Many students that are interested in learning to play the piano don’t start by playing a large grand piano. Because of the high cost and amount of space required, most people who are just starting to learn the piano will buy a digital piano or a keyboard. It’s not uncommon for people to erroneously use the terms “digital piano” and “keyboard” interchangeably. What these people don’t know is that there are many significant differences between digital or electronic pianos and keyboards. In this article, we’ll go into some of the differences as well as what they mean for the music that each instrument is able to produce.
I have been playing piano since the early 1980s, and I earned a Bachelor of Music with an audio production and piano focus from Ithaca College as well as a Masters in Music in keyboard collaborative arts from the University of Southern California. For the past 20 years, I’ve been a professional music director and have performed myriad musical styles on different instruments in concert halls and on nightclub stages. I also taught music for 10 years at a private Los Angeles middle and high school.
The electric bass is a relative newcomer to the world of jazz. The big bands of the 1930s and 1940s Swing era and the small combos of the 1950s Bebop and Hard Bop movements all used the double bass. The electric bass was introduced in some bands in the 1950s and it became prominent during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when rock influences were blended with jazz to create jazz-rock fusion.
Some bassists use other types of tuning to extend the range or get other benefits, such as providing multiple octaves of notes at any given position, or a larger tonal range. Instrument types or tunings used for this purpose include basses with fewer than four strings (one-string bass guitars,[35] two-string bass guitars, three-string bass guitars [tuned to E–A–D])[36] and alternative tunings (e.g., tenor bass).[37]
A fully electronic kit is also easier to soundcheck than acoustic drums, assuming that the electronic drum module has levels that the drummer has pre-set in her/his practice room; in contrast, when an acoustic kit is sound checked, most drums and cymbals need to be miked and each mic needs to be tested by the drummer so its level and tone equalization can be adjusted by the sound engineer. As well, even after all the individual drum and cymbal mics are soundchecked, the engineer needs to listen to the drummer play a standard groove, to check that the balance between the kit instruments is right. Finally, the engineer needs to set up the monitor mix for the drummer, which the drummer uses to hear her/his instruments and the instruments and vocals of the rest of the band. With a fully electronic kit, many of these steps could be eliminated.
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The fretting hand can also be used to sound notes, either by plucking an open string with the fretting hand, or, in the case of a string that has already been plucked or picked, by "hammering on" a higher pitch or "pulling off" a finger to pluck a lower fretted or open stringed note. Jazz bassists use a subtle form of fretting hand pizzicato by plucking a very brief open string grace note with the fretting hand right before playing the string with the plucking hand. When a string is rapidly hammered on, the note can be prolonged into a trill.
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