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. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Talent Behind the Sounds: Interview with Sound Designer Peter Krischker

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Krischker, the mastermind behind the Easy Sounds Synth Voice Libraries. Peter has been working with Yamaha Synths for over 30 years and he brings a wealth of sound design and programming experience to every product he creates. We were thrilled to hear his insight into the artistic process.

Click here to view Easy Sounds Products in a new window.

We spoke with Peter about one of his favorite Synth Voice Libraries, the FM Xpanded library. Peter describes the library as "...the ultimate retro pack for your Yamaha MOTIF Synth." The library is based on the FM technology that served as the foundation for the famous DX7 synthesizer.

What inspired you to create the FM Xpanded library?

My intention was to offer comprehensive sound library for the Yamaha MOTIF-series with an emphasis on playable live sounds. FM synthesis is closely linked with the history of Yamaha Synths. The DX7 electric piano sound is one of the most recognized instrument sounds from the 1980' was obvious to offer a playable FM sound library.

What did you use as the source for these sounds? How did you go about creating them?

For the sample production I used the legendary DX7 as well as several other FM synths, including the SY99, FS1R, DX200 and FM8.

The original FM-sounds were not simply sampled 1:1 - I developed FM-partials, which were mapped as User Waveforms and combined with new FM-voices using up to eight voice elements from the MOTIF XS / XF / MOXF. I called this technique "Sample-Partial-Programming". The process offers a very high flexibility allowing for creative sound design.

Check out out FM Xpanded, and other great Easy Sound Libraries. Each product detail page contains audio and video demos.

Which sounds are your favorite and why?
I love the classical FM E-Piano voices like The Champ, Lovely Tines, Classic SY99, Original DX, and American Ballad. They sound like pure FM in high quality - just what you expect from an FM library.

Tell us a little about your work with Yamaha.

My first synthesizer was a Yamaha CS15! In the early '90s I contacted Yamaha Europe about sound design work for SY99 and we started a successful collaboration that continues today.

Since the development of the CS1X I've been a member of the Yamaha voicing team. I've been involved in countless voicing projects like CS6x, AN1x, FS1R, AN200, DX200, EX5, MOTIF XS / XF, DTX-series, Tyros-Series, Yamaha World Wide Content and many others.

I'm not a trained keyboard player - I started making music with guitar. Now I'm going back to my roots playing electric guitar again when I have time left alongside the synth projects. Maybe one of my next sampling projects will be a guitar library!

You can hear the retro voices from FM Xpanded in this video, or check out the library on our site!