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.
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!