Playing Chords

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In the Preset Voices lesson, when you tried out some voices, I asked you to play with your "right" hand and also to make sure that the ACMP button was OFF. Why is that? If you tried playing some notes with your left hand, you may have been surprised to discover the rhythm kicking in. If you pressed different notes with your left hand, the sound may have changed, but in strange ways not reflecting the actual notes you were playing, unlike the right hand. To play all 66 keys as a single keyboard, we needed to make sure the keyboard was not "split" into two separate parts.

drawing of auto accompainment section and split point on keyboardTo take advantage of the auto accompaniment features, however, we need to divide the keyboard into a left-hand section and a right-hand section.  The left-hand section controls the accompaniment while the right-hand section plays the main melody using the RIGHT1 voice (and perhaps the R2 and R3 voices).  The default "Split Point" divides the two sections at F#2 (see illustration). All the keys to the left of this split point, from C1 up to and including F#2, are in the Auto Accompaniment section. Keys that you press in this section control the accompaniment. Keys to the right of the split point (from G2 up through C6) are for playing the melody of a song.

You can change this split point to a different key, but for the moment, we'll just use the default. You can visually check where the current split point is by looking at the upper right-hand corner of the MAIN screen. Main Info line split point settingsThere you will see the current setting for the SPLIT. The "S" indicates the note that marks the split point for auto accompaniment (F#2). The "L" marks the upper range of the left-hand voice (also F#2 initially). Initially, the auto-accompaniment section is exactly the same as the notes used for the left-hand voice, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. The "R" indicates the lowest note available for the right-hand voice.

Tyros4 and Tyros5 owners will not see that split point indication on their MAIN screens. With the Tyros4, Yamaha introduced a new feature that allows a user to define a separate area on the right side of the keyboard for the R3 voice only with an R3 split point. The R1+R2 voices would play above the left-hand split point and below the R3 split point. If the R3 split point is set to be right above the Left split point, for example Left and Style set at F#2 and Right3 set at G2, then the three right-hand voice would all play on the right side of the keyboard.

Let's Hear the Band

OK, turn that ACMP On. Press the SYNC START button. Now, as soon as you press one of the keys in the left-hand auto accompaniment section, the style you have selected starts playing.  Try it now.  With one finger, hit the note "C1".  (You could hit "C2" instead, because that note is also in the Auto Accompaniment section.)  The style you selected starts playing. This will include the drums, the bass, and the other instruments included in the style.  They will be playing together and, because you pressed the "C" note, they will be playing an accompaniment in the C major chord.  Now press the G1 note and the accompaniment switches to the G major chord.  Try F1 and the accompaniment switches to the F major chord.  You signal any major chord by simply pressing the root value of that chord.  The sound of the accompaniment switches automatically as soon as you press the new chord. On the MAIN screen, you will see a CHORD setting that shows you which chord the keyboard is currently playing.

At this point you could also try out the different variations of whatever style you are playing. Press the "B" Main button to hear the second variation. Similarly, try the "C" and "D" variations and try different chords in each variation.

If your keyboard is new and you are still using the default settings, the chords mentioned above will be working because the default setting of the keyboard for chord recognition is "Multi-Finger". In this setting, the keyboard will recognize single finger chords, like pressing "C1" to get the C major chord, AND will also recognize fingered chords. If, using your left hand, you pressed simultaneously C1 and E1 and G1, the three notes in the C major chord, the keyboard would also recognize this as C major. If you added a fourth note, say A1, that is, C-E-G-A, the keyboard would recognize this as C major sixth -- a chord that is not available in the single-finger mode. There are several different fingering modes that you can use. When you find the one that you like, your keyboard can remember that and use that as your normal fingering mode. Before describing the various fingering modes, let's see how you find the fingering mode and set it.


FUNCTION menuAll the keyboards will have a key labeled "FUNCTION" that provides a menu of various settings you can make. The screen shot here shows the Tyros3, but all the keyboards have a similar set of choices under FUNCTION.

The third set of choices here, next to the "C" button, allow you to set the split point as well as the chord fingering. Later on in this lesson, we'll look at changing that split point. Right now, let's take a look at the Chord Fingering options.

FUNCTION CHORD FINGERING Press the "C" key to bring up the CHORD FINGERING options. Notice that this is the third tab in this display screen, so use the NEXT tab button to tab over to the third option. All of the fingering options are shown in the FINGERING TYPE box in the lower left-hand part of the screen. This box spans the lbuttons #1, #2, and #3 that are located at the bottom of your screen and any of these buttons can be used to scroll up and down this list of fingering types. For each type, you see a brief description of that type in the text shown under the FINGERING column.

Fingering Types

There are a several different ways you can signal to the keyboard what chord you want. The method of indicating a chord depends on the "Fingering Type." There are 7 different fingering types. Let's look at some of your choices.


The simplest method is to use the single-finger approach. This is the SINGLE FINGER type. Using the single-finger method, you can easily play all major, minor, seventh, and minor seventh chords:

  • In this mode, you need only press a single key, the "root" value of the chord, as described above to trigger any major chord. 
  • For a minor chord, you press two keys at once, the root key and a black key to the left of that root. For example, to signal the Em chord, you would press simultaneously the E1 key and the Eb1 key (the first black key to the left of the E key).
  • For the seventh chord, simultaneously press the root key and a white key to its left.  (E7 would be signaled by pressing simultaneously E1 and D1.)
  • For a minor seventh chord, simultaneously press the root key and both a white and black key to its left.  (Em7 would require pressing E1 and Eb1 and D1 all at the same time.)

However, the Single-Finger method, does not enable you to play a C major seventh (CM7) or C augmented (C+) or C major sixth (C6) or C diminished (Cdim) or C ninth (C9) chords. The single-finger method would work for very simple songs, but could not be used to play more modern tunes using fancier chords.


In this mode, you play the individual notes of the chord in your left hand. At least three notes are needed to trigger a chord. For a C major chord, you would play C + E + G, pressing all three notes down at the same time.  You do not have to play the chord with the root of the chord, in this case, a "C", on the bottom. You could also signal the C major chord by playing different "inversions" of that chord, for example, E-G-C (the root of the chord is on top) or G-C-E (the root of the chord is in the middle). A C major seventh chord consists of the four notes C-E-G-B. You could signal a CM7 by playing those four notes in any inversion. (C-E-G-B, E-G-B-C, G-B-C-E, or B-C-E-G).

If you are not sure of what notes are included in any particular chord, there is a chord tutor available on that CHORD FINGERING page. Select the chord you want in the ROOT box (pressing the [#6] button) and then select the type of chord using either the [#7] or [#8] buttons. The notes for that chord will be shown on the keyboard in the illustration. If you use the chord tutor for root "C" and type "M7", the illustration shows the notes C-E-(G)-B. The "circled" G note means this note is optional for this chord, that is, playing C-E-B would be sufficient to indicate a CM7 chord.

In this mode, which I personally prefer, you need to simultaneously press three or more keys to trigger a chord.  This means you can play a chord and then play single or double notes to add variety to the accompaniment voice without triggering a chord change.


This type is essentially the same as FINGERED except that the bass note used in the accompaniment is the lowest note you use in specifying your chord.  So if you wanted to play the C major chord while the bass played an "E", you would play the second inversion of the C chord, that is, E1-G1-C2, with the lowest note being the E.  In musical notation, you might see this chord entered as C/E, which means to play the C major chord over an E bass note. Of course, in this case, E is also part of the chord. But you will also come across chords like Bb/C, which means play the Bb chord along with a C bass, which is not part of the Bb major chord.


The MULTI FINGER type automatically detects SINGLE FINGER or FINGERED chords, so you can use either type of fingering without having to switch fingering modes.  I find this type, which is the default setting from the factory, cumbersome.  If you try to finger a chord of 3 or more notes, but don't hit all the keys at exactly the same time, any stray keystroke gets immediately interpreted as a single-finger chord and the accompaniment switches to that chord, which produces an undesirable accompaniment sound.

Additional Fingering Types

If you are used to playing piano arrangements, you may want to experiment with the FULL KEYBOARD mode where notes from both the left and right hand are used to identify the chord. There is also an AI FINGERED or AI FULL KEYBOARD mode that you can select. "AI" stands for Artificial Intelligence. The AI FINGERED is the same as FINGERED, except that a new chord can be signaled with less than three notes. The AI is used to figure out what chord you mean based on the previously played chord. Personally, I've avoided these "AI" modes since the more advanced chords, such as the 9ths and 13ths can not be selected and the chords that are selected can be very strange indeed.

Setting Your Fingering Mode

We saw above how you could use the FUNCTION menu to go to CHORD FINGERING and change your fingering mode. The quickest way to check your fingering mode, and change it if necessary, is to press the [DIRECT ACCESS] button and then press the [ACMP] button. This takes you immediately to the CHORD FINGERING screen where you can set your fingering option. Press the [EXIT] button to leave this screen and return to the MAIN menu.  The chord fingering you select remains selected even after you turn your keyboard off. 

Setting Your Split Point

SPLIT POINT ScreenYou can also immediately jump to the SPLIT POINT screen by pressing the [DIRECT ACCESS] button together with the [SYNC START] button. Alternatively, use the FUNCTION menu to go to the SPLIT POINT screen. Use the buttons below the screen to change any of these points. Note that if you move the right-hand voice lower, the split point and the left-hand voice must always be below the right-hand voice, so you may wind up moving all three points by moving the R voice lower. Similarly, moving the Style split point higher will also bump up the L and R voices since neither can be below the S split point.

You can also use the buttons on the right side of the display screen to move the split point. For example, press the "F" button, next to the S+L option shown on the screen, and then press the actual key on the keyboard where you want this split to occur and this will set both the "S" and "L" points at that key.

Every user will find a setting that they are comfortable with. In my own case, I like to use the two bottom octaves for the style and the left-hand voice so I set the split point at B2 with the right hand voice starting at C3. However, I also move the UPPER OCTAVE down one so that "middle C" becomes C4 rather than C3. For me, this setting works for most songs.

Well, now you know how to select a style and try out the different variations of that style with the keyboard split point and fingering set the way you want. In the next lesson, we'll look at the one-touch settings included with each style and some of the remaining style control buttons.


This page updated on February 11, 2015 .