A Guide to Styles/Patterns Part 1

The main focus of our business at Carillon Studios is to produce Yamaha, Korg, Roland, Ketron, Solton, Technics and Hammond Styles (often referred to as Patterns) for musicians around the world. What is the difference between a Style and a Pattern? The answer is... nothing! It's just a different name for the same thing. Unlike Midi files (which once the start button has been pressed will play an entire song pretty much like a tape recorder or CD track), Styles do not play themselves. A Style or Pattern is an Auto Accompaniment that is dependent on the musician playing a series of chords to enable a relevant song to be played by the instrument. This gives the opportunity to play a melody or perhaps one of the accompanying parts along to it.

Styles will only play on the Keyboard brand it was programmed for, i.e. Yamaha styles will not play on a Korg, Technics etc. Sometimes subject to instrument upgrades, the Style will only work correctly on a limited number of a brand's own instruments. This is why you will often find different dedicated Style versions on our website, i.e. for Korg we have written Gold Silver and Bronze versions. These versions are often age-related. As a brand develops its technology over the years all sorts of variables change and a style written for an earlier instrument will be superseded by newer versions to enable the best musical experience possible for both the player and listener. Anyway, once a style is selected (or loaded), You play the song and the Style follows you and puts in a backing that hopefully fits. Please note it is important to play the correct chords for the number you are trying to reproduce.

Each manufacturer uses their own file code system inside their instruments. Thus a style has a code after the name of the style which enables the computer inside the instrument to recognise it. A bit like a computer graphics file might have a jpg or a png after a name or a word file being called a .doc file. Because of this a Style will only load and work on the keyboard it was programmed for. To illustrate the point lets use an example file called Swing. This is how the style name would look if you examined the file on a computer...

ROLAND would be "Swing .STL", YAMAHA "Swing.sty", KETRON "Swing.PAT". KORG, however, uses a different system to this and the Style would come in a folder labelled "USER01.STY". Please note technically it is possible to give the file the "Swing" name however the custom style default is set at User.

There are two types of styles, 'Generic' and 'Dedicated' with a number of type of music subcategories that could be applied after that. A Generic style is one that is based on a type of music ie Swing, Country, Latin etc. So if you have a samba style you should be able to pretty much play any samba to it, or a waltz... you get the idea I'm sure (this is a rule made to be broken but the principle holds). A Dedicated style is based on a certain song or piece of music. Generally, Styles come with 2, 3 or 4 Intros and Endings and 2 or 4 variations plus up to 6 fills dependent on the model and make of the keyboard. They also have 3 to 6 accompaniment parts plus Bass and Drums and written with 3 to 6 chord types ie Major Minor, etc. However, technically more are possible.

Just because Styles can be written with all these parts and chord options does not mean they are needed or have to be used. Possibly, more importantly, we believe the musician/player should be given the opportunity to decide what to switch on or off. You do not give someone a hammer and then tell them which type or size of nails to use on a job!

Styles normally have a minimum of two 4 Bar Intros and one shorter Intro of 2 bars or a 1 bar tap in, this also applies to the Endings but often have more. Many Generic styles have a Major and Minor Intro/Ending. In older brand models generic styles variations are programmed on a major chord only and the keyboard will automatically change this to Minor and 7th as required. However, the options for what can be programmed into a style has improved considerably over the last 30 years. When I started programming you were restricted to Bass, Drums and 3 Chord parts, the maximum number of bars you could have in a section was 8 bars and you could not exceed 17 notes at any one time. If you did use more than 17 notes then parts of the drum track would drop out or worse, the whole keyboard would slow down. You also had to use the same sound and settings in all sections. These days the styles programming section is far more advanced and allows me to do some very clever things including having different sounds and settings in each section and in some cases, sections can be up to 64 bars with a polyphony of up to 128 notes. This is why we can now produce such detailed Dedicated styles.

In our next article I will deal with how to best use your styles and how to get more out of them. Keep playing along

Dave Medcalf.