Classical musicians will have access to a huge library of interactive scores through an innovative app that, according to leading cultural figures, has the potential to revolutionize music creation.
Artificial intelligence experts working with musicologists at a Berlin startup have spent years collecting hundreds of thousands of published scores and creating digital editions of each one.
the Application unit It will give musicians the opportunity to interact with scores by instantly transposing, switching between movements or measures, turning pages, resizing scores, and printing on the fly.
Boian Videnoff, chief conductor of the Mannheim Philharmonic and one of the founders of Enote, said he came up with the idea at his kitchen table with his college friend, Josef Tufan, after growing frustration over the failure of the score editors to jump into the digital world. Tufan, an IT management consultant, is Co-CEO.
“I had been complaining to Josef about why digitization was not happening in the music world, and he was making fun of me having to lug a suitcase full of sheet music when traveling. We decided together to tackle the problem, ”he said.
The result, more than five years later, is the world’s first comprehensive library of native digital sheet music.
In an exclusive preview at the company’s offices on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, Videnoff first opened a pdf of one of Chopin’s Mazurkas on his tablet, the format that musicians have turned to in recent years. “You can zoom in and out, but that’s it,” he said.
He then showed a digital version where the music notation had been, as he put it, “semantically reconstructed” using optical music recognition technology. He demonstrated how the notation could be transposed by changing in one second from D-major to C-major, something he said would normally take weeks.
Although the official launch of the app has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Enote has been flooded by musicians from all over the world who want to become early beta testers. The testers will not have to pay for the application and will contribute to its development.
Other users will be charged € 9.99 per month, giving them unlimited access to the library of around 150,000 scores and all the functions of the app. Videnoff said the price would mean savings for musicians and reduced material costs for orchestras, who can easily end up paying 600 euros for each member to have a score for, say, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Enote’s main sponsor is Manfred Fuchs, a music lover and former CEO of a leading manufacturer of industrial lubricants, Fuchs Petrolub, who has invested 4 million euros.
His followers from the world of music include the baritone Thomas Hampson, the cellist Mischa Maisky, the violinist Lisa Batiashvili and Michael Barenboim, violinist and concertmaster of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, who is the son of conductor Daniel Barenboim and pianist Elena Bashkirova.
“Everyone in the music world is talking about it and I’m sure everyone will use it sooner or later, including my father,” the young Barenboim told The Guardian. “It will be a game changer for the musicians. The possibilities are very interesting, especially for the field of music education ”.
Enote will initially focus on chamber and solo works, from Baroque to Late Romantic. Over the next year he also plans to have a full operational and orchestral repertoire, before turning his attention to contemporary classical music, which includes offering modern composers a platform for their works to reach a wider audience and earn a living. .
In Enote’s “engineering room”, historical musicologists, mathematicians, musicians, a music engraving technician, and artificial intelligence experts were examining screens filled with static green scores in the process of being translated into digital.
As CTO Evgeny Mitichkin explained, the computer has to “learn to recognize and classify everything from notes and slurs, to keys and signatures, before semantically reconstructing them” in a “musically sensitive way.”
Although interactive e-readers are a model for Enote, digitizing music is much more complex than digitizing text, Mitichkin said. Compared to the 26 letters of the alphabet, music notation consists of up to 1,500 elements. “The metadata and the punctuation should match perfectly,” he said. “This is the first time in history that this pairing process has been carried out. We are effectively in the process of preserving our cultural heritage, as well as democratizing access to it. “
The high-powered processors in the next room emitted a rumbling sound that, according to the team, sometimes sounds like a Boeing taking off.
There was consensus among the team on which score had been the most complex to digitize. Gerrit Bogdhan, a drummer-turned-musicologist, produced Maurice Ravel’s paper score Gaspar of the night, considered one of the most demanding piano works of all time, a nervous and intoxicating piece sometimes described as Ravel on drugs.
“Look at bar 122,” he said, showing a tangle of notes and symbols in the Scarbo movement. “Ravels throws a hairpin, and there are beams that cross the hairpin as well as each other, and the insult crosses everything from top to bottom in an S shape.
“This was our Mount Everest,” he said, showing the digitized result. “Once we rebuilt it in digital form, we knew that nothing was escaping us.”
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.