Music in the Metaverse - learn to play the piano in this new augmented reality app

8 August 2022, 16:13

A beginner musician learns how to play the piano through augmented reality
A beginner musician learns how to play the piano through augmented reality. Picture: Getty Stock Image

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

This new VR game is the piano’s answer to Guitar Hero, but the controller is your own hands…

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Billed as, “the next evolution of the world’s most popular instrument”, PianoVision is an app designed to “accelerate your piano learning using Passthrough AR and hand tracking”.

Available for download on the MetaQuest, VR Gaming headset, the app uses both augmented reality, and virtual reality to teach users how to play the piano, whether the user has a keyboard instrument or not.

Gamers can either play on a completely virtual, ‘air piano’ to learn notes and hand positions, or they can use the app in tangent with a real piano, or midi-keyboard they already have.

Using augmented reality technology, users can see their hands and keyboards in front of them, while the app overlays interactive graphics, showing them how to play the instrument.

Watch a review and demonstration of how the app works by VR youtuber, Tetiana, below.

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The App was originally launched in February earlier this year with a closed early access, but is now available on the App Lab store for MetaQuest devices.

Founder, Zac Reid, tweeted the game’s public release at the start of last week. A piano novice himself, the AR/VR developer could hardly play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when he started building the app last year, but now claims he can “play moderately challenging songs on command”.

Reid created the app to help wannabe musicians, learn the piano in the style of Guitar Hero. First released in 2005, Guitar Hero was a series of music video games which originally used a guitar-shaped controller to simulate playing the string instrument.

In 2008, a study by the national charity, Youth Music, revealed that out of the 12 million young people in the UK, half played music games, such as guitar hero. A fifth of those young people (2.5 million), are said to have been inspired by these games, leading them to taking up a real musical instrument.

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Other features of PianoVision include a ‘game changing’ ability to upload your own sheet music, meaning that instead of picking what song to learn from a pre-decided library of works, you can learn any piece of music interactively using the app.

A multiplayer feature means multiple players can enter a VR music hall, where app users can play with their friends, learn from a teacher, or even put on a concert for others to listen to.

In 2020, the Royal College of Music in London began developing VR technology so students could practice performing in iconic concert venues.

With MetaQuest already hosting multiple VR concerts for artists such as Post Malone and Billie Eilish, Reid says there’s still “much to explore” around the VR music hall, and promises “there's a lot more to come” as PianoVision continues to evolve.