This is a continually expanding series of titles which work in conjunction with the popular ‘Easy Keyboard Library' printed music books, and even if you don't read music you can use the lyrics to follow the song and still make great use of this software style. Each disk follows the same format as the popular ‘Pattern and Registration' disks by using the ‘Composer' section of your instrument to store the accompaniment backings and the ‘Panel Memory' feature for the melody sounds but with the addition of some pre-recorded tracks via the ‘sequencer'.
Sometimes the backing to a song is almost as well known as the song itself such as the Carpenter's ‘Close To You' or the film theme ‘Chariots of Fire'; equally there are songs of which there are many different recorded versions. Well, you'll find this level of detail on all of the Playalong titles featuring specific backings for songs that only have one well know version and specially created arrangements for more general songs. Each section of the song as it appears in the book has it's own ‘composer' variation and if the song requires something special to happen in the backing like a particular counter melody or brass figure then that's what you'll get, just so that the song sounds as authentic as possible. And so that you don't loose out on the number of general use patterns that would normally be on a regular patterns and registrations disk, for every ‘dedicated' song pattern there will be a ‘general' version of it in another composer memory location.
The sequenced tracks fulfil a number of functions, but there main job is to play back the ‘Auto Play Chord' accompaniment for the entire song from start to finish which also includes the complete chord sequence together with the intro, ending and fill-ins, and the sound changes from the Panel Memories. This leaves you to concentrate on just playing the melody with the right hand until you're familiar enough with it to add the left hand chords. One of the sequencer tracks is of course already playing these chords, so just switch it off and play the chords yourself. There's a sequencer part that looks after all the button pushing like pressing a panel memory or fill-in button, and if you leave it switched on it will continue to turn the necessary buttons on and off while you carry on playing the melody and chords. Some of the titles even have the melody recorded as well so that you can listen to the entire song as a performance piece or as background music. Actually, when you've learned to play the song it's a relatively simple process to record the melody yourself if you want to, or even add an extra couple of choruses!
This kind of software is a fantastic teaching aid too. Just by being able to hear how the song should go before you start trying to play it and to see the different parts of the instrument being switched on and off certainly makes for a greater understanding of how your Technics instrument actually works, and really does teach you so much about the music that you're going to play. And if you don't want to use any of the sequenced track you can turn them all off and just use the disk like a regular ‘Patterns and Registrations' disk for rhythm styles and sounds.
Playalong software: a summary
- Works with the ‘Easy Keyboard Library'
- Use the book as a guide
- Can be used as a normal ‘Pattern and Registration' disk
- Sequenced ‘chord ‘track (track 4)
- Sequenced ‘control' track (track 5)
- Sequenced ‘melody' track on some disks (tracks 1 & 2)
- Teaches you about your instrument both audibly and visually
- Practise right and left hands separately
- Easy to record your own performance of the melody part
- Easy to extend the length of a song
‘Playalong' software is a great way of building a library of performance-ready songs; complete songs that you can play at a moments notice and will only take as long to set up as it takes for the file to load. This series is great fun to play and very impressive to listen to.