Sven Emtell

Song-writing app means users need never miss a beat

A new mobile application developed by a computer engineering researcher from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, makes it a breeze for anyone to create a song score out of a simple melody sung into an iPhone microphone.

You could also whistle the tune or play it with an instrument – all methods will be instantly transformed from melody into written musical notation form, or ‘score’, when using the ScoreCleaner Notes app. The notations are displayed on the screen, with the right key, tempo and time signature.

The app “then makes it possible to share the written music via social media websites or email,” explains its developer, Sven Emtell.

Emtell developed the app as part of his master’s degree project at KTH with collaborator Sven Ahlbäck, a professor at Stockholm Music University.

“Musical notation is a universal language, so the market for this app is enormous,” Emtell says.

The app is essentially made up of an instant audio recognition application, and a highly user-friendly notation tool.

Emtell says ScoreCleaner differs from other notation software because it is “truly plug and play”, converting live performances to accurate notation in real time, with no training required.

“This product allows songwriters who may not even know how to read music to instantaneously write a score. They can share it with band mates, or self-publish, which really hasn’t been possible until now,” said Mark Hiskey, president of music software specialists ILIO, earlier this year. “In the world of music notation, it’s rare to find a new product that’s as exciting and inspiring as this one,” he continued.

Research carried out at KTH into how people interpret music, forms the basis for the way ScoreCleaner Notes listens to and understands musical structure . This sound analysis function was developed with Anders Friberg from the Department of Speech, Music and Hearing at KTH.

A computer program version of the app exists, ScoreCleaner Notes Desktop, which Emtell likens to Google Translate but for music. It is able to understand and write more complicated passages of music, with multiple notes - known by musicians as polyphony. A midi synthesizer connected to the computer is required, and the program automatically writes out the music with pitch and note values.

“We want to revolutionize the music industry,” Emtell says. “This app has the potential to unleash the creativity of musicians and music teachers worldwide.”

Going by users’ responses to the app on Swedish websites and blogs over the last couple of months, the experience seems an overwhelmingly positive one, so perhaps Emtell’s desires are not so far-fetched. 

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