Magazine February.qxd - The Yamaha Club Magazine


Magazine February.qxd - The Yamaha Club Magazine
keyboard workshop
By Jackie Marsden Bmus(Hons) FLCM LGSM
Jackie is the wife of Yamaha’s technical guru Steve Marsden. She is
also, however, a highly qualified teacher with a wide experience of
Yamaha organs, keyboards and Clavinovas... Here they combine their talents to show you,
in a series of six articles, how to play professional chords the ‘Yamaha way”.
When Steve returned from the Yamaha Club weekend
last October he mentioned that several people had
asked for help in using the “AI” (it stands for Artificial
Intelligence...) accompaniment fingering mode found in
TYROS and other recent keyboards and Clavinovas.
Of course all this comes easily to Steve and the other
Yamaha demonstrators, as they have been involved in
the development of these products and learned to use
new innovations like this from the start.
I’ve played organ (in fact some club members may
remember me from the days when I played concerts
on the ‘organ club circuit’), and I’ve taught both organ
and piano - but it’s been a long time since I really got
to grips with an electronic keyboard. So... I was
naturally interested when Steve showed me how AI
worked, and suggested that he should teach me the
method too, the deal being that I would then put this
into words that a new-comer would understand.
What is AI?
Basically AI gives a player the freedom to produce
more sophisticated (and musical) harmonies from the
automatic accompaniment chords they play. When, for
example, you play a C chord on a standard electronic
keyboard it will normally generate a basic ‘C’ bass note
too. You may, however, want it to produce an E or G
bass instead. Organ players will understand what I’m
talking about immediately because they can dictate the
bass note by pressing the appropriate foot-pedal. With
Yamaha’s AI mode a keyboard player can influence the
bass note of each chord by the way he (or she) shape
each chord he plays - without the need for foot-pedals.
chord you want to hear are played (in any order or
inversion) in the keyboard’s accompaniment section,
the instrument will generate the chord.
Most keyboard teaching systems advise that the chord
of C major is taught with G at the bottom then C and E
above so, I’ll assume that’s how you’re playing it.
fig. 1
C major
Using the correct fingering is always important, and is
even more so when using AI - or your fingers will end
up in the kinds of knots even a sailor won’t recognise!
Yamaha’s AI system won't work with the single finger
method of playing and the reasons for this will become
apparent later on in the series when I give you some
examples of how to make AI work for you.
Setting up the Keyboard
Chord Basics
Every chord is made up of a minimum of 3 notes. The
chord of C major, for example, contains the notes C, E,
and G, whilst a G major chord is comprised of the
notes G, B and D. When the three notes that form the
fig. 2 Select AI FINGERED from the display
To check if your keyboard supports the AI mode, and to
enable you to use it if it does...
Switch the keyboard on.
ii) Press the [Direct Access] button.
“Hey! F# doesn't go with a C chord” and assumes that you’re
trying to play an F# chord of some description. Because the
keyboard works as fast as a computer, it will probably have
worked out what you’ve played before you do!
Lets try an F major chord. Play the F chord in the usual
position with finger 4 on A, 2 on C and 1 on F. (fig. 4)
iii) Press [ACMP] (accompaniment) button.
iv) Select AI FINGERED from the display (using the buttons 1
or 2 below the screen to scroll through the Fingering Type
list - see fig. 2)
fig. 4
v) Press the [Exit] button until the main screen appears.
vi) Press the [ACMP] button again until it is illuminated and
vii) Now... we're ready to play!
F major
Re-strike the chord, with finger 1 on F and finger 2 on C
(omitting finger 4 - A). The chord display will confirm that you
are playing F/C (F chord on C bass). Easy!
A simple start
Select [Synchro Start] and play the C major chord (fig. 1) It
doesn't matter how long you hold this chord down for as
we’re only doing this for practice. Whilst holding down the C
chord, look at the MAIN display in the screen to locate the
area where the chord name is shown. The keyboard will show
the name of each chord you play - as you play it.
You might like to take this opportunity to check your fingering
at this point too, remembering that your thumb is finger
number 1. You should have finger 5 on G, finger 2 on C and
finger 1 on E (fig. 1).
Re-strike the chord but this time only play finger 5 on G and
finger 2 on C (giving finger 1 a rest). Take a look in the chord
display and, if all has gone to plan, it should now show C/G
(C chord on G bass) instead of just C. You should also be
able to hear a change in the bass line.
Note: Some keyboards display C/G whilst others show C/g...
but this is purely cosmetic.
Now re-strike the chord again - this time with finger 1 still on F
but with finger 4 on A (resting finger 2). Now the chord
display shows that you are playing F/A (F chord on A bass).
Now for something a little more tricky! Play a G major chord
in the usual position with finger 5 on G, finger 3 on B and
finger 1 on D (fig. 5)
fig. 5
G major
To play G/D (G chord on D bass you must play G at the top
and D below. To do this you’ll need to move your hand from its
basic position and down the keyboard... so that finger 2 is now
on G and finger 4/5 has moved down to play D (fig. 6).
Now... keeping finger 2 on C move finger 5 down to E and restrike both notes (fig. 3). You are now playing C/E (C chord
on E bass) - wow! You'll soon be sounding just as good as
the Yamaha team!
fig. 6
fig. 3
As you’ll have noticed, we’ve kept C as the top note
throughout - only moving the notes below. By doing this, the
keyboard understands that you want it to generate a C chord
but that you wish to choose the bass note yourself. The
keyboard’s “intelligence” understands which bass notes will
work correctly with each chord so... if you try to play C (at
the top) and put F# at the bottom the keyboard thinks to itself
Check the chord display again and you will see it shows G/D.
Well done! That's as far as we will go for this session as I
want you to have time to practice moving your hand down until you can do this without looking.
Practice what we’ve covered... and maybe you can try to
adapt the method to some simple tunes.
In part two we’ll apply AI fingering to some tunes I’ve already
tried... before moving onto something a little more
keyboard workshop
By Jackie Marsden Bmus(Hons) FLCM LGSM
Your response to the first installment of “So, you want to play...” took
Jackie Marsden straight to the top of our monthly readers’ poll.
Jackie is the wife of Yamaha’s technical guru Steve Marsden and a highly qualified teacher
with a wide experience of Yamaha organs, keyboards and Clavinovas...
Part 2:
Hello again. I hope my last article made sense and that you’ve been able to apply some of the basics we covered
to tunes you already play. I’ve heard through the grapevine that a lot of you enjoyed part 1 and are keen to learn
more. One thing I should emphasise is that ‘AI’ is more than just another feature on your keyboard ; it involves a
whole new playing technique - and does need practice. With this in mind, lets move straight on with an exercise
based on a simple little tune you’ll all know... Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
I can just imagine you all groaning... “not that tune again, give me something more adventurous!” I have my
reasons for using Twinkle Twinkle (which, to be honest, no one really plays after their second lesson). The tune is
easy, the chords are easy... but, using “AI” we can make it more interesting, just altering the bass line..
So off we go...
The theory...
Organ players will already know that chords aren’t necessarily played with root note in the bass (e.g. a C chord
played on a C bass). The C major chord can be played with either C, E or G in the bass but, hold on a minute...
aren’t those the very three notes that make up a C major chord? Indeed they are, so it follows that a G major
chord could be played with either G, B or D in the bass. And the chord of F major - yes, I bet you’re all one step
ahead of me by now... can be played with either an F, A or C bass note.
Bear in mind however that the bass line shouldn't jump around just for the sake of it. It should be in keeping with
the style of the piece.
The performance...
Rather than attempt to play the tune and chords all at once I’d like you to practise the chords on their own first so that, when you do fit everything together, it comes naturally and you don't have to think too hard about the
individual parts.
1) Chord name: C (major)
Select an accompaniment style,
play this chord of C major - and
start the rhythm. You’ll hear the
normal (root bass) C major chord.
APRIL / MAY 2005
2) Chord name: C/G
Don’t stop the rhythm - but retrigger the chord playing just the
notes C (the key note) and the G
below (setting the bass note to G).
3) Chord name: C/E
Now re-trigger the chord again, this
time playing the notes C (the key
note) and the E below (setting the
bass note to E)
Now let’s do the same thing with the chords of Fmajor and G major... (keynote is red)
4) Chord name: F (major)
Play a new chord. By playing
the three notes that make up
the chord of F major you tell
the keyboard that a new
chord is required.
5) Chord name: F/C
Re-trigger the chord as
before, this time playing the
notes F (the key note of F
major) and the C below
(setting the bass note to C)
6) Chord name: G (major)
Here’s another new chord.
As before the three notes
that make up the chord of G
major tell the keyboard that
a new chord is required.
7) Chord name: G/D
Re-trigger the chord, playing
the notes G (the key note of
G major) and the D below
(setting the bass note to D)
Twinkle, Twinkle - AI Chord Exercise
Now lets try the chord progression in sequence. Select an accompaniment style such as Chart Ballad (or 8beat) at 68bpm and
play (chords only) from the music above.
When you’re happy that you can play the chords on automatic pilot begin to introduce the tune. Again, don't worry if it all falls
apart to begin with. You will master it with a little perseverance.
Once you’ve conquered Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, try some other simple tunes such as Ode to Joy, Merrily We Roll Along and
White Rose of Athens. The art to using AI is not just to play the tunes but to arrange them. Of course it will entail an element of
trial and error as you experiment with the substitute chords but don’t be put
off - this is how all the top players find out what works and what doesn't.
Trust me, I've heard Steve practicing!
If you’d like to email me with any tunes you’ve arranged before the next
edition of the magazine, send them to [email protected]
Careful though... I may even pinch some of your ideas!
A MIDI file containing my performance is available from the Club website
for those with Internet access. Download it to a floppy disk and use it in
your keyboard to view and play the music score. If your instrument
supports the SCORE facility - look for a button marked ‘score’ - you’ll be
able to display the music on the screen as in the illustration (right).
Go to: Members Only - Download: Demos
APRIL / MAY 2005
keyboard workshop
By Jackie Marsden Bmus(Hons) FLCM LGSM
Jackie Marsden, wife of Yamaha’s technical guru Steve, is a highly
qualified teacher with a wide experience of Yamaha organs,
keyboards and Clavinovas. We join them on their journey of
discovery for part three... in which Steve shows Jackie how
Yamaha’s AI chord system works.
Part 3
I hope that you’re all getting along okay with this new way of playing chords. Until now, we’ve been playing
chords using alternative bass notes taken from the notes of the chord itself. But what about other, more
adventurous bass lines? Steve often uses the well known descending bass line to Bach’s ‘Air On A G String’ (or
Procol Harum's ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’) to demonstrate the AI fingering system. The chord sequence for both
these tunes is very similar and there is a small demonstration MIDI file on the website.
1) Chord name: C (major)
Select an accompaniment style,
play this chord of C major - and
start the rhythm. You’ll hear the
normal (root bass) C major chord.
Play the note A (the new key note)
with finger 4 and add the G below
(setting the bass note to G) with
your little finger.
Play the notes C (the key note) with
B below (setting the bass note to B).
7) Chord name: G
Play the three note chord of G major in
root position. This sets a new chord
in which the note G is the key note.
JUNE / JULY 2005
5) Chord name: F
Play the three note chord of F major
in root position. This sets a new chord
in which the note F is the key note.
2) Chord name: C/B
4) Chord name: Am/G
8) Chord name: G7/F
Play the note G (the new key note)
with finger 4 and add the F below
(setting the bass note to F) with
your little finger.
3) Chord name: Am
Play the three note chord of Am as
normal in root position. This sets a
new chord in which the note A is
the key note.
6) Chord name: D/F#
This is something new...
The keyboard will recognise that
you have played only two notes. D
is at the top - instructing the
keyboard to play a D? chord. But
should it be a D major or a D minor
Normally you would need to play a
three note chord to give a clear
indication of the chord type but, as
the lower note in this instance is F#
(which forms part of the D major
triad), the keyboard’s ‘brain’ will
understand that you are calling for a
D major chord on an F# bass.
Clever stuff!
Once you feel comfortable with the chord sequence, try adding the melody. The first four bars of Bach’s “Air” are given below
together with the chord symbols...
Air - by Bach
AI Chord Exercise
If you completed that exercise successfully, try to use the same formula to add extra AI bass notes to a different tune...
What’s coming next?
Steve has asked me to practise this chord. I don’t know
why - and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to stretch my hand
so far - but he said I will need it for the next installment of
“Professional Chords.
Editor’s note...
As Jackie says, Steve does have large hands - in fact
they’re like shovels! If you can play that - good luck to you,
because, like Jackie, I only have small hands and, although
I can reach the notes if I really stretch, I could never
manage to play the chord cleanly in performance.
For readers who are also ‘digitally challenged’ may I
suggest an alternative fingering where the little finger plays
the two lowest notes of the chord. It’s still not easy, but it
can be achieved with practice.
Good luck... Don't strain your hand though because we
want you back in full working order for the next installment.
Glyn Madden
Take a look at the picture and try and copy what Steve’s
hand is doing. I only have a small hand so it is quite a
stretch, but I am determined to be able to play it without
--- 5 ---
A MIDI file containing a performance of these examples is
available from the Club website.
5 4
Go to: Members Only - Download: Demos
JUNE / JULY 2005
keyboard workshop
By Jackie Marsden Bmus(Hons) FLCM LGSM
Jackie Marsden, wife of Yamaha’s technical guru Steve, presents
part four of her series which explores how Yamaha’s Ai chord
system works.
Part 4
Hello again... How did you get on with the chord I left you with at the end of part 3? I did manage to play it with
the fingering that Steve told me to use, but it was a stretch. For this issue Steve’s composed a simple tune called
‘Chill Ai’ to demonstrate how you can use Ai* to force a bass note to hold.
Let me explain... You might, for instance, want to play a C chord followed by a Bb chord, but require the bass to
stay on the note ‘C’. It can be done - but it does help if you have hands the size of Steve's.
Before we go any further, some members have asked why they get a slightly different chord name on the display to
what they were expecting? This is normal, and you’ll see this happen if you follow this exercise. The keyboard looks
at all the notes being played (including the ones for the bass) and decides the chord name based on this information.
Chill Ai
First we have 3 chords to learn. Try to use the same fingers as illustrated.
1) Chord name: C (major)
You will notice that each of these
chords have four notes. The (red)
Notes on the outside are doubled
up (in this case ‘C’). This is how
you tell the Ai system which note
you want it to designate as the bass
note of the chord.
2) Chord name: F / C
Try playing the three chords in
order - for 2 bars each.
/ / / |C
/// |
/ / / | F/c
/// |
3) Chord name: Bb / C
When you play Bb/c, you may
notice that the instrument’s chord
display shows Bb9/c.
This is normal as you would add a
‘C’ above the Bb to make a Bb9
chord, but because there are two
‘C' s - one at either end of the
chord, Ai can tell that these are the
intended bass notes.
Bb/c / / / | Bb/c / / / :|| repeat
* We’ve changed AI (Artificial Intelligence) to Ai because, due to our print style, readers are mistakenly reading it as A1.
Now, let's take a look at the tune. You will see that it’is quite easy to play, especially if you play just the top notes - but it gets a
little harder when you try both notes together. Try the melody first - but watch the timing. I found a great way to learn this was
to use the backing / demo file that Steve has made. He chose the "Chillout" style - hence the title - available on all CVP300
series Clavinovas, PSR3000 and in the TYROS premium pack Chillout style.
Chill Ai
Style / Rhythm: Chillout
Tempo = 88 beats per minute
Ai Chord Exercise
composed by Steve Marsden
Well, that’s all for now. Steve and I would love to hear how well (or otherwise) you’re getting on with Ai. So... why not send us
a copy of your performance of “Chill Ai”? Then we can evaluate how well you’re doing and, perhaps, recognise the areas
where more help is needed.
You can email the song files you create to [email protected]
Or... send your performance on a floppy disk to: Steve Marsden, Yamaha Kemble Music UK Ltd., Sherbourne Drive, Tilbrook,
Milton Keynes, MK7 8BL
You could even include some other songs that you have
experimented with using Ai.
A MIDI file containing a performance of “Chill Ai” is available
to download from the Club website.
Good luck!
Go to: Members Only - Download: Demos
keyboard workshop
By Jackie Marsden Bmus(Hons) FLCM LGSM
Jackie Marsden, wife of Yamaha’s technical guru Steve, continues to
explore Yamaha’s Ai chord system.
Part 5
In part five I’m going to ask you to combine all the things we’ve learned so far in a modern, fun version of the
Christmas carol ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’. I’d better warn you now... you will need to practice. Steve’s
really made me work this month! It will help if you can download his MIDI file from the Yamaha Club website (see
bottom of opposite page for details). Personally I found this invaluable as I was able to hear all the chord
changes as he plays them - and get a real feel for the arrangement.
The arrangement is in the key of D minor, so there’s only one flat to worry about. I’m sure you’ll have played all
the chords before but I’ve included a few charts below to help. The hardest thing is to get the chords flowing
smoothly so that the 'joins' can’t be heard... but I’m sure you’ll soon master this. In Steve’s lovely chord
sequence the most important thing to remember is to hold down the notes on the ‘outsides’ (shown in red) of the
chord - so you only have to move your fingers to change the middle notes. Confused? Look at the diagram
below and all will be revealed.
5 4
Other chords to look out for are Dm/C, Gm/D, A/C#, F/C and F/E. They all follow the principles outlined in
previous lessons. For example to make the chord F/E you play F with finger 1 (thumb) and E with finger 2,
making sure the bass note is always below the chord note.
As you know - if you’ve been following the series - the keyboard’s computer mind will try to work out what key
you’re playing in and will anticipate the chord progressions you make accordingly. Sometimes, however, this is
not what we want - so we have to ‘force’ the chords to follow the pattern we want.
The chord Gm/D (left) provides an example of this practice. The chord before
it in this arrangement is A/C# - so the keyboard might expect you to play
G/D. as we want Gm/D we have to tell the keyboard exactly what to play rather than let it work it out for itself. Let’s face it, your keyboard is only a
machine - not a mind reader. Now... if a woman had programmed it we
wouldn't have this problem!
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Style / Rhythm: J-Pop Hit 2 (Japanese Pop Hit)
Tempo = 81 beats per minute
arranged by Steve Marsden
Steve told me that, at the Yamaha Club Weekend at Alvaston Hall, he found that the hardest thing to explain
was how to set about creating your own arrangements using the Ai fingering mode... so in part six I’ll be
looking into this in more detail. Until then, don’t be afraid to experiment with all those lovely Christmas carols
and tunes you’ll be entertaining friends and family with this Christmas.. If it all goes wrong... so what?! The
lessons we learn from our mistakes are just as valuable as those we learn from our successes.
Good luck with “God Rest Ye...” the Gentlemen. See you next year.
MIDI File Download - Download Steve Marsden’s MIDI file demonstration from: Members Only - Download Demos
keyboard workshop
By Jackie Marsden Bmus(Hons) FLCM LGSM
Jackie Marsden, wife of Yamaha’s technical guru Steve, concludes
her exploration of Yamaha’s Ai chord system.
Part 6
Hello... I hope you’ve found my series on creating
professional chords with the Yamaha keyboard both
informative and helpful. Several members have
contacted Steve via technical support about the
feature and, although it takes a bit of getting used to,
I’m glad to be able to report that most of you seem to
be having a fair measure of success with the system.
God Rest Ye Merry - video download
One player in particular who has made an excellent
job of mastering the Ai mode is Yamaha Club’s most
recent contributor, James Woodcock. James has
made a video, available to those of you with Internet
access, showing him in action playing the
arrangement of ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ we
published in the last edition of the Yamaha Club
Magazine. To view James’s performance go to
topic,1236.0.html (or, as this is a bit of a long-winded
address, you can simply follow the link direct from
Yamaha Club’s “What’s New For February...” page).
If you view the video you’ll see that James has altered
one of the chords in the arrangement from A/C# to
Ddim. This is interesting because it shows how you
can take a written piece of music and alter it to your
own taste. You can do this too. You might change
one (or more) of the chords... or maybe substitute
different notes... or alter the timing... but where do
you begin once you’re on your own?
Setting out on your own
During the past year we’ve given you some examples
of how to play chords with alternative bass notes.
Experiment with others. The key to this is not to be
afraid to try different things.
If you don’t know how to play a certain chord in Ai
mode don’t worry, Steve is only a phone call away
(and James Woodcock will probably be able to help
too via the website). If you have a good ear you’ll
probably be able to hear when a chord works with a
melody line (and when it doesn’t) and you shouldn’t
be afraid to explore as many alternatives as possible.
Just because the music score indicates that a ‘C’
chord is the correct one doesn’t necessarily mean
that other, more adventurous, chords are wrong.
Experiment with new bass lines too - but, as with all
instrumental voices, you should try to imagine what a
real bass player would do. Of course, this isn’t easy if
you don’t actually play the instrument concerned, but
you can learn an awful lot by listening to CDs and
watching musicians on the telly.
Record your performance...
One of the best ways to appraise a performance is to sit
back and listen to it from a distance. Today’s electronic
keyboards are ideally suited to this purpose as nearly all
have built in recorders - and Tyros2 even has an audio
recorder as part of its specification - so you can record your
playing and then be your own best critic from an arm-chair
at the other side of the room.
And if you don’t like what you hear? Go back to the drawing
board and try again using other chords and/or bass lines.
Back in April last year I set a little exercise based on the
tune “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’. I’d like you to revisit the
piece and, using the knowledge you’ve gained during the
course of this series, build a little Ai arrangement for yourself.
The basic arrangement (opposite) uses just three chords C,
F and G7 but this, as you now know, is just the foundation
for a more complex (and more interesting) arrangement.
Play the tune as written...
Take it note by note - following the score exactly. If you
play each chord in its root position you’ll find that you
have to move your hand around more than usual - but,
in Ai mode, you’ll hear the standard bass line.
Build on the theme...
You could try adding passing notes to the melody (as in
bar 8). have you ever considered how similar ‘Twinkle’
is to that other well known nursery rhyme ‘Bah Bah
Black Sheep’? The tune is very similar - but not quite
the same. You could combine the two for some
interesting variations.
There must be a Celtic breeze blowing towards Dronfield at
the moment because, with St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th
2006) still some way off, we’ve already begun to receive
quite a few requests for Irish karaoke MIDI files.
Irish Singers Vol.1
Catalogue ref: SSP35 (Price: £15.99 inc p/p from Yamaha Club)
Forty Shades Of Green*
I Will Love You All My Life*
Green Fields Of Ireland*
Galway Bay*
Dublin In The Rare Old Days*
Home In County Galway*
Fields Of Athenry*
Irish Singers Vol.2
Catalogue ref: SSP36 (Price: £15.99 inc p/p from Yamaha Club)
Dirty Old Town
Use your Ai skills to force new bass lines - based first
on the written chords, then on substitute chords. You
can experiment with this for as long as you like - and it
may be an idea to revisit the arrangement we began
with in part 2.
My Lovely Rose Of Claire
Good luck with it all and goodbye for now
Jackie (and Steve)
* Harmony
Mary With The Golden Hair*
If you have a reasonable grasp of harmony you may
like to pad out the right hand with some chord notes
here too. (and if not, it’ll be worth following the new
series by Terry Harriman that begins on the next page).
When you get bored with ‘Twinkle’ (how could that happen..!),
try the same exercise using some other simple tunes such as
Merrily We Roll Along,
Ode to Joy etc. These
Steve Marsden
tunes are ideal because,
in their simplest form,
they are really easy to
play - but each can be
built into an advanced
arrangement using Ai
(and a little bit of
karaoke midi files
Twinkle Twinkle - Reprise
It's Good To See You
Home To Donegal
Isle Of Inishfree
Limerick You're A Lady
Galway Shawl
Pretty Little Girl From Omagh
And here’s a new release in the Simply Sound
Famous Artist Series - for those who aren’t Irish...
NEW Pam Tillis
Catalogue ref: SSP37 (Price: £15.99 inc p/p from Yamaha Club)
When You Walk In The Room
Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)
Spilled Perfume
Calico Plains
In Between Dances
Sweethearts’ Dance
I Was Blown Away
They Don't Break ‘Em Like They Used To

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