Next instrument to learn for writing and composing?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by RicPlaya, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Well I can play drums very well, picked up bass fairly well in under two years. I want to start song writing more. I am obviously very limited with writing if I can only play bass and drums. I am thinking learning guitar or the keys but which one? We are an edgy modern rock band, we also have an old school vibe a bit. I am torn, I see musicians like Mc Cartney for an example can do it all, composes on both guitar and piano. I guess which one would be more bennificial? I still want to take bass lessons too. I'd feel for writing the guitar would be best, but in the long run maybe the keys but I can't do it all at once. The reason I am so anxious is that our band is just starting to compose our original material. I definatly want to have a say in what the guitars are doing, and also want to participate in writing a lot of my own riffs that are stuck in my head but just can't get them out since I can't play. But then again the keys would be huge linking all this stuff together. So little time so many interests and directions I could go in, ....How do you guys write what works for you? What do you think I should start with?
  2. Stephen S

    Stephen S Member

    Apr 10, 2002
    San Bernardino, CA
    I suggest learning Piano, it will help you look at music a whole new way and will definitly help you with your theory.
  3. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    I think the piano too. If not available explore the guitar's added range both have merit.

  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Play Skool piano with the color-coded keys...that's all Jaco needed.

    Personally, I couldn't run out & buy a piano(I did once own a Fender Rhodes, though) the '80s, I had a Yamaha DX100, mini-key synth with over 200 presets. I'm sure there are other/better options available if you're looking for something to use as a writing/composing tool.

    Going with what skills you already have today-
    You can write using your drum/bass knowledge...writing groove-oriented tunes. This was my preferred method back when I played in an 'originals' band. True, my stuff was generally some sorta R&B/Funk/Latin thing with 'jazzy' chords...I had a tune called "Pick'd Up A Piece"; sound familiar & maybe like a ripoff? What can I say, AWB was/is still one of my favourite bands & there was some sorta 'groove band' revival goin' on(even today) ;)
    Anyway, the other writers in the band had their thing so it balanced out
    (the drummer actually wrote his stuff on piano; the guitarist used his guitar).

    Also, I wasn't Hell-bent on writing everything out for the others; I definitely gave suggestions regarding 'feel' & chord voicings(I'm pretty big on playing the 'right' voicing...there's a lot of ways to voice a Gmaj7, for example).
    A 4-Track + drum machine were big time composing tools, too!

    ...being familiar with the keyboard is a huge asset!
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Another vote for piano/keyboard.
  6. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    While I am not much of a piano player but I can play guitar very well, I would still suggest getting a piano.

    It does help more with theory since most music was originally written for/with the piano. Musical notation was developed specifically for the piano.

    Eventually get helps tremendously to have both at your disposal.
  7. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    This is basically my suggestion. Knowing guitar so you can follow what the guitarist is doing ("Not that chord shape. Play it at the seventh fret." ) is very useful. Being able to play the part you have written for the guitar ON the guitar makes it much easier for the guitarist to play it back correctly later.

    But while that gives you more convenience in a band format, keyboards help more in the theory department than any other instrument.

    I am a terrible keyboardist and a marginal guitarist. I say that I play bass, but I play at everything else. But the best thing for shaking new ideas out of your head is to switch instruments. And with modern recording goodies you don't have to be able to consistently play a part all the way through the tune to do a reasonable demo now. Cool, huh?
  8. Ummm... hasn't musical notation been around longer than the piano?

  9. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Nope. Figured bass was, though, for the harpsichord, the precursor of the piano.
  11. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Come on, bass is all you need! S-A-T-B right there in the guise of G-D-A-E

  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    No, not cool...
  13. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I want to eventually do both but I think I'll go with the keys first, it's the most fundimental thing I could do which will carry over into any instrument I play in the future. My main problem with bass playing is thoery so I can kill two birds with one stone.....Thanks for your inputs! :bassist:
  14. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    - Bah! Anyone can play the piano! ;)
    The Ondes Martenot.

    The What? -

    An instrument developed by the french telegraphist Maurice Martenot towards the end of the 20s. It’s a six-octaves instrument played through a ring moved along a string. Its peculiarity is the fact that the note played is given by the difference of frequency of two generators and this keeps the note played on the string the same of the corresponding key of the keyboard. The sound is amplified by 4 devices: a principal loudspeaker, a reverb loudspeaker, a metallic gong and a "palm" with strings.
    Learn to play this and you'll probably be the coolest person in your country :D
  15. ukulele. It oughtta take just a month to learn if you already know other instruments. And it kicks butt.
  16. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Wasn't it arguably the first synthesizer?

    As far as learning different instruments to learn different views of music:
    I'd probably say that singing is the best thing to do as it is almost necessary in learning how to "sing" through your instrument.
    Piano/keys is really helpful as it is all laid out and really shows a lot about theory. It also helps in playing two parts at once.
    Horn players really work on phrasing, which is especially helpful in soloing.
    Drums help with rhythmic sense and help you think in multiple rhythms at once and subdivisions.
  17. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    The value to the Piano/keyboard is being able to play all notes of a chord at the same time. Invaluable to hearing chords and their movement. Playing guitar with a song written specifically for piano is a study in itself.