Small Game Saturday: Touch Pianist

Now, hold your horses. The title might make it seem like it’s going to be a regular series. We both know that this isn’t going to happen with my erratic posting schedule. I’m also generally not a huge fan of “casual games”, or what passes for that. However, it’s Saturday, and a nice small game was brought to my attention, so, at least this Saturday is Small Game Saturday!

The game in question is called “Touch Pianist“, runs in your Browser, and is like Guitar Hero. But it’s for the piano instead of the guitar (duh), and it uses just one button. What sounds like a pretty dull idea is actually quite fun. I’m not sure it still passes as a game, per se, but it’s good for an afternoon of entertainment and potentially even some education.

If you turn your screen by 90 degrees (or alternatively, your head), you can see where my comparison with Guitar Hero comes from.

If you turn your screen by 90 degrees (or alternatively, your head), you can see where my comparison with Guitar Hero comes from.

I played the piano for many years, and as halfway decent at that, without trying to sound immodest. Most of the stuff available in Touch Pianist I could play on a real piano back then (except for fugues; fuck fugues…). However, I stopped almost completely 15 years ago when I moved out and couldn’t take the piano with me. These days, I’m missing the practice to properly sight-read most stuff, so Touch Pianist is quite fun. It reminds me a bit of my very first driving lesson, where my teacher told me to steer, and he’d take care of the pedals and the shifting. Touch Pianist takes care of the notes, and all you have to do is the rhythm.

Which is easier to say than to do. Some pieces, like the “tutorial” moonlight sonata, are slow and have regular arpeggios that basically just require you to hit a key as regularly as possible. But once you get to pieces with trills and cadenzas, and switching meters, it becomes a different animal. On the other hand, these are more interesting to play: especially the Chopin pieces allow you to create a genuine interpretation of the piece, even though all you do is control the rhythm.

Rachmaninov's hammering chords are clearly visible in his Prelude op. 23 no. 5.

Rachmaninov’s hammering chords are clearly visible in his Prelude op. 23 no. 5.

For me, the hardest part is not having the score in front of me. With pieces I don’t know, I have to guess the rhythm by the distance between the dots, instead of looking at the notation. Also, if the rhythm or meter changes suddenly, I regularly run over and only realize when it starts to sounds wrong. Nevertheless, it’s very addicting for such a simple game. I played with it for about an hour straight before I had to stop: the constant scrolling of the dots and the background gave me motion sickness. Something that could be fixed in the next version, maybe?

Give it a try! It’s fun for a lazy weekend afternoon. You can find it at

7 thoughts on “Small Game Saturday: Touch Pianist

  1. That was fun, thanks for the recommendation! I think it might be better classified as a toy rather than a game, but highly enjoyable nonetheless.

    1. Also note you can control the volume as well, at least in the iOS app. Lower in the screen you touch, the quieter the note. Touch higher? Bam, loud!

      1. I don’t have an iOS device, but I just figured out you can do the same in the browser version if you use a mouse. Interesting! It doesn’t work very well with a mouse, though, at least not for me. And on my Android phone, it works in theory, but the sound seems to cut out weirdly every now and then.

        But for all those Surface Pro users (all 2 of them!), it might be worth a try!

        1. As someone who actually owns a Surface Pro, I resemble that remark 😛

          I found it to work way better on a touch device that supports multitouch. Way easier to do trills with two hands alternating rather than clicking madly like you’re playing Diablo III: The Musical.

          Also, if you’re really fancy, can put the touch device down and “play” it similarly to a piano to really get the rhythm down.

          1. The Surfaces aren’t horrible hardware. They’re just in a spot on the scale between tablet and “real” computer that doesn’t do much for me. And my impression is that I’m not alone, because I haven’t really seen many of them being used. I played around with one. They’re nice for touch input. Though that “Touch Cover” keyboard… best to not say anything about it at all.

            1. When my main machine died, I actually raided in WoW from my Surface Pro 1 for a couple weeks (mind you, had to hook up a real mouse/keyboard for it), at medium graphics settings.

              The Surface Pro 3 looks amazing, and if it had come with 16GBs of RAM I’d have totally gone for it instead of my crappy Lenovo that recently bit it (running 3 instances of Unity and Visual Studio tends to eat a LOT of RAM).

              Yeah, not a fan of the touch cover, but the type covers are actually okay, even if the key travel is super shallow (I much prefer full mechanical keyboards).

              It’s neat having a portable computer in tablet form that I can take with me, and when I want to hook it up to better monitors/input devices I can. That being said, yeah, might be great for the business person on the go, less great for someone who’s computer generally just sits on a desk.

              And the old Surface RTs are garbage. I have one, never use it. There’s a reason MS discontinued the ARM “tablet”.

    2. Thanks for your reply!

      You are right (and are probably more knowledgeable about this topic than me anyway!), it’s probably more a toy than a game. I had forgotten about the difference between the terms.

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