Midi ports setup

Groovyband Live! manages 4 input devices and 1 output device, all 5 devices must be connected to the computer through USB (usual configuration) or midi interface. If the computer does not have enough USB ports (as it might be the case with laptop or tablets) an USB hub can be used.

Input devices serve both as keyboards to play the white/black keys (melody and accompaniment lines), and as physical controls to enter commands in addition to the touch screen or a mouse. For this latter purpose a set of bindings must be programmed.

A Yamaha PSR/Tyros/Genos must be used as sound generator and configured as the midi out device. It can be, and usually is, used also as midi input. A single USB cable connecting the computer and the Yamaha arranger then provides 1 input and 1 output. Please note that to be properly recognized by Windows, the Yamaha arranger needs a driver, to be downloaded from the Yamaha web site (link to download page). Other devices, if not “class compliant”, might need a driver as well. Check with their respective user manuals.

Midi connections

To use an Yamaha arranger as a midi input/output device two configurations are needed: one in the arranger, and one in the Groovyband Live! software.

While the configuration on Yamaha arrangers is specific for these devices (and sometimes convoluted because of the inflexible midi implementation that does not favour their use as general purpose midi controllers), the configuration in the Groovyband Live! program is general, and is valid and must be performed for any hardware midi device.

Hereafter we will step-by-step guide you to all the settings needed.

1. Yamaha arranger midi setup

All the actions detailed here must be performed in the Function/Midi Setup menu of the arranger (please refer to your arranger’s manual for details on how to get there). Do not be worried: these are “do it once and forget” actions, since the resulting configuration can be saved and recalled when needed at the push of a button! The screenshots below are for the PSR/Tyros arrangers. For Genos, although the user interface is different, the available functionality is identical and it is straightforward to figure out how to operate on that arranger as well.

Every Yamaha arranger can receive midi data (and play it) on 2 midi ports, each one of 16 midi channels. Port2, although also accessible from the outside, is used by the arranger internal style play engine (accompaniment parts, ots, pads). Port1 is used by the arranger’s internal midi player, and is the preferred choice to be used from external sequencers as well to drive the arranger’s sound generator engine (= to use the arranger as a sound expander). Port2 is less suitable for this purpose, since it does not recognize some midi commands which are vital to properly use the sound generator at its full potential from an external sequencer. Groovyband Live! acts as an external sequencer that needs full control over the Yamaha arranger’s tone generator, and hence Port1 must be used.

To setup Port1 as outlined above, enter the Midi Receive menu and set all Port1 parts (channels 1÷16) to “song” and all Port2 parts (channels 1÷16) to “off” (the display must be scrolled down to access all ports/channels):

Yamaha midi receive
Yamaha midi receive

Additionally you want the Yamaha arranger to transmit the whole keybed (white and black keys) as a single flat block of keys all on the same midi channel. By default the arranger would transmit the various left / right parts on different midi channels, plus other additional midi data which is useless for our purpose. To silence all the midi data you do not want, and consolidate the whole keybed on a single midi channel, you have to set the Midi Transmit menu as shown (all parts set to “off” except the Upper and Lower parts, which must transmit to Port1/Channel1; once again scroll down the display to access all parts). To avoid duplicate messages, deselect CC and PB transmission for the Lower part (keeping them only for the Upper part):

Yamaha midi transmit

Then you want to disable as much “local control” as possible, so that your (maybe unintended) “button pushing” on the arranger would not trigger unwanted midi commands locally (bypassing the control of Groovyband Live!). To obtain this you have to set the Midi System menu as follows:

Yamaha midi system

You also have to instruct your arranger to follow the external MIDI clock coming from USB Port1 (the one Groovyband Live! will trasmit on) instead of its own internal clock:

Yamaha midi system

Finally, select which MIDI messages should be received (receiving SysEx messages is vitally important):

Yamaha midi system

Important note
Unfortunately Yamaha’s midi implementation is not flexible, and does NOT allows you to disable all local control. Registration and OTS buttons, not only do not transmit useful midi data to be used for other purposes, but they also always function with “local control”. This will cause an unwanted side effect: they reconfigure the DSPs to Port2 channels (used by the internal style playing engine), making them instantly disappear from Port1 midi channels (used by Groovyband Live!).
If you press them by mistake while performing with Groovyband Live! you might notice a sudden dropout of DSP processing on your channels (accompaniment / lead / aux).
To recover from this situation you have to enter the Midi Ports panel and press the Panic button on the midi out port: this will immediately reset the tone generator and reestablish the control of the disputed DSPs. Your Groovyband Live! music performance will seamlessly continue (= the sequencer will go on as nothing has happened, without losing “the beat”). You will only notice a volume dropout for a fraction of a second, this is the price to pay to reset the sound generator.

Anyway, it is better to prevent problems rather than cure them: do NOT press OTS and Registration buttons on Yamaha arrangers while performing with Groovyband Live!

Before saving, check that all the settings in the following screenshots are disabled:

Yamaha midi bass
Yamaha midi chord detect

To forget all this setup and never do it again, you have to save it as a user configuration (maybe you need to consult your arranger manual). Give it a proper name so that you can instantly find and recall it when needed:

Yamaha midi user settings

BEWARE: If you do not save it, everything is lost at power down, next time you switch on your arranger you have to do it once again from scratch! Not recommended!

If you want to revert to use your arranger “normally” (= without Groovyband Live! being in control) you can easily do it, by recalling one of the default midi configurations (or your own customisation, if any):

Yamaha midi preset settings

Additionally, to let Groovyband Live! control the Master EQ and other settings, you have to uncheck the boxes in the Utility/Parameter Lock screen for these entries:

  1. Reverb Return Level
  2. Chorus Return Level
  3. DSP Return Level
  4. Master EQ
  5. Reverb Type

Yamaha Master EQ Unlock

Optional: Compressor settings

To “glue” together all the mix parts and punch the overall loudness to optimal levels without destroying the dynamics, we suggest the following compressor settings (adjust to taste), suitable for the volume of our supplied preset styles and for playing them at their best:

  1. Threshold offset: -12
  2. Ratio offset: +3
  3. Gain offset: +5

Do not forget to save them as a user preset! Otherwise they will be lost when powering down the keyboard.

Compressor Settings

2. Groovyband Live! Midi setup

This setup is always needed: for Yamaha arrangers or for any other midi device.

Groovyband Live! produces a stream of midi data that is converted into audio (sound) by the tone generator built in a supported Yamaha arranger. Groovyband Live!’s midi “Out 1” port must therefore target the Yamaha arranger you are using.

Groovyband Live! manages two keyboards to play music + a pedal board (or a third keyboard). The first keyboard is the one you use to play chord and lead voices (usually L/R1÷3), divided by a configurable split point. This keyboard is the one you set as midi “In 1”. It can be the same Yamaha arranger used as sound generator, or any other keyboard.

The second keyboard is used for Aux voices (A1÷4), that you can set set in layer/split mode as you like. This keyboard is the one set as midi “In 2”; it can be any keyboard you like, including the Yamaha arranger, if it is not already used as “In 1”.

A third note input device (a pedal board or a keyboard) can be used to play Aux voices as well. This device is connected to midi “In 3”.

Every input (In 1÷4) can be used to connect midi devices (generically called “control surfaces”) that provides physical controls (knobs, sliders, switches, …), possibly in addition to keys.

To recap, three common setups are the following (others, not depicted, are possible):

  • Only the Yamaha arranger is used. This is set both as “In 1” and “Out 1”. You play its keyboard in split mode (as you would normally). Aux voices cannot be played since there is no another keyboard/pedalboard connected.
  • The Yamaha arranger and another keyboard are used. You still set the Yamaha arranger as “Out 1”, and then you decide which keyboard to configure as “In 1” or “In 2”. You play the chords and lead voices on “In 1”, the aux voices on “In 2”.
  • A midified organ console provides inputs for 2 manuals and pedalboard. The Yamaha arranger is only used for sound generation (and possibly as control surface).
Midi configuration
This configuration uses the Yamaha arranger’s keyboard for chord recognition and Lead voices L/R, and optional keyboard/pedalboard to play Aux voices.
Midi configuration
This configuration uses the second keyboard for chord recognition and Lead voices L/R, and the Yamaha arranger’s keyboard/pedalboard to play Aux voices.
Midi configuration
An organ console provides inputs for both manuals and pedalboard. The Yamaha arranger is used for sound generation, and optionally can be connected to Input 4 and work as control surface.
Note for Yamaha arrangers

When selecting a Yamaha arranger as midi device, you normally want to address its midi Port1 (as explained here). The exact name of this Port depends on the driver, it is usually something like “Digital Keyboard-1”. We agree with you: it is not immediate to associate “digital keyboard” with your Yamaha arranger. You should blame Yamaha: this is how they announce to the world (= Windows) their name.

In order to be certain to have selected the correct port you have to test the General Volume Knob in the Groovyband Live! main screen. If it works then you have selected the correct port, otherwise you should try with the other one. In fact Port2 does NOT respond to the general volume midi commands, only Port1 does.

Midi ports panel

  1. Press the “Midi Ports” button to toggle the visibility (show/hide) of the midi input panel. This button flashes if either Input 1 and Output 1 are not configured. They are mandatory to be able to use the program.
  2. Press “Rescan Midi I/O Devices” every time a new device is connected or turned on. If in doubt, just press it, it will not hurt!
  3. Repeatedly press the device selector buttons in order to select the device you desire for the given midi input/output port. The list is cycled circularly: if you missed an entry, keep pushing until it shows again. If you do not see your device, even after having rescanned the midi i/o, then you have to troubleshoot your midi connection so that it is properly recognized by Windows.
  4. Optionally select the channel to listen to (it must correspond to the transmit channel). See next point. If you go past channel 16, an asterisk (*) will be shown. This means “any” channel. For simple (and most common) setups this is the setting to use (most resilient to unwanted changes) when you do not know/care what channel the midi device is transmitting on.
  5. Check the input/output midi traffic through this led. If the led flashes then Groovyband Live! is receiving/transmitting data on this port/midi channel combo.
  6. Press the “Panic” button if some note is stuck due to lost data in the connection between the computer and midi device. This is a safety net which nowadays is rarely, if ever, used.
Control surfaces

If you have other midi devices (keyboards, control surface) that you want to use to input Groovyband Live! commands with physical controls (to augment mouse and touch screen operations) you can connect them to midi “In 3” and “In 4”.

For details about what commands can be addressed, what are the supported midi messages, and how to bind midi hardware to midi Groovyband Live! commands, please refer to the Bindings setup chapter.

3. Check that your midi setup is correctly working

If you have setup everything as explained here, you should be able to play lead voices, aux voices and automatic accompaniment and see the corresponding midi data received by the Yamaha Arranger’s tone generator.

Open the Midi/Receive configuration tab in your arranger. There is a midi Rx (receive) Monitor with flashing leds for each channel: when a midi message is received on that Port/Channel the led briefly flashes. You should be looking at Port1 (MIDI/USB 1) input channels.

Yamaha midi receive

  1. Lead voices transmit on channels 1÷4. If you play at the right of the split point on the keyboard set as “In 1” you should be able to see some of these leds to flash (check to see if at least one of the L/R1÷3 parts in Groovyband Live! mixer has the volume meter bar going up and down to be sure the program is transmitting midi data).
  2. Aux voices transmit on channels 5÷8. If you play on the keyboard set as “In 2” you should be able to see some of these leds to flash (check to see if at least one of the A1÷4 parts in Groovyband Live! mixer has the volume meter bar going up and down to be sure the program is transmitting midi data).
  3. Automatic accompaniment (style) parts transmit on channels 9÷16. If you start the style and play some chords on the keyboard set as “In 1” you should be able to see some of these leds to flash (check to see if at least one of the style parts in Groovyband Live! mixer has the volume meter bar going up and down to be sure the program is transmitting midi data).

If you do not see the volume meter going up/down then you should check how to enable a part in the Mixer. Even if a part is enabled, it does not play if someone (you) or something (the sequencer) does not actually play some notes. If you do not know how to trigger the automatic accompaniment and/or aux/lead voices, please consult the appropriate manual chapters.

As a general rule of thumb: moving volume meter means midi data being transmitted on that midi channel. And therefore it should be shown as received at the other end of the cable (your arranger tone generator).

If, despite being transmitted, it does not arrive to the tone generator, you should check your midi setup. In particular be sure to have setup correctly the Port and all the receiving channels as shown earlier here.

If still your yamaha arranger does not receive midi data, you should check the USB cable and that the Yamaha driver is correctly installed and working with your PC (please refer to the documentation supplied by Yamaha). Do NOT assume that, verify it with positive evidence. You could also try to communicate with your arranger using another program (different from Groovyband Live!) to be sure that the problem is not between the computer and the keyboard.

Troubleshooting midi transmission

Press “Rescan Midi I/O Devices” button to be sure to use up to date data.

If the “Out 1” port shows the correct device with bright yellow background and the output led next to it flashes, then Windows is receiving midi data from Groovyband Live! (the device name is only shown with bright background when Windows gives a feedback that it is receiving data from our software). If, despite of that, this data does not arrive to the Yamaha arranger, the problem is downstream (between your computer and your arranger). And you should put your troubleshooting efforts there.