Synthesia Support » Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Synthesia?
- How does it work?
- Where can I find more songs?
- What are the system requirements?
- The built-in Windows synth is slow and doesn't sound great.
- How can I make the songs I create compatible with Synthesia?
- Can I use my unlock key with Synthesia for iPad?
- Can you give a brief history of the project?
What is Synthesia?
Synthesia is a game that can help you learn how to play the piano using falling notes.
Synthesia lowers the barrier to entry for beginners. You can get started immediately without knowing how to read sheet music. Playing songs right away provides great motivation to stick with the piano where you can learn traditional sheet music notation over time as you go along, should you choose to.
Synthesia is also great for more experienced players. It's a nice platform for quickly sight-reading a new piece, and nearly any song can be found in the MIDI format that Synthesia understands. Synthesia is also a nice companion tool for daily practice to complement piano lessons. The scoring and progression systems help keep track of personal growth on each piece.
How does it work?
Watch the notes fall and follow along. Or, connect a piano and join in the fun.
Synthesia shows any MIDI song as falling notes or sheet music so you can follow along easily.
If you connect a musical keyboard (using USB or MIDI), Synthesia listens to your playing and helps you learn any song.
Don't have a digital piano? Check out some that we recommend.
Where can I find more songs?
Check out the Synthesia Music Store for the highest quality MIDI songs.
Finding high-quality songs in MIDI format can be really challenging. So we decided to help solve the problem by creating full MIDI arrangements of your favorite songs.
Our goal is to give you the highest quality MIDI version of each song, at a super reasonable price. All songs are fully licensed by the original publisher for digital download. New songs are added often, so be sure to check back regularly!
What are the system requirements?
On the desktop: a Windows PC or Mac made in the last 5 years.
The only requirement is hardware accelerated graphics, which almost every computer now has.
Linux users can run Synthesia under Wine. Tips for getting things up and running can be found at WineHQ.
On iPad: anything will do.
Synthesia for iPad was designed to work on every iPad. The first-generation iPad is a little underpowered compared to the rest, but it will still work. iOS 5.0 or greater is required.
If your iPad includes a Retina display, you are in for a treat.
On Android: a 6" or larger screen running Android 3.1 or later.
For now Synthesia is best experienced on a tablet-sized device. The larger the screen the better. Some very old tablets may not run as smooth as newer devices.
The built-in Windows synth is slow and doesn't sound great.
Use your keyboard's synth or a free software driver.
If your keyboard has an on-board synth, that's usually your best bet. It will be the fastest and usually sounds pretty nice. Otherwise, one great (and free!) alternative is using a software MIDI driver and a "Sound Font" to go with it.
CoolSoft has made an easy to use MIDI synth called VirtualMIDISynth. Here's how to get it up and running in Synthesia:
- Download VirtualMIDISynth from the CoolSoft site.
- Download one of the recommended SoundFonts from the same page.
- Install VirtualMIDISynth, then extract/install the SountFont someplace convenient.
- Run the "Configure VirtualMIDISynth" start menu program, click the plus icon, find the .SF2 SoundFont file, then click OK.
- On the "Advanced options" tab, lower the "Additional output buffer" setting as low as you can. Zero is fastest, but you might have to determine what's best for your system experimentally.
Once you've done that, you'll see a new output device on the Keyboard Setup screen in Synthesia named "CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth". It should be much faster and sound better than the built-in Windows synth.
How can I make the songs I create compatible with Synthesia?
Every MIDI song is compatible, but there are a few guidelines to make them even better.
In general, Synthesia works with any MIDI file. Though, whether you're putting together lessons for students or you want to share a song you wrote with other Synthesia users, there are a few easy steps you can follow to get the most out of Synthesia's extended features.
Here is a short guide on how to Create Great Content for Synthesia.
Can I use my unlock key with Synthesia for iPad?
Synthesia for iPad must be unlocked separately.
This is an unfortunate consequence of Apple's policies. If something is unlockable for a price, Apple requires payment must go through the App Store exclusively. Unlocking the app with something purchased at the Synthesia website would break that rule.
To make a bad situation a little better, we've lowered the price of Synthesia for iPad to less than half the desktop version's price.
Can you give a brief history of the project?
Synthesia continues to evolve into the best practice tool for beginners and experienced players alike.
- The project is introduced as "Piano Hero". It doesn't support musical keyboards yet and the site runs on donations.
- Requests for a Mac version prompt a donation drive to help us get Mac development hardware. A couple of articles help accomplish the goal on the first day!
The Mac version is released and the project is renamed to Synthesia at the same time.
- Persistent requests for a sheet music view prompt the creation of the Learning Pack: a paid upgrade that will include educational features and grow over time. Learning Pack sales replace the donation-based model.
- Synthesia continues to grow rapidly and add new features to both the free download and Learning Pack.
- In addition to regular releases, Synthesia is featured on the UK television show Strictly Come Dancing.
- Synthesia becomes the most popular way to produce piano tutorial videos online.
- Features are added to help educators use Synthesia as a teaching platform and create content more easily.
Synthesia makes its debut on the iPad.
- Synthesia goes international! Six display languages are added including Spanish, French, German, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Traditional Chinese.
The Music Store launches, providing the highest quality MIDI versions of popular songs anywhere.
- Custom hand assignments, dozens of major improvements, and new languages make for the largest update Synthesia has seen to date.
Synthesia is released for Android tablets, which means it's now available in more places than it's not.
- A series of How-to Guides are added to help users discover all of Synthesia's powerful features.
More than 50 convenience improvements and fixes are added to make Synthesia friendlier and easier to use than ever.