Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Artist Spotlight On: Burt Bacharach

This week we begin a new series spotlighting an artist from our website.

You may not know his name but you have heard his songs. Burt Bacharach (along with frequent songwriting partner Hal David) wrote some of the most memorable music of the late 60’s, 70’s and 80's that have now become classics in their own right. Hit songs such as, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”, “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?”, “What The World Needs Now”, “Alfie” and “I Say A Little Prayer” were all in heavy rotation during the 70’s. At 87 years old, he continues to write new songs, record and perform worldwide!

Bacharach has written songs for and collaborated with a diverse group of musical artists over the years including: Dionne Warwick, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Elvis Costello.

He has proven to be one of the most popular artists on the Yamaha MusicSoft website. This week, a brand new sheet music title from one of his many classics was released. This song, “Alfie” (from the hit motion picture of the same name), has been covered by a veritable “who’s who” of artists including: Stevie Wonder, Cher, Sonny Rollins, Dionne Warwick and what I believe is the definitive version by 60’s British songstress Cilla Black.

And, for our Disklavier owners, we also have a brand new Burt Bacharach Smart PianoSoft collection here.

This unique collection allows you to sync your Disklavier to the original recording of the album so it can play along. Great for entertaining at parties!

These are only a few of the many titles we have on our website. Be sure to check out all of the Burt Bacharach titles here.

We hope you enjoyed this introduction (or re-introduction) to a songwriting legend. Please keep the questions and blog post topics coming!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

See why everyone is talking about Playground Sessions

Why choose Playground Sessions to learn piano online?

There are many different online piano learning options out there. You can choose one-on-one instructions, or group lessons like those offered Yamaha Music Schools, or online lessons. In a previous blog post we even talked about some different ways you can learn or practice piano with Yamaha MusicSoft products at your own pace. 

The bottom line is that learning piano should be as fun as playing piano. We’ve had several customers share testimonials about why they love Playground Sessions, so we wanted to share them with you. 

Playground Sessions brings an online piano lesson to life with instant feedback. You'll see what notes you've played wrong and what you need to work on to improve your music. This makes it easy to identify which parts of the song you need to practice and which ones you already know well. 
Really brings the lesson alive. Helps you feel the music. The instant feedback you get is fabulous. Identifies the missed notes and allows you to practice specific measures that are difficult. Best designed self-teaching method I’ve seen.  Chuck Carrick, 71 years old
Playground Sessions turns learning piano into the perfect escape, so learning piano isn't a chore. You'll learn fundamental piano skills like reading notes, and counting rhythms while you play. And with points, badges, leader boards and ways to track your progress, it will all feel like a game. 
 I have really enjoyed using the Playground lessons. I like the aspect of it being almost a video game. It takes me away from all other things in the “real” world and gives me some real fun peace! - Steve Reis, 57 years old
Playground Sessions gives you a dedicated, inspirational teacher who breaks down each song in easy to follow tutorials. Your personal teacher, David Sides, is not only available 24/7, he is an extremely talented pianist with over 176 million views on YouTube. Watch his covers of "Apologize" by One Republic, "Halo" by BeyoncĂ©, or "All Of Me" by John Legend if you ever need inspiration. 
I very much enjoy using Playground Sessions with the video tutorial. I am a very hands-on learner and ideally wanted a real life teacher but knew that financially and [with] time constraints that just wouldn’t work. Dave is a great teacher and really breaks the songs down and makes it easy to follow along.  Joshua Watts, 29 years old
Playground Sessions scores you on each song so you're inspired to practice until your song is perfect. With a library full of popular songs, it's easy to find favorites from BeyoncĂ©, Michael Jackson, Beethoven, The Beatles and more. Plus, all songs come with audio backing tracks, so you feel like a member of the band. 
I love being scored on each lesson, and seeing how well I’m doing. I like being able to play a song over and over until I get 100%.  Nyla, 62 years old

See for yourself what people are raving about, sign up for Playground Sessions today!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What is the difference between Styles & MIDI songs?

In an on-going effort to respond to user questions, we’d like to talk today about the difference between “Styles” and “MIDI songs” available on the yamahamusicsoft.com website. First we must redefine “what” Styles and MIDI songs are and then we can explain the difference between the two.

Q. What, exactly, is a Style file?

A. Styles are found in the Accompaniment section of your keyboard, and can make you instantly sound like a one-man band! Just play a chord with your left hand, and you’ll hear drums, bass, guitars, and more all playing along to the same chord. Yamaha keyboards feature a variety of styles to play along with, from rock and pop to jazz and country. “Style Files” are at the heart of those exciting accompaniment patterns. 

A Style Files contains music (MIDI data) and system parameters that are played by the Style Engine. All Yamaha keyboards featuring Styles have a Style Engine built into their software. It smoothly and seamlessly recognizes and follows chord progressions played on the keyboard, then instantaneously plays the selected Style File to sound the correct chord and instruments to provide an interactive accompaniment to the melody you are playing with your right hand.

Q. What, exactly, is a MIDI song?

A. Yamaha designs Premium MIDI songs specifically to function with the learning features of Yamaha MIDI keyboard instruments. Unlike a basic “General MIDI file” you may find on the Internet, each MIDI song is optimized with additional features to work with the score, tempo and transpose features of Yamaha instruments, as well as the lesson features such as "follow the lights" and "song waiting". You can make custom mixes of MIDI songs on compatible Yamaha keyboards using the mixer feature and mute the instrument parts that you want to play on your keyboard!

These are only a few examples of the power and additional features a Yamaha Premium MIDI song provides.

Check out the latest Premium MIDI songs here:

Q. How is a Style file different from a MIDI song file?

A. A Style file reacts in real time to chords you play on the keyboard, producing an accompaniment or 'backing band' for the music you are playing. A MIDI song file is linear and plays a specific song.
From a producing point of view, you would either be making an arrangement of a song or a sound alike, in both cases no original composition is required. When making a song you don't take care if it sounds good when transposed into different keys, whereas this is hugely important when making a style.

As a user, for MIDI songs you can turn tracks on and off, adjust the tempo and transpose keys, but you don't have any real control over the song, it just plays. With Styles, you are in control of what the band actually plays, leaving you free to sporadically repeat a chorus or create a new verse.

So there you have it. Hopefully this clears up any differences between the two and shows the unique characteristics and power of each type of file.

Please keep the questions coming! You can add a comment or question below.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Recording Audio Files on your Clavinova

How to create MP3 or WAV files on a Yamaha Clavinova CVP605/609 CVP705/709

A previous article called “Recording: The ‘Selfie’ of Music” focused on the benefits of making a midi recording on your Clavinova. As MIDI files are actually capturing data of performances rather than sound, everything about these recordings can be edited for a wonderful end result. (more on this in another article).

As a MIDI file is only data of a performance and not sound, when you want to share your music with others, the result isn’t always so pleasant. MIDI recordings are made up of musical data, and use your instrument’s internal sounds to play back your performance. When this performance is played back on a computer for example, the listener is hearing the performance played by the computers sound card, which never sounds as great as your CVP Clavinova!

Sharing your music via MP3 or WAV files is the best way to share your music with others, as these audio formats record the sound of your CVP performance. In addition, recording audio files will allow you to add your voice to your recorded performance if you’re a singer. Audio files are used for playback on CD players, devices, tape players, and even phonograph records. Creating audio files used to be a very expensive project, requiring a recording studio, microphones, etc, but now it can all be done from your CVP Clavinova!

An important point to know about audio recording on a Clavinova is that you have one pass to complete the recording, unlike a MIDI recording where you can multi track up to 16 channels. Of course you can record an audio file as many times as you need to, but you can’t multi-track audio files.  If you want to do a multi-track recording, record it as a MIDI file first, and we’ll cover how to convert the file into an audio file in this article.

The CVP Clavinova has multiple audio formats, and it’s important to decide which format you want to record in first. WAV files are the highest definition audio files, and will create CD quality performances for listening. As these files are large, they are difficult to email as an attachment unless using a service such as Dropbox to share your music. The CVP Clavinova also has 5 resolutions of MP3 formats available for audio recording from 64kbps to 320kbps. The higher the number, the better resolution. For emailing purposes, best result for MP3’s is 128kbps or 256kbps. In default mode, the CVP Clavinova sets up audio files to be WAV. 

To change the audio recording format

  1. Touch the Menu icon in the display
  2. Go to the second page of the Menu by touching the arrow in the right of the display
  3. Touch the Song Setting Icon in the display
  4. Touch Rec in the display
  5. Touch the down arrow in the lower right of the display
  6. Next to Audio Rec Format, you will see which resolution is currently set up. Touch the display where you see this (WAV or MP3), and a drop down menu will appear
  7. Touch the screen to select your chosen format
  8. Touch Close

To record your audio file

  1. Insert a USB flash drive into the Clavinova, as audio files cannot be recorded unless a USB has been inserted 
  2. Set up the Clavinova for your performance, including a microphone if you are going to record vocals
  3. The Song Control area with REC, STOP, and PLAY/PAUSE buttons
  4. Press the REC  button in the Song Control  area 
  5. From the display, touch the New Audio  icon
    The New Audio & Rec Start icons
  6. Press Rec Start  in the display
  7. Start playing your music
  8. When you are done with your performance, press Stop  in the Song Control  area on the control panel
  9. Your audio file will automatically be saved to the USB flash drive 
  10. In the Song area of the display, you will see the title that the Clavinova assigned to the file such as “New Song 01” with an audio icon above it
  11. To rename the file, touch the Song area in the display
  12. Touch the File icon in the lower left of the display
  13. Use the Check Box in the display to select the song you wish to title
  14. Touch on the icon that looks like a pencil with the letter A
  15. Hold down the Delete button in the display to remove the current title
  16. Use the keyboard in the display to name your performance
  17. Touch OK in the display when finished

Converting MIDI files to Audio

  1. Insert USB Flash drive into the Clavinova, as audio files cannot be recorded unless a USB has been inserted 
  2. In the Song area of the display, select the MIDI file you wish to convert. You can also add vocal to a MIDI file, have your microphone plugged in and ready to go
  3. Touch the File icon in the lower left of the display
  4. File icon is in the lower left of the display
  5. In the display you will see the song you have selected has a check mark next to it. If this is not the file you wish to convert, uncheck it, and the check the song you want to convert
  6. Touch the icon in the display for audio – it looks like a squiggly line with a right arrow next to it
    The audio icon looks like a squiggly line with a right arrow
  7. Touch Convert in the display
  8. Your midi file will automatically start to play, this is how the conversion is done 
  9. While the song is playing, you can add a vocal part over the top, or even play along
  10. Once the MIDI file has finished playing, the Clavinova will stop automatically and convert the file to audio on the flash drive
  11. The title will be the same as the MIDI file

To find your audio files on your flash drive

  1. From the Home Screen, touch the Song area of the display, and select the tab at the top of the display that says Audio 
  2. Touch the USB1 icon and there you will see your audio files listed with the audio icon before the title
  3. Once you have selected the song file you want to hear, just press Play/Pause in the Song Control area of the control panel

Have fun with your personal audio recording studio right in your CVP Clavinova! You can share your recording with us on SoundCloud, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or via a link in the comments!

Lori Frazer
Yamaha Consultant
Keyboard Division

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How to Record Your Own Performance on Your Disklavier

One of the great things about the Disklavier is that it can play back a piano performance including every key, note, and pedal movement. But you’re not limited to watching other people’s performances; you can record your own!

This video will show you how to record your own personal performance on your Disklavier E3, as well as what album to save it to, and how to change the song name. 

Recording really is as simple as hitting the record button. Here's a step by step breakdown: 

  1. Navigate to the album in which you want your recording saved. Quick tip: “My Album” contains no pre-loaded songs and is album 1.
  2. Press the RECORD BUTTON on the control unit. The PLAY BUTTON will begin flashing indicating that you are ready to record. Also the words “record” and “new song” will appear on the display.
  3. When you are ready to being recording your performance on your Disklavier press the PLAY BUTTON. 
  4. When you are done playing press the STOP BUTTON. The display will indicate that song is being stored.
  5. To hear your song played back press the PLAY BUTTON.  
  6. Disklavier automatically gives recording a name and number in MIDI file format.

The Disklavier record function has many uses. You could simply play back your performances for entertainment as with other PianoSoft or Piano Radio songs. Like a professional athlete who watches a play-by-play of a game to hone his or her skills, you can watch your piano performance noting exactly how you played each key, your timing, or when you used the pedals to improve your performance. You can even use it to create a duo performance with yourself by recording the first part and playing the second part live, just as pianist Lisa Yui suggests in this article for The Juilliard Journal

For more Disklavier support including tutorials, manuals, and set-up details, check out the Disklavier Education Network

What other ways to do you use the record function on your Disklavier? Any other functions you want to learn more about? Let us know in the comments. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Introducing “Style Files" for your Yamaha Arranger Workstation

In keeping with our "how to" theme this week, we’d like to introduce you to Style Files for your Yamaha Arranger Workstation. Style Files are a great way to expand the capabilities of your instrument and give you additional features to practice or perform with. [All of the Yamaha Arranger Workstations (PSR-S Series, A2000 and Tyros) can be expanded with Style files.]

Yamaha has created many Style Files based on hit songs and popular music genres. These Files provide you with a virtual backing band to play along with. The Style File is triggered by the chords you play with your left hand allowing you to play the melody with your right hand. We have a wide selection available on Yamaha MusicSoft and more are being added every week. With these Style files, you’ll be sounding like a professional right away!

Once you’ve browsed our site and downloaded your favorite Style Files to a USB thumb drive, simply follow these 3-easy steps to get playing right away:

  1. Select a Style (either built in to your Arranger Workstation or loaded into your instrument via USB)
  2. Press one of the ONE TOUCH SETTING buttons on your instrument
  3. Play a chord on your instrument with your left hand (as soon as you play a chord, the selected Style starts)

It’s that easy!

We encourage you to check out the available Style Files on our site. Please let us know what you think and if you don’t see a particular Style listed, feel free to make a suggestion in the comment box below.

Additional related YouTube tutorials:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to Install Voice & Style Expansion Packs for your PSR-S Series Arranger Workstation Keyboard

Yamaha Voice & Style Expansion (VSE) packs allow you to expand your creative horizons by making your electronic keyboard sound like different instruments, or Voices, and adding new Styles, which allow you to have a full backing ensemble based on chords that you play.

You can easily install all elements of Voice & Style Expansion packs, including Multi Pads and Registration Banks, onto your PSR-S Series keyboard. This video will take you through the installation process. It’s also available in Spanish here.

It only takes a few minutes to install the Expansion pack, Multi Pad and Registration Bank. Here is the step-by-step Voice & Style Expansion pack installation process:

Download the file

  1. Download your VSE pack from YamahaMusicSoft.com or usa.yamaha.com
  2. Copy the file to a USB thumb drive

Voice & Style Expansion Pack Instrument Installation 

  1. Insert USB thumb drive to the USB to device port (This may be on the back of your keyboard)
  2. Begin the installation process by pressing the FUNCTION BUTTON at the bottom right corner of the display
  4. Locate and select the Expansion Pack you are trying to install 
  5. In the number selection under the screen press #6 DOWN ARROW to choose install
  6. Press the F BUTTON to select “OK”
  7. Select the F BUTTON again to re-confirm the selection is “OK”
  8. Allow a few minutes for the installation process to complete 
  9. Once installation is complete press the G BUTTON to confirm it is “OK” to restart the keyboard 

Multi Pad Installation 

  1. From the main screen press G BUTTON to select “MULTIPAD” to view the Multi Pad browser
  2. Press the RIGHT ARROW TAB to select “USB” tab 
  3. Select BUTTON next to folder labelled “MULTIPAD” (This button location may vary)
  4. In the number selection under the screen press #3 DOWN ARROW to select “COPY” 
  5. Press #6 DOWN ARROW to select “ALL”
  6. Press #7 DOWN ARROW to confirm the selection is “OK”
  7. Press LEFT ARROW TAB to select “USER” tab
  8. Press #4 DOWN ARROW to “PASTE” 
  9. The keyboard  will now copy the Multi Pad files from USB thumb drive to keyboard’s internal memory 

Registration Bank Installation 

  1. Main screen J BUTTON to select “REGISTRATION BANK” to view the Registration Bank browser
  2. Press the RIGHT ARROW TAB to select “USB” tab 
  3. Press BUTTON next to folder labelled “REGISTRATIONS” (This button location may vary)
  4. In the number selection under the screen press #3 DOWN ARROW to select “COPY” 
  5. Press #6 DOWN ARROW to select “ALL”
  6. Press #7 DOWN ARROW to confirm the selection is “OK”
  7. Press LEFT ARROW TAB to select “USER” tab
  8. Press #4 DOWN ARROW to “PASTE” 
  9. The keyboard  will now copy the Registration Bank files from USB thumb drive to keyboard’s internal memory 

YamahaMusicSoft.com offers a variety of regional, ethnic, and traditional Voices and Styles that can be installed to change the sounds from your PSR-Series Arranger Workstation keyboard. You can browse the catalog of available Voice & Style Expansion Packs here.

Have a question about your instrument or installation? Let us know in the comments or you can always contact our customer service team.