Answer eight questions and win a picture

If any of you play a musical instrument, I would like your answers to a few questions regarding my school project for this quarter.

This will take a fair amount of reading, so I have to prepare a prize.

The first two people who help me get to request a piece of art, similar to my random art prizes in the past. The post for deciding what piece will be done, will come later.

You can leave your answers in a comment or you can email me at
email address
I will edit this post once I have two responses.

Edit: Two responses have been received!

To Christopher Long and Gray Embrace: Thank you very much for your submissions. Look forward to the reward post soon.

Only people who play a musical instrument should answer this survey. Beginners and advanced players both qualify. I won’t ask for proof though, although I know for sure Hinano, Muffin, and Orion, for example, are musicians.

Those who follow my blog know that my project is called Lunasa, an acronym for “Limited Use Note Accuracy Sensor Application”, which runs on the Android mobile phone platform. It is named after the Irish band and not the Prismriver Sister.

It is supposed to allow people to play Guitar Hero with a real guitar, or with whatever instrument they choose. It works by actually listening to the notes as you are playing them, and keeps track of whether you are playing the right notes at the right time.

This kind of “evaluation by frequency detection” has been done before, in the vocal mode of games like Rock Band and the scoring system of karaoke machines.

Question 1
Do you find the concept appealing? If not, is it because someone who is playing an instrument already knows how well he or she is doing? Or does it fail for some other reason?

Question 2
Who do you think would find such an application useful?

Upon clicking the “Select Song” button on the title screen, the user is taken to the song selection screen. (By default the full list of songs should be shown on the right hand panel, but it’s not depicted here.)

Touching the “Type here to search” area brings up the Android keyboard, which allows you to filter the list of songs by name.

Choosing a song displays information about it. The “Instrument” and “Speed” spinners on the left (which look like drop down lists in electronic forms but behave differently as specified by the Android standard) allow you to then choose the instrument you wish to play, and at which speed you want the song to be run. If you set the instrument spinner before selecting a song, your search results will be filtered according to the instrument you chose.

After the instrument and speed are selected, you can then choose “Start” to play the song.

When playing the song, notes scroll from the right of the screen to the left, and you are supposed to play them at the moment they overlap the glowing vertical bar on the left. Those who have played Guitar Hero should recognize this as a sideways Guitar Hero, but the musical notation will vary based on what instrument you have chosen.

The standard controls for play, pause, and restart are available on the progress bar at the bottom. You may note the lack of an obvious way to quit in the middle of playing. This is an intentional move by our group leader, who wants the user to unhide the menu bar at the top of the window in order to exit.

When the song has run to completion, this screen appears, allowing you to retry, select a new song, or quit.

Question 3
Do you like the way we’ve organized the application? This is about presentation of information and overall visual appeal.

Question 4
Did you find the screens clear and easy to use? Were there any difficulties/confusion? For example, I myself was confused that the “Start” button on the song selection screen was already visible and not obviously disabled even before I made all the choices necessary to start a song.

Question 5
What would you like to see changed? If you do not like the organization, how would you have done it differently? What would you have done to minimize confusion?

Question 6
Is the user interface nearly good enough for you that you would use it or does it need much more work? How much more?

Question 7
Have you seen or used similar applications?

Question 8
Would they purchase such an application? If so, for how much? Would you download it at all if it was free on Android Market?

Thank you for your response.

5 Responses to “Answer eight questions and win a picture”

  1. Gray Embrace says:

    1. It seems like an interesting way to practice music; but you hit it right on the head, people already know how well they’re playing. I suppose you could use it to fine-tune your timing, for beginners like me with no rhythm. 😛

    2. See last sentence above.

    3. It seems well organized.

    4. Going by what you have so far, the song search bar should be more visible, like a white box.

    5. See above.

    6. With the changes above, I’d use it.

    7. I have not seen or used similar applications.

    8. It does seem like it’s “limited use”; maybe if each tab/note was a good deal cheaper than those in music stores, I would consider it. I’d pay $1 a song, maybe? If it were free (with a handful of songs included), with downloadable songs, I’d download it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Percussionist here (snare drum)

    1. Concept is sort-of appealing. A drum works differently from most other instruments, and at best this app will be able to help me hit notes on time. At least for a drum, being able to detect certain rudiments (rolls, flams) would help, as well as dynamics.

    Due to one-note limitation, not useful for drum kit.

    2. People in need of practice. Possible way to kill time. Dunno.
    After completing the survey, NOT for people practicing for band. More useful for somebody learning on their free time.

    3. Looks okay. Might need scroll bars.

    4. Yep, my eyes went to the “Start” instead of “search”. Maybe highlight the next step, or a tutorial would help.

    5. See above.

    6. Unfortunately, I think there is a limitation on how much you can put on an app, and my demands as a drummer, such as sticking, that can’t be picked up with audio alone.

    7. No.

    8. I probably wouldn’t bother, given inherent limitations.

    Side note: Since your app’s main feature is picking up frequency, I guess a single-drum instrument wouldn’t be very suitable for it.

  3. Sixten says:

    @Anonymous:

    Thank you for your input, even if you’re the third reply (Someone sent theirs in via email.)

    I hadn’t thought of how this would work for drums, and thus far it’s proven difficult to even detect two notes being played at the same time. But thank you for your feedback nevertheless, it’s made me think about this in a way I haven’t thought before. And your suggestions on the user interface have been noted. The person who sent their response through email pointed out that the buttons need to be standardized with regard to their disabled, clickable, and clicked modes.

  4. Anonymous says:

    @Sixten

    Meh, I was already well aware, but as a regular reader, thought I should comment on an aspect or two anyways.

  5. Adrian says:

    Hello, I just found your website via MTGsalvation and I’m very intrigued.
    I fell over this part of your blog, and having read it through it seems like an interesting project, though not one I would likely use a lot of time on. (I am an semi-employed guitarist-singer)
    That’s mostly because a lot of songs or version of the songs can be in a different key and a different tempo – thus leaving the outlined solo “notes” depicted by your program “wrong” when playing to that song.
    Are you planning on implementing a chance to change the tune from, say A to F#? Or changing playstyle/rhythm/tempo? (Think country/rock/alternative/reggae style/funky or classical rhytm pattern/120 BPM to 168 BPM, for example). If so, that would definitely improve the appeal to me.
    However, seeing as it uses “GuitarHero” interface, the way I interpret it is that you get to see the singular notes in quick succession, with the fret you’re supposed to play noted by numbers (tabs). But what about chords/drums – the rest of the song?
    I feel that knowing the rest of the instruments and their ability to mingle with your playing, is what makes you “play the song” fully – Following only a specific pattern for one instrument, only playing the “core”/solo of the song doesn’t seem like an efficient way to learn a song to me.
    However, as noted above it WOULD be a good way to practice a certain solo/rhythm until you get it right, and a lot of people would probably find the concept funny.
    But I think most musicians mostly think that playing the instrument “for real” with a band is more fun – If I were to just “space out” with some musical game-fun, I wouldn’t “prefer” this over GuitarHero, if I have to be honest.
    These are the reasons why I think the concept only sounds somewhat appealing, and only on some aspects… The interface was simple and easy to use, by the way, just thought I’d mention that.

    But as a final note; tten again, I don’t really find GuitarHero that appealing – So I might not be the intended demographic for this sort of application anyway.

    Also, I know that the “contest” is already over, but I just felt like giving my cents on the subject, if it will be of any use.
    I look forward to following your blog and comics on a daily basis! I hope I didn’t sound meanspirited or “elitist” in this comment, that wasn’t intended if so – and if I did, I apologize.

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