Support for two keyboards

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Postby jimhenry » 12-31-16 5:31 pm

Would I be correct in assuming that the use of two keyboards with Synthesia was never considered? If so, might support for two keyboards be considered in the future?
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Postby Nicholas » 01-02-17 5:24 pm

I'm guessing you're talking about two keyboards in the organ sense?

Outside of merging many disparate input devices into a single input stream, you are correct: Synthesia doesn't make any distinction whatsoever between different input devices.

To be honest, I'm not sure I even know enough about the organ to understand how to add what you're looking for. Wouldn't more keyboards be another "dimension" of on-screen information? Once you have multiple keyboards arranged vertically on the screen, the falling notes would get harder to interpret, wouldn't they? (Maybe in sheet-only mode...)
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Postby jimhenry » 01-02-17 8:45 pm

Actually, I'm thinking in the sense of a keyboard performer with two keyboards. I've been playing with that configuration for awhile but I just added a 2 port MIDI interface. One thing that might be added would be recognizing which keyboard input comes from. With left and right hands, Synthesia can't tell if you are really doing that. But with two keyboards, it could determine if you play on the correct keyboard. But so far, I am not really missing this.

So far I haven't played anything where all the notes can't coexist in the present Synthesia display. And I think it is reasonable to say that is a limit that Synthesia users have to accept. Even with organ music, there isn't an overwhelming overlapping of the notes. It might be nice if overlapped notes resulted in some visual difference, either a split bar or a third color that indicates two notes. Right now it looks like there isn't any thought out way of dealing with it.

On the output side, it might be nice to be able to split the MIDI Out to particular keyboards. This would probably have to occur along with assigning note colors and hands. I haven't missed this yet. But I'm playing songs that I already have learned. It might be disconcerting if Synthesia can't play the correct sound for parts I am not playing at the moment.

I suspect there might also be times when I would want to be able to choose more than just right hand only or left hand only. But I think that came up in the piano context where it was suggested that it could be useful to split a hand into more than one part to facilitate learning a piece by omitting some passages.

I asked the question more from the perspective of whether there were considerations for two keyboards that I might be overlooking. Since there aren't, I suspect I will figure out ways of dealing with most of the issues identified above with Synthesia as it is. Just know that there is now at least one user using Synthesia with two keyboards. :D
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Postby Nicholas » 01-10-17 10:10 pm

jimhenry wrote:I've been playing with that configuration for awhile...

Do you mean in typical organ orientation? Or sort of side-by-side so that your left hand is on the higher notes of the left keyboard and your right hand is on the lower end of the right keyboard? (I'm guessing the former.)

It's definitely an interesting use case. The more you can distinguish about the user's input, the better feedback Synthesia can provide. (Ideally we could distinguish all 10 fingers individually with a depth-camera watching for correct technique. Alas.)

jimhenry wrote:On the output side, it might be nice to be able to split the MIDI Out to particular keyboards.

With a sufficiently exotic MIDI-OX setup, this could probably be accomplished today. As long as left/right hand parts used distinct MIDI channels -- Synthesia sends the output using the original channel of the notes that your input matches -- you could have MIDI-OX redirect each channel to a different device.

jimhenry wrote:... to split a hand into more than one part to facilitate learning a piece by omitting some passages.

I know games like Guitar Hero create a completely new note chart for each difficulty, but I thought there were a few out there like Rocksmith that handle things similar to this. Each note gets tagged with a difficulty (say, 1 through 10) and that note is only shown/available if your difficulty is set at or above that level. (It makes for rather dull songs at difficulty level 1. Without a human-curated hand-crafted note chart, you only get to play somewhere around 5% of the notes.)

jimhenry wrote:Just know that there is now at least one user using Synthesia with two keyboards. :D

Again, it's a neat idea. I'm just a little hesitant. How niche is too niche? :lol: I feel like it's still a lot to ask users to connect a single MIDI keyboard. (This is why you can measure Synthesia's install base in hundreds of thousands instead of hundreds of millions.) Adding features for the 1% of those users that have room for, equipment to connect, and a desire to have a second keyboard might be hard to justify when planning out the development roadmap. :D
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Postby jimhenry » 01-11-17 2:21 am

Two keyboards is probably one of those things that you think about when there are two ways of doing things that are otherwise equal but one would be better for those rare users who push the envelope. I agree that explicitly adding things just to support two keyboards is probably less justified than supporting Linux.

Yes, I do stack my keyboards organ style. Mostly to avoid needing massive amounts of space. Right now I am trying to learn some Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers songs. Benmont Tench has his keyboards at right angles and both hands tend to be at the upper end of the keyboard. I have to transpose the left hand keyboard up two octaves to avoid twisting myself into a pretzel. :lol:
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