Looking for PC QWERTY keyboard piano software

I used to use a little PC piano program called PianoMan written by Neil Rubenking of PC Magazine fame.  I contacted Neil about an update recently, and he tells me that there isn't and won't be one.  The main reason is that he wrote the software based on timings in the old 8086/88 chips, and, like a lot of old games, the newer chips blow that type of code to pieces.  He wrote his stuff directly to the hardware, and necessarily had to hard code a lot of things, so he'd basically have to do a complete rewrite if he wanted to catch PianoMan up with the times. 

For those who never used PianoMan, it was a nifty little app that allowed you to play the piano on your PC keyboard.  People think I'm strange, but I actually prefer the PC keyboard to a real piano keyboard.  I have a Roland HP 3000s which, at the time I bought it (c. 1988), was the closest thing I could find in terms of feel and tone quality to a baby grand that had MIDI capabilities.  It has felt-backed and weighted keys (3gm) and is a digital piano rather than a synthesizer, so all instruments are actually sampled rather than created electronically.  Synthesizers have gotten so good in the last few years that that distinction is mostly moot these days, but, in 1988, it made all the difference.  Even today, the Roland sounds and plays great.

That said, I prefer the PC keyboard, but there are obvious problems with things like chording and touch that programs like Neil's have had to solve in creative ways.  Given that PianoMan is kaput, I'm looking for something to replace it.  Understand that I'm not looking for sequencing software or anything that lets me play a MIDI keyboard or synthesizer card via the PC.  Other than emulating some type of piano (which it could do however it wants -- e.g., via my synthesizer card, DirectX, the PC speaker (!) -- I don't care), I'm mostly interested in simply playing piano on a PC keyboard.  MIDI recording would be nice, but isn't essential.  Any ideas out there?  Any of you play piano and have some software that lets you play on a regular QWERTY keyboard?

Comments (8)

  1. ToddM says:

    Sonar (the ‘new’ name for Cakewalk) includes a ‘Virtual Piano’ which should do basically what you want.  It appears as a MIDI controller to the system.  (It was certainly in Sonar v1; I would imagine it’s in the current version.)

  2. GrantQ says:

    Check out Virtual Midi keyboard – freeware. http://www.granucon.com/vmk.html I’ve not tried it but it appears to fulfil your needs. For a modest cost, something this is possible within Band in the Box too.  Good Luck!

  3. Joergen Bech says:

    You could try out Click MusicalKEYS 3 from http://www.bapuli.co.nr/

    Freeware, and what little it does, it does well. Seems to have some problems, however, with multiple keys (more than 2 for some combinations) pressed at once on my notebook, but this might be a limitation of the notebook keyboard hardware? My desktop PC has a Creative Soundblaster Live sound card installed, so I use the keyboard in AudioHQ for this purpose. Much nicer and does not seem to have problems with multiple keys.

    Haven’t come across any better freeware offerings. Haven’t looked at the shareware/commercial ones.

    Perhaps you need a different keyboard for your pc? http://www.prodikeys.com/products/prodikeys_DM/?type=13 🙂


  4. MSDN Archive says:

    Joergen, thanks for the keyboard link — I hadn’t seen one of those before 🙂  Looks like something my kids might need the next time we need a PC keyboard.

  5. Martin O says:

    Another option is Virtual Midi Controller.

    Get it at http://www.soundcosoftware.com


  6. JRPParma says:

    I  found a neat synthesizer for my PC.  Plays with mouse or QWERTY using lots of instruments to my PCI sound card.  It even has a record and playback.

    Download from e  http://www.ringophone.com/ringtone-composer.asp

    However, it only saves as ringtones to a site, and it appears I have to buy it back.

    I would be satisfied if i could make wav files.  I can simultaneously use my sound recorder – but its not ideal.

  7. bernard says:

    I too am looking for something similar,the best I have found is JS virtual piano 2.1.I play this thing through my hi fi which is connected up to the pc so that i can also download operatic stuff from youtube.Only problem I find is that I would like to inerface with a better keyboard than querty.This spiel comes from a complete nerd when it comes to pc’s and pianos,but it might be useful.

  8. Astraim says:

    I found this…. http://www.rempro.nl

    there u can download a small prog, that works as a midi cable, there is the trick… a small aplication that works betwen the midi software, and the coposer that yu use, in my case, Reason. 😉 I hope that iti be what u are looking for

Skip to main content