Motif styles for your arranger!

I’m pleased to announce my collection of Motif performance styles for the Yamaha PSR-S950 arranger and its close cousins: Tyros 5, PSR-S770 and PSR-S970.

Motif and MOX are great song-writing machines with thousands of built-in musical phrases. In Motif-speak, these phrases are called “arpeggios.” Motif/MOX also have built-in “Performances” which combine these musical phrases into jam-along song starters. Although Motif-series workstations are not arranger keyboards, the Performances are fun for live jams, covering many modern genres (contemporary jazz, funk and R&B) which are underserved by arranger workstations.

To fill this gap, I translated 23 Motif performances to PSR/Tyros styles. In keeping with the original source material, these styles are stripped down and lean. No orchestration to get in the way! Some styles use only bass and drum. INTROs and ENDINGs are short and basic. Depending upon the source performance, a translated style may have only three MAIN sections. However, all styles bring the groove.

Many of the styles use Megavoice bass and guitar. Plus, I’ve added appropriate OTS voices. Of course, you’re welcome to ditch the OTS voices and replace them with your own.

Here is the link to the ZIP file: perf_for_s950.zip. The file unzips into a directory named “PERF_for_S950”. The ZIP file includes a short READ ME file with more information.

If you would like to know how I translate a Motif/MOX performance to a PSR/Tyros style, please read the following articles:

Copy PSR DSP effects (part 4)

This is part 4 of a series of articles about DSP effects for electric pianos and other electrified instruments like guitar. The first three articles are:

This article covers two more techniques that should help you create and apply DSP effects to PSR/Tyros voices.

Beg, borrow and steal

As Picasso once said, “When there’s anything to steal, I steal.” I’m not encouraging larcency or piracy, but when there’s a good effect in an OTS or voice, copy and paste is the way to go.

I like writing these blog posts because they encourage me to learn more about PSR/Tyros features that I might have ignored or overlooked. Such is the case with the section titled “Disabling Automatic Selection of Voice Sets” in the Reference Manual. This features gives us a way to selectively copy certain aspects of a voice to another (new) voice.

This feature is like a “mini-freeze” that applies solely to VOICE SET, not entire registrations. Navigate to:

    FUNCTION > [E] REGIST SEQUENCE/FREEZE/VOICE SET

then TAB over to the VOICE SET page. There are four buttons at the bottom of the page controlling, respectively, four aspects of voice loading when a voice is selected:

    VOICE
    EFFECT
    EQ
    HARMONY/ECHO

When a button is ON, the corresponding voice parameter settings are loaded automatically from the selected voice. When a button is OFF, the corresponding voice parameters settings are not loaded.

So, if we set the button for EFFECT to OFF, we essentially “freeze” the current effect settings. When we load a new voice, the effects remain the same. This gives us a poor man’s copy and paste between voices.

Let’s say that we like the distortion effect on the “Clavi” voice and want to apply it to “VintageEP”. First, I load the Clavi voice to call up the DSP effect. Then, I navigate to the VOICE SET page (as described above) and turn the EFFECT button OFF. This freezes the effect part of the voice programming. Then, I select the VintageEP voice. Voila, the VintageEP voice plays using the distortion effect that was frozen.

Stop! Wait a minute!

Once you save the VintageEP voice to the USB drive or an OTS button, be sure to unfreeze the EFFECT aspect of voice loading. If you don’t do this, you will surely wonder why all of the voices you load are distorted!

Hey, where’s the loot?

The built-in voices are the most obvious source of inspiration for new basic voice plus effect combinations. Yamaha need to maintain backward compatible voices, however, and the older voices such as the electric pianos may not use the latest and greatest effects (e.g., REAL DISTORTION). The guitar voices tend to turn over more quickly and adopt the latest effects.

Backward compatibility is less of an issue for the OTS voices within styles. You are more likely to find new and interesting effects under the OTS buttons. Take the built-in “WahClavi” voice, for example. The built-in voice uses the old CLAVI TC.WAH effect. The “WahClavi” voice in the JazzFunk style, on the other hand, uses the new REAL DISTORTION multi-effect MLT CR WAH (Multi FX Crunch Wah).

The following table is a list of OTS voices showing the parent style and DSP effect. Follow this map to find buried treasure!

Voice            Style          S950 effect   Tyros 5 effect
---------------  -------------  ------------  -------------------------------
GrungeGuitar     JazzFunk       AMP1 HEAVY    British Combo Heavy
OverdriveWah     JazzFunk       MLT CR WAH    Multi FX Crunch Wah
VintageAmp       Soul           V_DIST SOLID  V_Dist Solid
Slapback         MotorCity      V_DIST ROCA   V_Dist Roca
SingleCoilClean  Live8Beat      CMP+OD+TDLY4  Compressor+Overdrive+TempoDelay4
JazzClean        KoolShuffle    V_DST JZ CLN  V_DistJz Cln
StageLead        HardRock       MLT DS SOLO   Multi FX Distortion Solo
EarlyLead        FunkPopRock    TEMPO AT.WAH  Tempo At.Wah+
MetalMaster      ContempRock    ST AMP DS     Small Stereo Distortion
ElectroAcoustic  AcousticRock   AMP1 CLASSIC  British Combo Classic
BluesyNight      70sGlamPiano   ST AMP VT     Small Stereo Vintage Amp
PureVintage      60sRock&Roll   MLT OLD DLY   Multi FX Oldies Delay

VintageEP        SoulBrothers   AMP1 CLASSIC  British Combo Classic
WahClavi         JazzFunk       MLT CR WAH    Multi FX Crunch Wah
SuitcaseEP       Live8Beat      CELESTE2      Celeste 2
ElectricPiano    FunkyGospel    EP AUTOPAN    EP Autopan
CP80             FunkPopRock    T_PHASER1     T Phaser 1
JazzVibes        DetroitPop2    VIBE VIBRATE  Vibe Vibrato
VintageEP        60sPopRock     EP TREMOLO    EP Tremolo

HoldItFast       LiveSoulBand   DIST SOFT2    Distortion Soft 2
WhiterBars       Soul           V_DIST CLS S  V_Dist Cls S
WhiterBarsFast   GospelSwing    ST AMP CLEAN  St Amp Clean
CurvedBars       MotorCity      ST 3BAND EQ   St 3Band EQ
EvenBars         FunkyGospel    ST 3BAND EQ   St 3Band EQ
AllBarsPhase     FunkPopRock    PHASER2       Phaser 2
ClassicBars      BluesRock      ST AMP CLEAN  St Amp Clean
Organ-a-Gogo     70sDisco2      V_DIST TWIN   V_Dist Twin
R&B Tremolo      60sVintageRock DIST HARD2    Distortion Hard 2
OrganFlutes      60sPopRock     AMP2 CLEAN    British Legend Clean
OrganFlutes      6-8SlowRock    ROTARY SP1    Dual Rot BRT

GrowlSax         SoulBrothers   V_DST S+DLY   V Distortion Soft + Delay
GrowlSax         MotorCity      V_DST H+DLY   V Distortion Hard + Delay
RockSax          LiveSoulBand   DST+DELAY1    Distortion + Delay 1
RockSax          HardRock       ST AMP CLEAN  St Amp Clean
Harmonica        6-8Soul        TEMPO AT.WAH  Tempo At.Wah+

Use the poor man’s copy and paste method to mix and match a basic voice sound with a DSP effect. The treasure map demonstrates how the Yamaha style programmers make use of the workstation’s sonic resources. There’s a lot to learn here!

Dry/Wet mix

I like to change voices by hitting the OTS buttons while jamming along with a tune. I have created more than 50 styles with customized OTS buttons to cover my current repetoire. The OTS buttons select the voice and effect combinations that are the most approprtiate for specific tunes (appropriate to my ears anyway).

Unfortunately, the kind of OTS voice and effect informaton that can be stored is limited by the S950’s operating system. (See the Voice Effect, Voice Set, and Mixing Console sections of the Parameter Chart in the Data List manual for the exact details.) An OTS button remembers:

  • DSP effect type (insertion type)
  • DSP ON/OFF
  • DSP variation ON/OFF
  • DSP variation value
  • DSP depth

for the RIGHT1, RIGHT2 and LEFT parts.

If you cast your mind back to Part 1, you know that there are a lot of parameters behind each effect. These parameters cannot be directly captured in an OTS button, which is why they must be stored in a USER EFFECT memory location as described in Part 2. You do get a fly-speck of tweakability by modifying the DSP variation value. Unfortunately, the parameter type is fixed.

The OTS restrictions are relieved or eliminated in the PSR-S970. Again, please see the Parameter Chart in the Data List manual.

Fortunately, OTS remembers DSP depth. The DSP depth controls the “dry/wet” mix, that is, the amount of uneffected (dry) and effected (wet) signal that is mixed together and sent further along (usually to the system-level chorus and/or reverb blocks).

Let’s say that you added a heavy distortion sound to the “SuitcaseEP” voice and you want to reduce the amount of distortion without changing the tone. (Guitar distortion is often waaaay too much for electric piano.) Simply dial down the DSP depth. This increases the amount of dry (clean) electric piano sound and decreases the amount of wet (distorted) electric piano sound. Voila, an electric piano with a bit of grit, not a fuzzed out shredder’s delight.

Here are the parameters for the DISTORTION presets DIST SOFT1 and DIST SOFT2.

                       DIST SOFT1  DIST SOFT2
                       ----------  ----------
    Drive                 16           7
    Amp Type             Tube        Combo
    LPF Cutoff          4.5 KHz     3.6 KHz
    Output Level          64          82
    Dry/Wet              D44>W      D<W63
    Edge (Clip Curve)     49          40

The built-in preset “Clavi” voice uses DIST SOFT1 to get its biting tone. Note that the DIST SOFT1 dry/wet mix has more dry signal than wet and that the DIST SOFT2 dry/wet mix has more wet signal than dry.

Here’s where things are cool, confusing, or both. The S950 seems to know when a DSP effect has a predefined dry/wet mix parameter. The parameter value tracks the DSP depth knob in the Mixing Console. Cool. The DSP depth knob is calibrated from 0 to 127 while the dry/wet parameter is calibrated from full dry (D63>W) to full wet (D<W63). Confusing. Internally, a 50-50 dry/wet mix (D=W) is represented by the value 64. The dry/wet mix is 50-50 (D=W) when the mixing console DSP depth knob is set to 64; the knob determines the internal value. (Pan gets munged in a similar way.)

As an exercise, I suggest applying the distortion effect in the built-in “Clavi” voice to “SuitcaseEP.” Then, use the DSP depth (dry/wet mix) to dial back (or dial up!) the distortion to taste.

A loose end

Some of you probably noticed that I didn’t say much about the “Wah Pedal” parameter belonging to the REAL DISTORTION multi-effect algorithm. This parameter can be swept by an XG “assignable controller.”

I didn’t say much about the “Wah Pedal” parameter because I was hoping to find a way to control this parameter from either the expression pedal input or an external MIDI controller. It may be possible to set up external control if a controller can utter the right SysEx mumbo-jumbo to set up an XG assignable controller. The process looks beastly and not very practical.

However, the S970 and Tyros 5 are capable of sweeping the wah pedal parameter. Please see the reference manual concerning “Footswitch / Foot Controller Settings”.

Multi-effects for electric piano (Part 3)

This is part 3 of a multi-part series about PSR/Tyros effects for electric piano.

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1) presents a basic approach to grunging up an electric piano sound with distortion (amp simulation). Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2) describes how to save a custom PSR/Tyros effect to USER EFFECT memory. In this part, I’ll cover the REAL DISTORTION multi FX algorithm.

If you’re a real gear-head, you probably heard about the new Yamaha Reface mini keyboards including the Reface CP, which is rich in electric pianos. (See my snap-review of the Reface CP.) Aside from good samples, it’s the effects that make the Reface CP a winner. The Reface CP has an effects chain driven by the basic EP voice:

              Tremolo       Chorus       Digital Delay
   Drive -->     X     -->     X    -->         X       -->  Reverb
                Wah         Phaser        Analog Delay

Switches select between Tremolo and Wah (or pass-through), between Chorus and Phaser (or pass-through), and between Digital Delay and Analog Delay (or pass-through). Thus, either Tremolo or Wah is active, but not both at the same time, etc. Each effect has one or two knobs that control the most basic parameters:

  • Drive: Amount of distortion (including none)
  • Tremolo/Wah: Depth and Rate
  • Chorus/Phaser: Depth and Speed
  • Digital Delay/Analog Delay: Depth and Time
  • Reverb: Depth (including none at all)

The front panel controls let you tailor your sound, e.g., maybe a little distortion (Drive) followed by Tremolo and some Reverb.

This article shows you how to make a similar effects chain on your PSR/Tyros. I assume that reverb is applied by the PSR/Tyros REVERB effect block, so I won’t discuss reverb here.

If you have a late-model Yamaha arranger workstation (PSR-S950 or later, Tyros 5 or later), Yamaha have already done much of the work for you. These workstations are equipped with REAL DISTORTION effects. One of the REAL DISTORTION effect types is a multi-effect. On the PSR-S950, look for the effect presets called “MLT DS SOLO,” etc. The “MLT” stands for “MULTI.”

A little product family history. The REAL DISTORTION effects first appeared in the Version 1.5 Motif XF upgrade. Yep, these are among the latest effects in the Motif series. Yamaha implemented all of these effects in the Tyros 5 and about half of these effects in the S950. Yamaha added the rest of the REAL DISTORTION effects to the S970. Fortunately, S950 owners have the versatile “Multi FX” algorithm (effect type).

If you don’t have REAL DISTORTION effects, you’re not totally out of luck. Look in the Data List manual and find combination effects (distortion plus delay, etc.) and use them instead. You won’t have as many effect stages, but the approach still applies.

The REAL DISTORTION MLT effect chain is quite complete:

                                                  Vibe       Chorus
Compressor --> Wah --> Distortion --> Speaker --> Phaser --> Flanger
                                                  Tremolo    Delay
                                                             Echo

The effect chain is really intended for guitar, but hey, people in the sixties and seventies put electric pianos through stomp boxes and guitar amps.

There are six REAL DISTORTION multi-effect presets: MLT DS SOLO, MLT DS BASIC, MLT OD CHO, MLT CR WAH, MLT OLD DLY, and VINTAGE ECHO. Use these as starting points for your experiments. I suggest starting with VINTAGE ECHO as it is the cleanest of the lot. Do what guitarists do — dive in and tweak.

Here is a list of the parameters and the allowed values. See the full information in the REAL DIST section of the Data List manual.

#   Parameter      Display
--  -------------  ---------------------------------------------
1   Comp. Sustain  Off, 0.1 - 10.0
2   Wah Sw         Off, Wah Pedal, Auto+Full, Auto+Mid,
                   Auto+Light, Auto-Full, Auto-Mid, Auto-Light
3   Wah Pedal      0-127
4   Dist Sw        Off, Overdrive, Distortion1, Distortion2,
                   Clean, Crunch, Higain, Modern
5   Dist Drive     0.0-10.0
6   Dist EQ        High Boost, Mid Boost, Mid Cut 1, Mid Cut 2,
                   Mid Cut 3, Low Cut 1, Low Cut 2, High Cut,
                   High/Low
7   Dist Tone      0.0-10.0
8   Dist Presence  0.0-10.0
9   Output         0-127
10
11  SP Type        Off, Stack, Twin, Tweed, Oldies, Modern, Mean,
                   Soft, Small, Dip1, Dip2, Metal, Light
12  LFO Speed      0.1Hz . 9.925Hz (table#27)
13  Phaser Sw      Off, Standard, Wide, Vibe, Tremolo
14  Delay Sw       Off, Delay M, Echo1 M, Echo2 M, Chorus M,
                   Dl Chorus M, Flanger1 M, Flanger2 M,
                   Flanger3 M, Delay St, Echo1 St, Echo2 St, 
                   Chorus St, Dl Chorus St, Flanger1 St, 
                   Flanger2 St, Flanger3 St
15  Delay Ctrl     0-127
16  Delay Time     0-127

The parameters look overwhelming, so let’s break things down.

There are six “switches” that turn effects on and off. In a few case, the switches also select the flavor of the effect when it is turned on. For example, “Dist Sw” turns off the effect in the chain or turns on one of the seven available distortion types (Overdrive, Distortion1, etc.) In addition to switches, there are effect-specific knobs. “Dist Drive,” “Dist EQ”, “Dist Tone” and “Dist Presence,” for example, change the sonic characteristics of the distortion effect.

The “Delay Sw” acts like one of the switches on the Reface CP. “Delay Sw” disables the effect stage, or it turns on a delay, echo, chorus or flanger effect. Some effects are mono (M) and some effects are stereo (St). The “Phaser Sw” switch disables the stage (off) or it turns on a phaser (type: standard, wide, vibe) or tremolo effect.

The Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) Speed parameter controls the effects that need modulation: phaser, chorus, flanger, tremolo, etc. You need to dial in the appropriate LFO frequency for the modulation effect type.

Wow, that’s a lot of choices! Here is a table of the parameter values for each preset.

    MSB/LSB --->  95/32     95/33     95/34     95/35     95/36     95/37
#  Parameter     DS SOLO   DS BASIC   OD CHO    CR WAH   OLD DLY   VINT ECHO
-- ------------- --------  --------  --------  --------  --------  ---------
1  Comp. Sustain   3.6       3.2       3.6       3.6       4.0       3.6
2  Wah Sw          Off       Off       Off     Auto+Mid    Off       Off
3  Wah Pedal        0         0         0         0         0         0
4  Dist Sw       Distort1  Distort1 Overdrive   Crunch    Clean     Clean
5  Dist Drive      5.0       4.1       3.8       5.0       5.0       6.6
6  Dist EQ       Hi Boost  MidBoost  MidCut2   LowCut1   Hi Boost  MidBoost
7  Dist Tone       2.4       5.6       5.6       4.2       3.0       4.6
8  Dist Presence   4.8       5.6       5.0       5.2       5.6       5.0
9  Output           55        60       102        95       121       113
10
11 SP Type        Twin      Stack     Tweed     Stack     Oldies    Twin
12 LFO Speed      0.1Hz     0.1Hz     0.1Hz    1.167Hz    0.1Hz    0.142Hz
13 Phaser Sw       Off       Off       Off       Off       Off      Off
14 Delay Sw      Echo1 St  Delay St  ChorusSt  Delay M   Delay M   Echo1 M
15 Delay Ctrl       40        26        20        13        24       20
16 Delay Time       48         2        46        36        20        6

These parameter values should give you some starting points for exploration.

If you’re not a guitarist, terms like “presence” may not be meaningful to you. Here are a few helpful definitions taken from Yamaha documentation.

  • Drive: Determines the extent to which the sound is distorted.
  • LFO Speed: Frequency of delay modulation (chorus, flanger), Modulation frequency (tremolo), Frequency of phase modulation (phaser), Frequency at which wah filter is controlled (wah)
  • Delay Time: Determines the delay of the sound in absolute time.
  • Output: Determines the level of the signal output from the effect block.
  • Presence: This parameter of the Guitar Amp effect controls high frequencies.
  • SP Type: Selects the type of speaker simulation.

Why start with VINTAGE ECHO? This preset adds a modest amount of compression and sends the signal through the Clean guitar amp model. The Clean model does not dirty up the sound too much. Rock guitarists — especially guys with mullets — like a lot of distortion. Electric piano, not so much. The Mid Boost adds guts to the midrange frequencies making an EP sound fuller, with guts. Finally, the distorted signal is sent into a Twin speaker model and then a light echo. The Twin model sounds like it would be Fender Twin-ish and similar to the kind of speaker used with a Rhodes EP.

I’ll close with an example USER EFFECT that I called “DirtyChorus.” The chain starts out with compression and a little bit of overdrive and mid-range boost. The distorted signal goes into a nice stereo chorus. I copped the chorus paremeters from the MLT OD CHO preset. I tried different speaker models and liked the sound of the Mean speaker type. Finally, I dialed up the output level to compensate for the low amount of overdrive.

    Comp Sus       5.0
    Wah Sw         Off
    Wah Pedal      0
    Dist Sw        Overdrive
    Dist Drive     1.4
    Dist EQ        Mid Boost
    Dist Tone      3.2
    Dist Presence  1.3
    Output         120
    SP Type        Mean
    LFO Speed      0.1Hz
    Phaser Sw      Off
    Delay Sw       Chorus St
    Delay Control  20
    Delay Time     46

Dist Drive can be increased before the distortion sounds guitar-ish. Generally, the output level must be lowered when more drive is applied. Clipping-induced distortion is not pretty. Of course, if you like that sort of thing, please carry on.

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1)
Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2)
Multi-effects for electric piano (Part 3)
Copy PSR DSP effects (part 4)

All site content is Copyright © Paul J. Drongowski unless otherwise indicated.

Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2)

In my previous post, PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1), I give some tips and ideas for improving PSR electric piano sounds through customized DSP effects.

Before going any further, you need to know how to edit and save a DSP effect. Newer Yamaha arranger workstations (e.g., PSR-S970) have a graphical interface for guitar effects and the ability to store edited effects in OTS locations and Registrations. Older model workstations store edited effects in the USER EFFECTS memory locations. See the “Parameter Table” in the Data List manual for your workstation to see the capabilities for your particular instrument. Look under:

    Main > Mixing Console > Effect

to see where “Effect Parameters” can be stored. On the S950, you may store an edited effect to either the USER EFFECT memory locations or a SONG. This is typical for older model arranger workstations.

Not being able to store an edited effect to OTS (within a style) is a major bummer. This limitation makes it hard to share new effect settings with friends. It also means that you cannot directly customize a DSP effect for a particular style. You must first save the edited effect to a USER EFFECT memory location. Then, the OTS in the style is set to refer to the USER EFFECT memory location. On the up side, the USER EFFECT can be assigned a meaningful name. On the down side, the style cannot be transfered to a different keyboard without moving the USER EFFECT data, too.

The Yamaha reference manual does a decent job of describing the “push this, select that” of editing and saving a user effect. Read the chapter about the MIXING CONSOLE for detailed information. The Yamaha manual is a little short on “big picture.” Hopefully, this short note provides a strategic overview that makes all of the button pushing a little more understandable. It might also save you the frustration of trying to save an edited effect to an OTS button and failing. I tried saving to an OTS button (and style) for an hour before checking the parameter table in the S950 Data List and realizing that it ain’t possible.

I included a brief outline of the process of editing and saving an effect at the very end of this blog entry. It should help you to find the parts of the reference manual with the details.

The other part of “the big picture” that you should know is how to save and restore USER EFFECT memory to a USB file. The USER EFFECT memory is part of a bigger package of stuff that is all saved to a single file. That package of stuff contains:

    USER EFFECT types and associated parameters
    User master EQ types
    User compressor types
    User vocal harmony types

All of this is stored in a single USER EFFECT file. So, if you want to move your user effects to another workstation, write a USER EFFECT file to the USB drive. Then, take the USB drive to the other workstation and load the file. The bad news is that you are forced to load the user master EQ, compressor and vocal harmony types, too, thereby overwriting these settings on the target machine.

Saving and loading a USER EFFECT file is handled on the CUSTOM RESET page. Navigate to the SYSTEM RESET page:

    FUNCTION > UTILITY > SYSTEM RESET

and press [H] USER EFFECT FILES. Then TAB over to the USB drive page and press [6] SAVE. The usual file dialog box displays where you can rename the file. The default name is “UserEffectPreset”. The file extension is “.eff”. If you don’t change the name, the PSR writes the file “UserEffectPreset.eff” to the USB drive. (More stuff the Yamaha manual didn’t tell you…)

The subjects of factory and custom reset remind me that it’s a good idea to make a full system back-up to a USB drive. See the:

    FUNCTION > UTILITY > OWNER

page in the Owner’s and Reference manuals for further details. Full system back-ups have saved my bacon on the MOX on the few occasions when I had to perform a complete factory reset. Also, make sure to save the back-up file on a PC or Mac. You never know when that USB drive will fail or get lost!

The PSR-S950 writes a back-up file to the USB drive. The back-up file is named “PSR-S950.bup”. Presumably, other workstation models name the back-up file after themselves, too.

MIXING CONSOLE

Changes to REVERB, CHORUS and DSP effects are made on the EFFECT page in the MIXING CONSOLE. The knobs on the EFFECT page control the effect sends. Press [F] TYPE (in the upper right corner) to change the effect type assigned to each part or channel.

USER EFFECTS

The EFFECT TYPE SELECTION page is a four column browser that lets you choose the effect BLOCK, PART, CATEGORY and TYPE. After selecting the effect type, press [F] PARAMETER (in the upper right corner) to change the effect parameters.

The EFFECT PARAMETER page has a scrolling list of parameters for the chosen effect type. Use the buttons below the LCD display to set the effect BLOCK, CATEGORY, TYPE, PARAMETER and VALUE.

Press [I] SAVE to save the edited type and parameters as a new USER EFFECT. The USER EFFECT page displays the memory locations where you can store the new effect. The number of available memory locations depends upon the chosen effect block:

    REVERB   3 locations
    CHORUS   3 locations
    DSP      10 locations

Choose a memory location using the buttons below the LCD display and press [I] SAVE. Enter a name for the new user effect and confirm the save.

Once a user effect is saved, it appears in the EFFECT TYPE SELECTION page under the USER category. The user effect is recalled just like a built-in effect preset.

SYSTEM RESET

USER EFFECT: Restores the User Effect settings including the user effect types, user master EQ types, user compressor types, and user vocal harmony types created via the Mixing Console display to the original factory settings.

CUSTOM RESET

For the items below, you can save your Original Settings as a Single File for future recall.

    SYSTEM SETUP FILES
    MIDI SETUP FILES
    USER EFFECT FILES
    MUSIC FINDER FILES

The User Effect settings including the user effect types, user master EQ types, user compressor types, and user vocal harmony types created via the Mixing Console displays are managed as a single file.

The USER EFFECT settings can be saved to a file and loaded from a file.

OWNER

BACKUP: Lets you backup all data on the instrument to a USB storage device. Refer to the Owner’s Manual.

RESTORE: Loads the backup file from the USB storage device.

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1)
Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2)
Multi-effects for electric piano (Part 3)
Copy PSR DSP effects (part 4)

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1)

A common complaint about the electric pianos on the Yamaha PSR arranger workstations is their lack of “guts” or “grit.” The voice samples are reasonably good, but the effects programming is vanilla and way too polite, especially for rock and soul styles. Here is a table showing the default DSP effect for some of the electric piano voices in the PSR-S950:

    PSR-S950 voice  Category     Effect
    --------------  ----------   -----------------------
    SparkleStack    CHORUS       CHORUS3
    SweetDX         CHORUS       CHORUS3
    BalladDX        CHORUS       ENS DETUNE1
    DX Dynamics     CHORUS       CHORUS2
    BalladBells     CHORUS       CHORUS3
    SuitcaseEP      CHORUS       CELESTE2
    VintageEP       TREMOLO      EP TREMOLO    [DSP off]
    CP80            CHORUS       CHORUS3
    StageEP         CHORUS       CELESTE2
    SmoothTine      SPATIAL      EP AUTO PAN
    ElectricPiano   SPATIAL      EP AUTO PAN   [DSP off]
    Clavi           DISTORTION   DIST SOFT1
    WahClavi        WAH TCH/PDL  CLAVI TC.WAH
    PhaseClavi      PHASER       EP PHASER2

You can see that most of the voices use a chorus effect. In two cases, the DSP effect is turned off by default. (You need to turn it on using the [DSP] front panel button.) The Clavinet voices are a little more fun and use distortion, wah and phaser.

Chorus does not add much “heft” to a voice and it doesn’t add grit. Compression, mid-range boost (EQ) and overdrive are better choices when you need a punchy and/or grungy electric piano sound.

Let’s take a look at the effects programming for a few electric piano voices on the Yamaha MOX synthesizer workstation. The basic voices drive two insert effects connected in series:

    MOX voice             Insert A     Insert B
    --------------------  -----------  -----------
    Crunchy Comp          MltBndComp   CompDistDly
    Vintage Case          AmpSim 2     Auto Pan
    Chorus Hard           ClassicComp  SPX Chorus
    Drive EP AS1          AmpSim 2     Auto Pan
    Natural Wurli         AmpSim 1     Tremolo
    Wurli Distortion AS1  Tremolo      CompDistDly

On the MOX, every voice uses compression, amp simulation or distortion, even the voices employing the evergreen tremolo, pan and chorus effects.

At this point, PSR users tend to throw up their hands and say, “Well, that’s the Motif series!” and back away. Yamaha — bless them — share technology between workstation products. Quite often, you can find the equivalent PSR effect algorithm for an MOX (MOXF) or Motif algorithm.

Consider the MOX “AmpSim2” algorithm. This algorithm shares the same parameters as the PSR “DISTORTION AMP SIM2” algorithm. Here is a table showing the corresponence between MOX and PSR.

    MOX parameter  PSR parameter  MOX value
    -------------  -------------  ---------
    Preset         n/a            Stack1
    AmpType        AMP Type       Tube
    OverDr         Drive          16
    OutLvl         Output Level   70
    LPF            LPF Cutoff     6.3KHz
    Dry/Wet        Dry/Wet        D<W30

The parameter values given here are taken from the MOX “Drive EP AS1” voice. Bring up a PSR voice like “VintageEP,” edit its DSP effect and replace the tremolo effect with “AMP SIM2.” Plug in these values, listen and tweak!

My second example is taken from the MOX “Natural Wurli” voice. The MOX effect algorithm name is “Amp Sim1”. The equivalent PSR effect algorithm is “DISTORTION V_DIST WARM” and its siblings. Here is the equivalency table:

    MOX parameter  PSR parameter  MOX value
    -------------  -------------  ---------
    Preset         n/a            Stack2
    OverDr         Overdrive      2%
    Device         Device         Vintage tube
    Speaker        Speaker        Stack
    Presence       Presence       +10
    OutLvl         Output Level   53%
    Dry/Wet        Dry/Wet        D<W1

Again, change the PSR DSP effect to “V_DIST WARM” and plug in the values. Then, tweak away.

The final example is a multi-effect taken from the MOX “Wurli Distortion AS1” voice. The MOX effect algorithm is “CompDistDly” that is a compressor, distortion and delay effect chain. The equivalency table is:

    MOX parameter  PSR parameter         MOX value
    -------------  --------------------  ---------
    Preset         n/a                   Hard1
    OverDr         Overdrive             15%
    Device         Vin_tube              Vintage tube
    Speaker        Stack                 Stack
    Presence       Presence              +10
    DelayL         Delay Time L          307.3ms
    DelayR         Delay Time R          271.7ms
    FBTime         Delay Feedback Time   306.6ms
    FBLevel        Delay Feedback Level  +31
    FBHiDmp        Feedback High Dump    0.8
    OutLvl         Output Level          22%
    DlyMix         Delay Mix             0
    Compress       n/a                   -29dB
    Dry/Wet        Dry/Wet               D<W12

The almost equivalent PSR effect algorithm is “DISTORTION+ V_DST H+DLY”. The PSR algorithm is missing the compression component (parameter). If you want compression, then consider one of the other PSR distortion algorithms with mono delay.

Keep thinking “multi FX.” I’m going to visit the REAl DISTORTION multi FX algorithm in a future post.

Some of the MOX voices use VCM effects. I didn’t deconstruct the voices with VCM effects because my S950 doesn’t have them. However, if you have VCM effects, for heaven’s sake, use them!

Learn how to save your new creation in Editing and Saving PSR Effects (Part 2).

PSR effects for electric piano (Part 1)
Editing and saving PSR effects (Part 2)
Multi-effects for electric piano (Part 3)
Copy PSR DSP effects (part 4)

The SWP70 tone generator

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Yamaha PSR-S770 and PSR-S970 arranger workstations have a new tone generator (TG) integrated circuit (IC) — the SWP70. (“SWP” stands for “Standard Wave Processor.”) The SWP70 is a new TG family in a long line of Yamaha tone generators. The SWP70 replaces the SWP51L, which has been the mainstay in recent generations of Tyros, upper range PSR, Motif, and MOX series workstations.

The SWP70 has much in common with the SWP51L, but also some very significant differences. The SWP70’s external clock crystal frequency is 22.5792 MHz versus 11.2896 MHz for the SWP51L. This funky looking clock rate is a multiple of 44,100 Hz:

    22.5792MHz = 44,100Hz * 512

Samples are transferred to the DAC, etc. at a multiple of 44,100 Hz (Fs). Thus, it makes sense to derive Fs and its multiples from the chip-level master clock. The higher crystal frequency and faster memory read clocks lead me to believe that the SWP70 is clocked twice as fast as the SWP51L.

I am comparing SWP characteristics as deployed in the S970 (SWP70) and the S950 (SWP51L) workstations. This keeps the basis of comparison even although many characteristics (clock rates, DSP RAM size) are the same in higher end models like Tyros 5 or Motif. Higher end models employ two SWPs in master/slave relationship and both SWPs share the same wave memory. For more information about the PSR-S970 internal design, look here.

Five interfaces are essentially the same as the SWP51L:

  1. CPU interface: Communicate with the Main CPU (e.g., Renesas SH7731) via the parallel CPU bus.
  2. Serial audio: Send/receive audio data to/from the DAC, audio ADCs, and main CPU.
  3. Clock interface: Synchronize serial audio data transfers (generate multiples of Fs).
  4. DSP SDRAM interface: Store working data for effect processing.
  5. EBUS interface: Receive controller data messages (e.g., pedal input, keyboard input, pitch bend, modulation, live knobs, etc.) from front panel processors.

The DSP SDRAM is the same size: 4Mx16bits (8MBytes). The SWP70 read clock is 95.9616 MHz, while the SWP51L read clock is 45.1584 MHz. This is more evidence for a higher internal clock frequency.

The Tyros 4, Tyros 5 and S950 have an auxiliary DSP processor for vocal harmony. The microphone analog-to-digital (ADC) converter is routed directly to the auxiliary processor. Prior to these models, the microphone ADC is connected to the tone generator. With the SWP70, the S970’s microphone ADC is once again routed to the SWP70 and the auxiliary processor disappears from the design. Thus, vocal harmony processing (fully or partially) is located in the SWP70. See my post about SSP1 and SSP2 for further details.

The biggest change is the wave memory interface.

A little history is in order. The SWP51L (and its ancestors) were designed in the era of mask programmable ROM. I contend that tone generation is memory bandwidth limited and the earlier interface design is driven by the need for speed. The SWP51L (due to its evolved history) has two independent wave memory channels (HIGH and LOW). Each channel has a parallel address bus (32 bits) and a parallel data bus (16 bits). The two channels account for over 100 pins. (System cost is proportional to pin count.) The user-installed, 512/1024MB flash DIMMs plug directly onto the two channels.

The SWP70 wave memory interface takes advantage of new NAND flash memory technology. The interface is described in US patent application 2014/0123835 and is covered by Japanese patent 2012-244002. I analyzed the US patent application in an earlier post.

The SWP70 retains the HIGH port and LOW port structure. Each port communicates with an 8Gbit Spansion S34ML08G101TFI000 NAND flash device. Address and data are both communicated over an 8-bit serialized bus. This technique substantially decreases pin count and the resulting board-/system-level costs. Smart work.

I did not anticipate, however, the introduction of a new parallel memory interface called “wave-work”. The wave work interface communicates with a 16Mx16bit (32MBytes) Winbond W9825G6JH-6 SDRAM. The read clock is 95.9616 MHz.

The purpose of the wave work SDRAM is revealed by US Patent 9,040,800. This patent discloses a compression algorithm that is compatible with serialized access to the wave memory. The wave work SDRAM is a cache for compressed samples. The characteristics of the Spansion memory device give us a clue as to why a cache is required:

    Block erase time               3.5ms    Horrible (relative to SDRAM)
    Write time                     200us    Terrible
    Random access read time         30us    Bad
    Sequential access read time     25ns    Very good

As the patent explains, two (or more) samples are required to perform the interpolation while pitch-shifting. If there is only one tone generation channel, access is paged sequential. However, random access is required when there are multiple tone generation channels. (The patent mentions 256 channels.) Each channel may be playing a different voice or a different multi-sample within the same voice. One simply cannot sustain high polyphony through random access alone. The cache speeds up access to recently used pages of uncompressed samples.

The wave work interface takes additional pins, thus adding to board- and system-level costs. The overall pin count is still lower when compared to SWP51L. The penalty must be paid in order to use contemporary NAND flash devices with a serialized bus. This is the price for catching the current (and future) memory technology curve.

A few SWP70-related printed circuit board (PCB) positions are unpopulated (i.e., IC not installed) in the PSR-S970. There is an unpopulated position for a second Winbond W9825G6JH-6 wave work SDRAM which would expand the wave work memory to 32Mx16bit (64MBytes). A larger cache would be needed to support additional tone generation channels. Perhaps only half of the tone generation channels are enabled in the mid-grade PSR-S970 workstation.

There is what appears to a second separate wave work interface that is completely unpopulated. The intended memory device is a Winbond W9825G6JH-6, which is consistent with the existing wave work interface.

The PSR-S970 also has a stubbed out interface that is similar to the DSP SDRAM interface. The existing DSP SDRAM signals are labeled “H” for HIGH while the unused interface is labeled “L” for LOW. Perhaps only half of the hardware DSP processors are enabled for the mid-grade S970, waiting to be activated in future high-end Tyros and Motif products.

I refer to future high end products by the names of the current product lines. Yamaha may choose to rebrand future products (e.g., the much-rumored “Montage” trademark).

The Spansion S34ML08G2 8-Gb NAND device is Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) 1.0 compliant. The S34ML08G2 device is a dual-die stack of two S34ML04G2 die. The 8-bit I/O bus is tri-state allowing expansion e.g., multiple memory devices sharing the same I/O bus and control signals with at most device enabled at any time. The SWP70 has additional chip select pins that would support this kind of expansion. The current expansion flash DIMMs will no longer be needed or used.

In this note, I concentrated on observations and fact, not speculation about future products. I’ll leave that fun for another day!

All site content is Copyright © Paul J. Drongowski unless indicated otherwise.

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!

Make music with MMS on a PSR

Yamaha Mobile Music Sequencer includes features for Motif, MOX and Tyros5, but did you know that you can create music using MMS on your PSR arranger? Yes, you can!

I’m using MMS with both the Yamaha PSR-E443 and PSR-S950 and I have written up a tutorial on making music with MMS on PSR/Tyros. This article concentrates on set-up, MIDI voice selection and MIDI file export which are aspects not covered by the MMS manual. The tutorial complements the many on-line videos that demonstrate composition and mix down. In particular, I show how to use the full 128 voice General MIDI voice set in the PSR, thereby expanding your sonic palette beyond the limited range of voices built into MMS.

Enjoy and keep on keepin’ on!

MOX performance to PSR style (part 2)

In part one, I described how to capture Yamaha MOX arpeggios (musical phrases) in a standard MIDI file (SMF). In this part, I discuss the translation of the SMF to a Yamaha PSR/Tyros style file. This process should work for any SMF, not just an SMF from the MOX workstation.

The SMF produced by the MOX contains the notes for one or more instrument channels where each channel corresponds to a MOX performance part. If you followed the directions in part one, the phrases are arranged in an order starting with the main sections, followed by the fill sections, and finally, the break section. The SMF is raw (“stripped”) and does not contain bank select, program change, volume or pan messages. This is to our advantage since we are free to assign PSR/Tyros voices and tweak the overall mix. If you apply this process to an arbitrary SMF such as a file from the Internet, you will need to change or remove voice assignments, levels, etc. to make the MIDI data compatible with the PSR/Tyros.

The translation procedure needs four tools:

  1. A software DAW or sequencing program to massage the MIDI data.
  2. Style Fixer to insert an initial CASM section into the style.
  3. OTS Editor to add One Touch Settings to the style.
  4. CASM Editor to modify note transposition information.

Style Fixer, OTS Editor and CASM Editor are part of the excellent suite of tools written and maintained by Jørgen Sørensen. I also recommend Michael Bedesem’s MixMaster program which supports a very wide range of tweaks and tweezes. Right now, my DAW is Cakewalk SONAR LE — a little bit out of date, but it does the job. The directions below refer to SONAR although any well-featured DAW should do such as Cubase AI. You may also edit the style on the PSR/Tyros keyboard itself using its Style Creator. This is good in the latter stages of development when you need to make one or two final tweaks.

You can find links to these and other PSR/Tyros tools through the PSR Tutorial utilities page.

One major warning: A style file contains MIDI data and much more. A DAW removes the extra data (e.g., CASM and OTS) from a style file. Thus, a DAW is best during the early stages of style development. Michael’s program and Jørgen’s tools preserve the extra stuff.

Without further ado, here is the basic procedure for conversion. Be sure to save your work as you go along. Summer’s here and the time is right for brown outs.

  1. Copy the SMF from the USB jump drive to a working directory. Make a back-up just in case.
  2. Read the SMF into SONAR (or your pefered DAW). Save the work in progress as a normal SONAR project.
  3. If the MOX generated a separate track for the CMaj7 chord, delete the track. You don’t need it.
  4. Create an empty measure at the beginning of the time line. In SONAR, you accomplish this by sliding the clips back one measure in the arrangement window.
  5. Assign each track to a MIDI channel according to the Yamaha style conventions. (See table below.)
  6. Assign a PSR/Tyros voice to each track.
  7. Set the volume, pan, chorus and reverb levels for each track.
  8. Put the MIDI text marker “SFF1” at the beginning of measure one. The text for this and all MIDI text markers is case sensitive and must be spelled corrected.
  9. Put a second MIDI text marker “SInt” at the beginning of measure one.
  10. Put a MIDI text marker at the beginning of each style section. You must use names according to the Yamaha convention. You are allowed up to four main sections, up to four fill sections, and one break section.
    • Put a marker such as “Main AA” at the beginning of each main section.
    • Put a marker like “Fill In AA” at the beginning of each fill section.
    • Put the marker “Fill In BA” at the beginning of the break section.
  11. Trim and discard any extra notes at the end. You probably didn’t hit STOP fast enough when recording.
  12. Save your project for goodness sake!
  13. Write a new SMF. It must be MIDI SMF Type 0.
  14. Rename the new SMF and give it the “.STY” extension instead of “.MID”.
  15. Launch Style Fixer. Open the new file with the “.STY” extension.
  16. Click the GO button. Style Fixer rewrites the style file and inserts a default CASM section into the file.

Congratulations! At this point, you have a minimal style file. Copy this file to the USB jump drive. The PSR/Tyros should load this style file without complaint. You can read this style file into the OTS editor, the CASM editor or Mix Master, too.

Part MIDI channel
Rhythm 1 9
Rhythm 2 10
Bass 11
Chord 1 12
Chord 2 13
Pad 14
Phrase 1 15
Phrase 2 16
Table: MIDI channel layout for a style
Text marker Meaning
SFF1 Style format 1
SInt Start initialization measure
Main A, Main B, … Start MAIN style section
Fill In AA, Fill In BB, … Start FILL IN style section
Fill In BA Start BREAK style section
Intro A, Intro B, … Start INTRO style section
Ending A, Ending B, … Start ENDING style section
Table: MIDI text markers for style sections

Once you have a minimal style file, I strongly suggest a quick test on the PSR/Tyros. At this stage of development, you can easily make changes to the SONAR project and regenerate a new minimal style without losing much time or work. I try to get a good mix on the keyboard and then adjust the mix parameters (i.e., levels, pan, etc.) in the SONAR project to match. The MOX produces at most four tracks and “back porting”
the mix into the SONAR project is not much of a burden.

When the mix is satisfactory, launch OTS Editor and open the new style file. Here you can import existing OTS configurations into the new style file or add a new OTS configuration from scratch.

The so-called “CASM” section of a style file specifies how MIDI notes are transposed. Recall that we played a CMaj7 chord on the MOX and that the arpeggiator generated notes using CMaj7 as the root chord. The CASM section tells the PSR/Tyros how to change those notes in response to chords played in the left hand part of the keyboard. The default CASM inserted by Style Fixer is usually good enough; the bass channel uses the bass rules, the drum channels bypass transposition, and so forth. Mega Voices or MOX voices that are similar to Mega Voices, however, cause additional complications. A Mega Voice track consists of regular notes and special effect notes. The regular notes should be transposed and the special effect notes should bypass transposition. Yikes! I will discuss Mega Voice handling in part three. In the meantime, you may hear some odd plucks and wheezes when you play back a minimal style with Mega Voice data.

Here’s a little bit of background information to help you understand some of the steps in the conversion procedure.

A style file begins with an initialization measure. The “SInt” marker indicates the start of the initialization measure. You may put any MIDI initialization messages into this measure, usually at beat one. You should not put any notes in the initialization measure. Controller messages and SysEx messages are OK.

The MIDI text markers indicate the start of the style sections. Be sure to spell the markers correctly. The keyboard automatically determines the section length. If a section appears to be missing or is too long when the style is loaded into the keyboard, then you might have misspelled a section name. Remember, the text markers are case sensitive.

The PSR/Tyros only recognizes up to four main sections, four fill sections, one break section, four introductions and four endings. If a section type is not present in the style file, the keyboard doesn’t turn on the LED in the button corresponding to the missing section. Given that a MOX performance may not have four main sections, for example, the PSR/Tyros style may not have four main sections and some of the LEDs will not be lit when the style is loaded. You can always create new sections if you wish. MOX performances do not have introductions and endings, so you may want to add a simple count-in introduction or tag ending. I have a style file with simple introductions and endings. I use copy and paste to insert them into a new style file.

Main, introduction and ending sections may be 1 to 255 measures in length. Fill and break sections are always one measure long.

Jørgen’s website has a wealth of information about styles including a PDF on style writing. Yamaha styles can be quite complicated. Don’t get discouraged and keep plugging away!

Check out part three of this series.

MOX performance to PSR style (part 1)

After my initial success with the SmoothItOver style, I decided to convert several more Yamaha MOX workstation performances to PSR-S950 styles. I will post the new styles real soon now.

I changed tactics. Some of the Yamaha MOX performances are based on phrases from older model, non-arranger keyboards. For example, I suspect that the “Club Jazz” phrases are taken from the Yamaha S-80 synthesizer. Yamaha is good at mining old keyboards for MIDI phrase data; Roland and Korg do the same. As far as I can tell, Yamaha “Club Jazz” has not ever been an arranger style and it surely is not implemented on the PSR-S950 or current Tyros models. Several of the funkier performances that I wanted to port use “Club Jazz” phrases. Thus, I needed to develop a method of my own to mine MOX performances directly from the MOX.

In order to make a PSR/Tyros style, we first need to get the MIDI phrase data for a performance into a standard MIDI format (SMF) file. That is the subject of this post (part one). Then, we need to translate the SMF file into a style. That will be the subject of part two — a future post.

A MOX performance consists of one to four parts where each part has its own distinct voice and set of arpeggios (phrases). When you jam with a performance, you trigger the arpeggios using the left part of the MOX keyboard by playing a note or a chord. The arpeggiator follows the root note or chord that you play and modifies the phrase data (e.g., transposes it) on the fly. The modified MIDI phrase data is sent to the appropriate tone generator. (This is the typical use case. The internal engine is far more flexible than this scenario!) You change arpeggios by pressing one of the special function buttons (SF1-SF6). Each of the four parts goes to the corresponding arpeggio, that is, pressing SF3 for ARP3 changes each part to its own ARP3. Thus, each performance part plays its own pre-programmed phrase.

We are going to capture the arpeggio MIDI data using performance record mode. Performance record mode is your friend! (Please see my page on getting started with the MOX.) This mode records MIDI data as you play chords and switch through arpeggios. We are going to play a special kind of song that captures the MIDI data for all of the arpeggios.

First, we need to determine the song structure. Some of the arpeggios play MAIN sections, some play FILL sections and some play BREAK sections. MAIN sections are usually four bars long and FILL/BREAK sections are one bar long. Select ARP1 and play a CMaj7 chord. Listen to ARP1. Is it a MAIN section (four bars long)? Is it a FILL/BREAK section (one bar long)? Do this listening exercise for each ARP. Then jot down a song structure such as:

    ARP#     Section    Starting measure
    ----     -------    ----------------
    ARP1     MAIN A     1
    ARP2     MAIN B     5
    ARP3     MAIN C     9
    ARP4     FILL A     13
    ARP5     FILL B     15
    ARP6     BREAK      17

The starting measure is when the section should start in the song. It tells us when to switch to the next arpeggio when we play the song in performance record mode. Please note that we intend to play each of the fills twice in order to capture enough data for four fills in the final PSR/Tyros style. Yamaha’s performance sometimes have more mains or fills, so you need to be flexible and ready for anything downstream in part two.

Hit the record button to go into performance record mode. Choose “SONG” and the song number. The MIDI data will be written into this song. Set KeyOnStart to ON. This arms the left side of the keyboard. Turn off the metronome click; you won’t really need it. (Page 34 of the MOX Owner’s Manual describes performance record mode in case you are confused at this point.) You’re now ready to play the special song.

Select ARP1 by pressing SF1. Hit a CMaj7 chord on the lower end of the keyboard to start playing (and recording) the song. During measure 4, hit SF2 to queue up ARP2. ARP2 begins to play in measure 5. Hit SF3 during measure 8 to queue up ARP3. ARP3 begins to play in measure 9. And so forth. Hit STOP after measure 17 to stop recording. The MOX then finishes recording and switches to SONG mode. At this point, you can save the MIDI data in the SONG by hitting STORE or you can go back to performance mode and try again. Since the song is short, it isn’t a big deal to play it again if you make a mistake.

When you have the song, the final step is to write the song as an SMF file on a USB drive. Hit the FILE button and follow the procedure for saving a song as an SMF file. (Hit SAVE, set the name, set the save type to SMF, etc.) In part two, we will translate the SMF to a PSR/Tyros style using PC-based software tools.

Why play a CMaj7 chord? The phrases in a PSR/Tyros style must have a known chord root and chord type. CMaj7 is the conventional chord root and type for styles. The CMaj7 chord forces the arpeggiator to voice phrases for a CMaj7 chord thereby making the final MIDI data style-ready.

Before leaving the MOX behind, you should jot down a few performance notes that will help during the latter stages of the porting process. Jot down the MOX voice for each part. This will help you to select style voices for the PSR/Tyros. Pay careful attention to the guitar and bass voices. Are they Mega Voice voices? Do the voices incorporate FX like slides, scrapes, etc.? You may need to dig into the voice programming to find out if a bass voice uses bass FX. Guitar and bass effect notes are usually mapped to C6 or higher. You will need to give FX notes special treatment during part two.

One or more performance parts may be designated for live soloing or comping. The arpeggios for such parts are turned OFF. Usually, Yamaha provides a right hand part for soloing. They may also provide a pad in the left hand, that is, a pad plays if the left hand chord is held. In rare cases, the right hand may even trigger its own arpeggio! Make note of any special performance behavior that you want to emulate on the PSR/Tyros.

That’s it! At this point, you have an SMF file to be translated to a style. Check out part two and part three of this series.