If you’re an accomplished or aspiring keyboardist with a Mac and a MIDI keyboard, you might be interested in Nicholas Piegdon’s
Synthesia, a free game available for download now.
Synthesia was originally billed as “Piano Hero” in homage to the popular video game “Guitar Hero,” at least until Activision’s lawyers asked Piegdon to change the name. The game loosely follows the Guitar Hero format — music tracks appear visually on screen, and it’s up to you to follow along by repeating the key strokes necessary to repeat those sequences.
Unlike Guitar Hero, however, this game really teaches you how to play music using a real MIDI keyboard and MIDI song files (several are included, popular themes from video games, and more are available from various sites on the Internet). You can practice left-handed and right-handed parts separately and slow songs down if you’re having trouble with particular parts. There’s also a scoring component that judges you on accuracy and speed.
Once you’ve loaded in the MIDI track you want to play, you tell Synthesia which instrument or instruments you want to play, then click on the Play Song button, and the game begins.
Right now Synthesia is at version 0.6.0. Separate downloads are available for Mac OS X, Windows, and as raw source code. The software requires Mac OS X v10.4 and is a Universal binary.