As
important as the music itself is, it’s also vital to make sure that your multikey
rig works ergonomically with both your body and playing style. Keeping
your body relaxed even when your keyboard parts are on fire can go
a long way towards minimizing tension—and maximizing playing power.
Here are four two-fisted techniques to get you up and running. Make
sure to check out storied players like Benmont Tench and Chuck Leavell
to see the Samurai Keyboard Code in action!
[Session Sensei columnist Scott Healy
is a gifted multitasker of a musician
known for his burning work on TV with
Conan O’Brien since 1993. Visit him at
bluedogmusic.com. -Jon Regen]
Click sheet music icons for larger images. Lesson continues after these web extras:
Ex 1. Right hand organ lines, left hand Wurly comps.
Here’s the always funky marriage of Wurlitzer EP and Hammond organ. I put the volume pedal for my organ under my right foot, like
on a real B-3, so I can really ride the level. The organ’s expression pedal is a huge part of its human sound, so be sure to make it part
of yours. Single lines work great on the organ, especially if you’re laying them down hard with the left hand on the electric piano. I like
to control Leslie speed with a switch by my left foot; traditional B-3 cats prefer the “half-moon” switch near the left hand.
Ex 2. Right hand string line, left hand piano.
Piano and strings is one of the most called-for multi-key combinations, so you need to be able to execute it smoothly. Again, volume
and blend are paramount. Strings can overwhelm the mix if you don’t use them sparingly. Some players like to control their string levels
with a volume pedal at left, freeing up the right foot for the piano sustain pedal. I like a string sound with a good amount of velocity
sensitivity—that way I can control the level by touch.
Ex 3. Right hand organ chords, left hand piano comping.
Organ and piano—perfect together! Less is more when it comes to voicing organ chords over piano. Use voice-leading and link
the upper notes of the organ chords for a legato effect. Again, don’t forget to ride that volume pedal. Think of what two individual
players would do, and be both of them yourself. You’re creating a musical dialogue between your two hands, so keep things
simple but effective.
Ex 4. Right hand synth line, left hand Rhodes.
Synth and Rhodes can be a symphony unto themselves. Maybe you’ve got a difficult prog tune with multiple parts, or you’re soloing
on synth with your right hand while comping with your left. Balancing sound levels between your multiple keyboards is a huge secret
to their success. Solo lines should be loud and proud. Experience will give you a feel for grabbing wheels and sliders to control pitchbend,
modulation, filters, and so on, all while keeping your chording constant.