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What is 'Key-Tab'?

A typical keyboard arrangement consists of a melody line with a row of chord symbols over the top. Before you start to play it you need to have a glance through the piece and check that you know all the chords you need to play. If you don’t then it’s time to check the chord dictionary on the keyboard or a chord book.

To make things easier, keyboard arrangements almost exclusively use simplified chords in root position, but that’s not really doing justice to the original piece. It’s like looking at a picture painted with just primary colours; you lose a lot of the subtlety of the original. The right harmony is so important in all music but especially Classical and Jazz. There’s so much colour and excitement to be achieved by playing all the different chords in the original harmony both simple and not so simple.

So, what’s stopping everyone from breaking free from just playing simple root chords and opening up this exciting new horizon? One word… ‘memory’. You can only remember a certain number of chords and it’s easy to be put off attempting a piece if the chords look difficult or unfamiliar.

This is where the new ‘Key-tab’ format comes to the rescue. ‘Key-tab’ was inspired by the guitar tab chords that you see on standard sheet music.

What guitarists see is a block next to the chord symbol that represents the fret board with little dots indicating which strings are to be fretted. They don’t need to memorise the chords as keyboard players do; they just play what they see. To create a similar system for keyboard players I developed ‘Key-tab’ blocks.

A ‘Key-tab’ block shows one-and-a-half octaves of the keyboard from C to G with dots to show clearly which keys to press.

 

In many cases only two notes are enough to play just the right chord. The example here shows ‘C/E’. 

Above the block is the chord symbol, and below the melody line the same notes shown in the ‘Key-tab’ block appear in the bass clef. By simply playing what you see you will hear the exact harmony as intended by the composer/arranger without having to worry about memorising anything. As the keyboard recognises these more authentic chords you’ll hear how it enhances the accompaniment style and provides more direction in the music. Here’s an example from the arrangement for Meditation from Thaïs by Massenet.

These same chords are used by the ‘Harmony’ feature in the instrument. This is the function that automatically adds extra harmony notes to the right-hand part as you play. Within the registrations provided, the ‘harmony’ feature is used extensively to fill in the extra parts of the original score around the right-hand note you are playing. This is an integral part of the arrangement, especially when coupled with the ‘Ensemble’ feature on the Genos and Tyros5, or the 'Multi' harmony setting on the PSR-S series, where different notes within the chord are played by different instruments in whatever octave you choose. It’s possible to match very closely the texture of the original piece with just a chord in the left hand and a single note in the right.

What about the Registration Data?

There is a set of registrations to match every piece. By using all the technical facility of the Genos, Tyros and PSR-S Series, what you get is a complete orchestration even though you may only be playing a few notes at a time. Everything has been brought together, styles, voices, multi pads, harmony and ensemble*. There are even some new styles specially created to match certain pieces. 

When you play these arrangements, it feels like you are taking advantage of all the technology available. Fortunately, all the hard work has been done for you, so all you need to do is choose a piece, select the registrations and play what you see.

I’m really excited about these ‘Key-tab’ arrangements. I’m hoping that it is going to give many people a real boost in their playing satisfaction. My business philosophy is ‘It’s all about the music’. It’s easy when you are dealing with such sophisticated instruments to get bogged down in pressing buttons, so I think it’s important to make sure that the technology is being used to create better music. That’s what I have tried to do with ‘Key-tab Arrangements’. If that helps people to enjoy their music making even more then I feel that I have done my job.

*Ensemble voices are only available on Genos and Tyros 5.