There was comment on one of my YouTube videos a few weeks ago that got me thinking. The video was about using the Cubase Chord Track with Toontrack’s EZKeys, and the general thrust of the comment was “that’s fine for people who can’t play”.
One of the things I’ve set out to do with the songs I’m recording at the moment is, for the most part, to avoid my own clichés and to try to think, (and play), outside the constraints of my comfort zone. For a guitarist, I’m a passable piano player, but I’m no Rick Wakeman, so EZKeys gives me the ability to record a higher quality piano part than I could achieve on my own, either by playing or simply writing in the notes.
I was reminded of an interview you can see on YouTube, where Jon Lord, (of Deep Purple fame), recounts how he once recorded some keyboard parts for George Harrison. He said that Harrison was a good keyboard player and could readily have played the parts himself, but wanted Lord to bring his own style and musical personality to the recording. The interview was with Rick Wakeman, who himself was a noted session player in his pre-Yes days. Wakeman performed the flowing piano parts that underpin Cat Steven’s version of “Morning Has Broken” and I would wager that he was given the chords and left to come up with his own parts – certainly, the end result is very typical of the rippling piano lines in his later recordings.
For me, EZKeys is that session player who comes in and brings styles and an approach that exceed my technical ability, but also can inspire or take a song in a slightly different direction than I might have done if I’d chosen to perform it all myself. So maybe it’s fine for people who can play as well.