Performance styles for PSR-E443

The PSR-E443 folks don’t get enough love, so here is a collection of performance styles for the E443 and the E433.

So, what is a “performance style?”

The Yamaha Motif/MOX series of synthesizer workstations have hundreds of factory “Performances” to to help a composer get started with a new song. A Performance has up to four independent voices (drum, bass, guitar, etc.) and up to six sets of related musical phrases — “arpeggios” in Motif-speak. The arpeggios are drawn from a built-in library of several thousand musical phrases in a slew of contemporary genres. Each set of phrases has a role (main section, fill, break) and the composer switches between sets while playing in order to lay down a basic arrangement or backing track. Even if you’re not a songwriter, the Motif Performances are just plain fun for jamming or practice.

I recorded and translated 22 of my favorite Motif/MOX Performances to PSR/Tyros styles — Performance styles. They play just like regular styles (follow chords in the left hand, play fill-ins when changing main sections, etc.) The styles are stripped down and are meant to be played. A few of the styles have only bass and drum, so there isn’t a lot of elaborate orchestration to get in the way. The introductions and endings are very simple.

This first collection targets the PSR-E443 and E433. The styles are SFF1 and should work on other arrangers supporting SFF1 although you may need to substitute different drum kits. The styles in this collection do not use Mega Voices. A more advanced collection with SFF GE and Mega Voices is being developed.

Since these are my favorite performances, the styles come from a funky, jazzy, fusion kind of place.

For more information, check out the README page. Then, download the ZIP file and have fun!

Free DJX-II styles/patterns for PSR/Tyros

Once upon a time (around the year 2000), Yamaha was into beat boxes and other spiffy tools for creating dance, hip hop, and other forms of “electronic” music. The DJX-II groove machine was an entry-level keyboard designed for budding DJs and musicians. It combined a funky looking 61-key keyboard, pattern-based sequencer and basic sound engine into an all-in-one, battery-powered instrument with built-in amplifier and speakers. Genres included techno, trance, garage, hip hop, old skool and trip hop.

DJX-II

The musician or DJ could select from 70 preset patterns, each pattern with ten variations. The variations were further categorized into six MAIN patterns and four FILL patterns. The keyboard was divided into five 12-key zones where each octave performed a specific performance function. One of the zones selected the current variation allowing the player to switch between pattern variations. Another zone transposed the pattern into the current root key.

Yamaha still makes the original DJX-II patterns available through its support site. Each of the files is a standard MIDI file (SMF) containing a single pattern. Although they are in SMF format, the files are not immediately useable. The rhythm tracks are programmed for some truly ancient and arcane Yamaha drum kits, none of which adhere to GM or XG layout conventions. Further, the files cannot be imported and played as an arranger workstation style, i.e., they do not contain the information and format needed by a PSR/Tyros style.

Last December, I developed a process for converting a DJX-II pattern file to a PSR/Tyros style file. I wrote and posted an earlier article on the DJX-II style format and conversion process. I then got to work and converted fifteen patterns to PSR/Tyros style format.

The patterns are all on the jazz tip and they include some pretty hip chord changes! I quickly found that I needed to transcribe the chord changes and bass lines in order to play along. I used Sibelius First to notate the MIDI data in each pattern and saved the lead sheets in PDF files. Knowing the changes makes jamming easier and a lot more fun.

At long last, I’m ready to distribute the converted patterns. Here is a link to the the ZIP file. The ZIP file contains fifteen style files (one for each DJX-II pattern), fifteen PDF lead sheets and a README.TXT file with performance tips.

I strongly recommend reading the README.TXT file before using the new styles. The converted patterns behave like the new Yamaha DJ styles on the PSR-S670. You only need to play a single note in the left hand accompaniment. No chords are necessary because the chord progressions are cooked into the patterns. The note sets the root note for the progression and the arranger and DJ style take over from there.

Current and recent workstation arrangers should play these styles without problem, save the occasional kit or voice substitution. Good news for musicians with entry-level models (e.g., PSR-E443) as the style files are SFF1 and no OTS. Thus, entry-level arrangers should load and play these pattern styles, too.

Please enjoy playing with these “DJ styles.” In terms of the future, the DJX-II trip hop styles are genuinely sick and I hope to convert them one of these days!