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Real-time Style Performer for Yamaha styles

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Real-time Style Performer for Yamaha styles.

The Real-time Style Performer (RSP) gives you the ability to play musical styles created for Yamaha PSR musical instruments through a PC sound card. The program is solely dedicated to real-time “live” performance with a MIDI keyboard connected to PC, like it is done by the auto accompaniment PSR keyboards. It is not a sequencer of any kind and it does not create midi files. By this the RSC introduces new abilities and does not cross performance of the other software applications and utilities available on the market, which deal with Yamaha PSR styles and MIDI. With such MIDI commutation utilities like Hubi’s Loopback Driver one may always connect the RSP to a sequencer for recording and subsequent editing, if there is need for that.



The RSP is not an official product for work with Yamaha styles, and the author does not take any responsibility for 100% compatibility with any Yamaha style. Yamaha is the trademark of YAMAHA CORPORATION, and the author uses this word only for reference to available types of musical style files and devices.  All the information basing the creation of RSP has been obtained from open sources in the Internet. The RSP is founded on the Maximun MIDI Toolkit by Paul Messick. The toolkit, however, has been considerably modified and extended by the author of RSP.

Description of controls

The RSP is meaningful if only you have a MIDI keyboard connected. Those who played with a PSR will find the program interface intuitively understandable.

When you run the program for the first time you must select input and output MIDI ports by pressing Options button and then MIDI Ports inside the Options window. In the Options window you will also see other controls. Device Type defines if you use a Yamaha MIDI device for MIDI output or just a General MIDI compatible device. Naturally, Yamaha styles sound better through Yamaha devices as they make possible to use portamento control (smooth pitch shifting at accord change) and some XG commands present in many style files. Owners of the other sound cards and MIDI devices should switch to General MIDI type of device.

The parameter Timer Period lets you to set the sync timer period. The less is the period (down to 1 millisecond), the smoother is the style play back, but the more demand is for CPU resources. Practically, it is quite enough to set this parameter to 10 ms. Especially take care not to set a low Timer Period when you run other programs, such as a sequencer, parallel to the RSP.

Now you may return to the program main window and load a style file. To do that, press the button Load in the upper left corner and select a file with the extension .STY. If a style was successfully loaded you will see the file name in the window Style. In truth, you may load a style before you made settings with Options and opened  or redirected MIDI ports. The only restriction is that you should reload a style once you changed Device Type.

The green indicators in the Parts section of the program window will show you which style parts are available in the style loaded. Version 2, this version, of RSP provide access to all currently available style parts for Yamaha style format. Their total number of 18 is even bigger then the number of parts of any particular Yamaha PSR keyboard. The yellow indicator shows which particular style part is going to be played first. You may mark another part to be played first by pressing corresponding style part button. The windows Tempo and Meter will inform you about tempo and musical meter of the style. Style tempo may be changed at any time with the arrows attached to the Tempo window.

Before you started the style play back take notice where the split note separating the auto accompaniment section of the midi keyboard from the solo part section is located. This spilt is shown by Acc/Solo Split Note control in the Solo section of the main window. If you wish you may change the value. Note that C5 corresponds to the middle C note on the midi keyboard.

Style performance is triggered by either of the two ways: pressing the Play/Stop button, or pressing MIDI keyboard’s keys in the auto accompaniment section with preliminary checked Sync Start. When a style is playing, the red indicator marks the currently sounding style part. The yellow indicator still shows which part is preparing for playing. Transition to another style part is performed either by pressing corresponding button in the Parts section, or by pressing some keys on the computer keyboard. These keys are shown in yellow and may be custom bind through Options. There is a third way to switch between style parts, which will be described later below. A new part will start at the beginning of the next measure. But the Fill-ins start with the new beat. The red light indicators above the Parts section count out beats of sounding style. To stop style performance press Play/Stop button. Style performance also stops automatically after Ending A Ending B or Ending C style parts. The Accomp controller in the Volume section of the program window regulates volume of auto accompaniment.

The way how you may define harmony for auto accompaniment depends on Bass Chord and Single Fingering check controls located in the upper part of the program window. With Single Fingering checked you produce major, seventh, minor and minor-seventh chords by pressing a minimum number of keys in the auto accompaniment section of the MIDI keyboard:

Major Chords – press one key. The key you press will always determine the “root” of the chord,

Minor Chords – simultaneously press the root key and the nearest black key to its left,

Seventh Chords – simultaneously press the root key and the nearest white key to its left,



Minor-seventh Chords – simultaneously press the root key and both the nearest white key and black key to its left.

With Bass Chord checked the lowest note played in the auto accompaniment section of the MIDI keyboard will be played by the bass part rather than the chord root. Bass Chord makes sense only with Single Fingering unchecked.

In the multi-fingered mode (Single Fingering unchecked) the RSP recognizes 34 accord types in various positions: Maj, Maj6, Maj7, Maj7(#11), Maj(9), Maj7(9), Maj6(9), aug, min, min6, min7, min7b5, min(9), min7(9), min7(11), minMaj7, minMaj7(9), dim, dim7, 7, 7sus4, 7b5, 7(9), 7(#11), 7(13), 7(b9), 7(b13), 7(#9), Maj7aug, 7aug, 1+8, 1+5, sus4, 1+2+5. The window Current Chord displays the chord sounding. To silence chords and leave only drums sounding press simultaneously three adjacent keys in the auto accompaniment section of MIDI keyboard.

For the solo section of MIDI keyboard you may set up four different instruments (patches): Solo L1, Solo L2, Solo R1, Solo R2. Solo L1 and Solo L2 belong to instruments played on the left from Left/Right Solo Split (but on the right from Acc/Solo Split Note), while Solo R1 and Solo R2 belong to instruments played on the right of Left/Right Solo Split. If a Solo button is pressed then corresponding instrument will be produced from the solo section of your MIDI keyboard. Several of the buttons may be in pressed state to make several instruments sound simultaneously. When neither of Solo L1 and Solo L2 is on then Solo R1 and Solo R2 are produced from both sides of Left/Right Solo Split. Any of the buttons may be pressed either by the mouse of by a prescribed key on your computer keyboard. The default Num Lock keys act in the following way:

“9” sets Solo R1 on and Solo R2 off;

“3” sets Solo R2 on and Solo R1 off;

“6” sets both Solo R1 and Solo R2 on;

“7” sets Solo L1 on and Solo L2 off;

“1” sets Solo L2 on and Solo L1 off;

“4” sets both Solo L1 and Solo L2 on;

“5” sets both Solo L1 and Solo L2 off.

The whole set of various midi settings for the four solo instruments is loaded with a standard MIDI file of Format 0 through the button Solo Set Load. You prepare particular settings, including Program Change (patches) control messages and System Exclusives, in your favorite sequencer supporting your favorite and maybe exclusive sound card, and then save them as a midi file of Format 0. To differ the settings file from other midi files you should also rename the file for the extension of .sts. The following midi channels correspond to Solo R1, R2, L1, L2  instruments:

Channel 1 – Solo R1;

Channel 2 – Solo R2;

Channel 3 – Solo L1;

Channel 4 – Solo L2.

You should make settings only for these four channels, leaving the other channels untouched. The auto accompaniment is performed in the Channels 9 through 16, and if you interfere there, the overall auto accompaniment changes.

As an example, please find *.sts files in the program package. They set General Midi instruments for R1.

If you create a settings file with the same name as the style (but with the extension of .sts) you will be able to fast load the settings with the button Fast Set Load The active mode of this button will notify you that such settings are available in the style directory.

As during new style loading the midi device is usually reset, you need to reload solo settings anew. This reloading is done with the button Reload. The program may reload settings automatically with each new style if you check Auto Reload.

If you wish to record your performance into a sequencer, here are some points to consider:

Auto accompaniment channel settings are sent into the midi device at the moment of style loading. Thus the sequencer must be recording at this moment.

Solo settings are also sent to the device only during their loading.




The RSP sends MIDI Start, MIDI Stop and MIDI Clock messages. Therefore you may set the sequencer to the external MIDI Clock mode during style performance.

Version 2 of RSP introduces lists for styles and solo settings. With the use of lists you are able to load styles and settings by their prescribed numbers. The two list types have the same text format, but different file extensions: .ls1 for style lists, .ls2 for solo settings lists. Each style/settings is represented in the list by a separate line of the following format:

NNN file_name comments

where NNN denotes prescribed number, file_name denotes a separate file number (including the path, if necessary), and comments is any user’s text. Between NNN and file_name you should place one or several spaces. To load a style list use the button Style List in the upper left corner of the program window. To load a solo settings list use the button Solo Set List in the Solo section of the program window. Number selection is achieved with the corresponding control Number, while loading of the selected number with the button # Load. In addition, you may fast load next style from the list with the button Next Style. The maximum number for styles in a list is 99, the maximum number for solo settings in a list is 128.

There is a solo settings list example in the program package. It is called “gm.ls2” and lists the enclosed general midi *.sts files. When you load this list, you will be able to select General Midi instruments for R1 by its corresponding numbers.

All the controls and buttons which have yellow letter labels can be initiated from corresponding keys of the PC keyboard. You may change key bind through the button Key Binding in the Options window.

There is the button Velocity Control in the Options window. This button opens the window, which adjusts the third way of switching between style parts. The idea is that one may assign functions to some midi keyboard keys. But the functions are called only on the condition that a certain velocity threshold is exceeded. Below the threshold the selected keys behave as usual. As velocity values of the keys in the auto accompaniment section of the midi keyboard play no role, one can assign some of them to functions with a threshold velocity value. In that case when a style chord is placed keys are pressed  easy without extra strength. If a new style part is initiated, the corresponding function key is pressed alone and accented. Enabling and disabling of this Velocity Control mode is set in the main program window with the Velocity Control check Be careful not to abuse the midi keyboard with this method. Excessive pressure strikes will contribute to faster wear of the plastic keys.

The nature of live accompaniment by a musician, when he or she changes accords in fact a few milliseconds earlier or later than beats, demands more care to intrinsic style settings than it is needed in such programs as Yamaha Visual Arranger. Visual Arranger plays back preliminary prepared and quantified sequences. A style, which sounds well in Visual Arranger, may turn out to be bad when using with PSR or this Realtime Style Performer. For instance, you may loose bass notes if the bass part is not correctly adjusted in style file and you change chords even few milliseconds later than bass notes start. Style settings are located in the CASM section in a style file itself. There is quite full information about CASM settings in the Internet, as well as programs to view and edit the settings. Here are some useful links:

http://home7.inet.tele.dk/js/musik/740pages/articles/casm.htm – by Jorgen Sorensen;

http://osenenko.chat.ru/ - Description of CASM and CASM Editor by Eugene Osenenko;

http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Towers/9902/index.html - MIDI and Yamaha SFF styles;

http://members.tripod.com/~duo_lili/index.htm - Julijan Zavernik – Homepage;

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/svpworld/ - Yahoo Group on PSR

The Real-time Style Performer does not encompass all the possibilities for playing Yamaha PSR styles “in live”. Therefore the author will be grateful for comments and suggestions, as well as for information about any bugs founded. For free usage and estimation purposes the demo program modification with several limitations is offered. These limitations are:

Intro B, Fill In B, Fill In AB, Break B, Ending B do not function;

Fill In AB and Main B may be initiated only by mouse clicks.

Those of you who are satisfied with the program performance and consider that the full program (including full functionality for B parts) is worth of $25, please send your request to the author.

Alexander Lotov

lotal@hotmail.com



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