This Demonstration of Piano Commando is confidential, and a trade secret. Please treat it as such. (Note: You need the Flash plug-in to view this demo. If you do not have it, go to http://www.macromedia.com/ for the free download.)
The lower keyboard represents the user's
attached MIDI piano keyboard.
This Demo is not interactive. The graphics and quality of the sound are not indicitive of the way the game will actually look and feel.
This demo is only meant to be an illustration of certain key concepts. The musical excerpt is not meant to please, but to illustrate consistently the variations on a simple concept. The beauty of the game is that ANY piece of music in Western standard musical notation can be imported into the game via small MIDI files, a universal music format. This game can be played very well even without sound.
The unique features of this game
for piano are simple, yet in combination they allow virtually anyone to learn to
play correctly. The user will
have a similar color coded keyboard in front of them, attached to the computer, or later, TV. The unique color scheme, while striking, is
actually one of the least important components for successful playing, though it obviously helps.
The second obvious simplification
is to make the virtual keyboard parallel. By turning the musical map 90 degrees
and making it parallel with
the keyboard of the user, it becomes extremely obvious the correlation of the two keyboards, real and virtual. Normal musical notation has
the musical map perpendicular, an easy concept to understand, but a difficult counterintuitive visual scheme to translate, especially while
playing. Here the keys on the two keyboards are set up parallel and move in an obvious intuitive one-to-one relationship.
The dimension of time is up and
down instead of left to right, but the most important time component of this
interface is that the user can
ANTICIPATE the coming beats and notes, and so "lead" the note and arrive with the finger on the real keyboard at the same time as the
note hits the virtual keyboard.
Test this yourself by clapping just when the note hits the keyboard. Rhythm players, guitar players all use extensive visual cues
to coordinate rhythmically, but keyboard is traditionally a solo learning experience, and keeping the beat is the toughest challenge to
the novice and expert. This interface not only helps the user succeed rhythmically much faster, it allows them to 'get back on the horse'
after they have missed a note, a measure or even whole section. It becomes an elaborate hand-eye coordination and timing game like
Tetris or Asteroids or Mario Bros.
Of course the game also has
feedback, reacting differently graphically depending on the success of hitting
the target at the right time.
Graphically the variations are of course endless, but the essential underlying grid logic will always remain.
Finally, after successfully reaching say 90% success rate on a song, the interface will begin to morph and transform, going to different
levels of difficulty, and gradually, not like this quick illustration of concept, it will reveal the underlying logic and musical grid structure of
traditional musical notation, but by then the hand-eye coordination and pitch and rhythm elements are conditioned reflexes, and the transition
is relatively painless and fun. "Suddenly" the user can look at a piece of sheet music and see it as a map of the game, one they know how to read
and interpret on the fly, without thinking. This is a key hidden educational benefit to the game, one we hope will lead to widespread
musical literacy and involvement in music.
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