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|Release||9 December 2006|
|Genre(s)||Music video game|
Synthesia is a video game and piano keyboard trainer for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Android which allows users to play a MIDI keyboard or use a computer keyboard in time to a MIDI file by following on-screen directions, much in the style of Keyboard Mania or Guitar Hero. Additionally, Synthesia can be paired with MIDI keyboards that have illuminated keys, or with virtual player piano on screen, which some people believe makes learning piano easier for beginners. It was originally named Piano Hero, due to the similarity of gameplay with Guitar Hero; until Activision (the owners of the rights to Guitar Hero) sent a cease and desist to the program's creator, Nicholas Piegdon.
In a letter dated 26 March 2007 Activision requested that Piegdon "immediately cease any and all use of the "Piano Hero" name in connection with the distribution and promotion of [his] video game and agree not to use such in the future". Piegdon responded by hosting a contest for a new name for the project, resulting in the name, Synthesia, suggested by Daniel Lawrence.
After May 2012 Piegdon decided to stop releasing the source code, as he saw the potential commercial value of the program. However the last open-source release version 0.6.1b is still available for download.
In the continued commercial version the basic functionality was still freeware. A "Learning Pack" key could be purchased to unlock the freemium additional features, such as a sheet music display mode. In December 2014, with Version 10 of Synthesia, the ability to use the program without purchasing it was removed, with the exception of several playable included demo MIDIs.
Synthesia has support for playing custom MIDI files, as well as linking with MIDI devices. Synthesia will rate the player's performance afterwards, and give a score which can be submitted to an online scoreboard. Synthesia also has a paid "Learning Pack" that allows users to view music in Musical notation, as well as multiple practice features, such as "Melody Practice" which pauses the song whenever the user misses a note, and only continues when the right note is played.