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Please add your comments and feed back to this thread

Louis B.
Administrator
Hi All,

I would be interested to here your comments and feed back, please added them to this this thread.

Does everything work OK for you?

Which OS are you using?

What synth are you using?

Thanks

Louis

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Grifter
Hi! I just came across this program today after seeing a video demonstration of it. I thought it looked very helpful in aiding me learn to play the keyboard.

OS: Windows XP Pro SP2
Synth: MS GM Wavetable (I know it's not recommended because of latency but I haven't had any issues so far)

I initially had so problems getting midis to play but closing and re-opening the app cleared up the problem. Very cool little program!

Question: If I wanted to edit midis so they're geared towards right/left hand playing, which channel is designated to which clef? Is 3 the treble clef or is it 4?

Again, a very nice app! Thank you for your hard work! :)


Grifter
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Timothy J. Massey
In reply to this post by Louis B.
I was pleasantly surprised to find just how easy this program was to use.  I especially appreciate the interface for navigating between MIDI files:  it dovetailed nicely with how I store them.

Operating system:  Windows 2000
MIDI interface:  M-Audio Uno (http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Uno.html)
Keyboard:  Yamaha P-140

The biggest problem I have is that the graphical display is just not good enough for me to read from.  Therefore, I have to end up reading from my paper score, which takes away a fair amount of the value.  However, for a 0.5 release, it's much more usable than I anticipated!
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Louis B.
Administrator
In reply to this post by Grifter
Hello,

The left hand is on channel 3 and the right hand is on channel 4. Piano Booster tries to detect automatically if the midi files follows the convention of separating the hands on these two channels. It does this mainly by checking that channel 3 AND channel 4 both have the same default MIDI patch of Grand Piano for these two channels. It then automatically mutes these parts when you play along. If it does not follow this convention then it treats channel 3 and channel 4 as two separate parts

Regarding the MS GM Wavetable latency problems I will be posting possible solutions to the problem soon. However when I tried the  MS GM Wavetable synth at first it was not obvious that there was a delay but I just found that I could not play advanced pieces of music in time. This is the same effect as listening to the sound of your own voice through headphones but with a delay of half a second, this can then make it very difficult to speak a sentence.

L o u i s
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Grifter
Thanks for the info about the channels and the latency issues. I guess I haven't experienced any issues yet as my playing skill level isn't very high. Most of the midi files I've been trying would be considered novice level. I tried some more advanced pieces but my ability made it painstakingly slow trying to figure out where to put my fingers. I could see the latency issues becoming a problem though as I become more advanced.

I also have a partition of 64Studio on my system which I use for recording my guitar as when Linux is properly setup, the real time kernal and audio drivers allow for half the latency of Windows XP. I could see switching over to my Linux partition if the latency ever becomes a serious issue. But as far as Windows is concerned what would you recommend? Is it possible to setup Timidity++ with SoundFonts in Windows the way it can be in Linux?
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Serge
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Hi, First of all I would like to say, that you... Mr. Louis B. Are a Genius!
This application, will make me stay on Linux for a while now, because Windows doesn't have drivers for the usb/midi port for the 64bit edition. But anyhow... I just wanted to comment that you really are a genius.

There's a few features that could be added that would improve it even further, it is correct notation, full/half/quarter/8th/16th notes, it would help to know for example, I'm studying the moonlight sonata mvt1 right now, and I am not quite sure the left hand should sustain the note through a measure. And also keep the notes aligned because the notes are hard to see.

Here's a few other suggestions: Try to make a game mode - Something like Stepmania where if you got a lot of notes wrong (Accuracy bar?) you fail/have to restart.

Also, try to add lyrics capability..

Another suggestion would be to add a music theory manual into the application, but that's not very important I guess...

Anyway, I was looking for an application like that, and you just made my day (Life)
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Dender
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Using Ubuntu 8.10

I have been looking for a program just like this, as I could not use Piano Suite under wine. I have run and set-up the keyboard connection via usb-midi and it works just fine. I am experiencing some redrawing problems, where pianobooster is flickering a lot. I have tried switching off my display manager, Compiz but still the same problem. Keep up the good work!!!
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Louis B.
Administrator
Hello,

I am glad that you are enjoying using piano booster.

I am sorry to hear about the display problems. What synth are you using? Is it a soft synth like fluidsynth? Unfortunately piano booster is very sensitive to other programs (like soft sythns) eating up cpu power in the background. Try running piano booster with the midi output set to "none" is the display OK now (the softsyth should then not be using any cpu cycles). Try disabling reverb and echo on the softsyth as that can help a lot.

A high spec graphics card can help. but the best solution is to get an hardware syth. I recommend getting a sound blaster live card from ebay they are only £5.00 on buy it now on ebay. they work fine on Linux. (you must run asfxload to load the sound font)

I am not so experienced  at writing Open GL code, if any body knows a magic fix to this it would be appreciated.

Thanks

L o u i s


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danboid
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Hi Mr Barman!

(A perfect example of someone's name perfectly reflecting what they do/create!)

First I've got to say that this is just the sort of app I've been waiting for. Pianobooster is kinda like a more pedagogically sane GPL alternative to Rock Band. However the silly thing with rock band is why did it not support MIDI keyboards from the outset? Would've made more sense than making fake guitars that operate nothing like the real thing.

Second thing I need to say is- why an entire new program instead of creating pianobooster as an extension to one of the new QT4 music apps like MuseScore? Did you consider that?

OS: Ubuntu 8.10 x86-64

Synth: Fluidsynth

Linux binary on pianobooster download page didn't work so I had to compile it myself. In addition to that I had to edit /etc/libao.conf to read

default_driver=pulse

Then reboot or you can just restart ALSA with

sudo /etc/init.d/alsa-utils restart

The package names for the GM soundfonts under Ubuntu are fluid-soundfont-gm and fluid-soundfont-gs so if you don't have an external hardware MIDI synth such as a keyboard with MIDI IN you can get all the apps required for a softsynth under Ubuntu with the command:

sudo apt-get install fluidsynth fluid-soundfont-gm fluid-soundfont-gs

then I could start fluidsynth using a command like:

fluidsynth -s -i /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GM.sf2 /usr/share/sounds/sf2/FluidR3_GS.sf2

You will then have a softsynth option available named something like 'Synth input Port (23566)' under the the MIDI ouput device drop-down when you start Pianobooster.

Feel free to copy or modify the above and include it in the install instructions if you want LB.

Anyway, my whole real reason to post was to give some feedback, and so it follows:

First thing Pianobooster really needs is to display the note lengths. I think I can live without beams in fact I think that could mess things up if notes weren't joined (formatted) correctly and I'd imagine it'd be hard to implement- just look how massive MuseScore is already!

Second thing, and maybe more importantly, that I really need to see implemented before I start using pianobooster non-stop is the ability to pick one or a range of bars to be looped infinitely (or until you push stop or remove the loop markers of course). That is the way I'd normally practice a song- 'looping' the first bar, then when I've that down I loop (practice) the second bars. After that I'll loop bars 1+2 before moving onto #3 and thus the cycle continues until I can play the song beginning to end.

I've been meaning to get a USB MIDI adapter for a while but this has convinced me now- I need one ASAP!

Thanks for the great app and I look forward to seeing it improve!

Dan

EDIT

As for showing the note durations I think it would be ideal to not only show the notes stick (if applicable) with the correct number or arms sticking off it but also to have 'trails'- thicker lines of a different colour just to the right of any note that run parallel to the stave that visually show how long you should hold the note to help those that don't understand note values yet- probably best as an optional feature.
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konrad
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Hi Louis,

great program, but i had a startup problem on Windows XP SP2. It crashes with a "runtime error in Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library" when the chosen Midi-Port (on a midiman delta card over here) is already open by another application. I think this error could easily be caught.

I am using a Pianobooster with a virtual midi cable on the output (maple) and native instruments kontakt to play the music. For practicing it would be very helpful to mute midi-channels, or, the other way around, to solo parts of the midifile.

Thank you
Greetings
k.
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Louis B.
Administrator
Hi Konrad,

The current part can be muted or reduced in volume by using the slider next to the Parts selection. Have you tried that? (all though it does not work well if you are playing just the left hand part )

The current part is automatically muted only if detects if it is a special play along midi file with the left and right piano parts on channels 3 + 4 (ie Grand Piano patches must be these channels).

I will add this feature to mute the current part in the next release which is coming shortly along with the play from any bar feature.

The error message "runtime error in Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library" is a complete mystery to me as I  compiled the code with the free MinGW compiler (not using Microsoft Visual C++) . I have just search the binary win32 files and that string is not contained in any of the files in the win32 zip release.

I will try and see if I can recreate the problem on my setup.

Thanks

Louis
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Jerry Smith
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Piano Booster is a little slice of genius! Thanks for your work, Louis.

OS: Windows Server 2008 Standard SP1 64-bit
Hardware: M-Audio Keystudio 49 USB-MIDI keyboard controller

So far, I'm just using the Windows GM, and the latency is noticeable but minimal.
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Andrew
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Great for learning!

OS Windows 7 32bit.
MIDI Device: You Rock Guitar + Prodipe USB/MIDI adapter

My main intention for using Piano Booster is to force myself to read music. I recently tried using GNU solfege, but I personally find it to be a little too advanced, plus the fact that my brain is hard wired to note names in letters instead of Do Re Mi. Piano Booster is also helping me learn the notes in the guitar. I tend to cheat myself when using printed sheet music, but with the music stopping in PB, I'm forced to play the correct note.

I had always wanted to write a simple program with this functionality (although MIDI input is beyond me, hehe). I wish I could contribute, but since I'm a little lazy, I would be one of the people who would be happy to donate if you had a donate button. :-)

My suggestions/wish list (so far):
Now, what I'm looking for is a set of MIDI files that is intended as a guided learning program (what would typically be exercises in a beginner's book or given by a music teacher).

I'd also suggest random notes, since notes used in a musical piece will typically be limited (to a scale/octave(s)). A (semi) random note generator feature (that does not require a MIDI file) might be nice for training. Also, I eventually memorize pieces which is good performance wise, but bad in my aim to learn to read. (I got this idea from Joe Satriani's "Guitar Secrets").

A single mouse click (maybe a tool bar or keyboard shortcut) to show/hide the note names. As a noob, seeing the note names really helps, but I would also like to be brave and hide them quickly (or be a coward and show it quickly). Going through a menu, a check box then a button to do that is a little discouraging if I want to do it frequently.

Ability to mute/hide other instruments. At times when I want to concentrate on the vocal melody, the bass and percussion (or other instruments that sound bad in MIDI) can be distracting. The "hard way" is to edit the midi file, but this might be conveniently done through PB. This would also allow our favorite pop/contemporary songs to be beginner lessons themselves.

Solfege in addition to note names? I'm not sure myself whether that's a good idea. But some people might prefer it, or might be required to learn it.

Thank you very much. Keep up the great work!
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SpotlightKid
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Hi everybody!

I discovered Piano Booster yesterday. I stumbled upon it through a mention on the MMA forum and I had great fun playing some of the pieces downloaded from the website!

I'm using Ubuntu 10.04 on an Asus EeePC 901 and also on a HP Core 2 Duo 2 Ghz laptop. I tried Piano Booster with a Roland JV-1010 as the GM tone generator and a small keyboard from an Akai Miniak I had nearby. I also have an assortment of other synths, among them a Kurzweil PC3, which I normally use for playing piano. As the MIDI interface I use either a small, old Midisport 1x1 or my M-Audio Fast Track Pro interface, both of which work well with Linux. With the PC3 I can also use the included USB MIDI connection.

I have a few suggestions for improving the software:

- Make the keyboard shortcut bindings configurable (or are they already?). This would allow one to place a small numeric keypad on the keyboard and control Piano Booster without having to have a full-blown keyboard nearby.

- Or even better, make the software controllable through MIDI controllers, i.e. MIDI CC #7 (Volume) for the Volume of the piano tracks, mod-wheel for the playback speed, START/STOP/CONTINUE for playback control and so on. Best make these assignments configurable also, because keyboards have different controllers and not all allow you to configure which MIDI controllers they send. I think Synthesia (http://www.synthesiagame.com/) has this feature and it might be worth to look at how it implements the user interface side.

- AFAICS it is not possible to move freely through the score with the playback marker, or is it? Intuitively, I was expecting to be able to scroll through the score by either dragging the score display with left, middle or right click and drag or with the cursor left/right keys.

When practising a piece there were often difficult parts, which I wasn't able to play at the first go and they were over too quickly to figure them out on-the-go and play them correctly the next time. Rather than having to set the playback start and repeat markers manually, I would find it easier to be able to scroll back a little just right after the difficult part to have a look at it again. In many cases that would probably be enough to figure out how to play it.

In general, I find the interface to set the playback start point and the repeat on/off and range a bit clumsy. Ideally, I think there should be a repeat on/off button next to the start/stop/pause buttons and a key binding for it. The start point would also be easier to set if it would be possible to scroll through
the score (e.g. through dragging or left/right cursor) and that would also allow to easily set A/B locators for the repeat range.

- At first, I found the function of the "Song View" dialog a bit unclear. If I figured it out correctly, it provides the same function as right-clicking on a track in the side panel and selecting "Set as Right/Left Hand Part", correct? Do these functions select really MIDI channels to use or tracks in the MIDI file? Maybe some more detailed explanations in the text field at the top of the dialog would be good. The "Setup->Preferences..." dialog could also benefit from some tooltips to explain what the different options do.

- Finally, I concur with all the suggestions in the post before mine.


Thanks for reading, if you've made it this far! ;) Keep up the good work!

Chris
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Thank you!

drikting
In reply to this post by Louis B.
Wow!

Piano Booster is what I need, at least for now.

This is a good, small and yet effective for beginners, simple-to-use, direct way to read/learn and play notation, stable, and FREE software for adults. Maybe kids too.

This is probably the first and only piano software I start learning and playing along decently for sometime just after download!

Sincere thanks to the author of this software. I use XP and Microsoft SW Synth (This seems to be the only workable option. I am no expert but doesn't sound like any latency issue.)

I just keep practicing until I get most of the notes accurate, and now I turn off show note names so as not to over rely on them.

Any suggestions as to what's next to do after Beginner course and Booster Music is welcomed!

:)

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Louis B.
Administrator
drikting,

I am glad you are enjoying Piano Booster,

However the latency issue is a real problem on the Microsoft SW Synth, It is not so noticeable for a complete beginner. It is like a beginner trying to learn to ice skate with blunt skates, you just cannot progress if you have blunt skates.  I cannot play in-time using the Microsoft SW Synth, so if you feel you cannot progress it probably not you but the latency problem.

Turn up the sound up on your piano keyboard keyboard as well as on the Microsoft SW Synth if you can hear two notes when press a single note on the piano you have a latency problem


You could try the free SynthFont available at http://www.synthfont.com/ (you may need this as well http://nerds.de/en/loopbe1.html)


Also PB has a built-in  latency fix (see :  http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/pianobooster/index.php?title=Frequently_Asked_Questions#What_is_the_latency_fix.3F).


Good luck with your playing.

Louis
Ion
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Ion
Hello people!
I'm using PB to learn the notes in the staves and it's working quite well, but I feel that a couple of features are imperatively needed if you are to take full advantage of the awesome educational potential this program has.
Firstly the duration of the notes has to be displayed.
I use lilypond (which I recommend to everyone) therefore my suggestion is to use the .pdf output to the .ly file to scroll through the screen. This would need the .ly file to be present and modified (for the whole piece of music to be cast on a single really long PianoStaff) and then processed in lilypond (therefore lilypond would have to be present as well).
As I say, I use lilypond, so I understand if this isn't a realistic solution, but it's kind of the first thing that came to my mind.
The second feature is an evaluation system (the accuracy bar is really good, I love it) that is capable of determining a "success" or "failure" at the end of the piece. I guess it could be done by counting how many notes have been missed, played out of time and also wrong notes (which aren't accounted for now). Also bonus notes if you play well an alteration or a note that you've missed too many times.

I run LUbuntu 13.04
My piano is a Korg Concert C 3200

Thanks for the program, I hope there is still someone developing.
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Mossy
In reply to this post by Louis B.
I have been running PianoBooster successful on both Centos 6 and Fedora 19 using the prepackaged RPMs.  I'm now running the latest version from SVN on Fedora 19 after applying the black & white patch mentioned in the dev form.  

I'm now running F19+PB on a crippled laptop.  It's a 7+ year old HP 18" laptop tons of broken hardware -- the onboard SATA controller fried so plugging in a hard drive (both primary & secondary bays) makes it crash.  Formatting a LiveUSB image that exceeds 1GB makes it crash.  So I built a custom F19 flash image with exactly 325MB of persistent overlay storage to get under 1GB ... and this laptop works just enough to display piano PDF scores and run PB + Fluidsynth.

I'm using Fluidsynth + the GeneralUser GM soundfont.  The default Fluid-R3 soundfont that comes prepackaged with Fedora (and most other Linux distros) is 4x bigger (which requires more CPU power) but doesn't sound as good as the GeneralUser option.  On a slower Atom-based netbook, the Fluid-R3 soundfont would produce distorted sounds and poor latency on any complex MIDI file with multiple tracks.  Switching to GeneralUser made a big improvement.  (There's a few really small GM soundfonts that will produce sounds like from the 8-bit gaming console days -- pretty amusing but also pretty fast.)

My keyboard is a Casio Privia PX-150 digital keyboard.  The feel of the keys are very nice -- compared to the acoustic pianos at my kid's music school, the feel is better than 75% of them.  (There's a wide range of acoustic piano quality, maintenance, etc.)  The only thing I wish this keyboard has was a GM sound bank.  (The PX-350 and PX-750 has GM support -- although strangely the top-end PX-850 does not.)  For piano pieces, that's no issue.  However, I also like to play the voice tracks of karaoke MIDI files.  Hence I mute my part on PB but then turn the volume up on my PX-150 so fluidsynth only plays the background music for me while I do the melody.  With the config like this, there is zero latency of course.
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chrisxed
In reply to this post by Louis B.
I'm delighted to finally discover PianoBooster. This software has much more potential than just piano music. Even if you know what the notes on a staff are, you might not know where they are on, say, a guitar or banjo and this helps a lot to train you to hit the right ones.

I am successfully using PianoBooster with a Rock Band 3 Wireless Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar Controller for PlayStation 3. These are now $47.61 on Amazon which is an insanely good price for a rather nice guitar shaped MIDI input device. I'm using Linux (Mint 15) and Timidity.

I guess the biggest feature I'd love to see would be an all treble staff. This is how guitar music is written and that's what I'm interested in. However, it's definitely quite useful as is.

It would be nice to be able to look at notes to study them with out playing them. Currently there's just a jump to measure number, but at the least, numbering measures would help there.

One poster mentioned that it might be nice to have a random quiz mode. I agree, but I don't know if it's a high priority. The following will produce a midi file (called practice.midi) of random notes chosen from the first 12 frets of a guitar:

NOTES=" E, F,_G, G,_A, A,_B, B, C _D  D _E  E  F _G  G _A  A _B  B  c _d  d _e  e  f _g  g _a  a _b  b  c'_d' d'_e' e'"
T=`mktemp`;( printf "X: 1\nT: Practice\nM: 4/4\nK: C\n" ;for X in `seq 100`; do \
R=$((RANDOM % 37 * 3)); printf ${NOTES:$R:3}; done; echo ) > $T; abc2midi $T -o practice.midi ; rm $T

Anyway, I hope that helps someone. Keep up the great work and thanks for this great program!
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