Tool - Reference Note Keyboard [NOW LISTED IN SHOWCASE]


A music student (oboist) wanted an easy way to play a note to use as a reference. We were in agreement that the best thing to do is to play the pitch and hold it in memory and use your ears/pitch sense to compare that with what you are playing on your instrument, not rely on a visual guide (as with commercial tuners).

The student didn’t want to buy a keyboard to accomplish this simple task. So I made a little program. Requires Java 8. To play a note, click on it with the mouse (hold mouse press down for sustain).

It’s mostly made from parts of other things I’ve been working on. I thought I might post it on as a freebie. But before doing so, I thought I’d run it by JGO members. Any suggestions or feedback?

Download jar: Reference Note Keyboard

To be clear, it’s not really meant for doing anything else, like playing melodies. I suppose it might be possible to make the typing keys play notes, but I’d have to solve at least one issue first: holding down a key (like spacebar or a letter) seems to retrigger it, as far as the JavaFX keyboard listener is concerned. This in turn seems to really gum up the JavaFX thread used for the GUI and disrupts audio playback.

Also, the latency could be lower for a “real” keyboard, although, it is true that the virtual playback tool for the NativeInstruments FM8 is pretty laggy, too.


This post by @tscandalitta inspired me to go ahead and work on the QWERTY keyboard listening for the synth.

New version is up. JavaFX constructs seem quite adequate for the task. What confuses the matter, though, are hardware issues.

  1. The way the QWERTY keys are “wired” it is probably just not be possible to hold down some and have all other keys be acknowledged when they are pressed/released.

  2. A TouchPad may interfere with the readability of the QWERTY keys. So, better to use the mouse (for settings controls or notes) if you are also going to also play QWERTY keys.

The latency is not bad!

Not sure what else to tweak. The EPiano voice maybe needs more harmonic content in the lower octaves, given that most computer speakers have horribly deficient bass response.

I once had a person ask for a “harmonium” app for playing Kirtan accompaniment to singing. The organ patch I have is not that far off. I’ve renamed it, will maybe come up with a way to make it a little wheezier.

Add more voice-choice options? I have a pretty good Harp, Vibraphone, a couple other nice pads could add in. But it might be good to keep it lightweight. (Under 120 KB so far! Am guessing under 20 MB download if JVM included.)