Tips for how to include an "active" keyboardist in a Power Metal band?


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01-09-2010, 03:41 AM
Now, I know you're thinking, "I don't see the problem, Power Metal and keyboards are like peanut butter and jelly." But the way my keyboardist thinks and plays is more like a solo piano artist, in that he rarely, if ever, takes the usual Power Metal approach of sustaining chords, but instead does very active techniques like fast chord changes and note runs on the right hand- think like movie themes (kinda like I don't hear much in Power Metal like that.

Is this a bad thing? I love how he plays, but my worry is that with him on top of 2 guitarists, drums, and bass could make the sound cluttered. Should I tell him to back off a bit or try my best to work in his playing style? Because I really wouldn't want to make him compromise.

BTW, my impression of keyboards in Power Metal come from Blind Guardian, Galneryus, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, and hell, even a bit of Dragonforce. If anyone could show me some examples of bands that use what I've described as "active" keys, I'd really appreciate it.

01-09-2010, 04:00 AM
Alestorm (

01-09-2010, 04:15 AM
A lot of Nine Inch Nails stuff has lots of keyboards throughout. Its not exactly power metal but he does some heavy stuff and uses the keyboard in a lot of different ways.

01-09-2010, 04:27 AM
Just give it a go. If you all know what you're doing and you gel well with each other it'll all fall into place. If not, well that means it's time for some changes.

01-09-2010, 04:28 AM
I'd say try to make it work with him playing like he is (or maybe a little bit more "towards power metal", just enough so that it doesn't make the overall sound a total mess, maybe have him play like this on certain parts and differently on others... I dunno)
Atleast it would be somewhat original, no?

01-09-2010, 04:47 AM
I just gotta say that Alestorm is pretty frickin amazing and original. And as always, you can't have both guitars and piano playing all the time. There are times for a guitar solo when the piano steps back, or vice versa.

Here's a metal band...more melodic I guess, but they have some frickin heavy drums and vox.

01-09-2010, 01:48 PM
Unless he's soloing 100% of the time over everything, I wouldn't see it as too much of a problem, it's probably more of an advantage to have an incredbily talented keyboard player like this, but just tell him he needs to play rhythm sometimes, no big deal.

Anyway, this song is a good example of the "active keys" thing you were talking about. It's fairly guitar based for the first few minutes, with little symphonic flushes in the chorus, then leads to a piano solo, which then leads to a guitar solo:

I would see your situation as a positive thing that you can work into your songwriting, to be honest. Have fun :)

01-09-2010, 01:53 PM
If it sounds cluttered, just ask him to use a little more restraint and throw the occasional embellishment over it.

01-09-2010, 04:22 PM
Well let's see here. I checked out the youtube video and I think I get what you're saying.

I guess he's rather active then. I'd supply him with bigger parts. Mostly like using him as an orchestra. That way he can be active in runs and stuff, but still cling to the chords you want him to sustain.

Ask him to tone down a bit though. Give him a sweet little epic piano ballad to balance it out?

and ofcourse: KEYBOARD SHREDDING! I use a lot of arpegio runs in my own band, however I only have one guitar player. But he could come in handy harmonzing leads n stuff.

Hope this helps a bit.

01-10-2010, 02:00 PM
I saw a progessive metalcore band last night as part of a regional battle of the bands and they incorporated a korg synthesizer into their songs, kind of like a keyboard. I don't think they played any chords lol, it was more just pounding out riffs. It was kind of a rave music sounding, like you could have thrown some crazy lights in there and had a sick rave party with a mosh pit

01-10-2010, 03:07 PM
Give the keyboard player a sweet and epic ballad where the piano leads... Like this:
Also maybe allow him to do intros or small break sections with piano... example:

I mean it's a give and take process. Let everybody in the band have their time in the spotlight. Keyboard gets a epic ballad and cool intro or solo, Bassist gets to lead into the song or do a cool bass solo or the guitars do leads and solos and what ever.

EDIT: Oh, yes! One more thing, use him as a one man Orchestra!!! It's something I use Keyboards and Keyboardists for. :D

01-16-2010, 12:58 PM
basically its just like playing guitar in the sense that just because you can do something doesnt mean that you should. if i wanted to i could just shred for 4 minutes every song but that leaves no room for anything else. just have him play a little rhythm piece for a bit and when the time is right let him cut loose and just get going.

01-16-2010, 02:11 PM
So yeah in addition to my previous posts, rather then power metal like gamma ray, you should look more to power prog, like SYmphony X.

Symphony X only has one guitar player live, but they're quite layered often enough when it ocmes to albums.