Hidden behind his instruments or acting as entertaining frontman: Where is the keyborder?




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During rock and pop history, the instrument of a keyboarder changed from a big instrument - the grand piano - over the heavy hammond organ to smallersynthesizers. Even today, he or she can choose what types of keyboards he likes to play or he can play several ones at the same time. The different keyboards with their individual sounds stand for a specific musical style, for example, the piano is the instrument of rock ´n´ roll and the sound ofthe electronic organ represents the time of beat music. When a keyboarder has decided what style and instrument he will play, how will keyboarders arrange their performance on stage? Or in other words: Where isthe keyboarder´s place on stage? This main question will be accompanied by others: Can he be seen by the audience, is he sitting or standing? Can he see theaudience or the rest of the band? An interesting problem for keyboarders is the line of sight, corresponding to the problem in which angle to the stage the instrument has to be set up. These twoproblems are influenced by at least two other factors: The size of the instrument and the size of the stage. The article wants to bring light to these questions with the help of several keyboard artists and their typical way of handling these questions. Starting with Rock´n´ Roll-Stars Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis with their grand pianos, the article moves over to the British Beat Bands of the 60´s with their small electronicorgans and their places on stage, including backline places (which animated the keyboarders to play while standing in order to be seen by the audience). Hard rock brought new fame to the Hammond organ, often set far left or right on the stage and in right angle to the stage. With a growing demand for more sounds and midi and multi-preset-keyboards not yet invented, keyboarders found themselves, slowly but irresistibly,surrounded by their instruments in the 70´s, which is pointed out by Pink Floyd and Keith Emerson. The article mentions also the advantages of new preset keyboards which might help to reduce the amount of equipment on stage and - on the other hand - itdemonstrates the visual role of a big equipment for a life performance and how some keyboarders manage to be 'entertaining frontmen'.




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