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Competing with the keyboardist

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Jan 28, 2001.

  1. The fusion band to which I belong (we don't have a name yet) had its first formal rehearsal with everybody there yesterday. It was fairly productive, although a lot of the material we were playing was UTTER ASS...but that's an issue for another day.

    Anyhow, the keyboardist, who had written most of the songs, had worked bass parts for 'em--fine, although I just prefer to make my own based on the changes. The problem is, he's got his MIDI controller divided so that his left hand is producing a sawtooth-wave kind of sound that really invades my frequency space, and he's playing fairly busy keyboard bass parts. When he tells me "keep it simple man, we have a dense mix" and then starts playing all sorts of syncopated stuff, it really pisses me off, and as the evening went on I ignored him more and more. It's getting to the point that if it happens again, I'm gonna tell him, "If you wanted a bass player in your band, then it's either me or you. Who's it gonna be?"

    Anyone run into this situation? The guy's a great musician, but between his hogging of the low registers and his exceedingly cheesy songwriting (we're talking things that would be too airy-fairy to put on Tales from Topographic Oceans, kids), I'm seriously wondering if I should stick around. It's his band, after all.
  2. seville8


    Sep 8, 2000
    I know what you mean..I used to play with a keyboard player who did the same thing!..He would play my bass lines for me..I had to ask him to let me play my part..He eventually did but he was so used toplaying that part that he had to get used to me being there...BUT it sounds like maybe this guy you are talking about just likes to do it all ..You need to discuss this with him or your part is useless...
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I've run into this a few times. Have a conversation and see if you can sort it out. Some guys are just used to banging away with the left hand. I've even had to suggest (to a keyboard-playing friend) that he sit on his left hand, if that would help;)

    If there's no room left for bass, what should you be playing?
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...buy him a beer & tell him to hold *THAT* in his LEFT hand!
    I do recall playing with a synth player that was obviously used to playing with himself; ;) I explained that bands are different from playing solo cocktail lounge gigs & we were fine...

    Another thing I hate-
    ...playing with a guitarist who insists on playing every chord in ROOT position-Barre style. Granted, there's a time & place for that "heavy" vibe; other times...not(especially in my tunes). :D
    Example: If I voice an Am7 chord where all the guitarist has to play are the D-G-B-E(hi)strings & merely Barre the notes at the 5th fret(G-C-E-A), then that's what I want & not the "whole enchilada"! Steve Khan often plays chords on the D-G-B-E & leaves the "low" strings to Anthony Jackson.
    Check out The Eyewitness Band's cds for that nice openess & freedom between Khan & AJ.

    I agree, it ain't no fun playing with those who insist on playing in EVERYBODY's frequency range/space.
  5. Well, granted, I do a lot of fills on the D and G strings, but generally I stick to arpeggiated parts on the B, E, and A--and the keyboardist still says those are too busy.

    The band's general concept isn't really what the trumpeter and I are leaning toward, anyway, so we might gank the drummer (who's a jazz/funk MONSTER--best drummer I've ever played with), find another keyboardist or guitarist, and start our own thing.
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I once asked a Nashville session player how he blends his bass playing with the keyboardest's left hand. His reply was short and to the point. He said, "The bass player is the bass player." He meant if the band has a bass player, the bass player plays the bass part, not the keyboard player. And that is it, pure and simple.

    So I'm sure he'd tell you to defend your territory with the keyboard player and tell him to get out and stay out of your musical space.

    jason oldsted
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    The funny thing about some keyboard bassists is that IME if I do take the rare solo then they never drop below middle C. Don't want to be down there alone.
  8. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    With MIDI the left side of the keyboard doesn't necessarily have to always be a lower octave than the right;the keyboard in most cases can be split so that both sides are playing the same tessiture,or the left side could even go above the right.So,if you feel it's worth it to negotiate with the guy,get to know his gear a little and show him how he can either play those parts higher up(out of your range) or use his left hand for other new sounds.
  9. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    You're in a spot, since the keyboardist wrote the material. Without getting ballistic, I'd ask him why he felt they needed a bass player, since the low end has already been written on the keys. You may be right - you may be in a no-win situation. I came into a wedding band gig for a brief time that had had a number of bass players come and go. I found that the keyboardist, a friend of mine (no ratting me out on this, Herm! ;)), had adjusted his left hand to cover the bass parts. There were a few songs where we were going different directions. When you work with keyboards, there needs to be some planning on the low end, followed by some co-existence. Actually, ALL parts of any band need to work together. Music that works involves multiple parts and players that combine to make a cohesive sound (whatever cohesive means in your genre); the minute you have conflict (unless you're Philip Glass or John Cage or Brian Eno), things fall apart.
  10. Another "been there, done that, wrote the book, got the t-shirt" story. :D

    My solution was somewhat different and considerably non-confrontational. I just stopped playing. When the keys player asked me why, I informed him that I didn't want to interfere with what he was doing, as it seemed that he had the bass parts pretty well covered. He got the message...

    ...does that make me passive/aggressive? :eek: ;)
  11. How about passively aggresive? :D ;)

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