Christoffer Carlsson och Clas Engström

Visualizing music scales on keyboard


Developers of music instruments and interfaces intended for the creation of music have in the last decades integrated concepts from HCI (Human Computer Interaction) in the development of their products. Many of these products were created for the use of amateur musicians who are not educated in the subject of music theory. Therefor the designers found it necessary to prioritize simplicity of use in the development of their products. However, the use of these products can invoke dimensional limitations to the user’s freedom of music creation.

The aim of the study was to design and evaluate an interface on a music keyboard which encourages the user to make better use of her own creativity while playing music. Visualizing music scales on keyboard is an attempt, by the authors of this paper, to combine the simplicity of several modern music equipment with less limitations of the musical structure similar to that of conventional music instruments.

Published and accepted literature tangential to the topic of this paper has been studied and comprehensive reviews of different modern musical interfaces have been made. A user test has been developed based on the knowledge gained from these studies. Additionally, a form has been designed in which the test subjects were prompted to express their subjective views on the interface and its influence.

The results from the tests indicate that fewer tonal errors, as well as fewer repetitions of parts of the melody, were made using a keyboard with visualized music scale. On the other hand, the results also indicate a tendency of the user skipping tones, which was generally more frequent using the mentioned interface. These missing tones had, however, minor impact on the subjective result. The final conclusion of the study is that an interface for the visualization of music scales on keyboard generates more positive than negative effects on amateur musicians’ music performance. Additionally, the negative effects can be neglected in comparison to the positive effects of using the interface.