The Convenient Effigy

Being a trained piano person, I opted to go towards electronic keyboards. Keyboards and Synthesizers are real musical power houses for any modern musicians. Today even guitarists use the guitar synthesizer and powerful effect boards.

Keyboard artists have access to various kinds of tones and musical tools under their finger tips. Often the tools are so many in numbers choosing the right one is an art by itself.

The problem comes in assumption, most people assume conveniently that they would get the guitar tone by selecting a general midi patch on keyboard and simply start playing it, they also seem to assume this is what most keyboard players do for living; I pity such base less assumptions.

Let me tell you, using the keyboard and playing music is an art; it is as hard as learning the so called natural instruments.

For trained guitarists, there is no real learning curve if he just changes his guitar however for trained keyboard players a new learning curve starts every time he changes the keyboard. Today’s keyboards are much harder to tame. There are lots of techniques that need to be learned and adopted.
Secondly there are many bands out there today who blindly assume Midi means step recording and easy canned music, they also go to an extent of propagating that music done using midi is inferior. For them get it loud and clear --- “Ignorance is bliss!” Basically only people who don’t know midi and its usage will pass such lame comments.

Midi is a set of protocols that is used to exchange music date between compatible instruments. That’s all it is. Sequencer, a software that layers various sounds using this protocol. Sequencer is something like a word processor, a word processor arranges words and paragraphs, a sequencer arrangers musicals phrases. A story writer does not get a story by just opening ms-word; he needs to think and imagine his material.

Some ½ boiled laureates will say word has spell checker to help you, spell checker does not put the word your thoughts in place, it just checks for spelling. It is mere a tool to enhance your productivity. Like wise, the sounds does not come in and sit themselves on to a Sequencer, someone has to compose, arrange it and play it in first place. In order reproduce it.

I was once mocked by a person saying I play using midi, the only way to clear this I invited this person to see how I compose and work, after seeing it live in my studio he changed his opinion right away. The perspective in which keyboard artist sees music is much different from a regular instrument player, a guitar player job ends if he produces a guitar sound. However for a keyboard player he needs to make others believe the sounds are coming from a real instrument, not a keyboard. I take great pains to understand the nuances and body language of other instrumentalist, this includes bass, sax, trumpet etc.

Now, you may ask instead you can get them to play, true, if I have them at my disposal I would love to get them play [If needed] however it does not work that way, it is often very hard to find a “good” musician. When I can play like the real player why do I need one? Keyboards players can mimic other musician’s methods and get sounds that are indistinguishable from the original. Playing methods are the key. Like a poor guitar player, a bad keyboard player will also sound horrible. I am not saying a keyboard player is a god sent angle etc, most keyboard players whom I know are really talented and they match every other artist who plays the so called natural instruments. But they don't seem to be treated in par with other musicians.
A Keyboard player is often assumed to be Robot.

So next time if someone boasts that we don’t use midi or electronics etc and preaches them to be inferior form of music, please don’t buy their claim.

Fellow musicians just to establish something on your side, think twice before you treat keyboards and midi as convenient effigies for you to burn. Playing every musical instrument is a talent, respect it. Treat the keyboard and its artists with same respect you get, we are not free effigies to be burnt.Remember after all on the stage today every other instruments and vocals needs electronics support.