Make your keyboard an instrument

JamLegend brings Guitar Hero to your home computer and keyboard.

In a time when most people spend 8 hours a day (or more) with their fingers on a keyboard, a service called JamLegend wants you to spend a few more. It turns your average, everyday keyboard into a virtual electric guitar. Think of it as Guitar Hero, without the need for special hardware or software.

To play songs, you just hit the right note at the right time, which, just like Guitar Hero, requires holding the corresponding notes and strumming with the Enter key. The site suggests two ways to play: either a "chill" mode that looks like you're typing into an Excel spreadsheet (good for playing at work) or the "jam" style where you hold your keyboard like a guitar and use the function keys like you would frets. The real power of the site is in the collection of songs and the integrated social experience that lets you play with and against your friends. Unlike the console titles that limit you to a selection of licensed music from big-name bands, the songs on JamLegend are indie.

To keep users coming back, JamLegend uses an awards system that's been ripped off the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero. You can gather more and more "groupies" by achieving certain feats, like hitting a 250-note streak, or scoring over certain point limits. There are also multiplayer achievements for beating others in competition. These points all add up to your special gamer score, which is stacked up on a leaderboard. Going forward, JamLegend plans to add more instruments than just guitar, which should keep things interesting and provide and incentive for those who like to vary their musical play. For now, though, it's free and easy, so there's no reason not to check it out.

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