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Sheet Music Scanner Pen

A pen that reads and plays back written music
  [vote for,

I like to go to the sheet music store and read music, but I had to practice for some time to be able to “hear” music simply by looking at it. Many amateur musicians need to play the music on their instruments before they know what it sounds like. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to bring your tuba into the store when you’re browsing for music. I propose a sheet music scanner pen.

Simply trace the pen over the line of music that you would like to hear. The pen reads the written music, then plays it back to you through headphones. It’s not the best performance, but it will give you a good idea of the melody, harmony and rhythm.

The operator would have to enter the tempo manually. If scanning something in the middle of a piece, the operator would first need to scan the beginning of the first line, so that the pen knows the key, time signature, and clef.

The end of the pen is wide enough to scan a single staff. For pianists, a wider version is available that can scan a grand staff. (Super-wide size for conductors.)

The sheet music scanner pen would also be useful to musicians who do not read music (they play by ear or improvise), but are sometimes asked to learn written music.

AO, Apr 11 2003

Levy Digital Sheet Music Project http://dkc.mse.jhu.edu/gamera/demo/
Info about how software reads sheet music. [Amos Kito, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Um. Why are you trying to buy sheet music if you don't read music?   

       There are plenty of ways to get sound from digital sheet music, and copyright issues would probably get in the way of scanning in paper sheet music.
DrCurry, Apr 11 2003

       [DrCurry] Some people can play written music on an instrument, but they cannot “hear” the music in their head simply from reading it without their instrument.   

       The pen is not meant as a replacement to digital sheet music; it is meant to aid a person in interpreting printed music. Most of the musicians I know only use printed music on paper.   

       The pen is not designed for copying music. It scans and plays back passages of music. Since the resulting play back would not be useful to anyone other than the user of the pen, I do not think that it would be considered a copyright violation.
AO, Apr 11 2003

       There are many people who can read music, but not "at speed". This is especially true of piano/keyboard players who can read either hand individually but who need to work each hand separately before being able to play them together.   

       Once upon a time, it used to be that sheet music stores would routinely have a piano and a perosn on staff who could sight-play sheet music on request. I doubt that's true any more, though it probably wouldn't hurt to ask.   

       Otherwise, music publishers could probably release audio clips from their published music. That really shouldn't be too hard in most cases.   

       Finally, you should note that online sheet music houses using Sibelius Scorch software generally allow people to preview the music on their computers.
supercat, Apr 11 2003

       Hmm. I'd rather have the scanner as an application running on a camera equipped cell phone. Just "looks" at the whole page and composes a midi version. Be nice as a general computing application for desktop scanners, too. I like the basic idea. +
bristolz, Apr 11 2003

       ". Also, <rant>what the heck's with the copyright screaming?! With some people, every *little* thing is just copyright voilation, lawsuits, arrests, hang draw 'n' quarter 'em! Ever heard of 'fair use'? Ya know, where you *listen* to the music so ya'll know what it sounds like so ya'll *buy* it? This thing oughta be in every music store ever, as it'd be a boon to their biz.</rant>   

       Thanks. I needed that. Sorry, [Curry], didn't meanta get all personal 'bout it. I keep readin' 'bout these big lawsuits over trivial things, a lot of which come under fair use, and I was gettin' flustrated and had to vent. +
galukalock, Apr 11 2003

       Fair use is a very complex thing. Safe to say that there wouldn't be lawsuits involving the extents of fair use if it were very well defined. These law suits are, in fact, redefining fair use. I really don't know what, if anything, will ever fix it or simplify it.
bristolz, Apr 11 2003

       +. Something like this would have helped to demonstrate the intent of the composer to my high school band. After practicing an apparently obscure march at 1/4 speed (for most of the school year, I kid you not), one day we played it full speed and everyone immediately recognized the theme music to "Hogans Heros." They never had any trouble with it after that...
Don Quixote, Apr 12 2003

       // what the heck's with the copyright screaming?! //   

       A big problem, particularly with choral pieces, is that the musical director will run off a copy for every member of the choral group. Ain't how it's s'posed to work, but it's rampant. You'd be hard pressed to find a choral group that *doesn't* do this regularly.
waugsqueke, Apr 12 2003

       Don't most choral groups sing public domain stuff anyway? Seems like a good idea, by the way.
snarfyguy, Apr 12 2003

       What a strange generalization that is, snarf.
waugsqueke, Apr 12 2003

       I imagine choral groups mostly doing classical, church music or trad gospel. What am I overlooking? What kind of choral groups do classic disco? Maybe I don't get out enough.
snarfyguy, Apr 12 2003

       This is actually something sort of on the way. Instead of mp3 compression standard for music they are putting it in a written form similar to sheet music. Your computer will convert it into music and it will sound exactly like the original piece. It can be transferred over the internet using 1/10th the bandwidth of mp3 files.
maniacr, Apr 12 2003

       snarf, you're overlooking the fact that lots and lots of church music and 'traditional' gospel is currently written and scored music. Even arrangements of public domain pieces are covered by the copyright. I've never seen a piece of sheet music in the church choir that didn't have "DO NOT COPY" in huge letters at the bottom of the first page.
waugsqueke, Apr 12 2003

       You can get a copyright by transcribing public domain material into sheet music? Well, color me dumb then. I thought copyright implied authorship or transferral thereof.   

       You'd think I'd know this stuff, what with twelve years' experience in intellectual property law. Duh.
snarfyguy, Apr 12 2003

       Oh, I get it, that's the stuff that says "Trad. Arr. (so and so)," like how Alan Price of The Animals was able to earn royalties from "The House of the Rising Sun."   

snarfyguy, Apr 12 2003

       Y'all got it.
waugsqueke, Apr 12 2003


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