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?