ScoreCleaner (app & program)

I saw a tweet the other day from AtPlayMusic about ScoreCleaner, a notation program that allows you to play in your music into a PC program (Windows or Mac) via a MIDI keyboard. The program automatically interprets key and meter without any score set-up. As I checked out the ScoreCleaner webpage, I noticed that there is also a new iPhone app for ScoreCleaner, ScoreCleaner Notes which was apparently introduced as part of NAMM. There is a fifteen day demo for ScoreCleaner, and ScoreCleaner Notes is $0.99, so I downloaded both the program and the app.

ScoreCleaner (the program) seems to do a pretty good job of interpreting human playing (including swing and ritardando)–far better than I have ever seen with other programs.

The ScoreCleaner Notes app has one immediate issue…it is only an iPhone app. Unless the company plans to come out with an iPad app that offers additional functionality, it seems short-sighted not to make the app a universal binary that works on all devices (at full size).

ScoreCleaner Notes allows you to sing (preferrably without words) or play a musical line, and then converts that sound input into written music–providing you with the key signature, time signature, and tempo. I chose to see how ScoreCleaner would do with my singing and with my whistling. I first sang “Frére Jacques” in the major mode. Here was the result:

As you can see, ScoreCleaner Notes did well with my singing, only adding two grace notes. Then I stayed in the parallel minor key and sang again:

ScoreCleaner Notes added some additional notes (a grace note and a sixteenth note) to my minor key version, and interestingly chose to put the song into d-sharp minor instead of e-flat minor (enharmonic equivalents on a keyboard). Note that I performed this version slightly faster than my previous version. I then chose to whistle the song (this would be an example of the app's ability to understand notes at an extreme frequency):


You can see that my whistling…while I consider it to be as accurate as my singing…caused ScoreCleaner Notes to struggle to interpret the results. The app still determined that I was in 4/4 time (well, common time), and in the key of E Major. This was also my fastest performance, at 98 beats per minute. Then I switched to the parallel minor and whistled again:

You can see that ScoreCleaner Notes correctly interpreted my performance in e minor, in 4/4 time. I do not think I was this inaccurate in the performance, but that the high frequencies and overtones of my whistle caused the app some problems. You can have the app play back your recording, either as a synthesized piano (nothing special here) or listen to your actual performance.

ScoreCleaner Notes has one other function…songs you “translate” into music can be saved into ScoreCleaner's “cloud,” where the ScoreCleaner program can open and edit the files. The ScoreCleaner program has the ability to open MIDI files, and to export files as MusicXML files.
I think that ScoreCleaner has created both a program and an app that demonstrate some of the potential of future music apps. There will be a point in the future where a device will be able to interpret every sound and correctly notate it–perhaps even with choral, band, and orchestral music. As for now, ScoreCleaner Notes would be a great way to quickly save musical ideas that develop at a moment's notice. If you are a piano player, you may find SoundCleaner to be a better way of recording your music into music notation than existing ways to record MIDI.
I can see one additional way to use ScoreCleaner Notes…for sight-reading. If you use a sight-reading method, and have the first pitch, you could sing the sight reading exercise for ScoreCleaner and examine the results…a sort of “SmartMusic Lite.” It would be valuable if ScoreCleaner Notes could take advantage of a PDF reader, so that a musical score could be displayed on the bottom of the screen for this kind of use. A pitch source (pitch pipe or piano) would be useful, too.

At any rate, it is wonderful to see new apps on the App Store bringing new functionality to the iPad. 2013 will be a great year for music apps!



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