Yamaha VP1: Patch Demos

by Thor Zollinger, writer/musician/engineer at large.  2021

Selected VP1 Patches:

I’ve selected a few of the more useful VP1 factory patches to demo, patches that can actually be used in a song.  There are however, quite a few patches on the VP1 that only work as sound effects, or warp the sound so severely they won’t fit into any kind of a mix.  We’ll skip those for now.

A number of the useful VP1 patches have an interesting characteristic, they emulate several different acoustic instruments as you move up the keyboard.  The low end might model a thick bowed Bass, while the mid range models a woodwind like a Clarinet, then the high end shifts into a third instrument like a Pan Flute.  You get multiple instruments across one patch, all smoothly blended.  Playing a piece of music through a patch like this, it sounds like you have an ensemble playing together, not just one instrument. 

The VP1 also provides you with three Scenes per patch, each highlights a different setup for the patch.  The Scene Controller moves all of the other physical controllers together, warping the timbre in impossible ways.  Between the instruments changing across the keyboard and all of the moving physical controllers, you can create a sound no one else could ever hope to duplicate.  It's the ultimate in custom instrumentation.  Just listen to a few of the demos below and you'll hear the possibilities of this amazing synth.


Sweepy             VP1 Sweepy Patch - Free Child MP3 

Scene 1:  Thick Harpsichord down low, blending into a light bell-like flute on top.

Scene 2:  It adds a resonant airy wind instrument tone on top into the patch.

Scene 3:  The Scene 1 tones get a more prominent flute tone with a wood accent on the front.


SteelyTrio             VP1 SteelyTrio Patch - JazzStandard MP3 

Scene 1:  A guitar trio, with electric bass on the bottom and a mellow steel strings on top.

Scene 2:  The sound is sharper, with more steel string harmonics above a twangy electric bass.

Scene 3:  Pushing the harmonics further makes the sound more raspy, electric guitar harmonics.


NarliNylon             VP1 NarliNylon Patch - Drive by Incubus MP3   (Just the Acoustic Guitar part.)

                               VP1 NarliNylon Patch - Drive by Incubus MP3   (All of the Parts.)

Scene 1:  Mellow Nylon Stringed Guitar.  One person commented that there would never be a realistic synthesized Guitar.  Here it is.

Scene 2:  Steel Stringed Guitar, more resonant with higher harmonics.

Scene 3:  Altered resonance, and halfway in between a Nylon and Steel Stringed Guitar.

Backman             VP1 Backman Patch - 1960's Alleycat MP3 

Scene 1:  Reverb electric guitar, which is part harpsichord.

Scene 2:  Slightly more resonance in the patch.

Scene 3:  Buzzy feedback over the top of the resonant electric guitar/harpsichord.


ShrtDcBel2             VP1 ShrtDcBel Patch - Memories of Green MP3 

Scene 1:  Mellow synthetic bell tones.  The piece is by Yasunori Mitsuda, one of my favorites.

Scene 2:  Sharper bell tone, with a high-pitched metallic attack.

Scene 3:  Inharmonic tones are added into the bell which insert a mysterious emotional effect.

WoodFamily             VP1 WoodFamily Patch - Quartet MP3 

Scene 1:  Woodwinds are the target of this patch.  Selecting the first variation gives you thicker chorused Clarinet and Flute sections. 

Scene 2:  In the center variation you get a deep Clarinet sound that shifts into a Flute as you play up the keyboard. 

Scene 3:  Pushing it into the second variation morphs the sound into a double reed.  You get a Bassoon on the bottom end and an English Horn on the top.

BowedAir             VP1 BowedAir Patch - JazzChicken MP3 

Scene 1:  If you want a thick, rich, gorgeous string patch, this is the one.  It has a chorus variation where it shifts into a thicker sounding string section, multiple string players on each instrument.

Scene 2:  In the low range it perfectly matches a bowed bass viol.  In the mid range you get more of a composite of a cello and a viola, then it shifts into a violin as you go higher. 

Scene 3:  As you push it into the Air pipe variation, it starts off as a pitched steam organ, then almost immediately becomes overblown as you push it further.  Forcing too much air through the pipe causes it to screech and hiss, creating a purely percussive sound.

I could have picked a nice string quartet piece for this patch, but I went with a funky Jazz piece instead because of the Air variation…


BowedMorph             VP1 BowedMorph Patch - MapleLeafRag MP3 

Scene 1:  This patch features a rich, but breathy string sound, with a tremolo variation.

Scene 2:  Clear, but breathy strings (more scratchy bow noise) are the main sound of the patch.

Scene 3:  The Morph portion of the patch shifts into a louder Calliope steam organ with high-pitched overtones.


Harpy2                     VP1 Harpy2 Patch - Clockworks MP3 

Scene 1:  A clear resonant harp is at the core of this patch.

Scene 2:  A steel-stringed guitar twang asserts itself in the center variation.

Scene 3:  Additional higher-pitched overtones are added in this variation, giving the patch a plucked Harpsichord feel.


OldBrasSect             VP1 OldBrasSect Patch - Arbbchev MP3 

Scene 1:  Clear mellow horns comprise this patch.

Scene 2:  A metallic attack is added, along with some higher harmonics, giving the horn tone more bite.

Scene 3:  Inharmonic tones can be added into the patch, giving it a very odd metallic tone.


SynthWind2             VP1 SynthWind2 Patch - Andiwere MP3 

Scene 1:  This one contains a mellow wood pipe in the lower range and a Recorder-like sound mid-range which shifts into a wooden flute as you go higher in pitch.

Scene 2:  The second variation adds more high overtones, like adding more ranks of pipes on a pipe organ by pulling out more stops.

Scene 3:  The tone thins out in this variation, becoming more airy and higher pitched.


WoodPiper             VP1 WoodPiper Patch - AngloVirg MP3 

Scene 1:  The first variation has an almost bagpipe feel to it, the sound warbles slightly similar to a Hurdy-Gurdy.

Scene 2:  Clear wood pipes dominate on top, with a bowed string sound mixed into the lower range.

Scene 3:  The pipes become slightly overblown, adding in some inharmonic overtones, giving the patch a more metallic flute tone.

Jody3             VP1 Jody3 Patch -Terpsichore Intro&Courante MP3 

Scene 1:  A thick reed/string organ sound, with a bit of a click on the start of the note.

Scene 2:  Thinner more mellow reed/string organ with less volume.

Scene 3:  Nasal flutey organ with a lot of airy overtones.

HappyEnd            VP1 HappyEnd Patch - Eat Us Three MP3  

Scene 1:  Scene 1 has a struck hollow metallic wood tone, with an airy pipe mixed in on top.

Scene 2:  A thick strings tone is mixed in on the bottom, with more of a flute tone up top.

Scene 3:  A reverberant hollow tone dominates the bottom, and a struck metallic flute tone is on top.

WelPiano             VP1 WelPiano Patch - FrogIMoreRag MP3 

Scene 1:  A nice studio Piano, probably the most realistic Piano of all of the ten or so available.  (We must have at least 1 Piano.)

Scene 2:  A slightly more resonant Piano with a L/R echo effect.

Scene 3:  The patch gets tinny and honky-tonk as you push it slightly in this direction, but it goes out of tune to a bell-like Toy Piano really fast.


FingaPikin             VP1 FingaPikin Patch - Vivaldi Concerto RV533 MP3 

Scene 1:  A nylon stringed Guitar, almost like a Lute.

Scene 2:  Slightly more resonant nylon/steel string Guitar

Scene 3:  Steel stringed Guitar.


Satch’sRig  and  OD Guitar             VP1 Satch'sRig & ODGuitar Patch - Soul Sacrifice MP3 

Satch’sRig is an excellent  Distortion Guitar lead, nasty and snarly just like you like it.

OD Guitar is an expressive Overdriven Guitar lead, clear tones with a bit of feedback.

Neither of these patches have much variation to them in the Scene settings, but both feature an echo effect that enhances the performance.  Only the solo Guitar is the VP1, the other instruments are from one of my other Yamaha synthesizers.


ElePiano3                  VP1 ElePiano3 Patch - Chrono Fun MP3 

Scene 1:  Standard Electric Piano, mellow tones.

Scene 2:  This variant adds in more high frequencies and shifts the pitch up one octave.

Scene 3:  Adds metallic inharmonic bell tones into the second variation of the patch.  (Not used in the demo song.)


MoreSoft                   VP1 MoreSoft Patch - A Premonition MP3 

Scene 1:  A soft, slightly metallic electric piano with lots of resonance.

Scene 2:  A much brighter attack and tubular reverb are added to give the piano more punch.

Scene 3:  The attack is softened some, and more of the sustained tone and reverb are added into the patch.

LiveWireCp                   VP1 LiveWireCp Patch - Kaktus MP3 

Scene 1:  Higher-pitched twang Electric Guitar.  The lower registers are more piano-like.

Scene 2:  Deeper, resonant Electric Guitar with a bit of feedback mixed in, resonant string on the bottom.

Scene 3:  Higher feedback Guitar, with more of a metallic clank to it.


GasLead                   VP1 GasLead Patch - Karmell MP3 

Scene 1:  High air-flow pipe noise with a tubular resonance.

Scene 2:  A sawtooth tone is added in on top of the air-pipe, with a bit of a slide into the note.

Scene 3:  The sawtooth is stronger and played opposite a detuned version of itself.


ShrtDcBell                   VP1 ShrtDcBell Patch - Shot Of Crisis MP3 

Scene 1:  Synthetic, thick mellow tone that is half electric piano, half bell tone.

Scene 2:  The Bell tone shifts into a more tubular bell type of timbre as the electric piano fades out.

Scene 3:  The bell becomes more of a marimba tone as the bell tone shifts it’s timbre further.


NastyAtk                   VP1 NastyAtk Patch - Seven Schlit MP3 

Scene 1:  A metallic harpsichord attack over a string tone.

Scene 2:  The attack becomes more of a fuzzy string tone played over a piano-like timbre.

Scene 3:  A hollow resonance is added, along with a less pleasant metallic tone.

DigiKing                   VP1 DigiKing Patch - Be Static MP3 

Scene 1:  A sawtooth sound coupled with a blown pipe resonance.

Scene 2:  Sharper attack on a brighter sawtooth patch with a twang-shaped envelope.

Scene 3:  High-pitched hiss on top of the sawtooth, through a tubular resonator.


DigiMist                   VP1 DigiMist Patch - Beyond The Scene MP3 

Scene 1:  Digital string with a very metallic attack and warble to the tone.

Scene 2:  Digital strings with a filter warble to the tone.  It’s got a rubbed crystal glass resonance behind.

Scene 3:  Stronger octave harmonics are added into the sound giving it a more steady tone.

Stormy                   VP1 Stormy Patch - Bach, Air On D MP3 

Scene 1:  Orchestral Harp

Scene 2:  Chorused strings, emulating an entire orchestra of Strings

Scene 3:  A phaser-like tone is added into the orchestral strings, along with more of the harp.


RoughStr                   VP1 RoughStr Patch - Brandenburg Concerto #3 MP3 

There really isn’t much difference between the three Scenes in this patch, nothing useful anyway.  This one is a rich, full orchestra of strings which is why I chose the Brandenburg Concerto .  The VP1 is known for strings and this one is one of the richest.  The synthesizer isn’t limited to plucked or struck instrument models, despite what some of the literature says.

StarDust                   VP1 StarDust Patch - Another World MP3 

Scene 1: A water-based sustained wooden mallet instrument with the tone sustained. Random mallet strikes sustain the tone and give it a wet sound.

Scene 2: The tone changes into a more sustained harpsichord-like tone with random note strikes to give it a sparkling atmosphere.

Scene 3: A tone a fifth above is added in, along with a bit more of the sparkle.

ElePiano                   VP1 ElePiano Patch - Eagle Fly MP3 

Scene 1: Your basic Rhodes Piano. Not a very exciting patch, but useful never the less.

Scene 2: A slight tines tone is added into the Piano.

Scene 3: A metallic tone is added in, a bit detuned like a toy electric piano.



I've worked on the VP1 for a few months now, and I think I've identified the VP1's SuperPower: 

Timbre Morphing

In a basic patch the timbre of the VP1 can change dramatically as you go up the keyboard, and the entire patch can be morphed radically using a collection of physical controllers.  It can start as a bass Clarinet on the bottom of the keyboard, shift to a bowed Viol mid range, then shift again into a bell tone on the top range.  Since acoustic instruments have a two to three octave range, setting up a patch to emulate two or three acoustic instruments over the 76-key keyboard is about optimum.  On top of this, you can morph the entire keyboard from one set of instruments to another using the physical controllers.  In the WoodFamily patch the timbre shifts smoothly from a set of single reed voices to double reed instruments using the Scene Controller.  And there are 22 physical controllers...  A handful of these controllers are more for Expression, like Aftertouch, Key Velocity, Mod Wheels, the Breath Controller and TouchEG.  These morph the timbre instantaneously for player nuances, but more often in the VP1 they alter the timbre more dramatically.

Yamaha VP1:  3D Parameters

Most synths have predominantly one dimensional parameters, each of these parameters has just one value or setting.  The VP1 has over 700 of this type per Element.  An example would be the cut-off frequency of a filter.  Some parameters become two dimensional when you apply an envelope or a controller.  A parameter like the filter cut-off frequency can respond to a controller like Aftertouch.  Key Scaling parameters are also two dimensional, they change the parameter over the width of the keyboard.  On most synths with Keyboard Scaling, you get one breakpoint setting and different parameter slopes on either side of the breakpoint.  See the infamous graphic below left from the Yamaha DX7.


     Yamaha DX7                                                     Yamaha VP1

The Yamaha VP1 takes this one step further, providing the patch programmer with three dimensional settings controls.  The controller graphs provide multiple breakpoints across the keyboard, and two different limit lines, a maximum and minimum line for the parameter.  The mod wheel Controller shown in the example above moves the parameter in a third axis, up and down between the max and min lines. There are 100 parameters per Element on the VP1 that are 3-dimensional.  And I haven’t seen a 3D feature like this on any other synthesizer.

Almost all of the main model parameters on the VP1 can be 1D, 2D, or 3D.  In this respect the VP1 is unique.  It provides 100 model parameters (per Element) which can be controlled by any of the 22 external controllers, changing across the keyboard.  This capability provides the patch programmer with a massive amount of control over the instrument.  A patch can easily change timbre between multiple instruments across the keyboard, giving you smooth, transitioning keyboard splits within the patch.  It also provides a large range of Expressions using physical controllers to bend and morph the sound as you play, using Aftertouch, Mod Wheels, Breath Control, pedals, sliders, etc.  There are also four assignable Envelope controllers and two LFO’s which can be mapped to any model parameter in the synth.  But, going back to key scaling, I haven’t seen any other synth that provides keyboard trackable parameters to this extent.

Yamaha VP1: Strengths

So what are the VP1’s strengths anyway?  Well, internally it’s built on the Commuted Physical Acoustic model developed at Stanford University.  It uses a Driver waveform on the front end that contains the acoustic resonance of the instrument it’s modeling, which feeds into a dual Wave Guide like the VL1 is built around, then the output feeds into an Effects unit.  It’s designed (reading the CCRMA research papers) to model acoustic instruments, both wind instruments and strings.  Depending upon the way the Driver’s are set up, it can model either plucked or struck instruments like a Guitar or Marimba, or simple bowed and blown instruments like the Violin, Clarinet or Pipe Organ.  (No, it’s not limited to just plucked or struck models.)  The patches could have been more like the VL1, very realistic and expressive, but only a small handful of the patches ended up that way.  

Another strength of the VP1 is in it’s controllers, there are 21 physical controllers in the matrix!  (The Controller assignment window is shown above.)  That’s a LOT of controllers!

From the upper left, the controllers are:

• Default Slider • Initial Touch (Velocity) • After Touch • Touch EG • Key On/Off • Note

• Modulation Wheel 1 • Modulation Wheel 2 • Foot Controller 1 • Foot Controller 2 • Breath Controller • Fixed

• Assignable EG 1 • Assignable EG 2 • Assignable EG 3 • Assignable EG 4 • Pitch Bend

• Continuous Slider 1 • Continuous Slider 2 • Modulation Ball x-axis • Modulation Ball y-axis

The most useful controller is probably the Scene Controller (separate from the ones above) which allows you to move ALL of the other controllers all at once between three distinct combinations.  The factory patches however, only use about half of the plethora of controllers available. 

For more intimate details on the Yamaha VP1 you can refer to my Editor Guide linked below.

Download  Javelin's Illustrated Yamaha VP1 Editor Guide 1.84 MB