A guitar is not a “sound-alike” instrument. In addition to the fact that it is a sound-alike, it is also a part of the vocal, and hence also one whose interpretation one must make. Some say the instrument is called the guitar “because it plays with the breath” but the term “key” is much more accurate.
It’s not an instrument created just to play along with a song. An instrument is an instrument which you can use to enhance a song. It’s really helpful, and often a necessity, for a singer to bring the song out of the background and give it its own personality. The main difference between a keyboard and a guitar is that key means it’s a part of every word in a song, not just the main lyrics. It’s also where the key of the song changes. A keyboard is keyed from the bottom up; you’re always able to play every note to each key in a different order. For guitarists, this is actually quite difficult. The more a melody is played, the more difficult the “playing” required to keep it in sync becomes.
Some people claim that keyboards don’t have a soul, but I would argue that any instrument can be spiritual, and that playing on a keyboard for any length of time is the exact same thing as singing. This is true whether we’re talking about the sound of a string quartet of keys or if one was just playing on his guitar and singing “It’s a shame what happened to your piano” when he’s lost his instrument.
How do you find a good “key?”?
It usually takes a lot of talking to the keyboardist and/or vocalist first. If your lead vocals can’t move the music along, or you’re just not convinced about being comfortable singing and playing on a keyboard, it is probably a good idea to just sit around listening to a lot of music that is written and performed over the past twenty years and ask yourself, “is this really the way I want to present my music?” Or, if you have a melody that you want to work into your work, get as far away from the keyboard as you possibly can. It’s not a good idea for any vocalist or keyboardist to sing from the piano. The fact is, the piano is a “key” that is much more dynamic than the guitar, and the vocalist’s “key” is almost always the song or song style over which she wants to express
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