Just as a reference of what I mean in the intro of the track:

If not available in your country: (thanks @Michael Curtis)

There are three chords in a row and then the percussive sound continuing the motion of the track without any chord played.

Does anybody have any suggestion on how to emulate something similar on keyboard. What I want to get is something sounding, but without any chord. Maybe just softly play the root note on the base, or are there any other suggestions?

I guess pedals might help, but I don't have any at the moment.

Some clarification:

I understand I can load some special sample for that effect, but I want to use the same instrument throughout. The reason for specifying keyboard rather than piano was to point out my lack of sustain/damper pedal. Will probably play it with an piano sound. Can of course experiment with different types for different effects.

What I'm after is the sound without any quality or clear pitch if that makes sense. Not palm muted chord, but "muted strings".

  • 1
    I'm not comfortable writing a full answer to this, but you could probably get a similar sound with a Hammond organ-type patch, or maybe an electric piano or Clavinet patch. By very briefly hitting a low note (or a bunch of them), a percussive effect is achieved. You see it a lot in funk. See youtu.be/kP51W36lVDA for an example.
    – trw
    Feb 6 '19 at 14:17
  • Video unavailable, The uploader has not made this video available in your country. Feb 6 '19 at 14:57
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    @MichaelCurtis It's not a palm mute, it's an acoustic guitar and sounds more like the fretting hand doing the muting, laying over the string but not fretting any notes while the guitar is strummed as usual. It's all "click" and no actual notes sounding (if that makes sense).
    – user57228
    Feb 6 '19 at 15:02
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    @MichaelCurtis this is left-hand muting, not palm muting (I guess more accurately, fretting-hand muting or something similar). Feb 6 '19 at 15:09
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    Another upload, same song, played in US youtube.com/watch?v=qiu3GbWpPB4 Feb 6 '19 at 15:39

I couldn't play the audio file, but comments say it's an acoustic guitar with the muting on the neck.

If the piano was a grand and you could reach inside, you could brush your fingernail across the strings with the dampers down. That would sort of mechanically duplicate what's happening with the guitar. The sound would be similar. You wouldn't be able to brush the strings in the piano as fast as strumming the guitar, but you might manage something similar.

Otherwise I would try an octave tremelo or repeated note. Probably in the bass register. Not using the sustain pedal might get more overtones from the attack and emphasize the percussive aspect. Sustain pedal would allow the string to resonant a produce a clearer pitch which you might want to avoid.

If we think of percussive as more noisy, less clear pitch, then replacing the octave or adding to it a major second or minor seventh could add an interesting noisy/percussive element.

Nice question! I have often thought about what kind of rhythmic figures to play on piano that would be analogous to various strumming patterns on the guitar.


After hearing the audio track. I'm thinking just hitting the chord root in a low octave would work. I would not use sustain. Go for a sharp attack to get the noisy overtones. May try an added major second for extra punch. Another possibility is to play the chord fifth and root (2nd inversion with third omitted.) Normally that's an 'unstable' inversion, but the overtones that make it 'unstable' could be exploited for effect. In the bass register it will become 'muddy' or 'noisy' but that could work for this particular effect.

  • Thanks for the ideas. The key thing I think I was after was the "lack of chord quality"/"lack of clear pitch". In contrast to the clear chords before. Will try out the major second and unstable 5th second chord inversion and see if it works. Feb 7 '19 at 11:54
  • I think some of these ideas should work then as they omit the chord third and that certainly is an essential tone to define chord quality. Feb 7 '19 at 13:38
  • This makes me think a fourth piano pedal that holds down the dampers even when keys are pressed would be a neat addition that would open up lots of sounds. Like a damper override pedal or something. I would also add that any attempt to replicate the left hand muted guitar sound should be played as staccasissmo as possible. The shortest possible time. This kind of playing can be heard sometimes on rock B3 organ parts or rock/funk Hohner Clavinet parts. Both of those instruments can stop the sound faster than piano dampers can usually stop the strings from vibrating. Feb 7 '19 at 19:22
  • I've played a piano with a practice mute - internally a large sheet of felt push over the strings - but didn't really sound like a palm mute. I think such an effect would need to push a damper on the string and hold it close to the bridge - or whatever that part is called inside a piano Feb 7 '19 at 21:37

If it has to be a "real" keyboard-type sound, use an overdriven Hammond, and play fast cluster chords, alternating with both hands like the keyboard was a conga drum. A Rhodes or clavinet type sound might also work, but make the chords noisy and overdriven/distorted. However, that's going to sound a bit aggressive.

You could also use sampled or synthesized noises.

  • "Hush" by Deep Purple is a good example of this technique on B3 organ. Almost any funk clavinet performance will have at least a little bit of this technique also. Feb 7 '19 at 19:24

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