TECHNOLOGY

The App That Turns You Into Beethoven

Can't read or write music? No worries: This award-winning app will translate any melody into written form and turn any sheet music into song.
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Chances are, you are as helpless with a page of sheet music as the average 14th-century peasant would have been with a copy of Moby Dick. You can't read music. You can't write it. Unless you've memorized the melody, you have no way of describing even a simple ditty, let alone a complicated jazz riff, to someone else (or to yourself, later). And you're not alone -- most aspiring musicians are also sheet-music illiterates. 

But ScoreCleaner Notes, an ingenious application developed in Stockholm, might be able to help. 

How it works

The app listens to a melody as a musician plays it in a studio--or as you hum it to yourself, or as a garage band improvises it in their basement. Then the app translates the sounds into the universal symbols of written music, which you can easily share via social media or email. The interface is so intuitive and the software is so intelligent that you can record just about anywhere, regardless of acoustics. And no matter the pitch, time signature, tempo, rhythm, or meter, ScoreNotes Press will put it in writing, like a voice memo for music. 

The idea won Doremir Music, the company behind the app, a prestigious Mobile Lion award from the Cannes Lion festival in late June. Bengt Lidgard, CEO of Doremir Music, says he isn't surprised, as music is a universal language. ScoreCleaner Notes is "capturing the creativity of people," he tells Inc., "compared to the tedious task of trying to do it yourself." 

The maestros of the app

The app is the brainchild of two musicians-slash-professors, Sven Ahlback and Sven Emtell, who met about a decade ago. At the time, Ahlback, a well-known folk musician, was at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, researching his doctoral thesis on how humans understand and perceive music. Emtell, an accomplished bass player, was studying to become an engineer of computer sciences at the The Royal Academy of Technology next door.

The pair knew they were onto something when Ahlback showed Emtell his findings, but several years would pass before they founded Doremir (a play on "do-re-mi" and the abbreviation of their software, Music Information Retrieval) in 2008. 

Today their creation is a bestseller in Sweden and Doremir, and the company, which has raised $2 million in funding from European angel investors since it began soliciting in 2011, employs about ten people. Next up is developing an app for guitarists that turns picking and strumming into tablature.  

Lidgard says the company's ultimate goal is to reach the 250 million estimated amateur musicians around the world and allow them to bring their sounds to the masses. "We have a fantastic piece of technology, so we want to make it as user-friendly as possible," he says. "Our potential is enormous. Everyone that has a gem that hasn't been published, we can help publish it." 

He adds, "This is like the Siri of music." 

See for yourself in the video below: 

IMAGE: Courtesy ScoreCleaner
Last updated: Jul 4, 2013

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.




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