Yamaha Style Previewer

Coordinating Yamaha styles with your performances is one of the key functions of KBD-Infinity. There is a seemingly infinite set of style files in all genres that you can download from the Internet. Choices range from creations by individual musicians to complete style sets from almost every Yamaha keyboard manufactured. Converted styles for Tyros, Korg and Roland keyboards are also available. There are major obstacles to supporting styles in a software program. In contrast to MIDI files (with an open and documented format), the structure of style files is controlled largely by the manufacturers. As a result, the format is convoluted, and little documentation exists.

As with other functions in KBD-Infinity, we created a series of test programs to resolve the technical issues of style files. Given an overview of required techniques, we could then proceed with integration into the complete KBD-Infinity package. We combined the test programs into the standalone style previewer shown in Fig. 1. This program can read all valid Yamaha style files, both the SFF1 and newer SFF2 formats. In this article, I’ll describe some of the features.

Screenshot of the Previewer for Yamaha styles

Figure 1. Screenshot of the Previewer for Yamaha styles.

We’ll start from the top left of the figure and work down. As with all our programs, you can send output to any connected MIDI device. The first step is to load a style file. The Open dialog shows files with the extensions STY, BCS, PRS SST or PCS. After loading, Style Preview list the the following general information:

  • The style type (SFF1 or SFF2)
  • The base tempo (in quarter notes/minute). This is the tempo of the Main sections. Tempo changes such as a ritardando may occur in Endings.
  • The time signature.

Other information applies to the currently-active style section (e.g., Main A, Fill In BB,…). Note that Style Preview can deal with all sections and style files of any length (some Yamaha keyboards are limited to only A and B type sections and file lengths less than 50 kB).

By default, when a file is loaded the active section is Main A. The buttons on the bottom left are used to change to other sections. Style files need not include contain all allowed sections. The active buttons (Fig. 1) show which sections are included in the style. As you switch between sections, the program shows the number of measures and also gives detailed information on the included MIDI channels in the box on the right. The listing shows the source channel for the information on each instrument and the destination channel. The MIDI messages in the style file may be directed to any source channel, but the software must redirect it to one of the standard style channels (&h08 – $h0F). The Name column gives the name of the instrument assigned by the style creator. These names are not standardized. The chord column gives the base key and chord type. Sometimes style creators include extra channels specific to a chord like Cmin. This information is not used in KBD-Infinity — the program introduces its own note shifts in the basic CMaj7 chord to generate minor and diminished chords with different bases. Style Preview automatically decides which channels should be included for the CMaj7 standard. The choice is shown by the On column. Check or uncheck the boxes to experiment with different channel combinations. Click Reset to restore the program choice.

The controls on the lower-right are used to play the style. In the default mode, the program plays the measures of the active section once. The Beat control shows a beat count. Playing proceeds through all measures of the section unless you press the Stop button. Activate the Context control to hear how the sections would sound in typical operation.

  • Main type sections play continuously. Use the Stop button to end the sequence.
  • For Intro type sections, the program plays the introduction followed by one instance of the corresponding Main section.
  • For Ending type sections, the program plays one instance of the corresponding Main section followed by the ending.
  • For Fill type sections, the program plays one instance of the leading Main section, the Fill section and then one instance of the trailing Main section.

In addition to the functions of Style Preview, the Style Organizer section of KBD-Infinity will include a full-functioned two-window file manager. The idea is that 100,000 styles are not useful if you can’t find the right one for a song. The goal of the Style Organizer is to help you keep your style collection under control.

Footnotes

[1] This site has no affiliation with the Yamaha Corporation.

[2] Find out more about KBD-Infinity: Home page.

[3] If you have comments, please contact us at info@kbd-infinity.com.

 

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