Say It Fast 3 Times: Touch Pianist Is A Fun Browser Toy

I own three keyboards: one for typing, two for playing music on. The one for typing is the only one I know how to use though, so I’m pleased with Touch Pianist. It’s a website in which you press any key in order to advance a piece of classical music one note at a time. It’s unlike Guitar Hero in that, if you stop typing, the music stops playing, but there’s still challenge if you need it in trying to match the rhythm of your key presses to that of the original piece. It’s quite lovely.

John linked me to this and I had a brief moment of either snobbery or of simply not getting it. It’s close enough to the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band to invite the comparison, but with the dexterity and timing that makes those games satisfying removed such that it Touch Pianist seemed nothing-y, or like a crank-powered music box. But then I kept playing and had fun trying to keep rhythm with the music and experimenting with different songs and tempos. In this way, it’s more like Audiosurf than the those other rhythm games, and it entertains because it’s a more engaged way to spend time with music.

I recommend trying Presto Agitato from Moonlight Sonata.

If you like it a lot, there’s an iOS app that does the same thing but which has in-app purchases for other pieces of classical music. They seem to mostly cost $0.99/£0.79 each.

13 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Dukey says:

    Wow! Thanks for this. It’s surprising how close this comes to the delight of actually playing these pieces on a real piano. I love how in control you feel of the performance even though the only think you have any control over whatsoever is rhythm.

    I also like how I automatically start “playing” harder when I know the music needs to get louder.

    • jrodman says:

      It’s slightly cleverer than that. It tries to note how long you hold the keys down.

      It’s really frustrating for me on this laptop keyboard, because I have very little idea when the key engages. I tried it on a mechanical and it works quite a lot better.

      • Premium User Badge

        Dukey says:

        Well yeah, I was sort of including that in rhythm.

        I also enjoyed trying to turn that stupid Gymnopedie into a rag.

    • kwyjibo says:

      I’d get to places where I would have made a more expressive on an actual piano, only to then be frustrated at the relatively monotone performance.

  2. MrFinnishDude says:

    Combine this with Crypt Of The Necrodancer. Seriously, the tapping you do to the beat also creates music? Fantastic!

  3. Dumdeedum says:

    And now my browser window feels like it’s oozing sideways!

  4. Synesthesia says:

    ha! it creates that continual movement optical illusion, too. nice toy. I should really get back to piano lessons.

  5. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    With this.. tool/gadget/game I like I can play with the rhythm. I can imagine it’s a short experience for many, and while tasks or achievements might keep people playing (like play this piece in this way) it might also ruin the experience a bit.

  6. ikehaiku says:

    I can’t believe it’s not a …touch typing game.
    Okay, so here’s my idea that will get it me rich. Imagine the same idea, but you got to hit the right key.

  7. Premium User Badge

    edna says:

    “I recommend trying Presto Agitato from Moonlight Sonata.”

    Ha! About 20 years I remember thinking that I could play that piece. Then I heard what it was really supposed to sound like and realised that the tempo was about ten times that at which I could manage it. Amazing bit of music.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Serrit says:

    Hah that was good. Took the first piece seriously, then tried just hammering the keys really fast which was also great fun and well handled by the app.

  9. musanim says:

    Touch Pianist is one of the latest implementations of an idea that’s been around for a long time: technologically-assisted musical performance; here’s an historical overview on the subject: The Conductor Program — computer-mediated musical performance (link to musanim.com).

  10. Noumenon says:

    I didn’t realize this until I tried playing on my phone, but on a touch screen tapping near the top is louder and near the bottom is softer. Thanks a lot for the link, my niece loved it.