Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
EasyWorkflow
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Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by EasyWorkflow » Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:23 am

Hello Friends,

I was in market for a keyboard controller and now feel that NI Kontrol is best controller available only because it now comes bundled with 10 instruments from Native Instruments. I was ready to buy Massive which alone costs $200. Here is list of all instruments that come with NI Kontroller. https://www.native-instruments.com/en/p ... te-select/ I just responded in another post that I should be focusing ONLY on Live 9 for now as I am a beginner and already have two controllers which is Push and my MIDI guitar. Yes, I know, my Apple keyboard is also a controller. I thought it would be cool to have a keyboard controller to the right of my setup which has my small Apple keyboard in front of desk, Push directly behind it and then my Imac. I read that only keyboard players would need a 61 key controller. But why only keyboard players?. Doesn't the extra octave enable non key players to create more interesting chords and melodies especially if you use two hands on keys? I heard that "wide" meaning more keys is always the way to go if you play keys and you can afford it. I am stumped as to why a non key player would not benefit from 61 keys versus 49. Any advice would be appreciated. And yes, I measured and I have 41 inches to the right of my setup and 61 key is 40 inches. Feels like a bit of karma going on but I could be wrong.

Does it make sense to spend extra $100 on Kontrol 61 versus K 49.

Thanks

login
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by login » Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:51 am

Any one can use any number of keys, the question is: do you take advantage of more keys?

Pêople who knows to plays (and well music is also written mostly in this style) plays chords with one hand and melody with the other so you need more keys. When people doesnt know to play they are just find trying chords over two octaves and shifting when necessary.

ImNotDedYet
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by ImNotDedYet » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:34 am

Are you going to be able to make fatter/wider chords with your hands on a 61 key vs a 49 key keyboard? Probably not. My thumb to my pinkie can reach about a tenth interval. I'd say unless you're playing with both hands - chords in the left and melody in the right, odds are 49 keys would do the trick.

yur2die4
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by yur2die4 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:54 am

I move around a lot. It always feels good to have that extra octave above and below just incase I'm gonna venture there. Depends on the 'instrument' you're emulating of course. Or on if addictional keys have different functions (a lot of NI devices use lower register keys as switches to change modes of an instrument -like muted vs sustained string vs tremolo etc- or for auto-rhythms with drum kits. Which is especially handy for the ethnic drum kits since they give inspiration). Or even if you just split the keyboard to more than one instrument (brostep bass left hand, heavy metal accordion right??).

EasyWorkflow
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by EasyWorkflow » Thu Jul 09, 2015 6:35 am

ImNotDedYet wrote:Are you going to be able to make fatter/wider chords with your hands on a 61 key vs a 49 key keyboard? Probably not. My thumb to my pinkie can reach about a tenth interval. I'd say unless you're playing with both hands - chords in the left and melody in the right, odds are 49 keys would do the trick.
I don't understand because if your left hand is on the lower register, and your right hand is on the higher register of a 61 key controller, wouldn't that give you more options in creating more interesting chords.

My Sweetwater rep said the 49 keys seem to be the sweet spot for a controller, but for $100 more, and only 7 inches longer, it really does not take up much more real estate. I have to make this decision tomorrow or Friday the very latest because of a deal I worked out with my rep. This is a tough call.

Thanks for the feedback. And thanks in advance to anyone else who can shed some light on this subject.

H20nly
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by H20nly » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:29 am

If it was me, and it's not, I'd roll with 49 and save the extra space for the next bit of gear I think I have to have

slatepipe
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by slatepipe » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:30 am

depends how you play i guess. when i play keyboard i go with a few chords and just do drones with them. i got an lpk25 akai thing and it's tiny and fine for that, either that or i play with my fists. my quneo i got the pads mapped to 16 notes or samples and for me that's more than enough. sometimes i put a midi pitch on the track set to 16 up or down then midi map it off and on so that gives me access to 16 more on that track. my midi bass is the same story - a different instrument or set of samples on different tracks gives me way more sounds than i ever need. they all suit my style of noises anyway... or maybe my style of noises grew because of them :? ?

Richie Witch
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by Richie Witch » Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:19 pm

For me, it depends on what I'm doing. If I'm designing sounds, 25 keys and a handful of encoders are plenty. If I'm composing or jamming, 61 keys gives me the room to move around and play with both hands.

When I was living in a smaller space, I built my own sliding keyboard tray for the larger MIDI keyboard by purchasing sliding tray hardware and mounting it a to a shelf-length board long enough for the controller. Then I mounted this under the worktable next to my desk.
"Watching the Sky" ~ A 4-track EP of piano, strings, and Native American flute

ImNotDedYet
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by ImNotDedYet » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:26 pm

EasyWorkflow wrote:
ImNotDedYet wrote:Are you going to be able to make fatter/wider chords with your hands on a 61 key vs a 49 key keyboard? Probably not. My thumb to my pinkie can reach about a tenth interval. I'd say unless you're playing with both hands - chords in the left and melody in the right, odds are 49 keys would do the trick.
I don't understand because if your left hand is on the lower register, and your right hand is on the higher register of a 61 key controller, wouldn't that give you more options in creating more interesting chords.

My Sweetwater rep said the 49 keys seem to be the sweet spot for a controller, but for $100 more, and only 7 inches longer, it really does not take up much more real estate. I have to make this decision tomorrow or Friday the very latest because of a deal I worked out with my rep. This is a tough call.

Thanks for the feedback. And thanks in advance to anyone else who can shed some light on this subject.
You're looking at 4 octaves vs. 5. If my reach and I think a typical reach from thumb to pinkie is just over an octave - you can still produce a very "wide" chord with a 4 octave keyboard. To really appreciate the benefit of a 5 octave keyboard - at least from a chord perspective...you either need an enormous reach of your fingers or you're going to have a sizable, almost 3 octave gap between the two hands position - which isn't going to sound that good. You may want wide chords to provide some overall spectral balance, but not that wide. And unless you're playing a fairly minimal musical arrangement, the odds of you wanting say, an 8 note or more chord probably isn't going to sound good in the mix as it's too rich. So, for strictly chords, and even wide, big chords a la Bill Evans...you could get by with 49 keys IMO.

Having said that, and as it sounds like you're not going to be playing classical or jazz type stuff on this where you do long runs and use much more of the keyboard...I think a 49 key would suffice. But when buying gear, my thought is if there's any doubt in my mind that I may need that extra stuff, or to go a model higher, I do that. So if you think you may potentially ever use the 61 keys, just go 61 from the get go.

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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by yur2die4 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:12 pm

In all honestly, when I'm on a 61 I feel far more creative. Yes, the span of your hand is approx an octave. For One note. Chances are you'll be moving around the keyboard. Do you want the bottom one to be a C0, C1? Maybe even C2??? I'd say that optimally, one would be most free to jam with two and a half (or at least 2) octaves on the left hand. This allows you to do something as simple as an octave bassline arpeggiation across an octave (which would require two octaves), and still have room to decide if you want the next interval to be Above or Below the previous (so if you're on C1 doing octave arp, you might go G0 Or G1, depending on what direction you want the bass to go).

So how much space does that leave for the upper register? The same amount. And the upper portion should 'ideally' be around 3 octaves so you have space for if you either want to be more dramatic OR, in the simple case where you'd do the same chords or melody just an octave higher for 'interest'.

The next thing to take into account is the song range of instruments, like synths etc. When you're chugging along through presets trying to find an inspiring sound, you never know if the range of most interest will be low, mid, or high for your particular needs. A 49 key keyboard will make you fall asleep sometimes. You won't feel so willing to jump to those ridiculous highs where some of the percussive xylorimbas' sweet spots are found. Etc. Yeah, there are octave buttons. Yeah, the top half of the top octave might accumulate dust.

But quite simply, each experience I've had with a 61 vs 49 key, the 61 has always felt more inviting.

....let's not even talk about the headfuck of a 25 key :P (it can be fun but frustrating!) touchscreen keyboards are also extreeeeemely fun and have probably been my most essential learning source. Many of those are free. (I don't know how the experience is on Android touch keys...)

Buleriachk
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by Buleriachk » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:56 pm

You can always use two keyboards.. :)
or even a Maschine for the chords and a Komplete Kontrol S25 for melody (or even a Push)..
or any combination (kk for bass and Push for melody )...
or....

musikmachine
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by musikmachine » Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:28 pm

Buleriachk wrote:You can always use two keyboards.. :)
or even a Maschine for the chords and a Komplete Kontrol S25 for melody (or even a Push)..
or any combination (kk for bass and Push for melody )...
or....
Yeah i use a combination of Maschine, controller keyboard and iPad apps sometimes. One way of getting around the note limit is to use a chord plugin like Cthulhu...

stringtapper
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by stringtapper » Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:24 pm

A 49-key controller will allow you to play pretty much any kind of standard two-handed keyboard style you would ever need, barring jazz/rock-style soloing where you're playing multi-octave runs or classical and contemporary styles with extreme ranges, and still, that's only if you were planning on performing such things live.

If you're talking about using it purely to get some harmony down, then 49 keys is plenty.

If all you're ever going to do is play melodies, or if you can't play with two hands at all and would record harmony and melody separately, then you might not even need that and could just go with a 25-key controller.

I keep a 25-key controller on my desk for quick input, but also an 88-key controller to the side of the desk for if I need to play a full piano part in (also helpful with Kontakt sample libraries that use key switching for changing sample articulations on the fly as they're usually down at the bottom of the piano range).
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ImNotDedYet
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by ImNotDedYet » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:46 pm

yur2die4 wrote:In all honestly, when I'm on a 61 I feel far more creative. Yes, the span of your hand is approx an octave. For One note. Chances are you'll be moving around the keyboard. Do you want the bottom one to be a C0, C1? Maybe even C2??? I'd say that optimally, one would be most free to jam with two and a half (or at least 2) octaves on the left hand. This allows you to do something as simple as an octave bassline arpeggiation across an octave (which would require two octaves), and still have room to decide if you want the next interval to be Above or Below the previous (so if you're on C1 doing octave arp, you might go G0 Or G1, depending on what direction you want the bass to go).

So how much space does that leave for the upper register? The same amount. And the upper portion should 'ideally' be around 3 octaves so you have space for if you either want to be more dramatic OR, in the simple case where you'd do the same chords or melody just an octave higher for 'interest'.

The next thing to take into account is the song range of instruments, like synths etc. When you're chugging along through presets trying to find an inspiring sound, you never know if the range of most interest will be low, mid, or high for your particular needs. A 49 key keyboard will make you fall asleep sometimes. You won't feel so willing to jump to those ridiculous highs where some of the percussive xylorimbas' sweet spots are found. Etc. Yeah, there are octave buttons. Yeah, the top half of the top octave might accumulate dust.

But quite simply, each experience I've had with a 61 vs 49 key, the 61 has always felt more inviting.

....let's not even talk about the headfuck of a 25 key :P (it can be fun but frustrating!) touchscreen keyboards are also extreeeeemely fun and have probably been my most essential learning source. Many of those are free. (I don't know how the experience is on Android touch keys...)
For actually playing, I agree with you. But it doesn't sound like OP knows how to play much keys-wise. Someone that's not a player is highly unlikely to be playing an octave or more arp in the bass while playing some melodic content across multiple octaves with their right hand.

stringtapper
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Re: Why only keyboard players need 61 key controller?

Post by stringtapper » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:07 pm

^ Exactly.

I just sat down at my piano and improvised on some progressions just to see what kind of range I was really taking up and the fact is 3 octaves, roughly C2–C5, gives you room for most kinds of harmony that anyone is likely to be doing with pop music. Add another octave for some breathing room and a 49-key controller is plenty.

But again, that's only if you're planning to record two-handed harmony or melody+harmonic accompaniment live. If you're always going to overdub this kind of stuff then even a 25-key controller can get you there.
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