Instruments to accompany piano?

Instruments to accompany piano?

Hi all,
Looking for a bit of advice. What melody instrument would you pair with a piano/keyboard accompaniment for
1. obviously the best sounding and
2. the best balance (where possible) between the instruments
I’m not bothered as much about the sound balance as keyboards volume can easily be turned town to better suit the melody instrument, but what melody instruments would best compliment the piano accompaniment, or rather vice versa.
Thanks

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

"or rather vice versa"…. yes, I would think that it’s the piano that accompanies the instrument.

Posted by .

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Where I come from, piano and fiddle is the default combination.

Posted by .

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

So are you looking for an instrument to play over piano accompaniment, or an instrument to accompany the piano? If you are looking for something to play over the piano, fiddle or flute are the obvious choices, but most other instruments will work, the only thing I would avoid are ‘plinky’ things like mandolin or banjo.

If you want something to accompany the piano then you’ll probably want something playing long bass notes - a cello, harmonium, accordian only using his left hand, or even a synth.

In general, when it comes to mixing instruments it’s not about things going together, what you are looking for is contrast - mix something nasal sounding like a concertina with something pure like a flute, something with strong attack like a banjo with something sustaining like a fiddle.

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

The only thing I can think of that (In my opinion) goes brilliantly when ‘accompanying’ a piano is the simple combination of bass and drums, but that has no great place in this music. The other way around I can only imagine, as Mark said, fiddle and/or flute. and maybe a cello could work either way around. Why do you ask, by the way?

Posted by .

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Re: Mark M’s comment about avoiding something "plinky" like the banjo, I’ll admit that as a tenor banjo player I’m biased here, but I think the pairing sounds great in this clip from Shane Mulchrone and Jack Talty:

https://youtu.be/7iC21kgG3zw

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

As a piano player myself, I am used to playing along with a variety of other instruments, but would agree that fiddle or flute go particularly well, and there is the possibility of the two instruments swapping over on leading the melody, with perhaps the other instrument playing a harmony while piano plays the main melody.
Interesting comments about the bass line, as that is the piano’s forte (if you’ll forgive the pun!), being able to fill in long notes with varying styles of left hand accompaniment - or if you want long bass notes, there is always the sustain pedal. But of course, it would be lovely to have a cello in the mix too!

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Yes, it is the pianist’s left hand, and their ability to accompany themselves that make it so difficult for anyone else to add anything useful if the piano takes the lead.

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

You can always ‘double’ the melody, with the right-hand of the piano and the ‘melody’ instrument. I like that effect - but I’m sure not everyone does.

Posted by .

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Hi,
Thanks for all your replies so far, I’m only after realising how badly I phrased my question, obviously the piano is the accompaniment and I’m just looking for melody instruments which would sound well with it.
Thanks

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

As a pianist and professional accompanist, I would like to add that the piano is not always the backing instrument. I love to play music where there is a dialogue between the instruments; Molly on the Shore, although not pure drop in Grainger’s arrangement, is a wonderful example. Completely different genre, but German Lieder is written with the voice and piano parts equally important.

There’s a challenge for someone - come up with arrangements of classic ITM tunes where the piano and fiddle (or flute or whatever) share the fun bits and play off each other.

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Flute or fiddle, but button accordion can work too. Have a listen to Geraldine Cotter with the Borumna Trio or Carol Crotty on PJ Crotty and James Cullinan’s album. Brian McGrath accompanying Matt Molloy.

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

If you are a pianist who is accompanying a piper, there are the drone pipes to provide bass notes (speaking from experience).

Laurence

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Piano and harp work well, as do piano and hammered dulcimer. Piano and fiddle are a common combination; I can’t count the number of sessions where I’ve seen that pairing, with the piano providing the gravity and the violin giving lift.

Here’s something recent (fast forward to 5 minutes in): https://youtu.be/tI0_GNs9GPM

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Short and sweet: sorry, no piano (or guitars, etc., etc.), thank you. Irish traditional dance music was/should be non-harmonic; it was never intended to be accompanied.

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

"it was never intended to be accompanied"

Curious way of stating your point. Years ago I read a brochure urging people: "See Germany as it was meant to be seen" (by driving around the country in a car) and I remember wondering who, in the writer’s opinion, had meant it to be seen in that particular way.

And the other day I was attempting to explain the expression "that horse has bolted" to a non-native English speaker. 🙂

Re: Instruments to accompany piano?

Sorry barry but that cleary and evidentially mistaken.
You will notice the uilleann pipes have both drones and regulators for accompaniment….. .

Also various instruments have been commonly used to accompany folk music , cello , guitar like such as lute etc throughout Europe for hundreds of years . To suggest that this was not so in Ireland would require evidence…. or perhaps Ireland is not part of Europe 🙂