A Visit with Matt Sandler, Co-Founder and CEO of Chromatik

I had the pleasure of visiting with Matt Sandler, Co-Founder and CEO from Chromatik, this afternoon.  Chromatik is a soon-to-be-released digital tool that is intended to reform how we practice, perform, and learn music.  I had previously posted some thoughts about Chromatik after seeing some videos about the app/program, and Mr. Sandler e-mailed me after I wrote that post.  Today I was given a tour of Chromatik, and I really liked what I saw.  Most of what I’m going to write in this post isn’t new–you can find most of it in an YouTube interview by Scobelizer.

In its primary mode, Chromatik will be a substitute for printed sheet music, making it a direct competitor with many of the PDF Music Readers available for the iPad.  However, Chromatik will offer several features that you cannot find on PDF Music Readers.  You can upload scores in a number of formats (including PDF and MusicXML), and Chromatik converts those scores to their own proprietary format that includes page numbers, measure numbers, rehearsal marks, repeats, and D.S./D.C. markings.  The service allows the ability to upload a recording (reference or otherwise) as well as to record–even while a reference recording is playing.  The service is being developed for both the iPad and browser-based platforms.  The staff at Chromatik is working to create an “offline aspect” of Chromatik with the browser version so that you can cache music locally in the event that you don’t have an internet connection.  As there are hundreds of tablets on the market, the staff at Chromatik is trying to optimize the web based service for various devices.  Shortly after the release of the product, they will create a storefront that features titles from major publishers.

From an educational standpoint, the most exciting aspect of the app/program is the distribution capability of the service.  A teacher/director can upload or purchase a file, and students/musicians will be able to download the score.  Following that download, the student/music could record themselves and send the audio file to the teacher, and after listening to the file, the teacher can then send the file back to the student with written comments. The inclusion of reference recordings is an answer to the general unfriendliness of iOS to the sharing of music.

The program is being beta tested by more than 200 schools, as well as other performers–including American Idol. Chromatik announced initial funding of 1.1 million from a number of sources.   I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the founder of the Music Pad Pro (the first digital music tablet), Michael Hamilton, has been a consultant for Chromatik.

You can expect to see a release of Chromatik this fall for the start of the new school year.  The app/program will be free.  Chromatik will continue to be developed (the initial release will certainly not have all the features the program will eventually have), and eventually a premium (paid) model will be offered, too.

As soon as Chromatik is released, every musician should take the time to register for an account.  The service is free and offers the answer to some key problems with digital music (distribution and purchasing).   Chromatik will be released with all the “key” or “critical” features of a music reader, along with some wonderful features for both playing reference recordings and user-created recordings which can be used for assessment (formative or summative).  As SmartMusic continues to tarry its arrival on the iPad, there will be at least one answer for assessment in music education using technology this fall.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the program works with *my* music, as well as to see how the storefront works (pricing, etc.).



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