For those who have played Guitar Hero before in the arcade or on consoles, you will now be able to try things out on a different instrument. Pianists Katja Rogers and Amrei Röhlig as well as their colleagues from the University of Ulm in Germany have developed the Projected Instrument Augmentation system (PIANO).
The game play is rather similar to that of the Guitar Hero. A screen is attached to an electric piano and colourful blocks act as representation of the notes. As these colourful blocks descend down the screen, the player has to press the corresponding key on the keyboard at the exact moment. There will be a thin line between blocks and the next key to be pressed gives the player a warning of the next note to come. There will also be quirks in the lines like ripples to act as an indication of adding ornamentations such as a trill. Each note block is also coloured based on which finger should play it, which helps to improve on technique. The system will indicate those wrong notes played in red.
The way PIANO works is similar to the concept of Rock Band 3, perhaps only more upscale on a small, 1.5-octave keyboard. Another key difference is that the Rock Band is connected to your television screen whereas PIANO is simply projected. “We had quite a few novices use it who were very sceptical at first, but then were really impressed by how quickly they could play relatively well,” stated Florian Schaub, who gave a presentation on the system last month at the UbiComp conference in Zurich, Switzerland.
At the moment, there are formal user studies ongoing and so far the results have been rather positive. According to Florian, the system can actually speed up one’s learning and also improve a player’s musical expression. However, there were also some negative feedback as well. “This may improve technical skill but that, for me, is about all it would do. It does not allow for an individual’s interpretation of the music. If everyone learned piano using this technology, we would not need countless CDs of famous pianists playing the same pieces of music, because they would all sound the same,” explained Lucy Smith, a piano tutor and music teacher in London. For the full story, you can read it here.
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