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billroy

Playing with people

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so I've got 30 yrs of being a kitchen table player, feel I've developed a few skills and can hold my own when I'm on my on. The thing is a piano playing buddy asked to get together and jam. So I'm going to spread my wings a little and do it - but does anyone have tips on playing with people? I think it's more a 'just jump in and do it' type of thing - but this has me more nervous than a solo open mic. Any tips?

 

Input on good acoustic / keyboard jams is appreciated as well...

Edited by billroy

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Back in my electric days, I was often a "hired gunslinger" when bands were in a bind, had someone sick, out of town, quit suddenly, etc. If I wasn't already booked.

 

It was an adrenaline rush to get a call at the last minute and throw a rig together and show up with barely time to tune with people you didn't know.

 

The trick is to only play "correct" notes. It doesn't matter if you miss a few, as long as you don't add any "bad" ones.

 

[biggrin]

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....a piano playing buddy asked to get together and jam. So I'm going to spread my wings a little and do it - but does anyone have tips on playing with people?....

 

No expert on the topic here. Last time I played with others was a few years ago when I sat in with a group down at the Bayou club in town. They had an old vintage Wurlitzer electric piano that I played - some uptempo 12-bar blues. I was surprised when the crowd went crazy! I guess I nailed my solo, LOL!

 

Anyway, playing with other guitarists is one thing; playing with a keyboardist is entirely different. You're generally on equal footing with other guitarists. But you can be way overpowered by a piano unless the player lays back and gives you some sonic space. A lot depends on how the guy plays. The only tip I've got is: Have Fun. That's the whole idea anyway.

 

An old buddy of mine kept sending me his guitar recordings. He's kind of a beginner. I liked one of them and decided to add an improvised keyboard part. So here's an example of a guitar-keyboard combo.

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1) in my acoustic duo, on any given night 10% of the songs we play are new requests from the crowd. Last week, we obliged playing, singing, and harmonizing an acoustic version of The Doors' Soul Kitchen. Wait What? Anyways... the key to doing this is to do it late after everyone is drunk and cant hear bad notes, and to as Murph said... play the good notes :)

 

2) To start out with your friend... make sure you guys have an idea what you like to each play. Blues? Try Saint Infirmary Blues... Hugh Laurie absolutely slays a version. I think it could easily be done with piano and guitars and two vocals. I am working on a version myself. (see 3:30 on below)

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=AzEBH6DZJVk

 

 

Maybe for your first meeting agree to prepare 3 basic songs of common interest?

Edited by ThemisSal

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Have fun is the most important part. Having a list of songs you both know is helpful and make sure you both play it in the same key. Have a capo handy in case it's played in a different key. I play mostly lead/electric guitar and I've sat in with multiple bands, open mic/open jam, parties, and just jammed with other bands for fun in addition to my band. I learned most of three sets of songs on stage once by following the singer/guitarist, the bass and having them write down the chords, keys and changes on big posterboards on the back of the PA system. Friday night was a bit rough but the next 3 nights were a lot better. Have fun with it and talk a little about what kind of stuff you're going to do.

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Wow, that is a big topic.

 

Playing with other people for us (wife and I) is pretty much all we do anymore ne. That is why we have such a big fascination with bluegrass -- at its core, it is all jamming, often combined with a lot of improvisation or at least unrehearsed elements. At this point in our lives, we have little interest in solo performers or even well rehearsed acts. When this form of presentation attracts you (collaborations), then the interaction on the fly of the performing musicians adds another -- and for us hugely compelling -- element to the music.

 

Some people find it a lot easier than others, but it is certainly not like playing alone. The skill sets are certainly related, but they are often not the same.

 

Here are a few suggestions.

 

Keep it simple.

 

This is a relative suggestion depending on your skill set and who you are playing with, but I think it is always good advice.

 

Here is a picture of a guitar case. It came with I guess the most famous instrument we own I guess -- a Martin 00-40H played extensively by super famous flatpicker, Norman Blake. He is one of those amazing flat pickers who changed the world. This is the advice to himself that he always took on stage.

eFra05L.jpg

 

Know how you are going to communicate non verbally

 

How you do this is up to you. For example here is an article I wrote for Bluegrass Unlimited 20 years about how it is done in bluegrass. JAMMING

 

Rehearsing is good.

 

Every case is different, but knowing your holes is good even when working without a net is very compelling.

 

Tell your audience what is going on

 

It is all part of the show, and generally they will love it.

 

Just a few random thoughts. If you ever come to see us, we will make you jam

.Like I always say

 

Let's pick,

 

-Tom

Edited by tpbiii

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-Choose songs you both know that are on the easier to play side.

-When you lead a song, lead it, and let the other follow. Likewise, visa-versa. (If when you are leading a song, if you start following the other musician following what you are playing, you won’t be leading the song, and all will get confused.)

-Don’t hesitate to just trade off each of you doing a song. That can also be a fun thing.

-Remind each other that both of you need to try to make it sound good. When jamming, sometimes musicians forget to focus on that.

-Remember to try to musically complement what another musician is doing and try not to have your playing step on top of what the other is playing.

 

I stage/host a music jam twice a month. Hope these tips help.

 

QM aka ‘Jazzman”Jeff

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You know some songs.....he/she knows some songs.....perhaps some of the two shall meet, perhaps not. On tunes you know, play out in a confident manner and let him/her find spots to hop in. With tunes you don't know you'll be the one hopping in, so choose your spots and make it work with what the other player is doing. As is usually the case, less is more. Enjoy the interaction!

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Oh, just try to relax, find a groove and enjoy it.

 

You may struggle to be heard (unless you are amped up?) but hopefully you buddy will allow for that.

 

One time I jammed with a keyboards player, he got a bit 'competitive'. I thought, "the worst thing I can do is meet this head on", so I let him have his moment of glory. Then he relaxed a little and we were able to make better music.

 

Hopefully your jam will be better natured. Good luck.

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Thank you all, yes - I think Norman Blake summed it up well with 'keep it simple'. Cougar - props to you on the piano / guitar duo, I couldn't tell they were done separately - sounded great together. Sal - I think you're spot on with St James Infirmary, a little slow 12 bar should hopefully enable some synched up collaboration, and truly that's the piano I love. Per everybody else, thank you, it's all been taken in (also like the comment, when you lead the song, lead it etc...) I'll probably drink a little and put something on the grill so even if it's bad it will be good :)

 

Thanks all...

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Be a good listener.

 

 

Don't just press the "play" button. Unless you've already figured out where the other person can shine.

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Be a good listener.

 

 

Don't just press the "play" button. Unless you've already figured out where the other person can shine.

 

This is about as good advice as I think you're gonna get...

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A very good friend who died years back was a great piano player....from authentic sounding barrelhouse styles to modern rock styles....

 

I met him in a ‘blow past band’ (a few gigs and no rehearsals) and kept in touch with a common interest in recording things and a few other bands...

 

I know everyone is different, but Billroy, if you are going to jam with a piano player, you are in for an experience. The first thing I think of is.....good and bad memories....CHARTS. Endless charts. The only way a piano player who on average knows way more ‘music theory’ than an average guitarist, can play with said guitarist is a total rethink on the behalf of both players. And charts. I mean, first thing he could do is peel off a row of diminished then half diminished then his fave Alt Chords....and just what is YOUR plan for THAT?

 

I made many, many, many adjustments to my whole deal to play with my piano player - and he made...NONE. The only way is to arm yourself for battle, Billroy. Charts, charts, charts of all your tunes in perfect chartful detail. :blink:

 

Or he/she will steam off without you. Don’t get too smart but get some charts to throw him/her off kilter. I threatened my guy with my collection of Real Books. (Which he stole one of to bet my chart of Georgia and another tune, both of which he played til the End.)

 

But one trick I can offer is to learn, and have a chart for, TBone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” - it has lots of chords that move back and forward in semitones......the piano player has to swap white and black key playing more than usual blues jammng....

 

Have fun, but take some charts you have learned.....hand written, big letters.

 

 

BluesKing777.

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All the suggestions above and make sure you're in the right key. Once you know the key, even if you don't know the song, you can work-in some 3-4 note runs, a few slides, and when-in-doubt just tap your foot....and smile. [thumbup] [thumbup]

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Growing up in the early '60's my best friend (still to this day) was the lead singer and rhythm guitar in our band that never actually played out anywhere. In the '70's I was playing in the bars with his older brother. FFW to the 90's, my best friend decides he wants to start playing out and has me working with him. The main thing I had to do was to calm his nerves and slow him down. He was trying to race through the songs. At the time I was in a very good church band and had no desire to play in bars but I did play a few times with him in coffee shops. He thanks me to this day for slowing him down.

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A very good friend who died years back was a great piano player....from authentic sounding barrelhouse styles to modern rock styles....

 

I met him in a ‘blow past band’ (a few gigs and no rehearsals) and kept in touch with a common interest in recording things and a few other bands...

 

I know everyone is different, but Billroy, if you are going to jam with a piano player, you are in for an experience. The first thing I think of is.....good and bad memories....CHARTS. Endless charts. The only way a piano player who on average knows way more ‘music theory’ than an average guitarist, can play with said guitarist is a total rethink on the behalf of both players. And charts. I mean, first thing he could do is peel off a row of diminished then half diminished then his fave Alt Chords....and just what is YOUR plan for THAT?

 

I made many, many, many adjustments to my whole deal to play with my piano player - and he made...NONE. The only way is to arm yourself for battle, Billroy. Charts, charts, charts of all your tunes in perfect chartful detail. :blink:

 

Or he/she will steam off without you. Don’t get too smart but get some charts to throw him/her off kilter. I threatened my guy with my collection of Real Books. (Which he stole one of to bet my chart of Georgia and another tune, both of which he played til the End.)

 

But one trick I can offer is to learn, and have a chart for, TBone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” - it has lots of chords that move back and forward in semitones......the piano player has to swap white and black key playing more than usual blues jammng....

 

Have fun, but take some charts you have learned.....hand written, big letters.

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

Nah ... ive played with a ‘lazy’ lead piano player. He just plays impro and asks for key. Then he hits the transpose button on his keyboard to C and just noodles over my rhythmm and singing.

 

It sounded fab.

Edited by EuroAussie

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I've always really, really enjoyed playing with a a piano player. I found the interplay to be fun, and its quite a bit less stressful when you are not always having to carry the tune as we all do when playing guitar alone. I'm by no means a good lead guitarist, but I found the opportunity to play lead-ish licks fun, and then to be the backbone for piano flourishes, too. You'll find yourself getting creative in order to add variety to whatever song you're doing, and I think you'll love it.

Edited by countrybluespicker

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It all depends on your style. If you are say basically a strummer it generally does not require too much adapting to play with others. I did a whole more strumming when playing with others than on my own where I tend play bass, harmony and melody lines. This caused me to basically trip over everybody else. So when say, playing with a piano player we might work out bass duets. When he went into a melody line, I stuck with rhythm/harmony and vice versa when I played the melody line. The key is communicating with one another.

Edited by zombywoof

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My buddy is gone for the weekend, so will be next week - but I think I've figured out my strategy. I'm not going in to learn any songs together (unless they're leading the way), I'm just coming armed with a few good repetitious jams and see where they go. If we do end up focusing on songs, I'm hoping for St James Infirmary (per Sal's suggestion) or maybe something by the doors... they've got some good keyboard stuff imo.

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. so I've got 30 yrs of being a kitchen table player, feel I've developed a few skills and can hold my own when I'm on my on. The thing is a piano playing buddy asked to get together and jam. Does anyone have tips on playing with people? This has me more nervous than a solo open mic. Any tips? Input on good acoustic / keyboard jams is appreciated as well...
.

 

What kind of stuff are you playing?* If its country, he can play honky tonk and you can strum cowboy chords. Someone will sing. If its blues-based, either be prepared to go up the neck bring a capo so you can stick around E and A formations (open chords dont work for that). Deadhead, classic rock etc. Bring you iPads. Someone will need to know the chords! If it clicks, find a drummer.

 

[*lately, Im playing in an adult contemporary/soft rock/techno-folk group and jam in a band setting (guitars, keys, bass and drums). Mostly still using blues chops and what I learned about the fretboard from playing blues). Go figure.

Edited by Rambler

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Good to have you check in, Ramblier [sic]. But what exactly is adult contempo/soft rock/techno-folk ?

Edited by 62burst

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Good to have you check in, Ramblier (sic). But what exactly is adult contempo/soft rock/techno-folk ?

 

Old fogie punk.

 

O.F.P.

 

You can't really tell what the tattoo's are anymore because of the sag.

 

And they sing with their teeth out so you can't understand a single word.

 

It's a thing...

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Old fogie punk.

 

O.F.P.

 

You can't really tell what the tattoo's are anymore because of the sag.

 

And they sing with their teeth out so you can't understand a single word.

 

It's a thing...

 

[biggrin]

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