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Comment by Larry Cuba on September 12, 2008 at 6:06pm
Stephen,
I hadn't seen this one before.
Very nice.
Now for the obvious question:
Did you consider aligning the orientation of the keyboard and the note imagery by rotating one of them? I think it would interesting to see the notes "flow" from the keyboard, but maybe that's just me.
Larry C
Comment by Stephen Malinowski on September 12, 2008 at 7:10pm
>aligning the orientation of the keyboard and the note imagery

Yes, that's often done, either by having the notes flow up from the keyboard at the bottom (or, in some music-teaching program, down toward the keyboard, so that you score by playing them when they arrive), or having the keyboard turned ninety degrees counter-clockwise at the one of the edges (common in music editing program). Turning the keyboard puts it in the correct orientation to match the convention for music notation, but makes it harder to empathize with the fingers (like, if you're playing along or imagining that you are). Turning the score likewise makes it unfamiliar, and has the added shortcoming of reducing the amount of distance allocated to time, which makes it harder to see the melodic pattern (for several reasons ... but that's another story).

But the most fundamental difficulty in any of these alternate arrangements is the question of the "now." If you put the "now" point at the edge of the keyboard (so that the pressed key and the highlighted note are touching), you have to omit either the past or the future of the score. If you try covering up half of one of my videos, you'll see why this is not acceptable.

And, if you don't have the edge of the keyboard at the "now" point, you're back to having to make a mental connection between one part of the image and another (which is what you're having to do in the current arrangement).

These leaves the three bears "just right" approach: put the keyboard in the middle of the score, at the "now" point. The question is: how? If you split the score at that point, it's much harder to see the connection between past and future. You could make the keyboard or notes transparent or have the notes overlay the keyboard image, but the width of the keyboard image (that is, the length of the keys) is a problem, since they are big enough so that they span a significant amount of time.

My current thought about how I'd solve this problem (and, like you, I do see it as a shortcoming of this display) is to show something other than the hands playing the keyboard, something that was designed to complement the notation without obstructing your view of it. If you look at the "Harmonic compass + pitch bars" display of the MAMPlayer, you'll see a possible approach: to have things attached temporarily to the note-bars that have more information.

Definitely lots of exploratory work yet to be done ...

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