START PLAYING PIANO NOW!
You might know the very famous oldie audio album for children entitled Sparky's Magic Piano, or maybe the movie that was based on it. A pleasant way to get acquainted with one aspect of the karaKB software possibilities is provided by this audiobook, available at the publisher's site.
karaKB will turn your computer and MIDI keyboard into a "magic piano", very similar to Sparky's, with two added conveniences:
- karaKB can take over all "piano personalities" in between magic and unforgiving (though still cooperative), allowing a fresh approach to keyboard learning.
- unlike the magic piano of the story, it will never complain about your behaviour...
karaKB is an entirely original MIDI software which allows anybody to play virtually any music!
Hard to believe?
The idea is simple though, if one thinks of it...
Let's consider an instrumental performance, say one with a single keyboard instrument to keep things simple; it can be split into 2 parts:
- a mechanical part, requiring that the right notes are played at the exact time and for a duration exactly specified in the score, relative to the tempo;
- a creative part, which makes up the character of an interpretation, and essentially consists of
- overall tempo variations. This is allowed mainly when the tempo is indicated evasively on the score (traditionaly using Italian words, like allegro con moto, andante con espressione, etc.), less if the tempo is specified strictly (through figures);
- slight local deviations from the score's mechanical timing specifications (duration, lag or advance of particular groups of notes);
- variants on the dynamics. On a keyboard, this has to do with the attack and release mode of the keys. Concerning dynamics, most scores are traditionally limited to subjective indications (e. g. pianissimo, forte ma non troppo), which leave a wide field of expression to the interpret;
- special effects, varying with the instrument at hand. On the piano, those are mainly pedals. The various timbre possible with a given instrument may be put in this category, as well as the pressure applied by the player in between attack and release of the key (as with an organ). A large palette of effects with customizable parameters is typically available on today's electronic instruments.
The acquisition of the both complex and synchronous movements required by the mechanical task has so far been mandatory to enter the creative world and express oneself on a complete instrument like the piano. Everybody knows how steep this barrier is, with few immediate rewards, and so many cases of discouragement and early giving up.
Taking advantage of the immense yet still vastly unexploited possibilities allowed by the MIDI standard, karaKB implements a bunch of algorithms and heuristics to neatly split the mechanical and creative part mentioned above.
The mechanical part can be entirely left over to the computer, while only the creative part is ensured by the student.
This grossly means that you don't have to worry about hitting the right key, not even hitting as many keys than there are notes in your score (i.e. the track(s) you decided to manage). In its basic mode, karaKB plays the appropriate notes, be it a complex chord or a tremolo, upon a single keystroke from you. You are free and idle to concentrate on expressiveness, rythm and special effects. The software knows how to spot what will be felt as an expressive unit by the listener, much like the concept of phoneme used by linguists. The four strokes of fate which introduce Beethoven's fifth are made up of tenths of notes played on different instruments. For a listener though, as well as for karaKB, there are four expression units or musical phonemes or clusters. All you have to do is hit four times wherever on the keyboard, only strength and duration of your strokes will be taken into account, plus the pitchbend or any special effect you apply.
In this mode, karaKB is the orchestra and you are the conductor.
Yet the tasks don't have to be divided that way. You might as well, for instance, leave strength and/or duration to the software. Only the instant when you hit the notes will always be taken into account in real time.
On the other hand, if one wishes to practice the fingering of the instrument, karaKB will comply by assigning more and more of the mechanical work to the student as (s)he gets more confident and acquainted with the work.
If you want to practice the mechanical part, karaKB won't leave you alone, but will provide you with any hint you need to "hit the right keys at the right time".
Conversely, more of the performance's character can be selectively taken from the MIDI file being used (which you might have previously created yourself with karaKB or any other sequencing software), and thus ensured by the computer. You can also change the settings on the fly, while you are playing. In the case of a complex work or orchestration, for instance, you can record tracks or sections one by one in a constructive process, until you reach your dream interpretation.
To sum up, you can drive the software in real time, in such a way that you take over exactly what you please at the moment.
The karaKB software may be used for different purposes, including:
- entertainment and pleasure of playing for persons who weren't given the opportunity - or patience - to learn how to play an instrument. It is possible to play alone or in a group, each player choosing then his track(s) and preferred playing mode depending on his capabilities.
- Make a band, whatever the level of each participant, as each player will choose then his track(s) and playing mode depending on his capabilities.
- new approach and new potential for exercises in keyboard training, since the practice can be split up into rhythm, fingering and expression;
- composition and recording assistance for amateur and professional musicians;
- if you already play your MIDI keyboard, be it your first tune or a difficult sonata, karaKB will be merciless in evaluating the mechanical aspect of your performance, by detecting every forgotten, wrong or extra note;
- therapeutic applications for persons affected by psychomotricity handicaps. Remarkable results have already been achieved in this domain using music software.
Did your youngest son prove reluctant to a single piano lesson?
Now look at him as he instantly comes up with a personal interpretation of Maple Leaf Rag!
Unless he first has a personal... score to settle with the Turkish March...
...or whatever MIDI file you can find on the internet or on CD/DVD!
Chances are he'll want to record his best performances, which undisputably will be his own interpretations. But don't blame on us if you get the CD on Mother's Day!
all this is done without tedious mouse editing, without fiddling with filters or complex procedures only understood by experts.
karaKB gives the piano student an extraordinary glimpse of how it feels to play music without tension nor constant fear of hitting the wrong key.
karaKB might well be the decisive event to trigger a strong and lasting motivation!
karaKB is distributed in the form of a top brand USB memory stick, with 4 Gigabytes capacity.
Using this thumbdrive you'll be able to:
- boot a Linux system based on the famous Knoppix 6.x. distribution, unrivaled for hardware detection and compatibility;
- if you are not a Linux user yet, you'll take advantage of this occasion to discover what a real operating system is and what are the facilities offered by such a system to dramatically enhance your productivity;
- explore the immense pool of free and commercial applications of the Unix world, through a familiar and user friendly interface quite similar to Windows, except that everything is accessible and open at your fingertips, and nothing happens behind your back;
- stop worrying about viruses and malware, without having to execute security software that take a huge part of your computer power. Linux is built from the ground up to address security and privacy issues;
- execute karaKB without limitation of any sort, on your computer or any computer that you'll will reboot after having plugged the karaKB key in any USB socket.
- engage in this unprecedented music playing experience without even having to search the web, since karaKB includes an eclectic but substantial set of great songs and famous music.
All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach