KeyMusician Keyboard

by Aere Greenway copyright © 2012


This application was created to open the world of music to many more people than currently own musical instruments. The key to doing this, is that with the MIDI software readily available on computers today, everyone with a computer, can have not only a quality piano, but an entire band or orchestra at their fingertips.

My other goal in creating this application, was to transform an ordinary typing keyboard into a musical instrument that you could actually perform with, and would actually want to perform with. All you need is a boom-box, and a laptop! With that, it becomes easy for people to get-together, and form their own bands. And with the keyboard in a suitable harness, you can perform standing, as you would with a guitar.

With the musical staff on-screen, and the music-notation notes you play, and those coming from a MIDI player displayed, It also provides an easy, interactive way of learning to read music. The notes appear on the screen, and change color if you hit the same note. It handles most (if not all) MIDI keyboards, transforming an ordinary synthesizer into a music learning workstation.

If you don't already have a MIDI-equipped keyboard, this application transforms your typing keyboard into a music keyboard worthy of performing with in front of an audience. Also, by virtue of the many musical details it handles for you, it is probably one of the easiest musical instruments to learn to play. And after learning to play it, it is not limited in scope (such as are instruments that only play chords).

The transformation of a typing keyboard to a music keyboard gives you 84 keys, which is only 4 less than a full piano keyboard! It also gives you a way of easily playing chords, similar to what an accordion does.

The boring hours of practicing scales in different key-signatures are not required, because this is an intelligent keyboard, which knows which notes need to be flats or sharps, depending on the key-signature you have specified. You only have to play the notes of the scale. Changing key-signatures is instant, requiring only a single key-stroke to do it. This works with a MIDI keyboard as well, since you can play it through the application.

Yet there are times when you really need a note not in the key-signature. You can still play these notes by simply pressing the page-up or page-down key, or a (left or right) shift-key, or even by merely playing a chord that uses notes not in the current key-signature.

Where other instruments offer only a single sound, such as guitar or piano, the KeyMusician keyboard lets you use up to 10 different instruments of your choice in a given piece, switching between them with a single key-stroke. Between pieces (or if you have more time for switching), you can easily switch to use hundreds of different instruments.

With its integrated MIDI player, you can interact with a world of MIDI music on-line, and easily change its tempo (slow it down) to make it easier to play along with, and/or read its music displayed from the MIDI player.

The application installs from the Internet, on a computer having Java (level 1.6, or later). It is supported on Windows®, Macintosh OS X®, and the various 'flavors' of Ubuntu Linux. It should work on other distributions of Linux – especially if they use Debian packages.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a screen-shot, showing the information and controls visible to you while performing:

Screen-shot of the F2 performance pane, with the music display showing five flats in the key-signature.  The G-flat note is being played with the Page-Down key, so a double-flat accidental appears just left of the note.

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