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The MFC10 MIDI Controller Meets the PSR-S970

A brief guide on how to use your MFC10 to control your PSR-S970 keyboard
by Brian Cowell
May 25, 2018

Why is this Guide Needed?

A previous version of this document, aimed at the PSR 3000, is also available here, but I felt that it was time to update it for a more recent keyboard (it has also been revised and condensed) — hence this is the version for the PSR-S970.

Like the PSR 3000, the PSR-S970 lacks the special MFC10 facilities found on the more expensive keyboards in the Yamaha range: they do simplify things a lot for their owners, making it possible to deploy a large number of MFC10 functions directly. Those extended options don't exist on the PSR-S970 — nonetheless, what we can do is to program MIDI messages into the MFC10 that will be understood and acted upon by the PSR-S970.

Suggested MFC10 options with the PSR-S970

I will discuss the foot switches first, and then move on to the pedal.

The MFC10 is designed as a general-purpose MIDI controller, hence there are some commands that can be sent that will natively be understood by the PSR-S970. Here, for your convenience, is the table listing the available options. (Please note that this is for "Section Control (F0) [STATUS=F0]").

Available options in MIDI Controller

So the most useful commands (for the PSR-S970) appear to be:

  • Main Variation 1 – 3 (with fill) [c17 – c19 in the above chart]
  • Main Variation 1 - 4 (without fill) [c09 - c12]
  • Break [c25 — although this is not immediately obvious!]
  • Ending 1 - 3 [c33 - c35]
  • Start and Stop [c41 and c42]

I suppose there's also Intros 1 - 3 [c01 - c03] — although since you'd normally set those up in advance before the action starts, they're arguably less useful than those above.

Obviously, it's entirely up to you which of these you feel you need, and how you want to assign them to the foot switches on your MFC10. I'll describe my choices as an example, but you will obviously change these assignments as you prefer.

Deciding which switches to program

There are effectively 10 switches — 1 - 5 on the front row, 6 - 9 and 0 on the back row — see the diagram below) that can be usefully programmed for toe-touch actions. (The right-hand foot switches (x10 on the front row and Function on the rear row) are reserved for setting up the unit, so won't be used in live performance).

Diagram of MFC10 switches

  • Since for me it's probably the most important single function, I assigned the Break command (c25) to foot switch 5. (I had originally assigned it to switch 1, with the four variations assigned to switches 2 - 5, but discovered in practice that whilst playing it was distracting in the heat of the moment to have to remember to add one — i.e. hit switch 4 for MV3 — so I moved Break to the right-hand end of the front row).
  • I decided to use switches 1 - 4 for Main Variation (with fill) #1 to #4 (c17 - c20)
  • I also decided to be able to arm endings 1 - 3  (c33 - c35) and intros 2 - 3 (c02 - c03) using the five switches on the back row. The back row switches are that little bit harder to reach, which is why I put the commands I use most often in the front row.

You might want to make yourself a simple diagram similar to the one below before you start, so that you're clear in your mind which codes are being programmed to each foot switch:—

6 7 8 9 0  
c33 c34 c34 c41 c42 back row

1 2 3 4 5  
c09 c10 c11 c12 c25 front row

OK, having decided what to put where, you now need to program your MFC10 to make it happen.

Programming the foot switches

We use Function commands to do this (so make sure the red light by the Function pedal is on throughout, and — very obviously — that there is a MIDI cable between the MFC10 MIDI out and the PSR-S970 MIDI in). So (having ensured that Function mode is on) follow these four steps for each foot switch in turn:

  • Press the foot switch to be programmed (the red LED comes on and the display shows "F" + the footswitch number).
  • Press the Memory Edit button: the display should say F0, but if not use the Inc or Dec buttons to change the status to F0. (You may find that the display doesn't change in hexadecimal sequence: e.g. to reach F0 you may first have to cycle through F3, FA, Fb, and FC…. Who knows why?)
  • Press Memory Edit again and use Inc/Dec to change the data to the C-number for that particular switch (as shown on your diagram, if you made one).
  • Press the Write/Exit button (the display starts blinking to indicate that you have made a change and hence need to save it).
  • Finally, press the Inc/YES button to save the setting.

Follow the same procedure for each of the footswitches you want to program.

That's all you need to do as far as the switches are concerned, so now you can go ahead and test it.

Be aware that if you tap switch 1 to arm Main Variation 1 and then subsequently override it by pressing MV2 but from the keyboard, the red light on your MFC10 will still be on above switch 1, since that's the last command you sent from there.

One final practical comment about the toe switches — if you have large feet, and/or your shoes have thick soles, then you may find the foot switches a little lacking in feel. If you don't mind about the possible damage to your street cred, or if your feet are invisible to the audience, then you could always try the old pipe organists' trick of playing in slippers. You're unlikely to encounter the only problem with that technique: I can recall occasions when the church was so cold that I began to lose all feeling below the knee, but hopefully you won't be playing in very low temperatures! (Your PSR-S970 probably wouldn't like that, either).

Programming the pedal

Since I already have Yamaha's FC7 purpose-made expression pedal, I decided to use the footpedal on the MFC-10 for Pitch Bend. I subsequently discovered that I prefer controlling this effect from the pedal since I find that the result is a lot smoother (because I'm not snatching my left hand back to the keys again after stabbing at the pitch bend wheel). In my setup I have the setting 'fully toe down' to correspond to zero pitch bend, with increasing amounts of heel down providing increasing bend down — hence there's no scope for pitch bend up (however, you can easily arrange that if you wish, although in the absence of a centre detent you may find your 'board sounds slightly out of tune from time to time…). If you don't like the idea of using the footpedal for Pitch Bend, you could perhaps consider using it as an Expression pedal instead, or whatever function seems best to you.

Page 23 of the MFC10 manual tells us —

Pitch Bend status from manual

So to assign Pitch Bend to the pedal, the method is as follows —

  • Press the Function pedal to turn the red light on.
  • Press FC EDIT to select Foot Control.
  • Press footswitch 1 to select the on-board pedal as the one to be edited.
  • Use the Inc or Dec buttons to select E0 bF (pitch bend information on MIDI channel 1, as shown above)  — STATUS light will be flashing.
  • Press FC EDIT to reach the data, which in this case is not applicable, so it displays as three dashes ( - - - ) — DATA/CTRL light will be flashing.
  • Press FC EDIT again and set the maximum value to 64 (i.e. no pitch change at all when the pedal is fully toe down) — BANK MSB/MAX light will be flashing.
  • Press FC EDIT and set minimum to zero (i.e. reduce the pitch when the heel moves down) — BANK LSB/MIN light will be flashing.
  • Press Write/Exit and then Inc/YES.

Obviously, if you would prefer to trigger the bend in other ways, you will need to adjust the above to suit. If, for example, you would prefer to use toe down to trigger a pitch up, then you would set the maximum value to 127 and the minimum to 64. So far, so good — but there's more to do before you can try it out — you first need to tell your PSR-S970 what you expect of it. (These details about how to save your preferences will be different in some other PSR keyboards.) So, go to the MIDI settings on the PSR-S970:

  • Press the Function button and Tab to MENU 1, select MIDI, then (on the S970's User tab) NEW (or EDIT if you have a previous version to change).
  • Tab across to the RECEIVE tab (see p.122 of the 970 Reference Manual for full details about this tab.) By default, 'All Parts' will be selected, so press the Edit key (don't worry, we're saving this config to the USER area).  
  • Check that the inverse highlight is on PORT 1 CHANNEL 1.
  • Use button 3 to change the PART from SONG to KEYBOARD.
  • Use buttons 4, 5, 6, and 8 to clear the check marks from Note, Control Change, Program Change, and After Touch — when you've done this, on Part 1 Channel 1 you should have only PITCH BEND with a check mark.
  • Press the Exit button to get back to the previous (MIDI) screen.
  • Double-check that you're on the USER tab (which you should be).
  • Press Save, and enter whatever filename you like (I use "Pitch bend pedal" to give me a chance of remembering what it was for).
  • SAVE.
  • Exit back to your main screen.

OK, each time your PSR-S970 wakes up it will now load those MIDI settings for you. One final but very important practical point — with this arrangement you will have to be very careful to always leave the pedal in the zero pitch bend position whilst you're playing if you don't want Right 1 to be out of tune. 

Good luck — hopefully, you can now keep your fingers on the keys for a bigger percentage of the time!

This page updated on August 7, 2018 .