Pianoteq makes digital pianos sound like a real piano without using pre-recorded samples, but by instead generating sound via an advanced model.
I have another interesting setup at home that I'll do a blog post on one of these days that works extremely well with Pianoteq and other virtual pianos, costs peanuts and gives you some amazing capabilities. Stay tuned! (pun intended ;) ).
Top-of-the-line sampled piano VSTs may lack the dynamic range and versatility of Pianoteq, or its ability to reproduce sympathetic resonance and partial pedaling, but they at least capture not only a great piano but also the added effect of pro mics mixed/recorded by pros in a pro studio.
I'm not an audio engineer, so I just use Abbey Road's Yamaha VST - its default settings sound great, no extra work for me.
Inspiring, thank you!
The best part is the download is really, really small, compared to the multi-gigabyte sampled solution.
My favourite hardware solution is the Roland series of modelling, I currently use an RD88 , which sounds great, and is really good for practice (and it has built in speakers which is a handy addition), and it's small!
The FP series is also good and less expensive.
Pianoteq is very good!
Unlike all the other ones I've tried where I get ear fatigue after a few minutes due to some issue I can never consciously identify, with Pianoteq I can play for HOURS.
Not trying to shill for them, honest. I just really really like it.
But the most fun in practicing is on the real piano.
Also, thanks for showing me that YT channel.
That soothing voice and the clean style alone makes it worth a subscribe, heh.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with anybody learning to play piano entirely by ear and never picking up a music score. If that brings you enjoyment, that's truly fantastic, and I mean that sincerely. But for the vast majority of pianists, being unable to read sheet music will cut you off from many genres of music entirely, make in-person instruction mostly impossible, render all written pedagogical resources inaccessible to you, and enormously limit your ability to play in ensembles. Even jazz pianists who improvise and play by ear for all of their meaningful playing can read music; in fact you'd probably find that most of the really good ones are incredible sight-readers.
> These things are about a different as learning to program and learning to type in a program from a magazine.
I think a better analogy is probably something like "these things are about as different as being able to understand a spoken language, and being able to speak and write it".
It's interesting that you talk about replicating pieces. This is a "peculiarly Western" way of treating musicianship (and even in the Western world it applies primarily to classical musicians). In most of the world, musicianship is first and foremost judged by ability to improvise and to perform an orally transmitted repertoire of music. Music tends to be made in an improvisatory manner, but within the rules and constraints of a particular style.
It really depends on what kind of musician you want to be. Do you want to play Western classical music, or professionally in recording studios then reading is probably essential. If you just want to make music, it might still be handy and practical but by no means required.
I started piano lessons last year late in my life with explicit purpose to learn music theory and apply it to my limited and plateaued guitar skills.
It took several weeks to persuade my teacher that "learning music theory" is not the same thing as "learning sheet music".
I want to learn truths and relationships and connections which are separate and independent from any specific culturally and historically burdened notation.
Notation has its place and I won't claim its useless, of course its not... But i do see too many instructors think it a mandatory step when it isn't (FWIW, I've been studying music theory for a year now with tremendous weekly enlightenment and still cannot read sheet music and it's not my I'm ediate goal. If anything I find that way madness lies - math and relationships and insights of music theory are beautiful and universal and eye opening. Sheet music is a crap ton of inconsistencies we are stuck with, giving privileged view to a random scale and basicly hindering true understanding. I want to build as much understanding as I can before getting stuck in C major as a random baseline :-)
So I would say music theory to sheet music is at best math theory to written numbering system. And both are separate from any practical skill that utilizes them - just like you CAN be a great blacksmith or craftsperson with developed intuitive uderstanding of your matter, without learning blueprints and its notation (though it doesn't hurt and for some things it's necessary)
Music theory without culture and history would have to leave out things like scales, chords, chord progressions, tuning systems (like our 12-tone equal temperament), etc., since they vary between cultures and over time. I'm not entirely sure what's left, maybe the harmonic series?
Sheet music is similar to math notation or written language, and simpler to learn than either of those. It's not the only possible notation, but it's widely used and more compact than say guitar tabs or a MIDI piano roll. If you can't read/write any notation at all you will be limited by how much you can memorize, writing things down is a time-honored tradition for rememering details for yourself as well as for sharing it with others.
So I would suggest that music students learn sheet music plus any other notation that's relevant to their instrument, for the same reason I would suggest that English learners learn to read and write despite English spelling being a crapton of inconsistencies; it gives a lot more options for a modest amount of extra effort.
Can you go through life without being able to read and write, sure. I just don't see why you would want to.
Well there is no such thing. Western musical tradition is very different (and has different "truths") than Indian classical music for instance.
The piano gives that privileged view as well.
There have been some attempts to remedy this (Janko) but nothing that really succeeded. The inertia to change is tremendous.
It is interesting, for want of a better word, it's like Dvorak to Qwerty only much worse.
Looking back at my comment and scratching my head. In what way could it even be wrong? I’m literally just offering my personal experience from a life of playing piano, in reaction to the implicit assumption in the post that learning to play the piano means learning to play by reading a score.
I’m not against reading sheet music, but I’m against the idea that you somehow must do it to play this instrument, because I know it’s absolutely wrong. I’m not cut off from any genre I’m interested in playing, I’ve been able to receive in-person instructions, and I’ve certainly played in bands. I’m not really sure what “written pedagogical resources” about playing the piano would be, so not sure what to say about that.
> background as a professional music performer and educator (now a software engineer)
For what it’s worth, this is a reasonably accurate description of me as well.
Your original comments gives the impression that reading scores is "bad" somehow. The analogy of "These things are about a different as learning to program and learning to type in a program from a magazine" gives off the wrong impression. I play piano and I get what you mean, music is much more than playing a score. But the score is just a medium to learn a song. It's not "typing a program from a magazine", it's more towards "reading an algorithm description and writing the code".
> I’m not cut off from any genre I’m interested in playing,
The "I'm interested in playing" part is important. I don't think trying to play some classical piano pieces by ear is going to be easy, for example.
Is it necessary? No, of course it isn't necessary to be able to read sheet music. But it's pretty useful, not that hard, and will make a lot of things easier. You could make analogies diminishing every way to learn music (e.g., learning by ear is just like looking at a program your buddy wrote and writing the same, you're just imitating; or learning chord notation is just like writing in scratch, you're limited to the blocks someone created before) but they're not useful at all. While it worked for you, most people will actually benefit from having multiple ways to learn music.
I'd beg to differ. To read a moderately complex piece at the speed at which it is played while playing is tougher than most other skills that I've acquired. If it weren't hard then it probably wouldn't be the major reason lots of people give up music, the notation is inconsistent, hard to read, requires mode shifts, requires a lot of attention and can get extremely cluttered. It is anything but easy, but of course, once you've mastered it completely it might feel easy. Just like computer programming feels easy to me. But that doesn't mean that it is easy. It's just something I've been doing all my life so the underlying complexity has been long ago internalized to a level where I'm not really thinking about the code, just about the problem I want to solve.
Playing moderately complex pieces will be tough, no matter the method. Also, you're using the score to learn it, in most cases by the time you're able to play it at the correct speed you don't need to read every note, you use the score as a cue and guide. And some pieces fit with different methods, for example I find it more difficult to play pop songs by sheet music than by ear (or ear + chord notation for the harmony). On the other hand I recall Satie pieces, they're pretty easy to read but I'd really struggle a lot if I wanted to play them by ear.
> If it weren't hard then it probably wouldn't be the major reason lots of people give up music
Is it though? I'd say that the major reason lots of people give up music is because it's harder than they think, and because there usually is a disconnect between what the student expects and what the teacher wants or teaches.
> once you've mastered it completely it might feel easy
This also applies to your point. I think people would get frustrated with their professor if their way of teaching pieces was just playing it and saying "now play it" without telling them what the notes are. Playing by ear is not easy, and it's really tough for people that haven't developed a musical ear and don't know any musical theory yet. At least when reading there's a set of instructions that you can follow and advance on that.
I think the skill you are talking about is sight reading, which isn't necessarily something that is required to play the piano at a high level. No matter what, you still need to practice. A lot.
I think this is what can be a little misleading, depending on what “learn to play” means.
Yes, anyone can “play” an instrument without formal instruction/training, but it will definitely limit your abilities and potential (for the average person and most above average people).
As someone that took very little formal training and can play piano by ear relatively well and can pick out and play many tunes, my abilities and potential are quite limited. I can also read music (I’m more formally trained as a trombonist), but I’m super slow at reading and playing piano music.
Looking back, I now wish I had learned more formally.
I’m speculating this was one of the points the GP was trying to point out.
If so, how, for example, are you talking about the concept of a dominant 7th chord? Or a ii-V-I?
Music Theory - which explicitly does not require nor teach sheet music:
How to read music
I have half a dozen other "music theory" books which in actuality spend 70% of the time on "reading music"; worse, this boring, discouraging, counter-intuitive cluttered part is typically first in the book (which means that interested minds will give up before ever getting to "the good stuff" :( ).
Basically I had to fight uphill battle with majority of professionals to actually learn something interesting and useful and insightful, as opposed to memorize sheet music (or memorize music theory terms without understanding / reasons why). I may one day decide to come back to sheet music, for many valid reasons; but reading sheet music is 100% not needed to discuss music theory - at least for me!
Edit: I noticed you had similar conversations in the past; it seems I had similar needs/perspective/experience as "jeofken" (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25812227).
I'd be eager to continue conversation via email / chat to obtain your further perspective, if you'd be willing:)
I'm just curious if they are still using note names and how this teacher is going about things... Because yes it's totally true you don't need to be able to read sheet music in order to understand theory well
Look at a jazz lead sheet for example, where chord voicings aren't usually spelled out (big band being an exception sometimes). Or in analysis e.g I - V7 - iv
I mean, exactly like that :).
You don't need sheet music specifically to talk about notes and chords and scales and modes. It's just an ingrained unquestioned assumption that we do. And personally, I found it getting in the way of music theory.
There are 12 notes in Western equal temperament and you can wonderfully beautifully transpose and move things back and forth; sheet music locks you into a seeming 7 notes on a seemingly privileged scale, and makes it far far harder to develop an intuitive understanding between notes, intervals, chords, etc. I find most of my music teachers learned these things by rote, unfortunately, rather than method or relationships :-/
I don't hold this assumption that you name, and it's not a part of formalized music education. which actually does emphasize method and relationships, versus rote learning. I'm curious why you think anything else would be the case. how much exposure do you have to this world? I hear that you have worked with music teachers - in what context?
also, curious to understand how many of them were coming from a jazz background?
learning to read music on the staff has no relationship to 7 notes on a privileged scale, so I'm not sure what you mean here. no note is given priority over any other note, in any clef. what makes you think that sheet music locks someone into 7 notes?
I don't intend for this to sound condescending - how well can you read music? are you speaking about all of this from the perspective of someone who has read about reading music or someone who actually understands how to read?
your comments (and those that you refer to) seem to sound like those that deride reading music as some kind of crutch or limitation in music education. I see these amusing comments a fair amount on this website.
being able to read music is having an ability to speak a shared language. like English, but with a lot smaller alphabet and an incredibly smaller set of rules. it's funny to me the degree of resistance I hear to this from people who often want to "disrupt" this language without actually understanding why it exists in the first place.
to use an analogy from mathematics, students usually benefit from learning multiplication before learning algebra as a way to see examples of logic based symbol manipulation. theory is the algebra, reading music is multiplication. that's why theory is usually taught to people who have a rudimentary understanding of the language of music.
And even that wasn't implied, I'm well aware of many people playing piano at a level that I can only dream of that couldn't read a score if their lives depended on it.
I suppose you can argue it’s just an opinion, so therefore while it might sound condescending, arrogant and profoundly self-centred, it isn’t wrong as such. The problem with that is it wasn’t just an opinion, it was an argument. I would say that learning to become a concert pianist it a completely different thing to typing in programs from magazines, and so you are very much wrong to say that it is.
Concert pianist are not beginners, and they have chosen to focus on the type of repertoire that is completely centered around sheet music, so they are way, way outside where this analogy makes sense.
This is not to say the ability to read music somehow hurts your musical abilities. Sometimes thing are simply not that correlated. E.g. having an absolute pitch - does it help to become a great musician/composer? No one knows.
(Jazz musician here) I found the OP's "I’ve never learned to play sheet music, and have no interest in it" strange - because for me, being able to write music is far more useful than just to be able to read it. (Although reading is super-useful also, whatever the genre.) I hear something I like in the street, or in my head, or on a recording - I write it down! the notes, rhythms, harmonies. How do you do that if you can't "read music"?
Not to mention transcribing, i.e. writing out tunes and improvisations. When they're more than a certain speed, learning from just playing along with it becomes impossible, and you really have to write it down first before you start to play it.
I have never met a working jazz musician who didn't read music, or, more fundamentally, didn't have an incredibly solid understanding of western music theory.
Being able to read music is important because it is how musical ideas are communicated with precision.
Sight reading is a skill that is only useful in certain professional contexts and adds nothing to one's musical ability. You can safely dispense with sight reading as a skill if you will not be using it.
Read and write.
Learning an instrument without learning how to read music is like learning to code without learning anything anything about programming theory and methodology, and without going back to look at any of your past work. Yes, you can do it, but you'll cut yourself off at the knees with all the bad habits you pick up, and any ability to deeply reason about it will be coincidental (just a "gut" feeling most of the time).
Do yourself a favour and do it right. Get a teacher. Learn proper posture (stops you from getting tired or injuring yourself), proper techniques (allows you to play more complex things with less effort required), and a good training regimen (so you can get maximum coverage of all techniques available to you at a manageable pace).
People ask me how I got so good at guitar in so short a time, when they've been plucking away at it for years, even decades. It's simply because I chose to find a teacher FIRST, and an instrument SECOND, and went through all the fundamentals, starting with very boring and basic pieces like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ysOIJFm3Rg
No: learning an instrument without learning how to read music is like learning to speak without learning to read, and doesn't imply anything about "reproducibility" or "theory" or "methodology", as all of those things existed before we had written language.
People who don't know how to read are still able to form beautiful and coherent thoughts/tunes and repeat what other people say/play... entire oral/audial traditions exist, and you would be hard pressed to find anything written down from some cultures.
More to the point: the way people write isn't even the same as the way people talk, and that isn't to say the people who are talking are somehow worse at the language; find some sheet music for an Irish jig and then see if even a single musician is literally playing what was actually written and I think you'll be surprised that sheet music doesn't even cause "reproducibility" outside of some music traditions that cared about that (such as classical orchestra).
And, hell: using sheet music can itself be a "bad habit". The greatest musicians I admire hear some music and then just join in and start playing it themselves, as they are fluent in music; and sure: some of them can also read sheet music. On the other side, I experience people who are somehow crippled by the lack of sheet music: who you whistle a tune to, and then they need sheet music to play it, as if they are some kind of player piano, and that's it... imagine if you couldn't speak--even if merely repeating what someone else just said--without first having written down what you are going to say... it would be a bit crippling, no?
(None of this has anything to do with your points about finding an instructor, learning proper technique, having a good training refining, etc. but you will find a ton of instructors who don't concentrate on sheet music... particularly with guitar, an entire instrument where sheet music isn't common at all, as the vast majority of use of the guitar in music people want to play is based on chord patterns.)
Imagine trying to learn to read English, and instead of seeing words, you see a bunch of letters and have to decipher each letter. I'd almost describe it as dyslexia for musical notation or something (which isn't a problem for me when reading text). I can recognize C,D,E,F,G pretty instantly because of their position relative to the bottom bar of the treble clef, but as soon as you start getting above that, I start having to count spaces relative to a known position, because everything internal looks like a big jumble. So G-B-E (on the treble clef) is easy because I see G as the base, and then the other two notes are space by two, but if it's just B-E without the context of the G, I have to stop and figure out exactly where those notes fall. And as soon as I get below C (on the treble clef), I start having to stop to count the separator lines.
But if I can hear what I'm trying to play, I can usually just jump to the correct note/chord. Maybe I'll have to stop and experiment to get the right chord periodically, but I don't have to stop and analyze the position of each dot on the score. To me, the greatest value of sheet music for me has always been in keeping place, so I associate the location of specific patterns on a specific page, and based on all the context, and know that I'm supposed to be at this point in the song that I've already taken the time to memorize beforehand. But I'm pretty much never paying attention to the actual notes on the notation at that point.
But things like sight reading come very naturally to me. I read music the way that I read a language. I don’t have to think hard at all to recognize notes, chords, etc and then to play them. So my ability to pick up a new song is faster than even my wife, who is about an order of magnitude better than me. She can transpose songs, learn songs by listening to them, the whole gamut. But in that one small area of sight reading, I can pick up a moderately complex song pretty quickly relative to my wife, despite the fact that I practice much less frequently than her. It must have something yo do with how the brain is wired or some sort of hand eye coordination, but it’s very interesting how I perceive sheet music vs her.
It was the same for me until I really started practicing sight reading (there are special books for that). Just like learning the alphabet and how to read as a child, it took a couple of years of doing sight reading many days a week before I got good enough to sight read musical pieces. Becoming fluent at reading takes a lot of practice. And like learning to read and write in any language, it's best to do it at the same time while you are learning to speak and understand.
The gaps is the treble clef are
| F | A | C | E |
F | A | C | E | G |
bass clef (C) treble clef
F | A | C | E | G | | | F | A | C | E |
For some reason when people learn a foreign language they tend to start with the written language, and actually holding a conversation or understanding a native speaker is often a less prominent part of learning. This, to me, is a lot like thinking that learning music starts with reading a score and studying up on music theory, when you actually already have an intuitive understanding of music because you’ve listened to it all your life, and should probably focus on building similar intuition for expressing yourself with an instrument.
In my case, I've gotten through 40 years of performing with jazz groups, so in some sense I'm doing OK, but I also know that I struggle with ultra-modern jazz harmonies. This came into pretty sharp relief when I played with some musicians who were composing all of their own tunes. I reach the end of my mental map, and then I have to fake it, or improvise directly from the melody.
But I agree that "ear" and perception of harmonic structure are closely related. It's hard to describe, and might make a psychologist cringe, but a musician develops a "mental ear." And I wouldn't recommend my approach to a young player. Most people want to become proficient in fewer than 40 years. ;-) There are things I can't do. I can't compose or arrange anything worth playing. Without exception, every musician I've played with who could compose or arrange decent jazz material has a music degree.
You can't get good at any of them beyond a certain point without having your theory nailed down.
Also, a lot of jazz musicians wanted to eventually learn musical notation at least so that they could write their own lead sheets for copyright-claim purposes.
Musical pedagogy follows classical music out of tradition, but there are plenty of contemporary pieces available as well.
The thing about the classical pieces is that they're good showcases and practice pieces for the fundamental techniques of music (hundreds of years of development will do that), which you absolutely will use in your musical career, regardless of whether you're even aware of it.
The difference is that when you can read and speak music, you can read, understand, and construct music far more easily than you could without the named concepts, nomenclature, and writing system. It's no different from the power that language and writing in general confers. An illiterate person can make himself understood, but a learned person can do so much more with far less effort.
i think at some levels, of pedagogy, there's also an element of "and because it is cheap to free".
my piano teacher bemoans how we only teach music from "dead white men" (a common refrain in some parts of the internet), but is hesitant to suggest i spend money to purchase anything, instead, referring me to IMSLP for everything.
if you want music from living folks, it is still under copyright, regardless of their color or gender. that costs more.
There’s no such thing!
Also to improvise confidently you have to internalize the theory, not just understand it and memorize it at a conscious level.
I'd say "intuitive knowledge" is a good way to sum this up.
This right here. Even if you want to play rock music it can help. Guitarists and bassists have tablature, which makes working with each other easy. But tab is foreign to other musicians.
I’ve a background in music theory, so there’s been dozens of times I’ve had to act as translator between guitarist and another musician, explaining that “3rd fret barred shape, to this one” is a GM7 to CM progression. Not because it was impossible to figure out, but having a common language made it that much faster to get to work.
I’m also not sure why you assume I’ve never had a teacher, just because I haven’t bothered to learn to read notes well.
All the benefits you talk about in sheet music, you can also get from listening to and making recordings, and playing with other people.
I learned that piece by its 6 page sheet then memorized it, would be amazing if that could have been done by ear, if possible.
I don't find this as rewarding as trying to understand how a piece "works" though, or creating something new.
Had lessons as a kid but never practiced. Picked it back up 4 years ago.
I have a Beatles fake book. I play the melody and chords in the right hand, some simple metronome like bass line with the left.
This year I mastered every song and I found that I could play any other fake book song the same way on sight. Then I tried doing it without the book and was shocked to find it pretty passable.
The music (real chords and melody) is much more fun for me. It gives me a beautiful structure to play around with.
I still believe that, but I find that I learn new techniques every time I read, learn and play an existing piece - this makes my improvisation and jam sessions all that much better! So would highly recommend learning to read sheet music.
Anyone can take a hammer and saw and build something that resembles a table, but the one who learned from a craftsman (even for just a little while) will be able to produce far better work with far less effort and mistakes. Knowing how to draft and read plans will also go a LONG way towards getting good results.
 Grand Reality https://sidequestvr.com/app/476/grand-reality-the-future-of-...
Music teachers are cheap to hire. Even 1 hour a week for 6 months would do WONDERS, and not cost much. Plus, your teacher will likely be a student as well, or attempting to supplement their music career. Taking lessons is supporting the arts directly.
The main takeaway from your comment is that whatever you do with music should be fun, to make sure you don't destroy your motivation. And just like there is fun in being able to improvise there can also be fun in being able to play some piece perfectly (which, as you can see from the linked video I still had a long way to go with on that piece when I made the recording, it is actually much better now :) ).
Incidentally, the biggest consumer of the software in my house is my son Luca, who has taught himself a whole raft of pieces that he likes, he learns far faster than I do and his confidence is impressive, huge jumps from one end of the keyboard to the other without ever looking down, and all that with nothing but the software to guide him. He tends to come to me with some piece he wants to play, we find a youtube video, I extract the mp3, turn it into a score, we polish the score until it looks and sounds just right and then he's off to the races. Floors me every time how fast he will master something and how confident he is when playing.
Absolutely. As a child, I encountered both music and maths in a way that destroyed any idea that they could be fun. I took piano lessons for eight years and got to a fairly advanced amateur level, but the emphasis on theory and having to play exactly what was written on the page led to me eventually hating it, and I haven’t touched a piano since.
I later took up guitar, and discovered that I just like making stuff up, and seldom play anything exactly the same way twice. I think that now a little more understanding of the underpinnings might give me more to play with, but I still have a rather visceral reaction when I see written music...
So I live in both the "reading" and "ear" worlds, and in fact my jazz band requires both, since we're a 19 piece "big band" and play from written charts. The bass parts in those arrangements range from being written note-for-note, to being fully improvised.
In my view the main reason for learning to read is if you're interested in one or more of the musical genres that revolve around written repertoire. That's going to be "classical" (which extends beyond the classical era in both directions) and some jazz. You can get lost in that repertoire, and it's a blast to play, by yourself or with friends. There's so much of it that you will never run out of "new" material. Even with "ear" music such as much of jazz, reading helps you function in a band if you happen to know some but not all of the tunes being called.
And you're never completely removed from playing by ear. If anything, written material forces you to improve your ear because in most cases the notes are coming at you too fast to play without some mental processing that involves hearing it in your head.
There are two secondary reasons:
1. Access to material that stretches your physical technique and ear by design (etudes etc) or just due to being difficult. It's hard for improvisers and ear players to get beyond the plateau of playing what their hands and ears are already accustomed to.
2. Commercial work. But even there, reading puts you into a category of employable musicians, that is already overcrowded with musicians.
But if it doesn't interest you, or is an insurmountable obstacle, then leave it behind and don't look back.
Personally I think it's great fun to be able to read music and play a piece you've never heard before, and bring your own life into it just as it is fun to sporadically create the unwritten.
But just because it is commonly misapplied and misperceived doesn't mean musical literacy is a bad thing. It has many benefits, just as regular literacy does - but it doesn't have a monopoly on expression or storytelling any more than prose, and indeed there can be bad writing and excessive concern over grammar as well. And, just as anyone who does live poetry readings often memorizes the words, actual musical performance should not heavily lean on the written copy - even in an orchestra, players should know the music well enough to also keep the conductor in their vision.
Lots of benefits of musical literacy are pretty similar to regular reading and writing - you can explore ideas from past creators, serialize and share your own ideas more broadly, and more consistently track something that you're making subtle changes to over time (ink on paper doesn't shift or falter as our memory does). But one non-obvious benefit - it's also critical to coordination for larger ensembles.
Musical expression is a joy, and a very individualistic thing. But the creations of an orchestra or similar ensemble require intense coordination - I believe this doesn't rob them of value, but rather adds another dimension to them. It's not unlike the difference between making a solo or small group project versus trying to build something as a company with more employees. People have to align on the basics so, as a group, they can achieve larger things.
A mantra I have for this is "Play the Indicated Pitches at the Indicated Rhythms", which I explain more here - https://gallant.dev/posts/play-the-indicated-pitches-at-the-...
Recording does it even better!
> But the creations of an orchestra or similar ensemble require intense coordination - I believe this doesn't rob them of value, but rather adds another dimension to them.
Again, recording is an amazing tool for this. In modern music protection it’s not uncommon to coordinate many hundreds of tracks into a single song, without the involvement of sheet music.
This is really a "yes and" situation - improvisation and "playing by ear" are great, and have always been part of music (the original "classical" musicians improvised, a tradition we've sadly mostly lost). Improvisation is even more dependent on theory than written music (many folks who "read music" don't actually understand the theory behind it). But being able to read and write is just a super convenient tool, and it addresses use cases that other tools (including recordings) don't.
As with regular writing, it lets you give persistent form and structure to your thoughts. This enables sharing, reviewing, and coordinating in a way categorically different than recordings (books still have value despite the existence of podcasts). This doesn't mean you're "not a musician" if you can't read sheet music, any more than a classical musician who doesn't improvise "isn't a musician" - I'm not trying to gatekeep in any fashion. I'm just saying that both of these dimensions are valuable, and ultimately, complementary.
Things like pedal markings, subtle timing hints and so on are given to the interpreter as a way to encode the composers expression, a recording can have errors in it and will lose a lot of those markings. Even 'note release' can be very hard to pull out of a recording (heck, even 'note struck' can be hard).
I'm not sure why you equate the more formal techniques of music with a lack of joy. This seems a false distinction like ranking oral storytelling traditions over the written word. Sometimes the most passionate lovers of a topic seek to understand how it works, which typically requires deep mastery of the theory and foundational concepts. You're welcome to improvise but that's a very different approach. Ironically the best improvisors often have the deepest technical competence; art still has rules and some things work better than others.
In addition, I would encourage learning to use music notation software like Musescore. These days I transcribe a lot of pieces because I have preferences about how they’re laid out on the page. (I prefer lead sheets and dislike turning pages.) Also, for some pieces I want to play, the sheet music isn’t available. Listening to a recording to figure out how it works can take a while, so why not write it down? You don’t want to forget and have to do it again.
Having a three ring binder of music laid out how you like it is very nice. It makes it considerably easier to go back to a piece if you haven’t played it in a while. You can also change it whenever you want and print it out again, making it more your own arrangement.
Developing that skill allows you to get pieces under your hands (and in time packed into your lizard brain), so you can then focus on the musical expression.
You should think of Jacques software as a type of 'touch typing program' for the piano. Instant feedback allows you to build up the 'this means that' in terms of what you see on the sheet music and what your hands are supposed to do.
Learning to sight read, even to a very basic degree, always seems to be a big hit and miss for many of the people I've known over the years learning piano.
For me, being able to expedite the process of developing that skill so I can practice effectively, in order to be able to focus on the actual music is a huge boon! Less time trudging through the snow and more time learning and playing pieces!
When you see a pro performer crank out 2 hours of Chopin from memory, they always had to start with the music. It's a core competency for certain styles, and Jacques software would build that competency quicker due to the hyper short feedback loop (like the red/green/refactor loop).
Yet, there are plenty of real world examples of performers and composers who can't read music, there's nothing wrong with that, it just depends on what you want to do (and I want to play Bach Inventions, again!).
EDIT: I'd just like to add that my previous piano teacher was both very highly skilled in both classical and jazz disciplines, and he was of the strong opinion that it's not an either/or proposition, but commented that to not have experience in both camps hindered ability if you were a typical working musician.
Also, finding a good teacher and taking regular lessons helps. I would be suspicious of a teacher who wouldn't recommend learning to read the score.
Progress in the beginning might be slower, but long term trajectory and possibilities are greater when a student knows how to read/write also.
But of course everyone is free to use an instrument and music how they get most joy out of and can express themselves the way they want.
One interesting counterpoint that was brought up to me by my teacher in uni was that for certain pieces, mainly old old ones (think way before recording), is that sometimes the score is the _only_ thing that we have left from the composer to base our interpretation on!
I hadn't really considered this before, and it did make me appreciate score reading more (altho I still mostly improvise these days :D)
Nice job OP.
In the time of home computers, before Internet emerged, just about everyone learned to program like that.
(Arguably, with StackExchange seen as a magazine, many still do.)
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3FYU72jwEA
They provide no key signature, timing, chord, fingering or expression information at all? It's just pitch and duration on a fast scrolling marquee. It feels like like trying to read a book when someone else who reads at a different pace keeps turning the pages.
My preference is the standard youtube "piano lesson" format - someone sitting at the keys who plays it once and then breaks the piece down into digestible chunks, explains a bit of theory/musical context, provides fingering advice, goes over the harder parts, etc. If not that, then traditional sheet even though I'm useless at sight reading but at least, given time, I can work it out.
But for me that process is about listening to the music or replaying it mentally.
I don't get what this seemingly popular falling note/guitar hero style display brings?
You mention that you use it to tell the scales used in a piece? To me, the "falling note" representation is a poor and indirect way to communicate that information.
While I admire those who can just grab an instrument and have a great time, musical notation isn't just a way to real and play something, it's the foundation of learning technique, growth, exploration and developing as a musician.
The idea that practicing correctly makes perfect (no, practice alone does not make perfect) is at the core of this. Musical notation (along with a teacher) provides the guidance and structure necessary to learn and grow.
There's also the ability to communicate about music in general. A simple example of this is a book I have with practice exercises for the piano. Once I taught my kids to read musical notation and use a metronome (super important) I could simply ask them to learn and practice the scale on page 42 and that was that. On the guitar, Scott Tennant communicated his practice exercises to the worth through "Pumping Nylon".
It's easy to say "Yeah, but I can just listen to someone playing the scale and copy it by ear". Well, that's missing the point. None of this material would have survived decades or centuries if it were not for the evolution of domain-specific notation as a means of communication in the art. That's the other aspect of musical notation, it's a means for making works of art survive for centuries, something that is impossible without being able to write things down.
To go into CS for a moment, the power of notation got driven into my head when my Physics professor in the early 80's convinced me to not take a FORTRAN class and sign-up for an APL class he was teaching instead. It was absolutely amazing. At the time it was like being from the future. In just a few characters I could do what took heaps of code in COBOL or FORTRAN, and the power of communicating such ideas through notation was just unbelievable. Sometimes I wonder if I took to APL (which I used professionally for ten years afterwards) because I was fluent in musical notation already.
All of that said, I think it is great to "just play". Nothing wrong with that. I'll also add that it took me a long time to be able to pull away from sheet music and "just play". And so I do have a level of admiration for people who are able to do that and came at it without any form of formal training. At the end of the day, if your goals in music are not to be a concert pianist/guitarist, frankly, if you are having fun, go for it. Just be conscious of the fact that once bad habits are learned it is extremely difficult to unlearn them. That's were a formal and traditional beginning in music tends to be useful and important.
But more fundamentally, you're approaching from an outdated common practice-period perspective what should be understood from a (post)modernist, electronic framework. Transcribing Stockhausen or Xenakis into notation would be a worthy endeavor, but the output of such an effort is secondary to the recording itself. Not just in terms of importance, but in that the recording represents the ultimate creative decisions and expressions made by the musician, whereas the notation is a mere reduction produced for convenience. This was certainly not the case for classical music, but music has changed since then.
And so the same goes for jazz, rock, or any other popular genre. Our music has evolved in such a way that those musical elements that do not lend themselves easily to being written down in standard Western musical notation have become central to the expression and stylistic idiom thereof.
Finally, if you're interested in what I've had to say, look up a concept called "notational centricity" by musicologist Richard Middleton, and a book called "Everyday Tonality" by Philip Tagg.
I took piano lessons for years, but was never good at reading music. I excelled at playing by ear. But when I wanted to learn something truly technical and challenging, there's no way I could have done it without sheet music.
Case in point: Imagine trying to learn this  by ear.
-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJbg9V2KnD8
> WebMIDI is supported in this browser
Do I need a MIDI wire to connect the piano or the page can heard the sound? (Sound recognitions looks very difficult.)
It would be nice to add some example with a graphic in the paragraph about labeling the scores for non musicians. (My wife plays the piano and guitar, but not professionally. I understand the that D♭ is somewhat equivalent to C♯ in a piano, but using the wrong one in a score is as bad as an unmatched parenthesis. But don't ask me the details.
I was going to ask if you support DoReMiFaSolLaSi, but it looks like another rabbit hole https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_note#12-tone_chromatic...
That score labeling is actually in there, you'll find it at the top and bottom of the score for right hand and left hand respectively.
The DoRe-etc was considered but that's not so simple.
Scroll all the way to the bottom after pressing F5 and it should appear. You can clearly make out the labels.
It's open source so feel free to adapt as needed.
I've found it works well for my wife and I playing simple songs together, she never learned sheet music (and I'm not great at it) so this format is very easy to follow.
You can play online at the same time with multiple people
Here's the one I got: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YQFPX8Y?th=1
Edit- I have the same piano as the OP, a Yamaha P-515. Best purchase I ever made!
I'm excited to give Pianojacq a try soon! Maybe I'll even try my hand at custom user CSS. :) Have you given any thought to a theming engine?
Note that it works perfectly if you download it so you could download it and patch the CSS if you want to do this more permanently (you'd have to rebase periodically if you want to keep up with my development).
It tracks your progress in a very detailed way and remembers how you played a piece before to help you play it better in the future. It aims at making you independent of the program and to teach you to play well. It still is no substitute for a teacher, but it is certainly better than nothing at all. I have some plans to incorporate all of the Mayron Cole course into it but that will take a long time (and I currently do not have a whole lot of time, but that will change soon).
Music to my ears! I hope more developers go this route and prioritize making quality software over squeezing every available drop of data from users.
Edit: Never mind, it was the settings, it set the output to the nanokey, but didn't set the input.
1) Can you make it more sensitive to slow keypresses? I have to press
quite fast / with force to get the keypress recognized (for comparison
pianobooster does recognize my slow (quiet) press).
2) Can you recommend midi files that are well supported? Most
midi-files I found on my PC don't work at all. Those who do look
different in pianobooster (for example pianobooster has notes on both
hands but pianojacq only one one).
2) yes, if you look in the 'midi' directory on the gitlab site ( https://gitlab.com/jmattheij/pianojacq/-/tree/master/midi , but also linked from the application) there are whole bunch of them that all should work well
If you have problematic midi files you can send them to me and I can try to figure out what the problem is and why they will not import the way they should.
Can you have a look what level you are outputting when the notes are missed? Maybe there is some kind of happy compromise here that would do away with a setting that most people would not understand.
Better lighting and better audio are noted, this was just a quick & dirty demo of the program in action with the tools at hand.
I'm pretty sure that in the Prelude in C, all those notes have the same length. So then why are the notes at the bottom displayed as whites and those at the top semiquavers?
In this software they are not shown, I suppose with experience one can omit things from the notation.
There are other problems like that, such as trills and other ornamentation, which show like a bunch of note on/off pairs in a midi file but as a single note with a decorator in the score. Reversing those is non-trivial, as are grace notes.
This is the single biggest item on my todo list right now, and I wished I had more time to dedicate to this project.
Can you try https://sightreading.training/
see if that one works, if it does the problem is on my end.
I could always buy a used Surface tablet
I really wanted to create a full midi instrument in the browser , as in I capture camera input and then translate that to midi output. Appears this isn't possible in chrome unless you install software to allow act as a sort of bridge.
Was a real bummer to run into this limitation
Started playing (or trying to) a few weeks ago and spending almost my entire evening practicing fur Elise.