Fallgatter developes unique music software
By TIMOTHY NEIPP
News Review Staff Writer
Imagine sitting down to your computer and playing, with your ordinary computer keyboard, any song you wish. This concept, says local software developer Jim Fallgatter, is the inspiration for his new, patented music program.
“The great thing about this software is that it allows even those who have no music training to perform songs that they want to play,” said Fallgatter.
His software development group, AQWERTIAN® Music Systems, takes its name from the standard QWERTY computer keyboard whose standard key/button layout is found on computer systems worldwide.
“We enable the PC and its QWERTY keyboard to become a universal musical instrument,” he said, explaining the rest of the acronym.
The primary difference between his music performance software and other available music programs is that the AQWERTIAN software floats the notes beneath the keyboard so that a key/button which represents one pitch at the beginning of the song may represent a different note later in the same tune. This versatility eliminates difficult keystroke combinations which other musical performance programs require for pitch changes, he said.
“The music performer using our software does not need to be able to read music notation,” explained Fallgatter. As the performer progresses through the song the correct sequence of keystrokes is displayed in a simple, intuitive format on the computer screen.
“This arrangement makes musical performance as natural as typing,” he said. “If you can type, you can play.”
The performer also has the choice of which musical instrument sound he wants to play. “The standard desktop operating system has many instrumental sounds already built in. Our software allows access to a whole range of musical tones,” he said.
“This allows multiple performers to engage in a virtual jamming session as a jazz group, full-blown orchestra or as part of a karaoke keyboard party.”
One important musical feature that is difficult with a typical QWERTY keyboard is dynamics.
Because the buttons on a standard computer keyboard have only “on” and “off” positions, it is impossible for the computer to differentiate between a lightly struck key and a button more vigorously pressed.
“This is why I am also working on the design of a touch-sensitive keyboard that plays the notes louder or softer depending on how much energy is imparted to the keystroke,” explained Fallgatter.
Both the software and the touch-sensitive keyboard are scheduled to hit the market in mid-2007, he said.
According to a 2003 Gallup Poll referenced by Fallgatter, 67 percent of all adults said they would like to learn a musical instrument and an even larger majority considers it very important to expose young children to the art of music performance.
In spite of this interest, only 10 percent of children study music and an even smaller ratio of adults engage in music performance. “This is because traditional methods of encouraging and facilitating learning a music instrument remain discouragingly unsuccessful,” he said.
The edutainment industry, according to Fallgatter, is a growing $11-billion industry, and his software seeks to meet the needs of everyday people who want to enjoy the fulfillment of playing a musical instrument.
His software marketing approach will be similar to that used by the downloadable ringtone industry. “We will give away the ‘razors’ and sell the ‘blades,’” he said. “Our algorithms convert the work of artists, composers and publishers, under royalty agreement, into playable fingering on a QWERTY keyboard.
“Our music performing software application will be freely downloadable. Consumers worldwide will then be able to purchase their favorite music snippets or full-length pieces online for a price of 99 cents to $2.99 per song.”
He said his software team is scattered across America. One teammember is even a computer science professor for a Tennessee university.
Fallgatter, who grew up in Ridgecrest, left the valley after his graduation from Burroughs High School in 1962. He pursued a college education, served in the Vietnam war, entered the computer database industry and eventually spent much time engaged in one of his strongest interests ? world travel.
He has visited more than a hundred countries and set foot on every continent on the globe, and he still travels every chance he can get.
In 2004, he returned to Ridgecrest to marry Cheryl Chicky (of the Kern County Regional Court System). He continues to develop his music software and on the side he is pursuing a career as a “wannabe land developer.”
He is currently working with Western Homes to build “Stargazer Ranch” a 12-unit development abutting Inyokern Road near the Highway 395 underpass.
“This is an exciting time to be in Ridgecrest,” said Jim. “I love the desert and the small-town business climate where your reputation really means something. It’s great to be back.”