Thursday, August 3, 2017

Weekly Jazz Lick - No 5

I'm getting a bit more professional now. I used the wonderful Noteflight online to make this.

I love playing ballads and here is a little lick one can use for the ending of a phrase, either in a solo or embellishing the melody.


This short phrase uses the #9 b9 and #11 resolving to the V of the major chord.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Listen to the silence - Inner time feel

Last week I was preparing some classes for kids. For a quick rhythm warmup I thought that as a group we could clap a simple 4/4 beat at 60 BPM for one measure and have a silence for 1 measure. For such a simple exercise it turned out to be surprisingly fun. 

Once we started, many kids wanted to try on their own and even try harder examples with longer gaps of silence. I also noticed that it was rather calming and almost meditative, so I thought I'd try it for myself later in the day.

Practicing on my own I started to explore further the value of this. The first thing I noticed, was as with the children it was very calming and gave me a strong focus on both what I was practicing later and as well as a greater awareness of my time feel in general.

Before I knew it an hour had past. I tried 2 measures on 2 measures off, different tempos and longer exercises, and even practicing basic rhythm exercises during the silences.

Since then I've been doing this every day as a warm up and even with the limited time I've done this I can tell it's something I'm going to use for a while. Firstly it sets the tone for your practice. It give you a sense of focus and quietness to start your work. Secondly it's clearly good for your inner sense of rhythm. I've seen the benefits of  this exercise written about elsewhere.

Lastly and maybe more importantly it seems to give a sense of focus on your playing in general that is unlike other rhythmic exercises. One of the more striking things I noticed was that I was more often accurate when I didn't count, but just "felt" the beat. When I tapped my foot or other parts of my body, surprisingly I was often wrong. However, when I was able to stay quiet enough to listen to the silence in between the gaps, rather than physically trying to beat the rhythm out, I was more often correct.

I'm not yet sure what this indicates, but definitely it opens your ear and feel to something new and interesting. I will write more on this later once I've had the time to explore it further.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Buying saxes online

This is the question I get asked most. Should I buy this sax? - Mostly something found online on a non music website, and often abroad.

I'm going to try and answer this so that it may help interested saxophone players in future. I am also going to try to answer this in a way that can be helpful to anyone, whether they know about saxophones or not.

Firstly there is an easy way to answer this without having to delve into models and technical issues.

Imagine you were buying a car:

Would you buy a car online without having seen it, let alone tested or driven it?

Would you buy a car not knowing the person selling it?

Would you buy a car not knowing the correct price to pay?

Would you buy a car that was an an unknown model or company to you?

Would you buy a car from a website that doesn't specialize in cars?

I think you can see where I am going here!

Ask your self those questions and put sax instead of car and you have the answer pretty quickly. One doesn't even need to start thinking of saxophone brands let alone looking at details such as specific models and other issues.

I hope that has helped.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Half Diminished Chords - Jazzadvice.com

I love Jazzadvice.com. Anyone studying jazz should read through their articles. There is so much there.

Here is another great article by Forrest on Half Diminished chords. I'm posting this as it's an area many people have troubles with - including myself over the years. This article is a good one to get you on your way with these troublesome chords. Follow this and you will a lot better at tackling them in any key.

I like what he says here "Most standards tend to hang around certain keys and therefore, use the same few half diminished chords. What we end up with is seeing the same four over and over, while rarely encountering the other eight, making for a world of pain when we do."

Sounds familiar? - have a go at this and it will be sorted once and for all.

http://www.jazzadvice.com/how-to-not-suck-at-half-diminished-chords/

For something a bit more advanced once you have the basics down have a look as this article again by Forrest. He looks specifically at Bill Evans to find a multitude of ways to be creative on a minor ii v i.

http://www.jazzadvice.com/a-lesson-with-bill-evans-14-techniques-to-master-the-minor-ii-v-progression/ 

After that if you still have trouble THEN the aptly named!

http://www.jazzadvice.com/why-you-still-suck-at-half-diminished-chords/

YAS 280 vs YAS 62 ii

I have recorded a small test to illustrate the difference between the YAS 280 and YAS 62 ii.

Here are a few things to note:

I recorded these with a stock mouthpiece. It has no brand and came with one of the horns. It's to show like the reviewer at SH woodwind says, you can literally stick any mouthpiece on these horns and they sound quite good. (for that reason there are a few tuning issues - I've never used the mouthpiece before)

The reed was a used Vandoren Java strength 2

I used a RODE NT3. The only effect was a little reverb.

 https://soundcloud.com/mattav/body-and-soul-yas-62-ii-test-comparison

https://soundcloud.com/mattav/body-and-soul-yas-480-sax-comparison-test

How do I feel?

Aside being a little uncomfortable on the new mouthpiece I feel that considering that, they play pretty well and fairly similarly. I was afraid to push too much higher up and as the sound on this mouthpiece was a little brittle, but they both handled it really well.

The YAS 62 ii is clearly a little warmer and has more depth to the sound. A bit fuller and a little more bite in the sound. Still the YAS 280 has a good clear sound, warm and pleasing, though with a little more of the metalic edge than the other. Both are clearly playable in my opinion. I'd be happy to receive feedback from others.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Yamaha alto saxes - cheap vs expensive

I play Yamaha saxes mainly. I have had alot of them other years and they are great horns from bottom to top. They suit me and I like their sound. Having owned both the cheapest and pro model horns many people ask me what the difference is?

To answer that fully is probably beyond the scope of this blog. There are lots of technical articles on these horns and a good start is here at SH Woodwind. http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Alto/Yamaha_YAS475.htm Excellent technical reviews of most modern saxes. Here is a YAS 475 for example. Check out others if you are interested in buying a horn. It's really a great read. For something a little simpler have a look here: http://www.bestsaxophonewebsiteever.com/yamaha-saxophone-overview/

So what about Yamaha Altos. Let's say YAS 480 vs a YAS62 II? What do I say?

The YAS 480 is a great horn. It's well made, plays in tune throughout and has a good clear tone. It's probably on the brighter side of saxophones in terms of tone, and with a solid mouthpiece it can give a very decent tone. I've used mine with a variety of mouthpieces and been happy with them all. The sax has a solid feel to it, the key-work fits great in the hands. Overall a solid sax and for the price you really can't go wrong. I've played mine in lots of gigs.

The YAS62 II - Having owned a great YTS 62 II this wasn't a difficult choice when one came my way. I only stopped playing the tenor because of wanting to focus on Alto but it was a great horn with a wonderful sound. The 62 is basically an improved 480. Immediately the action and handling feel very similar and it makes you feel right at home from the get go. Tone wise as you would expect from a more expensive horn, it is fuller and somewhat less bright especially higher up, but still has alot of power and projection like the cheaper model. The lowest note are fuller and have more snap or punch to them than the less expensive sax.
 Again if you prefer a more mellow saxophone maybe this is not your thing, but in my experience you can play pretty much any way you like, and with the right kind of mouthpiece for your individual sound you can set it up to your way of playing. I use a Selmer Soloist C* and I'm very happy. It's got alot of clarity, with a smooth warm tone which plays well from bottom to top.

I've made some recordings with both which I will post here. As always the ears are the best judge. I will add to this post in due course. For now here are some from the web:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9cirfzmGCs

Bob Reynolds - From 5:33 - Watch this great video. Later he plays his YAS 62. Wonderful tone for someone who says he doesn't play alto.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct0w-gVTqmg

Greg Vail demonstrating the YAS 480

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI88dv_CdTk

Greg Vail demonstrating the YAS 62 III

Monday, July 10, 2017

What scales ARE and what they are NOT - Jazzadvice.com

I was about to write about this but when I read this post on jazzadvice.com I thought better of it because it sums up exactly how I feel. Just because you know a particular scale to play over a particular chord, doesn't necessarily give you the sound you are looking for when soloing. We have all been in this position. "What do you play on that chord?" - We get an answer, try it out and it sounds awful. Yes, scales give us a starting point, but unless we know what to do with them, it doesn't go a lot further than that. Sometimes it can even be a hindrance. "So and so told me they play that scale so I need to play that" -  when actually our ears are screaming at us to play something different! I think players of all levels would enjoy reading this article. We all need the reminder from time to time. Yes, scales are important and the basis for many things, but until we explore the different possibilities and sounds by hearing and trying them out in context to see what fits our particular way of playing, it is unlikely to take as far as we would like.

http://www.jazzadvice.com/scales-are-not-the-secret-short-cut-to-jazz-improvisation/

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Video teaser

A little teaser from our recent appearance at the Madras Jazz Festival. Thank you Lisa Suchanek for the video:



Some recordings can be found here:

https://soundcloud.com/mattav

Saxindia - Older posts

Thank you to those who still read and comment on my posts at my older blog www.saxindia.blogspot.in There are alot of posts there, and more than 9 years of material. Some useful - some maybe not! Still - I am getting quite a number of readers everyday and and I appreciate the useful feedback and comments I am receiving.

For now - I will continue to write here. Please follow me also on Twitter:


And Soundcloud:



Three tracks from our latest recording are there with Holger Jetter and Sreenath Sreenivasan.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

If you want to play the Sax better (or teach) - You must watch this!

A brilliant video by Saxophonist Bob Reynolds. Pretty much sums everything up needed for both students and teachers alike to remember. Everyone should watch this.


http://lessons.bobreynoldsmusic.com/join/becoming-a-member/


Update -


If you are clicking on this link and it says WE ARE FULL. Unlucky for you. Check again and have a look for the next time around. Fabulous stuff from Bob Reynolds.

YouTube - Jazz Solo Transcriptions

Somehow I wasn't expecting this to be such a popular feature on YouTube, even though I had seen a number of solo transcriptions over the years, and had worked through this fabulous soprano solo by Bob Sheppard on Pat Metheny's tune First Circle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNiLO7lxizg

Now having searched a little, I've have found a huge selection. Anyone wishing to study famous solos has a large choice. Personally I like the ones that play the original and scroll. Even if you don't end up working them out it's a great little study tool to have a listen and follow. I've linked some of the ones I like:


Kevin Hayes - It Could happen to you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi8DR1XDW6o

Wynton Marsalis - Struttin' With Some Barbecue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyMiq13Kc5Y

Miles Davis - Straight No Chaser

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLfsQSpefbA

Miles Davis - Seven Steps to Heaven

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MajA3cs94Wc

Kenny Barron - Someday My Prince Will come

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E28gAG9K4rs

Charlie Parker - Just Friends

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u8-V5q91Xk

Monday, June 5, 2017

Stella By Starlight

As promised one of our tracks from our recent recording.

Matt Littlewood - Piano
Holger Jetter - Double Bass
Sreenath Sreenivasan - Drums

Stella by Starlight - Victor Young - Arr Matt Littlewood

https://soundcloud.com/mattav/stella-by-starlight-victor-young-arr-matt

News

It's been a busy couple of months, so not much in the way of posts. The good is that we have been recording, so music is going to be available soon. My trio - myself on piano, with Holger Jetter on Double Bass and Sreenath Sreenivasan on drums recorded 6 tracks in sweltering heat in Auroville. We are happy with the outcome despite having to work very odd hours to avoid the heat. We also played at the Madras festival with our good friend Maarten Visser on saxophone on June 3rd.

More news to follow.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Interview with Shanks

I'm very happy to announce a series of interviews with Jazz musicians from around India. This has been in the pipeline for sometime, and finally I've got it underway. I intend to do this at least once a month with musical personalities in the jazz field from around the country, and hopefully this should provide some very interesting insights into jazz and improvised music in India today.

This first interview gets us off to a great start. Sankarsan Kini - Shanks - is an independent producer and multi instrumentalist based in Auroville, India. He explores genres of jazz, blues, rock, folk and funk with different independent projects. He plays guitar, violin, mandolin, trumpet and harmonica. He scores for cinema and theater. For links to his music find him here on SoundCloud:




Tell us about some of your first musical experiences. How did you get into music and what we're your earliest memories?


My earliest memory of music is my father playing the tabla, harmonium, harmonica and my mum singing. I started singing and playing harmonica first, then picked up the harmonium. Initially I learnt to play some old Hindi film songs from my dad on the harmonica and then started fooling around on my own. I learnt tabla from my dad for many years growing up. My initial musical experiences were primarily in ​a Hindustani Classical world. 'English' music as pop/rock was called was taboo. But western classical music was allowed and my little-sister brought that in when we were in primary school. I remember some Mozart and Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'. My earliest musical experience of note was hearing the fiancĂ©e of my fourth grade class teacher play and sing 'Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham'. I didn't care for the song but he played a simple C, F and G on a nylon string guitar and the sound of the harmony coming out of a wooden box awoke the guitar player in me. It was six more years before I got my hands on a guitar but this was the day that did it.

What are you currently working/practicing on your instrument?

On guitar, I'm focusing on right hand picking and internalising triads all over the fret board. I'm also working on playing three or four note patterns over changes, alternating comping and soloing over changes, singing standards and accompanying myself on guitar using a combination of full chords and substituted upper structures so as to bring in altered sounds.

What attracted you to Jazz and improvised music, as opposed to other forms of music?

Initially jazz appealed to me as a means to be different from the other rockers around me. It appealed to me, then a nineteen year old as a means to appear sophisticated and superior to others. I was listening to Coltrane's 'Blue Train', a big band compilation with 'Bird' and some others, and an album of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. The third one made a little sense to me and I actually started rewinding the tape to two or three songs and playing them back. One of them was 'Mood Indigo' and I transcribed Duke's four bar intro on that using the guitar and I remember suddenly feeling like the notes in that intro were not random 'jazz' notes anymore but were hinting at four different chords. I started hearing more music in jazz after that.

Coming from a Hindustani background I could improvise easily but I lacked structure and harmony was still a vague concept. So I appreciated improvisation but couldn't improvise over changes yet and this challenge drew me to jazz. How do you play out and step in now and then to outline the changes, here and there? That still intrigues me and I'm thrilled when I get close. I only started ​to hear the jazz in jazz after I grew up a little and then the deviance started to taste good. Now about a decade and a half later I can't do without harmony and substitution.

How do you see the Jazz scene in India? Talk a little about the playing experiences, musicians, venues and audiences.

I've met jazz musicians playing at very high levels in India and have been lucky to have been able to interact with several of them. I'm happy to see kids blasting out of music school ripping through changes. India is in a very dynamic state and I'm not surprised that jazz in India shows much promise. It still has a long way to go but I see ​many more talented kids being backed by their parents to pursue the discipline of jazz and it's only a matter of time before the numbers add up to become clearly visible on the world map.

India needs more jazz venues. Venues that make a killing from electronic music could throw a coupla crumbs our way and it wouldn't hurt em. I believe you can't play jazz at the level that people play pop/rock/EDM here and hope to sound half decent, leave alone get a gig. You need to be able to play jazz at a good level in order to get paid for a gig at a 'jazz' venue. And that takes many more years. Jazz needs support. The commerce of jazz is not tapped to benefit the artist in India because I believe it's too damn easy to make money, buy gear, up your lifestyle playing whatever rather than kill yourself to sound half decent and get a free meal and two drink coupons at an empty bar. I like the Pianoman, Delhi the B flat Bar, Bangalore, Sheesha Cafe, Pune and Kasha ki Aasha, Pondy to name a few of the few jazz venues I've been to. I've enjoyed some good jazz at these venues and while it strains the owners and musicians to keep the ride swinging it sure does help to keep the scene regular.

We can't expect the Indian audience to shut up and listen to a jazz concert in a bar. These places are great for the music but you're gonna have to try to settle into the gentle lilt of 'Naima' over the din of forty inebriated raised voices knowing that much of that is translating to your performance fee. It's a compromise, but if your monitors are sounding good and you've done your homework I daresay you can play a pretty satisfying show and go home with enough to pay the help and the electricity bill. It's not half bad when you realise that those raised voices are going to office day after tomorrow at 9am, and suddenly your office doesn't seem so bad :)

Something very particular to India is the diverse combination of musical styles, in particular the merging of jazz forms with Indian classical music. What is it that attracts both Indian and musicians from abroad to explore this kind of music?

Merging of styles is a dangerous medium. I hear it backfiring once too often. I prefer juxtaposing styles rather than combining them for I believe a full immersion in both styles is only what can bring about a graceful union.
I enjoy the fire and brilliance of Shakti, but to me that sounds like the Indian musicians are juxtaposed with McLaughlin's fusion of styles. I don't ​hear the other three playing jazz or fusion. Sure their improvisation is spontaneous, hair raising and hugely inspiring. But they're still ricocheting off the tenets of Indian music in an effort to break through. I believe Amit Heri, Sanjay Divecha and Prasanna have achieved fusion in their compositions by virtue of their immersion in both mediums.

I've met several Indian classical musicians who want to experiment with jazz. Alas, Indian classical musicians are literally hard wired into thinking modally, and most shy away from structure and modulation which for jazz are akin to what cheesecloth and curdling/fermentation is to ​cheese. As a result the jazz musician is most often forced to vamp modally, dumb down his output and assume a role as an accompanying artist. Sure there are exceptions, but few and far between. I really enjoyed what Louis Banks and Shankar Mahadevan did at a private party once several years ago. It was spontaneous and Shankar didn't sing the same phrase twice though he was singing a ghazal. That's the closest I've seen a classically trained singer come to jazz.

Who were the musicians that influenced you as a developing musician?

Zakirbhai when I was growing up. He's the reason I stuck with the tabla for 15 years.
T N Krishnan the Carnatic violinist. Kumar Gandharva the breakaway Hindustani Classical singer who with half a lung developed his own style. Sting helped my song writing. Aerosmith, Roxette and Guns and Roses brought me closer to the western world of sound. Dave Brubeck's 'Time Out' was the first jazz album I think I enjoyed thoroughly and everyday for many months.

The Grateful Dead to me was the gateway to making beautiful music immersed in intoxicated consciousness. This is the highest point I have had experimentally with music and fortunately for my brain was short lived and opened me to the idea that it was going to be music for me hereafter and not grad school.

John Scofield. I'm still intrigued and addicted to the sounds he makes. He's perhaps the only musician ​whose
music I have absorbed at such depth and yet have only heard a fraction of what he has put out to date.


Can you tell us about some of the Jazz based musicians or groups in India that we should be listening to? Share a little for those who might not know. 

Amit Heri's compositions are my favourite among Indian jazz composers. Mumbai based Sudanese pianist Karim Ellaboudi is a treat to listen to. Guitarist Sanjay Divecha ​'s album 'Full Circle'​.


What can we look forward to hearing in your own work and projects in the next year or so?
My album should be out in a coupla months. I've been lucky to have collaborated with Mishko M'ba, Matt Littlewood, Holger Jetter and Suresh Bascara to put this album out. It's got tunes in different styles from big band to slow rock to smooth jazz.

I am working steadily to create a body of original jazz tunes written more as an exercise but they're turning out surprisingly well. Matt's on board this project as well as on a third with the Temple Rock Trio, a reinterpretation of traditional Carnatic Classical music supported by acoustic guitar and saxophone played in a variety of styles from funk to rock to West African.

I'm collaborating with bass player Mishko M'ba to write and perform songs for bass and guitar. We recently toured North India. We're called Stringly Yours.

Being a musician is not just about playing and performing. Can you tell us about some of the things that interest you outside music?

Food. I love to eat perhaps more than anything else. So that drives me to cook for in India finding a restaurant that serves healthy and tasty food without ripping you off is difficult, to put it mildly.

Riding. I ride a Bullet. I've ridden smoother, faster more efficient bikes in India, but a classic cast iron engine driven Bullet still offers the most pleasurable ride among what's available here right now. Apart from being my primary mode of transport right now, enjoying the ride adds hugely to the quality of life. Needless to say I take it out now and then on long rides and get to see the country around where I live.

Tennis. I play to enjoy chasing the sweet spot. I don't care much for competitive sport. I have a tennis partner who's happy to rally and enjoy quality hitting. It keeps my hand-eye coordination supple and responsive and is good for my music which in performance demands much of that.

Film. The most attractive and compelling alternate reality there is. The last coupla years have seen technology and art come together like never before.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Best Saxophone Podcasts

I've written many times here about the bestsaxophoneever website. It's really that good, so do please check it out. There is so much to learn there.

I love podcasts and I was surprised that I hadn't listened to the ones on the site. Better late than never. These are world-class. Fantastic interviews with jazz greats that offer lots of invaluable insights and advice. There is so much there that most likely several listens to each is needed.

Please let me know of other similar podcasts and I'll add to the list.

 http://www.bestsaxophonewebsiteever.com/tag/podcasts/


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Weekly Jazz Lick - No 3

Here's a simple minor II - V lick using a couple of concepts. On the A-7b5 I use a G and A diminished triad pair (check out Jeff Schneider on how those work) and on the D7b9 a variation of the 7b9 pattern (the Db is a passing note) by Jerry Bergonzi. The G minor begins with a little variation of the D7b9 pattern.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

George Garzone - MyMusicMasterclass.com

There are quite a few gems on YouTube featuring interviews with saxophone great George Garzone. These two from MyMusicMasterclass.com are very enjoyable and include lots of valuable tips despite the short length of the clips. Have a look at the rest of the MyMusicMasterclass series for huge amounts of insights from an assortment of great musicians.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW_POmRjVng

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMwQ8pnE9L4

To jump directly to the page on horns click here:

https://www.mymusicmasterclass.com/premium-videos/horns-newest/

Weekly Jazz Lick - No 2

Ok, it's been a while, but I have excuses ;) and now I will have more time to do what I set out to.


Here is a simple lick involving triad pairs on a II-V-I. It uses Ab and Bb triads, going up one way and down the other. Of course there are many other combinations and rhythmic combinations that can be used but the idea here is to use the major triads built on the 4th and 5th degree of the I chord.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chris Potter - NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies

You Tube is a wonderful place. If you haven't seen these already, have a look at these series of clips from an interview with Chris Potter from the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series at SubCulture in New York. It's always very informative to hear the greats talk about music. Wonderful stuff for any musician.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGERvPmeHCM

Thursday, March 16, 2017

5 Android music making apps - that really work

I love making music on the go, but sadly Android isn't the best platform. It has latency issues so making live music is not really an option.

However there are plenty of good apps worth spending your money on if you want to produce some very good music away from the laptop.

Here are a few good ones in brief:

Caustic - Gives conventional DAWs a run for their money. Totally usable with tons of rack mounted synths and features. This is a fully fledged music making program - and from what I hear beats the mobile FL studio hands down. No regrets when I bought this.

Rd4 - I love this little gadget. It works well even on the phone. It's a remake of the famous Rebirth by Propellerhead. With clever use, you can program some nice sounding retro loops and then export them to use in other apps of programs. I just love the TB 303 bass synth.

Oscilab - This is a good one. A bit of the wall as a sequencer, and you have to fiddle a bit to make good music but it works really well and you can even use it on the fly with the live controllers. Latency is not an issue. Here you have a choice of 4 wave making synths, each with a further oscillator which you can alter independently. It also comes with two drum tracks. Just drag your finger until you come up with the desired results and tweak away with effects and filters. It's really good fun since you can tune each wave to a specific scale. You can make good music with this.

Lil Drum machine - A fantastic 808 style drum sequencer with tons of features. You can really go to town here making beats and then tweaking them to perfection.

J4T - This is a small but very functional multi-track recorder and editor. If you want to combine all the other things you have recorded this is a great tool. Each of these app exports to Wav, so just import them into this and you are set. A great tool.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Yamaha PSR S 970 - Soundfonts

Thanks to the YEM - Yamaha expansion manager supplied by Yamaha there are many things one can do with the keyboard beyond regular use. One of the great things that you can do is to import your own samples to make new sounds. The easiest way to do this is with soundfonts - Sf2 files. On the internet lots of free samples are available, and they come ready mapped so that all you have to do is plug them into the YEM, create your own expansion pack and load it into the keyboard via USB. I did this with Rhodes and EP sounds to great effect. At a later point I will explain this in more detail. 

https://soundcloud.com/mattav/soundfont-demo-yamaha-psr-s970-time-remembered

A short demo of some of the sounds

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Yamaha PSR s 970 review

As promised here is a review of the PSR S 970 keyboard from Yamaha. I've had it about six weeks now and played it in 4 gigs of different kinds.
To make this easy I'll separate this into pros and cons.

The plus:
Very versatile. This keyboard can be used for performance, arranging, composing, recording and practice tool. It has so many features, to use it to its fullest potential would take years.

The sounds are excellent and included are a large variety for different categories of instrument. Basic sounds such as pianos are good, and orchestral section is very impressive. If you want to make big band or orchestral arrangements quickly this is a fine tool.

The in built effects are extensive. If you want to manipulate the existing sounds there are lots of ways to do so. Reverbs, delays, filters, chorus, compression, EQ's are all there in abundance.

Saving your presents is easy. The layout of the keyboard is very simple to use and recalling settings even while playing is very simple. If you like things well organised this keyboard offers alot of ways of keeping track of your work.

Recording is easy and handy. For those ideas that you want to put down quickly, the recording function works really well. You can record up to 16 tracks. Recording up to 3 tracks can be done with very few button presses. Again, saving your material is well organised.

The styles, especially the audio ones sound very good. For those gigs where you are missing an instrument, or simply want to have fun playing and composing in different styles, this keyboard has everything. So many genres are included you will never get through them all. Even if you did want more, downloads are available online.

The in built speakers sound great. For gigs they also offer some monitoring so that you can hear better even when the line out is used.

The direct access button is fabulous. If you want to quickly access a menu or setting, press the direct access and the appropriate button and it takes you right there. No searching needed. Even pedal settings!

It's reasonably light and compact. Carrying it around is not difficult. With a good soft case I even took it twice on a cycle!

There are lots more good things. But that can be kept it's for a more detailed look.

The not so good:
The keys are a little cheap feeling. You can't expect everything, and if you used to weighted keys it takes a while to get used to. I hope they are more durable than they feel.

If you like EPs the sounds are a poor. I had to really tweak them in order to get the sounds I wanted. I'm pretty happy now, but they could have used some warmer Rhodes patches. They are all very bright.

The manual is not very detailed. I had to learn most of the features by trial and error, asking people or reading forums on line.

As you can see I don't have alot of complaints. It's a great keyboard and has huge amount of features. As an overall instrument, it caters for a wide variety of professional needs, particularly for arranging and composing you'd be hard to find better. I have always used the laptop to record and arrange with a midi controller but with this you can do a lot all in one place. It will save me time getting ideas out quickly.

As time passes I will edit this review. There is so much to look at and I'm sure there will be more to say both for and against.