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May 21, 2014

Comments

Ken Rushton

Re: "I tried Musiah for few months but could never get everything to work properly. Because of its intense graphics..."

Kavita, Thanks for the feedback.
Could i get you to try the new version, "Musiah Unity" and report back to us? It's supposed to be broswer-based (the operating system & hardware aredesigned to run browser stuff fast these days.). Hence it should run much faster.
Ken.
PS-Remember to post back to us!

Kavita

I tried Musiah for few months but could never get everything to work properly. Because of its intense graphics, it needs latest powerful computer. Mine is just a couple years old, but still didn't work with Musiah.

Ken Rushton

Hi Jon.
Neither course set will teach you "music theory", but they will teach you how to play ... and as a side effect train practical music theory into your brain.
It's a subtle effect, but you learn to do combinations that "work", and timings that work, and to avoid the things that don't.
With a uniform (isometric) keyboard you learn faster because the intervals are all the same.
Which course is better? Try them both and see, then tell us!

One big tip: don't just pass an exercise and move on to the next, as I did. That just teaches you to echo the course. After you get a 96+% score on a good exercise, fiddle with it: invert the chords, change a note or two (especially the major third to minor). That's where you really learn to play, I'm discovering.
Ken.

Jon

Hi Ken, hope you are well. For someone who is simply seeking the rules of music aka Music Theory will either work or would Musiah be the superior? I am not 3 days in to my Marvel trial and although I am learning how to read sheet music, this isnt what I started Googleing for :) I went to Marvel on the back of your recommendation so your answer to my above question would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Brandon

Hi Ken, I'm sorry for disappointing you but I'll be selling my aXis at some point. I've got a lot to deal with and there's a multitude of reasons I won't get into, but I appreciate your help and your conviction to what you're doing and I thank you for it.

I'll still follow your posts out of interest and hopefully pick things back up in the future, maybe with a Linnstrument or something futurey.

Feel free to email at some point if you please.

Ken Rushton

Brandon, are you still here?
I can answer most of these questions, but have limited time. I'll happily do them if you give me feedback that you are finding them useful.
Deal?

Ken Rushton

Hi Brandon,
Here are some answers, and some answers may even be good ones.


I was perhaps naively counting on you to help me
- I’ll try to answer your questions. Whether this helps you actually depends on you: you have to actively use the answers.
everyone else who ever picked up an aXis dropped off the internet.
- Actually this is no surprise. For one thing, learning music is a huge amount of work, so “everyone else” divides into 2 camps, those who gave up and went elsewhere and those busy being musicians: spending time learning and once they learn they are busy playing in gigs. The Axis are just means to an end.
(BTW, I ignore the funny “aXis” capitalization – it’s too hard to read)
- This is true of me as well. My top priority is to learn to play and this is a massive time sink That’s why I have not post much in 9 months, despite being retired.
- I’ve recently re-arranged my schedule, and will be devoting significant time to blogging and organizing.
Do you know any other resources besides your websites and the C-Thru forum?
- Nope, I seem to be it. Pity, as I would love to have more buddies to interact with.
(I’m going to putting out feelers to starting a local Alternate Keyboardists club, staring shortly)

Do you have anywhere else I can talk to you better?
- email me” MusicScienceGuy (at) shaw.ca

I feel like I dived in way too quickly without understanding what I'm doing and I virtually panicked when I realised that. I had talked about jammers for a while and when my girlfriend ordered an aXis for me I guess I didn't know enough and now I'm really bothered I wasted a lot of money and my hopes and the thought of having to give up is devastating. I have had a long time fear of music I suppose,
- Don’t sweat it. Learning the Axis and/or jammer will teach you just piles about music, and will translate to better pickup of the guitar.

I'm indecisive and generally anxious. I picked up guitar for a few months and quit when I was frustrated at practice time and didn't have anything to guide me. I'm 18 and havn't been able to take music class before, but I have a good feeling of rhythm and timing. You'll have to consider that when you speak to me unfortunately.
- No problem: I suggest you learn chords first.

Brandon

Hey Ken do you have anything written yet? Thanks. :)

Ken Rushton

No sweat - I love questions, as they generate answers, and answers make good blog posts, and eventually, I hope, a "how to build and play a jammer" online book. :)
Ken.

Brandon M

Hi Ken, I have written a long post. If you plan on replying to it over a while please inform me asap and then feel free to type the rest out. I feel you want to teach and I am trying to learn so I hope you'll answer them all if you can.

I'll start by saying I'm sorry for the huge amount of questions, you are the only man around who could answer any of them as far as I'm aware and I was perhaps naively counting on you to help me when I got this thing. I didn't even know if you'd reply, but you did thankyou. It seems like everyone else who ever picked up an aXis dropped off the internet. Do you know any other resources besides your websites and the C-Thru forum? If you answer my questions, it'll be a very large post and I recommend posting it as a blog post.

Hi Ken do you have anywhere else I can talk to you better? You don't seem to get alot of comments and I want to commit to this, I spent alot of time reading about this over a year but now I feel like I dived in way too quickly without understanding what I'm doing and I virtually panicked when I realised that. I had talked about jammers for a while and when my girlfriend ordered an aXis for me I guess I didn't know enough and now I'm really bothered I wasted alot of money and my hopes and the thought of having to give up is devastating. I have had a long time fear of music I suppose, I'm indecisive and generally anxious. I picked up guitar for a few months and quit when I was frustrated at practice time and didn't have anything to guide me. I'm 18 and havn't been able to take music class before, but I have a good feeling of rhythm and timing I like to think. You'll have to consider that when you speak to me unfortunately.

Why are inversions harder to play? I also am confused on the note capacity. You say the Harmonic has a limited set of notes, what are those notes? With the full set of notes on the WH Jammer, are the pitch shift keys useless and on the standard layout do you need to use them to reach all notes? Why arn't you sure about the ease of playing melodies? You note that on the WH layout chords are always the same shape, I thought they were like that on Harmonic? I thought that was a major selling point.

How on earth does Rock Band work? Do you learn what notes the piano is on screen and play them on the aXis? (A seemingly very confusing way to play).

You say to pull out the keys with a fork, on your alternativekeyboards website you say to not do that and instead take apart the top part of the aXis. What's the right way? I'm thinking of putting coloured stickers on it instead. Will that be fine?

Am I going to have to learn sheet music before I can play anything familiar? I did not expect this, I thought I could look up the notes instead. Why is the harmonic table harder to relate to standard score? Why is the Wicki-Hayden layout also hard?

Is a second keyboard on a jammer played in a reverse manner, because it is flipped? Which is the main keyboard then, the right hand?

Alot of sections, including practice ones on the altkeyboards website have nothing on them. As you've noted, the learning to learn portion is a hugely daunting part of learning and I fear it'd make me give up and switch to Piano or just quit music entirely. I feel like I just got this and I won't know how to play it and I won't know how to practice it.

The velocity on my aXis feels like I can only hit 3 velocities, really quiet, medium or loud; and loud is the most desirable sound I find but it's really tiring to hit. Most importantly, sometimes and I'm not sure why but the keys will not sound and I am thrown off the flow. I also can't go from a quiet sound to a louder sound by varying my touch, if I start slow and then pound the key it'll still be quiet. Is this intended? The silent keys thing is particularly frustrating and I'm wondering if I have to RMA my keyboard?

Lastly and most importantly, is it worth playing this instrument if I may not get a second keyboard? Am I wasting my time? I was under the impression that you merely used two keyboards because it was faster and allowed multiple soundfonts, but does the system break without a second keyboard? I've seen your comments on skill transfer but I assume you train your left hand often, if I never train my left hand will I be a bumbling idiot if I try to add another keyboard? With these questions in mind, should I just stick to the standard Harmonic layout? Should I learn on a piano instead until I have a grasp of the music theory I'm dealing with? Due to the lack of practice material getting into the piano seems like a option I should consider. I also see this note: http://www.altkeyboards.com/instruments/sonomes One of us (Ken Rushton) has long suspected that someone who has taken piano lessons, not not locked into the piano mind-set would take off with the new keyboards, as teaching the fingers to hit ergonomically designed keys in different places (especially logical, consistent places that match musical hearing), is a trivial thing compared to all the other things already learned. Among them will be finger-coordination, timing, rhythm, coordination of two hands, etc, etc.

Brandon M

I'll start by saying I'm sorry for the huge amount of questions, you are the only man around who could answer any of them

as far as I'm aware and I was perhaps naively counting on you to help me when I got this thing. I didn't even know if you'd

reply, but you did thankyou. It seems like everyone else who ever picked up an aXis dropped off the internet. Do you know

any other resources besides your websites and the C-Thru forum? If you answer my questions, it'll be a very large post and I recommend posting

it as a blog post.

Hi Ken do you have anywhere else I can talk to you better? You don't seem to get alot of comments and I want to commit to

this, I spent alot of time reading about this over a year but now I feel like I dived in way too quickly without

understanding what I'm doing and I virtually panicked when I realised that. I had talked about jammers for a while and when

my girlfriend ordered an aXis for me I guess I didn't know enough and now I'm really bothered I wasted alot of money and my

hopes and the thought of having to give up is devastating. I have had a long time fear of music I suppose, I'm indecisive

and generally anxious. I picked up guitar for a few months and quit when I was frustrated at practice time and didn't have

anything to guide me. I'm 18 and havn't been able to take music class before, but I have a good feeling of rhythm and

timing I like to think. You'll have to consider that when you speak to me unfortunately.

Why are inversions harder to play? I also am confused on the note capacity. You say the Harmonic has a limited set of

notes, what are those notes? With the full set of notes on the WH Jammer, are the pitch shift keys useless and on the

standard layout do you need to use them to reach all notes? Why arn't you sure about the ease of playing melodies? You note

that on the WH layout chords are always the same shape, I thought they were like that on Harmonic? I thought that was a

major selling point.

How on earth does Rock Band work? Do you learn what notes the piano is on screen and play them on the aXis? (A seemingly

very confusing way to play).

You say to pull out the keys with a fork, on your alternativekeyboards website you say to not do that and instead take

apart the top part of the aXis. What's the right way? I'm thinking of putting coloured stickers on it instead. Will that be

fine?

Am I going to have to learn sheet music before I can play anything familiar? I did not expect this, I thought I could look

up the notes instead. Why is the harmonic table harder to relate to standard score? Why is the Wicki-Hayden layout also

hard?

Is a second keyboard on a jammer played in a reverse manner, because it is flipped? Which is the main keyboard then, the

right hand?

Alot of sections, including practice ones on the altkeyboards website have nothing on them. As you've noted, the learning

to learn portion is a hugely daunting part of learning and I fear it'd make me give up and switch to Piano or just quit

music entirely. I feel like I just got this and I won't know how to play it and I won't know how to practice it.

The velocity on my aXis feels like I can only hit 3 velocities, really quiet, medium or loud; and loud is the most

desirable sound I find but it's really tiring to hit. Most importantly, sometimes and I'm not sure why but the keys will

not sound and I am thrown off the flow. I also can't go from a quiet sound to a louder sound by varying my touch, if I

start slow and then pound the key it'll still be quiet. Is this intended? The silent keys thing is particularly frustrating

and I'm wondering if I have to RMA my keyboard?

Lastly and most importantly, is it worth playing this instrument if I may not get a second keyboard? Am I wasting my time?

I was under the impression that you merely used two keyboards because it was faster and allowed multiple soundfonts, but

does the system break without a second keyboard? I've seen your comments on skill transfer but I assume you train your left

hand often, if I never train my left hand will I be a bumbling idiot if I try to add another keyboard? With these questions

in mind, should I just stick to the standard Harmonic layout? Should I learn on a piano instead until I have a grasp of the

music theory I'm dealing with? Due to the lack of practice material getting into the piano seems like a option I should

consider. I also see this note: http://www.altkeyboards.com/instruments/sonomes One of us (Ken Rushton) has long suspected

that someone who has taken piano lessons, not not locked into the piano mind-set would take off with the new keyboards, as

teaching the fingers to hit ergonomically designed keys in different places (especially logical, consistent places that

match musical hearing), is a trivial thing compared to all the other things already learned. Among them will be finger-

coordination, timing, rhythm, coordination of two hands, etc, etc.

Brandon M

Hi Ken, I have written a long post. If you plan on replying to it over a while please inform me asap and then feel free to type the rest out (I don't want to get worried I scared you off). I feel you want to teach and I am trying to learn so I hope you'll answer them all if you can.

Ken Rushton


Brandon wrote: "...What is the distinct advantage of the Wicki Hayden over the Harmonic Table layout.".
I hope to one day "real soon" create a video of how to convert an Axis-49 to a jammer.
in the meantime, it's not hard. I suggest using a small fork to get under the little key posts and lift gently. Do not twist the key posts off!.

The harmonic table layout:
- is really compact, and easy to play chords in - not unlike a guitar
- but learning to play inversions, an important part of arrangements, is not so easy in this arrangement.
-One also has a limited set of notes available.
- once the chords are memorized, I imagine one could play the chords from a fake book well.
- I'm not as sure about playing a melody

The W-H arrangement
- gives one a complete keyboard under one hand - all the notes!
- not that different from a piano's layout: the notes have just been stacked, instead of run in a line: this gives rise to the next 4 points:
- one can learn chords easily: they are always the same shape.
- is easy to see and play inversions to chords.
- can be related to a standard score, with practice.
- one can learn to read standard melodies and play them

Does that help?
Ken.

Brandon

Hi Ken my aXis arrived yesterday, sorry for not replying to your comment I'm a terrible procrastinator and I still have some of your archives to read.

I suppose my main question at the moment is what is the distinct advantage of the Wicki Hayden over the Harmonic Table layout. I don't really want to take apart my aXis to setup the key colours for Wicki-Hayden but I will. I also don't have another aXis and probably won't be able to afford one for a long while.

I still have more questions but I'll read more of the archive first.

Also thanks for informing me about the B-system layout, but I'm not the one to be testing layouts I can barely get myself to practice one.

Ken Rushton

Hi Brandon,
I'm still around, but have been busy with non-music things, Now I'm working on music blogging (and practice) each day.
Please ask away :)


"Do you have any more thoughts on the Ableton Push?"
I judge that it looks "OK" as a test/demo instrument, but is not really designed to be a performance instrument: not very isomorphic, the keys are rectangular and big, and probably not velocity sensitive. However, it's pretty.

"What are the differences between the isomorphic layouts?"
I've only the time to learn ONE layout, and the jammer keyboard layout is fascinating and very playable.

The Park and Gerhard are unofficial labels for the layouts, as no-one has yet really become expert on them and described them to the world AFAIK (in the world of science a discovery is only real if it is published). Feel free to be come "the expert" and give it the name you chose. If you do you are welcome to add an article to the AtlKeyboards.com website, and a new entry in Wikipedia (I'll help).
The B-system layout is very good as well and needs a expert too.

Ken.

Brandon M

Ken are you still around? I've got questions to ask and an aXis49 coming in the mail. I've been checking out isomorphics for over a year. I havn't seen you post for a few months.

Do you have any more thoughts on the Ableton Push as an isomorphic keyboard keyboard? I've noticed videos of it lately. Such as this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv4vD0FZWso

What are the differences between the isomorphic layouts? I know you use Jammer, and I plan to use the Wicki-Hayden layout because it offers dual use with certain concertinas. I don't know if I'll be able to afford another aXis soon though because the shipping to Australia made it $420.

What do you think of the layouts listed here: http://www.shiverware.com/musix/ The Park and Gerhard ones. I googled and you commented on them once but didn't say much.

Ken Rushton

i think you'll find that learning with these programs is a lot - at least 2-3 times or more, more time efficient than learning with a teacher - especially learning the basics.

The issue of learning 2-hands was like hitting a brick wall for me, but I eventually got the knack. Learning to do a couple (Twinkle-twinkle Little Star and Take Me out to the Ball Game) of 1-4-7 chord songs perfectly was the trick, and once learned the knack generalized to all similar songs. It will get easier for you.

I think Musiah's approach of starting with two-handed play is pretty good. I'm interested in how you find the Musiah lessons. I've had a discussion with the Author and he thinks that they are the perfect degree of added skill required at each level.

I got up to lesson 7 in Musiah.

Keith Scholes

Hi Ken,

I will be happy to report back in a month or so when I have been using them for a while. I have been trying Piano Marvel for a week or so and Musiah for only a couple of days. I have taken piano lessons with a teacher for a year or so previously but she moved out of the district and I have been laid off from the piano for about 6 months. Consequently I had expected to find the lessons relatively easy, at least to start with. However, while the theory part isn't providing any real problems, I was surprised to find that the physical practice harder than I expected. This may be because I am rusty or it may due to the MIDI interface picking up problems in timing that slip by me when practicing by myself.

At the moment the two packages do seem to have a different feel, with PM feeling more like individual technical exercises, whereas Musiah feels more integrated from the start with its emphasis on leaning songs with the technical aspects being learnt almost by default. Musiah's emphasis on practicing hands together pretty much from the start also contributes to this feeling. A mixed blessing for me as hands together has always been a particular problem area for me, so perhaps making me practice this way is a good thing.

Ken Rushton

Hi Keith

I'd agree that using both is not a bad idea at all. As noted, each tool has it's strengths, and each has it's weaknesses.

I'm currently up to level 3 in Piano Marvel, with about half of the lessons in that level completed, and a gold piano for all of Method levels 1 and 2.

PM does not check the duration of notes, and it seems to get more demanding as to when the notes start as one climbs the ladder. However, it's pretty easy to learn to hold the note for the right time, so I think that ignoring note duration is the right choice, given all the other things that are being checked and trained. I'd like to know where Musiah excels.

Since they cover fairly different skills to start out, without much overlap, you will find practicing both requires a fair bit more effort. Eventually you'll get up to a level in each where you'll find you've already acquired the skill in the other program and will speed up.

Can you please do us the favor of reporting how you found each system?

Ken.

PS. Both products are going to be upgraded soon.

Keith Scholes

I am a current adult ( almost 60 ) piano learner. I am currently testing out Piano Marvel and will probably give Musia a trial as well. I am wondering if there is any advantage to be gained from using both pieces of software. The cost of both combined isn't too onerous and from what you say it sounds as though one would cover some of the weaknesses of the other and any overlap could be seen as extra practice.

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