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The 4 Secrets on How to Play Reggae Keyboard




It can be a very frustrating experience learning how to play reggaehow to play reggae keyboard keyboard. In this short article I will try to get rid of your frustration by giving you 4 tips on how to play reggae keyboard.  The video gives 5 actually.  I Am very Generous! Enjoy.


1. Playing rhythm using the reggae keyboard


It is not very hard learning how to play reggae keyboard if you can already play the keyboard. The playing technique and sound of the keyboard may differ from that of the reggae guitar but, the roles they play as it relates to rhythm are very much the same. The keyboard gives the skank sound a doubling effect and at the same time fattens the sound.


So the best way to learn how to play reggae keyboard is to first play along with the rhythm guitar.  


The technique involves playing and releasing each chord quickly in a synchronized way with the guitar.  And that’s basically all there is to it. Really that’s it.


If you are really struggling with this (hey, no one said learning how to play reggae keyboard was going to be easy), it may help if you view it as an off beat since the strumming technique in reggae mainly uses the second and forth beat of a musical bar. So basically strum on the second and forth beat in the bar.


2. The organ–mastering the bubbling technique


The bubbling technique is very unique to reggae and also very fundamental. This technique is the hardest to master when learning how to play reggae keyboard. So what is the reggae bubble? It is basically playing the reggae organ on all four beats of a musical bar and also between each beat. So the organ is essentially played 8 times over 4 beats. 


It is used to add depth and fill in the gap between the bass lines and the chords - sometimes the bubbling sound has a bass like sound and is usually played at the lower (left) end of the keyboard for different feels or vibes.  


It can be very hard doing this with both hands at first, especially if you are just learning how to play reggae keyboard but, my friend showed me a trick that can help.  Simply use one hand and play very short chords on and between the beats of a 4 bar cycle.  This really works!  Try it.  And remember you are going for 8 beats!  Sorry about the shouting.


On the other hand, if you are a competent keyboard player already, then using both hands should be like a stroll in the park for you. Here is how it works with both hands. Your right hand plays on the beat and your left hand plays between the beats. 


This becomes right-left, right-left, right-left, right-left, where the right is always on the beat. Now there are of course different variations to this but, doing it this way will get you started. This style of playing when mastered captures the roots reggae vibe perfectly and when done well, even Bob Marley the king of reggae would be proud!


3.  Playing riffs and fills


While it is very essential for you to learn how to play the latter styles, if they are all you know then your repertoire is very limited.  Pretty soon you will be very bored and uninspired.  So, when learning how to play reggae keyboard, it definitely help if you also learn to play some simple riffs and fills.


Then you break up your playing and add some solo lines instead of pure chords.  It doesn’t have to be complicated jaw dropping riffs and fills, it just something to add color to your playing.  Think in terms of a recurring musical phrase or pattern.   If you are planning on playing in a band you could be called upon spontaneously to play a solo, so again it is good to learn some riffs. 


4. Using the keyboard as another instrument


These days it’s very rare to find a reggae band with a real brass section or with other instruments apart from the four basic ones.  To compensate most bands use more than one keyboard player or one keyboard player with two keyboards.


With this set up, a variety of instruments can be imitated by the keyboard players which help to add depth and variety to the sound. As a result, when learning how to play reggae keyboard it is important that you make yourself accustomed to playing with two keyboards, another keyboard player and the variety of styles, techniques, sounds of other instruments that may be required.


These four principles are the ingredients of reggae keyboard playing. So make sure they are mastered while learning how to play reggae keyboard.  Click the link for more on how to play reggae keyboard. One love.


A guy named Mike emailed me the other day regarding the "bubble" technique and what he had to say was very helpful.  This is what he wrote:


"The Right hand should assume it's typical "up" chuck as the Left hand assumes both a swung shorter note before and after the Right hand. More of a (L - shorter) x L,R,L. x L,R,L. thing; where the Right remains the constant "up" chuck and the left on the swung divisions NOT a constant (16th or 8th etc.) drive just alternating Left and Right evenly." 


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