Friday, October 30, 2009

Yamaha Behind the Scenes: The Live Piano Concerts Channel - It’s Alive!

Earlier this week we announced the release of the "Live Piano Concerts" channel on Yamaha's Piano Radio. Today, we have our resident PianoSoft insider, Cathy, to give us details on what to expect from the channel.

The title of this post is a bit Halloween inspired but as excited as I am for Halloween, I'm even more excited to tell you about the new Piano Radio channel - "Live Piano Concerts."

As you may know, most PianoSoft is recorded in a studio then painstakingly edited by the team of Yamaha editors before it is released. Over the years, though, some live concerts, specifically those from the Newport Music Festival, have been captured on the Disklavier then edited in our studio to be sold as PianoSoft collections. You can find many fine examples of these performances in the Newport series at Yamaha MusicSoft.

However, there is a wealth of music from the Newport Music Festival that has never been released in a collection. There are also many other live performances that have been captured on Disklavier pianos the country that have not made their way to PianoSoft. For example, since 2002 Yamaha has partnered with the Piano e-Competition, which brings together world class pianists from across the globe to compete virtually through Disklavier technology. The finals of each competition are all recorded for posterity on the Disklavier. Plus, Yamaha Artist Services in New York City sponsors concerts in their own venue throughout the year, and occasionally these performances are captured live on the Disklavier.

Now you can have a front row seat and enjoy these live-as-they-happened concerts and competition performances right at home on your own instrument through the Live Piano Concerts channel. For the most part, these offerings are "untouched by human hands" in order to allow the listener to relive the experience of the live concert or competition exactly as it happened.

The channel features performances from acclaimed artists like Frederic Chiu, Bernadene Blaha, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Mirian Conti, Piers Lane, Mei-Ting Sun and many others. The selection of performances is already impressive, but there is more to come, as we will be regularly adding music to the station.

If you haven’t tried the Piano Radio service yet, this is a great time to get started! There is a Complimentary Channel so you can try it out before you subscribe, but once you subscribe, you'll get access to many channels covering genres including Adult Contemporary, Pop, Standards, Spiritual and Worship, Country, Soundtracks, Broadway and others. Moreover, there are seasonal channels appropriate for holidays throughout the year.

Happy listening!

- Cathy

Update (1-19-10): The name our live piano performance channel has been changed to "Live Piano Concerts". The channel will continue to deliver the same great music as always.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Songs - Hits from the Beatles, Queen & Lady Gaga

This week's new song release includes great tunes across the board, whether you want a modern pop ballad, a 70's classic rock anthem, or a slice of the 60's from the legendary Beatles.

After newly remastered versions of all of the Beatles' albums were unveiled last month, Beatlemania, even 40 years on, shows no signs of letting up. We have three new fab-four songs for you this week: "Paperback Writer," an 1965 single featuring some heavy bass work from Paul McCartney, "When I'm Sixty-Four," the timelessly jaunty tune about love and aging featuring interesting clarinet parts, and "Revolution" which was released in three different versions over the course of the Beatles' catalog. The version of "Revolution" heard here is the fast, hard rocking version found on the B-side of the "Hey Jude" single.

Next up is "Somebody to Love", from one of classic rock's greatest bands, Queen. Newer fans may recognize the song from its recent appearance on the TV show "Glee", but others will know it more for its over the top vocal harmonies, emotional lyrics and monumental guitar solo.

For a taste of modern pop, we've also added Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" this week. "Paparazzi" continues Lady Gaga's string of infectiously fun and danceable pop hits that started with "Just Dance", "Poker Face" and "LoveGame". With a disco beat that would sound good in any era and a catchy chorus, "Paparazzi" is an especially good song for those seeking to bring out the synth-ier side of their Yamaha keyboard.

All of these songs are great to use on your keyboard to learn, perform, or play along with. Keep reading for a full list of new songs, and if you're still looking for music to add some scary spice to your Halloween, don't forget that we have tons of spooky songs available at Yamaha MusicSoft and Internet Direct Connection...

Secret Agent Man - Johnny Rivers

Fame - Naturi Naughton

Paparazzi - Lady Gaga

Paperback Writer - The Beatles

Revolution - The Beatles

When I'm Sixty-Four - The Beatles

Somebody to Love - Queen

Take a Bow - Rihanna

- Doug

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New for Piano Radio - The Live Piano Concerts Channel

Today we've added yet another channel to Piano Radio's roster: the Live Piano Concerts channel.

Part of the beauty of Yamaha's Piano Radio is the way it replicates real, live piano performances on your instrument. In a sense, every channel on Piano Radio is a "live performance" channel. So what's so special about the Live Piano Concerts channel? The fact that every song you hear on the new channel is being reproduced exactly as it was originally performed by one of the world's greatest classical pianists in a concert or competition.

Every key and pedal movement in these songs was precisely captured by a Yamaha Disklavier piano during a live performance, and now those movements and sounds are recreated perfectly on your instrument through Piano Radio. Listeners can expect to hear performances of sonatas Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Beethoven and more from pianists like Frederick Chiu, Jan Lisiecki and Boris Beresovsky.

The Live Piano Concerts channel is now online and accessible for all Piano Radio compatible instruments. CLP and MODUS users will find it under channel 14 (those looking for the Halloween Hits channel can now find it under channel 15).

If you've never tried Piano Radio before, now's the perfect time - the holidays are just around the corner, and Holiday Favorites channel will be there to soundtrack the whole season. Of course, two free channels available right now - all you need to do is get your keyboard online and you can be enjoying streaming music within seconds. Subscribers get access to the Live Piano Concerts channel, seasonal and holiday channels, and over a dozen other channels of piano music.

Follow this guide for help with connecting to the internet, or head here if you're ready to subscribe. For more information on Yamaha's Piano Radio, visit our Online Services site.

- Doug

Update (1-19-10): The name our live piano performance channel has been changed to "Live Piano Concerts". The channel will continue to deliver the same great music as always.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Playing and Learning With MIDI - More Classic Keyboard Songs

Way back in July we introduced the idea of using MIDI files with your Yamaha keyboard to learn the piano or keyboard parts to songs. Yamaha's keyboards make it easy to isolate the keyboard parts in songs, so you can either hear the parts by themselves or mute them and fill them in with your own playing.

Of course, you can do this with any MIDI song that has a prominent keyboard or piano track, but we've tracked down eight songs with great piano or keyboard parts that are tons of fun to play and learn. The list covers all types of pop and rock piano styles. If you're a rock fan you'll have a great time pounding out "Good Golly, Miss Molly"or Coldplay's "Clocks", while those after something a little lighter will have a blast with "Your Song" or John Legend's "Ordinary People".

After locating the keyboard track or tracks in the song, you can use the channel on/off or mute functions on your keyboard to turn off either the piano tracks or all of the other tracks, then play along.

Either way, these files are fun, easy and interactive tools you can use to learn classic keyboard and piano parts. And once you've had your fun mastering the songs and playing along with the backing tracks, you'll be all set to play these songs solo on any keyboard or piano.

Keep reading for a full list of songs to play, complete with keyboard track assignments for each one.
A Thousand Miles - Vanessa Carlton
Piano track on channel 1

Apologize - OneRepublic
Piano track on channel 4

Your Song - Elton John
Piano tracks on channels 4 &5 (right and left hands)

Clocks - Coldplay
Piano track on channel 4

Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel
Keyboard track on channel 7

Ordinary People - John Legend
Piano tracks on channel 5 & 6 (right and left hands)

If I Ain't Got You - Alicia Keys
Piano tracks on channels 4 & 5 (right and left hands)

Good Golly, Miss Molly - Little Richard
Piano track on channel 5

- Doug

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yamaha Videos of the Week

We've seen a lot of Martin Harris's work with the Tyros3 and Premium Styles in the past few weeks, but he's lucky enough to get paid to play a Yamaha keyboard all day. What about all the Tyros3 players out there who play just for the love of the performance? With so many players making such marvelous use of the Tyros3 Premium Pack and Voices, we thought it was only fair to give them and their performances a chance to shine.

The first video features a great rendition of the Beach Boys' "California Girls", using the SurfShuffle style from the Choir and Vocals pack, as well some of the pack's vocal sounds in the intro. The melody also really shows off some of the Super Articulation features of the Tyros3's trumpet voices. The video also shows off an awesome Tyros3 screen customization.

Next we have a stellar example of how the SA2 Trombone voice can be used in a
soft latin jazz setting. The performance may be short but it's beautifully played and makes full use of the expressive capabilities of the trombone voice.

And lastly, we have something a little different - a video from this month's CEATEC electronics show in Chiba, Japan, where Yamaha unveiled two exciting new concepts.

The first is an iPhone app that lets you play a piano remotely from your phone. Up to ten different users can play the same piano at one time using this application. Obviously this creates some interesting possibilities for live performance, plus it looks pretty cool.

The second is a humanoid robot, the HRP-4C, that is capable of some very lifelike singing. Using technology from Yamaha's Vocaloid software, the robot can take requests from a remote device, such as an iPhone, then perform them in an almost eerily human way.

Thanks to RonsonDenmark and TyrosAndi for their videos, and thank you for watching. Have a great weekend!

- Doug

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Premium Styles - Hot Swing & Cool Chilllout

The wait is over! The first new Premium Styles of the fall have officially arrived.

The new styles this week give you smoking swing accompaniments, laid back, new age pop.

Each style comes in multiple varieties, to guarantee compatibility with your particular keyboard model. All Premium Styles are available both from Yamaha MusicSoft and Internet Direct Connection - just log in to Internet Direct Connection or select your instrument on Yamaha MusicSoft, and you'll automatically get the right style for your keyboard.

Enjoy the new styles and even more demos from Martin Harris!

Hot Big Band - The 1950's brought a new big band sound image that was heavily influenced by American band leaders. This Style is ideal for playing mid-tempo swing songs.

Sunday Chillout - Emerging in the mid-1990’s, the term chillout refers to many genres of contemporary music that are mellow and slow in tempo. This Style captures the ambient chart chillout sound of today.

Remember to check back for more Premium Style news - there's plenty more to come in the next few weeks.

- Doug

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Learn Songs Fast - The Real Deal Behind Fake Books

If you've spent much time around jazz music, you've probably heard the term "fake book" tossed around. Unless you've owned one or used one, though, chances are you're probably still a little confused about what they are and what they're good for.

Good news! They're good for a lot of things, and they're readily available at Yamaha MusicSoft, Digital Music Notebook, and Internet Direct Connection. Though they're it is often used by jazz musicians, the fake book format is great for learning the basics of any song, as long as you have a good understanding of chords.

Fake books all feature basic chords names and melodies, and many include lyrics as well. This may not seem like enough to go on to learn a song, but in many types of music - jazz, folk, and show tunes come to mind - the chords and melody are all you really need to play a song, especially if you already know basically know how it goes. Fake books are particularly well suited for jazz, though; the chords provide just enough of a guide for a solo or accompaniment, and the melodies for the "heads" of songs are all you need to bring the band back together.

As long as you're comfortable reading chords by their printed names (C7, E-7b5) and playing a little loose with the rhythm of your accompaniment, fake book arrangements will prove to be a great asset when you want to learn and play a song as quickly as possible.

Nowadays fake books are available for pretty much any type of music you want to play. If you're a jazz player though, the Real Book series, which got its start as an underground publication at the Berklee College of Music in the 70's, is a great place to start.

If the idea of hundreds or thousands of songs collected in one book appeals to you take a look at our list of fake books at Yamaha MusicSoft, or our catalog of fake book sheet music at Digital Music Notebook. Or, if you use Internet Direct Connection or Music Finder on your keyboard, Music Finder+ Performance Guides provide great fake book style guides to the songs in your Music Finder library.

- Doug

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Live Performances of Robert Schumann Piano Solos - Two New Classical PianoSoft Albums

This week, we're pleased to announce the release of two new PianoSoft albums containing the piano solos of Robert Schumann, as interpreted by some of today's most inspiring pianists. The Schummaniad, Volume Two contains two of Schumann's piano sonatas, while Volume Three features other assorted pieces, including his Drei Phantasiestücke and Arabesque in C Major.

Both albums feature performances captured at the 1992 Newport Music Festival. Yamaha has been the official piano of the Newport Music Festival since 1986, and many of the festival's performances have been recorded using Yamaha Disklaviers. As a result of these recordings, the performances can now be played back note for note on your instrument.

The new albums this week, are an all Schumann affair - here is a summary of what you'll find on them.

Newport Collection Vol. 2: Schumanniad '92

*Grand Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, op. 14 - Performed by Boris Beresovsky
*Piano Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, op. 22 - Performed by Phillip Busch

Newport Collection Vol. 3: Schumanniad '92

* Arabesque in C Major, op. 18 - Performed by Nelson Padgett
* Impromptus über ein Thema von Clara Wieck, op. 5 - Performed by Eduardus Halim
* Drie Phantasiestücke, op. 111 - Performed by Thomas Hrynkiw
* Allegro in B Minor, op. 8 - Performed by Pietro De Maria

If that's too much Schumann for you, we have five more Newport Festival albums available, as well. Keep reading for a full list and descriptions >>

- Doug

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The New Halloween Hits Channel Adds Thrills & Chills to Yamaha's Piano Radio

Watch out! As of today, Yamaha's Piano Radio is officially haunted. Subscribers can now tune into the Halloween Hits channel for a healthy dose of holiday spirit - or spirits. Halloween Hits features tons of spine-chilling songs, including selections from our two most popular PianoSoft albums, Boo - Halloween Favorites and A Haunted Halloween.

With Halloween Hits playing on your keyboard or Disklavier, it's easy to turn any room into a haunted lair. Songs ranging from the genuinely frightening (Bach's "Tocatta & Fugure in D Minor") to the more light-heartedly scary ("The Monster Mash"), combined with eerie haunted house sound effects, make Halloween Hits the perfect way to create a ghastly ambiance for a Halloween party or spook up the house for trick-or-treaters.

If you're a CLP or MODUS user, Halloween Hits is your new channel 14.

If you've never tried Piano Radio before, now's the perfect time - once Halloween is over the holidays will be here in no time, and with them the Holiday Favorites channel. Of course, two free channels available right now - all you need to do is get your keyboard online and you can be enjoying streaming music within seconds. Subscribers get access to the Halloween Hits channel, more seasonal and holiday channels, and over a dozen other channels of piano music.

Follow this guide for help with connecting to the internet, or head here if you're ready to subscribe. For more information on Yamaha's Piano Radio, visit our Online Services site.

- Doug

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Tyros3 Style Videos With Martin Harris

Yamaha's own Martin Harris is back again this week with four new Premium Style demonstrations. Sure, not everyone can sound as good as Martin, but his performances really get across the amazing possibilities in these styles - with a little practice, anyone can create a great performance.

All four of the styles Martin uses in these videos are currently available on Yamaha MusicSoft and Internet Direct Connection.

Oh, and don't forget - new Premium Styles are right around the corner! Keep your eyes peeled next week for more.

Big Band Foxtrot
- From its American roots, the Foxtrot has grown to become one of the world’s most popular ballroom dances. Swing and big band music is typically used for dancing the Foxtrot and with this Style you get to lead your very own dance band!

Keep reading for more style videos >>
Pop Reggae - Originating from Jamaica in the late 1960’s reggae evolved into an important musical genre throughout the world. A characteristic of reggae music is accenting the off-beat creating a very laid back feel – and this Style is very laid back!

70's Country Pop - The 1970’s saw a change in country music’s sound from earthy Nashville to a more pop influenced image. Featuring a mix of acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitars, this Style creates the perfect backing for playing country hits of the 70’s.

Big Band Train - The sound of American big band music is as popular now as it was back in the 1940’s. This upbeat Style has all the band members you would expect – drums, acoustic bass, jazz guitar, piano, saxes and brass – with a complimenting bank of One Touch Settings for you to play along.

- Doug

Friday, October 9, 2009

Scary Sounds - Music For Halloween

No matter how you plan to celebrate the scariest day of the year, remember that music can always add some extra scream potential to your Halloween. Luckily, between MIDI songs, PianoSoft, and sheet music, we have everything you need to make your Halloween musical.

For those who intend to learn some new songs to scare and delight listeners this Halloween, tons of Halloween sheet music can be found at Sure, Halloween may still be a few weeks off - but if you're going to learn how to play the Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor by the 31st, you probably need to get started now.

On the other hand, if your plans involve creating a spooky musical atmosphere, PianoSoft can help you do that with your Yamaha instrument. Two PianoSoft albums in particular, "Boo - Halloween Favorites" and "A Haunted Halloween" are perfect for setting the mood for a haunted house or Halloween gathering. And if you're a Disklavier user, there's definitely no better time of year to enjoy the chilling "invisible piano player" effect of your instrument's moving keys.

But that's not all - stay tuned next week for more tricks, treats and Piano Radio news that will have you quaking in your boots!

- Doug

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two New Styles and Tons of New Songs - Billy Joel, No Doubt, Queen & More

We're still a couple of weeks away from new Premium Styles, but today we're happy to offer two new styles from Midi Spot studios to tide you over. Both styles are available in versions for Tyros3 and Tyros2.

Dusty's 6-8 - A mid tempo ballad style with a slight twang, and a lot of old fashioned class. Strings and horns fill out a great sound for any 6-8 slow burner.

Smiling Shuffle - Led by smooth guitar riffs and backed by light chiming synths, this style is particularly suited to sunny soft pop.

With this week's new releases, we also have a bunch of new songs for your keyboard. You can also now enjoy and play along with songs like No Doubt's "Don't Speak", Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl", Michael Jackson's "Heal the World" and Queen's "We Will Rock You". Keep reading for a complete list of new songs for this week. >>

Don't Speak - No Doubt
Eight Days A Week - Klaus & Servants
Love Will Keep Us Together - Niel Sedaka
The Boy Does Nothing - Alesha Dixon
Love Is All Around - Wet Wet Wet
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - Christer Sjögren
Sealed With A Kiss - Jason Donovan
Only Love - Nana Mouskouri
Electric Light - Infernal
Kiss an Angel Good Morning - Alan Jackson
Honey Honey - ABBA
2 Become 1 - Spice Girls
We Will Rock You - Queen
Stuck In The Middle With You - Stealers Wheel
Heal The World - Michael Jackson
Back To The 80's - Aqua
La Isla Bonita - Madonna
Right On The Money - Alan Jackson
Fox On The Run - Sweet
Uptown Girl - Billy Joel
Mandy - Westlife

- Doug

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Music Finder Standard Library: Over 1,000 New Records & Real Song Names

Attention and all Music Finder users, especially those using Yamaha's newly released keyboards and Clavinovas - you can now expand your Music Finder library with over 1,000 new records. The newly available, and totally free, Music Finder Standard Library is here to expand your keyboard with records featuring full song names, and full style, tempo and voice setups.

The Standard Library is especially useful for users of the new PSR-S910, PSR-S710, and the latest Clavinovas in the CVP-500 series, since these instruments all include a preloaded Music Finder library featuring only a couple hundred songs. The new Music Finder Standard Library is designed to let you use Music Finder the way it was meant to be used. With thousands of records at your finger tips you can be up and playing your favorite songs with the perfect sounds in seconds.

In addition to providing a full library of Music Finder records, the Standard Library also includes the full original song name for each record. This will prove especially useful for users of older keyboards and Clavinovas, whose Music Finder record names may be encrypted.

To get the Standard Library on to your instrument, first select your instrument on the Music Finder page of our Online Services site. Then, click "download now" to download the Standard Library file to your computer. Next, transfer the file (it will have a .mfd extension) to a USB flash drive and load it on the instrument. Press the Music Finder button on your keyboard to get to the Music Finder display, then choose "Files". Find the library file on your USB drive, and select it. When given the choice to "Replace" or "Append" the records, choose "Append". When you return to the library you should see thousands of new records waiting for you.

For the uninitiated, Music Finder is a system designed to help you find the perfect voices and styles to use when you want to play a particular song. This demonstration of the system, featuring the great Peter Baartmans, will give you a good idea of what you can do with Music Finder and Music Finder+.

- Doug

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Songs This Week: Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston

Our new song releases this week include two of pop music's most powerful voices who have made triumphant returns to the charts in the past few weeks.

Mariah Carey released her latest record Confessions of an Imperfect Angel this week, but her first single from the album, "Obsessed" has been blaring from stereos around the world for months. "Obsessed" is a mid tempo dance track that Carey herself describes as "one of her favorite songs ever". Here's a sample of the MIDI file version of the song:

Obsessed - Mariah Carey

Another legendary diva, Whitney Houston, has also returned to the spotlight this month, with her album, I Look to You, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts. The title track from the record, a heartfelt and uplifting ballad written by R&B singer R. Kelly, has been released as the first single from the record. It's a classic Whitney ballad, and should go down with "The Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You" as one of her best. Take a listen to a sample:

I Look to You - Whitney Houston

You can download "I Look to You" and "Obsessed", along with other new songs from Rob Thomas, Five for Fighting and more, at Yamaha MusicSoft and Internet Direct Connection.

Keep reading for a full list of new songs, including samples >>
Her Diamonds - Rob Thomas

Sweet Dreams - Beyonce

Independence - The Blue Van

With a Little Help From My Friends - Joe Cocker

Chances - Five for Fighting

Groove Me - King Floyd

- Doug

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New PianoSoft This Week: TV Themes, "The Wizard of Oz" & 60's Teen Pop

This week we have three great new PianoSoft albums for you and your Yamaha instrument that will be especially interesting to those fans of piano music who happen to also be fans of the moving image. Albums featuring music from The Wizard of Oz and classic TV themes will, of course, produce wonderful music on your instrument, but they may also have the unexpected side effect of conjuring up memories from the big and small screens. Look below for more descriptions and samples.

Selections From The Wizard of Oz

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the The Wizard of Oz's first release, but the film's songs, written by Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen, have stood the test of time. Songs like "Over the Rainbow" and "If I Only Had a Brain" are now just deeply ingrained in the musical history of the 20th century, as the movie itself is in the history of television and film. Along with backing instrumentals to fill out the arrangement, pianist Jason Nyberg (who is also featured in our Exercise on Demand video) creates a piano interpretation of The Wizard of Oz which captures the same spirit of fantasy that makes the original songs and film so universal and captivating.

"Where the Boys Are" - The Feminine Side of the '60s

The early 1960s were a wonderful time for innocent, fun, tuneful pop music, and some of the best teen pop hits of the era are now available on this PianoSoft album. Pianist Sue Downs brings elegance, verve and a lighthearted sense of teenage energy to these songs that will really make them sing on your instrument. Among the most easily recognizable tunes on the album are Leslie Gore's duo of hits, "It's My Party" and "Judy's Turn to Cry". Also featured are three of Connie Francis's greatest hits, "Among My Souvenirs", "Lipstick on Your Collar", and the title track "Where the Boys Are".

The Best Jazzy TV Themes!

Sometimes a TV theme song sums up a show's felling and mood so well that it becomes inseparable from the show itself, and other times the theme song is so good it even overshadows the show. Anyone who's ever enjoyed a theme song more than a show ought to find something to love here. The album is heavy on classics from the 70s golden age of the theme song - the stirring "Suicide is Painless" from M*A*S*H, the unforgettable light hearted funk from Sanford & Son, "Love Is All Around" from The Mary Tyler Moore Show - but also includes more recent favorites like the theme from Sex and the City. Plus, the album is a real treat for Henry Mancini fans, as it includes the timeless themes he penned for The Pink Panther and the Peter Gunn spinoff Mr. Lucky. Pianist Tom Zink instills all of the songs with his characteristic jazzy flair, making the record indispensable for jazz fans and TV fans alike.

- Doug