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CueTIME: The Software That Follows You

Put yourself in the driver’s seat when playing along to backing tracks.

There is a sense of panic that sometimes occurs when musicians try to play along with pre-recorded backing tracks. They know that once they’ve started playback, they need to concentrate not only on striking the correct notes, but also on keeping up with the background arrangements. Even advanced musicians who ultimately master this art often view such an experience — which they liken to playing along with a metronome — as being confining and unfulfilling.

What is CueTIME?

CueTIME software is designed to change this. Developed for exclusive use with select Yamaha Clavinova CVP keyboards (those equipped with guide lamps), it provides pre-recorded MIDI instrumental backgrounds that actually “wait” for you as you play along, giving you complete control over the tempo, regardless of how fast or how slowly you play on your keyboard. As a result, it introduces musicality to the experience by allowing for tempo expression such as ritardandos and accelerandos.

How does CueTIME work?

In the course of reading and playing a CueTIME selection, you’ll be striking strategically placed notes on the keyboard. These “cue notes” are used to advance the background sequence and are indicated on the printed music score with subtle highlighting consisting of a gray shading or a “halo” around the note head:

You can easily identify these “cue notes” on your Clavinova with the lights above each key:

How do I get CueTIME songs?

CueTIME software is available at YamahaMusicSoft.com. Every purchase is downloaded with a printable PDF version of the sheet music, along with the companion MIDI file. You can buy one song at a time, or in book collections of eight songs, and you can preview selections by listening to the brief MP3 audio samples next to each title on the website.

Now you’re ready to start playing along!

Begin by copying your downloaded MIDI files onto a USB thumb drive and then insert the drive into the USB port on your Clavinova. Now all you have to do is go to the “SONG” area of the instrument and load your purchases one song at a time. The “GUIDE” function — the feature that makes your Clavinova “wait” for you — is automatically activated when a CueTIME song is loaded.

When you press “Play” on the front panel of the Clavinova, you’ll see just one light appear above one of the keys — that’s the first cue. You won’t hear any background music until this note is played. If you then play the song exactly as written in the sheet music, you will activate all subsequent cues in the process.

Some hints when using CueTIME:

— Focus on reading the music.
— Slow down if you are unsure of the notes, because the Clavinova will adjust to your slower tempo as you learn the piece.
— If you miss a cue, simple look down at the keyboard and look for the light of the key you missed: that’s the note that the Clavinova is waiting for you to play.
— To determine where you are in the music, locate the “cue” note — one of the shaded (or “haloed”) notes in the music.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Craig Knudsen has over 30 years experience in the high-tech music industry. He is a highly accomplished keyboardist and musical arranger who has been featured at Carnegie Hall. Known as the creator of “Follow Lights” and “Kooky Karaoke” Clavinovas, as well as SmartKEY on the Disklavier, Craig has designed shows for the Disneyland Tomorrowland’s Home of the Future and has worked with arranger Phillip Keveren to develop the CueTIME Series, where the background arrangements follow as you play at different tempos. Most recently, Craig has worked with ThePianoGuys, helping them create videos featured on YouTube.

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