The Story of EasyKey Music

In my early twenties, I had a friend who could play music on a cheap little keyboard that would top much of what I heard on the radio at the time. He couldn’t read music, but could somehow put his heart and soul into the notes. He continually encouraged me to try my hand at music, but I didn’t feel like I was naturally talented like he obviously was. I decided to try and teach myself, and so went to the public library to pick up all the books I could about music theory and playing the piano. I quickly learned that to even know what to play in order to practice, you must learn what the symbols mean, and to me, there was no logic or order to the way music was written. It was written to be compact, and portable, but NOT understood by a novice. I persevered for a while, and learned what the symbols meant, but it never became easy, or fun.

I finally taught myself to play the piano and keyboards, recording over one hundred songs, but I gave up trying to read standard notation, with an admiration and respect for those who could. As I got older and gained more skill, I kept trying to go back and teach myself to read traditional notation, but it never got any easier, and there was nothing written that seemed to try and make it any simpler – every book seemed to say the same thing, and use the same techniques – that didn’t work for me.

Finally, as the computer age got into full swing, I began to think about representing music in a new way. I saw music in my head differently to the way it was written using traditional notation. I began to try and draw what I saw when I listened to music, and imagine how to share that vision with people. I was doodling with a piece of graph paper one day when I realized that the cells could represent both time and finger placement.

I then used a spreadsheet program to expand on that idea. After several years of improving on the idea, I finally came up with the system that is now called the EasyKey Visual Music Notation System™. The real breakthru came when I met Adam Gray, a programming student at QUT. He instantly saw the potential of EasyKey and we worked together to create software that could convert any Midi file into the Visual Music Notation. That final piece off the puzzle has enabled EasyKey to become a reality.