Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's a Grand Slam! Little-Known Facts About Our Triple Play Artists

To celebrate the upcoming WorldSeries, we selected nine iconic artists who knock it out of the park. Then we picked three hit songs from each artist to create collectible MIDI Triple Play bundles. If you missed any of these bundles during the first nine innings of our Take Me Out to the Ball Game promotion, you can now purchase all of these bundles during our Grand Slam week

While you’re browsing, check out these fun facts about our featured artists:

Avicii – Fighting Hunger with Music

This 25 year old superstar DJ has certainly seen his fair share of success. In 2012 he made history as the first DJ to headline the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and his first breakout hit, “Levels” was played on Shazam over 3.5 million times that same year. But Avicii is trying to share his success with the world through House for Hunger, a non-profit charity the artist founded with his manager Ash Pournouri.

Elton John – A Life of Performance

Like many great piano prodigies, Sir Elton Hercules John started his performance career at a young age, attending the Royal Academy of Music at age 11 and performing in local pubs by age 15. Since then he has played over 3,000 concerts in 75 countries. He was even the first Western pop star to tour the Soviet Union in 1979. In 2013 Sir Elton collaborated with Yamaha on a limited movie theater release of his current Las Vegas show, “The Million Dollar Piano”.

Helene Fischer – International Talent

German pop icon Helene Fischer was actually born in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia. She immigrated with her family to Germany at the age of four. Following her graduation from school she attended the Frankfurt Stage and Musical School to study singing and acting. The vocal training certainly paid off and she has since achieved international fame, winning eight Echo awards as well as four “Krone der Volksmusik” awards, and a Bambi accolade.

Adele – Songwriting Powerhouse

International sensation Adele thinks of herself as a singer first and foremost. Citing Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Mary J. Blige as inspirations, she has crafted two award winning albums, “19” and “21”, named after her respective ages when she began work on those records. Adele is also another record breaking artist as the first female singer to take the top the artist, album, and singles spots on the US Billboard charts in the same year.

ABBA – Breaking Records Around the World

2010 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ABBAs famous foursome has smashed musical records all over the world. In fact, their greatest hits album, “Gold”, is one of the best-selling records in music history. Though the group has vowed to never reunite, from their 1974 Eurovision Song Contest victory to their hit singles and popular records, ABBA remains a formidable force in the music industry.

Andrea Berg – Award Winning German Songstress

Talented artist Andrea Berg has a well storied history of success in her homeland. With fourteen popular albums and several singles at the top of German charts, this vivacious singer has won over twelve awards for her music, including the Echo award and Germany’s Goldene Stimmgabel.

Coldplay – The Statesmen of Rock

While many of the anecdotes surrounding Coldplay’s rise to fame are humorous – their first official song was called “Ode to Deodorant” and the band at one point had their headquarters in a London bakery – the success of this group is no laughing matter. The group started when all four members attended University College London in 1996. Since their formation the band has won numerous awards, including eight Brit Awards, five MTV Video Music awards, and seven Grammy Awards.

The Beatles – Defining Iconic

No list of iconic artists would be complete without a nod to the legendary Fab Four. Widely accepted as the most influential group in the rock era, all four band members were appointed as Members of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. In addition to this honor, the band holds the title of best-selling band in history with over 600 million sold worldwide.

Jürgen Drews – Singer and Actor

Popular Schlager musician Jürgen Drews received his first award for Best Banjo-Player of Schleswig-Holstein, the province of his hometown in Germany. He rose to celebrity as a member of the 1970s pop group “Les Humphries Singers” before launching a successful solo career. In addition to his musical pursuits, Drews has also prospered on the silver screen with multiple appearances in German films and television. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Kooky Karaoke – a fun way to enjoy special voice-changing effects on your Clavinova!

The Yamaha Clavinova CVP and Tyros instruments feature several different voice effects, including ones that drastically change the sound of your voice. Just plug in a microphone to your instrument, locate the voice effects section, and you’ll be enjoying a whole new level of music!

Craig Knudsen, Yamaha Clavinova artist, has taken this technology and merged it with a classic Halloween favorite – Monster Mash! In one song, you’ll experience several different outrageous voice effects. Just sing into the mic in your normal voice, and you’ll be instantly transformed into a ghoulish Boris Karloff, then transformed again to a harmonized group of backup singers! The karaoke lyrics appear right on your screen, in sync with the music. You sing the song, and your Clavinova or Tyros does all the rest.

The technology is truly amazing. You don’t even have to be a great singer. With pitch correction, auto harmony, pitch change, reverb, and other effects, you can sound like just about anyone – or anything!

To see voice effects in action – check out the video on the "Monster Mash" product page.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Acclaimed K-Sounds grand piano and organ libraries for MOTIF XF, MOTIF XS, and MOXF now available through Yamaha MusicSoft!

For over a decade, Yamaha has innovated in the realm of music production synthesizers/workstations, notably in 2001 with the release of the very first MOTIF. Since then, instruments like the MOTIF XF, MOTIF XS and MOXF stand as some of the best-sounding, most requested instruments in the music industry.

Now, for new owners of these Yamaha Synths (and also for some current owners), things just got better. Yamaha MusicSoft proudly introduces Epic Grand, and Organimation; two Synth Voice Libraries now available for purchase through Yamaha MusicSoft.

View K-Sounds Products Now

These libraries were created by Keven Spargo of K-Sounds, who founded his company in 2002. Keven is a professional pianist and keyboard player, in addition to being an expert sound designer.

Keven specializes in "piano samples and tonewheel organ libraries", which MOTIF and MOXF players can attest with with both Epic Grand, and Organimation.

Both Epic Grand and Organimation were crafted with attention to detail. "Users should expect my content to sound great, be very playable and provide innovative features not found in competing libraries," Keven mentions in an interview.

Epic Grand adds a vast library of grand pianos, ranging in depth, sound and color. Professionals can bring the grand piano to the studio, or to the stage with this extensive voice library.

Organimation uses available wave files within these instruments to create new sounds, yet don't take this library for granted. Extra-thick rotary speaker effects, throaty overdrive and enhanced stereo give you the feel of classic jazz, rock and gospel organs.

Would you like to view all the Yamaha Synth Voice Libraries?
Browse all Yamaha Voice Synth Libraries.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hidden Feature – How to perform a “ritard” with a style ending

When playing a song, it’s important to lead your listener along through arrangement, and give musical hints as to what is coming next. For example, it should be obvious to the listener when you are about to end the song. Stopping abruptly at the end with no hint that it was coming leaves the song sounding incomplete and unprofessional. To solve this, quite often in pop music the song simply fades out, and gives the listener a chance to “say goodbye” to the tune.

But another common method that has been used for centuries is to “ritard,” or slow down, that last phrase or measure of a song. That’s easy to do when playing with a band, or playing a solo piano. But when you are using an accompaniment style on your keyboard, such as, “8 Beat 1,” you may be wondering how to slow down then ending of the style to create this effect. Trying to turn the tempo dial while playing is not easy, and doesn’t usually give the desired result.

So here’s a tip – Yamaha keyboards have a built in feature that slows down the ending of a style. To access it, just press the desired ending button, then PRESS IT AGAIN once the ending has started. You’ll hear the song come to a slow dramatic finish!

Here’s a couple tips – it generally works best on shorter endings. If you’re instrument has three different ending buttons, choose the second one. Also, note that many styles already have a built-in ritard, so using this feature will make it doubly slow (in fact you’ll have time to go to lunch and back before it ends).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Behind the Scenes with Jim Leahy

The aurora borealis over the site of  2014 Yamaha e-Competition
This week we went behind the scenes with Jim Leahy, a long-time member of the Yamaha Remote Live team.  Jim records live music events for broadcast on DisklavierTV and captures studio performances for our PianoSoft library. This summer Jim traveled to Alaska to record the finals of the Yamaha e-Competition, then crossed the country to film a series of performances at the Newport Music Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.

We caught up with Jim in a rare free moment at the Yamaha headquarters in Buena Park. 

You filmed two classical music events this summer. Tell us a bit about the Yamaha e-Competition.

The e-Competition is an amazing annual event made possible by the power of the Disklavier piano. Competitors are recorded via video and Disklavier technology for judges to assess, then the finalists come together for a live competition. The completion is also broadcast live, which gives the customer the opportunity to view a piano competition as if they were viewing a multi-day sporting event. This is the world cup of piano competitions. Pele can’t kick the ball in your living room, but these performers are actually playing the Disklavier in your house.

For the artist, the experience is completely transparent. We use light-beam technology to measure the velocity and duration of each key strike, so all the artist knows is that they are playing an exquisite piano. This year we were recording with a Mark IV Concert Grand and every artist loved the piano, even the judges were blown away by the instrument.

What was your favorite part of filming the e-Competition?

Working with the team that I travel with. As hard as the work is, it’s still worth it working with these guys - technicians who are at the top of their field. From an artistic perspective, I’m always amazed at the high quality of performance that we are able to obtain from around the world, year after year. I would not want to be a judge for this competition! We kept saying that, the whole team, “I would not want to be a judge for this.” The artists are world class.

The competition is normally held in Minnesota, was there anything special about filming in Alaska?

Walking outside at two in the morning to full afternoon sun was incredible. Of course, after a while 24 hours of sun starts to get to you. When you first arrive there’s a bit of a wow factor. But after a while you’re piling things against the windows to get to sleep. It is better than the alternative. We could have had 24 hours of darkness and 40 degrees below zero. I’ll take the sun.

Also, the aurora was stunning. The last day we were there, it was 2:00am after we finished breaking down the equipment and we were getting ready drive to the airport. We walked outside and saw the aurora borealis lighting up half the sky. It was grueling breaking down before a 4am flight, but in that moment it was all worth it.

How was your experience with Newport different than your experience shooting the e-Competition?

Newport is a Festival rather than a competition, so there’s a whole different energy. At the e-Competition there’s this young, vibrant atmosphere created by new artists playing to win. At Newport these are established artists performing for an appreciative audience that loves what they’ve already accomplished.

There’s a lot of drive for the e-Competition, we’re shooting all day, sometimes wrapping at midnight. At Newport we have more downtime.

Did you face any challenges capturing either of these events?

When our airline misplaced our luggage – including the four professional cameras we brought for the shoot in Newport – we had to MacGyver our own camera setup. The guys were so resourceful, they made a series of black boxes to cover iPads and borrowed cameras for the first day of the shoot. It felt very Apollo 13.

Music stands make excellent tripods, who knew?
iPad? Check. Electrical tape? Check. We're good to go!

What is your history with the Newport Music Festival?

I’ve been traveling to Newport since 1991, so I’ve been spending the summer in Rhode Island for a lot of years. We have a long-standing relationship with the festival. Yamaha has been providing Disklavier pianos to Newport for over twenty years and many of the artists that we record at Newport come into our studio to expand the Yamaha library with some amazing PianoSoft studio performances.

 To start with, we were just recording amazing music for Yamaha’s vast library. In the late 2000s we started using the Remote Live technology to broadcast the Newport festival – but the things I love about Newport have never changed. It’s a pleasure to listen to world class musicians playing beautiful music in the most beautiful venues you can imagine. That’s such a huge part of why I look forward to capturing these experiences every year.

We’d like to thank Jim for sharing his continued passion for Remote Live, the Disklavier piano, and the music that makes this technology great.