Yamaha PSR I-500

Yamaha has introduced PSR I-500, which is an improved version of I-455. These PSR I series models are available in all Yamaha shops in India, other musical shops and also available online. The model is rarely available in other countries, as it is designed specifically for Indian Music, with some good Indian tones and rhythms. Another model PSR I400 is available at a lower cost.


Yamaha PSR I455 - a a boon to Indian Music learners !!!

Yamaha brand is becoming popular in India, through models like PSR I-425, PSR I-455, which supports Indian Music. Keyboard players/ students can make their playing/learning effective by using the tabla rhythm loops provided in I-455 for various thalas. Tambura sruthi is also available in this model, along with tabla beats.

In short, though Yamaha I-455 doesn't support much for carnatic gamakas, it provides a classical environment with good tabla rhythms and tambura sruthi, which makes learning music interesting.


Korg Korss 61 - a substitute for Korg X50

Korg X50 is not available any more, except a few shops who are holding some old stock. A substitute of X50 is Korg Kross 61, which is again a very light weight keyboard, and suits well for Carnatic. 

Though some new technology and features have been added in this model, all voice editing settings have been retained, and this helps to set the keyboard for playing carnatic gamakas. 


This is one of the best models for playing accompaniments/bgms for Light Music/ Devotional Concerts. It has a wide range of functions like Registration memory, multi-pads, one touch settings, layers, sound effects, pitch benders, good speakers, recording style loops, and many more. Though it is a bit heavy to carry, the tones are really pleasant and very good for accompaniment.


Professional Keyboard for Carnatic - Korg X-50

Though there are a number of keyboards available with pitch bend knobs, most of the the keyboards do not have good tones that support playing of carnatic gamakas.

The pitch bend knob can not solve the issue of gamakas totally, as most of the keyboards have only +2/-2 pitch bend range. The pitch bend range decides how much you can bend the swaras, and hence in such keyboards, we can play only limited gamakas, which are not sufficient to play fine carnatic.
Keyboards  like Korg X50 , Korg TR 61 have high quality pitch bends, and the pitch bend range can also varied in +X/-X directions, according to the requirements of the raga. There are also parameters like the portamento and legato in such keyboards, which provide extra support in handling gamakas. But it is necessary that the person who plays the keyboard understands the gamakas well, and practices his fingering well, such that he can bring out the maximum carnatic feel from the instrument.

Selection of tone is also very important to use the technology available in these instruments. Normally wind instruments, reed instruments are not suitable to use these technologies. Some guitar tones, in particular Jazz Guitar tone is the most suitable one for playing carnatic music. This tone also combines well with legato, portamento effects to produce gamakas. Korg X-50 is also a light weight model, and is very easy to carry.


Beginner's Keyboard at a very affordable price

Casio offers a new model CTK 1100 / CTK 1150 at a very affordable price. Beginners, who would like to give a try, can purchase this model and make an attempt. In case they succeed, they can up grade for a higher model later. This is also suitable for children to learn & play simple songs. Though the voice quality is not very good., this keyboard has many features like good rhythms, a variety of tones, functions like transpose, in-built chord etc., and it is the right model for beginners to try.


Use of Portamento & Legato in some advanced Keyboards

These facilities work better in advanced keyboards like Korg X50, M50 etc.

The portamento facility gives a glide from one note to another, when the second note is played, holding the first one. Though it gives some glide, it can not match with the same glide we get when we play on manual instruments like violin, veena etc.

The legato setting gives some connection between notes, but it gives different effects based on the touch pressure on the notes., and it requires special practice to handle this effect in the keyboard. Sometimes we get very good effects accidentally, and in some other time we do not get the effect. To have a perfect control over the effect, we have to analyse it carefully, applying proper finger pressure. There are some keyboard artists who have done a lot of practice in these areas, but yet bringing 100% correct gamakas is impossible in keyboard, when compared to manual instruments.


Which Keyboard should you buy for Learning

Learning Electronic Keyboard becomes interesting, if you have a good Keyboard with beautiful voices, rhythm patterns, required funcions like transpose, tuning, metronome, dual voice, pitch bend, etc. These features make learning lively and creative.

There are two good models from Yamaha PSR E413 & I425, with all the above features, and in addition, very good speakers & anybody will really love to play on these Keyboards. PSR I-425 has some Indian tones & tabla rhytms, which is not available in any other model. These models will cost around US$350 - 400. If you are looking for a Keyboards at higher price range, say around $800 - 900, you may go for PSR S700 or S800.

If you go for models below the above price range, either the sound quality will be poor or the features will be restricted. So in my opinion, you may begin with PSR E413 or I425 and upgrade to S700 or S800 at a later date. Wish you all the best.


What are 'Styles' in Keyboard

"Styles" are different patterns of rhythms. Generally there are a lot of rhythm patterns, out of which, a few have been provided in the Keyboard. Anybody can compose a 'Style' according to their imagination & taste. While learning the basic lessons, it is better to play lessons with simple rhythm patterns like 8 beat (or) 16 beat.