Researchers at the KTH Institute of Technology in Sweden have developed a smartphone application that converts simple melodies into notation. The app, which is available now worldwide, provides a simple and effective tool for getting that melody out of your head and into written, shareable form.
The most compelling thing about ScoreCleaner Notes is its simplicity. Users can play a melody into their smartphone's microphone and moments later its key, tempo, time signature and the musical notation itself will pop up on the screen. Ask just about any musician and they'll tell you that this is a tool that they would most definitely welcome.
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The app's simplicity is combined with a high level of accessibility, giving it the potential for use in a wide range of environments, from bedrooms and studios to classrooms. Users don't need to know how to play an instrument to use the app, and don't even need to know how to read or write music, but can simply hum or sing the melody into the microphone. Once recorded, the melody can be played back as both a MIDI piano sound or the original recording.
Once a recording has been made, the resulting notation can be shared via email or social media, making it a powerful tool for musical collaboration. Users can also sign up for a free ScoreCleaner Cloud account which offers unlimited cloud storage for melodies, and automatically syncs with the desktop version of the software.
There are some limitations to the app, most prominent of which is its restriction to monophonic melodies (one note at a time), meaning that harmonies are out of the question. The accuracy of the software also remains to be seen and the analysis of the recordings is performed in the cloud, meaning that you'll need a decent internet connection to take advantage of the app.
The tech behind the app is based on KTH research into how people interpret music, and the sound analysis function was developed with the help of Anders Friberg, a docent in the Department of Speech, Music and Hearing. The team believes that instant notation is superior to the use of voice memo recorders due to the universal nature of musical notation.
DoReMIR Music Research, the company behind ScoreCleaner Notes, also makes a computer program version of the app, known as ScoreCleaner Notes Desktop. It works in a similar way to the iPhone app, but provides the option to plug in a midi synthesizer for more complex compositions.
ScoreCleaner Notes is available worldwide for the iPhone. Check out the video below to see the app in action.