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Synthesia Manual - Synthesia Help

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Synthesia Manual
From Synthesia Help

1 Synthesia
1.1 About
1.2 Versions
2 Game Setup and Navigation
2.1 Opening Screen
2.1.1 Navigation
2.1.2 Profile
2.2 Midi and Keyboard Setup
2.2.1 Input Device
2.2.2 Output Device
2.3 Game Options
2.4 Song Library
2.4.1 Music List
2.5 Song Options
2.5.1 Simple
2.5.2 Advanced
2.5.3 Practice Options
2.6 Watched folders
2.6.1 Current folders
2.6.2 Adding a new watched folder
3 Playing the game
3.1 Playing Screen Areas
3.2 Controls for the playing screen
3.2.1 Keyboard zoom
3.2.2 Show labels on falling notes
3.2.3 Show labels on keys
3.2.4 Sheet music progress options
3.2.5 Song looping
3.2.6 Edit Bookmarks
3.2.7 Edit finger Hints
3.2.8 Metronome settings
3.2.9 Rewind, Play, Forward
3.2.10 Speed control
3.2.11 Quit button
3.3 Keyboard Shortcuts
4 Appendix
4.1 Synthesia URLs
4.1.1 Fragment options
4.2 Command Line Parameters
4.3 Scoring
4.3.1 Scoreboards
4.3.2 Calculations
4.4 Configuration Tool
4.5 Application Data
4.6 Synthesia Metadata

Synthesia ( is a game that can help you learn how to play the piano using falling notes. Watch the notes
fall and follow along. Or, connect a piano and join in the fun. Synthesia reads MIDI files and generates the falling note (and sheet music)
display from it. If you have a piano connected to your computer (via USB, MIDI cables, or an adapter) then Synthesia reads from it and
scores your playing.


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The Release version is the stable version. it gets updated every month or two. This version undergoes extensive testing and can be
considered relatively bug free. you can download this version from the main website. If you are a new user, it is recommended that you
first try this version.
The Development version is not as stable as the Release Version. It gets updated every week or two. If you like to keep up with the new
features added to the game as they are added, this is the version for you. This version is not tested extensively and may contains some
bugs, so use it at your own risk. Using this version allows you to participate in the development decisions by discussions in the
development forum. Download the latest development version here ( .
Learning Pack features ( are available to try for the six demo tracks. To unlock these
feature for the rest of the songs purchase a license.
Windows and Mac versions are available, Linux users can run the windows version under wine.

Game Setup and Navigation

Opening Screen
When you start Synthesia the open screen will direct you to different parts of the program, these are discussed below.
There are many keyboard shortcuts, when they are available they are shown inside curved brackets, eg (space bar) for pause/resume.
Escape will take you to the previous screen, Enter will move you forward with the default option.



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The top button of the opening screen is the profile screen, When you create a new profile you have a choice of two types.
A simple profile, shown online in grey and not guaranteed unique.
A Synthesia online account, extra statistics are available online.
You create your account at the Synthesia Forums.
See Appendix - Scoring for how to access your online statistics.

Midi and Keyboard Setup

Input Device
Usually getting your hardware setup should be as easy as plugging in the USB cable from your keyboard, or, if you have a USB-to-MIDI
adapter, plugging in the cables on both ends. A few come with a driver you have to install, but even then a lot of times you can get away
without installing it.
Select your MIDI keyboard in the input device menu so that Synthesia will see your keyboard. If you don't have a MIDI keyboard you can
play using the Q and A rows of the computer keyboard. (That assumes you have a U.S. English keyboard; computer keyboard input may
or may not work on other language keyboards.)
Choose your keyboard from the input device list. Sometimes it will be called something like "USB Audio Device" or something else
generic like that.
Play a few notes. They should show up in the input test box. (If not and you're using a MIDI adapter, try swapping your input and output
cables like the help text there describes.)
That's it for simple setup. There are a few more things you can do to make Synthesia accommodate your keyboard even better:
Click the "Change keyboard size and settings..." button just below the input test box.
Play the lowest and highest keys on your keyboard so Synthesia knows how many keys it has.
Pick from the options below that regarding how you'd like Synthesia to treat notes outside the range your keyboard is able to reach
(assuming you have fewer than 88 keys.)
Lighted Keyboards
If your keyboard has lighted keys, Synthesia should be able to utilize them in melody practice. You just have to let it know they're
available. From the keyboard size and settings screen (mentioned above), select the option from the list that matches your keyboard
If your model isn't listed, pick one and a "Test Lights" button will appear. Clicking that will start a bouncing light animation (also visible
on the on-screen keyboard at the top of the screen). If those lights appear on your keyboard, you're all set. If not, try the other options until
they do appear.


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NOTE: For now, you must also have your keyboard set as your output device for lighted keys to work. In the future, this will be fixed.

Output Device
There are several possibilities for handling the output and the best choice depends on the hardware you have.
No Output
If you select "No Output" Synthesia will not produce any sound. This is useful if your keyboard plays locally and sends MIDI Out to the
computer. You will lose the ability to have Synthesia provide a metronome however. If your keyboard plays locally, you can still assign
an Output Device, either to a soft synth or your keyboard, and mute just the tracks you play in the Track Menu for the song you are
If your keyboard has speakers select your keyboard as the output device, your keyboard will do the MIDI to Audio synthesis and the
keyboard's speakers will play the sound. This will usually produce a better sound with zero latency rather than having your computer do
the synthesis and playing through the computer speakers. Some keyboards have problems with this method with the metronome, if you
can't hear it you need to change the midi channel with the Configuration Tool
Some Keyboards need to be configured in their MIDI-Setup to receive both instruments. If you hear only one instrument on your
keyboard, look for the RX-CH (receiving chanel) settings. Use "all channels" if available. It helped for ROLAND FP8.
Default Synthesiser
The easiest choice is to select a soft synthesiser such as Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth on a Windows system. Synthesia MIDI Output
will be converted to Audio in software running on your computer and the sound will be output through the computer's speakers. You will
probably notice some latency (delay) between the time you press a key and the time you hear a sound.
There may be better options than the default synthesiser, see the FAQ for how to set up BASSMIDI, or this post
( to set up FL Studio.
Use the "Test" button to check the output.

Game Options
The default values here will do for most users, for users that require something a little different they are there.


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Song Library
Music List
Clicking Play from the opening screen takes you to the Song Library
This lists songs available for play in Synthesia. The program includes a library of progressively more difficult piano pieces courtesy of G
Major Music.
You can sort the list by clicking on the 'Header Row', Title, Folder etc.
Enter text into the search field to filter the song list.
You can preview a song by clicking on it, provided the option is enabled in the top right corner.
Go to the song options screen by double clicking the song or highlighting a song and clicking continue.
The rating and difficulty values can be adjusted by you to reflect your level.


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Song Options
'Watch and listen only' will take you directly to the keyboard screen where you can just listen or play along unmonitored.
Selecting Play Left, Right or Both hands takes you to the practice options page, see below
Switch to Advance, see below
Check the box if you want to display notation on the top of the playing screen.

This screen lets you can decide how the tracks in the MIDI file are to be handled. Often each hand will be assigned to a channel and you
can chose to play one of the hands and let Synthesia play the other one. In more elaborate MIDI files there may be a number of "backing"
tracks that Synthesia can play to accompany you on the keyboard.
In multitrack midi's you can use the copy and paste icons to quickly set common settings, use the lightning bolt to rest settings to the

Practice Options
This time it will be up to you to play the selected track by pressing the appropriate key on your MIDI keyboard just before the falling note
bars hit the keys. our goal is to play the right key, at the right time, for the full duration indicated by the note bar. When the song is done,
Synthesia will display a score screen that reports on how accurately you played the song and provide a record of your progress.
Click scores to see your history for this song.
Click on the username to change your profile.


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Watched folders
Current folders
To play songs in Synthesia, it must locate the file. You use the 'Watched Folders' for this.
If you have found a new MIDI's you should be able to just drop them in the "Synthesia Music" folder in your Documents folder. The next
time you start Synthesia after that, they should appear in the song library.
On the Select a song screen click Managed Watched Folders

Adding a new watched folder

Click Add New Watched Folder then select where you have place your midi's
i.e C:\Users\stephen\My Documents\fat32\music\midi. If you have folders inside that folder select 'watch its sub-folders' as well so it will
watch the whole midi content of that folder.


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Playing the game

Playing Screen Areas
At last we can begin to play, at the top is the musical notation, the vertical red line will follow along as you play.
This screen shot was taken within a Playing Right Hand game, here the active keys are highlighted in white, a computer keyboard is being
used with letter assignments, and finger hints are enabled on the falling blocks.
Longer blocks shows longer notes, thinner blocks, not visible here indicate a black key is to be played.
The bottom of the screen acts as a status bar with performance measures and sundry information.
The timeline and playing controls are covered next.


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Controls for the playing screen

Below the keyboard is the timeline with green showing how much has been played, yellow bookmarks and orange lines showing the
looping region.
Under the timeline is the tool bar, the speed controls and the quit button.
We will discuss the tools from left to right.
The tool bar has fewer controls in Online Recital Mode. It doesn't have the speed controls or display, bookmarks or looping.


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Keyboard zoom
Clicking the icon gives you these choices, the keyboard will zoom in or out, showing just the keys you choose.

Show all 88 keys

Zoom to visible song notes
Zoom to 'Played by you' notes
Zoom to my keyboard

Show labels on falling notes

Choices are firstly one of these

No labels
Finger hints numbers
Software keyboard mapping (A, W, S), :if you are using a computer keyboard not a midi keyboard
English note name (C, C#, D)
Fixed-Do note names (Do, Re, Mi)
Movable-Do note names (Do, Re, Mi)
Scale number (1, 2, 3)

Then additionally the following on or off

Only show upcoming 'Played by you' notes

Show labels on keys

Same options as above

Sheet music progress options

Flip sheet music page by page
Scroll sheet music smoothly

Song looping
When you click this icon you will be prompted to 'Right click and drag in the timeline to create a loop'
An orange highlight will appear as you drag.
To fine tune click on the timeline to position yourself near the one end of the loop, you will see a thin orange line going across the screen,
as you move your mouse over the line arrows appear, you can drag the line to the exact position.
Now click in the looped area and press Play, it plays to the end and then loops over and over.
A scoreboard appears in the top right to help you judge your progress.
Pause or click outside the loop on the timeline to continue.

Edit Bookmarks
When you click on the bookmark icon you are given a prompt to 'Clink in the margin or timeline to set bookmarks'
You move forward and backward between bookmarks with the bookmarks controls.
Note: Clicking in the margin works but clicking in the timeline just shifts the green progress marker. You can't shift book marks in the
same way as the looping boundaries and you can only delete all bookmarks rather individually.

Edit finger Hints

Click the fingers icon.
Move your mouse over a note you want to mark with a hint and a pair of hands will appear,
Click and drag the mouse to the finger to play the note and release. The note now has a hint, eg L2 for index finger on the left hand.
Here is a video showing how to add finger hints to tracks.


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Metronome settings
The state of the metronome can be set as either
Metronome off
Before first measure
Always on
The metronome volume can be set as
The click speed can be set as
1x - normal
2x - double
The beat style can be set as
Emphasise first beat
Uniform beats

Rewind, Play, Forward

These are straight forward

To previous bookmark - Move your place in the timeline to the previous book mark.
Rewind three seconds - Move backwards three seconds, you can click multiple time to move further.
Play - Click to play, click again to pause and resume.
Forward three seconds - Move forwards three seconds, you can click multiple time to move further.
To next bookmark - Move your place in the timeline to the next book mark.

Speed control
Click - or + or use the up/down arrow keys to decrease or increase the playing speed by 10 % per click, the percentage speed of play is
given in between.
Hold the Ctrl key while changing the speed to alter by increments of 1 %

Quit button
Quit playing and go back to the song selection page.

Keyboard Shortcuts
Select default and next page


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Back a page
Up and Down arrows change by 10%, hold tab to change by 1%
Back and Forward arrows
Stretch/Compress falling notes
Page up and Page down
Hide falling notes/sheet music
B edit, comma go back, period go forward
V edit
Finger Hints
N edit

Synthesia URLs
After running Synthesia 0.8.3+ for the first time, the synthesia:// URL protocol will be registered with your system to open Synthesia
automatically. All major web browsers support this type of association. The Synthesia Song Link Generator
( can be used to help generate valid synthesia:// links that follow all of the rules below.
The synthesia URL protocol can be used to point Synthesia at a song file on a remote server and is used very similarly to the http protocol.
When Synthesia receives a URL request it will do the following:

Replace "synthesia:" with "http:". (Notably this means https is not supported.)
Remove any fragment part after a number sign ("#") and save it for later.
Attempt to download a file from the resulting URL using the http protocol (on TCP port 80).
Try to load the downloaded bytes as a MIDI file.
If successfully loaded, it will inspect any fragment that was removed earlier for song options and apply them.

The decision to place options in the fragment was to allow websites the ability to easily generate or retrieve songs dynamically based on
the query-string portion that is still included in the http request.

Fragment options
Fragment parts are separated by a semi-colon. You can use up to one item from each of the following groups. Items inside the same group
are mutually exclusive:
watch, right, left, both
melody, rhythm, recital
The first set allows you to select one of the buttons from the simple track settings screen. These will have no effect if the song isn't eligible
to show the simple track settings. (Though any song can be coerced to show it by setting the appropriate hands on the advanced track
settings screen in advance.)
The second set lets you pick a play mode. Melody practice requires a Learning Pack key, else it will revert to rhythm practice.


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Unless using the "watch" fragment, both the first and second set are required for either to have any effect.
The "sheet" option will have the effect of checking the "Show sheet music along with the falling notes?" box on the simple track settings
screen. Again, the song must be eligible for simple settings as in the first set.
An example fragment part might look like "#right;melody;sheet". This would set the right hand notes to "Played by You", show sheet
music for those notes, and elect melody practice -- gameplay would begin immediately.
An entire example Synthesia URL using the previous example might look like this:
"synthesia://;melody;sheet". Though, fragments are always optional.

Command Line Parameters

Synthesia supports command line options for added customization and convenience, here is a list of the current (0.8.1) commands:
usage: Synthesia.exe [options] [filename]
(If filename contains spaces, it should be wrapped in quotes.)

Shows this help message

Output the version number

--speed arg
Percentage speed [0-400]
--visible-duration arg Milliseconds visible on screen [250-10000]
--keyboard-zoom arg
--play-mode arg
--sheet-mode arg

All, Song, YouPlay, or Keyboard

Rhythm or Practice (requires Learning Pack)
Scrolling or PageFlip (requires Learning Pack)


Copies the most recent score to the system clipboard.


Prevents track settings from being saved this run.

Useful with channel mode 'All'.

--on-startup arg

What screen should show when Synthesia starts?

Title, SongLibrary, TrackSettings, PlaySettings, or
Title is default if no file specified. TrackSettings
is default otherwise. Anything past SongLibrary
requires a file argument.

--on-song-end arg

What should happen when the song is over?

RestartSong, Quit, or ShowScoresThenQuit.

--channel-mode arg

In general you can have up to both a track mode and
sheet mode separated by a comma:
Channel is between 1 and 16 (or All).
Modes are YouPlay, YouPlayMuted, PlayedAutomatically,
PlayedButHidden, DisplayOnly, or NotPlayed.
You can specify more than one. Modes will be set in
the order they're received. So, you can use All and
follow it with individual channels to override the
first setting. (ShowSheet requires the Learning

--loop-start arg

Starts all songs with the start of the loop already

set. (This implies using --loop-end.) Value is one
character for the unit followed immediately by an
integer value. Examples:
m3 will start at the 3rd measure.
b2 will start at the 2nd stored bookmark.
t5000 will start 5000 milliseconds (5 seconds) in.

--loop-end arg

Starts all songs with the end of the loop already set.
(If you don't use --loop-start, the loop will run
from the beginning of the song to this point.) Value
is defined the same as --loop-start.


Quits immediately with the number of bookmarks in the

specified file returned as the status code.



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Use the scoreboard to help your playing. Set the speed at 60% then play at that level until you score well, then increase the speed to 80%
and repeat the process.
Play any of the songs built into Synthesia in Online Recital mode to show up on the public scoreboards.
( Logging in using your Synthesia account will let you access even more statistics
including your personal summary page and your position on the song group scoreboards.

Synthesia attempts to score your performance. Here are the formulas used in each of the game's modes.
Rhythm Practice
Online Recital also uses the same values.
Rhythm practice scores are dynamic with no fixed maximum. They vary widely based on your earned score multiplier. Each time you hit
a note correctly, your multiplier increases (from 1.0x) by 0.1x at a time. It will continue to increase until you reach the maximum 2.5x
multiplier. Anytime you miss a note, the multiplier is reset to the original 1.0x value and a flat 10 points are deducted from your score.
Rhythm practice points come from two sources: hitting notes on time correctly and holding them for their full duration.
The base point value for every note is 100 points. This is then multiplied by your score multiplier, the timing multiplier, and the current
song speed at the time you correctly hit the note. (100% song speed is a 1.0x multiplier, 400% song speed is a 4.0x multiplier, etc.)
Timing multipliers are listed below. As an example, if your current score multiplier were 1.6x and you were playing a song at 80% speed,
each correctly hit note with an "OK!" timing would be worth (100 * 1.6 * 0.8 * 1.0) or 128 points.
There are six reported note timings. Each affects the number of points a note is worth:

+15% for Perfect!

+10% for Great!
+5% for Good!
No change for OK!
-5% for Barely!

Holding a note for its entire duration is also important. "Held Points" are not affected by the score multiplier. Instead, you gain a flat 250
points per second for each held note. "Seconds" here are based on the song at 100% speed. At 10% speed, you would gain 25 points per
second... but that note would last 10x longer than it would have at 100% speed. In this way, the maximum number of points available for
holding a note remains identical no matter the current song's speed.
There are additional nuances to "Held Points" to promote fairness:
The first 200ms of held time is given for "free" to discourage the bad habit of pressing a note early and to build in some tolerance
for lag.
The last 200ms of a note are given for free to allow variability in release time.
The 200ms after the end of the note isn't punished to continue to allow variability and lag tolerance.
Any time held 200ms after a note ends is punished 1:1 down to zero milliseconds of held time (or zero "Held Points") for that note.
These rules have the intended effect that a note that is 400ms or shorter will always count for full points so long as you don't hold it
more than 200ms past its end.
Melody Practice
In melody practice mode, scores are normalized to a max of 10,000 points according to the following formula:
FinalScore = 100 * (NoteHitComponent + NoteHoldingComponent + TimingComponent)
NoteHoldingComponent = 25 * (Time Spent holding 'You Play' notes) / (Total 'You Play' note time)
NoteHitComponent = 37.5 * (Correct notes hit by user less incorrect notes hit by user) / (Total 'You Play' notes)
TimingComponent = 37.5 * (PossibleYouPlayTime - (excess practice time)) / PossibleYouPlayTime
Where PossibleYouPlayTime means "the total amount of time any 'You Play' notes are active" or "non-overlapping 'You Play' time".
Neither the NoteHitComponent nor TimingComponent are allowed to be negative.
Anytime a percentage is converted into a letter grade, the following 15-point scale is used:
100%: A+++
99%: A++
97-98%: A+


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93-96%: A
90-92%: A87-89%: B+
83-86%: B
80-82%: B77-79%: C+
73-76%: C
70-72%: C63-69%: D+
55-62%: D
50-54%: D0-49%: F

Configuration Tool
Synthesia ships with a configuration utility. This tool allows you to select video/windowed modes as well as alter advanced behind-thescenes settings. Sometimes if Synthesia is crashing right at startup, the configuration tool can be used to fix the problem. There is also a
handy button in the advanced section of the tool to pop open an Explorer/Finder window of the Synthesia data directory.
If you installed Synthesia using the Windows installer, you should find a "Synthesia Configuration" item in Synthesia's Start Menu group.
Otherwise, a SynthesiaConfig application will be in the base folder of either the ZIP or DMG stand-alone packages.
While most of the advanced settings can be dangerous if misused, here is an explanation of some:

A new behavior in Windows Media Player 11 (the default player on most Windows systems) after stopping the playback of a MIDI file is
to lower the system MIDI volume to 0. There is no option to disable this.
Previewing a file in your default player before loading the song in Synthesia seemed like a common scenario. In the event that your
system MIDI volume is either muted or set below 33%, it will unmute/raise it to 75% for the duration of the program run. Then, it will try
to reset the mute/volume state back to its original values.
Disable Midi.AutoVolume to prevent this behavior.

If the metronome is too loud, change the number to something smaller than 48. (48 is the "Quiet" setting in the game.)
Then, so long as you don't click anything in the metronome volume menu in the game, that volume setting should stick and it'll always be
as quiet as you like.
Metronome over midi out (the keyboard) will produce no sound if the midi keyboard drum channel isn't 9
Set it to something like 0. That will change the metronome to a piano (or whatever instrument is selected for channel 1).
You can then play around with "Metronome.FirstNoteId" and "Metronome.OtherNoteId" to change which pitch is used for the first beat
and subsequent beats of the metronome. Their range is anywhere from 0 to 127. Higher would be better.
If you are having an issue with grace notes, they aren't timed correctly when the notes fall.
Drop that number down from the default 30000 to something like 15000 or 10000, it might solve your problem.
If you're working with always-perfectly-quantized MIDI that you created yourself, you can safely set that all the way down to 0 and it
should still be correct.

Application Data
Synthesia keeps track of your game settings, progress and additions such as finger hints and bookmarks in the users application data
Users with advanced computer skills can extract the information from here to move data between computers or to share.


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Synthesia Metadata
The Synthesia meta-data file format ( is an XML file that
contains extra information related to one or more music (MIDI, etc.) files that Synthesia understands and can use to enhance game play.
The file has an extension of .synthesia and must be in one of the folders watched by the song library.
The Synthesia Metadata GUI ( is an easy to use (Mono-compatible) C# application that
can generate and edit fully-compliant Synthesia metadata files (.synthesia).
The editing capabilities expose all of the available functionality of the Synthesia metadata file format including simple content tags,
embedded images, and more as the standard develops.
You can use the Synthesia Metadata GUI to extract your finger hints and package them in a shareable file.
1. Use "Add Song..." to include your MIDI file in the list of songs you want the metadata file to contain data about. (optional) Enter any
extra info you'd like in the fields on the side. These will be shown in-game.
2. Choose "Import Finger Hints" from the File menu. (It should report finding hints for as many songs as you have in the list.)
3. Save your metadata file.
Now, instead of sending just the MIDI along, send the MIDI and the .synthesia file. If Synthesia finds a .synthesia file in any of the folders
watched by the song library, it will load the metadata found inside.
Even better, .synthesia files can contain metadata about many songs at once. So you could send along a whole collection of songs with just
one metadata file.
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This page was last modified on 27 November 2011, at 11:40.