Portable Sequencer/Sound Engine
Ya gotta love this age of micro-miniaturization! It’s like there’s some law of inverse proportion that states as things get smaller, they naturally become more powerful. Such is certainly the case with the diminutive yet deceptively powerful Yamaha QY70 general MIDI music sequencer.
Small enough to fit in your hand and weighing in at slightly over one pound, the QY70 can be used as either a portable, convenient songwriting tool or a full-blown sequencer system for stage or studio. The QY70 sports a large sized LCD display offering plenty of simultaneous information, including text prompts. A variety of buttons across the top panel give the user access to the sequencer’s various modes, including a tone generator using Yamaha’s AWM2 sound engine, 32 notes of multi-timbral polyphony, a variety of effects including reverbs and chorus, built-in digital mixing and a full-featured 16-track, 32,000 note sequencer. Included in the button array is a two-octave mini-keyboard, a “tape recorder” styled transport control, and an octave toggle for your bass sounds.
The unit’s flexibility has already allowed it to find a comfortable home in a wide variety of environments, and of the QY70’s many strengths, one that I particularly enjoyed were its compositional possibilities. Once you get past the initial learning curve of the system nomenclature, you can pretty quickly begin to build up elaborate song structures with full orchestration. Much of the ease of composition is due in large part to the huge menu of pre-produced music grooves that include hundreds of preset patterns built from literally thousands of phrases. These phrase patterns can be used for song construction, or simply as repetitive grooves for practicing or whatever. Examples of available style patterns include everything from Bluegrass and Gospel to Afro Jazz and Space Opera. Add in Thrash, Britpop, Speed Metal, Cajun, Klezmer, and Game Pop, and you can quickly see there is plenty to work with within the hundred-plus groove patterns.
Once you’ve selected patterns and phrases that you want to work with, and you’ve sequenced together a stream of song parts, you can enter in, either live or in a stepped form, your melodic lines and chord changes. It’s in both these areas that the mini-keyboard is employed. You can, of course, use the keyboard for entering in your basic melody and harmony lines. However, built into the upper octave is a bank of chords that can quickly and easily be called up to add a full, rich texture to your compositions. The chord structures are logically and musically laid out and they include both traditional voicings as well as complex ones such as 7sus4, m7(11) and 7(flat13). Once you’ve assembled compositional elements, it’s amazing how quickly and easily the creative juices begin to flow and the songs start springing forth. Therein lies the real heart and soul of the QY70: its ability to bring out the creative muse in us all.
As you would expect from all of the instruments that come from Yamaha’s electronic music division, the sounds are varied, authentic and quite beautiful. As a General MIDI instrument, the QY70 is totally compatible with all MIDI control and sound generation protocols. The QY70 also has the capability of hooking up a full-sized MIDI keyboard or other MIDI controller as well as the ability to be interfaced into a Macintosh and/or Wintel computer through a built-in 8-pin mini DIN computer interface jack. A disc containing Yamaha MIDI drivers is supplied with the unit. Through this interface, you can transfer song files and other data back and forth between sequencer and computer for storage and/or modification.
Needless to say, the list of features contained in the QY70 are extensive, allowing for a depth and breadth compositional possibilities. Above and beyond the feature set however, are the simple facts the QY70 is intuitive and fun. With its size, price, ease of operation, and list of features, the Yamaha design team has developed a powerful, flexible and cost-effective way of expanding one’s musical horizons. And when you think about it, what more could we ask from any of the tools of our trade?