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Why Create a Style?

Before Covid shut down almost all performances, I was playing in three different types of venues, which required different genres or styles of music: Sacred (church music); Dance (Pop and Country); Listening (Pop, Singalong). I prefer to keep over 1,200 songs organized in Music Finder using the Keyword to filter the songs for a venue. For example, songs I might perform at a dance were marked as "Dance" in the keyword field. That shortens the list to about 250 "Dance" songs that I simply pick by title. I organize Set lists using a database or spreadsheet outside the PSR S975.

The goal of this exercise was to develop my own style based on years of performing live. I have used the Music Finder extensively since it is so easy to set up all songs with it, then group, filter and organize tunes for easy access while performing live. It can become quite large depending on your repertoire.

After reviewing hundreds of Styles and finding suitable matches, I could see common characteristics among the various styles, since we tend to re-use styles, changing voices or tempos to suit different songs. So, I wanted to see if I could develop my own style that would pack enough pieces together to serve several similar songs. Using the PSR Tutorial site resources as well as the Yamaha manuals, I was able to do just that. It took me several weeks of study, plenty of mistakes, and lots of trial and error, so be sure you keep your goal in mind as you get frustrated. Once you are finished with your first one, you will fly through the rest of them! Here is the story of how I created my first style.

Overview of the Style Assembly Process

The sketch below lays out an overview of the process of creating a new style. This will be explained further below. The first step is to figure out what I want in a "Target Style." A Yamaha style has a number of sections: Main A, B, C, and D, plus Intros, Endings, and fills. Some of the sections I can build by cloning that section from some existing style. I may use the keyboard as input to building a section or create a midi file for the sound I want. The created midi file can then be converted to a style using the midi2style program. When finished, I add the style to my Music Finder database.

Planning the Target

I wanted to build a style with the Main sections having the following properties:

Clone from Other Styles

Joe Waters’ articles on the site were excellent at introducing me to the concept of Style Assembly, something that I had never explored before. The lessons are well written and lead you through practical examples (Drums from here, Bass from there, etc.). Rather than repeat those in this article, I will just say that they helped me clone an excellent Country style shuffle from the Country styles and Jazz styles, with a little help from my own MIDI files.

Keyboard Input

I had dabbled with this method, creating MIDI files, which I then edited using Anvil Studio (Freeware) to correct. Frankly, I found it easier to create from scratch with Anvil since I use it extensively to create my own Fake sheets. Being a guitar player for 55 years, I found chording to be natural, so learning keyboards is a fun transition for me. Keyboard players probably find it easier to enter the notes from keyboards. To each his own!

MIDI files and MIDI2Style

When I could not find exactly what I wanted from any style I had listened to or used, I turned to my trusty MIDI software to create it. I will use the example of Calypso to illustrate. I am a big fan of the Merrymen, a 60’s 70’s group from the Caribbean. They have a driving, aggressive percussion-based style that will get you to your feet dancing. They use it in several medleys (Matilda-Happy Wanderer-etc.) and it works. I could not find it anywhere in all of the Yamaha Latin styles I had seen. It may exist, but I don’t know where. Here is how I built it from scratch. I stuck with one bar per Main (A B C D) to keep it simple.

1.  Set the drum backbone

For the Rhythm1 track I used:

See the Anvil screen shot shown here. When you program this way, there is no need to Quantize the drums since they are already done. That’s what you want as an end result.

I called this file Percussion1 since it is the drum setting for Main A. I called the style "Merry Calypso", which I set as my target. This is Bar 1 (of 4) of the Merry Calypso style I created from scratch. The screen shot above is Anvil Studio’s "piano roll" picture showing one bar/measure of drums, which will become Rhythm 1, Main A in my Style. In this picture, each bar is divided into quarter notes. The drum hits are in 8th notes.

Once you have this sounding the way you want, SAVE it. I called this file Merry Calypso 1 since it is the drum setting for Main A.  I went on to create the MIDI file “Percussion2” for Main B, adding other drum sounds, so you get the idea. Then I just copied all 4 MIDI files into a new file called “CalypsoPercussion”. You can just as easily create the 4-bar file (Main A, Main B, Main C, Main D) in one MIDI file. I just prefer to work in pieces so that I can go back and add other instruments before consolidating.

Once you have your MIDI drums ready for Main A through Main D, use the midi2style program, one of Jorgen Sorensen’s utilities listed in the PSR Tutorial,  to convert this file into a Style. MIDI2Style has its own manual that explains step by step how to use it. Now you have new style. I called the style Calypso Percussion. You can now clone this style into any style using the process explained on the PSR site!

2. Bass Lines (Acoustic Bass)

For me, it is easiest to play bass once the drums are set. So I set up Calypso Percussion as my Target, then followed the Style Assembly instructions to play the Bass lines in from the keyboard. There are excellent lessons on how to program the loops.

3.  Chords and Phrases

I stopped at Drums and Bass in order to experiment with Multipads, Voices, and lead instruments before adding anything else into the style. Once I find what I want, I’ll add it in. Again, the PSR Tutorial site is packed with “How To” tips on creating and using these tools.

Style Development Notes

In developing the Merry Calypso style, I used the table below to indicate the source I planned on using for the Rhy2 and Bass of each section.

  Intro1 Intro2 Intro3 MainA MainB MainC MainD Ending1 Ending2 Ending3

How to Do Live (KBD) Recording of Style Tracks

Using my PSR-S975, I recorded the "Live" parts in the Style Creator function’s Basic screen ( Function=> Style Creator => Basic tab ). It proposes Record and defaults to Rhythm2 (drums).

Press Exit – this proposes the 2 panel screen where you select which Section (Intro1, Main A, etc.)

Set to Main A, 2 bars (detailed steps below.)

How to Clone Tracks from an Existing Style

First, you want to create a shell for a new style. Follow these steps:

To add Rhythm2 to your new style from your MIDI2Style file, follow these steps:

You now have NewClone’s drums copied in from Source I. Back out all the way and select NewClone to test drive Main A drums – MAKE SURE ACMP IS ON!

You should be able to play any chord when you add instruments.

Keep adding tracks as needed – e.g. Record Bass => Assembly => Select Bass (twice – that’s “double click”) – let’s you choose your source.

To add Bass to your new style follow these steps:

BASIC Tab in Style Creator

ASSEMPLY Tab in Style Creator

You have now added NewClone’s Bass line copied in from your source.

Exit out all the way and select NewClone to test drive – MAKE SURE ACMP IS ON!

Results So Far

Here is what the Merry Calypso style sounds like with Yellow Bird. It draws in all 3 Intros, Endings, the 4 Mains, and Break in no particular order. It can now be used for several peppy songs like Matilda, Jamaica Farewell, etc. 

(DM) Yellow Bird.mp3






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This page updated on May 20, 2021 .