beginner's question about how to accompany

Yamaha PSR/PSS & DGX Home Keyboards. If your particular model PSR/PSS/DGX keyboard doesn't have it's own section here is the place to post.

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newbiewqs
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beginner's question about how to accompany

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(Moderators - Please feel free to repost to the right forum. ) In piano tutorials, when teaching accompaniment, we are taught to play the chords with right hand while adding the "groove" with the left. With electronic keyboard, however, if we want to use auto accompany maybe together with a style, that would mean the chords are played by left hand in the auto accompany section. And if we want to add groove, we'd use right hand, correct? Or, is it assumed that the "groove" is already added in by the selected style? In any case, are we supposed to do what the piano tutorials teach the left hand do with right hand?

Hope the questions are clear enough. :) Thanks in advance for your input!



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Re: beginner's question about how to accompany

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Well, I am convinced that this forum is dying if not dead already. Hiding not just from this topic but for all the recent ones. It’s a shame. I always find online forums particularly helpful especially to new users, whether it’s a new car, a new pet, a new job.. you name it. If anyone is still reading his forum, can you point me to a keyboard forum that’s actually alive? Thank you

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Re: beginner's question about how to accompany

Unread post by SeaGtGruff »

I can speak only for myself when I say that life has been rather busy and distracting lately.

Personally, I don't know that there's a "correct" or "best" way to play accompaniment on a keyboard. I suspect that the general recommendation to play chords with the right hand and a bass line with the left hand is meant to imitate a rhythm guitar playing chords (right hand) and a bass guitar playing a bass line (left hand).

But even though a keyboard can be used for playing parts that would normally be played by a guitar and bass, it's an instrument in its own right, and there are no definitive rules about how it should be played.

My own inclination when playing a song is to play the lead lines with my right hand and chords with my left hand, but that's mainly because I haven't developed my left-hand playing skills very well, so my right hand does as much of the "heavy lifting" as possible while my left hand tries to lend a bit of "support" as it can. It's also because I don't sing the song's lyrics while I'm playing, so my right hand is essentially filling the part that should be filled by the singer.

As for using a keyboard's auto accompaniment feature, historically speaking the way this feature has been implemented is by allowing the user to split the keyboard into two zones-- a left-hand zone and a right-hand zone-- with the chord progressions of the auto accompaniment being controlled by the left-hand zone. I don't know if that's because most people tend to be right-handed, but it seems like the most likely reason.

Today, several models of "arrangers"-- that is, keyboards which include an auto accompaniment feature-- have a mode that lets the user play the keyboard part using both hands on the full width of the keyboard, as opposed to splitting up the keyboard into a left-hand zone for the auto accompaniment and a right-hand zone for the keyboard part. The keyboard analyzes the notes being played to determine what it thinks is the most appropriate chord to use at any given moment-- which of course is also what it does when using the split mode, although I imagine that the artificial intelligence as it were must be a bit more sophisticated for "full keyboard" mode.

As for the part of your question that deals with styles (as Yamaha calls its auto accompaniments), I should probably preface my remarks with a disclaimer that I don't generally use styles myself, so my experience in that whole arena is rather limited, and my knowledge and opinions might not jive with what someone who uses styles extensively might tell you.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that there are basically two types of styles: (1) genre styles which are of a more generic nature, intended to be useful for playing any number of songs within a particular musical genre; and (2) styles which are much more song-specific, where the Intro and Ending, and perhaps even the Main loops and Fill-Ins, are easily recognizable as being taken from-- or, if the manufacturer hasn't licensed the music, "inspired by"-- a very specific popular song.

In both cases, the style is usually meant to provide a supportive accompaniment while the performer does most of the heavy lifting or lead parts. For many styles, be they "genre" styles or "song" styles, this may or may not mean that the bass line will be programmed into the style itself rather than supplied by the performer. Furthermore, keyboardists who make heavy use of styles tend to purchase arrangers that have style-creating and style-editing features, which allow them to design their own styles and heavily customize pre-existing styles. Less-expensive arrangers might not have those features, but they may (or may not) have a feature that lets the user toggle the individual parts of a style on and off as desired-- that is, the drums and percussion rhythms, the bass lines, the rhythmic chords, the sustained chords or pads, and so on.

Consequently, what seems like a simple question about whether or not the "groove" or bass line is going to be supplied by the style or played manually by the performer doesn't have a simple cut-and-dried answer, since the style being used may or may not include a suitable bass part for a given song.

Most arrangers, and many keyboards in general, allow the user to set up, save, and recall multiple "registrations" or keyboard setups-- called "performances" on some types of keyboards-- and if your keyboard model has that capability then you might want to set up multiple registrations for any given song. I have no experience with the PSR-S, PSR-SX, Tyros, or Genos lines of Yamaha arrangers, so I'll use the more limited capabilities of the specific PSR-E models I'm familiar with (PSR-EW400, PSR-E443, and so on) as an example.

The PSR-EW400 lets me set up and save a registration that selects a specific style, style variation (that is, "A" or "B"), overall style volume, style tempo, toggle the individual style parts on or off, set the split point for the style, select the main voice for the right-hand part, toggle the dual part (or secondary layer) for the right hand on or off and select which voice to use for the dual part, set the volumes and octave-shift offsets for both the main and dual voices, as well as other parameters for the voices (such as their reverb and chorus depths).

What this means is I can set up the keyboard with multiple registrations for a given song, and begin by recalling the first registration and hitting "play" to start the style, then begin playing the right-hand part as desired while controlling the chord progressions with the left hand. If there's a second portion to the song where I want to switch to a different right-hand voice, I would simply press whichever button recalls that registration. And if there's another portion to the song where I want to let the rhythmic parts of the accompaniment play in a loop while I supply a bass groove, I would press whichever button recalls a registration where I've selected a suitable bass voice, toggled off any parts of the style that I don't want to use (such as the bass line supplied by the style), shifted the octave offset for the right-hand voice(s) so the keys of the right-hand zone play lower notes, maybe even move the split point up or down in order to temporarily decrease or increase the width of the left-hand zone, thereby increasing or decreasing the width of the right-hand zone as needed. Then, when I'm finished playing the treble solos and bass solos, and am ready to go back to the original voicings and accompaniment loops, I can press whichever button recalls the registration for that setup.

With the PSR-EW400 and similar models, another alternative to using styles is to record a multi-track "User Song" that will supply the accompaniment. For instance, I can select a style and record myself controlling that style's chord progressions and section changes on "Track A" (which stands for "auto accompaniment"). Or I can toggle off all of the style parts except for the drums and other percussion, and record just the rhythm on Track A. Or I can even select a drum kit voice and record my own drum rhythms and percussion on one of the "melody" tracks-- say, on Track 5.

Then I can record myself playing the primary accompaniment part on Track 1-- say, a rhythm guitar part, or an acoustic piano part that's mostly just chord progressions, or something like that. I can record the main bass part on Track 2, and record other accompaniment parts on the other tracks.

After I'm finished putting together my own "accompaniment" in this way with a User Song, I can start playback of the User Song and play along on the keyboard, playing all of the "lead" parts myself.

Anyway, your question is actually a lot deeper than it might at first seem on the surface, so there's no definitive or "right" answer to it.
Michael Rideout
Current keyboards: Yamaha YPT-400, PSR-E433, PSR-E443, PSR-EW400, MX49 BK
Current controllers: M-Audio Axiom 61-II
Previous keyboards: Farfisa Matador 611; Casio CTK-710

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Re: beginner's question about how to accompany

Unread post by parametric »

THAT is a very excellent overview (as always) Mike . . . . .

I'd been wondering what to put, but honestly, I have no idea . . . .

Having learned Piano the traditional way - I just play what is required for the situation . . . .

My left hand takes care of the Bass - which can include passing-notes, while the Right hand deals with the Harmony (chords)

AND the Melody. BOTH hands will contribute to the rhythmic aspect as well . . . .

I've never found auto-accompaniment that satisfying - as it's usually too robotic to be convincing for me . . .

I think it's on my MOXF6 - but I leave it turned off. Unfortunately a lot of the Presets include it :roll: But it's not for me . . . . :wink:

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Re: beginner's question about how to accompany

Unread post by SeaGtGruff »

parametric wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:54 am
I've never found auto-accompaniment that satisfying - as it's usually too robotic to be convincing for me . . .
As I see it, that's the advantage of creating your own accompaniment by recording your own multi-track song using the built-in song sequencer, minus the parts you'll be playing live of course. That lets you vary the tempo and rhythm of the accompaniment in a much more natural or "humanized" way (read: "imperfect" :oops:).

But the downside is that it also takes more time and effort to create your own accompaniments that way.
Michael Rideout
Current keyboards: Yamaha YPT-400, PSR-E433, PSR-E443, PSR-EW400, MX49 BK
Current controllers: M-Audio Axiom 61-II
Previous keyboards: Farfisa Matador 611; Casio CTK-710

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Re: beginner's question about how to accompany

Unread post by newbiewqs »

SeaGtGruff wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:34 am
parametric wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:54 am
I've never found auto-accompaniment that satisfying - as it's usually too robotic to be convincing for me . . .
As I see it, that's the advantage of creating your own accompaniment by recording your own multi-track song using the built-in song sequencer, minus the parts you'll be playing live of course. That lets you vary the tempo and rhythm of the accompaniment in a much more natural or "humanized" way (read: "imperfect" :oops:).

But the downside is that it also takes more time and effort to create your own accompaniments that way.
From what I've learned so far, it seems to me what some of the piano tutorials are teaching is essentially to build your accompany methodologically, through a series of patterns by right hand chords and left hand grooves. The keyboard's style (a pattern that can apply to multiple songs) or a midi file (specific to the song you are playing) can function as what a pianist is taught to build for accompany. In a way, this accompaniment is already sufficient for a strong singer to sing along although the background may sound monotonous or even boring. The right hand therefore can help lighten up the song by playing some chord/song notes or a small phrase here and there. I hope I'm on the right track? If so, the rest for me will be listen more and practice more, a lot more!

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Re: beginner's question about how to accompany

Unread post by SeaGtGruff »

You're right that a style or auto accompaniment might be sufficient to supply most, if not all, of the accompaniment for a skilled vocalist.

Genre styles are usually too generalized to supply the dominant licks and grooves which help make a song instantly recognizable from just a few notes, in which case the keyboardist can play those with the right hand while controlling the style's chord progressions and section changes with the left hand.*

On the other hand, song styles might include a lot of those recognizable licks and grooves as well, but even so it's normal for them to omit the ones which the keyboardist will most likely wish to play themself with the right hand.

*Note that most arranger keyboards are designed to continue playing the auto accompaniment even if the left hand is lifted from the keys after selecting which key and chord type to use for the auto accompaniment. Thus, it might be possible to select the desired key and chord type, then use the left hand in addition to the right hand for playing the parts of the song which the keyboardist is expected to contribute themself.
Michael Rideout
Current keyboards: Yamaha YPT-400, PSR-E433, PSR-E443, PSR-EW400, MX49 BK
Current controllers: M-Audio Axiom 61-II
Previous keyboards: Farfisa Matador 611; Casio CTK-710

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Re: beginner's question about how to accompany

Unread post by newbiewqs »

SeaGtGruff wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:10 pm
You're right that a style or auto accompaniment might be sufficient to supply most, if not all, of the accompaniment for a skilled vocalist.

Genre styles are usually too generalized to supply the dominant licks and grooves which help make a song instantly recognizable from just a few notes, in which case the keyboardist can play those with the right hand while controlling the style's chord progressions and section changes with the left hand.*

On the other hand, song styles might include a lot of those recognizable licks and grooves as well, but even so it's normal for them to omit the ones which the keyboardist will most likely wish to play themself with the right hand.

*Note that most arranger keyboards are designed to continue playing the auto accompaniment even if the left hand is lifted from the keys after selecting which key and chord type to use for the auto accompaniment. Thus, it might be possible to select the desired key and chord type, then use the left hand in addition to the right hand for playing the parts of the song which the keyboardist is expected to contribute themself.
I suppose this approach may work better with a midi file (or user song) made specifically for the accompaniment of the piece one plays than the style or music database (equivalent to what you referred to as "song style" I think) because the latter would still need the keyboardist play the keys to make the chord progressions in the auto accompany part of the keyboard.

There is this function on Yamaha keyboards to choose whether you actually want the auto accompany to play continuously even when you move your left hand away, which I like. Sometimes there's this need for the accompaniment to pause briefly to highlight the vocal or right hand melody, and the picking up and dropping the auto accompany "manually" gives a less "robotic" feeling.

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