Using Piano to Type Text

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Of my 10+ years obsession studying keyboard efficiency, including steno, i think nothnig beats using piano for typing.

PianoText: transferring musical expertise to text entry. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

more video:

PianoText - Turn your Piano into a Typewriter

Inspired by the high keying rates of skilled pianists, we study the design of piano keyboards for rapid text entry. We review the qualities of the piano as an input device, observing four design opportunities: (1) chords, (2) redundancy (more keys than letters in English), (3) the transfer of musical skill and (4) optional sound feedback. Although some have been utilized in previous text entry methods, our goal is to exploit all four in a single design. We present PianoText, a computationally designed mapping that assigns letter sequences of English to frequent note transitions of music. It allows fast text entry on any MIDI-enabled keyboard and was evaluated in two transcription typing studies. Both show an achievable rate of over 80 words per minute. This parallels the rates of expert Qwerty typists and doubles that of a previous piano-based design from the 19th century. We also design PianoText-Mini, which allows for comparable performance in a portable form factor. Informed by the studies, we estimate the upper bound of typing performance, draw implications to other text entry methods, and critically discuss outstanding design challenges.

The learning time required to achieve 80 word per minute is less than learning touch-type on QWERTY keyboard.

And, the learning time to achieve 200 wpm seems comparable to Stenotype Machine.

[see Stenotype Machine]

Basic Key Maps

pianotext key map cheatsheet 1 pianotext key map cheatsheet 2
pianotext key map cheatsheet.

If you don't know how to read music, it's pretty easy. See

How to Read Music Sheet

Get Software and Try It

Their website is

You can download software to try it.

I haven't tried it yet.

It seems the primary author is Anna Maria Feit. On twitter at

Here is the academic research report, published by Association for Computing Machinery:

[PianoText: Redesigning the Piano Keyboard for Text Entry By Anna Maria Feit, Antti Oulasvirta. At PianoText_DIS14.pdf ]

How to Shop a Piano Keyboard for Typing

Buying MIDI Keyboard

keyboard and music keyboard 2018-05-06
keyboard and music keyboard [image source 2018-04-18]

Chording Keyboards