Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The power of Black MIDI

A recent article was published by IFL Science about the wonders of something called “Black MIDI” and the effect it has on our brains. The example song cited is a popular Christmas favorite performed by Mariah Carey. In this article, they talk about how our brains perceive information as a result of listening to this song in the Black MIDI format.

"MIDI" is a computer file format containing digital information that, in the case of an electronic musical instrument, tells that instrument what music notes to play and how to play them.

“Black MIDI” takes the MIDI file protocol a bit further. Composers can start with a standard MIDI file and expand their composition by adding a larger than traditional number of notes to the song. When viewed as standard music notation, these black MIDI songs start to appear black as a result of laying multiple notes one on top of each other. Those who compose in this style are referred to as “blackers”. The final compositions are judged by peers on perceived beauty, complexity of melodies and the number of individual notes they contain. The presentation of these songs are almost exclusively on YouTube where they incorporate visual elements during playback of the song.

The use of this new style is considered by some to be the next step in avant-garde music composition. Many of these unique and unusual creations have made it to the world of video games and some of the videos demonstrating this technique have gone viral.

Not unlike the early “Atonal” music of the early 20th century, black MIDI may represent another offshoot in the evolution of music composition utilizing technology and moving away from traditional forms. Granted, this style isn’t for everyone but for those seeking an alternative way to be inspired and compose, this trend is worth consideration. The resultant sound of a Black MIDI song was described by Newsweek as, “something like Guitar Hero on overdrive, and sounds more Tokyo pachinko parlor than Carnegie Hall.”

For those that prefer a traditional version of this MIDI Song, it is available here from the Yamaha MusicSoft website.

Do you have new, unique or unconventional ways of making music? Please share in the comments below.

- Happy Holidays from the Yamaha MusicSoft team!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What’s old is new again!

Let’s face it, when it comes to things like music and fashion, trends tend to be cyclical. If we look back over history, the things that were once cool tend to come back into fashion.

We see instances of this in music all the time. Those of us that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s never thought that the styles of the day would come back. Well, guess what -They’re back!

In some cases, sounds from the past can help create a whole new genre of music. A recent article about how an early 80's Casio keyboard inspired a whole new musical sub-genre was recently published.

Yamaha recently recognized this trend as well by launching their Reface line of portable keyboards. And many companies are joining in on the fun. Otonosekai recently released a new Premium Expansion Pack for the current Yamaha Tyros4/5 arranger workstation keyboard based on an early Yamaha PS-30 portable keyboard.

So why the interest in instruments and sounds from the 70’s and 80’s? Composers, musicians and DJ’s are always on the lookout for ways to imbue their musical creations with something unique or different. By combining new styles and sounds with old, they can create something that is truly unique. Sometimes that very uniqueness starts a new trend or sets that artist apart in a different way.

Whether it is circuit bending a vintage electronic toy, recording a trash truck going by with a USB microphone and laptop or recording bird song with a smartphone, creative musical artists will continue to expand our ideas of music.

Do you have a creative, unconventional or unique way of making music that you would like to share? Please leave your comments below.

Happy Holidays from the Yamaha MusicSoft team!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Disklavier gives kids a chance to learn piano

Disklavier owners are familiar with the unique technology that allows Yamaha Disklavier pianos to play back each note and pedal movement across pianos. This technology incorporates a fiber optic sensing system with high performance solenoids and state-of-the-art computer technology. It allows for professional piano performances to be enjoyed in a customer’s own home. Usually the Dislavier plays PianoSoft albums or Piano Radio stations in homes or venues like hotels.

Now, the Disklavier is being used for distance learning. The Kansas City, Kansas School District, KU Pianos Without Borders, Band of Angels and The University of Kansas campus in Lawerence all came together to bring piano lessons to underserved children in the community using the Disklavier.
This article in the Kansas City Star talks about the educational program. 

As the article explains: “A Student music teacher [at the University of Kansas campus] in Lawrence, taps a key on his piano, and that key on the middle school baby grand piano strikes a string. It’s music and distance learning at a whole new level… In Eisenhower’s small auditorium, Miguel [a middle school student] begins to play. That’s when the magic happens. Simultaneously the keys on Adams’ piano at KU move, playing exactly what Miguel played.

‘Good,’ Miguel hears Adams say. ‘Put your fingers on these keys,’ Miguel hears. Adams presses the keys on his end, and the keys on Miguel’s piano move. The 12-year-old placed his fingers on top of them.”

This program creatively shows how Disklavier technology can be used in different ways. Learn more about the Yamaha Disklavier here

Watch Eisenhower Middle School music teacher, Aimee DeSotel, talk about the program and the benefits of piano lessons for students.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Spotlight on Christmas – New and old favorites now available!

I’ve always had fond memories of Christmas past. It seems that every Christmas has also had its own soundtrack. Whether it be a childhood memory or something more recent, music has always played an instrumental (pun intended) part of the holiday season.

This week we are shining a spotlight on several selections that are sure to become (or may already be) favorites:

MIDI Songs
Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Merry Christmas, Baby – Rod Stewart
Christmas Without You – Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers
I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas – Bon Jovi
Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day – Celine Dion

Style Files
Big Beauty4-4 – A versatile orchestral ballad style with guitars, brass, strings and glockenspiel. 4/4 time.
Big Beauty6/8– The same style arrangement in 6/8 time.

Sheet Music for Christmas

And finally, for our Piano Radio subscribers, Channels 34, 35 and 36 have plenty of favorite songs to keep your holiday party festive!

As Andy Williams once sang (and I truly believe), “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”.

Do you have a favorite holiday song from Christmas past or present? Please share it with us!

-The Yamaha MusicSoft Team

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions (Part II) - Yamaha MusicSoft

Hot on the heels of our post earlier this week, we wanted to include some additional FAQ’s from our own Yamaha MusicSoft website

Below you’ll find the top questions and answers by category.

Printable Sheet Music

Q: Why can't I see any of the Yamaha MusicSoft sheet music on your site?
A: To view the Printable Sheet Music products on our site, you’ll need to download and install the free Sibelius Scorch plug-in. If you still can't see the music, uninstall Scorch, restart your computer, and then re-install again.

If you use more than one browser, (e.g. Internet Explorer and Chrome) you may need to install Scorch in each browser’s plug-in folder individually.

Q: Why can I only hear the first 30 seconds of the piece?
A: Due to copyright restrictions, we are only allowed to play the first 30 seconds of any copyrighted piece of music.

Q: Why can't I transpose this song?
A: Some Printable Sheet Music products do not include the transposition feature. If a piece of music can be transposed, it will have a transpose icon in the Scorch toolbar. If the icon does not appear, then the music cannot be transposed.

Transposition possible:

Transposition not available:

Yamaha Expansion Manager

Q: What is Yamaha Expansion Manager?
A: Yamaha Expansion Manager is a free computer application that enables users to install and manage content as well as transfer wirelessly or via USB to a Tyros 5 or PSR-S/A-3000 series Arranger Workstations.

Q: Where do I get the Yamaha Expansion Manager PC Desktop application?
A: Get the PC version here and the Mac version here, then follow the step by step Quick Start guide

Q: How do I use Yamaha Expansion Manager?
A: Follow the step by step Quick Start guide to get started. For more detail, see the Yamaha Expansion Manager user manual:

Downloads & Transfers

Q: How do I obtain my purchased item(s)?
A: For downloadable items: After purchase, or from the Redownload Items page in My Account, download your file(s).

Directions for using your download are specific to the product you purchased and (sometimes) the instrument model you purchased them for. To see a full set of directions, select the product type you purchased:

Still Can't Get Your Item? If you feel that you have correctly followed all of the steps and are still unable to obtain your item, please contact us with complete details, including the model number of your piano or keyboard. 

Q: My order was not successfully completed, what should I do?
A: If you receive a message that Yamaha MusicSoft is unable to process your order, please contact us through our website here. We will ensure that your order is processed as quickly as possible.

My Account

Q: What do I do if I forget my password?
A: If you have trouble remembering your account password, please click here to request your password to be sent to your registered e-mail address.

Q: I don't have an account. Where can I register to make purchases?
A: Complete Registration Information to create your Yamaha MusicSoft account.

For a more comprehensive FAQ, please check out the FAQ section on the Yamaha MusicSoft website.

If you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment here on the blog.

Happy Holidays from the Yamaha MusicSoft Team!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions - Yamaha musical instruments

We've recently been asked a number of questions from visitors about various topics pertaining to their instruments. So, we'd like to take this opportunity to mention that there is a very comprehensive "FAQ" section available on the Yamaha corporate website. There you can find answers to frequently asked questions by instrument type. As an example, we've included the top 20 questions for the Arranger Workstation keyboard category below.

Search Results for Arranger Workstations


If you don't find an answer to your question, please continue to ask your specific questions here and we'll get back to you asap!

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Yamaha MusicSoft team