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Pick A Song

Are you ready to play a song? If you can play by ear, all you may need now is a song running through your head that you want to play on the keyboard. If you read sheet music, you can put the song you want to play up on your music rack. These "arranger" keyboards rely on your left hand to play a chord while your right hand plays the melody. An excellent source of music, for those who can read music, are books often referred to as "Fake Books". These contain sheet music with the minimum information needed for a song - the melody line, the lyrics, and the chord symbols. Most songs in this format can be contained on a single page (sometimes called a "lead sheet") and the books can contain hundreds of songs. Your right hand plays the melody and, with the chord symbols helping you out, your left hand plays the chords. In the Music section of this PSR Tutorial is a subsection on Fake Books, which will provide information on most of the fake books available in the US market.

Pick A Style

Now, find a style that may match the song you have in mind. This can be harder than you might imagine. Your keyboard has hundreds of internal styles, and thousands more are available. As you play your keyboard and try out different styles, you will become familiar with what is available and more likely to know what style might be suitable for any particular song. In a future lesson, you will learn about the Playlist feature on the Genos and PSR-SX models and the Music Finder feature of earlier keyboards. Both features allow you to pick a song from a list and have your keyboard immediately set up and ready to play that song. When you learn more about downloading external styles, you will also learn that there are, literally, thousands of styles available that have been named after a particular song. These styles, sometimes called "gig disk" styles, have taken a standard style and "tuned" it up by setting the tempo and voices as needed to play a particular song and then renamed the style to match that song title.

To get started, however, just try out the style your keyboard starts with. Interestingly enough, the initial preset style has changed with each model. If you have a 2000 or a 2100, you'll see a style called HeartBeat. The Tyros started with Live8Beat. The 3000 starts with Cool8Beat. Tyros2 owners see VintageGtrPop. The S900 introduced Straight8Pop, the Tyros3 uses EasyPop, the S910 uses Cool8Beat, the Tyros4 uses StadiumRock, and the Tyros5 uses Cool8Beat. The Genos starts with Cool8Beat and the PSR-SX900 uses SkyPop.

Press the START/STOP button to start the style playing. You can turn on ACMP and, assuming you've set your fingering mode, play a chord to hear all the components of the style playing. Move from variation A to B to C and then D. You'll see how the sound of the style, although similar, does change and one or more of those variations may be more appropriate for "your" song than others.

Set Your Tempo

The other thing to listen for is the tempo of the rhythm. All the styles have a tempo that is set in the style and, whenever you load that style, it uses the preset tempo. But, you can change the tempo to be whatever you want. All of the keyboards have two TEMPO buttons located on the left-side of the top panel. When you press one of these buttons, you will see a small box open up in the middle of the display screen showing you the current tempo setting measured in beats per minute (bpm). Pressing the tempo button on the right increases the tempo while pressing the tempo button on the left slows down the tempo. While that tempo box is displayed, you can also use the DATA ENTRY wheel to quickly move the tempo up or down. There is yet a third way to set the tempo for your song. Notice the "TAP TEMPO" button located next to the TEMPO buttons. If you have a particular rhythm playing in your head, just tap along with your fingers to the rhythm you want. Tap that TAP TEMPO button four times with the tempo you want and the style will start playing at that tempo.

Pick Your Instruments

If you are just starting, this step can be easy. You can use the OTS buttons to automatically pick right-hand voices that go with the style you've selected. You can start your song off by selecting the OTS1 button. This will turn on SYNC/START and the song starts as soon as you finger a chord with your left hand. If you have turned on OTS LINK, when you press the MAIN B button to go to the next variation of the style, your keyboard automatically switches to the voices in the OTS2 setup. If you want, you can use OTS3 and/or OTS4 in different parts of your song.

You don't have to use the instruments selected by the OTS settings. If OTS has a guitar in the RIGHT1 voice and you want to have a piano, just change the RIGHT1 voice to be a piano voice of your choice.

Play Your Song!

With all the available internal styles and the OTS feature, you can play hundreds of songs with your new keyboard. Have fun exploring all the different styles and their variations. Don't forget to experiment with the tempos as well. Changing the default tempo of a song can make a style sound very different.

With each new keyboard, the internal styles are always exciting and more realistic and owners happily explore those styles for quite some time. However, no matter how many styles you have in your keyboard, you will find that you want more! Fortunately, there are thousands of styles available for your keyboard, no matter which model you have. There are more styles than you know what to do with right on this site in the Styles section. Generally, styles are available in compressed files (called .zip files), which take up less space on servers and download more quickly. To use them, however, you have to uncompress the files and get them back to their normal style format. Fortunately, there are lessons that help you understand the Yamaha file system and how you can use utilities to uncompress (or compress) files. Check out the Orders section of the PSR Tutorial where we have many different Style Collections that you can immediately download. You can also order the collection along with a USB drive and the styles are copied to the USB and mailed to you, uncompressed and ready to use on your keyboard.

If you need help in understanding and playing the chords indicated by the symbols you see on your sheet music, you will be pleased to know we have a 39-week course on "The Secrets of Chords and Chord Progressions" right on this site. You'll find this course in the Chords subsection of Music.

As you become more and more familiar with your keyboard, you'll find that you have an almost unlimited number of options in how you set up your keyboard to play a song. Many users may want to fine tune the keyboard settings until they get everything just the way they want for a particular song. For these players, learning how to save these settings so that they are remembered and instantly available the next time they want to play that song is crucial. Saving your settings in Registration files acomplishes this. The subsection on "Playing" provides lessons on how to set up aspects of your keyboard and save your settings.

Before you continue reading lessons to learn about your keyboard, you may want to take a break and sit back and simply watch some people demonstrate your keyboard, or newer keyboards if you are thinking of upgrading. If you take a look in the Styles section, there is a page under the Yamaha tab for all the different Yamaha keyboards, one of which is likely to be yours. There you will find not only additional styles for your keyboard, but you will also find links to several YouTube videos demonstrating the many features and sounds of your keyboard.


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This page updated on February 15, 2024 .