Arranger keyboard that interacts with iPad for songlist & styles?


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I'm looking to buy an arranger keyboard that will interact with my iPad in this way: I want to store my song list linked with the songs' styles on my iPad, so when I touch a song on the iPad, my arranger keyboard will automatically shift into the appropriate style setting for a given song.

If this works, it would also let me select from a screen much larger than the one on the keyboard.

Would something in the Korg PA600 or Yamaha PSR670 price range allow me to do this?
 

SeaGtGruff

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The Tyros5 lets you select a Registration by sending a Bank Select and Program Change from a computer or iPad, which would give you what you want. I might be mistaken, but I don't think the PSR-S models have that feature. I don't know about the Korg models.
 
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Thanks for the quick reply, Michael. Actually I called Yamaha directly yesterday and a technician told me to look for a setlist app that can send "program changes." So I searched and (fingers crossed) found an app called Set List Maker that looks like it can do everything I want. It would store a song set list, lyrics and chords, as well as commands that tell the keyboard which style you want each song to get. Yamaha arrangers seems to be more user-friendly when it comes to importing styles and voices, especially from their robust user community, so now I may lean away from Korg and toward the PSR s670 or something similar. I'll report back if and when I get an app and keyboard that work together like I want. Meanwhile, here is Set List Maker: http://www.arlomedia.com/apps/setlistmaker/tutorials/sending_MIDI.html
 

SeaGtGruff

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The only thing I'm hesitant about regarding the PSR-S models is whether you can choose the Style via MIDI. As long as you don't absolutely need to select the desired Style from the computer, I think you should be able to do everything else from the computer. But I think that with the PSR-S models you must select the Style using the keyboard's panel controls.

With the Tyros, you can select a Registration using Bank Select and Program Change messages, which is how you normally select a Voice-- a timbre, tone, program, patch, or whatever you like to call it; Yamaha calls it a Voice. Or if you have a Yamaha synth-- MOXF, MX, etc.-- then you can select a Performance the same way. Basically, a Performance and a Registration are very similar to each other; they save the instrument's current settings so you can quickly recall those settings at a later time. And even though there are (as far as I know) no Yamaha SysEx messages that let you directly select a particular Style via MIDI, you can save the currently-selected Style in a Registration-- along with all of your selected Voices, etc.-- and then you can select a particular Registration via MIDI, which lets you indirectly select the Style, Voices, Effects, etc., all in one easy operation.

Unfortunately, the PSR-S models don't have that feature. Yes, they have Registrations. But I'm pretty sure they don't let you select a particular Registration via Bank Select and Program Change messages the way the Tyros does. That means you'd need to select the Voices, Effects, and other settings on an individual basis, since you can't just recall all of them at once by selecting a Registration via MIDI. And since there's no way to select the Style that way, I don't think you can do what you originally spoke of on the PSR-S models.

On the other hand, as long as you don't need to select the Style remotely, you should at least be able to select most all of the other settings on the keyboard, albeit you'll have to set them one at a time rather than in one fell swoop.

An alternative might be to create Music Finder entries for your song lists. Music Finder is a feature of the PSR-S and Tyros models that lets you create a database of song titles, where each entry is a lot like a Registration in that it specifies which Style to use, which Style Section to start with, the Tempo to use, etc. I'm not sure what the differences are between a Registration and a Music Finder entry as far as the specific information in it, but an obvious advantage of Music Finder is that each entry can be the name of a song, so it's easier to find a given entry as compared to trying to remember which Registration Bank and Registration Number happens to be the one you set up for a particular song.

Just to be clear, you'd need to select the desired Music Finder entry on the keyboard, because I don't think you could select it remotely via MIDI. But if you organized your Music Finder entries efficiently, it probably wouldn't be any more difficult to set up the keyboard for the next song in your set by choosing the song in the Music Finder screen, as opposed to choosing it from a list on your iPad.
 
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Thank you for the informative answer. You are absolutely right, this all hinges on whether the PSR s670 can respond to "program changes" from an app such as Set List Maker...and whether Set List Maker can generate the SysEx commands commands vid MIDI to achieve what I want.

Two Yamaha technicians that I spoke with in the past couple of days said the PSR s670 "should" respond "if" Set List Maker in fact generates program change commands. So now I'll contact Set List Maker to see if they guarantee their app will work with the PSR s670. Stay tuned!
 

SeaGtGruff

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The PSR-S670 will definitely respond to Program Change messages-- but that doesn't mean it will let you select Registrations using Program Changes.

Normally, a Program Change is used for selecting a Voice-- a specific instrument sound. It can select between any one of 128 such Voices (0 through 127). This is how the PSR-S670 responds to Program Changes-- it uses them to change the Voice on a single MIDI channel. That means if you want to change both Voices of a split or layer, you would need to send multiple Program Change messages, one for each channel that's used by the split or layer.

By adding a pair of Bank Select messages before the Program Change-- one for the MSB value, and the other for the LSB value-- you can select a Voice from a number of different banks, such that you aren't limited to just 128 voices and can instead choose from hundreds or even thousands of voices (however many the keyboard supports).

On certain keyboards, you can use Bank Select messages to select a special bank which doesn't control just a single Voice at a time; instead, the Program Changes for that special bank let you select from among your saved Performance settings (on the Yamaha MOXF and similar synths) or Registration settings (on the Yamaha Tyros arranger workstation).

The PSR-S670 doesn't have this capability. It does not recognize any special Bank Select values that tell it you want to select a Registration rather than a simple Voice. So you can use Bank Select and Program Change to select a single Voice for a single channel, and if you want to do more than that then you'll need to send additional messages.

As long as you do not need to select the Style from the computer, I think you can select most everything else, but you'll need to send a string of several messages to do it. I don't know which message types the Set List app will let you send, or how many messages it will let you send at once, so I don't know if it will let you send the number and types of messages that would be needed to set several parameters at once on the PSR-S670.
 
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Thanks again for the highly informative reply. This is trickier than I thought. I won't buy a keyboard until I know it will respond to program change messages that relate to Style, and not just voice. I'd like to be able to tap "Green River" on my iPad and have the keyboard know that I want the bass-drum-tempo settings that I saved for that Creedence Clearwater song.

What's the lowest-price arranger you know of that will (probably) do what I want with an iPad and Set List Maker?
 

SeaGtGruff

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I don't really know how to answer that. I think the only arranger keyboard that Yamaha makes with this capability is currently the Tyros5, which is very pricey. But Yamaha makes synths with this capability, the least expensive being the MX49-- except it doesn't play styles per se. It can play patterns (although I'm not sure off the top of my head if that's what they're called on the keyboard), and I think you can use those patterns for playing different "backing" accompaniments in a song, although I don't know if they work like styles per se-- e.g., I don't know if they loop endlessly the way the Main sections of a style do. And I honestly don't know too much about keyboards from other companies (Korg, Roland, etc.).
 

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